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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)

The Message of the Cross by Pastor John Samson

"Is it true that everyone on earth is drawn to the cross?" Many assume so. They base this on John 12:32 which says, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." But as I explained here, I don't believe that this interpretation is a plausible one.

So what does the scripture specifically say about the message of the cross? 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

The cross is actually foolishness to Gentiles and a stumbling block to Jews. That's pretty clear isn't it?

Question: So who views the cross as something other than foolishness or a stumbling block?

Answer: "...those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) ..." who see Christ as the wisdom and power of God.

What is also clear from this passage in 1 Cor. 1:22-24 is that Paul knew what it was that the Jews and Greeks wanted. He knew that the Jews wanted miraculous signs and the Greeks wanted wisdom. Did he therefore adjust his message accordingly?

Hardly!

Knowing what it was that the two ethnic groups wanted, he wrote, "but we preach Christ crucified." In all reality, Christ was THE sign of all signs, and Christ is THE personification of all wisdom, but only the elect would ever understand that.

Paul did not go door to door around Corinth to ask what the people most wanted to see or hear about. He didn't need to. He already knew what the Corinthians wanted all along. However, Paul's ministry was not founded upon what the latest surveys indicated itching ears wanted to hear. He knew, before he ever opened his mouth, that his message, the message of the cross, would be completely offensive to everyone except the called. He went into Corinth preaching the message of the cross to all, but he knew ahead of time, that only the elect would enjoy hearing it! That's quite a thought isn't it?

Brothers and sisters, let Paul's words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, remind us that it is God who determines what it is we preach, not rebel sinners! Let us also trust the ministry of the Spirit to make the word of Christ come alive in the hearts and minds of Christ's sheep, and not worry so much about those who will be offended at the message we bring. Better that men be offended, than the One who has called us to preach Christ and Him crucified.

February 27, 2006  |  Comments (18)   |  Permalink

Free From What? by J.W. Hendryx

Hey John, how goes it? I enjoyed reading your article on "unregenerate will, self-determined but not free"

Question: I was wondering if you had anything else similar that you could recommend. I liked your illustrations and examples. I am still trying to find an article that has a good balance of depth, but is not over people's heads and covers the different types of wills, both mans and God's, in detail. Perhaps I wont be able to find everything I'm looking for in one article but I'm trying to put together something for a bible study class so I will be cutting and pasting stuff, hope that is ok?

Response: Thanks for your inquiry about the concept of free will. For clarity's sake, one important thing we must do when speaking to folks about this issue, I believe, is define the concept of "free will" up front. People come at this with different preconceptions so it is important to explain what you do and do not mean by the expression.

For example, if someone says they believe man has a free will, you may want to ask them, "free from what?" ... From sin? ... from God's eternal decree?

What the majority of people actually mean when they claim we have a free will is that they believe we are free from external coersion. This is a good place to start because it is a place that all can agree upon. But what most Reformed people actually mean when we explain that man has "no free will", is not that we are coerced by some outside force. (Coersion here meaning an outside force that would make us involuntarily choose something). No, rather, the Bible explains that the natural man, without the Spirit, is in bondage to a corruption of nature. The expression "bondage" to the natural man speaks of His lack of freedom. His nature is hostile to God and loves darkness (John 3:19, 20). In fact he is in bondage until Christ sets him free (Rom 6). We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness, the Bible tells us. So coersion is not the only form of bondage, there is also bondage because our poor choices are made by necessity due to a corruption of nature. Coersion and necessity are, therefore, both equally valid ways to express that a person lacks free will. Just because we are not coerced into making desisions does not mean the will is free. One may also sin of necessity, due to the natural man's innate hostility to God, by which he will always flee from God, apart from grace.

Continue reading "Free From What? by J.W. Hendryx" »

February 27, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Justification by Faith, Out of Date? B. B. Warfield

The following short essay by Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851 - 1921) was originally published in The Christian Irishman, Dublin, May 1911, p. 71. The electronic edition of this article was scanned and edited by Shane Rosenthal for Reformation Ink. It is in the public domain and may be freely copied and distributed.

Romans 4:4-5 - Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness

Sometimes we are told that Justification by Faith is "out of date." That would be a pity, if it were true. What it would mean would be that the way of salvation was closed and "no thoroughfare" nailed up over the barriers. There is no justification for sinful men except by faith. The works of a sinful man will, of course, be as sinful as he is, and nothing but condemnation can be built on them. Where can he get works upon which he can found his hope of justification, except from Another?

His hope of Justification, remember, is of being pronounced righteous by God. Can God pronounce him righteous except on the ground of works that are righteous? Where can a sinful man get works that are righteous? Surely, not from himself; for, is he not a sinner, and all his works as sinful as he is? He must go out of himself, then, to find works which he can offer to God as righteous. And where will he find such works except in Christ? Or how will he make them his own except by faith in Christ?

Continue reading "Justification by Faith, Out of Date? B. B. Warfield" »

February 27, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton

"Thought is packed tight in this masterful survey of the covenantal frame of God's self-disclosure in Scripture, but for serious students it is a winner. Theologian Horton displays the biblical wisdom of mainstream Reformed teaching most vividly."
--J. I. Packer, professor of theology, Regent College

"God of Promise is a rigorous and articulate defense of a traditional view of covenant theology. Dr. Horton's federalist emphasis gleans from well established reformed writers while, as usual, adding his own highly readable and insightful commentary."
--Bryan Chapell, president, Covenant Theological Seminary

"The covenant concept is central to the biblical revelation and must therefore be the foundation stone of any truly biblical theology. Michael Horton has brought covenant theology to life in a way which engages modern thought and appeals to contemporary students and pastor alike. His book is a clear guide to an essential topic."
--Gerald Bray, Anglican professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Sanford University

"It is one thing to give up dispensationalism. But what do you put in its place? Here's an outstanding introduction to classical Reformed covenant theology. This is the way to read and understand the Bible! This one will rock your world--whether you be a dispensationalist, a progressive dispensationalist, or even a Reformed Christian who gets unnecessarily squeamish about a covenant of works. Michael is a great theologian, a superb writer, and most importantly, my friend."
--Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim

"This book is more than merely an introduction to covenant theology. It is not only intellectually informative, but spiritually stimulating. I found it very helpful to my own walk with God."
--Jerry Bridges, staff member, Navigators Collegiate Ministry; author, Pursuit of Holiness

"In this masterful summary of covenant theology, Michael Horton uses his exceptional gifts as a theologian to explain covenant as the central organizing principle of Scripture. Horton carefully shows how systematic covenant theology holds together many important biblical principles in this proper balance! Faith and works, justification and sanctification, law and gospel, human responsibility and divine sovereignty. Clear and comprehensive-the ideal introduction to covenant theology."
--Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, senior minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This book is rich feast for the soul. If you want to understand the theology that serves as the foundation for the organic unfolding of the Divine disclosure in the Bible, you need to read this book. Essential reading for regular visitors to monergism.com.
--John Hendryx, Monergism.com

Pick Up a Copy at Monergism Books

February 25, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Who is this Jesus? by Melito of Sardis

The quote you are about to read (below) comes from a sermon of Bishop Melito of Sardis from the second century A.D. This one piece of historical evidence alone, utterly refutes Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code claim that Emperor Constantine made up the concept of the Divinity of Christ, so that he might unite the people under his rule in the Roman Empire. I'll let my friend, Dr. James White introduce the quote, as he is the one responsible for its translation. - Pastor John Samson

Dr. White writes: "One of the most eloquent testimonies to the error of Dan Brown and the ridiculous and outrageous claims of The Da Vinci Code regarding the "creation" of the deity of Christ by Constantine is found in the sermon on the Passover preached around twenty years before the end of the second century by Melito, bishop of Sardis. I included my translation of this tremendous section in my book, The Forgotten Trinity, and reproduce it here. Remember, this sermon was preached approximately 145 years prior to Nicea, 130 years prior to Constantine's battle at the Milvian Bridge (where he allegedly saw the sign of the cross in the sky and the phrase, "in this sign, conquer"). As you read these words, rejoice, as I rejoice, at the thought of this ancient believer and the fact that he reveled in the truth about the God-man Jesus Christ just as we do today! Oh that we had more preaching like this in our land today!"

And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!
He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
This One is "the Alpha and the Omega,"
This One is "the beginning and the end"
The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
"To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen."

February 25, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

What's A Worship Leader To Do? by Bob Kauflin

I feel this series of blog articles by Bob Kauflin at worshipmatters.com is just too good to miss. I would very much encourage everyone to read these short articles, perhaps especially pastors, so that they can then share them as points of discussion with those involved in the music ministry of their churches (something I have done at our church). These Cross Centered, Gospel Centered, God exalting articles will point all of our people in the right direction, I believe, and will eliminate a number of false concepts many people have in their minds regarding the nature of true worship. May God richly bless you as you seek to worship Him in spirit and in truth. - Pastor John Samson

What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 1 (by Bob Kauflin)

Before I start this series, I wanted to give you some background. Eight years ago, after I had served as a pastor for twelve years, C.J. Mahaney invited me to assume the new role of “Director of Worship Development” for Sovereign Grace Ministries. One of my assignments was to study and train others in the practicals of biblical worship, particularly as it relates to music.

As I studied Scripture and read books like Engaging with God by David Peterson and Adoration and Action, ed. by D. A. Carson, I quickly realized that the Bible, especially the New Testament, didn’t give much space to my role as a worship leader. None, to be exact. The more I read, the more I felt I was reading myself out of a job.

There’s no question that the role of the worship leader has been exaggerated in recent decades. Some pastors give 1/3 to 1/2 of their meeting to singing, led by a musician who has little to no theological training. Gordon MacDonald comments, “For many young people choosing a church, worship leaders have become a more important factor than preachers. Mediocre preaching may be tolerated, but an inept worship leader can sink things fast.” (Gordon MacDonald, To Find a Worship Leader, Leadership Journal, Spring 2002) In addition, the rise of “worship artists” has intensified the often unhelpful connection between pop music culture and congregational worship.

Continue reading "What's A Worship Leader To Do? by Bob Kauflin" »

February 24, 2006  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink

There May be More Than One Way to God

by John Hendryx

Today I wish to propose and explore with you the possibility that belief in Jesus Christ may not be the only way to God. Now before you throw me out as a heretic please hear me through. Lets open the Bible together so we can plainly see that Jesus Himself speaks of another way.

But before we do that I would like for us to take a look at a debate that took place a couple years ago on the Donahue show between Phil Donahue and Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary. The context of the debate is the recent move by the Catholic church to no longer evangelize the Jews since they have stated that God has given them some kind of special plan or dispensation. This debate also typifies many of the debates that occur between Christians and non-Christians these days with regard to our exclusive claim that Christ is the only way to be saved for both Jew and Gentile. In America’s current climate of postmodern, multicultural, political correctness, the claim by Christians that Christ is the only way gives rise to accusations of hate and intolerance as we shall see in the following excerpts of this interesting dialogue between Donahue, Albert Mohler & Rabbi Shmuley Boteach:

DONAHUE: Well, Dr. Mohler, sir, nice to see you again. You’re how many strong these days, the southern Baptists?

REV. ALBERT MOHLER, SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER: About 16 million members, Phil, and about 40,000 churches. It’s good to be with you tonight.

DONAHUE: Thank you. Do these 16 million people believe Jews can go to heaven?

MOHLER: Southern Baptists, with other Christians, believe that all persons can go to heaven who come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is no discrimination on the basis of ethnic or racial or national issues, related to who will go to the Scriptures. It’s those who are in Christ. The defining issue is faith in Christ.

DONAHUE: So a good Jew is not going to heaven.

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February 23, 2006  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink

Calvin on Justification by Faith Alone

The reader now perceives with what fairness the Sophists of the present day cavil at our doctrine, when we say that a man is justified by faith alone (Rom. 4:2). They dare not deny that he is justified by faith, seeing Scripture so often declares it; but as the word alone is nowhere expressly used they will not tolerate its being added. Is it so? What answer, then will they give to the words of Paul, when he contends that righteousness is not of faith unless it be gratuitous? How can it be gratuitous, and yet by works? By what cavils, moreover, will they evade his declaration in another place, that in the Gospel the righteousness of God is manifested? (Rom. 1:17). If righteousness is manifested in the Gospel, it is certainly not a partial or mutilated, but a full and perfect righteousness. The Law, therefore, has no part in its and their objection to the exclusive word alone is not only unfounded, but is obviously absurd. Does he not plainly enough attribute everything to faith alone when he disconnects it with works? What I would ask, is meant by the expressions, "The righteousness of God without the law is manifested;" "Being justified freely by his grace;" "Justified by faith without the deeds of the law?" (Rom. 3:21, 24, 28). Here they have an ingenious subterfuge, one which, though not of their own devising but taken from Origin and some ancient writers, is most childish. They pretend that the works excluded are ceremonial, not moral works. Such profit do they make by their constant wrangling, that they possess not even the first elements of logic. Do they think the Apostle was raving when he produced, in proof of his doctrine, these passages? "The man that does them shall live in them," (Gal. 3:12). "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them," (Gal. 3:10). Unless they are themselves raving, they will not say that life was promised to the observers of ceremonies, and the curse denounced only against the transgressors of them. If these passages are to be understood of the Moral Law, there cannot be a doubt that moral works also are excluded from the power of justifying. To the same effect are the arguments which he employs. "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin," (Rom. 3:20). "The law worketh wrath," (Rom. 4:15), and therefore not righteousness. "The law cannot pacify the conscience," and therefore cannot confer righteousness. "Faith is imputed for righteousness," and therefore righteousness is not the reward of works, but is given without being due. Because "we are justified by faith," boasting is excluded. "Had there been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe," (Gal. 3:21, 22). Let them maintain, if they dare, that these things apply to ceremonies, and not to morals, and the very children will laugh at their effrontery. The true conclusion, therefore, is, that the whole Law is spoken of when the power of justifying is denied to it. - John Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion; 3:11:19

February 23, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

At the Heart of the Christian Gospel

“The gospel tells us that our Creator has become our Redeemer. It announces that the Son of God has become man and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment. The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight. God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.
By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be ‘just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.’
Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel. No version of that message goes deeper than that which declares man’s root problem before God to be his sin, which evokes wrath, and God’s basic provision for man to be propitiation, which out of wrath brings peace. Some versions of the gospel, indeed, are open to blame because they never get down to this level.” - Dr. J. I. Packer

February 22, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Can a Person Refuse Christ After Regeneration? and Must We Believe or is it Automatic?

Question from a visitor:

Mr. Hendryx,

First off, I thank you for your quick response the other week in regards to a question I had asked you (about 1 Tim. 2:1-4). I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions ... With that being said, I ask for your kindness again with regards to another question. Here it is. Is there not any point in time when man (any human being), after having his heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit, must himself renounce sin and believe in Jesus? Or does it automatically happen because of his regeneration? Is it possible for someone to be brought to the knowledge of the truth, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and still refuse to accept Jesus? I appreciate your help in understanding this. Thanks again and God bless.

Thanks for your great question. The Scriptures teach that faith is not merely a dry acknowledgement or ticking off of a list of facts. When we believe in Christ we do so because we see truth, beauty and excellency in Him. Our hearts, and not only our minds, are circumcized unto the Lord. Our heart of stone is made into a heart of flesh that we may believe and obey. God does not do the believing, repenting and obeying for us. We actively exercise faith and actively repent and obey the Lord willingly. But this is only because the Holy Spirit has given us a new disposition for spiritual things.

Example: If a man is blind from birth, no matter how much light you shine into his eyes, he will not see. But if you gave him a new set of eyes he would see. His using his visual ability is his own doing but it is because God gave him this gift that he even has the capacity to do so. It is his nature to want to see and it is he that wants to do the seeing, not God seeing for him. So you could say that faith and repentance is automatic but only because it springs from our new nature which we willingly exercise. Our nature is who we are.

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February 22, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Question of Inerrancy: A 20th Century Invention?

A United Methodist pastor recently wrote Norman Patterson, pastor of Covenant of Grace church in New Hartford, CT questioning his use of the term "inerrancy". He submitted the exchange to Monergism.com and I thought it might prove useful to those who may be wrestling with this issue.

Here is the exchange:

Norm: Thanks for the handouts. I noticed you use the word "inerrant." What do you mean by that? "Inerrancy" is a 20th century concept popular among Reformed scholars and goes beyond what the reformers: Luther, Wesley and Calvin taught. I believe the concept and word inerrancy gets us into literary gymnastics and fostering a dead literalism the Bible does not claim for itself. For instance and perhaps a silly example: When Jesus said the mustard seed is the smallest seed. In reality he was wrong. It isn't, but in that culture it was believed to be. Jesus also spoke in what is called: "oriental hyperbole." His words about cutting off one's arm or ripping out one's eye etc. As I look at the reformers, including the continental ones like Luther and Calvin and later Wesley, the only "infallibility" they claim is limited to salvation itrself. See Article of Religion V, VI, and The 1646 Westminster Confession Chapter one. What are your thoughts?

Hello ____

I hope you don’t mind a thorough reply. Your questions gave me an opportunity to articulate some thoughts that have going through my mind for some time.

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February 22, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Christ Lived For Our Righteousness by Pastor John Samson

"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.
But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"
But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."
Then he permitted Him."
- Matthew 3:13-15

"But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD." - 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, AND LIVED FOR OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS - The Lord Jesus Christ not only died an atoning death for our sins, but He also lived a sinless life that perfectly fulfilled the righteous standards of the law. If all that was necessary for our justification was the death of Jesus on the cross, He could have come down to earth on a parachute on Good Friday, died on the cross for us, and three days later, risen again. But we all know that this is not what happened. Why? Because that would never have been enough.

The good news of the Gospel is certainly that Christ died for our sins.. but it also includes the fact that He lived for our righteousness. For more than 33 years, Christ was tempted in every way like us, yet He was without sin (Heb. 4:15). Christ is the only One who can say that He loved His Father perfectly in life, with all His heart, soul, mind and strength.

At the cross then, all our sins were laid on Him (though of course, He remained the holy and spotless Lamb of God, in and of Himself) and as our sin bearer, He was punished in our place. As the angel declared to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, "you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24).

Isa 53:5, 6 says, "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."

But that is far from all of the story. There was a double imputation that took place on the cross. If Christ had merely paid the penalty for our sins, our debt to God would have been cancelled, and no punishment would be due to us, thank God! But that is not nearly enough to gain an entry into heaven. That would simply remove the outstanding debt we owed to God and bring us to zero... and zero is not enough. Jesus said, "Unless your righteousness (positive) exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall in no way enter the kingdom of God." (Matt. 5:20)

We as sinners not only need the removal of the negative (our sin) but the presence of the positive... full and complete righteousness to be able to stand before a holy God just in His sight. So not only were our sins imputed to Christ and He bore their full punishment for us on the cross, but positively, the righteousness of Christ was imputed to us. The punishment due to us because of our sin came upon Him, and the pleasure of God due to Jesus' complete obedience to every jot and tittle of the law, came upon us. The very righteousness of Jesus Christ is the righteousness imputed to us by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. This righteousness is one that has perfectly fulfilled the entire demands of the law of God.

The work of Christ is perfect in every respect, and perfect in every aspect. The righteousness now enjoyed by the believer is an alien one (one that comes from outside of himself) for it is the righteousness of Christ Himself. It comes to us as a gift, not something earned (Rom. 5:17), and is the cause of our rejoicing in the direct presence of the Lord. "For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21. As believers in Christ, we've been made righteous with a righteousness that has never known sin, and has fully complied with all the righteous demands of the law. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

February 20, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Do Humans Have More Freedom Than God AND Does God Have a Libertarian Free Will? by J.W. Hendryx

One of the main objections of Arminians, Semi-pelagians and other synergists to divine election is based on moral rather than exegetical grounds. While debating these issues online over the years, I have heard many of them contend that the Augustinian view of God is morally repugnant since God could and would never force humans to do something against their will. And since God is holy, they reason, He could not ordain all things that come to pass, because this would make God the author of evil. Well, instead of this being an essay defending God's sovereignty and meticulous providence over all things (both good subjects in themselves but best left for another time) I wish to use their belief in God's inability to act contrary to His nature to make a point ... one that is fatal to their belief in libertarian free will.

We all know that the Arminians teach that man has a free will in the libertarian sense. What this means, simply is that they believe man has the ability to choose otherwise. That is, they affirm that human beings are free to choose between opposites ... to make choices uninfluenced any prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition. They believe the will, being neutral, can just as easily choose good or evil. On the surface this may seem reasonable but when you think about it for a moment it makes no sense because deep down we know, and the Scriptures affirm, that a person must always choose according to what he is by nature, otherwise how could the choice be rightfully said to be his own? Let us never forget that the nature of a person is not a thing he possesses. It is something he is. For example, When a person loves evil by nature, he will always make choices in line with what that nature desires most. Just as it is the nature of a dog to bark and a cat to meow so it is the nature of the unregenerate to be hostile to God and love darkness (John 3:19, 20).

The small but important point I wish to make in all this is simple, and I think it packs the most punch by asking a question. The question is, does God have a free will in the libertarian sense? i.e. Is God able to choose otherwise? (is He "free" to choose good or evil?) And if not does this mean human beings have more freedom then God does, since, to libertarians, human beings do have this freedom to choose good or evil?

Continue reading "Do Humans Have More Freedom Than God AND Does God Have a Libertarian Free Will? by J.W. Hendryx" »

February 18, 2006  |  Comments (12)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Sola Scriptura (Continued) by Pastor John Samson

"In the empire of the church, the ruler is God's Word." - Martin Luther - Works, Vol. 41, p. 134.

"I have learned to ascribe the honor of infallibility only to those books that are accepted as canonical. I am profoundly convinced that none of these writers has erred. All other writers, however they may have distinguished themselves in holiness or in doctrine, I read in this way. I evaluate what they say, not on the basis that they themselves believe that a thing is true, but only insofar as they are able to convince me by the authority of the canonical books or by clear reason." - Martin Luther

"Since the church is Christ's Kingdom, and he reigns by his Word alone, will it not be clear to any man that those are lying words by which the Kingdom of Christ is imagined to exist apart from his scepter (that is, his most holy Word)?" - John Calvin, Institutes

"Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God. . . Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of this word. Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan's reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the word of God." - John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians, p. xii

THE COUNCIL OF TRENT 1545-1563

In my first article on this subject here I briefly described how the Protestant movement began. Of course, just because this Reformation swept like wildfire across most of Europe, it did not mean that the Roman Catholic Church gave up the fight and disbanded. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead, Rome engaged in a rigorous Counter Reformation.

Rome took seriously the criticism of the moral scandals, and in reality, there was a widespread moral reform in the Church. However an Ecumenical Council, which was the Roman Catholic Church's official theological response to the Protestant Reformation, convened. This was called "The Council of Trent" and took place over an eighteen year period between 1545 and 1563. During this time, many issues were discussed in detail, not the least of which was the issue of sola fide (justification by faith alone). Rome placed its anathema (eternal curse) on the doctrine of sola fide, and on any who preached it - an anathema which has never been revoked.

Continue reading "Sola Scriptura (Continued) by Pastor John Samson" »

February 17, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

J. Ligon Duncan III: Contemporary Reformer

Meet J. Ligon Duncan III, the newest member of the Hall of Contemporary Reformers. Dr. Duncan calls himself a Westminster Calvinist and has, what he calls, an an ordinary means grace-based ministry which believes that God means what he says in the Bible about the central importance of these public, outward instruments for spiritual life and growth. God explicitly instructs ministers and churches to do the following things: (1) "give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching" (I Timothy 3:13); (2) "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (2 Timothy 4:2); (3) "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" (Matthew 28:19); (4) "This is My body, which is for you; ...This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (I Corinthians 11 :24-26); (5) "I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made. ..Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands" (I Timothy 2:1, 8).

These are the main ways God's people grow. We are saved by grace through faith, faith alone in Christ alone. But the instruments, the tools of God' s grace to bring us to faith and grow us in grace are the Word, prayer and sacraments. Nothing else we do in the church's program should detract from these central instruments of grace, and indeed every thing else we do should promote and coalesce with them.

Click here to see Hall of Contemporary Reformers Home Page

Click Here to view J. Ligon Duncan's page

February 17, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

John Cassian, Church Father (Unfortunately)

This is a [longer] paper I wrote for seminary that got filed away somewhere a long time ago over at monergism.com... hope it's helpful!

John Cassian's Response to Augustinianism

John Cassian was a zealous monk whose theology (unfortunately, one might say) has been massively influential on the church’s understanding of the whole of the gospel since the fifth century. His particular theology (commonly known as semi-Pelagianism), which was developed largely in response to Augustine’s doctrines of predestination, grace, and free will, has been adopted by many Christians—academics, clergy and lay people alike—throughout the centuries. Two major influences were at work in Cassian’s life and teachings. First, Greek neo-platonic philosophical theology shaped his understanding of anthropology in a way that prevented him from being able to engage Augustine on the level that he should have. And second, his intense devotion to the ascetic chastity of the monastery created a platform upon which his theology could develop, yet in a way that was almost entirely sub-biblical. The result of Cassian’s theological contributions to the church has been the obscuring of the God of the Bible in the vision of His people.

Continue reading "John Cassian, Church Father (Unfortunately)" »

February 16, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Pauline Missiology Parts I & II

Rev. Bassam M. Madany Discusses Islam and weighs the modern contextualization movement in missiology against Paul’s teachings about the role of Gospel proclamation in the fulfillment of the Great Commission

Pauline Missiology Part I


Rev. Bassam M. Madany
Introduction

My theological training took place during the 1950s; first at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1950-1953), and later on at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan (1957-1958). Between these two periods, I was engaged in mission work in Syria, and in church work in Manitoba, Canada.

At the RPTS, my training was in the old Princeton Seminary tradition. Emphasis was placed on the basic theological disciplines: OT & NT studies, Systematic Theology, Church History, Homiletics, and Church Government. In the area of practical theology, we covered Reformed Evangelism and a study of the major cults. I audited a course at Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary on Dispensationalism under Dr. John Gerstner. At CTS, beside the courses that introduced me to the Christian Reformed Church, I took courses in Ethics, Biblical Theology, The Theology of John Calvin (Study of the Institutes), and missions.

I should not forget to give credit as well to the following men who contributed to my theological formation: O. T. Allis with whom I had the privilege of a very fruitful discussion on the hermeneutics of Dispensationalism; Samuel Zwemer, the great authority on Islam, and Pierre Marcel, of the Calvinist Society of France.

To read the rest of this essay click here

February 16, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Things that Irk J.W. Hendryx

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - 1 John 5:1

There are few things that irk me more than bad or inconsistent theology. This is because it amounts to a misrepresentation of God and his message, and, as we know, all wrong thinking about God is a form of idolatry. No doubt we are all guilty of having wrong thoughts about God at some level and thus should humbly acknowledge God's grace for anything we have and not boast in our knowledge or anything else ... but when persons, who should know better, begin presenting God's grace as a cooperative effort of man and God, where unspiritual man is presented as possessing spiritual capacities, then contradictions abound. Unfortunately, this kind of synergism is perhaps the the most pervasive cause of error and confusion in the church today.

Charles Hodge said,""No more soul-destroying doctrine could well be devised than the doctrine that sinners can regenerate themselves, and repent and believe just when they please... As it is a truth both of Scripture and of experience that the unrenewed man can do nothing of himself to secure his salvation, it is essential that he should be brought to practical conviction of that truth. When thus convinced, and not before, he seeks help from the only source whence it can be obtained."

C.H. Spurgeon said, "Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man." (from His sermon Faith and Regeneration)

Just recently Pastor John Samson did a post reflecting on 1 John 5:1 where he briefly exegeted the passage as clearly teaching that faith is the immediate result of regeneration, not the cause of it. However, a reader took exception to this and said the following:

"All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action) that Jesus is the Christ has been born (gennesanta, perfect tense - an action already complete with abiding effects) of God," simply does not prove that we were unable to believe prior regeneration. It only states that after regeneration we have been empowered to continue believing and thus our faith is sustained through the work of God in our lives. So, though this verse is a great verse for preservation, it simply does not support regeneration prior to faith - in fact, nothing in Scripture does. Every occurance of life and faith in any context in Scripture always logically places faith prior to life."

Continue reading "Things that Irk J.W. Hendryx" »

February 16, 2006  |  Comments (27)   |  Permalink

Look & Live!

I am always blessed whenever I hear the Gospel preached. That was certainly the case today when I read the recent sermon of Pastor Steve Weaver here as he recalled the conversion of C. H. Spurgeon during a winter storm. I trust that you too will be find nourishment for your soul in Pastor Weaver's Gospel presentation. - Pastor John Samson

"Look and Live" Isaiah 45:22

On January 31, 1892, the famous British preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon died at the age of 59. He was buried exactly 114 years ago last Saturday (February 11th). During his lifetime, Spurgeon preached enough sermons to fill 63 volumes. The sermons' 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

But Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s story really began 42 years earlier when on February 6, 1850 (just a little more than 156 years ago) Charles Haddon Spurgeon experienced salvation on a snowy day in England.

The snow was so bad that the young Spurgeon could not make it to the church he had planned to attend that day. So he turned into a small Primitive Methodist chapel. The minister was snowed in and couldn’t make it there, but that day a lay member of the congregation took as his text Isaiah 45:22 and read, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

In this short text three important aspects of the gospel message are evident:
1. The Exclusivity of the Gospel Message;
2. The Simplicity of the Gospel Message; and,
3. The Universality of the Gospel Message

Continue reading "Look & Live!" »

February 15, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

ESV Calfskin Bible Giveaway Winners












Thanks to all who participated in the ESV Premium Calfskin Bible Giveaway. Participation exceeded all expectations. But with regret I must inform you that there can be only two winners in this giveaway. And now, without any further ado, I will announce the winners of this month's prize. They are:

Jason Sessoms
Bob Keck

Congratulations to Jason and Bob. I will contact each of you seperately and the Bible will be shipped as soon as I receive your contact information.

As for everyone else, thank you for your participation. An email with a special promotion has been sent to all other contest participants. Hang in there for more promotions like this one. You can hear about it in our future newsletters.

Monergism Books

February 15, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Sola Scriptura & the Gifts of the Spirit by Pastor John Samson

Question: Pastor John, How does the 'vocal' gifts of the Holy Spirit work with sola scriptura? Wouldn't the revelatory nature of those vocals gifts contradict this sola in any way? Or does it complement it?

As the lone fellow on the contributing team who can be described as being an essentially reformed, credo-baptist and charismatic, I guess I knew this question would be asked of me at some stage, especially when I write something on the subject of sola scriptura.

A whole book would need to be written to cover this question in a satisfactory way. One book that addresses this question from a similar perspective to my own would be Dr. Wayne Grudem's "The Gift of Prophecy." While pointing you to this resource, allow me to also give a very brief answer to your question by asking a further series of questions:

Question 1: Were the vocal gifts taking place in the early church a violation of sola scriptura?

I think we'd all agree that the answer would be a resounding "no." Paul would have put a stop to the use of the gifts had he viewed them as a violation of Scripture. Of course, the canon was not yet complete when Paul was writing 1 Corinthians 12-14, but certainly the functioning of the gifts did not violate Scripture - at least at that time - I am sure we'd all agree.

There were certainly abuses of the gifts going on - very much so in fact. What is interesting though is that Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, knowing of the abuse of the gifts, did not stop the use of the gifts, but instead directed their use. 1 Corinthians 14:39-40 says, "Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner."

Elsewhere he wrote: "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." - 1 Thess. 5:19-22

Paul allowed for the functioning of the gifts of the Spirit while still cautioning that everything should be extensively tested. What passed the test was to be accepted, but all things that did not were to be shunned.

Question 2: As quoted above, Paul wrote, "do not despise prophetic utterances." Why would there ever be a tendency to do this?

Continue reading "Sola Scriptura & the Gifts of the Spirit by Pastor John Samson" »

February 13, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

What's Wrong With This Picture?

The 50 Most Influential Christians in America

According to The Magazine for Church Business Administrators and Para Church Executives: The Church Report - The 50 Most Influential Christians in America has voted T.D. Jakes (a non-Trinitarian modalist) and Joel Osteen (whose books and preaching are merely pep talks that are completely void of the gospel) in their #1 and #2 positions. The top 10 also includes Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Paul Crouch and Joyce Meyer. The list was derived from over 150,000 nominations from its readers. While there are a couple of notable names down the list, the lack of discernment among evangelicals as to what constitutes the gospel and historic orthodox Christianity is made evident by many of the questionable selections.

Instead of despairing, this should bring us to prayer that the Lord would move within our leadership our rank and file to desire God-honoring, Christ-centered, gospel-driven churches. That He woud send his Spirit to open our eyes and circumcize our hearts to to embrace a full-orbed Trinitarian gospel that preaches the whole counsel of Scripture among all our leaders and churches. If this current trend continues in America, our days are numbered but God, who can bring life out of death hears our prayers. The situation being this critical means that we must pray to the Lord for His mercy. Perhaps the greatest task facing us is the re-evangelization of the Church itself.


Click Here for Full List:
http://www.thechurchreport.com/content/view/823/32/

J.W. Hendryx

February 13, 2006  |  Comments (13)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

1 John 5:1 by Pastor John Samson

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - 1 John 5:1

In the original Greek, the verb tenses in this verse are very revealing. A literal translation reads as follows: "All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action) that Jesus is the Christ has been born (gennesanta, perfect tense - an action already complete with abiding effects) of God." The fact that someone is presently going on believing in Christ shows that they have first been born again. Faith is the evidence of regeneration, not the cause of it. Since both repentance and faith are possible only because of the work of God (regeneration), both are called the gift of God in scripture (Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim 2:24-26).

"Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which a person's inherently sinful nature is so radically impacted, his disposition so affected, his mind so illumined, his will so liberated that a person can and will respond to God in saving faith and willingly live in accord with the will of God." - J. I. Packer

February 13, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Excerpts from "Disputation against Scholastic Theology" by Martin Luther

The following are important affirmations From Luther's 97 Theses, Disputation against Scholastic Theology

5. It is false to say that the human will, left to itself, is free to choose between opposites; for it is not free, but in bondage.
6. It is false to say that the will is able by nature to obey a righteous command. I state this in opposition to scotus and Gabriel [neo-pelagians].
7. In fact, without God's grace with will produces a perverse and evil act.
29. The best and infallible preparation for grace, and the only thing that disposes a person towards grace, is the eternal election and predestination of God.
34. In short, human nature possesses neither a pure reason nor a good will.
39. From beginning to end, we are not masters of our own actions, but their slaves. I state this in opposition to the philosophers.
40. We do not become righteous by doing good deeds. Rather, having been made righteous, we then do good deeds. I state this in opposition to the philosophers.
43. It is false to say that no one can become a theologian without Aristotle. I state this in opposition to common opinion.
71. The law of God and the human will are two enemies, which can never be reconciled apart from the grace of God.
74. The law makes sin abound, because it exasperates and repels the will.
75. But the grace of God makes righteousness abound though Jesus Christ, who causes us to love the law.
78. The will, when it turns toward the law apart from the grace of God, does so purely out of its own interest alone.
88. From this is it clear that everyone's will is by nature wicked and bad.
89. Grace is necessary as a mediator to reconcile the law with the will.

February 11, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Marks of Cult

This highly anticipated DVD just came off the press and will be available in the first week of March for shipping. It features Dr. James While, Dr. E. Calvin Beisner and others.... It is produced by the Apologetics Group, the same good folks who brought you Amazing Grace, the History and Theology of Calvinism See a clip and read more about it here

Highly recommended!. Both the content and production quality of this DVD are outstanding.

See a clip and read more about it here

February 11, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

When Does Justification Take Place?

Question: Mr. Hendryx, is justification predicated upon our confession? Do we have to do something before were justified? Can this not be misconstrued as a work of man that God condescends to? Where in the order of salvation does justification occur in relation to a person's confession. When does it take place in a person's life. I'm trying to teach the ordo salutis and I am kind of stuck on this. Does justification come before, during or after a profession of faith in Christ?

Answer: Outstanding question. Lets be clear, it is Christ who justifies, not our faith. We boast in His grace to save, not our faith. But yes, the Scripture does assert that when the Holy Spirit unites to to Christ we appropriate the redemptive blessings of Christ (the alien righteousness) through faith. The Spirit uniting us to Christ and our faith are concurrant, yet it is the Spirit who illumines our mind, regenerates and unites to Christ as that which spiritually enables us to exercise faith. The texts, Acts 17:30 & 1 John 3:23, teach that we are commanded to repent and put our trust in Jesus Christ if we are to receive forgiveness. This, of course, does not imply the moral ability of the natural man to believe, so faith is not itself the cause of justification, but rather the grace of Jesus Christ is. We are justified, the text says BY GRACE through faith (Eph 2:8). Faith only takes hold of (appropriates) Christ and what He has accomplished. Grace is, therefore, ultimate while faith is only penultimate. Clearly the Bible specifically affirms that justification occurs at the same time we exercise faith (see Rom 3:28, Rom 5:1; Gal 2:16; Gal 3:8). So to answer your question, I believe a very good case can be made that justification actually occurs, in a historical sense, during a persons' confession (or belief). Justification, therefore, does not precede our confession. Prior to our confession, the Scripture says we were "by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." (Eph 2:3) There is indeed an experimental aspect to what Christ has accomplished for all time. Col 2:11-14 says,

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.

But since faith itself is the gift of God (Eph 2:8, Phil 1:29, 2 Tim 2:25, John 6:65), and since man is by nature morally incapable to draw from his own resources to reach God, apart from the Spirit, then faith cannot possibly be misconstrued as a work of man. God must first disarm our natural hostility, that is ....work the grace of regeneration (the new birth) in us that we would see with new eyes and believe with a new heart .... so regeneration (which makes us spiritually aware) precedes faith (John 1:13; 1 John 5:1) and is actually what gives rise to faith and the desire to please God. Thus, faith is not something produced by the will of unregenerate man (Rom 9:16. John 1:13). As the Cambridge Declaration confesses, "faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature."

Continue reading "When Does Justification Take Place?" »

February 10, 2006  |  Comments (26)   |  Permalink

Sola Scriptura (Part 1) by Pastor John Samson

"Sola scriptura, the formal principle of the Reformation, is essential to genuine Christianity. Yet this doctrine is under attack like never before. Christians who want to defend their faith must have a basic knowledge of this doctrine, know how to support it with Scripture proofs, and be able to discern the enemy's attacks against it." - Dr. John MacArthur

"Let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth." - Basil of Caesarea (c. 330 - 379 A.D.)

"We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ. We deny that such a confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and the church." - Chicago Statement of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy

"...have you not read what was spoken to you by God..." - Jesus Christ (Matt. 22:31)

There has been an unprecedented crisis in the Church in the last 200 years as to the question "Can we trust the Scriptures?" There has been a wholesale loss of the sense of authority.

To understand the issues involved in our day, I am convinced that we need to know something about the 16th Century Protestant Reformation. The central issue was Justification by faith alone (Latin: sola fide). Yet often overlooked is another controversy which was equally as serious for the life of the Church. Whilst the material issue of the Reformation concerned the debate over justification by faith alone, the formal issue (the structure in which the whole debate ensued) was the issue of final authority - who or what speaks for God?

Continue reading "Sola Scriptura (Part 1) by Pastor John Samson" »

February 10, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Understanding 1 Timothy 4:10 by Pastor John Samson

"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10 (NKJ)

1 Tim. 4:10 is a verse that has had many interpretations. Here are the main three:

(1) The Universalist Interpretation - "God is the Savior of all men" means that all who have ever lived will be saved. This of course is contrary to all sound doctrine. If this was true, the rest of the verse would have no meaning whatsoever when it says "especially of those who believe."

(2) The Arminian Interpretation - God wants to save everyone but His desire is many times thwarted by the obsinate free will of man. God is able to save all men, but though all can be saved, only believers actually are. Certainly this is a popular view, but we must be clear that this is not what the text says. It does not say God wants to save, but that He actually saves: He is actually the Savior (in some sense) of all men.

(3) The Reformed Interpretation - God is the Savior of all men (in one sense) and especially of those who believe (in another sense). Let me be quick to say that this is not the only way reformed people have understood this verse, but I do believe this is the correct interpretation.

As we study the terms "salvation" and "Savior" we find many nuances - many different ways - God saves. The most important aspect of salvation is to be "saved" from the wrath of God (Romans 5:6-9; 1 Thess. 1:10), but salvation also includes the idea of rescue from enemy attack (Psalm 18:3); preservation (Matt. 8:25); physical healing (Matt. 9:22; James 5:15), etc. God "saved" not only Paul's life but everyone else on board ship with him in Acts 27:22, 31, 44. There are numerous ways that "salvation" takes place, but that's a complete Bible study all in itself.

Continue reading "Understanding 1 Timothy 4:10 by Pastor John Samson" »

February 08, 2006  |  Comments (17)   |  Permalink

The Subject of All Theology

Jesus Christ is the focus and subject of all theology. He is not only the author and perfector of our faith and salvation (Heb 12:2), but is the the author and perfector of all things excellent, for in Him all things are consummated (Col 1:16-20). All theology is, therefore, Christology, for what we can, and do, know about God is summed up in the person of Jesus Christ. All light concerning God is refracted only through the Christ who has worked and revealed HImself through redemptive history. This means that all attempts to try to understand God redemptively in any sense that is different than Christ is futile, for apart from Jesus Christ, He is unknowable. While reason and creation may give us an idea of God and His greatness, only in the revelation of Christ can we come to know Him. While in Romans 1:18, 21 it says that the unregenerate "know" God as well, but the text makes clear that they only know Him as an enemy. Only through Christ do we know Him as a friend.

Calvin once said, "...it is obvious, that in seeking God, the most direct path and the fittest method is, not to attempt with presumptuous curiosity to pry into his essence, which is rather to be adored than minutely discussed, but to contemplate him in his works, by which he draws near, becomes familiar, and in a manner communicates himself to us."(Institutes Book 1, Chapter 5, section 9) In other words, we should only attempt to know God as He has revealed Himself to us. Other attempts are vain speculation.

So why study theology? Because theology is an interpretation of God as He revealed Himself, a revelation which was fulfilled in the gospel-event of Christ which took place in space-time history. The gospel is a narrative of the story of Jesus as God’s historical act to which all revelation pointed. It narrates the history of Jesus as the history of redemption that culminates in Christ's physical death and resurrection. The gospel defines the God who has revealed Himself in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God. Incarnate to redeem His covenant people, He was executed on a cross, and was raised to life: this is the Christian definition of God which was fulfilled in His decisive act. "All the wisdom of believers", said Calvin, "is comprehended in the cross of Christ."

So it is an extremely urgent task in our era of religious chaos, that we use the word “God” only as describing the event that culminated in the history of Jesus Christ, God made flesh for His glory and our redemption. When we speak of the benefits of truths such as the doctrines of grace, they should never be spoken of as divorced from the Benefactor. And when we speak of God's various perfections, we do not simply speak in abstractions, but of a historic person who walked among us. God's love, glory, wrath, holiness are all seen to perfectly unite in the person of Jesus.

-JWH

February 08, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

C. H. Spurgeon Quotes on the Doctrines of Grace

I believe nothing merely because Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God. 2584.402

The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism—though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject—are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this—it is possible you may not; but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded, that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven. 12.92

I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart. 277.424

“But,” say others, “God elected them on the foresight of their faith.” Now, God gives faith, therefore he could not have elected them on account of faith, which he foresaw. There shall be twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a shilling; but will any one say that I determined to give that one a shilling, that I elected him to have the shilling, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would be talking nonsense. In like manner to say that God elected men because he foresaw they would have faith, which is salvation in the germ, would be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment. 41,42.317

Continue reading "C. H. Spurgeon Quotes on the Doctrines of Grace" »

February 07, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Contending for the Trinity by Pastor John Samson

Some months ago I visited the newly developed web site of an independent minister friend of mine, whom I have known for more than two decades.

I was interested to see the improvements and enjoyed seeing the upgraded graphics and the easy to read text. However, curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on the Statement of Faith link (the statement of faith is the first thing I look at when assessing a Church or ministry). I thought I would enjoy reading what my friend had posted there. But in reading it, I became deeply troubled as I read the following sentence: "We believe there is one living and true God (manifested as Father, Son and Holy Spirit) infinitely perfect and eternal in existence."

The phrase "one God... manifested as Father, Son and Spirit" was far too vague for me, and if I was honest, could easily be interpreted as embracing one of the age old heresies of the past, Sabellianism, which says that there is one God who manifests Himself sometimes as Father, sometimes as the Son, and sometimes as the Holy Spirit. I was sufficiently concerned to contact my friend immediately by way of e-mail.

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February 06, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Whitefield on Election

Whatever men's reasoning may suggest, if the children of God fairly examine their own experiences - if they do God justice, they must acknowledge that they did not choose God, but that God chose them. And if He chose them at all, it must be from eternity, and that too without anything foreseen in them. Unless they acknowledge this, man's salvation must be in part owing to the free-will of man; and if so, . . . Christ Jesus might have died, and never seen the travail of His soul in the salvation of one of His creatures. But I would be tender on this point, and leave persons to be taught it of God. I am of the martyr Bradford's mind. Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance, before he goes to the university of election and predestination." From George Whitefield's Journals (London: Banner of Truth, 1960), p. 491. Quoted in George Whitefield, Vol. 1 by Arnold Dallimore, p. 570.

I hope we shall catch fire from each other, and that there will be a holy emulation amongst us, who shall most debase man and exalt the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the doctines of the Reformation can do this. All others leave freewill in man and make him, in part at least, a Saviour to himself. My soul, come not thou near the secret of those who teach such things . . . I know Christ is all in all. Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to do of His good pleasure (George Whitefield, Works, pp. 89-90).

Oh, the excellency of the doctrine of election and of the saint's final perseverance! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come to himself, but when convinced of these, and assured of their application to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed! . . . Love, not fear, constrains him to obedience (George Whitefield, Works, p. 101).

February 06, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Biblical Reflections on Hebrews 6

There are those who teach that Hebrews chapter six is a clear statement that Christians can fall away from the faith and thereby lose their salvation. The purpose of this short reflection is not only to show this to be a erroneous interpretation, but also that the persons making such assertions are in danger of making the very error which the passage is warning about. Lets take a look at the passage together:

"....it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.: - Hebrews 6: 4-8

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February 04, 2006  |  Comments (44)   |  Permalink

The Messianic Claims of Jesus Christ by Pastor John Samson

"You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." - Peter, to Jesus - Matthew 16:16

"And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." - Acts 5:42

To say that Jesus is the Christ is to say that He is the long awaited Messiah of Israel. "Christ" comes from the Greek word "Christos" which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word for the Messiah or Anointed One. Christ is not Jesus' last name (He was not born to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph and Mary Christ), but rather His title - the Anointed King Messiah.

Through what we call Messianic Prophecies, God provided a sure way to recognize His Messiah when He came. These prophecies are events written in the Bible, hundreds and even thousands of years before they would take place in time. Only God Himself could reveal such amazing detail millennia in advance of the historical events.

God had declared that His Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and a son of David (Jer. 23:5,6; 1 Chron. 17:10b-14). God had also said that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), in poverty (Isa. 11:1-2), would be proceeded by a herald (Isa. 40:3-5, Mal. 3:1) and would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David (Micah 5:2), He would be seen riding on a donkey (Zech 9:9, 10) and would be present 483 years after the decree was made to rebuild Jerusalem, after the Babylonian captivity (Dan. 9:24-27). He would be a prophet (Deut. 18:15-19; Isa. 61:1, 2), a priest (Psalm 110:1-7), and a king (Gen 49:10; Isa. 9:6,7),

But there’s more…

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February 03, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

A Quote on Election

After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of sovereign grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, 'This is the most awful thing I've ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect.' I answered her in this vein: 'You misunderstand the situation. You're visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, 'Yes, you may come, but not you, and you, but not you, etc.' The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction towards hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams. That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn't it? If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish. - Mark Webb

February 03, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

ESV Premium Calfskin Bible Giveaway

ESV Bible Giveaway

Take advantage of this incredible opportunity. Monergism Books is giving away Two ESV Classic Thinline, Premium Calfskin Leather, Black, Black Letter, Stiched Bibles. Two equal prizes will be awarded based on a random drawing from all entries received. This is the premium of the ESV Bibles. The prizes will be announced on at the end of Feb 14. 2006 sometime after midnight.

There is a maximum of one entry per email address.

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Many Thanks to Tim Challies for the technical help in putting this contest together.

February 02, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

All Always Means All, Right? by Pastor John Samson

Question: I understand the following to be a brief summary of Jesus' words regarding God's Sovereign purpose in election from John 6:35-45: Unless it is granted, no one will come to Christ. All to whom it is granted will come to Christ, and all of these will be raised up to eternal life on the last day. So, this being the case, can you please explain to me the meaning of John 12:32, where Jesus said: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."?

Answer: What I will say here may surprize you, but the word "all" has a number of different meanings in the Bible. We tend to assume that when Jesus speaks of drawing "all men" that He is referring to every last person on the planet. Well, that may or may not be true, but it is in the CONTEXT where we find the phrase that tells us if this assumption is correct or misplaced.

Even today we use the words "all" or "every" in many different ways. When a school teacher asks the people in his classroom, "Are we all here?" or "is everyone listening?" we understand he is not talking about every one of the 6.5 billion plus folk on the planet, but all the students who have signed up for the class. Context determines the proper interpretation or meaning of words. When the word "all" is used, it is used within a context.

In this illustration, the "all" had a context of the school classroom, which did not include "all" the hockey players in Iceland, "all" the dentists in Denmark, or "all" the carpet layers in Atlanta, Georgia. To rip the word "all" out of its setting and say that the teacher was refering to all people everywhere, would be to totally misunderstand and misinterpret how the word was being used. Again, it is context that determines correct interpretation.

I believe you are correct in your understanding of what John 6:35-45 teaches. So how do we understand the nature of the drawing in John 12:32? Who is being drawn?

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February 01, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink