Reformation Day Symposium
Today is Reformation Day, for it was October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation.
In light of this, Tim Challies has invited the readers of his blog to submit articles on this theme. The result is a fine array of written material that many will enjoy reading, available here.
Monergism.com Ministry Update
I know many of you are anxious to see the roll out of the new website. There is a huge amount of data at Monergism so it is a lot of work for the engineer to carry it over into the database for the new site. But, as promised, and Lord willing, it will be launching soon, but unfortunately we do not yet have a date for you. The new design is complete and it looks good but still some technical hurdles to overcome.
In the meantime, Monergism.com continues to grow. Last month (September) we had over 91,000 unique visitors and nearly 600K page views. This is a new record. Thanks to you and for continuing to tell others about the site.
Many of you also know that we have moved our ministry and bookstore into a much larger facility. We tried to make the transition seamless and we apologize if our service lagged in any way in the last week or two. The new facitlity has an office up front and a warehouse for our books in the rear. Around 2100 square feet in all. Many expenses were incurred so thank you for continuing to support us by purchasing books though us and for your generous donations.
Here are the top 25 pages listed by traffic at Monergism.com over the last month:
The Hall of Contemporary Reformers
John Piper (in Hall of Contemporary Reformers)
Bible Research and Bibliology
Eschatology (Study of the Last Things)
Doctrines of Grace
Freewill & Bondage of the Will
Attributes of God
Church History A.D.
Credo Baptism Vs. Paedo Baptism
Seeker Sensitive Purpose Driven
Book Review: The Art of Manfishing by Thomas Boston
Book Review: The Art of Manfishing, by Thomas Boston
(Reviewed by Nathan Pitchford)
Thomas Boston, a Scottish Puritan of the eighteenth century, produced at the beginning of his ministry what was to become a classic expression of the Puritan, and indeed the Reformed, attitude towards evangelism. Today we know this passionate and soul-searching meditation as The Art of Manfishing. Anyone who has ever been brought to despair by the lack of success attending his ministry, or the dullness of heart which he often finds seeping into his soul, would find much balm in these weighty words, written by one who truly feels that of which he speaks; and who knows, moreover, where the healing and hope is to be found.
The caricature of Puritanism as a condemnatory and passionless religion of self-satisfied curmudgeons could scarcely be further from the reality, as Bostonâ€™s little treatise convincingly demonstrates. Within its pages are to be found deep humility, a passion for souls, and a desperate desire that God be glorified. This is Puritanism at its best; and even at its worst, Puritanism has much to offer the modern church, as she pursues her task of evangelizing the lost. It is primarily in two particulars that we, as modern evangelists, stand to learn from the scripturally-saturated reflections of Thomas Boston.
The Reformation - Has the Holy Spirit Moved On? by Pastor John Samson
I was recently involved in a friendly discussion with a fellow Christian minister. I was talking about the doctrines that sparked the Protestant Reformation, when out of nowhere, it seemed, my minister friend said, "The Holy Spirit is not stuck in the 16th Century. He has moved on. Why don't you?"
I was a little taken aback to hear this, especially from a minister, but I then realized that he is perhaps speaking for many when he wonders why people like myself are enamored with the Reformation almost five centuries on. Many wonder about the relevance of the Reformation, and see no obvious relationship between that time and our own.
So, is it the case that I am seeking to go back in time and live in the 16th Century? Was that an era that simply thrills my soul?
"Reformed Righteousness"- by Rev. C. R. Biggs
489th Reformation Day Celebration
"Get over it!" "The Reformation is an historical event that took place years ago; it is irrelevant to me and to modern people." "Just give me Jesus and I will be happy. What good could come from visiting the teaching of the Reformation in today's church?"
These are some of the initial comments one is likely to get from other well-meaning Christians unfamiliar, uninformed, or disinterested in the Reformation of the 16th century. Yet, what God did in His goodness during the Reformation was nothing less than the reestablishment of the gospel, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, that had been eclipsed by the supposed good works of men.
The Reformation was a time when God allowed light to shine in the darkness of the failed attempts of feeble and sinful men trying to earn righteousness from good works, and only ending in despair before a holy God. In the Reformation, God allowed his grace to come again into glorious sight, so that one could truly know how to be made right or at peace with the living God.
How IS a sinful person to be made right before a holy God?
Question on Perseverance & Revelation 22:19
Dear Mr. Hendryx,
I have read over some of the articles on your site would like to pose a question to you from the scriptures concerning the monergism/synergism debate. I have studied the cases of Calvinism, Arminianism, etc. for some time now, and soteriologically lean heavily towards Synergism. The question I ask is how do you reconcile your belief of perseverance of the saints with the warning given in Revelation 22:19? I have posed this question to quite a few Calvinist friends and authors, and the most intellectually sound answer I have gotten thus far is that God simply gives such warnings to keep His elect from falling away.The irony of that argument is that if God's purpose in issuing such a warning is that we 'take heed lest we fall,' then why am I in theological error for taking heed and believing that such a possibility could occur? In Christ,___________
The main issue is the fact that God gives many commands in Scripture, all of which we have the inability to carry out apart from Christ. But, thanks be to God, Christ does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. The purpose of the Law and warnings is not to show our natural ability but rather our inability (Rom 3:19, 20). "through the law we become conscious of sin", Which makes us flee to Christ. So when God commands us to persevere to the end, He is not telling us to look to our own resources to get there, but rather that we look to Christ, who alone is sufficient to fully save.
