"...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)

Paul's Epistle to the Romans by Tom Browning

The following is a brand new 43 part series of MP3 lectures and PDF manuscripts studying through the entire book of Romans led by Tom Browning, Pastor of Arlington Presbyterian Church (PCA). This excellent study material was generously made available to us at We hope you find it meaningful. Enter download page, then right-click lesson and save to your hard drive.

43 Free MP3 dowloads --- 43 Sermon Manuscripts in Pdf format

May 31, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Jesus, The Perfection of Delight

"Christ is the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world, so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet."

-- John Flavel

Trace the sunbeam to the sun;
Trace the river to the sea;
Trace all pleasures to the One
Who is Pleasure perfectly.

May 30, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Humble and the Proud

Last evening before going to sleep I was reading to my wife the following excerpt (of chapter 5) out of Thomas Boston's classic The Crook in the Lot: Or the Sovereignty and Wisdom of God Displayed in the Afflictions of Men. My wife and I found it to be so edifying that we thought I should share it with you. While the ol style English is a little antiquated, if you can get past that, it will bring light to your soul in a way contemporary authors simply fail to do. Meditate on this and let it change your perspective for it gives us a view of God's providence that us moderns have often let slip from our consciousness. If you dont have it, this is a book that deserves a permanent place on your bookshelf. - JW Hendryx

"Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud "—Prov. 16:19.

Could men once be brought to believe that it is better to have their minds bend to the crook in their lot, than to force the crook to their mind, they would be in a fair way to bring their matters to a good account. Hear then the Divine decision in that case: "Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. " In which words

First, There is a comparison instituted and that between two parties, and two points in which they vastly differ.

1st. The parties are the lowly and the proud, who differ like heaven and earth. The proud are climbing up and soaring aloft; the lowly are content to creep on the ground, if that is the will of God. Let us view them more particularly as the text represents them.

Continue reading "The Humble and the Proud" »

May 29, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

New & Noteworthy 05-26-06

Forsaking Our Mother? Returning to a Biblical Understanding of Christ's Church
by Rev. Charles Biggs Pre-Pub Online Book!

Social Justice & Mercy Ministry Updated Subsection at
(poverty, hunger, homelessness, racism and religious persecution)

Biblical Counseling from a Reformed perspective Compiled by Derek R. Iannelli-Smith -- Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: (2 Kings 10:30–31, 1 Kings 21:27,29, Phil. 1:15–16,18) yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; (Gen. 4:5, Heb. 11:4,6) nor are done in a right manner,according to the Word; (1 Cor. 13:3, Isa. 1:12) nor to a right end, the glory of God, (Matt. 6:2,5,16) they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: (Hag. 2:14, Tit. 1:15, Amos 5:21–22, Hosea 1:4, Rom. 9:16, Tit. 3:5) and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God. (Ps. 14:4, Ps. 36:3, Job 21:14–15, Matt. 25:41–43,45, Matt. 23:23)

The Unregenerate, Apostates and Unbelievers Updated Subsection! -- "What the unregenerate person desperately needs in order to come to faith is regeneration. This is the necessary grace. It is the sine qua non of salvation. Unless God changes the disposition of my sinful heart, I will never choose to cooperate with grace or embrace Christ in faith. -R.C. Sproul

Truth & the Christian Worldview Updated Subsection
To deem all beliefs equally true is sheer nonsense for the simple reason that to deny that statement would also, then, be true. But if denial of the statement is also true, then all religions are not true.
-- Ravi Zacharias "Jesus Among Other Gods"

Firefox Users Only Free Plug- in Allows you to search 'Monergism' in toolbar. Thanks to Ryan Wentzel.

How Was There Salvation During the Old Testament Period? by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Foreknowledge and the Free Will of Men by John Frame

C.H. Spurgeon Quotes on the Gospel collected by Ligon Duncan

The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the AntiChrist New Recommended Book 40% Discount

May 26, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Pt. 1 & 2 by Rev. C. R. Biggs

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Part One

Revelation Chapter One

Revelation 1: The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

The Book of Revelation is God's Word to Us!

The Book of Revelation is a book that is either misunderstood and avoided, or it becomes a book where Christians become overly preoccupied or imbalanced in their study of it. An ocean of ink has been spilled in attempts to interpret the book rightly, and there have been a variety of interpretations, particularly with regard to issues such as the Millennium (Is the Millennium referred to in Revelation 20 literal or symbolic?), the time of Christ's return, as well as many other issues.

Some wise teachers in the past have avoided preaching or writing on Revelation altogether, and many Christians today avoid reading it because it is very confusing to them. In the next few studies, I want to attempt by God's grace to write on what is clear from this book and to remind us as Christians that there is a blessing that goes along with the reading of the book (Rev. 1:3). The next few studies will be from chapter 1 of Revelation, a very foundational and important chapter for interpreting the remainder of the book.

I do not presume to have all the answers for this challenging, as well as important book, but I do know that it is part of the God-breathed, infallible, and inerrant revelation of God to man. The Book of Revelation is part of what God has given us for the people of God to be fully equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). He has given it to us in Holy Scripture to rebuke, encourage, correct, and strengthen us. He has revealed Jesus Christ in this book so that we might have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-10). Therefore, for all these reasons, it is important for us to try and understand this book as Christians.

Continue reading "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Pt. 1 & 2 by Rev. C. R. Biggs" »

May 26, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink Reformation T-Shirt Reformation T-Shirts now available for preorder. Shipping on June 14th, 2006

By popular demand is making the Reformation T-shirt available so long-time visitors have a way to help promote the Reformation doctrines of grace highlighted on With the recent resurgence of Reformation theology, many adhering to the Doctrines of Grace search for ways to expose the world to their beliefs. This shirt peaks the interest of onlookers and provides an excellent bridge for introducing the Biblical beliefs that those who uphold the Reformation hold so dear.

The front of the shirt bears a likeness of the symbol of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation - a “burning bush” with the Latin phrase “Post Tenebras Lux” translated into the English means….. “After Darkness, Light.”

The back of the shirt bears the names and likenesses of four of the best-known Protestant Reformers: Luther, Calvin, Edwards and Spurgeon. Surrounding them is the text of the five solas of the Reformation: Sola Fide ~ Faith Alone; Sola Gratia ~ Grace Alone; Solus Christus ~ Christ Alone; Sola Scriptura ~ Scripture Alone; Soli Deo Gloria ~ Glory to God Alone. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, as revealed in the Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

These shirts are pre-shrunk and WILL NOT SHRINK! They are Haynes Beefy-Ts. These shirts last for years of wear - not a few months. The shirt is printed with high quality graphics and uses a total of 5 different colors to obtain its primary look. This shirt is not a “black and white” shirt — it is professionally designed and crafted. The quality of our shirt is he best constructed and heaviest weight of cotton on the market. It is 100% Cotton PRESHRUNK (i.e. does not shrink). Design by David Jacks at Theological Pursuits

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May 25, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

If the foundations are destroyed... by Pastor John Samson

England was once a center for Reformation. That is no longer the case. Thank God, there are glorious exceptions. I pray that there would be many more of these exceptions in our day. But by and large, the church in England, at least the one visible to the people, is unrecognizable from days gone by. Before World War II, about 40–50% of the population in England attended church. Today, estimates suggest the percentage attending church is down to 7.5%. It was said in the past that Britain ‘ruled the waves’. Now it is more likely to be said that Britain ‘waives the rules.' The majority of people have rejected the God of the Bible and there is a famine of the word of God in the land.

I was born and raised in Chester in the North West of England (25 miles south east of Liverpool). I love England, and its people. I therefore inwardly weep over the current state of the Church there. When Bishops can publicly and without apology deny the basic tenets of the Christian faith, from the Deity of Christ, to His virgin birth, His sinless life, His substitutionary atoning death on the cross and physical resurrection - and they can still hold on to their office as Bishops in the Church of England - something is sadly amiss.

