A Merry heart does good like a medicine... Warning - laughter is just a click away... click here. - Pastor John Samson
The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 3: "Man-Pleasers or God-Pleasers?" by C. R. Biggs
We all want to be liked- -especially servants of Jesus Christ are tempted in this way! Yet we must be faithful to Christ as servants of him who called us!
Whether we are liked or not, we must be faithful! It is not how much we are liked, as much as it is how much we are faithful. At the Judgment Seat of Christ on the Last Day, Christ will not ask his minister-ambassadors how much we were liked; he will ask if we were faithful!
In Galatians 1:6-10 the Apostle Paul is criticized for being a "man-pleaser" because he was telling the Churches of Galatia that the gospel was by faith alone in Jesus 'plus nothing else'! The Judaizers criticized Paul for making the gospel too easy- -but he was telling the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ!
How do we determine whether the "messenger of Christ' is faithful these days?
We determine a true minister-ambassador-messenger of Jesus only by how faithfully he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not the other way around! If a messenger of Christ is truly called and commissioned by Christ, he will tell the truth of the gospel, regardless of what any man says, or whatever persecution or criticism he may receive, just because he is a servant, or bond-slave of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10). This means that the minister-ambassador-messenger's total allegiance is to Jesus Christ and making his gospel known as an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10-21). Let us read Galatians 1:6-10:
ESV Galatians 1:6-10: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Because Godâ€™s grace in Christ is so good, wonderful, sweet â€“and â€œamazingâ€ as the hymn by John Newton teaches (â€œAmazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.â€), the Apostle Paul was amazed, astounded, perplexed by the fact that the Galatian Christians had so quickly deserted the God who had called them in the grace of Jesus (Gal. 1:6-7). Paul says later that the false gospel that they had heard from the Judaizers had mesmerized or bewitched them (Gal. 3:1ff), and that they were falling away from grace (Gal. 5:4) because they were believing in Christâ€™s work for them, plus their own works of the law added to it!
There are a lot of times when I feel like a pretender, and I'm afraid someone's going to find out all about me and realize I've been faking this whole Christianity thing. I'm just guessing here, but there are probably a lot of Christians who feel the same way, like they're barely scraping by in life without doing something drastically and publicly evil. And there's a fear that, if others found out they felt this way, their world would explode with shame. They're fearfulâ€”as am Iâ€”of being caught as fake Christians.
If you're one of these people, I've got bad news for you. And good news.
When Charles is crowned King of England
Prince Charles has long been a proponent of religion - all types of religion. One of the titles given to the King or Queen of England is "Defender of the Faith" - the faith here refering to the Christian faith. However, Charles has long said that he would want to change this title to "Defender of the Faiths" in keeping with his snycretistic religious world view.
Along this line, it has emerged this week that when the time finally comes for Prince Charles to become King of England, his coronation will not be a distinctly Christian ceremony, breaking with the tradition of many centuries. Instead it will be a decidedly multi-faith event. See here.
The Gospel According to Galatians- Part 2 by C. R. Biggs
What's so important about the gospel?!
What's so important about the gospel is what is so 'amazing' about the gospel!!
As we begin todayâ€™s study, let us summarize the Apostle Paulâ€™s gospel and the â€œother gospelâ€ of the Judaizers:
Simple Gospel of the Apostle Paul: (1) â€œBelieve upon the Lord Jesus Christ, (2) at that moment you are saved-delivered-rescued from sin and Godâ€™s wrath; (3) now you live obediently according to Godâ€™s Law because the Spirit has written it in your heartsâ€ (Eph. 2:8-10: Because of Godâ€™s mercy, we are saved by grace, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in). Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4-10:
ESV Ephesians 2:4-10: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Christ plus nothing equals salvation-deliverance and the fruitful obedience of faith because of our life-giving union with Jesus..
The Judaizersâ€™ â€œOther Gospelâ€: (1) â€œBelieve upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and (2) keep the Law of God the best you can; and then (3) you are saved.â€ (Contrast from Machen, â€˜Notes on Galatiansâ€™, pg. 49).
Christ plus cooperation with God equals salvation-deliveranceâ€¦
In todayâ€™s study we want to consider further the Apostle Paulâ€™s gospel that was being exchanged for â€œanother gospel which is no gospel at all?â€ Our â€˜Word of Encouragementâ€™ will focus on unpacking the sweet and amazing gospel of Jesus Christ, and how Paul summarizes it in Galatians 1:1-5, and how he responds when the Churches of Galatia begin to turn from the true gospel to a false one!
Wrestling with Predestination and Election
Question: I'm really wrestling with this whole idea of predestination and election. Isn't the idea of election just another word for fatalism?
Thank you for your question. First of all, you are not in any way the first person to wrestle with the weighty issues of Sovereign election over against free will. Many have walked this road before you. In fact, I too have not always believed what I now believe. You can be sure that much mental and emotional wrestling took place as I was in the process of learning what I believe to be the Biblical doctrine in this area. We all have traditions, and as a friend of mine, Dr. James White says so well, "the people most enslaved by their traditions are those who don't believe they have any."
When I first heard the message of Sovereign Grace and election taught, I have to admit that I resisted it. Though the teaching I heard was backed up with Scripture, I thought I had other Scriptures that would negate the ones I heard. Then I went to a question and answer session on the subject (the first of many, I might add). This proved to be invaluable for me, because many of the questions I had were raised, and, I had to admit, were answered from Scripture, in their proper Biblical context.
I was immediately alarmed by this, as I came to understand that this whole issue required a lot more research than I had previously thought. Knowing that I needed to believe what Scripture taught on the subject, I ordered much material, and began my research. It is never pleasant to examine firmly held traditions, and I felt that this was especially so in my position, when I had taught other things at various times in my ministry. No one wants to admit the possibility that they may in fact have been wrong.
John Piper on How We Might Respond to Muslim Anger over the Pope's Comments
John Piper suggesting How Christians Might Respond to Muslim Outrage at the Pope's Regensburg Message About Violence and Reason.
Here is an outline of his ten points:
1. Admit that the Christian church has often been too entangled with civil governments, with the result that violence has been endorsed by the church as a way of accomplishing religious, and not just civil, goals.
2. Make clear that the use of God-sanctioned violence between Israel and the nations in the Old Testament is no longer Godâ€™s will for his people.
3. Admit that there are many Muslims today who do not approve of violence in the spread of Islam.
4. Point out how Islam, in its most sacred writings and authoritative teachings, belittles Jesus Christ, not just occasionally in the news, but constantly by its dominant claims.
5. Point out that, in response to this constant defamation of Jesus Christ, there are no public threats or demands for apologies.
The Gospel According to Galatians- Part 1 by C. R. Biggs
As Christians, we need to be constantly, moment-by-moment reminded of the good news or gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all have a tendency of forgetting the truth and reality of our union with Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we regularly seek to replace the righteousness of Christ that has been given to us with a substitution of our own making, one of our own works.
As sinners saved by grace, a constant temptation for us is to replace Christâ€™s righteousness with â€œanother gospelâ€ â€“ one of our own making! Instead of living out our union with Jesus Christ by knowing we have been declared righteous or justified all because of Godâ€™s grace given to us, we are tempted daily to replace his righteousness with our own. We just canâ€™t seem to get it through our heads that God loves us, that we are no longer slaves, and that we have been adopted as children of the living God!
â€œSons, not slaves! Sons, not slaves!â€
Righteous before God not based on anything we have done, or feel, but on what Christ has graciously done for us!
Robert Traill - Justification Vindicated (excerpt)
It is that doctrine only by which a convinced sinner can be dealt with effectually. When a man is awakened, and brought to that, that all must be brought to, or to worse: "What shall I do to be saved?" we have the apostolic answer to it, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house;" (Acts 16:30, 31). This answer is so old, that with many it seems out of date. But it is still, and will ever be, fresh, and new, and savoury, and the only resolution of this grand case of conscience, as long as conscience and the world lasts. No wit or art of man will ever find a crack or flaw in it, or devise another or a better answer; nor can any but this alone heal rightly the wound of an awakened conscience. Let us set this man to seek resolution in this case of some masters in our Israel. According to their principles, they must say to him, "Repent, and mourn for your known sins, and leave them and loathe them, and God will have mercy on you." "Alas! (saith the poor man) my heart is hard, and I cannot repent aright; yea, I find my heart more hard and vile than when l was secure in sin." If you speak to this man of qualifications for Christ, he knows nothing of them; if of sincere obedience, his answer is native and ready, "Obedience is the work of a living man, and sincerity is only in a renewed soul." Sincere obedience is therefore as impossible to a dead unrenewed sinner as perfect obedience is. Why should not the right answer be given, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved?"
Images of the Savior (6 â€“ His Turning Water to Wine)
Three Views on Man's Condition
It is vital that each of us gains a biblical understanding of God and the Gospel. Unfortunately, the feedback I receive from people who are new to these issues is that they have an extremely difficult time following some of the discussions we have simply because they come across so many theological buzzwords, which are often left unexplained. (I believe the reformed faith could really be furthered if there was much more material available written for people without any theological foundation). These issues are extremely important ones and are things that every Christian needs to understand. Here then is a brief explanation of some of the terms you will come across as you study the issues:
1. PELAGIANISM - Salvation is all of man (human monergism - monergism means "one power working")
BELIEF: MAN IS WELL
Named after the British monk Pelagius (354 - 418 A.D.) Pelagius believed that Adam's sin affected no one but himself. Those born since Adam have been born into the same condition Adam was in before the Fall, neutral towards sin. Human beings are able to live free from sin if they want to.
This is a humanistic, man centered teaching and while it is very positive, it limits the nature and scope of sin and flatly denies the necessity of God's grace. This view was condemned as heresy by the Church, as it has no basis in Scripture.
2. SYNERGISM (through the actions of more than one - cooperation)
BELIEF: MAN IS SICK, EVEN MORTALLY SICK
From the Mind of Dave Hunt
Here is a MUST READ: Commenting on whether Calvinists are saved, in his own words, here is Dave Hunt at his best, apparently unconcerned for historical and theological accuracy, throwing all caution to the wind. Read through it -- no further commentary necessary.
Question [composite of several]: Was this a misstatement, or do you really believe what you said in your September Q&A: â€œThose who only know the false gospel of Calvinism are not savedâ€?
Answer: The original question was, â€œIs it possible for someone who believes only in the soteriology of Calvin to be saved?â€ As I said in my response, there are many Calvinists who were saved before they became Calvinists or who have believed the true gospel in spite of their Calvinismâ€”but â€œthose who know only the false gospel of Calvinism are not saved.â€ If all one believes is that infant baptism saves, as Calvin taught (and which is the case with many Calvinists), one is certainly not saved. If a person believes that he was saved through infant baptism, how is it possible for him, without relinquishing that false belief, to truly be saved by believing the gospel? He has no need of the true gospel, having already been forgiven his sins and made a child of God through infant baptism. He may affirm at his confirmation that Christ died for his sins, but he still believes that the benefit of that sacrifice came to him through infant baptism long before his â€œconfirmationâ€ of this lie.
How could that false faith save? If it does, then the many former Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians who realized they werenâ€™t saved through their infant baptism, and who put their faith in Christ, were born again, and then baptized as believers, have been deluded. But they would vehemently deny that they were saved all the time in spite of their faith in infant baptism! And they would reject Calvin himself as an â€œex-Catholicâ€â€”because he continued to rely upon his infant baptism for salvation, he declared that being baptized as a baby was the sure way of knowing one was among the elect, he opposed those who got saved and were then baptized, he banned Anabaptists from Geneva in 1537, and he even had some burned at the stake for this belief.
Sovereignty Revisited by Pastor John Samson
Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. - Psalm 135:6
God's Sovereignty can be defined as follows: God does what He wants, when He wants, the way He wants, without having to ask for permission.
Man in his hostile disposition against God rails against such an idea. Even Christians sometimes have a hard time accepting this very biblical concept. We don't mind God being Sovereign in the Universe, as long as it doesn't impact upon our personal freedom, it would seem.
Then there are the other Christians who define God's Sovereignty in terms of what they perceive as man's freedom. They say, "God Sovereignty extends to every area except the free will of the creature." I don't know if I ever said those exact words, but certainly, for many years, I would have believed them to be true. But if someone thinks clearly about this for just a few seconds, the idea can be shown to be quite ridiculous. If God is Sovereign but only in issues that are unrelated to human will, who then is ultimately Sovereign? Obviously the answer is man with his sovereign will.
The God of Scripture accomplishes everything He sets out to achieve, frustrating not mere individual plans, but the plans of entire nations. When King Nebuchadnezzar claimed glory for himself because of the illustrious empire he had built, God stepped in and as an act of judgment made him mad (see Daniel 4:28-37). In light of just this single incident in scripture (amongst many that could be given), I think we can safely say that the idea of God's Sovereignty being limited by human will is without warrant.
Free will vs. Free Agency
Visitor: What's the difference between freewill and free-agency?
Response: While descriptions may vary, I find the following explanation to be helpful. When it is said that people have no "free will" it does not mean that a person is coerced from the outside and must act against his will. Let that be clear up front. With this in mind, it is important that we learn to distinguish coersion vs. necessity. We are indeed free of external coersion but not free of necessity. Let me explain:
What we mean by denying a (fallen) person has free will is that he/she will act, by necessity, according to the corruption of his/her nature. They are in bondage to sin meaning the love of God and His law are not the unregenerate persons' deepest animating motive and principle (nor is it his motive at all), in anything he does. No one is coercing a sinner to act as they do. Man eagerly volunteers his submission to sin. This means, the unregenerate person will always choose according to who they are by nature, driven by their disposition. In other words, our choices are all voluntary, but we are not free to choose otherwise because we will not understand spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14) and indeed are hostile to them, according to Scripture. Men love darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19, 20) Without the Holy Spirit, man, by nature, is hostile to Christ. In other words, we are in bondage to sin until Christ sets us free. Jesus himself says that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, that a thornbush cannot bear figs. Jesus is teaching us that the nature of a thing determines BY NECESSITY (not coersion) the direction he/she will take.
Latria v. Dulia in Roman Catholicism
I am sure many of us as Bible believing Christians have been totally bemused by the adoration Roman Catholics give to Mary. It seems so obvious to us that prostrating oneself before a statue of Mary, lighting candles to her and praying to her is an act of worship. In that Scripture is clear that only God Himself is to be worshipped, we find it hard to imagine how people could be deceived enough to see these acts as legitimate and even pleasing in God's sight. But when we talk to Roman Catholics on this issue we soon hear them speak of a distinction between latria and dulia - between true worship given to God, and the high esteem that is rightly to be given to men.
How are we to respond when we hear this? It is obviously a very important issue. The line between the true worship of God and rank idolatry needs to be clearly defined for the sake of our souls. In this regard, I thought you might be interested in reading the fairly brief response my friend Dr. James White gives to someone writing to him on this very question.
Firstly, here's the letter/question written to Dr. White:
Questions for R. C. Sproul
From the blog at http://fide-o.blogspot.com, Jason Robertson writes:
Today, I am attending â€œThe Cross of Christ: Redemption Accomplishedâ€ Conference in Anaheim, California with R.C. Sproul and Ligon Duncan.
Last night I got a chance to spend some time with Dr. Sproul and talk about eschatology. I mentioned to him that I felt like in his book â€œThe Last Days According to Jesusâ€ that he really didnâ€™t let his readers know which eschatological camp he was in: Premil, Postmil, or Amil. He laughed heartily and replied, â€œThatâ€™s right, because I donâ€™t actually know. I see valid points in all of them and weaknesses, too.â€
R.C. made sure that I knew that he was a partial preterist who viewed this age in a very positive way. He talked about how the church in the West is filled with apostasy and liberalism but in other parts of the world the church is doing great. When he spoke of these matters he sounded like an Amillennialist. But he said that when it came to Romans chapter 11 that he agreed with Charles Hodge and believed that there was something in the future specially for the ethnic Jews of Israel. His view of Romans 11 was similar to Historical Premil. He then apologized to me for being confused. Now that was humbling. If it were not for Dr. Sproul quite possibly I could still be an Arminian â€“ so donâ€™t apologize to me, Dr. Sproul. In fact, to confess that some theology confuses you encourages me and reminds me that we all approach the Bible from the same place â€“ a place of desperate need for Godâ€™s wisdom!
Paul's Use of Logic (Quote)
"It is perfectly logical and reasonable to examine a position, or the progression of a position, and work out its implications. Paul himself does this to the Corinthians.
Evidently swayed by Greek philosophy, some puddingheads in Corinth denied the doctrine of bodily resurrection. Paul was appalled, and with inexorable logic worked out the implications of this view. Notice his progression, "If you are saying A, then B naturally follows, as well as C, and D, and...."
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then [A] not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then [B] our preaching is in vain and [C] your faith is in vain. 15 [D] We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, [E] not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, [F] your faith is futile and [G] you are still in your sins. 18 Then [H] those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, [I] we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
Paul works out easily nine implications of this fundamental error, all designed to show where it necessarily leads. Perhaps the errorists would have cried, "Paul, that's a straw man! We're not saying any of that!" To this, the apostle might have replied, "Not yet. But this is where your premises necessarily lead.""
- Dan Phillips
The Dual Nature of Christian Warfare
In my recent moments of spare time, I have been reading Paul: An Outline of His Theology, by Herman Ridderbos. This has been a tremendously helpful and outstandingly thorough introduction to the theology of the Pauline epistles. For the purpose of whetting the potential reader's appetite, I am posting a brief, yet particularly useful sample on the nature of Christian warfare.
NEWS FLASH: God Glorified by Evil Spirit's Victory!
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, â€œI adjure you by the Jesus, whom Paul proclaims.â€ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, â€œJesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?â€ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Acts 19:11-17
The main point of this little story is probably that one must have a direct relationship with Jesus Christ in order to enjoy the benefits won by the power of his name. In fact, Luke is saying this in a rather scary wayâ€”if you claim said benefits without actually having said relationship, you could be in serious trouble.
But what's this about Jesus receiving praise after the success of the demon in resisting exorcism? That seems a bit odd....
The Goodness of God by Pastor John Samson
â€œYou wonâ€™t catch me speaking about such things.â€ The statement came from a minister who had just heard me preach.
â€œWhat things?â€ I asked.
â€œJudgment, hell, wrath and the likeâ€ he said.
â€œOh, so why is it that you will not speak of such things when the Bible clearly does?â€ I then asked.
I expected him to say something like, â€œwell the Bible is a primitive book written in a primitive culture. People are more sophisticated in our day and need to hear a different kind of message â€“ one that is affirming, and encouraging.â€ That's what I expected the minister to say. I expected him to ridicule me for believing and preaching the Bible in the 21st century, but this would be a wrong assumption on my part.
From his response to my question I could readily see that this man was in fact a Bible believing Christianâ€¦ a Bible believing minister, no less. Hereâ€™s what he said:
â€œWell brother, Romans 2:4 says that it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, so I believe if we want to see people repent, we have to preach on the goodness of God, not these other attributes.â€
I was stunned! Completely stunned! The man was totally sincere, but I could hardly believe how the text he mentioned in Romans 2 could be so badly mistreated.
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Desiring God Website Update
Dr. John Piper's ministry has long been appreciated for its God centered, Christ centered and Gospel centered emphasis. The news this week is that the Desiring God website, which was already a treasure trove of resources, has expanded even further. All 25 years of Dr. Piper's sermons are now available to listen to free of charge here. This expansion of resources is a very generous gift to both the Body of Christ and to our world.
Let us continue to pray for John and his family, his church (Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota), and for the staff at Desiring God Ministries. May God's hand continue to be upon this ministry. May He use it mightily. Our prayer is that He would be pleased to cause the ripple effects of this gift to resound to His glory, now and for all eternity.
Pastor John Samson