The error in question in Revelation 22:19 is to disbelieve the Scriptures by either adding to them or subtracting from them. That is, to disbelieve the very Christ who saves you. When we add or take away from the Scripture we are in effect saying that we do not like this particular God as He has revealed himself to me, so anyone who does this does not believe the Christ of Scripture to begin with. He believes in a false Christ. We should take heed for doing such a thing would reveal the true nature of our heart: unregenerate.
Does Jesus save or merely make savable?
The perfection of Christâ€™s work of salvationâ€”from the reality of Godâ€™s eternal decree, the deadness of man in sin, the effectiveness of His substitutionary death in behalf of the elect, to the application in time by the Spirit of Godâ€”is the sole and only basis of any consistent doctrine of perseverance or â€œeternal security.â€ Every system that reduces the work of Christ to the hypothetical level must abandon the solid rock of assurance that comes only from recognizing His awesome power. Reduce Jesus to the role of making us â€œsavableâ€ and you no longer have the slightest reason to believe that, once a person is in Christ, they will remain there. But strip man of his pretended autonomy, recognize his utter dependence and Godâ€™s unparalleled power, and the truth of the eternal nature of Christâ€™s saving work (and its inability to fail) will find a firm and necessary foundation. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness: He will never fail to do the Fatherâ€™s will, and that is my hope (John 6:38â€“39).
(Dr. James White - Debating Calvinism, p. 406)
The Gospel in Ecclesiastes
The book of Ecclesiastes has always been vexing to evangelical scholars because of its overt and pervasive negativism. Its canonicity has, in fact, been called into question by reason of perceived heterodoxies, as, for instance, a supposed denial of the resurrection in 3:19-20. Furthermore, even among those expositors who accept the bookâ€™s canonicity, most are loath to embark upon a discussion of its theology without first mentioning some such disclaimer as that, having been written from the perspective of one who lived foolishly and had cause to regret the outcome, its purpose is not to give a positive Christian philosophy of life, but rather to show the sad end of an unchristian worldview. Hence, its teachings should not be applied as prescriptive for believers, but rather as prohibitive and cautionary. Similarly, some have suggested that its doctrine is appropriate for an Old Testament level of revelation, but that, were one to write in the same manner today, he would be sinning against the light of greater revelation. Which does at least have an element of truth, but essentially denies the exact agreement of Old and New Testament doctrine, which differs the one from the other only in degree of precision.
But How Shall I Get Faith? by Walter Marshall
Question. But how shall I get faith?
Answer. Faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), and by the gospel (Romans 1:15-17). Faith comes by hearing the gospel preached (Romans 10:17), and that comes in working faith, not in word only, but in power (1 Thessalonians 1:5), beyond what can be done by natural or human attainment (John 6:63). Therefore, if you have no beginning of it in you, your only way is to attend to the gospel and to meditate on your sin and misery and Christ's excellency, that so you may be inclined in your heart to believe (Song of Solomon 1:3; Galatians 2:16; Psalm 9:10), for this is the way God uses to beget faith (Isaiah 55:3). But if you have a desire and inclination to fly from yourself to Christ, in the bent of your heart, so that you prefer Christ above all, then the Spirit has begun and will carry on the work, so that now you may pray confidently for faith (Song of Solomon 1:4; Luke 11:13; Mark 9:24).
From his sermon: The Doctrine of Justification Opened and Applied found in the Appendix of:
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification: Growing in Holiness by Living in Union with Christ by Walter Marshall
Mail Bag October 06
Yesterday we received this email and thought it might be encouraging to regular visitors, giving you a glimpse of what God is doing to shake up the church with His grace. Salvation by grace alone in Christ alone, that we have no hope in the world save in Christ and His mercy is a hard doctrine but we must uphold it high and contend against perversions of it in the church and out of the chuch. The author of the mail gave me permission to post it here.
I just thought I'd send you a quick Email to inform you of a slight... problem... your website is causing.
Well, you see, it was a few years ago that I stumbled upon monergism.com. At the time I was a free-will theist, intent upon destroying everything with the word "Calvin" in it. I even thought that John Calvin was an anti-christ. (seriously) Anyway... I remember browsing through your site thinking it would be a good place to get counter-arguments to my own (for the purpose of refuting them, obviously). It was within a few weeks of finding Monergism.com, and trying to refute the arguments contained therein, that my eyes were opened to the error of my arminian ways. And now I cannot imagine disagreeing with any one of the five points of Calvinism, no less thinking that John Calvin was an anti-christ...
...so, now for the problem. I'm pretty much addicted to Monergism.com. I have a tab on my web-browser eternally open with the Monergism.com on it. (more often than not I have multiple tabs open...) If I ever have a theological question (which is quite often), my Bible and Monergism.com are my first stop for an answer. I'll sometimes get into debates over calvinism and such, and I am always sure to refer whoever I am debating with to Monergism.com. Or, if the debate is online (which it quite frequently is), I'll have multiple tabs open to each relevant theological topic, and be sure to give the link to whoever I am debating with.
... There is no doubt in my mind that, were someone to ask what web-site I visit and appreciate the most, I would refer them to Monergism.com.
A Monergism.com Addict.
P.S. I really do want to thank you for your ministry through this web-site. It has been extremely edifying in my Christian walk. Turning me away from many theological errors such as Arminianism and Dispensationalism towards the great truths contained in Calvinistic soteriology and Covenant theology. It has greatly increased my understanding and appreciation of God's Sovereignty and His Word. May God bless you and all who are involved in this wonderful ministry!
"To The Praise of His Glorious Grace!": A Brief Study on Predestination from Ephesians 1:3-14 by C. R. Biggs
Question: Why are we ultimately saved?
To escape the torments of hell?
To be like Christ?
To be with God eternally and to be His people!
All of these are correct answers! However, Ephesians 1:1-14 fixes the focus of our salvation ultimately on the God who saves us!
The ultimate reason for our salvation is God's Glory!
In our study of Ephesians, and particularly the biblical doctrine of our salvation in Christ, let us always have the correct God-centered perspective as we begin.
If we begin with merely focusing on ourselves, our understanding of our salvation might be blurred and become out of focus for us. In fact, we might completely misunderstand the reason for which we are saved as his people.
We might be tempted to think that the gospel is somehow something we do for God rather than something he graciously does for those who cannot do!
Ephesians 1 teaches the predestination and electing love of Our Sovereign God in our salvation. Our Sovereign God desires to glorify Himself in redeeming a people for himself. God desires to redeem a people who cannot earn, merit, desire or will their salvation, but those who will trust in Christ alone for help (John 1:9-11).
In this study on Ephesians 1:1-14 we will focus on this aspect of God's work in our lives, what it means to us today, and we will glimpse the reality of our Sovereign and Trinitarian God in the salvation of our souls for His glory!
J. I. Packer on 'Calvinism'
An outstanding quotation from J. I. Packer (from his book â€˜Quest for Godlinessâ€™ and his preface to John Owenâ€™s classic work â€˜The Death of Death in the Death of Christâ€™):
â€œNow the real nature of Calvinistic soteriology becomes plain. It is no artificial oddity, nor a product of overbold logic. Its central confession, that God saves sinners, that Christ redeemed us by his blood is the witness both of the Bible and of the believing heart.
The Calvinist is the Christian who confesses before men in his theology just what he believes in his heart before God when he prays. He thinks and speaks at all times of the sovereign grace of God in the way that every Christian does when he pleads for the souls of others, or when he obeys the impulse of worship which rises unbidden within him, prompting him to deny himself all praise and to give all the glory of his salvation to his Savior.
Calvinism is the natural theology written on the heart of the new man in Christ, whereas Arminianism is an intellectual sin of infirmity, natural only in the sense in which all such sins are natural, even to the regenerate. Calvinistic thinking is the Christian being himself on the intellectual level; Arminian thinking is the Christian failing to be himself through the weakness of the flesh.
Calvinism is what the Christian church has always held and taught when its mind has not been distracted by controversy and false traditions from attending to what Scripture actually says; that is the significance of the patristic testimonies to the teaching of the 'five points', which can be quoted in abundance. (Owen appends a few on redemption; a much larger collection may be seen in John Gill's The Cause of God and Truth.)
So that really it is most misleading to call this soteriology 'Calvinism' at all, for it is not a peculiarity of John Calvin and the divines of Dort, but a part of the revealed truth of God and the catholic Christian faith. 'Calvinism' is one of the 'odious names' by which down the centuries prejudice has been raised against it. But the thing itself is just the biblical gospel.â€
To read Packer's entire essay, go to http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/packer_intro.html
The Importance of Predestination
[This editorial is found in Peace and Truth, the magazine of the Sovereign Grace Union, written by John Brentnall - www.sgu.org.uk]
In an age when the fear of man threatens to 'dumb down' our testimony to God's truth, it is well worth while to remind ourselves that the foundation doctrine of predestination is to be publicly preached, whether men hear or forbear. On this point let us heed the Word of God and the witness of some of His choicest servants.
1. God forbids us to tamper with His revealed will in the slightest way. "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it." (Deut 4.2) "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life." (Rev 22.18-19) As the doctrine of predestination forms part of His revealed will, it is included in this prohibition. Comments Zanchius:
"An ambassador is to deliver the whole message with which he is charged. He is to omit no part of it, but must declare the mind of the sovereign he represents, fully and without reserve. . . Let the minister of Christ weigh this well."
The Spirit of Charity Seeks the Good of Fellow Creatures
[Note: Since I was personally edified by this excerpt from Jonathan Edwards, especially the section on our concern for the community to which we belong, I wanted to pass it on to you. It is not too long]
by Jonathan Edwards
...they that have the spirit of charity, or Christian love, have a spirit to seek the good of their fellow creatures. Thus the apostle commands (Phil. 2:4), â€œLook not every man on his own things; but every man also on the things of others.â€ We ought to seek the spiritual good of others; and if we have a Christian spirit, we shall desire and seek their spiritual welfare and happiness, their salvation from hell, and that they may glorify and enjoy God forever. And the same spirit will dispose us to desire and seek the temporal prosperity of others, as says the apostle (1 Cor. 10:24), â€œLet no man seek his own, but every man anotherâ€™s wealth.â€ And we should so seek their pleasure, that therein we can, at the same time, seek their profit, as again it is said by the apostle (1 Cor. 10:33), â€œEven as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved;â€ and again Rom. 15:2), â€œLet every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.â€
But more particularly, under this head, I would remark, that a spirit of charity, or Christian love, as exercised toward our fellow creatures, is opposite to a selfish spirit, as it is a sympathizing and merciful spirit. It disposes persons to consider not only their own difficulties, but also the burdens and afflictions of others, and the difficulties of their circumstances, and to esteem the case of those who are in straits and necessities as their own. A person of selfish spirit is ready to make much of the afflictions that he himself is under, as if his privations or sufferings were greater than those of anybody else; and if he is not in suffering, he is ready to think he is not called to spare what he has in possession, for the sake of helping others. A selfish man is not apt to discern the wants of others, but rather to overlook them, and can hardly be persuaded to see or feel them. But a man of charitable spirit is apt to see the afflictions of others, and to take notice of their aggravation, and to be filled with concern for them, as he would be for himself if under difficulties. And he is ready, also, to help them, and take delight in supplying their necessities, and relieving their difficulties. He rejoices to obey that injunction of the apostle (Col. 3:12), â€œPut on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness;â€ and to cherish the spirit of â€œwisdom (Jam. 3:17) that is from above,â€ which is â€œfull of mercy;â€ and, like the good man spoken of by the Psalmist (Psa. 37:26), to be â€œmerciful,â€ that is, full of mercy.
Top Selling Titles in Sept - Oct 2006
These are our most popular selling titles at Monergism Books (in order of popularity) in the last month:
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall
Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of CALVINISM (DVD)
Geneva Bible Genuine Leather Black (1599 edition)
The Westminster Confession of Faith with parallel Modern English
No One... : When Jesus says it he means it by JD Wetterling
The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel by Mark Dever, Paul Alexander
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper (Editor), Justin Taylor (Editor),
ESV Journaling Bible (Calfskin, Black)
Geneva Bible Hardback (1599 edition)
Pandora's Box Office (DVD) by The Apologetics Group
Concise Theology by J.I. Packer
Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard
Spirit Empowered Preaching by Arturo G. Azuridia III
Valley of Vision: Songs for Worship (CD)
The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist by Kim Riddlebarger
Bitesize Theology: An ABC of the Christian Faith By Peter Jeffery
Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger
God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton
The Reformation Study Bible, NKJV (Burgundy Bonded Leather)
ESV Journaling Bible (Black)
Works of Jonathan Edwards (Hendrickson) by Jonathan Edwards
Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World by David F. Wells
Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston (Paperback)
M'Cheyne Daily Bible Reading Calendar
Coming of the Kingdom by Herman N. Ridderbos
Mortification of Sin by John Owen
Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theology with R.C. Sproul (Audio CD)
Assured by God by Burk Parsons
Disputations on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker
Praying: Finding our Way Through Duty to Delight by J.I. Packer
The Cross of Christ: 20th Anniversary Edition (Hardcover) by John Stott
Art of Manfishing: A Puritan's View of Evangelism by Thomas Boston
All for Jesus by Lucas Sean Ed, Peterson Robert Ed
The John Bunyan Story (DVD)
God Sovereign and Man Free by Nathan Lewis Rice
The Light of the Psalms: Deepening your faith with every Psalm by Michael Ross
With One Voice
Singleness, Dating and Marriage to the Glory of God by Alex Chediak, Marni Chediak
Does clay form itself?
There is a very interesting discussion regarding election and reprobation over at Dr James White's blog here (see 10/21/06 entry). Is the the non-elect individual "fitted [by God] for destruction" or does he merely fit himself? Read this short article to see a challenge to even the great Spurgeon's remarks on Romans 9 on this subject.
"I'm Not Like THEM!"
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, â€œIf this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.â€ And Jesus answering said to him, â€œSimon, I have something to say to you.â€ Luke 7:36-40a, ESV
"I know of them, but I don't associate with their kind." I don't know if you've said these words, but I know I have (and do). In fact, whether you've said similar words or not, you have probably at least thought or felt this way about someone. The instinct is to retract from the person, like he's dirty or poisonous (even if he's not in the room). You don't want other people to think you're like her, because that would be like getting grease on your sport car finish, it would mess up your shine. If you're a Christian, you would die if others thought he was also a Christian, and you'd have to let them know that you're a different kind of Christian. You're a born-again Christian, a real Christian, and this other fellow can't possibly be (just look at how he dresses!).
It's really too bad that this attitude emanates directly from the core of Pharisaism, because I quite like feeling this way!
Comprehensive Jonathan Edwards Resource Available Online
A Comprehensive Internet Resource: The Works of Jonathan Edwards Online is an extensive source for Jonathan Edwards texts on the web. Drawing heavily on the fifty-plus years of editorial work done by the Works of Jonathan Edwards project at Yale University, the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online will digitally publish manuscripts and edited versions of all of the 100,000 pages that Jonathan Edwards produced in his lifetime. Editorially tagged and fully searchable by chronology, theme, and scripture, as well as full text, the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online offers an expertly guided research experience in the papers of Jonathan Edwards.
Images of the Savior (8 - His Discourse with the Woman at the Well)
We may only begin to glimpse the surpassing greatness of our Savior when we recognize that every good and satisfying gift bestowed upon us by the Father of Lights (James 1:17) is but a taste and foreshadow of the all-good and all-satisfying gift of Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus came to make all things new, to fulfill every type and promise of the good things stored up for us by the bountiful provision of our heavenly Father, to replace the old shadows with the true Substance of blessing â€“ himself alone, our God come down to take on human flesh and dwell among his people. Christ came to lavish upon us the true wine of wedded bliss. He came to be lifted up as the serpent in the wilderness, thereby providing true absolution from sin and guilt. And in his discourse with the Samaritan woman, we recognize that he came to provide yet more necessary and thirst-quenching blessings for this hopeless world of sinners; he came to pour out upon us in abundant measure the true water which springs up to everlasting life.
Temporal Sequence of the Benefits of Redemption?
DOCTRINAL QUESTION FROM VISITOR:
I found these â€œtogether withâ€ words. Things that happen to us together with Christ. Reformed doctrine splits these up and puts them at different times, some before the foundation of the world, some at the cross, and some that God does at or after â€œtheir regenerationâ€. Why do you feel it is OK to split apart and re-order these â€œwith Christâ€ events?
The Word The Strongâ€™s #
â€œcrucified withâ€ (4957)
â€œdead withâ€ (4880)
â€œburied withâ€ (4916)
â€œquickened withâ€ or â€œmade alive withâ€ (4806)
â€œraised up withâ€ (4891)
â€œseated withâ€ (4776)
â€œshall live withâ€ (4800)
â€œunited withâ€ or â€œplanted withâ€ (4854)
â€œconformedâ€ (4832) = â€˜jointly formedâ€™
â€œbeing made conformableâ€ (4831a)
NT:4831 a summorphizomai (soom-mor-feed'-zo-mahee); derived from NT:4862 and NT:3445; causative; this word is only used in Christian writings: to be conformed to, to grant or invest with the same form, to share the likeness of, to take on the same form as (what Christ took on through his death, Phil 3:10).
So, when do these things happen to a person? Do you know what happens to a person in each step of this process?
Finding these words and looking up the contexts where they were used was like spotting a glimmer of gold in a mine. I had searched diligently through the whole New Testament, writing down individual verses on note cards that had to do with regeneration. After 6-9 months and stacks of cards I only had the possibility of only one verse: Gal. 3:26 â€œFor you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesusâ€. â€œIf regeneration = new birth, then we were born again as a son of God by faith,â€ I reasoned. But, since the context was of adoption then I felt the doctrine might teach we are only a son by adoption, so it wasnâ€™t strong enough. But when I found these â€œtogether withâ€ words, charted their contexts, and studied them out, WOW, did I learn tons, and I just keep learning more.
The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 6: Justification by Faith Alone by C. R. Biggs
HAPPY 489TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION!
â€œCHRIST WILL DO ALL FOR YOU, OR NOTHING FOR YOU.â€
â€“J. GRESHAM MACHEN (GAL. 2:21)
This month is the 489th anniversary of the Reformation of the Sixteenth century. Has the Church today forgotten the truth of justification by faith alone that God in his grace allowed his people to fully recover and boldly preach in the Reformation? Do Christians today even know what the biblical importance of the Reformation was all about? Do Christians today care?
Beating a Doctrine into Our Heads?
In the next two studies, we want to consider the important doctrine of Justification by faith alone. In part one, we will consider Paulâ€™s doctrine in the context of Galatians 2, and then we will look at the doctrine from more of a theological point of view derived from Scripture, exegesis, and the Churchâ€™s historical and faithful reflection on this important doctrine in part two.
Justification by faith alone in Christ alone is the gospel;
it IS the â€œgood newsâ€!
Martin Luther wrote this about justification by faith alone in his Commentary on Galatians: â€œ[Justification] is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into our heads continually.â€- pg. 101 (Quoted in Stott).
Not Right Teaching, But Right Living
In our local newspaper on Sunday, there was a story about the emergent church, The title of the article is "Unchurched? Dechurched? Rechurched? Your prayers may be answered." Here is a quotable quote from Paul Metzger from Multnomah Bible Seminary: "These communities span the theological spectrum, drawing from ancient as well as contemporary sources of spirituality." He goes on to say, "For many of them, it's not about right-thinking or right-teaching, it's more about right-living."
Does that not strike you as an odd statement? How can you have right living without right teaching or right thinking? It is not as if orthodoxy and orthopraxy are mutually exclusive. Yet a close look at the Text of Scripture would have us be aware that orthopraxy (practice) is dependant upon orthodoxy. That is why Paul, in his epistles begins with several chapters of doctrine before He gets into how we should respond to it (See Eph 1-3, 4-6; Rom 1-12, 13+). If we do not know who Christ is, then He simply becomes a wax nose conforming to the latest fashion and our religion becomes indistinguishable from other world religions of human effort.
If the basis of our faith were orthopraxy more than orthodoxy then we could think wrong thoughts about Christ all day, as long as we remain well-behaved. This would amount to nothing more than a religion of behavior modification or moralism. The Scripture makes clear, however, that to the degree we think wrong thoughts about God, to that same degree we commit idolatry. If we reject what Christ taught about himself, in favor of only His teachings about how to behave and treat one another, then we strip the gospel of its substance and turn the grace of God into something about us. Our orthopraxy should, rather, arise our of what He has done for us. The new life in us animates our love for God.
"Reimagining Christianity": The Way Back to Rome by Richard Bennett
Picturing The Absurd
At the Calvinist Gadfly web site, Alan Kurschner writes the following:
"Calvinists are worse than Muslims - These are the deplorable words from the loose cannon at Liberty University, Ergun Caner. And since he is unrepentant of making such offensive remarks about Godâ€™s people, can there be anything he says hereafter that can be taken with any credibility? And since Jerry Falwell has been silent on these remarks of Ergunâ€™s and has not distanced himself from them, it can be assumed that he condones it."
This is obviously a very sad state of affairs, and many times in situations like these, we can find some relief through the means of good honest humor. So as a response to Dr. Caner, some photos have been made/designed to show the utter foolishness of the remarks he has made.
FUN STUFF - To view the growing threat of radical calvinism on our world click here and scroll down for some extremely alarming pictures.
Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart, or Did Pharaoh?
Colin Smith has written an interesting article (at Dr. James White's web site) regarding who it was who was responsible for the hardening of Pharoah's heart - found here.
Reflecting on our Distinctives
Our recent move into new and larger facilities, with the addition of two new employees has, to some degree, hindered me from writing as much as I would like to. The move has been intense and stressful but it has also given me time to reflect again on what we think Monergism.com is all about.
The continued emphasis at Monergism.com surrounds a handful of distinctives: (1) the exclusive sufficiency of Jesus Christ, that is, a Christ-centered and grace-driven gospel; (2) faithfulness to the Text of Scripture; (3) a covenantal (or Reformed) understanding of redemption history; (4) a monergistic view of the Holy Spiritâ€™s work in effecting all salvific blessings â€“ regeneration, justification and sanctification â€“ flowing from the believerâ€™s union with Christ; and (5) equipping, training and disciplining the saints in the knowledge of the Person and work of Jesus Christ so our readership and their disciples might be prepared to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Jesus is 100% God, 100% man
It is vital to be precise when we talk of the Person of Jesus Christ. Heresy looms large on either side of the biblical road, and many a soul has fallen in to its hellishly hewned ditches. Getting it right about Christ is not merely a job for elite theologians. All of us are called upon to proclaim, herald and worship the biblical Christ. Only the biblical Christ is worthy of worship. Only the biblical Christ can save. That's because the biblical Christ is the only one who truly exists.
Jesus warned us that many false Christs would appear. This is the case in two ways: Firstly, there are false Christs who appear in human history to draw away disciples after themselves; secondly, there are false Christs erected in the minds of people, such as a Christ who is God but not man, or a man, but not God. Either kind is deadly to the soul.
So who exactly is the biblical Christ? The scriptures reveal very clearly that He is God and He is man. He is not a concocted blend of God and man, being perhaps 50% God and 50% man. He is full and undiminished deity and true humanity - in one Person. Exactly how can this be understood?
I came across a very helpful article on this theme today from Desiring God Ministries here . I recommend it highly. May the truths govern our thinking and guide our worship, as we do so in spirit and in truth. - Pastor John Samson
The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 5 by C. R. Biggs
Are you ashamed of the gospel of Christ?
In our last study we learned the hope we have in Christ of being sons and no longer slaves! The gospel is truly the good news of Christâ€™s work for us apart from anything we do. We cannot add anything to the gospel for it to be truly by definition â€œgospelâ€ or good news. Todayâ€™s studies could be summarized by the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Romans (Can you say this enthusiastically with him? Rom. 1:16-17; 11:6):
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."- The Apostle Paul, Romans 1:16-17
ESV Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
The problem that the Apostle Paul was confronting at Galatia was that the Judaizers required that the new Gentile-Greek Christians to become Jews through circumcision required in the Law of Moses, BEFORE they could be considered full citizens of Zion and heirs of the covenant promises.
Essentially this amounted to Christ â€˜plusâ€™ cooperation with Law which was contrary to the gospel Paul had received and proclaimed to the Churches of Galatia. Paul was writing to pronounce a curse or an anathema on this kind of gospel that was no gospel at all (Gal. 1:6-9).
It is important to state up front that the Judaizers did not believe in â€œsalvation by works,â€ but rather in â€œsalvation by grace plus works.â€ â€œSalvation by grace plus worksâ€ is much more dangerous and subtle. If the Judaizers were teaching â€œsalvation by worksâ€ not many within the congregation would have bought it. It was the half-truth with the lie that being preached as good news, which was no gospel at all!
Images of the Savior (7 - His Discourse with Nicodemus)
When Nicodemus sought out Jesus by night, he found him to be more than just a worker of miraculous signs, as he appeared to all the people. He was indeed a worker of signs; but also much more than that, as Nicodemus was about to see. If he were merely what the people thought him to be, he would not have been in any sense unique. He was, by open confession, a worker of miraculous signs â€“ but what of it? The history of Israel is replete with sign-workers: many were the prophets of old who had confirmed their message by miraculous acts which signified the truths they were teaching. But here is the difference: in each case, the signs they performed pointed to something outside themselves, to some other means of grace by which God would redeem the nation, to some other person who would accomplish so great a salvation. Jesus' miracle-working was unique in that all of his signs, not to mention all the miraculous signs given by the prophets before him, pointed to himself alone. Jesus was not just the greatest worker of signs: he was in himself the true essence of the blessed promises those miracles conveyed. He was not just the great Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15); he was also the great Fulfillment of all the prophecies (John 5:39-40). He possessed in himself every gift to which the miraculous signs testified in symbol only; and, although the outward sign was given to all, those bountiful gifts themselves were reserved strictly for those whom the Spirit should choose to regenerate. This precious glimpse of Christ as the true substance of every miraculous sign, for all those who should be born of the Spirit, is the image granted to Nicodemus, who saw his glory so many years ago. God grant that we may encounter the same image as we look at the account today!
The Whole Gospel to the Whole of Our Lives
The Whole Gospel to the Whole of our Lives- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones was one of the most faithful and greatest preachers of the 20th century. Here is a quotation from his sermon on Romans 6. He is speaking concerning the failure to understand the fullness of the gospel to our lives.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones: "People are often unhappy in the Christian life because they have thought of Christianity, and the whole message of the gospel, in inadequate terms. Some think that it is merely a message of forgiveness. You ask them to tell you what Christianity is and they will reply: 'If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven', and they stop at that. That is all. They are unhappy about certain things in their past and they hear God in Christ will forgive them. They take their forgiveness and there they stop- - that is all their Christianity.
There are others who conceive of it as morality only. Their view of themselves is that they do not need forgiveness, but they desire an exalted way of life. They want to do good in this world, and Christianity to them is an ethical, moral program. Such people are bound to be unhappy.
....The gospel is not something partial or piecemeal: it takes in the whole life, the whole of history, the whole world. It tells us about the creation and the final judgment and everything in between. It is a complete, whole view of life, and many are unhappy in the Christian life because they have never realized that this way of life caters for the whole of man's life and covers every eventuality in his experience. There is no aspect of life but that the gospel has something to say about it. The whole of life must come under its influence because it is all-inclusive; the gospel is meant to control and govern everything in our lives...
...We must realize the greatness of the gospel, its vast eternal span. We must dwell more on the riches, and in the riches, of these great doctrinal absolutes. We must not always stay in the gospel. We must start there but we must go on; and then as we see it all worked out and put into its great context we shall realize what a mighty thing the gospel is, and how the whole of our life is meant to be governed by it."
Exegesis v. Eisegesis
A quote from Dr. James White's forth-coming book "Pulpit Crimes"...
Eisegesis. The reading into a text, in this case, an ancient text of the Bible, of a meaning that is not supported by the grammar, syntax, lexical meanings, and over-all context, of the original. It is the opposite of exegesis, where you read out of the text its original meaning by careful attention to the same things, grammar, syntax, the lexical meanings of the words used by the author (as they were used in his day and in his area), and the over-all context of the document. As common as it is, it should be something the Christian minister finds abhorrent, for when you stop and think about it, eisegesis muffles the voice of God. If the text of Scripture is in fact God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and if God speaks in the entirety of the Bible (Matt. 22:31) then eisegesis would involve silencing that divine voice and replacing it with the thoughts, intents, and most often, traditions, of the one doing the interpretation. In fact, in my experience, eisegetical mishandling of the inspired text is the single most common source of heresy, division, disunity, and a lack of clarity in the proclamation of the gospel. The man of God is commended when he handles Gods truth aright (2 Tim. 2:15), and it should be his highest honor to be privileged to do so. Exegesis, then, apart from being a skill honed over years of practice, is an absolutely necessary means of honoring the Lord a minister claims to serve. For some today, exegesis and all the attendant study that goes into it robs one of the Spirit. The fact is, there is no greater spiritual service the minister can render to the Lord and to the flock entrusted to his care than to allow Gods voice to speak with the clarity that only sound exegetical practice can provide.
A Foundation that cannot fail - Augustus Toplady
Augustus Toplady, was the author of the hymn "Rock of Ages"
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee!
Foul, I to the fountain fly:
Wash me, Saviour, or I die."
In his farewell sermon at Blagdon he said:
If God were to justify and save only those who are pure and upright, heaven would be empty of inhabitants. I say not this to encourage sin; but to encourage those who are grieved for their sins; who fly to the blood of the Cross for pardon, and whose prayer is that they may henceforward be renewed in the spirit of their mind and bring forth acceptable fruit unto God. Let not such be afraid to meet Him: let not such say, "How shall I stand when He appears?" For such have a Foundation to stand upon, a Foundation that cannot fail, even Jesus, the Mediator and Surety of the covenant, Christ, the Rock of Ages. He died for such. Their sins which lay like an unsurmountable impediment, or stood like a vast partition wall, and blocked up the passage to eternal life; I say He took the sins of His penitent people out of the way, nailing them to His Cross.
Baptists and Calvinism Debate, October 16, 2006
On October 16, 2006, Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, and Pastor Dr. Tom Ascol, will be debating Dr. Emir Caner of Southwestern Seminary, and his brother, Dr. Ergun Caner of Liberty University, at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, on the topic of "Baptists and Calvinism."
Concerning this debate, John Orlando writes, "The matters being discussed are central to Biblical Christianity. Some people refer to this as an in house debate, but I prefer to call it an in community debate. We are in the same community, in that we are united in Christ, believing that salvation is by faith alone in the finished work of Christ. But if weâ€™re honest, these are two completely different houses built upon two totally different foundations. One house is built on the sure foundation of an omnipotent and absolutely sovereign, Triune and perfect God who brings about all of His perfect will without fail, and the blood of a perfect Savior who never fails to save those given to Him by the Father, and the mighty regenerating power and grace of the Holy Spirit of God, who never fails to bring those chosen from before the foundation of the world to saving faith by first removing their stony hearts and giving them hearts of flesh. The other house is built on the sand of human autonomy and vain human philosophy that ultimately places man as the captain of his own ship, and God as the innocent bystander who nervously paces the halls of heaven in hopes that someoneâ€¦anyone, might â€œselectâ€ Him. One house can rightly say that salvation is by grace alone, because it is a grace that is truly amazing in that it secures, and bestows, all that is necessary for salvation, to include the ability to savingly believe the Gospel and repent from sin. The other house can only say that salvation is by grace, but that grace doesnâ€™t secure or bestow anything except an â€œopportunityâ€ for the person, in the power of his own flesh, to muster up the moral ability to comply with the command to repent and believe the Gospel."
This quote is taken from an article John Orlando has written that highlights the issues foundational to the debate, found here. Though the article is a little lengthy, I am sure many of our readers will find the citations regarding the Arminian view of the atonement and inerrancy to be highly informative.
The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 4 by C. R. Biggs
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN LIVING TODAY AS A SLAVE?
Are you enslaved to your sins, seeking ease and comfort, and life without problems? Are you seeking to be honored, and respected for your position, or your accomplishments? Do you want others to like you too much? Are you kidding yourself into thinking that youâ€™re more righteous than you really are before God and man? If you said â€œYesâ€ even to one of these questions, you are living as a slave instead of child of the living God.
Donâ€™t kid yourself- -ask yourself honestly before God:
â€œAm I living my life as a slave to sin and flesh?â€
â€œAm I living my life as one who must constantly strive to be well liked and appreciated by others?â€
â€œAm I living my life so that God might accept me as his own child?â€
In other words, are you living to attain a right standing before God and man that is in addition to the right standing one has in Christ alone by faith?
The Apostle Paul writes the Gospel According to the Galatians because he wants Christians to find their ultimate right standing before God and man in Christ alone. In Christ, we are to live as sons, children who are greatly loved by our God and Father! Yet, we so easily exchange the sweet and glorious gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, for â€œanother gospelâ€ that is Christ plus something we add. When we add these things to the gospel of Jesus Christ, even if in reality we be truly sons of God in Christ, we end up living as slaves before God and man.
â€œOld Testament Gospelâ€ (by William Cowper)
I was reading through some of Cowperâ€™s Olney Hymns today, and I was so struck by this one in particular, that I decided to post it for everyone else to enjoy as well. Cowperâ€™s hymns really are phenomenal. Theyâ€™re also public domain. Anyone interested may find them all online here