So where did the down slide start? Where did the conscious march towards unbelief begin?

Continue reading "If the foundations are destroyed... by Pastor John Samson" »

May 25, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Visible Vs. The Invisible Church

What do we mean when we make the distinction between the visible and invisible church? And what is the reason for this distinction? Starting around the 4th century - the expression "Visible Church" was refered to by theologians, not to a building, but to the members on the rolls of a local church. In other words, all persons who are members of a local church are considered to be a part of the visible church.

On the other hand, the invisible church refers to those persons who have actually been regenerated or quickened by the Holy Sprit, God's elect or true believers. Augustine referred to the church as a mixed body, a visible people, but this people has both tares and wheat, as described by Jesus. In other words, there is no such thing as a perfect church, and there will always people in the church there with bad motives or are there for the wrong reason. There will always be people who claim to love Christ but whose heart is far from Him. Many, Jesus says, will say on that day, did we not do this and that in your name? Jesus wil then say, "I never knew you". These are descriptions of some people now sitting in your local church and Jesus says of them that he "never knew them!!!" Some persons are in church for show, to be seen by men as pious, others perhaps for a social club or to show of their ability to wax eloquent when discussing theology. These persons hearts are completely invisible to us, but of course, they are not invisible to God and only He can know who is truly regenerate, so we must be generous in our judgements.

The following is a detailed description of the orthodox doctrine of the visible and invisible church as explained by Pastor Brian Schwertley. It is well worth reading and quite helpful:

Continue reading "The Visible Vs. The Invisible Church" »

May 24, 2006  |  Comments (17)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Three men at the tomb of Lazarus

Picture the scene in John 11. See the stone rolled away from the grave of Lazarus and three men there.

The first one is looking into the dark tomb and passionately pleading with the dead Lazarus inside. "Lazarus, if you will only give God a chance, He will give you life. If you just take the first step, then the Holy Spirit will make you come alive. God honestly wants to make you live, but its all up to you. Lazarus, this is a great deal that God is offering but your 'free will' must decide to take advantage of it. You must get up and take that first step in faith."

C. H. Spurgeon told the story about a Catholic saint whose head had been cut off. The man is supposed to have picked up his head, put it under his arm and walked 10,000 miles back to Rome. Spurgeon said, "I would have no trouble believing that to be true, if the man could take that first step!" If man's will can enable him to get up out of the tomb of death, then he surely does not need any help to keep on going.

Continue reading "Three men at the tomb of Lazarus" »

May 24, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

I Thank God for You!

The following is a excerpt from a very helpful essay by Mark Webb. He goes through some Scriptural references that thank God for the faith of the saints, a practice which acknowledges God to be the source of all faith, not our natural ability, desires, will or affections.

Paul's Patterns

Several patterns exhibit themselves in Paul's writings. One of these is his well-known practice of greeting the saints with a salutation of grace and peace , with the addition of mercy in some cases. Another pattern, not quite so common, but clearly established nonetheless, is what caught my attention. It is Paul's practice of thanking God for the saints. For instance, in Eph. 1:15-16 he states "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers." In this statement, Paul does not directly state why he is thankful, though we might deduce that it must spring from the fact that the saints evidence faith and love. Neither does he state to whom he is thankful. However, the fact that his thankfulness is connected with his prayers makes it rather obvious that such is directed towards God.

A parallel example is found in Col. 1:3-4. Here Paul declares "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints." Here Paul is more explicit. It is indeed God to Whom he is thankful, and, once again, his thankfulness springs from the fact that the Colossian saints are evidencing faith and love. Methinks I see a pattern developing here!

Can You Be More Explicit?

The fullest, clearest, and most precise expression of this pattern is seen in four of Paul's statements in the Thessalonian epistles. In I Thess. 1:2-4, Paul states "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." Here, again, Paul makes it clear that God is the One he thanks and that his thanks involves the recollection of their faith, love, and hope. It is a statement almost identical with those in Ephesians and Colossians.

Continue reading "I Thank God for You!" »

May 23, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Story of the Bible (Part 3)

Last week I posted (here) the first two sermon notes in a six sermon series by Pastor Steve Weaver made avilable on his blog. I am thoroughly enjoying the series. I thought many of our readers would be blessed by this too, so here's part three. - Pastor John Samson

The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise (Message 3 of 6)

If I were to ask everyone here this morning, “What is your favorite text of Scripture?”, what would you say? Would anyone say, “Matthew 1:1-17"? Probably not. Instead, we ask: "Why would Matthew begin his account of the life of Christ with a boring genealogy?" What would you say if I were to tell you that this text is one of the most important passages in the whole Bible?

Matthew 1:1-17 is one of the most important passages in the Bible! It is the thread that binds together the Old and New Testaments. In fact, this text is vitally important if you ever want to properly understand the meaning of the Old Testament. Matthew very carefully links the first part of the Bible with the second by citing 53 direct quotes, and 76 allusions from the Old Testament. Matthew uses the phrase, “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet” eleven times in his book. This gospel writer clearly identifies Jesus as the promised and long awaited Messiah. Without a doubt, the evidence is overwhelming. Jesus is clearly presented to be the fulfillment of all that the prophets of old were longing for.

But before you can understand how this text ties together the two testaments, you must first understand the huge promise which Matthew’s gospel shows that Jesus Christ has fulfilled. It is a cord of at least three distinct strands. Each strand strengthens the whole. The three strands of this promise is that One who is the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham and the seed of David will crush the head of the Serpent, bless all the nations of the earth and rule as King forever.

Continue reading "The Story of the Bible (Part 3)" »

May 22, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Blood of the Martyrs

The famous observation of Tertullian that, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” has a depth of insight which is all too often lost on believers today. We have no trouble thinking of persecution and martyrdom as a great obstacle to the spread of the gospel which will not, however, be successful in hindering Church growth. We would have no problem affirming that the blood of the martyrs is a hurdle which, by God’s grace, can be overcome. But to say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church is an altogether different concept. If martyrdom is a surmountable obstacle to the growth of the Church, then the Church might advance just as well, even better, without it. But if the blood of the martyrs truly is the seed of the Church, then without it, the Church does not grow. Without martyrdom, the Church would never have taken root in the world of Tertullian. Without martyrdom, the Church would not have spread to the Auca Indians in South America, or to China or Burma or the islands of the South Seas. The blood of the martyrs is a necessary means for the worldwide application of Christ’s great redemptive accomplishment. This is the full force of Tertullian’s insight; and understanding the full extent of his meaning must leave us confronted with two great questions: is this understanding scriptural? And if so, what practical effects ought this scriptural truth to have upon the actions, goals, and designs of the Church as she approaches her task of global evangelism in the twenty-first century? By God’s grace, we will address those two questions in the remainder of this post.

Continue reading "The Blood of the Martyrs" »

May 21, 2006  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

We Are Not Peddlers of God's Word

"Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology." - J.I. Packer, "'Keswick' and the Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification."

Churches which preserve their cognitive identity and distinction from the culture will flourish: those who lose them in the interests of seeking success will disappear.

In our churches we may have made a deal with postmodern consumers but the hard reality is that Christianity cannot be bought. Purchase, in the world of consumption, leads to ownership but in the Church this cannot happen. It is never God who is owned. It is we who are owned in Christ. Christianity is not up for sale. Its price has already been fixed and that price is the complete and ongoing surrender to Christ of those who embrace him by faith. It can only be had on his own terms. It can only be had as a whole. It refuses to offer only selections of its teachings. Furthermore, the Church is not its retailing outlet. Its preachers are not its peddlers and those who are Christian are not its consumers. It cannot legitimately be had as a bargain though the marketplace is full of bargainhunters.

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's Word..." II Cor 2:17

No, let us think instead of the Church as its voice of proclamation, not its sales agent, its practitioner, not its marketing firm. And in that proclamation there is inevitable cultural confrontation. More precisely, there is the confrontation between Christ, in and through the biblical Word, and the rebellion of the human heart. This is confrontation of those whose face is that of a particular culture but whose heart is that of the fallen world. We cannot forget that.

David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, pg. 308-309

May 20, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Folly of Speculations and Counsel Against the Lord

"There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the Lord" - Prov 22:30

The wicked go about the earth in defiance of God, raising up speculations against the truth of His Person, but no human exertion or "wisdom" can bring down the knowledge of God, or stand before Him. It is all folly in light of His infinite wisdom and omniscience. The sovereignty of God over the king's heart, his armies and all the affairs and plans of men is established. The Lord turns the kings heart wherever He wishes, like channels of water (Prov 21:1). The Horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord (v. 31).

Even the most wise and upright man cannot complete his plans independent of the sovereign Lord and his invincible Word. God always, and without exception, has the final say. If one has victory (or loss) it is ultimately by the hand of the Lord, and thus we should rest in his most wise and sovereign counsel and plan. Give God glory and the full majesty and weight due His name. There is no other. The best of human wisdom and ingenuity is as nothing, and we are but grasshoppers before Him. Nonetheless, the foolishness of man takes up his battle array against Him, seeking out all wisdom, counsel and strategy at his disposal to take down the knowledge of God. Human wisdom is useful only when put into proper perspective, that is, when it arouses fear and trembling at His Word. In light of the infinite wisdom of God, man's autonomous wisdom is but folly. The greatest skill of man used against the Lord will ironically, in the end, only be used to bring down human autonomy.

Continue reading "The Folly of Speculations and Counsel Against the Lord" »

May 20, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

I Went to the Movies Today by Pastor John Samson

"Everything in The Da Vinci Code is wrong, except Paris is in France; London is in England and Leonardo da Vinci painted pictures. All else is fabrication." - Sandra Miesel, coauthor of The Da Vinci Hoax.

"Don't they have editors at Doubleday in New York; don't they have fact checkers? Put it this way: there is not one ranking scholar in the entire world who supports what Dan Brown has done with history." - Dr. Paul Maier, coauthor of The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?

"Perhaps not since the third century — when Arius used prose and verse to spread his antichrist heresies — has popular culture been more thoroughly seduced by “doctrines of demons” dressed up in the guise of literature." - Promotional Material for The Da Vinci Delusion (DVD) by Dr. D. James Kennedy

I went to the movies today and saw the Da Vinci Code. I would not recommend that everyone see it, but as a pastor, I felt it was my duty to do so. I had prepared the flock that I serve by speaking about the Dan Brown book, bringing in my friend, Dr. James White, an expert in church history and apologetics, to speak on the issue to the Church (back in January). I bought copies of the May 2006 edition of Tabletalk magazine (from Ligonier Ministries) for each family (as it is devoted to debunking the many falsehoods the book churns out). I felt I also had to see the movie for myself so that I would know exactly what was being communicated to people. I want to be armed and ready to serve my neighbor who will see it, and perhaps may ask me why I still believe the Bible when, in his eyes, Dan Brown has once and for all debunked the claims of Christianity. I also want to serve those under my care who will no doubt see the movie and become troubled by the many false and outlandish claims they hear. Again, I do not suggest that everyone should go and see the Da Vinci Code. Not at all. But I felt I just had to.

Dan Brown's book is one of the best ever selling books of all time (more than 40 million sold), next to the Bible, yet in our visual age, the impact of the movie may perhaps be even greater than the book. I've no doubt that many will simply take the movie's false claims as "Gospel" and not check out the facts. Its strange to use the word "Gospel" in this context, because it is the true Gospel of Christ which the book and the movie seeks to destroy. (Just try for a moment to imagine the complete uproar that would ensue if a movie of this nature was made about Mohammed and the Quran).

All who hate the true Gospel will find much comfort in this movie. The heart of unregenerate man hates God and His gospel with a vengeance, and this movie will cause many to at least try to still the voice of their consciences. Yet it does provide us as Christians with a marvellous opportunity to share the truth with people. In many ways, the movie can actually become a great witnessing tool.

I didn't go to the movie alone. I went with my friend Dr. James White. After the movie we had lunch and discussed the movie together...

Continue reading "I Went to the Movies Today by Pastor John Samson" »

May 19, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

The Sea in the Ship is all Wrong by Pastor John Samson

"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2

There's an old saying: "The ship in the sea is alright. The sea in the ship is all wrong. The Church in the world is alright. The world in the church is all wrong."

Everything you and I believe as Christians flies in the face of our post-modern culture. We believe in a God who has made His existence known to everyone (Romans 1:18-22) despite the strong denials of man. We believe in a God who has communicated to us in clear terms in a book called the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). We believe in absolutes, for we believe in a God who is Truth Himself, and who tells us what is right and what is wrong. We believe in the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16, 17) who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me." John 14:6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the way to God and the only way to God, and we deny that He is merely a way, a truth and a life, and one of the ways to God. Understand that we do not say this because we believe our opinion is greater than someone else's, but because Christ Himself said this about Himself, and we believe His claims are valid, trustworthy and true... We believe too that if Christ is not THE way to God, then He is a liar, and not even one of the ways to God. Jesus Christ is either who He claimed to be, or else He is a fraud, or perhaps a lunatic. But what He could never be is merely one of the ways to God. If we take His words with any seriousness at all, then we have to admit that His own claims deny this very possibility.

The claim of exclusivity is repulsive to the modern world. However, every religion claims exclusivity - even the ones who claim that all religions lead to God. Why? Because even this claim is a claim to be exclusively and absolutely true. The claim is a fundamental denial that there is only one way to God. That is the very definition of exclusivity. It certainly denies the possibility that the exclusive claims of Christ are true.

The claim "there are no absolutes" is also a ridiculous non-sensical statement, for it is an absolute statement in and of itself. It claims that there are absolutely no absolutes but in doing so affirms that there is at least one absolute, namely that there are no absolutes!

Continue reading "The Sea in the Ship is all Wrong by Pastor John Samson" »

May 19, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Enoch and Elijah Sinless?

Question: I'm trying to find anything on Enoch and Elijah relating to inherited sin. Some say we cannot have inherited sin because of these two. Or whatever. I hope you understand the many opportunities available to use them as theological footballs.

Response: Thanks for the email. This is perhaps the first time I have ever heard the argument that these prophets had, through self-effort, pleased God to such an extent that they had no need for a Savior and thus ascended to God. This is the kind of thinking we might expect from the arch-heretic himself: Pelagius, who believed that we did not inherit Adam's sin and could, by nature, reach up to God through our good choices (See Rom 5). In other words, in the view of those who argue we did not inherit Adam's sin, as far as Enoch and Elijah are concerned, neither prophet had any need whatsoever of a sinless Savior who fulfilled the law on their behalf, that it was not by the regenerating grace of God the Holy Spirit, but by their own natural choices (apart from the Holy Spirit) which led to God's favor on them. Is this not a trusting in their own merit, disposition and works? Such a view cannot even be considered Christian.

If such were the case, these prophets would then be completely outside and even above the covenants of God since they would have no need for God's covenants or promises. They would be self-sufficient, autonomous, holy in and of themeselves, and that, apart from God. Not only is this contrary to all of Scripture, which declares all persons, apart from Christ, to be under the wrath of God, but is itself a form of unbelief, for it denies the need for Jesus Christ, and affirms that some persons can save themselves by reaching down into their own natural resources. Those who hold to this view would seem to have no concept at all of God's holiness (read Isaiah 6) and man's incapacity to live apart from his bondage to sin even for one minute. Those who affirm that a person can live sinlessly, I would argue, have no idea what sin is. A Christian is someone who completely despairs of himself and only glories in Christ for their salvation.

Can anyone naturally love God and their neighbor perfectly for even a day? 1 John says that such persons who claim to have no sin are still in darkness and are calling God a liar. It would appear that the apostle is saying that persons holding to such a view are, perhaps, apostate, and have no true knowledge of the Savior.

We are all redemed by grace and grace alone. Christ alone fulfilled the law. Neither Elijah nor Enoch are shown to be sinless, having fulfilled the covenant themselves, apart from grace. No other man, apart from Jesus, has done so even for an hour. Such a low view of sin is, unfortunately, rampant in our day and indeed a sign of the church of our times, but it is a complete misapprehension of the gospel. OT saints and NT saints are all born with the same fallen condition and need Christ. The word "unspiritual" is used of men without Christ. "Unspiritual" means that they are without the Holy Spirit. We are not born into this world with the Holy Spirit and then sometime later lose Him. No, we are born into the corruption of our natures and need the Spirit to quicken us if we are to have any hope at all. Any belief that salvation can be found outside of Christ through self-produced merit is promoting a patently unChristian belief.

Continue reading "Enoch and Elijah Sinless?" »

May 18, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"Rainy Day Dylan": Bob Dylan, the Creation Mandate, and the Great Commission by Rev. C. R. Biggs

I am often asked excellent questions by the folks in my congregation and I have the opportunity to write them answers at length. Recently, I was asked a question specifically about the arts and music and how as Christians we should pursue them and understand them in light of Christ. Too many times as Christians, we seem to either abuse or misuse the arts, or we withdraw altogether in an evangelical ghetto, and I don’t believe either is the correct answer to this problem.

We should do all things as Christians under the Lordship of Christ, seeking to honor and glorify God in all things, including art, music, film, or whatever creative endeavor we pursue!

But how do we do this appreciating and obeying God’s command in the Creation Mandate (Gen. 1:26-28) to have dominion with all creatures made in his image, and fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) as particularly redeemed creatures who are called to be separate from the world and not love the world? Difficult tension, huh?! Many Christians seem to either dive in deep into the culture with enthusiasm and without much thought, not knowing how truly to be separate from the world, or they withdraw from the culture altogether, seeking a “safe and warm” haven in a Christian ghetto. I don’t believe either is the correct answer to the tension. I believe we appreciate the tension, seeking wisdom from God, and fulfill both the Creation Mandate and the Great Commission in Christ!

I wanted to write at length on this because I have been thinking this through to the best of my ability for the last few years. As a pastor, I get the question more often, and so I wanted to begin to try and get at an answer, or attempt an answer to the questions of how to understand the arts and music as Christians from a biblical perspective. Some may be satisfied by my answers and find them helpful; I hope so! For others, it may raise more questions than it answers because this is part of the age-old struggle in Christian theology to understand the relationship between common and special grace, general and special revelation. As I try to remind those who ask me questions, I have some of the answers, but not all of the answers!

This is my answer at this time in my understanding and thinking using Bob Dylan as a guide! Since this began as an answer to two specific questions, I will include those questions before I offer my answer. Read the two questions I was asked before you read my answers!

Continue reading ""Rainy Day Dylan": Bob Dylan, the Creation Mandate, and the Great Commission by Rev. C. R. Biggs" »

May 18, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Four States of Libertas Naturae

libertas naturae - (freedom of nature); "the liberty that is proper to a being given its particular nature." (Muller 176). The four states of libertas naturae are as follows:

a. libertas Adami - (freedom of Adam); "before the fall - this is the ability or power not to sin." (Muller 176).

b. libertas peccatorum - (freedom of sinners); a freedom that is proper to and confined within the limits of fallen nature and is therefore an absolute inability to do good or to act for the good with the sinner described as not able not to sin." (Muller 176).

c. libertas fidelium - (freedom of the faithful); "a freedom of those regenerated by the Holy Spirit that is proper to the regenerate nature and is characterized by the ability to sin and to do good." (Muller 176).

d. libertas gloriae - (freedom of glory); "a freedom proper to the fully redeemed nature of [the blessed in heaven], who, as residents of the heavenly kingdom are now characterized by the inability to sin." (Muller 176).

The four states of man in relation to sin enumerated by Augustine of Hippo: (a) able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare); (b) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); (c) able not to sin (posse non peccare); and (d) unable to sin (non posse peccare). The first state corresponds to the state of man in innocency, before the Fall; the second the state of the natural man after the Fall; the third the state of the regenerate man; and the fourth the glorified man.

For more on this topic:
Human Nature in Its Fourfold State: Thoughts on Augustine's View on the Will.
Libertas Peccatorum - Man's State of Sin After the Fall by Robert J. Olson
The Fall and Imputation of Sin @monergism

May 16, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Story of the Bible by Steve Weaver

Got a few minutes free? Would you like a feast for your soul? I would like to highly recommend Pastor Steve Weaver's blog here. He is currently preaching a six week series in his church on "The Story of the Bible," and has kindly made his sermon notes available on the internet to be viewed by a wider audience. I was so thrilled with what I read, I just had to write about it here. The God centered, Christ centered, Gospel centered message is something I believe everyone needs to hear. Are you ready for a feast? Here it is then... enjoy! - Pastor John Samson

Pastor Steve Weaver

Everyone loves a good story! There is something about the words, “Once upon a time . . .” that capture the attention and the imagination of both the young and the old. We never outgrow our love for a story. This is clearly evident by American’s seemingly insatiable appetite for books, television and movies.

The Bible is often treated as merely a collection of many different stories with a moral lesson. A Christian version of Aesop’s Fables. While it is true that the Bible does contain many different stories and that most of them have a moral lesson, the Bible is much more than what it is often treated as. The Bible is one story, with one overarching message. That story is the most compelling story ever written. Literally, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It “is the story of a God who makes a special promise about a special Person who creates a special people to live in a special place with Him forever.”

This message is the first in a series of six which seeks to tell the story of the Bible and show the unity thereof. These six messages will seek to unpack the following sentence:

The Bible is the story of a God who makes a special promise about a special Person who creates a special people to live in a special place with Him forever.

Continue reading "The Story of the Bible by Steve Weaver" »

May 16, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Facts and Fictions in The Da Vinci Code

by William Wilder
Download the audio lecture Facts and Fictions in the Da Vinci Code by Bill Wilder, delivered April 21, 2006, at the Center for Christian Study. In this lecture Bill Wilder discusses such "Da Vinci codes" as Leonardo's Vitruvian Man, Mona Lisa, and Last Supper. Evidence for the Priory of Sion is also considered, with special attention to the role of Les Dossiers Secrets and the historical Knights Templar. Finally, the relationship of Mary Magdalene and Jesus is evaluated on the basis of such documents as the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Synoptic Gospels, with a concluding assessment of the very different understandings of the significance of Jesus in Dan Brown and the canonical Gospels.

MP3 Audio -File Size 41.4 mb

A PDF of the PowerPoint slides is also available. Download .pdf File of PowerPoint Presentation - 2.23 mb

May 16, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Unassailable Home Base

Justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone does not lead to more sinning. On the contrary, it is the only sure and hopeful base of operations from which the fight against sin can be launched. All the bombers that go out to drop bombs on the strongholds of sin remaining in our lives take off from the runway of justification by faith alone. The missiles that we shoot against the incoming attack of temptation are launched from the base of justification by faith alone. The whole lifelong triumphant offensive called "operation sanctification" – by which we wage war against all the remaining corruption in our lives – is sustained by the supply line of the Spirit that comes from the secure, unassailable home-base of justification by faith alone. And it will be a successful operation – but only because of the unassailable home base. - Dr. John Piper

May 15, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Merciful Providence

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;

Saturday, May 13, 2006 - In accordance with God's Sovereign eternal decree, His merciful providence and His abundant common grace, Liverpool today won English soccer's most prestigious Cup competition, the FA Cup, beating West Ham United 3-1 on penalties after an all-time classic final finished 3-3.

"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." - Proverbs 25:25

- Pastor John Samson

May 13, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Do we ask for 'holy manna' from above when we preach? Michael Ross says that asking for holy manna from above seems foreign to a generation of preachers reared in an age of church growth methodology and pragmatic church programming. {related to this] William moore put George Atkins words to music in 1825:

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God; Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word? All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down; Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

This is one of America's revival hymns. For "it was authored during the middle years of America's Second Great Awakening ... God will work through a human agency to bring man to salvation in Christ and to renew a slumbering sin-sick Church...God works through His ordinary means of grace with extraordinary power when these normal means of grace are baptized with the unction of the Holy Spirit. Worship, preaching, prayer and fellowship can be empowered by God the Spirit so that sinners are converted, the lethargic are enlivened in soul and the Church is revived.

Iain Murray said,

Continue reading "Brethren, We Have Met to Worship" »

May 13, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Summer Reading List by Rev. Charles R. Biggs

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It’s that time again…time for beaches, boats, balls, and books! What shall you read this summer with your family? There are so many good books and yet so little time to read them all in our short lives! We have all wasted a lot of time reading books that weren’t so great because we just didn’t know there were better books out there on particular subjects. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of 10 books old and new for you to consider reading in your time with the family, at the beach, on the boat, or relaxing on the back porch.

We must start with John Calvin. If you have yet to read Calvin, then you must treat yourself to his ‘Institutes in the Christian Religion’ this summer as an intellectual and spiritual treat! If you’re a bit shy about reading the entire two volume ‘Institutes’ there is a compendium, a shortened version on the Christian life that has become one of the classics of Christianity entitled ‘The Golden Book of the Christian Life’. By the way, most (if not all!) of these books are available at Monergism Books. Suggested reading number 1:

1)John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion

Continue reading "Summer Reading List by Rev. Charles R. Biggs" »

May 12, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Can Revival be Engineered?

There's a very interesting article by Bob DeWaay in the Critical Issues Commentary concerning Recovering Reformation Theology. It begins:

"A key idea in the contemporary evangelical movement is that revival can be engineered. The Purpose Driven Web site says, “Peter Drucker called him [Warren] ‘the inventor of perpetual revival’ and Forbes magazine has written, ‘If Warren’s church was a business it would be compared with Dell, Google or Starbucks.’”1 The Purpose Driven movement can cite this business management guru approvingly only because they have a faulty theology of human ability. For example, Rick Warren says, “It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart. . . . It may take some time to identify it. But the most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs.”2 If this were true one could use modern marketing principles to sell people on their need for Christian religion and convince them to convert in order to find satisfaction of their felt needs. But it is not true.

Furthermore, it might surprise many people that this idea is not new. Charles Finney first proposed it one hundred fifty years ago. Finney wrote, “A revival is not a miracle according to another definition of the term ‘miracle’ — something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else.”3 Finney wrote more: “A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means — as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means.”4 Finney’s position that there is some innate power in man that can be motivated by some discoverable process makes an engineered revival plausible.

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May 11, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

On the Use of the Arts in Worship

The ultimate end of the church, both in the sense of destiny and of purpose, may be summed up as worship. We have been constituted as the peculiar people of God simply so that we might “show forth the praises of him who has called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9). This is, in the subjective sense of what salvation intends to accomplish within those who are saved, the one overarching purpose for the church. And this purpose will find its ultimate tangible expression at the conclusion of history, when a multitude from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation lift up their voices in unity to proclaim, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!” Hence, the unadulterated expression of perfect Christian unity is necessary for the final realization of the Church’s great goal: without perfect unity, we could not come to a full apprehension of our doxological purpose in the eschaton; and to the extent that we fail to display unity as the Church in the present age, we also fail to “show forth the praises” of God in the manner that the church was designed to do. That this is not an overstatement of the absolute necessity of Christian unity both for the Church’s purpose of showing God’s praises, and for the enjoyment of her destiny in glory, may be seen by two of the statements Christ made during his last supper with the disciples, as recorded in John’s gospel. The first of these implies that, when Christian unity is not observed, the “showing forth” of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus (and so a Christian and a member of God’s Church), becomes impossible: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). The second demonstrates that absolute Christian unity is a vital element for the Church in glory – without it, the goal and mission of the Church must fail, short of her attaining to her ultimate end of seeing and enjoying the glory of Christ where he is with the Father:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world (John 17:20-24).

From the outset, then, we may assure ourselves that our striving for authentic worship must be marked by a striving for equally authentic Church unity. Neither goal will be met with perfectly until we arrive in glory; but until that time, a great part of our task as the Church of God must be the pursuit of just such a state of united, God-reflecting worship.

Continue reading "On the Use of the Arts in Worship" »

May 10, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

The Atonement by Tom Ferrell (MP3s)

The Atonement MP3 Lectures
Contemplating the Wondrous Redemptive Work of Christ
by Tom Ferrell - Arlington Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Five week study exploring and relishing the glories of the atonement. Focuses on the purpose for the Incarnation of Christ. More importantly, however, that all of life is answered by the gospel. So we preach Christ crucified. We preach the atonement. We preach the good news with unwavering confidence that the gospel alone will work an abiding gratitude and joy in your souls. The atonement is Christ’s satisfying divine justice by His sufferings and death in the place of sinners.

The Atonement: its necessity Matthew 5:20-48; James 2:10 MP3
the Atonement: its demand Luke 2:1-20; Galatians 4:4-5a MP3
the Atonement: its essence 2 Corinthians 5:21 MP3
the Atonement: its Benefit Matthew 11:28-29 MP3
the Atonement: its design Matthew 1:21 MP3

For .pdf Manuscripts of these sermons click here

May 10, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

I would really value your prayers by Pastor John Samson

Ephesians 6:
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Back on March 7, I had the privilege of hosting a live 2 hour radio program from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on what is perhaps the largest Christian radio station in the Phoenix area. I wrote of the experience here. It was a marvellous opportunity to talk about God as He really is, and the Gospel as it really is. The feedback I received was most encouraging. Though the Church at large is in need of great reform, I believe there is a growing cry in the hearts of God's people for the truths of God's word to be thundered out across the land once again.

Well today I got a call to say that the host of the show, Andrew Tallman, is celebrating the birth of his second child and will not be in to do the programs this week. The radio station called to ask if I would be available on Thursday evening to fill in. Though more than a little nervous at hosting a live call in program once more I said "yes."

This time, I have asked a friend of mine to join me, and he has agreed - his name, Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries at

Please be praying for Dr. White and myself and this program as we minister God's word through this medium. It really is a marvellous opportunity for I am told that over 20,000 people are listening in at any given moment during this 2 hour time slot.

The details: Pastor John Samson (host) together with Dr. James White (special guest) taking live calls on KPXQ Christian Radio, 1360AM in the Phoenix area, Thursday, May 11, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (8p.m. - 10 p.m. EST).

May 09, 2006  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

"Let Me Tell You A Story": Finding Yourself in God's Story, Pt. II

"Let Me Tell You A Story" by Rev. Charles R. Biggs

Introduction: "The Story of My Life!"

What do we mean when we say: "That's the story of my life!" Usually it is a reactionary phrase of response that means that a certain event, or certain happening or occurrence is a consistent or recurring reality in our lives. We may not think about, or unpack this phrase much when we say it, but what we are really revealing about ourselves is that whether we acknowledge it or not, we are "actors" or "players" in a narrative world, or narrative universe.

Allow me to introduce my thinking on the importance of story, or a storied context in which we all live. I would like to focus on this "narrative world" in which God the Father wants all of us to imagine ourselves in the Bible as Christians. The Bible teaches us the true story of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. We are to see ourselves as people in this Grand Story that God has communicated in his holy inerrant and infallible Word.

[Note: I do not use the word "imagine" in this 'WOE' to imply that it is an "imaginary world" in which God calls us, in the sense of "not real", but a place of truth where are imaginations are actively engaged with and by God's truth (a "narratable world"- Robert Jenson, 'How the World Lost It's Story', First Things, 36 (Oct. 1993): 19-24).

Continue reading ""Let Me Tell You A Story": Finding Yourself in God's Story, Pt. II" »

May 09, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Materials of Interest Around the Web

DVD Review - Marks of a Cult by Tim Challies New Recommendation!
Why are Baptists properly considered Christians, but Mormons are not? Why is the Jehovah's Witness religion classified as an anti-Christian cult while Presbyterians, Wesleyans and Pentecostals are simply seen as denominations within the Christian faith? How does one differentiate between true Biblical Christianity and an aberrant religious movement? And just what are the marks of a cult?

Preaching as Expository Exultation for the Glory of God by John Piper--delivered at the Together for the Gospel Conference.
There are four parts to this message. First, I will reflect on the kind of preaching that I long to see God raise up in our day—the kind that is shaped by the weight of the glory of God. Second, I will try to portray the glory of God which affects preaching this way. Third, I will offer my biblical understanding of how people waken to this glory and are changed by it. Finally, I will explain how all of this calls for a kind of preaching that I call expository exultation.

Is the Devil Really in the Details? by Carl Trueman
A simple, isolated statement about belief in scriptural authority is not enough on its own to distinguish Protestants from Catholics. Augustine legitimated mediocre Christianity of a kind that accepted failure as failure and then pointed to God’s grace in Christ as the only basis for salvation, whether at the start of the Christian life or at the end. Thus, the failure of Pelagius to make sense of Paul’s teaching on fallen human nature and grace led to Augustine’s enshrinement of failure as one of the hallmarks of the true Christian. And that is surely good news.

A must read debate on Monergistic Regeneration led by Gene Bridges at Triblogue. Start here:

1) "Charles" and Bob L. Ross Vs. Scripture and the Confessions
Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in
repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.

2) Quoting the rebuttal:

The substance of the response itself is here:

May 09, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Can a True Christian Fall from Grace?

How heartening it is to read clear passages like John 3:16 which says that all who believe in Christ will "not perish but have eternal life." John 6:37-40 teaches that Christ will lose none of those given to Him by the Father but will raise all of them up to eternal life at the last day. Romans 8:28-30 declares, “these He justified; He also glorified” showing that no one who is truly justified by Christ falls through the cracks before full glorification takes place. These and other passages like John 10:26-30 are so clear. However, at least at first glance, some scriptures seem to undermine these precious truths. Because the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is consistent throughout. It never contradicts itself. To see an example of this, here's a question (based on Galatians 5:4) and an answer provided by Dr. James White on his blog at

Question: How do we explain Galatians 5:4 which talks of people falling from grace?

Answer: Gal 5:4... you have fallen from grace. - This shows that you can receive God's grace and then fall. Quite true: but what kind of grace, and in what context?

These words are addressed to a particular group, as the context shows:

Galatians 5: 2-4...

2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.
3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.
4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

So in what way had those seeking to be justified by law "fallen from grace"? The assumption that is usually made is that to fall from grace proves that you once received saving grace; evidently, the same assumption would follow that one who is severed from Christ was once joined to Him savingly.

Continue reading "Can a True Christian Fall from Grace?" »

May 09, 2006  |  Comments (27)   |  Permalink

Eros Spirituality Vs. Agape Faith by David F. Wells

The following are excerpts from David Wells’ excellent book,
Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, (Pg. 158-175)

The casual embrace of what is postmodern has increasingly led to an embrace of its spiritual yearning without noticing that this embrace carries within it the seeds of destruction for evangelical faith. The contrast between biblical faith and this contemporary spirituality is that between two entirely different ways of looking at life and at God. Nygren, some years ago, used the Greek words for two different kinds of love, Eros and Agape, to characterize these worldviews, and his elucidation is still helpful. In one worldview, which he calls Eros, it is the self which is at the center. In the other, which he calls Agape, it is God who is at the center…if [eros] is a preparation [for the gospel], it is one which carries within itself and understanding about God and salvation which is diametrically opposed to what we have in biblical faith. In this sense, it is less a preparation and more a wrong turn. Why is this so?

The movement of Eros spirituality is upward. Its essence, its drive, is the sinner finding God. The movement of Agape, by contrast, is downward. It is all about God finding the sinner. Eros spirituality is the kind of spirituality which arises from human nature and it builds on the presumption that it can forge its own salvation. Agape arises in God, was incarnate in Christ, and reaches us through the work of the Holy Spirit opening lives to receive the gospel of Christ’s saving death. In this understanding, salvation is given and never forged or manufactured. Eros is the projection of the human spirit into eternity, the immortalizing of its own impulses. Agape is the intrusion of eternity into life coming, not from below, but from above. Eros is human love. Agape is divine love. Human love of this kind, because it has need and want at its center, because it is always wanting to have its needs and wants satisfied, will always seek to control the object of its desires. That is why in these new spiritualities it is the spiritual person who makes up his or her beliefs and practices, mixing and matching and experimenting to see what works best, and assuming the prerogative to discard at will. The sacred is therefore loved for what can be had from loving it. The sacred is pursued because it has value to the pursuer and that value is measured in terms of the therapeutic payoff. There is, therefore, always a profit-and-loss mentality to these spiritualities.

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May 08, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Justification by Faith, Out of Date? by Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921)

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

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

His hope of Justification, remember, is of being pronounced righteous by God. Can God pronounce him righteous except on the ground of works that are righteous?

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

Justification by Faith, we see, is not to be set in contradiction to justification by Works. It is set in contradiction only to justification by our Own Works. It is justification by Christ's Works.

Continue reading "Justification by Faith, Out of Date? by Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921)" »

May 08, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

My One Concern about the T4G Statement by Pastor John Samson

I'm excited about the Together for the Gospel Conference's recent statement release. It will act as a dividing line of sorts, showing who is able to sign it and who is not, which will expose whether or not a person, ministry or church is concerned for the biblical Gospel in our day. That to me is a very good thing. We need to know who is with us as we stand together for and in the Gospel.

As Jason Robertson rightly points out in his blog, "The purpose of this document is defined in two sentences found in its introduction paragraphs: We are also brothers united in deep concern for the church and the Gospel. This concern is specically addressed to certain trends within the church today. Thus, it is clear that this document is not a doctrinal statement. There is no need for a new doctrinal statement or creed or confession in our generation. But having a list of specific affirmations and denials "concerning certain trends in within the church today" is very helpful."

I think the statement is very needed and have no hesitation signing my name to it. I do have one concern though. There was one sentence in the statement that bothered me... only one... but it was this one:

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May 06, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Corporate Confession of Sin

Corporate worship, as our local church understands it, is a time of joyful covenantal renewal which includes confession of sin, responsive prayers, corporate song, the preaching of the gospel and the covenantal climax of communion in the Lord's Supper. To be frank, I never personally thought I would like liturgy in a church, but after experiencing it, I have found it to be a much more meaningful form of worship because of its connection to history, the corporate body and the depth of its ability to illumine the covenant. One of the most meaningful times of the worship service to me and my wife has been the practice of the corporate confession of sin at the beginning of a worship service. Many churches have put aside the corporate confession in favor of only music but the church has historically made the corporate confession central to worship. For most it makes the time of worship more authentic and joyful for it strikes a blow against self-righteousness and humbles us before God as we say what we know to be true of ourselves. It reminds us that we are not better than others and that it is only grace (an alien righteousness) which makes us what we are. God remembers, in the covenant in Christ's blood, not to treat us as our sins deserve. In it we pray for personal sin, for the sins of our local church, our local community, our nation and world.

But Corporate confession of sin would bring only despair were it not for our knowledge of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promise, His forgiveness and mercy. It is dangerous to dwell on ourselves and our sin if we do not also rememeber that God delights in forgiving us. So I personally deeply appreciate when after we have confessed the pastor says, "...but if your faith is in Jesus Christ this morning, then I can assure you, based on the sure promise of the Word, that your sins are forgiven....

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May 05, 2006  |  Comments (13)   |  Permalink

The Necessity of the Use of Means in the Spirit's Work of Monergistic Regeneration

There are a few wise guys who are venting their theological frustrations in the ethersphere by misrepresenting the Reformed community on a rather broad scale. This is particularly true with regard to our teaching on the necessity of the use of means (preaching) in the Spirit's work of regeneration. Anyone who has spent any time on will know that for years we have gathered historical and contemporary essays from a wide array of Reformed Scholars and pastors from various denominations on the necessity of preaching the gospel to the lost so that the Spirit might quicken hearers through the Word. The Spirit quickens us, creating belief in the gospel, and cries 'Abba Father' in us, giving witness to the truth and excellency of the Word of Christ. Michael Horton affirms, with us, that while regeneration is necessary for faith, but that this life is brought forth. not in a void, but through the Word:

"...God alone is the cause of the New Birth, but he calls women and men to himself through the weakness of preaching. Nowhere in Scripture do we find a pattern of evangelism or revival in which individuals respond to the gospel by simply being “zapped” by the Spirit. They are always responding to the preached Word. It may be one-on-one, or in an assembly, but it is the Word proclaimed that gives life to those spiritually dead. Furthermore, even after they are converted, believers do not grow in their walk, deepen in their Christian experience, or learn new truths by the direct activity of the Spirit apart from God’s ordained means... God has determined to bring that Good News through specific means, and to involve us in this drama... Paul picks up on this language in Romans 10, making the preached Word essential for the Spirit’s work of regeneration: “How, then, can they call on the one in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”(Rom. 10:14-15).

Some of the allegations that we do not believe this are simply preposterous so it is needful to make a few clarifying statements to silence some of the crazy misrepresentations out there. I have seen numerous posts which erroneously claim that the broad Reformed community (who embrace monergistic regeneration) does not believe in means (preaching) to bring about regeneration.

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May 04, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Five Themes of the Prophets

The prophetic portions of our bible, while they contain some of the loftiest and most beautiful descriptions of God and his redemptive plan to be found anywhere in the scriptures, are yet among the most difficult portions to understand and interpret. They are gold mines that require a great deal of labor to extract and possess the vast riches hidden deep beneath the surface. Without a little guidance and reflection, one might wander aimlessly here and there, without making heads or tails of the bulk of what has been written. Even Martin Luther, whose exegetical abilities are beyond question, has said of the writing prophets, "They have a queer way of talking, like people who, instead of proceeding in an orderly manner, ramble off from one thing to the next, so that you cannot make head or tail of them or see what they are getting at." This observation is strikingly true. So how does one begin to find a structure that would aid in understanding writings that are so obviously structured differently from the logical, point-by-point, western way of proceeding? I have come to the conviction that the following five themes are central to the message of every writing prophet; and that, like so many threads, they are interwoven throughout the prophetic corpus, binding them together in a unified whole that fills a very specific place in the unfolding of redemptive history and revelation. One might view them as so many pegs upon which to hang the variously intermingled prophecies, and so have a basis for the comparison and conflation of the whole. Or else as so many facets, many of which inhere in each individual prophecy, relative to the angle at which one views it. I am indebted for many of the following observations to O. Palmer Robertson, whose book, The Christ of the Prophets, has been invaluable in helping me to think through these issues.

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May 04, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

The Wisdom of God in our Afflictions

The Lord has wisely and sovereignly determined each one of our lots in this life. Even in our afflictions the sovereignty and wisdom of God is displayed. But how often do we complain against them? How often do we murmur and demand our rights? Does the American Christian's unceasing demand for his rights reflect Christ as it ought, or would yielding to God's sovereign hand in glad submission to those God has placed us under have a greater effect and use by God? When we are sinned against, do we complain, plot revenge, or do we bless? and humbly desire the good of the other?

We might do well to recognize and live as missionaries here in the U.S. (or wherever you are from), and not get too comfortable here, that is, live as if we had no rights ourselves willingly living as servants ... taking opportunity to escape affliction when it offers itself (in the course of God's Providence), but instead of complaining, we humbly bear up under affliction and, in fact, go out of our way to serve and love those who treat us contemptuously. God will make all things right in HIS time. This He has promised and thus let us believe. Even if this means giving up some of our rights during this short time we have on earth. In the meantime, we need to submit to God's Providence in our lot and work for the good, but without complaint and without cursing those who work against us ... for our battle is not with flesh and blood. Take note that the first century Jews wanted a political messiah, and some worked against God by their attempts to forcibly take the political reigns... let us not make the same mistake and think that the purpose God has given us is to attempt to take over the political realm, as if this would solve the world's problems. If God places us in a position in the political realm as our lot in life, great; work for the good, for justice and redeem as much as God uses you to, but do not put your hope in it. Our hope is in Christ... Remember that Jesus is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come." Jesus reigns now over all creation and over every name that is named. This means what is occurring in your life, even that which may make you bitter, is under his sovereign and wise hand. Take comfort in that whatever your circumstance the Lord has a distinct purpose in it. Complaining and murmuring is a complaint against the Lord. He has promised in the age to come that these temporary afflictions will turn to eternal glory, as if our time here were but for a moment, the blink of an eye.

See what the Puritan divine Thomas Boston in his classic The Crook in the Lot, said about yielding to God's providence under afflictions:

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May 03, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Two Views on Foreknowledge by Pastor John Samson

"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son..." - Rom. 8:29

"chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father..." 1 Peter 1: 1, 2

Assumptions and misunderstandings abound concerning the doctrine of God's foreknowledge. If we are to come to a biblical understanding of the subject, we need to apply dilligence as we allow for the Holy Spirit to lead us into His truth.

There are two main views held by Christians today regarding foreknowledge:

1. THE PRESCIENT VIEW - (Pre - before; science - knowledge; i.e. before knowledge)

The Prescient view teaches that the election and predestination of an individual is based on God knowing ahead of time what a person will do. God merely chooses those whom He sees ahead of time will choose Him. It certainly seems, at least at first glance, to be a fair system. Though a very popular view, and one that I held for many a year, I now believe it to be entirely unbiblical. Concerning this, Vincent Cheung writes:

"The false view of election first takes foreknowledge to mean a passive prescience. That is, they take it to mean that God passively discovers what his creatures would decide in the future apart from his sovereign control, and then he makes a decision regarding the status of these creatures on the basis of this awareness. But this means that his decision regarding the status of these creatures is in a real sense determined by these creatures themselves, and the difference between these creatures and other creatures are in the creatures themselves, apart from God's sovereign decision to make a distinction between them. It may be said that God is still the one who determines the principles by which men must be saved, but it is the men themselves who decide which ones would receive salvation. The problem with this view is that, even if we allow foreknowledge to mean a passive prescience, the argument remains incomplete and futile. This is because our opponents must establish something else as well, namely, that faith is not a gift from God, but that it is something generated by the creatures themselves. Otherwise, if faith is a sovereign gift from God as the Bible teaches, then for God to base election on foreseen faith would be just another way of saying that he bases election on what he himself will do in the future. That is, if God is the one who grants faith to whomever he chooses, and if men cannot generate faith in and by themselves, then whether foreknowledge refers to mere prescience does not make a pivotal difference for the doctrine of election. In this case, since God knows himself, since he knows his own plans and purposes, and since he knows his own decision regarding how and to whom he would distribute faith, it remains that election is based solely on God's own sovereign will, and not any foreseen condition in the creatures. Therefore, it is not enough for opponents of the biblical doctrine to assert that foreknowledge means mere foresight or prescience, but they must also establish that faith is not a gift from God, and that men is willing and able to generate in and by themselves faith in Jesus Christ, and that even in their depraved condition, they are still willing and able to choose that which is so spiritually good, that is so against sin and unbelief, and that which is the opposite of their spiritual disposition."

2. FOREKNOWING = FORELOVING. God, in Sovereign grace sets His love upon an individual and decides to do so without any consideration of foreseen faith or merit in the person.

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May 03, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Has Anyone Seen John Hendryx? by Pastor John Samson

Has anyone seen John Hendryx? I don't just mean in the last week or so? I mean, ever!

In preparation for last Sunday's sermon I was seeking to use a profound quote from Mr. Hendryx, and as I was using powerpoint, wanted to find a photograph of the man to go with it. Guess what? The man's photo is hard to find. There's this one, found here, but it is so blurry, it is hardly useful. I mean, could you, using just this photograph, spot this guy if he was walking past you along the street? I couldn't!

I am not normally one for conspiracy theories but... why the dark sunglasses and blurry photograph?

Though I have felt for some time that John Hendryx is a good friend of mine, it just dawned on me... you know, I've never actually seen him. Oh, I send e-mails to him, and I get responses... but who exactly is responding?

I've talked on the phone to a guy who SAID he was John Hendryx. I asked, "is that John?" he said, "errr.. yeah" and he mumbled something about monergistic regeneration... but was that REALLY him? Would I hear the same voice if I called again at a different time of the day? Or would another guy answer and repeat the same monergistic mantra? When we do call and hear stuff like "yeah, like Luther the German dude said 'Here as I stand or fall in limited atonement, simul justus sola fide and gloria'" - shouldn't it make us just a little suspicious?

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May 02, 2006  |  Comments (20)   |  Permalink

Calvinism, Evangelism & Revivals in History

"The greatest evangelists and missionaries of Protestant era have been Calvinistic or Reformed. That is, they have embraced and preached the doctrines of grace. Whether it is Bunyan or Spurgeon, Carey or Nettleton or Whitefield or Duff or Stott that you are talking about – the Baptist tradition, the Congregational tradition, the Anglican tradition, the Presbyterian tradition and so on – find the hall of fame evangelists and missionaries and you’ll find folks who live, breathe, teach and preach the doctrines of grace."

(Dr. Ligon Duncan, T4G blog, Feb 28, 2006)

"And then further, that I may clear up these points and leave the less rubbish for my brethren to wheel away, we have sometimes heard it said, but those who say it ought to go to school to read the first book of history, that we who hold Calvinistic views are the enemies of revivals.

Why, sirs, in the history of the Church, with but few exceptions, you could not find a revival at all that was not produced by the orthodox faith. What was that great work which was done by Augustine, when the Church suddenly woke up from the pestiferous and deadly sleep into which Pelagian doctrine had cast it? What was the Reformation itself but the waking up of men’s minds to those old truths?

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May 02, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink Major Upgrade Campaign

As many of you already know, we need to raise $5000.00 to cover the costs of a major upgrade to This project is seeking your help to fund the cost of backend engineering, design, data entry as well as continued regular maintenance costs for the site (software, hardware, etc.).'s content will be put into a database with consideration to usability, navigation and website architecture. When the project is complete, the goal is a much better user experience and to make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. While the content of the site will continue to be focused on Christ-honoring theology, it should be much more streamlined and accessible.

We thank the Lord for all of you that after only one week we have already raised over $4000.00 in donations through checks and PayPal. We are really thankful to see the broad support and the obvious hand of the Lord at work through you in furthering the Gospel through

May 02, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Faith: The Result of the New Birth by C.H. Spurgeon

The following are some excerpts from the Sermon "Faith and Regeneration" by C.H. Spurgeon

Inasmuch as the gospel command, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," is addressed by divine authority to every creature, it is the duty of every man so to do. What saith John: "This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ," and our Lord himself assures us, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." I know there are some who will deny this, and deny it upon the ground that man has not the spiritual ability to believe in Jesus, to which I reply that it is altogether an error to imagine that the measure of the sinners moral ability is the measure of his duty. There are many things which men ought to do which they have now lost the moral and spiritual, though not the physical, power to do. A man ought to be chaste, but if he has been so long immoral that he cannot restrain his passions, he is not thereby free from the obligation. It is the duty of a debtor to pay his debts, but if he has been such a spendthrift that he has brought himself into hopeless poverty, he is not exonerated from his debts thereby. Every man ought to believe that which is true, but if his mind has become so depraved that he loves a lie and will not receive the truth, is he thereby excused? If the law of God is to be lowered according to the moral condition of sinners, you would have a law graduated upon a sliding- scale to suit the degrees of human sinfulness; in fact, the worst man would be under the least law, and become consequently the least guilty. God's requirements would be a variable quantity, and, in truth, we should be under no rule at all. The command of Christ stands good however bad men may be, and when he commands all men everywhere to repent, they are bound to repent, whether their sinfulness renders it impossible for them to be willing to so or not. In every case it is man's duty to do what God bids him.

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May 01, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Some Reflections on Together for the Gospel by Bob Kauflin

Bob Kauflin, who led the Together for the Gospel conference in worship has written some brief but poigniant reflections concerning the event. From his blog at he writes:

...I thought the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky was a whirlwind. Much to remember, much to celebrate, much to respond to. Who knows what kind of fruit will emerge from these three days?

One thing is certain. C.J. Mahaney, Lig Duncan, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever have not only instructed us on the unity the Gospel brings. They have demonstrated it. This conference brought men from very diverse backgrounds together to talk, worship God, learn, and grow. And it’s all because of the Gospel.

Music was one area in which the effect of the Gospel was obvious. There’s no question that music in the church is an explosive and divisive issue. In fact, early on in the conference planning, there was talk of having no music, to minimize distractions. Wisdom prevailed, however, and we obeyed God’s command to sing his praises (Ps. 47:6). Mark Dever sent me the original list of songs to choose from. I added a few, and then decided when we would sing them during the conference, with Mark's approval. We combined well known and not-so-well-known hymns with a few Sovereign Grace songs.

At the conference, God enabled us to transcend our stylistic preferences, lay down our understanding of what kind of music God really likes, and simply lift our hearts and voices to Him with jubilant, loud, passionate, Christ-exalting praise. It probably wasn’t exactly like anyone’s experience in their local setting. The music was a little toned down from what I “normally” do, as I usually play with a full band. For some, I’m sure extended clapping after a song was a new occurence, perhaps something they’ve been warned against. But the clapping wasn’t something I encouraged – it happened spontaneously. No one seemed to notice because our hearts and minds were focused on the One to Whom we were giving glory. The only Savior whose sacrificial death has atoned for all our transgressions and saved us from God’s just wrath. The perfect Son of God Who bore our sins so that we might be clothed in His righteousness.

The take away is this: when we concentrate on what really matters in our relationship with God – the unity He has given us with Himself and each other through the Gospel - peripheral issues fade into the background. Maybe that’s how it’s always supposed to be…

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May 01, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A New Reformation by Dr. James Montgomery Boice

I would like to see the beginning of a new Reformation in our day, and I hope you would like to see it too and are praying for it. I hope you have become nauseated with the tawdry entertainment that passes for the true worship of God in many of our churches and, like the saints of the past, are longing for more of the deep truths of the inerrant Word of God. We certainly need a reformation.

The most serious issue facing the church today is not the inerrancy of Scripture but its sufficiency. Do we believe that God has given us what we need in this book? Or do we suppose that we have to supplement the Bible with human things? Do we need sociological techniques to do evangelism, pop psychology and pop psychiatry for Christian growth, extra-biblical signs or miracles for guidance, or political tools for achieving social progress and reform? It is possible to believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and yet to neglect it and effectually repudiate it just because we think that it is not sufficient for today’s tasks and that other things need to be brought in to accomplish what is needed. This is exactly what many evangelicals and evangelical churches are doing today.

May 01, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink