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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)

A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert Reymond

In recent studies of every variety I have been consistently and considerably benefited by Robert Reymond's New Sytematic Theology of the Christian Faith. I am confident that any student of the scriptures, whether layman or clergy, will likewise be greatly profited by this phenomenal resource; and so I have decided to write a brief review for the purpose of commending this work to anyone interested, by highlighting four characteristics which I have consistently found in Reymond's writing, to an eminent degree. I pray that God will give this beautifully Christ-centered work a widening circle of influence.

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March 31, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Romans 8:28 - 9:24 (Overview) by Pastor John Samson

In Romans chapter 9, the Apostle Paul is dealing with the issue of God's Sovereign Grace in election. Obviously, Romans 9 follows on from Romans 8, and in the latter part of Romans 8, Paul is stating the fact that nothing and no one can separate the true believer from the love of Christ. But this raises a huge question; namely, why is it that not all Jews, the chosen people, have recognized their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ? How can nothing separate God's people from the love of Christ and many of the Jews be separated from it? That's exactly the question Paul is seeking to answer in Romans 9.

There are no chapter and verse divisions in the original Greek text, and actually, Paul starts talking about predestination and election in Romans 8. So let's start at Romans 8:28 reading through to chapter 9 so we can establish the context for Paul's argument.

Romans 8:
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

In what theologians refer to as "The Golden Chain of Redemption," God is revealing to us an unbreakable chain that starts in eternity past, goes through time, and on into eternity future. This chain is forged by God Himself, and has five unbreakable links: God foreknows, predestinates, calls, justifies and glorifies.

Notice that there is one ambiguity in the text; something that is not actually stated but is definitely implied - that being the word "all." Let's see this clearly by inserting another possible implication by way of contrast, the word "some."

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March 30, 2006  |  Comments (21)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Augustine on Psalm One

If it is true that the first and last psalms in our psalter serve as bookends to the whole, the first standing as an introduction to the entire collection and the last as a concluding doxology; then what we may learn about these psalms in particular will color our understanding of all that comes between. The 150th psalm certainly teaches us that our ultimate purpose, and the end for which we ought to employ the psalms, is, as the catechism instructs us, “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” But what may we learn of the first psalm that will assist us more accurately to understand and apply all which follow it?

When I first began to read Augustine’s monumental Expositions of the Psalms, my attention was immediately arrested at the very first sentence, in which I encountered an observation which, if true, must have a profound impact on my interpretation of the entire collection of the psalms. This observation was rendered all the more captivating by the fact that, in all the explanations I had ever heard of Psalm One, this proposition had never been suggested; and yet, as I paused to consider the manner in which the New Testament authors unexceptionally seem to use the psalms, I became convinced that it must be the truth. The profoundly simple assertion to which I refer is this: “‘Blessed is the man that hath not gone away in the counsel of the ungodly’ (ver. 1). This is to be understood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Man.”

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March 29, 2006  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Response to the "Free Grace" Movement

[Recently this important essay was submitted to me for posting. It deals with the 'Lordship' issue and the teaching of Zane Hodges & Joseph Dillow who boldly claim we need not repent of good (and evil) works in order to be saved. The author and lay teacher, Phil Simpson, has a great deal of personal experience with the so-called 'free grace' teaching of the Grace Evangelical Society since he was himself under the teaching of a church which vigorously affirmed it. His essay comes with recommendations from two M.Div's in the OPC and one Calvinistic Baptist. Simpson himself has spent the last eight or nine years wrestling with the 'free grace' teaching (which is more radical than the run-of-the-mill "no-lordship" movement in its reinterpretation of the New Testament, its eschatology {teaching bizarre things such as the division of believers into two camps--the overcoming and the non-overcomining--in a millennial kingdom, with only the overcomers inheriting the kingdom, reigning with Christ, and partaking of the marriage supper of the Lamb}, its view of the validity of faith without works, and the denial that true believers will always continue in the faith -- in fact, they may even become atheists, yet remain saved! I post the essay here because I thought it might be of great interest to some who are familiar with the movement. It is long (about 30-40 typewritten pages) but it is thorough and the author obviously seriously thought through these issues].

A Biblical Response to the Teachings of Zane Hodges,
Joseph Dillow, and the Grace Evangelical Society
(Called the "Free Grace" Movement)

© Copyright by Phillip L. Simpson – 2006

The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical evaluation of what has been termed (by its proponents) the "Free Grace" movement. I should begin by stating at the outset that this is a paper I did not want to write. It is borne out of much sorrow and heaviness of heart. For twenty years, ever since I had become a Christian, I had attended a particular church. When John MacArthur wrote, "The Gospel According to Jesus" in 1988, a line was drawn in the sand regarding the doctrine that came to be known as the "lordship salvation" doctrine (a regrettable term, coined by its critics, but one which is now necessary to identify the doctrine). My church chose to side with the critics of "lordship salvation", with such stalwarts as Zane Hodges, Charles Ryrie, and many from Dallas Theological Seminary leading the way.

Personally, I was torn. On the one hand I had heroes such as Dr. MacArthur and R.C. Sproul defending the lordship position; on the other hand, other heroes, such as my pastor and Dr. Ryrie, were teaching against it.

I launched into a study, reading books and articles by men from both sides, including MacArthur, Sproul, Michael Horton, J. I. Packer, Ryrie, Michael Cocoris, Charles Bing, Earl Radmacher, and Zane Hodges. I did this to make sure I understood fully both positions. Since I felt both sides had convincing arguments, I began to study the Scriptures for myself regarding this matter. My study took nearly eight years. A breakthrough came when I decided to jot down all the relevant Scripture texts which speak to the debate. As I did this, I compiled a list of over 100 Scripture texts. Looking over the list, I realized that what I largely had was a list of verses which seemed to support the lordship viewpoint, which would need to be "explained away" by its critics (or reinterpreted so as to contradict the plain meaning of these texts-- over 100 of them!). It is from this list of Scripture texts that this article was formed.

Read the Entire Essay

March 29, 2006  |  Comments (21)   |  Permalink

E-mails to an Apologist

A few days ago (March 22) on the blog here, I posted a very short comment by Dr. James White concerning Revelation 5:8, 9. Although it was brief, I thought it was an edifying devotional. But I guess there's a big difference between posting the comment here in a (basically) friendly blog environment, and that of James White's web site at www.aomin.org. It passed without comment here. Not so over on Dr. White's blog. Read on and you'll see what I mean.
- Pastor John Samson

Dr. James White writes:
"Amazing" is the term that crosses my mind as I survey some of the articles I've seen appear in response to my posting of...a single paragraph regarding a memorization verse a week ago. First, amazing that so many people read this blog (many thanks!). But more amazing is the kinds of replies that have been offered to a single paragraph of devotional commentary. I wonder why my published works do not garner such replies? I mean, I've seen replies that were ten times the length of that single paragraph. And it seems that I do not have the luxury, at any time, of speaking to fellow believers outside of the context of the strictest standards of scholarship. For example, this was sent to me a couple of days ago. Note that the author inserts the kinds of "formal errors" found in my devotional commentary on a Scripture memorization verse:

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March 29, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Practicing Multiculturalism

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" - the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

Will We Stick Our Necks Out for His Faith? By MARK STEYN


Thanks to Between Two Worlds for this link

March 28, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Jesus Gives Botany Lessons

Reflection on Agricultural Metaphors by J.W Hendryx

"Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matt 7:16-18)

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. " (Matt 12:33- 35)

Does Jesus tell us these stories in order that we may learn more about plant life? Was He here to teach us about botany? If not, what is Jesus saying here in these stories? Jesus is not teaching us about botany, but is speaking rather plainly about us, about the human condition after the fall.

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March 28, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Boat Journey by Pastor John Samson

The story is told of a man in England whose lifetime ambition was to take a trip to the United States of America. One day, a friend of his surprised him with the gift of an envelope. In opening it, the man discovered a ticket for a boat trip from the English port of Southampton (where he lived) to New York City. Overjoyed, and overwhelmed by the generosity of his friend, the man realised his dream was soon to come true.

On boarding the ship, the man's joy could be seen by all. Yet one thing differentiated him from the others on board. During meal times, the rest of the passengers went into the dinner lounge to enjoy sumptuous gourmet meals. Instead, this man went back to his cabin and opened the little bag he carried with him on board containing crackers and cheese, and day by day, he consumed the contents, alone.

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March 28, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Particular Redemption by C. H. Spurgeon

"The doctrine of Redemption is one of the most important doctrines of the system of faith. A mistake on this point will inevitably lead to a mistake through the entire system of our belief.

Now, you are aware that there are different theories of Redemption. All Christians hold that Christ died to redeem, but all Christians do not teach the same redemption. We differ as to the nature of atonement, and as to the design of redemption. For instance, the Arminian holds that Christ, when he died, did not die with an intent to save any particular person; and they teach that Christ’s death does not in itself secure, beyond doubt, the salvation of any one man living. They believe that Christ died to make the salvation of all men possible, or that by the doing of something else, any man who pleases may attain unto eternal life; consequently, they are obliged to hold that if man’s will would not give way and voluntarily surrender to grace, then Christ’s atonement would be unavailing. They hold that there was no particularity and speciality in the death of Christ. Christ died, according to them, as much for Judas in hell as for Peter who mounted to heaven. They believe that for those who are consigned to eternal fire, there was as true and real a redemption made as for those who now stand before the throne of the Most High.

Now, we believe no such thing. We hold that Christ, when he died, had an object in view, and that object will most assuredly, and beyond a doubt, be accomplished. We measure the design of Christ’s death by the effect of it. If any one asks us, “What did Christ design to do by his death?” we answer that question by asking him another — “What has Christ done, or what will Christ do by his death?” For we declare that the measure of the effect of Christ’s love, is the measure of the design of it. We cannot so belie our reason as to think that the intention of Almighty God could be frustrated, or that the design of so great a thing as the atonement, can by any way whatever, be missed of. We hold — we are not afraid to say what we believe — that Christ came into this world with the intention of saving “a multitude which no man can number;” and we believe that as the result of this, every person for whom he died must, beyond the shadow of a doubt, be cleansed from sin, and stand, washed in blood, before the Father’s throne. We do not believe that Christ made any effectual atonement for those who are for ever damned, we dare not think that the blood of Christ was ever shed with the intention of saving those whom God foreknew never could be saved, and some of whom were even in hell when Christ, according to some men’s account, died to save them.

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March 27, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Better Than I Deserve

A biblical reflection by J.W. Hendryx

"Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23

Just as the rainbow is a sign which "reminds" God of His promise to never again flood the earth, so the blood of Christ is a covenant sign to "remind" Him not to treat our sins as they deserve. It is only because of God's mercy in Christ that we are not utterly consumed. That means, because of Christ, God does not treat us according to our sin. What we deserve, rather, is His fierce wrath. But because the fullness of His wrath has already been poured on Christ, God is completely satisfied and Christ's atoning blood is sufficient for you for all time. You cannot add or take away from it.

We have broken his law, cast aside His love, despised and rejected Him with our sin and we should be utterly consumed. Anything else is better than we deserve. But God has shown great mercy to us in Christ, and that mercy fails not. It is new every morning which means that if you have sinned, then God has fresh supply of mercy, so flee to Christ now. If your conscience accuses you of that one sin you committed, go to Christ. He is compassionate and His mercy never runs out of supply because God is already completely satisfied - Christ has paid for that sin. If you are brokenhearted about sin, if you are brought low because of it and mourn over it then God has done a work of grace in your heart. And since God's covenant in Christ's blood is the foundation of your hope, turn your eyes away from yourself unto Him. God keeps his Word so go to Him now to find mercy and grace in your time of need. Our faithlessness does not change God's faithfulness to us since He has already given us His Son and His work is finished.

March 25, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Responding to Apostasy by Pastor John Samson

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." - 1 John 2:19

Apostasy - how do we handle it? Christians view apostasy according to their understanding of the work of God in salvation. It is just here where we find a great divide of opinion between those embracing the reformed doctrines of grace, and those who do not.

According to the Scriptures, Jesus does not ever lose a single one of His true sheep (John 10:28-30). All the Father gives to Jesus will come to Jesus, and the Father's will is that all those given to Him (Jesus) be raised up (to eternal life) on the last day (John 6:37-39). I can't for a moment see Jesus failing to fulfill the will of His Father. He always carries out His Father's will. So with great confidence we can say that all the ones given to Him, will indeed come to Him, and He will then raise all of these up to eternal life on the last day.

Elsewhere, Romans 8:28-30 presents the Golden Chain of Redemption where, in the five links of the chain forged by God Himself, amongst other things, all whom God calls are justified, and all whom God justifies, He glorifies. No truly justified person falls through the cracks and fails to be glorified. God speaks of their final glorification with such certainty that He does so in the past tense "these whom He justified, He glorified", yet we know that in time, this refers to something that will yet take place in the future. If we can see ourselves somewhere in this golden chain - namely as one who is justified - then all the other things mentioned in the chain, both backwards and forwards, hold true. If we are justified, we were first called, predestined and foreknown. Truly justified people have the utmost assurance regarding their eternal welfare... those whom He has justified, will be glorified, for He who began the good work in them will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

With that said, how do we understand it when someone has professed faith in Christ for many a year, and was perhaps even a leader in a Church, and yet then renounces Christ? Were they ever truly united with Christ? Were they in all reality a "former" brother or sister in Christ as some would assert? Did Jesus' work of mediation work only for a time in their case? Did they possess a temporal form of eternal life and then lose it?

Here is something I found to be very helpful on the subject from my friend Dr. James White. He is responding to an anonymous person who used to sit in his class and certainly, at the time of the class, professed faith in Christ. However, this person is now apparantly an atheist. I think you'll find the discussion here illuminating. Its a little lengthy, but well worth reading. Please read on.

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March 24, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Fundy Turned Skeptic

Bart Ehrman, previous evangelical/fundy turned skeptic, in his New York Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, argues that we can't trust the New Testament documents and we can never truly know what they originally said. He is getting a lot of press and some are making a bit of noise about it. His most recent book is number 9 on the Amazon list and he was even on Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central the other day, which I suppose is an appropriate forum for his speculations :) I suggest if visitors to Reformation Theology.com have not already done so, that you get to know a little about him. As the Davinci Code comes out in Theaters, his theories will likely be brandished about by naive people in the street and you should all be ready to give an answer.

Until recently, Bart Ehrman was basically only known in the academic field of New Testament studies. Among academics, he was mostly well known for his work in textual criticism, and his controversial book, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. In recent months Ehrman made the contents of the academic book into a more more digestible form and popularized it for the masses in the pages of Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman essentially argues that scribes maliciously changed the New Testament text to create doctrines like the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Thus, according to Ehrman, we can't trust the New Testament documents and we can never truly know what they originally said.

Believe it or not, this textual criticism for lay people, has becomes a New York Times bestseller. This guy Ehrman is now all over the place talking about this book--in national television, radio, and print interviews. The recent interview in the Washington Post will give you a bird's eye view of what Ehrman's all about. Perhaps only The Da Vinci Code has a bigger platform for radical skepticism than Misquoting Jesus.

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March 24, 2006  |  Comments (12)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

The Reformers’ Hermeneutic: Grammatical, Historical, and Christ-Centered

It is widely recognized that the formal principle underlying the Reformation was nothing other than sola scriptura: the reformers’ diehard commitment to the other great solas was an effect arising from their desire to be guided by scriptures alone. The exegesis and interpretation of the bible was the one great means by which the war against Roman corruption was waged; which is almost the same thing as saying that the battle was basically a hermeneutical struggle. In light of these observations, one could say that the key event marking the beginning of the Reformation occurred, not in 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door in Wittenberg; but two years prior to that, when he rejected Origin’s four-layered hermeneutic in favor of what he called the grammatical-historical sense. This one interpretive decision was the seed-idea from which would soon spring up all the fruits of the most massive recovery of doctrinal purity in the history of the Church. We would do well to learn from this: our ongoing struggle to be always reforming, always contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, is essentially a process of bringing every doctrine under the scrutiny of scripture. And in order to have the confidence that we are doing so legitimately, we must give much effort to being hermeneutically sound. Hermeneutics is the battlefield on which the war is won or lost.

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March 23, 2006  |  Comments (10)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Its scary being a Pastor! by Pastor John Samson

Ever thought about why we do Church? The schedule of meetings is not always convenient, we have to deal with people who sometimes rub us the wrong way... it would seem so much easier to be a Christian at home - except in doing so, we would not be living as disciples of Christ.

Obviously, we need to make allowances in our thinking for the housebound Christians who are physically impeded from getting to the corporate gathering. But for all of us who are able bodied disciples, Christ, through His apostles in the God breathed scriptures, commands us to be regularly attending services. He also summons us to live under pastoral rule and care (Heb 10:25; 13:17).

Alright - so God wants us to participate in this thing called "church." But what exactly is "Church"? What are the priorities in the life of a church?

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March 23, 2006  |  Comments (8)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Martin Luther Page Update

"If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright." -Martin Luther

For all you Luther fans out there Monergism.com has just done a major update to its Martin Luther page. It is still under construction but at least there is a large improvement.

Martin Luther was born in 1483 into a strict German Catholic family. His parents intended him for a law career, but he became a monk and a theology professor instead. A sensitive soul, he struggled mightily with a guilty conscience and an intense fear of God and hell until he realized the doctrine of "justification by faith" while studying the book of Romans. This doctrine, his Augustinian understanding of the bondage of the will along with his conviction that the Bible should be the basis of religious life and available to all, became the theological foundation of Protestantism.

Enter Martin Luther Page Here

March 22, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Results of the Atonement Seen

And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
(Rev. 5:9-10)

One of the glorious truths of Scripture is that Jesus is not a hypothetical Savior, a mere wanna-be who fails with regularity. No, we proclaim a powerful Savior who perfectly does the will of the Father. His death did not make the purchase of men from every tribe, tongue, people and nation possible, it actually accomplished that which the Triune Majesty intended. Why so many long for an "atonement" that atones not I will never understand, but when they make reference to the extent of the atonement, point them to this text that defines what it means to speak of the "world" in a New Testament context.
- Dr. James White

March 22, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Is Faith a Work?

We confess with the Bible that our regeneration or new birth in Christ is monergistic (a work of God alone) and not synergistic (i.e. a cooperation of man and God in regeneration). Thus our faith in Christ arises out of a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to change and soften our natural hostile disposition toward God. We likewise affirm that only by upholding monergistic regeneration do we faithfullly herald the biblical doctrine of 'Sola Gratia', or salvation by grace alone. All other schemes in which unregenerate man either takes the initiative or cooperates to be regenerated (by a faith produced or drawn from their native ability), should be considered synergistic. Some may be unhappy with being called a 'synergist' because it implies that they believe man and God work together toward salvation which clearly is a form of semi-pelagianism. So to defend themselves many synergists may respond as follows:

"Why do you call our belief that faith precedes regeneration synergistic? How can this be, unless faith is understood to be a work? Faith is not a meritorious work, by definition. In essence, the two are mutually exclusive. Accepting a gift is not a work, therefore it can't be considered synergism. If salvation is by faith, then works are nowhere to be found in the process. Again, to argue that faith precedes regeneration is synergistic would only be valid if faith = works."

I might respond to this line of reasoning by saying something like the following:

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March 21, 2006  |  Comments (28)   |  Permalink

Foundations of Deconstructionism

By Ravi Zacharias

"...we have played a game with words and lied to ourselves a thousandfold. Let me say forthrightly that what we have actually done is smuggle in foundational strengths of Christian thought, buried far below the surface to maintain some stability, while above the ground we see humanism's bizarre experiments growing unchecked. If we truly put into place the same principles below the ground that we flaunt above the ground, we would completely self-destruct. And though in the classroom we have tried to dignify what we have done, the songwriters and artists have called our bluff.

An utterly fascinating illustration of this duping of ourselves is the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts at Ohio State University. This building, another one of our chimerical exploits in the name of intellectual advance, was branded by Newsweek as "America's first deconstructionist building" Its white scaffolding, red brick turrets, and Colorado grass pods evokes a double take. But puzzlement only intensifies when you enter the building, for inside you encounter stairways that go nowhere, pillars that hang from the ceiling without purpose, and angled surfaces configured to create a sense of vertigo. The architect, we are duly informed, designed the building to reflect life itself--senseless and incoherent--and the "capriciousness of the rules that organize the built world." When the rationale was explained to me, I had just one question: Did he do the same with the foundation?

The laughter in response to my question unmasked the double standard our deconstructionists espouse. And that is precisely the double standard of antithesim!. It is possible to dress up and romanticize our bizarre experiments in social restructuring while disavowing truth or absolutes. But one dares not play such deadly games with the foundations of good thinking. And if one does toy at the foundational level, he or she will not only witness the collapse of all reason but at the same time will forfeit the right to criticize the starting point of any other worldview."

Excerpt from "Can Man Live Without God" by Ravi Zacharias, pg. 21, 22

March 21, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Regeneration by C. H. Spurgeon

“Of his own will begat he us.” Regeneration and all consequent blessings come to us entirely through the absolute but gracious will of God. He is not bound to give; he may, if he wills, withhold. We have no claim upon God, except the claim of justice; and what would that involve but that he should punish us for our sin? We are felons against the Majesty of heaven. We have forfeited all the rights we ever had under the divine government. The right to punishment is the only right we can now claim upon the footing of justice. Henceforth we are simply in the hands of God awaiting his sentence. He may, if he wills, save the entire human race; if it pleaseth him, he may save none. If so he wills, he may make this man a monument of mercy, and leave his neighbor to reap the due reward of his works. This is what God has a right to do, and he claims his sovereign prerogative. Are not his own words heard through Scripture like peals of thunder, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion; so then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”? There are some who, in their blindness, grow wrathful at this doctrine, as if it were ungracious to mention a fact which it is impossible to disguise; they will almost froth at the mouth when the subject is broached. Well, let them do so, it still standeth firm as a rock and fast as the eternal hills. Jehovah giveth no account of his matters. He doeth as he wills among the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of this lower earth. So,-

“Mortals, be dumb; what creature dares
Dispute his awful will?
Ask no account of his affairs,
But tremble, and be still.”

Brethren, you and I, to whom this sovereignty has looked forth through the lattice of grace, can gladly appreciate it. We bless that wonderful, discriminating love which fixed upon us, whilst others were let to go their downward course and perish. The only motive God had to stir up his mercy, was his own will. To us therefore it is precious.

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March 21, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Beatitudes: A Short Relection on The Poor In Spirit By Marco Gonzalez

For some time now, I have invested my time in studying the beatitudes. By God’s grace I have learned and tasted Christ’s words and continue to. These beatitudes showed me the virtues that every Christian should have. These virtues are not for the highly-esteemed pastors, evangelists, and note-worthy Christians. But, it is to be manifested by every Christian. There is a cost when you look into these truths; it will cost you to strip yourself of all pride, self-worth, and esteem. But, through the word and spirit all these truths can be applied to our lives continually from glory to glory. These truths have the profound effect of keeping a man on his knees before God. It is my desire and I hope it will be yours to live like this through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us remember that the same sun that hardens the clay also melts it. Never become indifferent to the word of God. Let it dwell deeply in your hearts.

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March 20, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

We're Pagans I tell you! by Pastor John Samson

Jesus said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father." Matthew 10:29.

Whenever a sparrow falls to the ground, God the Father was involved in some way. That's a powerful statement, if ever I heard one. Why? Because the falling of a sparrow is an everyday occurrence. Each day, sparrows are born; and each day, sparrows die. Perhaps when a sparrow falls, someone might actually notice it; but then again, perhaps not. Perhaps the fall is caught on camera, or then again, perhaps not. Perhaps the sparrow falls amongst forest trees in the middle of the night with no camera or person around to record the incident. But the point Jesus makes here is that whatever the circumstance of a sparrow's fall - any sparrow's fall - it could not have done so unless God the Father had in some sense determined that it would.

In making this statement, Jesus was pointing to a great deal more than the plight of a sparrow. We can clearly understand that major events like the fall and the rise of nations are under God's providential rule and authority. But Jesus here made it quite clear that even when it comes to seemingly insignificant or trivial events (like a sparrow falling); they only occur because of the Father's will.

Even as Christians, I really don't think we get this. We have been so saturated and indoctrinated by the secular society around us that the world has affected our thinking far more than the Bible has. We live in a technological age unlike any other in human history. This is the generation of space travel, television, radio, the cell phone, high speed internet, the garage door opener, instant text messaging, microwave ovens and satellites. We're now very accustomed to seeing satellite pictures from space showing us up to the minute weather conditions around the world. There's nothing wrong with that, except that modern technology often gives us a very false impression. Because we can monitor the movement of a cloud formation or a hurricane from our living rooms, we tend to think that somehow what we are seeing in front of our eyes takes place outside of God's control. Because we can plot the movement of a hurricane, and even get a good idea about where and when it might hit land, we fail to see God's hand in it all.

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March 19, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Why Were the Israelites Ordered to Kill the Inhabitants of Canaan?

Question: Do you know why the Israelites were ordered to kill all the people in the promised land, right off the top of your head, the short answer? I was wondering [about this] after we had the study on Samson. How do you reconcile that with "Thou Shalt Not Kill."?

Response: That is a good question. Considering that God takes lives every day, since all human beings die, the command obviously does not apply to God Himself. Death, we must remember, is God's just judgment against sin and the penalty exacted for Adam's disobedience in the garden. We all must undergo death sooner or later, so whether the inhabitants of Canaan died "naturally" then or a few years later is one and the same and really makes little difference. Specifically God was judging the Canaanites at that time, the Scripture says, for their gross idolatry, divination, witchcraft, sorcery, and mediums, i.e. those who call up the dead. In fact God says these "detestable practices" are the very reason they were driven out, as the following text in Deuteronomy affirms:

"When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in [a] the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you . 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God." (Deut 18:9-13)

But it is critical that we always remind ourselves that God did not select Israel (or us for that matter) because they were better or more numerous then these other peoples (Deut 7:7). He simply set them apart to redeem them because of the covenant he made with their forefathers out of his sheer grace as the Bible confirms:

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March 18, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Our Infinite Obligation to God by Jonathan Edwards

When men are fallen, and become sinful, God by His sovereignty has a right to determine about their redemption as He pleases. He has a right to determine whether He will redeem any or not. He might, if he had pleased, have left all to perish, or might have redeemed all. Or, he may redeem some, and leave others; and if He doth so, He may take whom He pleases, and leave whom He pleases. To suppose that all have forfeited his favor, and deserved to perish, and to suppose that he may not leave any one individual of them to perish, implies a contradiction; because it supposes that such a one has a claim to God's favor, and is not justly liable to perish; which is contrary to the supposition.

It is meet (right) that God should order all these things according to His own pleasure. By reason of His greatness and glory, by which He is infinitely above all, He is worthy to be Sovereign, and that His pleasure should in all things take place. He is worthy that He should make Himself His end, and that He should make nothing but His own wisdom His rule in pursuing that end, without asking leave or counsel of any, and without giving account of any of His matters. It is fit that He who is absolutely perfect, and infinitely wise, and the Fountain of all wisdom, should determine every thing [that He effects] by His own will, even things of the greatest importance. It is meet that He should be thus Sovereign, because He is the first being, the eternal being, whence all other beings are. He is the Creator of all things; and all are absolutely and universally dependent on Him; and therefore it is meet that He should act as the Sovereign possessor of heaven and earth.

Our obligation to love, honor, and obey any being, is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority; for that is the very meaning of the words. When we say any one is very lovely, it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved. Or if we say such a one is more honorable than another, the meaning of the words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honor. If we say any one has great authority over us, it is the same as to say, that he has great right to our subjection and obedience.

But God is a being infinitely lovely, because He has infinite Excellency and beauty. To have infinite Excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore He is infinitely honorable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore He is infinitely more honorable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of His right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for He is infinitely worthy to be obeyed Himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon Him.

Jonathan Edwards from The Justice of God in the damnation of sinners

March 17, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

There are No Four-Point Calvinists

Within the Dispensational theological camp there are quite a number of so-called four-point Calvinists. This means that while they fully embrace most Calvinistic soteriology, such as the biblical doctrine of irresistible grace, yet they believe Christ died with the same universal intent for all humanity. To put it another way, unlike traditional full-orbed Calvinists, they do not believe Christ died (redemptively) for the elect only. With the notable exception of the MacArthur Dispensationalists who are five point Calvinists, most others in that camp (such as those influenced by Dallas Seminary) reject the doctrine of limited atonement. Well... what I would like to demonstrate today is that rather than giving reasons why they are wrong, I am more inclined simply to call them inconsistent, for I believe it can be easily demonstrated that most of them already believe in limited atonement without consciously knowing that they do. Here's why:

Four point Calvinists will all agree, along with us, that irresistible grace, faith and repentance are gifts of God granted only to the elect. But four-point Calvinists somehow fail to connect the dots because they have not apprehended that these benefits as part of the redemptive work of Christ. We must consider that God does not give us generic grace apart from the work of Christ but all spiritual and redemptive blessings derive their potency from Christ and Christ alone (Eph 1:3). Therefore any belief in a "Christless" irresistible grace or gift of faith is absurd. I am led to believe that perhaps many of them have simply never thought of this. The result is that it should be plain to all that Christ died in a way (redemptively - to procure irresistable grace) for the elect that He did not for the non-elect.

If only the elect receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who irresistibly draws His own people (John 6:63, 65, 37) that they might believe the gospel .... and the same Spirit is never given in such a way to the non-elect (which four-pointers will affirm), then the only conclusion one can reach is that there is a benefit in the death of Christ which was never intended for the non-elect. By maintaining four-point calvinism one must separate the benefits from the Benefactor. In other words, the only way to consistently believe in four-point Calvinism is to erroneously conclude that irresistible grace is a grace given to people apart from Jesus Christ; something I would bet that none of them are willing to do.

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March 16, 2006  |  Comments (27)   |  Permalink

The Gospel Is For Christians

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for Christians. The Gospel is not merely something non-Christians desperately need, but something every Christian needs to hear repeatedly. It should be a part of every Christian sermon, book, pamphlet or article. Whether the subject matter concerns growing in godliness, prayer, the life of faith, walking in love, stewardship over finances, marriage and the family, or control of the tongue - name the topic - the Gospel should always be center stage. Many “practical” “Christian” messages actually leave the Gospel out, ridding us of the very power that will make its truths work in our lives. But its not at all practical and not at all Christian without the Gospel. Any sermon can only be successfully applied when we are in vital, living union with Christ on the basis of the Gospel. Therefore, as believers, we should be very eager to be shown how the Gospel applies to the subject at hand. We should read each page of the Scriptures through the lens of the Gospel, and thus avoid legalism on the one hand, or (antinomianism) the idea that God is not at all interested in our obedience, on the other. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday, for it lies at the very center of the Christian life. Applying the Gospel to every area of our lives is the way to experience God’s intended victory and blessing. If we are living below the level of our inheritance in Christ, God asks us, “what is it about the Gospel do you not understand?”

- Pastor John Samson

March 15, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

The Parable of the Drowning Man

Dear Friends:

Perhaps you have run into an earnest Christian, that when opposing the biblical teaching of the "bondage of the will", "salvation by grace alone" and "election" will use the common salvation analogy which likens the unsaved to a helpless drowning man. That a loving God gives us free choice while drowning whether we will reach out and take His hand to be saved or not. That only an 'evil' God, they say, would leave or not attempt to save people who are drowning in a lake. "How could a loving God be so cruel just to leave them there drowning," they argue.

There are quite a number of things that might be said in response to this. First of all we must clarify that what distinguishes our tradition from freewillism is not that one God loves people and the other conception of God does not. No... the distinction is between an intensive and an extensive love, between an intensive love where God actually expresses His love by laying down His life to redeem His loved ones, and an extensive love that loves everyone in a generic sense but actually delivers no one in particular. Consider the parable of the drowning man again in light of these two perspectives:

(1) Your child is drowning off the edge of your boat. You are a great swimmer but the swells are high and it is risky. You call out to your child to use his willpower to swim back to the boat to save himself, yet he is entirely too weak to do so. You reach out your hand but it depends on whether your child is a good enough swimmer to get to you and has the strength in himself to reach out his arm. But you do nothing more than call for him to come and will only go as far as reaching out your hand since you wouldn't want to violate his free will to let him decide if he will swim back and reach for your help.
(2) Your child is drowning off the edge of your boat. You are a great swimmer but the swells are high and it is risky. But your love for your child outweighs all other considerations and without hesitation you leap into the water at the risk of your own life, due to the weather, and actually save your child from drowning. You drown in the process but your child is saved. In other words, you don't just wait to see if he is willing or has the strength. He doesn't. So you go in and save your child regardless of the cost to yourself.

Which of the two fathers is more loving I ask?

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March 14, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Open Their Eyes by Pastor John Samson

This last weekend I watched the two messages on a new DVD which featured Dr. John Piper ministering at a recent Campus Crusade for Christ leadership conference. A number of things impressed me. Without using the usual jargon of the reformed faith, Dr. Piper brought a fully reformed and scriptural mandate to the conference, the effects of which, I believe, will be felt for many years to come. I am sure it was extremely eye opening for many who heard him, and it will have a profound effect on those who watch the DVD as well.

He used 2 Cor 4:4 as a key text, "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

Dr. Piper defined lostness as "being blind to glory." Its two days since I saw and heard this, but this statement is still affecting me deeply. How true this is! The lost need more than a guide with a flash light to show the way. They need a creative miracle - the ability to see. No amount of light shining will help them, unless God intervenes. They can't see the light - they can't see the glory.

The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ shines whenever the gospel is proclaimed. Light and glory radiate from us (even though we are jars of clay) whenever we speak it. But by itself, the presence of light and glory is not enough. Lost people are blind to glory and therefore need that creative act of God we call regeneration in order to see what is patently obvious to those who have new eyes. And that's exactly what we find in verse 6 - For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." What a miracle this is! Just as God created all things by just the power of His Word, He has effectively wrought a tremendous miracle in our hearts, so that we now see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In the second message, Dr. Piper talked about proclaiming the whole counsel of God. I found this second session to be enormously helpful. I don't recall hearing anyone seek to define what the whole counsel of God is before, but I think he succeeded in doing so. He stressed the importance of God’s whole counsel in spreading the gospel, explaining which elements of Christian doctrine are essential for the salvation of this lost and blind world.

The DVD is a powerful and stirring message regarding evangelism, which really pleased me. There's much more that could be said, but if I could recommend material to anyone new to the doctrines of the reformed faith, or even for those who want a refreshing look at such subjects as the gospel and conversion, this DVD would be high on my list. I enjoyed the two messages thoroughly. It is available here from Desiring God Ministries.

March 14, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Pietistic Vs. Biblical Sanctification

How many of us try to clean ourselves up before approaching the Lord's Table, as if there were some degree or level of purity that we could reach that would make us acceptable to God? The command to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself should be sufficient to make you recognize your utter inability to do so. In all likelihood, the thinking that we have to make ourselves right and acceptable before God before he will accept us probably derives its origin from the influential but flawed theology of Pietism. For what man could ever clean himself up enough to make himself acceptable to God? And if he could clean himself up to that degree, then what further need would he have of a Savior or the nourishment of the Lord's Supper? He would be self-sufficient. The whole point of both the gospel and the Lord's Supper for Christians is to continually recognize our own spiritual bankruptcy and dependency on the grace and promises of Christ.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul asks Christians who were in danger of thinking they could add to Christ's work or make themselves acceptable by some other way, "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3). No, this is folly, because what God still wants from us as Christians is a broken Spirit, one which still recognizes its own moral and spiritual inability and complete need of God's grace to move on. One that says, "have mercy on me, I am insufficient for the task.". Anyone who thinks, therefore, that they can approach the Lord's table with a pure undefiled heart are really missing the point of the gospel.

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March 13, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Apologetic Dialogues on CD

If you ever wanted to know how to irenically dialogue with a synergistic leaning Christian while also striving to maintain the friendship we highly recommend this modern classic by Doug Wilson now available for the first time on Audio CD. While we may have have differences with Wilson in some areas of doctrine, I would still recommend these dialogues are some of the best ones produced. Wilson goes through all five points of the doctrines of grace as if it were a discussion between two persons. Very simple, effective and useful.

Easy Chairs, Hard Words:
Conversations on the Liberty of God
(Audio CDs)Easy-to-read dialogues between Reformed and non-Reformed Christians on the doctrines of grace. Romans 9 presents hard words indeed, but they remain God’s words. In this book’s dialogues, the reader will find unapologetic treatment of many such passages in Scripture. Unlike those pasty Socratic dialogues, these are actually in English.


Persuasions:
A Dream of Reason Meeting Unbelief (Audio CD) Another one of Wilson's most popular books called Persuasions is also now available in CD format; this collection of easy-to-read dialogues between Christians and non-Christians is a helpful introduction to the defense of Christian faith against a host of common objections from atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, feminism, and more.

Learn More Here...

March 11, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Heart of the Problem by Pastor John Samson

"The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? "I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind..." - Jeremiah 17:9-10

"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;" - Romans 7:18

"The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth." - Psalm 58:3

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." - Psalm 51:5

Every child comes into the world with an alarming capacity for evil. Does that shock you? Did you think I was going to end the sentence differently? Scripture teaches us that the heart of the human problem is the problem of the heart. That's true of us even before we are born.

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March 11, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Monergism.com Needs Your Advice

Thank you for reading this. Monergism.com is due for a major overhaul. We are writing to ask for your advice about going forward in the functionality of the website. As you may know, Monergism is something I designed in 2001 mostly as a hobby and it has grown in content and traffic more than I could have possibly imagined ... to the extent it is now a full time endeavor with 80,000 unique visitors a month. Although it is bulging with 1000s of essays and information, one of the key factors of its success, I believe, is that it is not a data dump. Our society is now overwhelmed by the amount of information we intake every day. Our brains hardly know how to process so much data, nor which information is important enough to store, but at Monergism.com we have tried, by God's grace, to cut through the clutter and useless information, and rather, focus in on that which we believe is worthwhile, meaningful and God-honoring. Hopefully we have succeeded to some extent in doing this though we could do it much better.

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March 09, 2006  |  Comments (41)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

An Open Door of Ministry by Pastor John Samson

This week (Tuesday, March 7, 2006) I had a wonderful God given opportunity to speak to a large audience in the Phoenix area. I was sharing with John Hendryx about what happened and he asked me if I would share some of it here on the blog.

For 2 hours each week day evening, the largest Christian radio station in Phoenix, KPXQ 1360AM, has a live call in program hosted by Andrew Tallman. Andrew and I have had good interaction over the last year or so, even though we have many doctrinal differences (I would describe Andrew as an Arminian, though he does not like the term). However, the interaction has always been intelligent (from his side) as well as friendly.

Andrew is away on vacation this week, and asked me to fill in as the host of the 2 hour program Tuesday evening (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.). He gave me the liberty of talking about anything I liked for 2 hours, while taking questions and comments from the listeners who call in. Though I do a 30 minute Bible teaching program each weekday, this live call in element is completely new to me, and more than a little scary.

So what did I talk about?

Well I started off by asking the question, "What is the Church's biggest need?"

Then I asked people to call in whether they agreed or disagreed with me when I said, what the Church needs more than anything else is GOD as He really is, and the GOSPEL as it really is. If one of these is distorted, then so is the other. In that the program lasted 2 hours, I took an hour for each theme: Hour 1 - God as He really is; Hour 2 - The Gospel as it really is.

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March 08, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Relax From the Stresses of Life

"Young man! Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap!" These words were spoken to me by a seasoned man of God as I started out in Christian ministry, and were a complete shock to my system. I think this elderly minister could see my tendency towards being driven to go, go, go in the cause of Christ, and not take the time to give sufficient rest to my body. Over the years, I have learnt to appreciate the great wisdom found in this statement, though I must admit it has not come easily. I naturally want to just keep on going. The short reflection on this theme (below) comes from Rick Renner, who pastors the Good News Church in Moscow, in the former Soviet Union. He has ministered a number of times at our church and has always been a blessing. Specifically, the article comes from his book "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." Perhaps it is a word in season for you. It really is O.K. to rest sometimes.
- Pastor John Samson

RELAX FROM THE STRESSES OF LIFE

by Rick Renner

And to you who are troubled rest with us. - 2 Thess. 1:7

If you have been under a lot of stress, pressure, and anxiety lately, I think Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 1:7 are meant just for you! Read carefully, because you’re going to find real encouragement and instruction today that will help you find peace in the midst of trouble.

When Paul wrote the book of 2 Thessalonians, the believers in the city of Thessalonica were undergoing horrifying persecution. The persecution in this city was worse than it was in other places because Christians were being hunted both by pagan idol worshipers and by unbelieving Jews who detested the Gospel message. As a result of these threatening conditions, members of the Thessalonian church were suffering, and some even paid the price of dying for the Gospel. However, in spite of these afflictions and pressures from outside forces, this congregation refused to surrender to defeat.

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March 08, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Universal Scope of God's Redemptive Purpose

We can only glory in such a big-hearted Psalm coming from such a small-minded people. The Jews who were, like us, bigoted and narrowly focused on their own small and insignificant tribe, yet God broke into their history and small-mindedness by revealing Himself to them (and to us) as the God of compassion for all nations. YHWH, the covenant God, revealed that His compassion did not merely end with them. He placed before them a vision.. an all encompassing vision, which would eventually see His reign over the world and God's redemptive purpose for all peoples, that they too might delight in Him.

When we speak of the universal scope of God's purpose in redeeming the world to himself, of course, we do not speak of all persons without exception. No, we speak (as the Bible does) of all without distinction. All nations, not merely Jews are encompassed into God's plan of redemption. That is why the twenty-four elders in heaven say of Christ:

"...You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." (Rev. 5:9)

Christ's blood purchased, not all, but people from out of all nations, tribes and tongues. At this we can only marvel and worship. Psalm 67 is a forward looking vision only which was accomplished when Christ fulfilled the covenant, breaking down the dividing wall (Eph 2:14), bringing not only Jews, but persons from all nations, into his redemption. The church in the New Testament was not a parenthesis or a "Plan B" but the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose in Christ, the ultimate end and climax of the covenant. Here, all nations, Jews and Gentiles, are brought into the house of God. Jesus, the remnant of one, the faithful True Israelite deserves all the glory, honor and praise for bringing this plan, which man would never have fathomed, to fruition. Oh that God might bless us that we might make known the riches of His glory to all nations.

March 08, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

New King James Reformation Study Bible

Unbelievable News for lovers of Reformation Theology who read the NKJV. By sheer providence, we have managed to get a hold of a large number of new copies of "The Reformation Study Bible" (NKJV) Bonded Leather Burgundy edition ISBN# 0785258566. Not only is edition this hard to find, we have the best price available ANYWHERE for this item (Only $49.95). Take advantage of the opportunity if you want a Reformation Study Bible in the New King Jemes Version. There is only a limited supply of these NKJV Bibles at this price. The Christ-honoring notes of this Bible are really the best of any Study Bible.

The first Geneva Bible opened the pages of Scripture for all readers and provided helpful notes to assist in the understanding of its central message. The Reformation Study Bible, under the editorial leadership of reformed scholars such as R.C. Sproul and J.I. Packer, offers a modern restatement of Reformation truth for the broad evangelical community. A wonderful resource for anyone who desires to understand the impact the powerful truths of the Reformation have had on today's church. Available in the New King James Version.

Buy It Here

March 07, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Coveting Your Prayers

"Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith." 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

John Hendryx, the man behind the monergism.com web site and the main man here on the blog, is a man used mightily by the Lord. His ministry on the internet extends beyond all national boundaries and through his many years of painstaking commitment to the Lord and His truth, sustained by God's grace, God has given him quite a voice in the Body of Christ.

Think of a stadium filled with 80,000 people all gathered for a sporting event. That's quite a crowd, right? Well more than 80,000 separate people visit John's monergism.com website each month to read the articles there.

Why do I tell you this? - well, due to the nature of what John does on the internet, we don't actually see his face or hear his voice each day (unlike other ministries); we only read his words. That's not a problem at all, except that it tends to obscure the reality that behind the words on the computer screen, there is a man of God very much in need of God's continued grace.

John and I are close friends, and I trust that this will still be the case after this post (John doesn't know I am writing this!) But as I write these words, I am asking that God in His kindness would raise up many prayer partners for John Hendryx and the monergism ministry. Just as God might lay oversees missionaries on people's hearts to consistently pray and intercede for their and their family's spiritual, physical, emotional and financial well being, as well as the furtherance of their ministry, I pray that He would lay John on many a heart, so that he would be constantly upheld at the throne of grace.

John recently wrote: "Your prayers for us are needed that we would maintain perseverance, have wisdom, continue to promote the right biblical balance and contend of the faith once delivered to the saints. Pray the Lord continue to excise wickedness from our own hearts that we might be instruments in His hands and align with His redemptive purpose. We thank you for your support for this ministry."

Lets take John up on that. Lets not think that this growing voice on the internet does not have its enemies - certainly the enemy of our souls is not too happy that John Hendryx' grace filled, Gospel centered voice is being heard... so lets stand with John in prayer. Perhaps God may also lead a number of folk to stand with the ministry financially. Though finance is hardly ever mentioned, I know that God's provision is constantly needed, even as John looks to the Lord for His supply.

God has used the monergism web site in my own life in a remarkable way. I know many can say the same thing. Lets make sure that we don't take this precious gift for granted. - Pastor John Samson

March 07, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

My Journey Into Grace by Pastor John Samson

My first 20 years as a Christian were spent as an Arminian. O.K., I've admitted it.

For the most part, I was never really exposed to these doctrines I now consider so precious. Oh, certainly, I met many a Reformed man in my time; in fact, many of them were my instructors and professors at the Bible College I attended in England, but no one ever sat down with me to try to explain the Reformed faith.

Practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent. In the game of golf, you can practice your swing and in all reality, if you keep repeating the same mistake (for instance, the way you hold the club), you don't make the swing perfect at all; your poor swing becomes permanent - and only deliberate and intense personal coaching can eliminate the problem.

I have been in full time ministry since leaving Bible College in June of 1987, and was fairly confident that my knowledge of the Word was sound. In the year 2,000 I had been a Christian for 20 years. This only compounded my problem - not a golf swing problem (my golfing problems remain unexposed in that I don't play the game at all) - but my many false assumptions and traditions, which were heightened by this simple fact - I had no idea that I held to faulty doctrine. I had assumed I was correct in my interpretation, and went on my way merrily for many a year. As Dr. James White so ably puts it, "those most enslaved to their traditions are those who don't believe they have any."

Because the traditions I held to were strong, when I first heard the message of Sovereign Grace and election taught, I have to admit that I resisted it.

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March 06, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Cryptic Emails by John Hendryx

Each day at Monergism.com, if you can imagine, we receive all kinds of email. These include a lot of sincere questions, encouragement, testimonies, challenges and the occasional cryptic messages. A couple of days ago I received one of the latter. The title of the email was:

"What must I DO to be saved?"

Then the body of the email only had the following Scriptural reference and no other text or explanation:

30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

My first response to the text was "Amen!". What more could be said?

But as I thought it through I realized that perhaps the gentleman who wrote it (whom I had never had contact with before) was either offering some kind of proof against something he had read in the site and/or challenging me in some way. The first clue is the title of his email in which he CAPITALIZED the words "I DO" in "what must I DO to be saved?"

In other words, he is asserting that yes, there is something man must do in order to be saved ... proof against your websites' claim that salvation is by God's grace alone, a monergistic work of God's grace without any cooperation of man.

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March 06, 2006  |  Comments (17)   |  Permalink

Talk to Yourself by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’
... This self of ours… has got to be handled. Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him; upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control. The devil takes hold of self and uses it in order to depress us. We must stand up as this man did and say, “Why art thou cast down? Why are thou disquieted within me? Stop being so! Hope though in God, for I shall yet praise Him…” - Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression p. 20, 21

March 04, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

I Lay Down My Life For The Sheep

"He (Jesus) had no need to suffer as the result of sin, nor yet that, by the discipline of suffering, He might be purged from its evil. There was no reason in Himself why He should ever know pain, or heave a sigh. His sufferings all had reference to His people. His object in suffering, bleeding, dying, was to secure the salvation of His chosen." C. H. Spurgeon

I came across this article (by Wayne Mack) here, and thought it might perhaps provoke some good discussion here on the blog. - Pastor John Samson

To God Be the Glory: A Popular Exposition of the Biblical Doctrine of Particular Redemption - by Wayne Mack

When Christ died, He died not simply to make redemption a possibility, but to make redemption a certainty. He did not simply die to make man redeemable, He died to redeem. He did not simply die to make man reconcilable, He died to reconcile. There was no limit to the potential sufficiency of the blood of Jesus Christ. It was ‘precious blood.’ There was no limit to the desperate need of man for the blood of Jesus Christ, for ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ There was no limit to the free offer of the gospel to all men. It is our responsibility to preach the gospel to every creature. And there is no limit to the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ to save all those whom God is pleased to save.

Rules for Understanding
If a passage of Scripture seems to militate against a definite or certain redemption, the arguments will usually disintegrate if you keep in mind three things.

First of all, we must pay attention to the context in which the verse of Scripture is found. Many of our problems in biblical interpretation come from lifting a verse out of its context. We accuse the Jehovah’s Witnesses of doing this. We accuse other cultists of doing this, yet I am afraid that sometimes we are guilty of doing this.

Secondly, we must let Scripture interpret Scripture. We must never come to the Word of God and read our ideas into the Scripture. We must never come to the Word of God with our own definitions. Take the Word of God, get a good concordance and compare Scripture with Scripture. The Bible says that we should compare Spiritual things with Spiritual things. We should line up passages of Scripture alongside of other passages of Scripture and let the Bible interpret itself.

Thirdly, we should interpret every passage of Scripture, every book of the New Testament or Old Testament in the light of its historical setting. We need to look at the Bible in terms of the culture, in terms of the customs, in terms of the historical setting in which it was written. One of the problems we have with some Bible passages is that we try to read the New Testament or the Old Testament in the light of the historical setting in which we live. But we need to find out what was true historically. We need to discover the specific problems with which each book was dealing. The book of Galatians was dealing with a specific problem. The book of Colossians was dealing with a specific problem. We need to understand the historical background of every book of the New Testament or Old Testament if we are to interpret them properly. If we give heed to these three rules of biblical interpretation, if we are willing to receive whatever the Holy Spirit would teach us, if we will apply ourselves to the study of the Word of God and search diligently through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will reward our study with the knowledge of the truth.

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March 04, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Tim Keller Written Up in the NYT

Tim Keller Redeemer Presbyterian Manhattan (PCA) and member of Monergism's Hall of Contemporary Reformers, was recently written up in the New York Times.

Preaching the Word and Quoting the Voice

By MICHAEL LUO
In the twilight of the biggest snowstorm in New York City's history, the pews of a rented Baptist church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan were packed for the Rev. Timothy J. Keller's fourth sermon of the day.

The 600 or so who braved the snow for the evening service got what they had come to expect — a compelling discourse by Dr. Keller, this time on Jesus' healing of the paralytic, that quoted such varied sources as C. S. Lewis, The Village Voice and the George MacDonald fairy tale "The Princess and the Goblin." It was the kind of cogent, literary sermon that has helped turn Dr. Keller, a former seminary professor whose only previous pulpit experience was at a small blue-collar church in rural Virginia, into the pastor many call Manhattan's leading evangelist.

Over the last 16 years, Dr. Keller's church, Redeemer Presbyterian, has swelled to 4,400 attendees, mostly young professionals and artists who do not fit the prototypical evangelical mold, spread out across four different services on Sundays. Although Dr. Keller, 55, is hardly a household name among believers outside New York — in part because he has avoided the Christian speaking circuit — his renown is growing in pastoral circles and in the movement to establish or "plant" new churches, a trend among evangelicals these days.

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March 03, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Cross of Christ by C. H. Spurgeon

"Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18

The Substitute was of complex nature. He was truly man, and yet He was truly God. Christ Jesus who "suffered" in the room, place, and stead of God's chosen people, was man, man of the substance of His mother, most surely man. He partook of all the weakness of humanity, and was in all respects, sin only excepted, tempted as we are; yea, He became "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh." He was the perfect man, the only man in whom there never dwelt sin. There was no sin in His nature. No taint of original depravity ran in His veins. In His human nature He was "without spot or blemish." Conceived in a miraculous manner, He partook not, in any degree, of that transgression which is transmitted to us; for we are born in sin, and shapen in iniquity.

Christ did not receive any of that imputed sin which has fallen upon the race from Adam. Christ never fell in Adam. He was "the seed of the woman", but He never lay in the loins of Adam. As a private person, Christ never fell; by nature, He was not in any sense a participator or partaker in Adam's sin. Though, on the part of His people, Jesus took upon himself Adam's transgression, and bore it right away, He himself was, in His original, without the shadow of a spot, the immaculate, the perfect Lamb of God's passover.

The life of the man Christ Jesus was in every respect blameless. From His eye no fire of unhallowed anger ever flashed. On His lips the word of deceit never rested. His pure mind never knew an imagination of sin. Satan's sparks fell on Christ's soul like fire dropping into the ocean, and were quenched for ever. Hell's quiver of temptations was emptied upon Him, but no single arrow ever stuck in His flesh and blood. He stood invincible and invulnerable. He could not be wounded by temptation. "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me," was His own triumphant declaration. "He knew no sin." He had no acquaintance with sin, He was a stranger to sin, sin had no commerce with Him, He had no dealings with sin personally. His head turned not dizzy when upon the pinnacle of the temple. When down in the depths of humiliation, no grief found expression void of completest resignation. He was ever pure, perfect, spotless, holy, acceptable unto God.

The sufferings of Jesus have power to bless others, seeing they were not necessary for Himself. He had no need to suffer as the result of sin, nor yet that, by the discipline of suffering, He might be purged from its evil. There was no reason in Himself why He should ever know pain, or heave a sigh. His sufferings all had reference to His people. His object in suffering, bleeding, dying, was to secure the salvation of His chosen. Our souls may now trust Jesus, the perfect man, with the utmost confidence.

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March 03, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Do This and Live by John Hendryx

"He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." (Rom 2:6-8)

"If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." (Matt 19:17)

What are we to make of the above statements by Paul and Jesus? Both of these texts plainly state that eternal life will be granted those who obey God's commandments. Since we have been taught that salvation to be by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, how are we to interpret such passages? I take up this important issue because there were one or two questions regarding the legitimacy of the concept of "do this and live" in my essay "There May be More Than One Way to God".

It should be known that these law/gospel (two ways of salvation model) concepts I proposed in the essay are not my peculiar new invention but the classic understanding of salvation in Covenant Theology.

When we preach the law to a person we are, in effect, saying "do this and live". Scripture actually reveals two ways that one might be saved in the Bible. These two antithetical covenants can be filtered down to "Do this and live" (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:13; 10:5), and "The just shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:6; Galatians 3:11). These covenants are both based in the eternal covenant of redemption which was made in the eternal counsels of the Triune God (John 6:37-39). Both will come into play through the historical Christ. This first covenant was revealed in Eden as the original Adamic Covenant (or covenant of Works). In its most basic form it consisted of the command "Do not eat, or you will die." It is easy enough to see that if you restate P for ~P, you get "Do this and live." When Adam failed to live up to the terms of the covenant, he plummeted he and his posterity into the Curse of death. Now all who are "in Adam" are incapable of life through that original covenant. It should be noted that God also mentions, after the fall, that the way to the tree of life is blocked lest man eat and live. So there was a means by which Adam hypothetically could have avoided the fall, that is, by obedience to God for a period or perhaps by eating the tree of life.

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March 01, 2006  |  Comments (19)   |  Permalink

Quote on Justification by Faith Alone

The doctrine of justification by faith alone does not imply that you are justified before God because you managed to work up enough faith in and by yourself to believe in Christ, which is impossible in the first place. Rather, the doctrine contrasts faith against works, emphasizing that we are justified by God through faith apart from works. This faith is itself not a work — that is, not a work of man, but a work of God in man.

Faith is a gift of God purchased by Christ for all those whom God has chosen for salvation. It is a gift even though it has been purchased by our Mediator because it is God who sovereignly decreed to save us through this Mediator in the first place. It is God who has sovereignly chosen those whom he would save by his grace through Christ, so that all of salvation is a gift of God — it is a sovereign gift of God, unmerited by man, that at the same time fully satisfies divine justice, since it has been merited by Christ. Thus salvation is from the grace of God alone, through the work of Christ alone, and by means of faith alone (that is, in contrast to works).

Therefore, when discussing the doctrine of justification by faith, we must not portray faith as a condition for salvation that God requires from us, as if we could produce faith in and of ourselves prior to regeneration and apart from the Spirit’s power. So, although it is correct to speak of faith as our necessary response to the gospel, this "response" of faith is in fact one of the very things that Christ’s atonement purchased for his elect, and that God bestows upon his chosen ones by his Spirit. In other words, God is the one who produces this response of faith in his elect.

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March 01, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink