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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)

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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Pietistic Vs. Biblical Sanctification | Main | The Parable of the Drowning Man »

    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.

    Posted by John Samson on March 14, 2006 11:34 AM

    Comments

    I have heard that "Election" isn't part of the "whole counsel of God" when evangelizing because it is such a meaty doctrine and most people aren't going to understand it right away.

    When evangelizing, preaching Christ paying the penalty of death for sinners, and yet not talking about which sinners (the Elect), seems to be what is promoted from my experience. Just keep it general. Then once they have been converted, either in the Sunday pulpit or at bible study can we then delve deeper into meatier doctrines like Election.

    Then, if Election is excluded, you can't really talk to deeply about Limited Atonement either since that addresses exactly for whom was the death on behalf of, so keep the Atonement generalized as well by preaching that Christ paid the penalty for sinners.

    So, even though, you might be preaching the Gospel truthfully, excluding certain biblical teachings for the sake of people "not getting it" seems to be another method.

    Any thoughts?

    A Comment to Raymond's reponse. There is a danger when you try to make things general where there is a possibility of watering down the gospel. You can apply every technique you want, but we have to remember that God is the one who changes the hearts of the lost, and we should be careful in not watering down the gospel for it is the Word of God. That is why we must be equipped to preach the Gospel in season and out of season.

    Thoughts....

    Raymond:

    I think one of the best answer to your comment can be find in a quote from C.H. Spurgeon (taken from the book The Soul Winner, Chapter 1):

    "And, do not believe, dear friends, that when you go into revival meetings, or special evangelistic services, you are to leave out the doctrines of the gospel; for you ought then to proclaim the doctrines of grace rather more than less. Teach gospel doctrines clearly, affectionately, simply, and plainly, and especially those truths which have a present and practical bearing upon man's condition and God's grace. Some enthusiasts would seem to have imbibed the notion that, as soon as a minister addresses the unconverted, he should deliberately contradict his usual doctrinal discourses, because it is supposed that there will be no conversions if he preaches the whole counsel of God. It just comes to this, brethren, it is supposed that we are to conceal truth, and utter a half-falsehood, in order to save souls. We are to speak the truth to God's people because they will not hear anything else; but we are to wheedle sinners into faith by exaggerating one part of truth, and hiding the rest until a more convenient season. This is a strange theory, and yet many endorse it. According to them, we may preach the redemption of a chosen number to God's people, but universal redemption must be our doctrine when we speak with the outside world; we are to tell believers that salvation is all of grace, but sinners are to be spoken with as if they were to save themselves; we are to inform Christians that God the Holy Spirit alone can convert, but when we talk with the unsaved, the Holy Ghost is scarcely to be named. We have not so learned Christ. Thus others have done; let them be our beacons, and not our examples. He who sent us to win souls neither permits us to invent false-hoods, nor to suppress truth. His work can be done without such suspicious methods".

    I want to comment a little more. I believe that the correct method of preaching is to expose, explain and unfold a Bible passage, that means, to let the Bible passage, in light of the context, give form to the message, and not viceversa (i.e. the preacher has an idea of the subject what he wants to preach, and then looks for all the texts that better fit to the content). Considering that, there are a lot of Bible passages related to the gospel meaning for the lost that explicitly teach the subject of election (just read the gospel of John). In consecuence of that, I think that the meaning of not preaching "the whole counsel of God" is that the preacher or evangelist always chose to preach from bible texts that seems to talk of "universal redemption/love" of God toward sinners (like John 3:16).

    I don't know if I'm correct, butIi think that to do so would not be right in the eyes of God. What do you think?

    Johan

    Excellent points Charlie and Johan. I am of the opinion that we should share as much of the specifics of the Gospel as we can in any given circumstance. Who are we to determine what is easy and what is hard to understand? Is the Spirit limited by a person's mental ability?

    Therefore, I agree that we must expose as much of the Gospel to the lost and let God do the rest.

    I have not been able to engage those who promote a generalized Gospel. Their perspective does seem logical but in reality, it is Man-centered because it is dependent upon the ability of a person to understand rather than the power of God to use His truth to bring a dead person alive.

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