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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Deflating the Puffed Up Church

Today I took the advice of Steve Camp that he gave at his web site and listened to a sermon by C. J. Mahaney. I am so glad I did. This is what Steve wrote:

"C.J. Mahaney "Deflating the Puffed Up Church" (Text - 1 Cor. 4:8-13) - This is one of the best messages I have heard in some time bar none. I was brought to conviction with almost every phrase and yet at the same time, encouraged to live more wholly for the Lord and His glory. It is a powerful call to humility in ministry, holiness of life and Christlikeness in all things. C.J. delivers with his usual infectious passion; but it is not needless emotion from a well-experienced orator. It is great theology erupting from the overflow of the heart surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. This is a man who trembles at God's Word when he preaches."

I would wholeheartedly echo Steve's exhortation to listen to this sermon. I have to say that it had a very deep and profund effect upon me. You'll find it at the following web address: http://www.chbcaudio.org/audio/2007/03-25-07.mp3

May God use this powerful sermon as a means of grace to work true humility in all of our lives. - John Samson

March 31, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

God's Intention in the Atonement of Christ by C. H. Spurgeon

We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, on the other hand, our opponents limit it; we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question–Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer, “No.” They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, “No, Christ has died that any man may be saved if” –and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.” We say that Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.

(Cited by J. I. Packer, “Introductory Essay,” in John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ [n.p., n.d.; reprint, London: Banner of Truth, 1959], 14.)

March 30, 2007  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (14 – His Cleansing of a Leper)

Mark 1:41-42 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and says unto him, I will; be clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

Oh, how manifold and wretched is the condition that has been brought upon us by our sin! Not only have we become guilty, by its rebellious exercise; but we have, moreover, become filthy and impure. We are guilty, and thus need forgiveness and clearing, a settling of the account. And we are defiled and unclean, and thus need cleansing and purification. We are guilty, and need justification; and we are impure, and need sanctification. Our sin-induced need is manifold; but in all of our various, desperate needs, we will find the solution in only one place – bowing at the feet of Jesus! Let us consider ourselves spiritual lepers, as we read this account of a leper in the flesh, and apply to Jesus for relief just as he also did. For if we do so, we will certainly meet with the same gracious response.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (14 – His Cleansing of a Leper)" »

March 29, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Passion Week Meditations: "Hosannas and High Expectations"- John 12

WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT
"Hosannas and High Expectations"- Rev. Charles R. Biggs

This Palm Sunday, let your cry of "Hosanna!" become your joyful shout of "Maranatha!"

Introduction

Expectations. How many times have your high expectations of others gotten you into big trouble and disappointment?! You had high expectations of another, yet when that person did not live up to your expectations you grumbled, felt anger, were discouraged, and decided that you would think twice about expecting anything from someone again. We all become disillusioned (and oftentimes demanding!) when we have expectations of others and they do not come through.

This is even true of our expectations of God. Sometimes, in God's mysterious providence, he does what he knows to be best for us, yet we do not understand (Romans 8:28). We have expectations that we think God should live up to, but we have yet to begin to understand that God's ways are so much higher than our ways!

God works all things out for our good, for our best, yet we fail to trust his thoughts and ways and remember that even our highest expectations that we have of God, if different from his will, are never high enough!

Isaiah 55:8-9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Remember, as the Apostle Paul teaches, that

"No eye has seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him."

We should be cautious of placing high expectations on others, but when it comes to God, I think we need to be reminded that our so-called "high expectations" are never high enough!

Today, we shall look at the high expectations of the crowd when Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem in John 12:12-23, and how these high expectations were simply not high enough.

Continue reading "Passion Week Meditations: "Hosannas and High Expectations"- John 12" »

March 28, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus Christ: The Interpretive Key to the Scripture

Jesus Christ: The Interpretive Key to the Scripture
With Four Examples of Doctrinal Errors that Arise When this Key is not Used.

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (John 5:39, 40)

"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" - (1 Tim 2:5)

"The Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them. Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, he will never reach the knowledge of the truth." - John Calvin

I have recently had the privilege of reading a phenomenal book that I highly recommend to all teachers of the Word. That book was Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy. Its thesis is simple: the Gospel (or, Jesus Christ) is the Key to all Christian Hermeneutics. During the course of reading, his focus got me to thinking about its antithesis which would be that almost all errors and inconsistencies in our understanding of Bible texts occur when our interpretation is less than Christ-centered. This is foundational. Unless our study, however diligent, leads us to see that all Scripture points to Jesus Christ, our study is in vain. The importance of the Bible (OT & NT) is that it testifies about Jesus Christ (John 1:43-45, Acts 3:18, Acts 17:2-3, 2 Tim 3:14-15,1 Pet 1:10-12, Rom 1:1-3, 16:25-27, Luke 24:25-27 & 44-46).

Continue reading "Jesus Christ: The Interpretive Key to the Scripture" »

March 27, 2007  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

When the Perfect Comes (part 2)

Acts 2:14-21

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

After submitting my short comments along with lengthy sermon notes by John Piper on the theme of "when the perfect comes" (see 3/23/07 entry below), I was prompted in the comment section to post the notes on John Piper's second sermon where he would develop his theme more fully. At first I was not able to locate Dr. Piper's second sermon notes but have been able to do so now. You'll find them below. - John Samson

"Last week I tried to show that 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 teaches that the gift of prophecy will pass away when Jesus comes back—the way a dim mirror image will give way to the living face. And I argued that therefore the gift of prophecy is still valid in the church today. I promised that today we would take up the questions: What is the gift of prophecy, and how is it to be exercised?

Let me begin by affirming the finality and sufficiency of Scripture, the sixty-six books of the Bible. Nothing I say about today's prophecies means that they have authority over our lives like Scripture does. Whatever prophecies are given today do not add to Scripture. They are tested by Scripture. Scripture is closed and final; It is a foundation, not a building in process.

Continue reading "When the Perfect Comes (part 2)" »

March 27, 2007  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

In Pursuit of a Macro-Cosmic Biblical Theology

To many people, the very idea of a comprehensive, or macro-cosmic biblical theology is a little strange. Biblical theology by its very definition is less than comprehensive, is it not? Biblical theology has to do with the study of the revelation of a particular era, a particular biblical author, or so on. Whatever else, it is, it cannot be macro-cosmic: a macro-cosmic view of revelation is the domain of systematic theology; and biblical theology is concerned with developing the building blocks of systematic theology. Once it starts putting those blocks together, it has gone beyond the realm of its appropriate employment, and can no longer be designated “biblical theology” at all. At that point, it is something else.

Continue reading "In Pursuit of a Macro-Cosmic Biblical Theology" »

March 27, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics

Book Review: Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics by Richard A. Muller
A casual tour by John W. Tweeddale (3/28/07)

Richard A. Muller is the P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary and has written extensively on the Reformation and post-Reformation periods. His books, articles, and reviews display a knack for historical detail, command of reformed theology, and mastery of a wide selection of sources. All of his writings are worth getting your hands on. However, his crowning achievement is his PRRD. It is the result of a career long investigation of "the rise and development of Reformed Orthodoxy" and is without question one of the most important works on the history of Reformed theology to emerge in the past twenty-five years. Anyone interested in the Reformers and their heirs must wrestle with these volumes.

Read the whole review at takeupandread

On sale for the best price ever - only $79.00

March 26, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Truth by Consensus?

The following is a short excerpt of a discussion I was having with an old friend who promotes secularism as a wolrdview. He makes a short statement and my response follows:

Statement: My view of values (which you parody) is that they emerge from lessons widely drawn from human experience and around which consensus has emerged. Human rights as a language and as a normative construct came out of the horror of WWII. Such ideas emerge through consensus-building and eventually take on axiomatic existence for most people: Slavery IS bad. Torture IS wrong. Racism IS repugnant. These ideas emerged socially and became axiomatic socially.

Response: I am certainly not denying your civic right to believe these things. But I must point out that, given the above ideas you espouse; it is still quite arbitrary of you to have determined that values and morality come forth from some kind of consensus. How do you know this method of deriving morality is right? What authority are you presupposing? This is a belief system adopted by you but you cannot account for it or justify how you know this is what everyone should do. Your consensus-building concept is still an appeal to something that is not self-validating, no? Adding more numbers to your interpretive community does not make it so. At least there is nothing here under the Constitution that is makes this position any more validating than someone else's. Previously you said Christianity should have no place in making public policy because it is a "religion" under the establishment clause. What I am trying to point out to you is that your view is not any more unbiased (non-religious) than my own. When you make your position into public policy you are likewise promoting your religious dogma derived from a source you have arbitrarily determined to be authoritative. You have affirmations and denials as to what is good and bad, do you not?

Furthermore, National Socialism was built under consensus. The vast majority of the German population delighted in what the Nazis were doing. It was the liberal churches in Germany who had long since determined that the Bible was not to be taken seriously (higher critics) that were taken captive by the cultural consensus and fell right in with Hitler's evil plans. It was only those in the church who were confessing (the conservatives of the day) who were the people who stood up for what was right and many were executed for it. Hitler hated them. Therefore, consensus does not make anything right, unless you would like to argue that killing Jews was right at the time? No, I think you know that you are appealing to absolutes that go way beyond just a mere preference here.

You said "Slavery IS bad. Torture IS wrong. Racism IS repugnant." If you really believed that morality was relative then such statements would be unintelligible. Can you justify such concepts rationally with your worldview? Is it mere consensus telling you this? To be consistent as a relativist you could only say these things are bad for yourself. How is it not arbitrary to adopt such an ethic [for everyone]? Why does consensus make it any more valid than an individual or any other religious view? Either you are claiming it is true that these things are bad, or you are merely telling me your preference derived from a self-appointed authoritative source. And if it is merely your preference then you have no right to impose your personal ethic on society. This is an appeal to absolutes or you would not have such strong feelings toward it.

Click here to read entire discussion

March 26, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 13: Jesus' High-Priestly Prayer)

I. The Altar of Incense

During the course of our journey through the gospel of John, we have also taken a journey through the tabernacle, and we have seen how all of its imagery is fulfilled in Jesus. He is the Lamb of God, offered upon the brazen altar at the entrance to the courtyard. He is the laver by which the priests were cleansed, and in him is the water of everlasting life. He is the table of the bread of the presence, nourishing those who eat of him with the true life of fellowship with God. He is the candlestick, the tabernacle's only source of light. And now, just before he offers himself up for our sins, we see that he is likewise the fulfillment of the symbolism in the altar of incense.

Continue reading "Studies in John (Lesson 13: Jesus' High-Priestly Prayer)" »

March 23, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

When the perfect comes

O.K., to borrow a phrase that evokes a less than positive kind of imagery, this blog entry might "open up a can of worms" (By the way, can anyone tell me if this expression "can of worms" was born out of reference to the historical controversy stirred at Martin Luther's infamous "Diet of Worms" in Germany?)..

In quoting the following (below) from a sermon from Dr. John Piper, I seek only to address the issue Dr. Piper addresses, and that is what is being refered to as passing away "when the perfect comes" in the text of 1 Corinthians 13. As those who believe the Bible, here's what I know we agree on: we agree that prophecies will pass away when the perfect comes. We believe that for the simple reason that scripture says just that. Where there might be some disagreement concerns the question of when exactly this is.

I am very much prepared to believe that you as a reader here desire to follow what scripture says just as deeply as I do. Can we believe that about each other? Can we make this assumption? I truly hope so. I am John Samson. I write as a brother in Christ. I genuinely and wholeheartedly affirm all the reformation solas (including sola scriptura)... and I just happen to agree with Dr. John Piper when he states (in this lengthy quotation):

"In 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul says, "Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away." So the question I want to try to answer today is: What time is referred to when Paul says, "Prophecies . . . will pass away." Has it already passed away or will it pass away at some future time?

The next two verses (9-10) give the reason for why prophecies and knowledge will pass away: "For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect (literally: For we know in part and we prophesy in part); but when the perfect (or: mature, complete) comes, the imperfect (or: partial) will pass away." So the reason prophecies will pass away is that a time is coming when the partiality and incompleteness of the gift of prophecy will be replaced by perfection and completeness and wholeness.

When is that time?

Continue reading "When the perfect comes" »

March 23, 2007  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

John Piper Gets a Face Lift

You may be interested to know that John Piper got a face lift at the
Hall of Contemporary Reformers.
<<< See his face lift here

We also now have stock of Piper's New Book & DVD
Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure

March 23, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Why I am a Calvinist by Dr. Phil Johnson

I highly recommend the series of posts by Dr. Phil Johnson at the Pulpit Magazine blog on "Why I am a Calvinist" found here. I believe these short articles provide both a forthright and very balanced overview concerning Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism. - Pastor John Samson

March 22, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Helpful Links 03-22-07


Calvinism Vs. Arminianism Debate
Reclaiming the Mind Ministries is hosting a special Converse with Scholars during the next two weeks. I am very excited about this program as there will be two fine scholars on to represent their respecting positions. Tonight, March 22 at 10pm EST, Roger Olson will be joining the program to discuss the Arminian position. The following Thursday, March 29 at 10pm EST, Samuel Storms will be discussing the Calvinist position.

19 Free MP3 Downloadable Lectures on the Attributes (or Perfections) of God by J.I. Packer

The Morning I Heard the Voice of God by John Piper

Prayer List - J.W. Hendryx - making a list of things to pray for.

Vast Numbers of MP3s Available by Reformed Speakers

Book Review: Unless You Repent by Jonathan Edwards - by Tony Reinke

March 22, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"Worship in Spirit and Truth"

WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT
________________________________________
"WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH"-
REFORMED AND ALWAYS REFORMING
JOHN 4:20-24
REV. CHARLES R. BIGGS

charles-biggs-small-file.jpg

Are you Reformed in your worship? Are you Reformed and always reforming in your worship? Do you truly know what it means to worship Jesus in spirit and in truth?

In the Reformation, the people of God learned that it was not enough to merely be "Reformed" in name, but that the Church must also be "Reformed" in theology and in principle. That meant that for a congregation to call itself "Reformed" required the constant need to be consistently, ceaselessly, constantly, and carefully "REFORMING" as the people of God and returning to Scripture for answers to every question and to fully know how to be the Church of the living God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Since we are approaching the Lord’s Days when we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) as well as Christ’s glorious resurrection from the dead (Easter), it is worthwhile to remind ourselves as Christians to practice this continuous reforming, by looking once again at what the Scriptures teach us about true worship.

I realize that this can be such a controversial topic, but it must and should be continually be addressed. Just because it can be controversial and even a divisive, we still should seek by God's grace to understand what true worship is according to the Scriptures. (And if you are interested in an article that discusses traditional and contemporary worship, this is not the one! You may find insight into which worship “style” is best, but this is not a study on styles necessarily!).

There is no better place to begin to consider Jesus’ heart and mind on true worship than in John 4:20-24 in his dialogue with the sinful, Samaritan woman. There are a few points I would like to make from observing this text and these are by no means the last words on the subject, just a small attempt at understanding what this means for us as the people of God who call ourselves "Reformed".

Continue reading ""Worship in Spirit and Truth"" »

March 21, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (13– His Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law)

Mark 1:31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

Immediately after he had delivered the man with an unclean spirit, our Savior left the synagogue and journeyed to the house in which Peter and Andrew dwelt with Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29). From the circumstances of this visit, we may learn much of the tender compassion of Jesus, our Savior and Healer. First, we are struck with the unquestioning trust that he has already gained among those who know him best; for as soon as they found Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a high fever, they had no other reaction than to bring her case at once to Jesus, so confident were they that he had both the authority and the compassion to deliver her. How encouraging to us that we have grown to know and love the same compassionate Jesus! Well has the apostle exhorted us to take our sick and feeble loved ones in prayer to him who delights to heal and forgive (James 5:14-15). This the disciples did, and they were not turned away empty. This may we do as well, for Christ loves us even as he loved them. Each one of us, who truly belongs to him, may with confidence think of ourselves in trembling wonder as “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” so deep and personal and specific is his love for everyone whom the Father has given to him. Christ was merciful to Peter; he will be no less merciful to us.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (13– His Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law)" »

March 20, 2007  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

What is the Gift of God? by Sam Storms

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8, 9 - ESV

"What exactly is the "gift" (v. 8) of God?

Arminians have often appealed to a point of Greek grammar that they believe makes it impossible for "faith" to be the gift to which Paul refers. The NASB translation is more explicit at this point, rendering the verse as follows:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

The word faith, Arminians argue, is feminine in gender, whereas the pronoun translated that ("and that not of yourselves") is neuter. Had Paul intended to describe "faith" as the gift, he would have used the feminine form of the pronoun. To what, then, does the word that refer? What is the gift of God?

Some point to the "grace" (v. 8) by which we have been saved. But the word "grace," like "faith," is also feminine in gender. Therefore, if "that" which is not of ourselves cannot refer to "faith," far less can it refer to "grace," which has the added liability of being even farther removed in the sentence from the pronoun "that." So what is Paul saying? What is the antecedent of "that"?

Clearly the "gift" of God is salvation in its totality, a salvation that flows out of God's grace and becomes ours through faith. From beginning to end, from its inception to its consummation, salvation is a gift of God to his elect. Consequently, that faith by which we come into experiential possession of what God in grace has provided is as much a gift as any and every other aspect of salvation. One can no more deny that faith is wrapped up in God's gift to us than he can deny it of God's grace. All is of God! Salvation is of the Lord!"

Sam Storms, Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election (2007, Crossway Books), p. 71

March 20, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Take Up and Read

New Feature at Monergism.com


Take Up and Read, a website of weekly book reviews at Monergism.com.

At takeupandread.com our goal is to sift through the thousands of good volumes to recommend the very best literature for your time and money. Our goal is to expose you to historically important volumes, old books that are timeless in application, excellent contemporary books hot off the press, multi-volume facsimile reproductions, small single-volume books you can read in one day, and searchable electronic books on CD-ROM. Our weekly reviews are published in the hopes of helping you build a diverse library of Christian volumes with tested theology and reliability.

This week's review:
Unless You Repent by Jonathan Edwards

March 19, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Ministry of Preaching

Preaching takes great courage... If you are called to preach, know this ahead of time, and as an ambassador of Christ, proclaim His word as one of the King's heralds.

I have gained much from Bryan Chapell's book, "Christ Centered Preaching." There he points out, amongst many other things that in 2 Tim. 4:1, 2, the word "preach" is the word for “herald” or “announce” or “proclaim.” It is not a simple word for teaching or explaining. It is what a town crier did when he cried out: "Hear ye, Hear ye, Hear ye!!" It was a message that demanded attention. As the King's herald we are to proclaim, "The King has a proclamation of good news for all those who swear allegiance to his throne. Be it known to you that he will give eternal life to all who trust and love his Son." That is exactly the kind of message we are called to preach.

Preaching is a public exultation. It is not disinterested or cool or neutral. It is passionate about what it says. Yet this heralding contains teaching. We can see this clearly as we look back to 2 Timothy 3:16, where we are told that the Scripture (which gives rise to preaching) is profitable for "teaching." We can see it also as we look ahead to the rest of 2 Timothy 4:2, where it says, "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." So preaching is expository. True preaching is not the opinions of a mere man. It is the faithful exposition of God's Word.

Luke 24:27 - And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

John 5:39, 40 - You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life.

It is possible to have a high view of the Bible’s authority and miss the entire point of the Bible. Scripture is not telling us what we must do to complete ourselves or make ourselves acceptable to God. The Bible is not a Self Help Book. All the Scriptures are about one organic message – Christ Himself.

If people are simply told that something they DO will fix their problem – that’s not just SUB-Christian but ANTI-Christian. The Gospel is not “DO BETTER!” To proclaim the “Thou shalt nots” without the Source that enables their accomplishment, or His atoning work for us when we fail, is to HIJACK the biblical message.

Continue reading "The Ministry of Preaching" »

March 17, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 12: The Farewell Discourse)

I. Introduction

In the previous chapter (thirteen), John related the last major event that took place between Jesus and his disciples before he went to the cross. In the following three chapters, John will relate the last major discourse that Jesus gave to his disciples before he went to the cross. These three chapters are probably the clearest and fullest record of Jesus' own teaching about his death and the things which should follow that we have anywhere in the scriptures – although, we should probably include chapter thirteen, verses thirty-one through thirty-eight, as part of the same discourse. There, as we observed last week, Jesus began to instruct his disciples by telling them that his impending death would ultimately be for his glory, and the glory of the Father; and furthermore, that the one great application of this work, in the life of his followers, would be a self-sacrificing love which imitated Jesus' own love. At that point, it is becoming clear that he is speaking as one who is about to leave – and so Peter interrupts to ask him where he is going. Of course, in the discussion which ensues, Jesus predicts Peter's imminent denial. Now, Jesus has told his disciples that he is going where they cannot follow, and he has told Peter that he would deny him; these are such heavy and sorrowful truths, that he breaks off, and begins to give them words of comfort, words which explain the purpose of these difficult tidings. Eventually, he will pick up again with his themes of true discipleship, and so on; but for now, at the beginning of chapter fourteen, his message is one of explanation and comfort.

Continue reading "Studies in John (Lesson 12: The Farewell Discourse)" »

March 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

J. I. Packer's Introductory Essay to John Owen's 'Death of Death in the Death of Christ'

Dr. J. I. Packer's excellent essay written for the 1958 reprint of John Owen's classic book 'The Death of Death in the Death of Christ' should be read and re-read by everyone who cares about the state and future of Christ's Church.

What exactly IS the Gospel message that we are called to preserve and pass down, and that we should be preaching as ministers, and hearing and obeying as Christians? It is interesting that Dr. Packer wrote this article in 1958, and although it is now almost fifty years old, it was as if he wrote it yesterday- -our problems and challenges are still the same.

May you read, and if you have already read, then re-read this fine introductory essay on the Gospel and the purpose and call of Christ's Church. May this article whet your appetite to also invest time and intellectual energy into reading John Owen's 'The Death of Death in the Death of Christ' (You can purchase this book at www.monergismbooks.com).

As you carefully read this article , as yourself these questions whether you are an ordained minister or elder, or a ministering layperson:

1) What is the historic Christian gospel- -and why is it "good news" for sinners? Notice the difference between the "old" gospel and the "new" gospel that he makes.

2) How has the term "Evangelical" changed since the Reformation, and how can "Reformed and Always Reforming People" regain this term as a meaningful term (or can we?!)?

3) Why is it so hard (humanly speaking!) for confessing Christians to believe and take comfort in the Bible's teaching on 'Definite Atonement' (or 'Limited Atonement' in order to rightly preserve the 'TULIP').

4) Do you personally believe in an "old" gospel" or a "new" one? Is the "new" gospel really a gospel at all (cf. Galatians 1:6-9)?

To my Arminian friends, I would just ask: Before you discuss these things further with Calvinists and Calvinian theological believers, would you consider John Owen's treatise that has never been formally responded to by an Arminian? Would you consider the fact that perhaps he was right (with all respect!).

Enjoy reading (or re-reading) this important article by Dr. Packer! To quote Dr. Packer:

"[The Biblical Gospel] announces, not merely that men must come to Christ for salvation, but also that they cannot come unless Christ Himself draws them. Thus [the Gospel] labours to overthrow self-confidence, to convince sinners that their salvation is altogether out of their hands, and to shut them up to a self-despairing dependence on the glorious grace of a sovereign Saviour, not only for their righteousness but for their faith too."

IN Christ,
Pastor Biggs

Continue reading "J. I. Packer's Introductory Essay to John Owen's 'Death of Death in the Death of Christ'" »

March 15, 2007  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Gospel Which Pleases the Natural Man

"Man naturally would be a god to himself, though for clambering so high he got his fall; and whatever doctrine nourisheth a good opinion of man in his own eye, this is acceptable to him; and this hath spawned another fry of dangerous errors -- the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian, which set nature upon its legs, and persuade man he got alone to Christ, or at least with a little external help, of a hand to lead, or argument to excite, without creating any work in the soul. O, we cannot conceive how glib such stuff goes down. If one workman should tell you that your house is rotten, and must be pulled down, and all new materials prepared; and another should say, No such matter; such a beam is good, and such a spar may stand--a little cost will serve the turn; it were no wonder that you should listen to him that would put you to least cost and trouble. The faithful servants of Christ tell sinners from the Word, that man in his natural state is corrupt and rotten, that nothing of the old frame will serve, and there must needs be all new; but in comes an Arminian, and blows up the sinner's pride, and tells him he is not so weak or wicked as the other represents him. If thou wilt, thou mayest repent and believe; or, at least, by exerting thy natural abilities oblige God to superadd that thou hast not. This is the workman that will please proud man best."
- William Gurnall (The Christian in Complete Armour pg. 81)
Available at Monergism Books
March 13, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 11: The Last Supper)

I. Introduction

Throughout the first twelve chapters of John, we have noticed a definite pattern: Jesus performs a miracle, and then gives a discourse that brings out the spiritual significance of that miracle. In the second portion of John's gospel (chapters thirteen through twenty-one), the same basic pattern occurs, but in reverse, and on a larger scale. Here, the first segment (chapters thirteen through seventeen) brings out the significance of the greatest act of all that Jesus performed – his substitutionary death on the cross, together with the corresponding resurrection and giving of the Holy Spirit. And the following chapters (eighteen through twenty-one) relate those events in detail. And so, as we look more closely at the text for this week and the next week, we must keep in mind exactly what they are teaching us about the events which would follow, Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and final acts before his ascension.

Continue reading "Studies in John (Lesson 11: The Last Supper)" »

March 11, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Genuine Relationship or Machines

A visitor recently made a comment, one that is a common argument among Arminians and other synergists. Thought I would share with you the question and my response:

Assertion against Calvinism The Bible, from front to back, is about God desiring a genuine relationship with those he has made in his image. This relationship takes place through influence and response, not cause and effect (as in your system). Your system will always reduce men to mere machines that can only act when acted upon, or can only move when moved.

Response: This is quite an incorrect understanding of what we believe. God saves us by mercy alone, and there is nothing mechanical or automated about it. Here's why:

First it is important to note. God's law reveals to us, not our ability, but our inability ("though the law comes knowldge of sin" Rom 3:20) So Jesus, in mercy, does for us what we could not do for ourselves. Pays the debt we ourselves are unable to lift a finger to repay. The gospel says, "WHILE we were still HELPLESS, Christ died for us." And "while we were yet dead in sin, God quickened us." If He didn't act first to give us life, in mercy, we would not have been able to respond, even more importantly, would not. Our entire edifice was rotten to the core so if any were to have hope God would have to intervene to resurrect our spiritually dead souls. So it isn't about machines (or cause and effect), it is about God's mercy doing something for us that we could not do ourselves.

As an example to help express how this works, take a a friend who is drowning. Do you merely hold out your hand for him and ONLY help if he first helps himself by reaching to you? Is that what makes it personal and a relationship? What kind of love is that? No, you jump in the water to make certain he is saved from drowning. True love gets the job done. A relationship of love (a genuine relationship) is there EVEN when the friend is unable to respond and is in mortal danger. But the kind of love you appear to believe is that God loves everyone in a generic sense but really has a conditional love for these persons based on what they do. This is not unconditional love.

We would agree that God does indeed give us conditions. But it is Christ who fulfills them on our behalf. Yes we must pay our debts in full, but thanks be to God, Christ is our paymaster. Our response is only possible because of the grace we have in Christ, apart from which we would have no hope whatsoever. Unless you are willing to acknowledge that we have no hope save in Christ's mercy ALONE, then your understanding of the gospel, I would argue, is only partial.

"God knoweth we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requireth no more than he giveth, and giveth what he requireth, and accepteth what he giveth." -Richard Sibbes: From The Bruised Reed

See My essay To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself

March 07, 2007  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

"The Long Winter of Our Discontentment"- Pastor Charles R. Biggs


charles-biggs-small-file.jpg

Being content can be so very difficult in our consumeristic culture today. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, magazines, and catalogs reminding us of what we do not have. The main purpose of these catalogs and advertisements is to show us what we do not have and to spark a desire to obtain that which we do not have through our purchasing power. I am told that we are tempted by an average of 1,500 advertisements on a daily basis! How do we as Christians rest content and become satisfied in what God gives and provides for us when advertisers are working overtime to get our attention and make a sell?

As long as we think as Christians that happiness will come with one more product, or one more material wish fulfilled, we will never be truly happy, and more importantly we will not be content! Ultimately, we can only be content and happy by knowing our true identity in Christ Jesus and the incomparable great privileges that we already have and abundantly possess in Christ Jesus!

The Biblical reality is that we have all we need, but if we don't believe it, it will do us no good. The reality will be the same, but if we don't believe it, we will continue to buy, buy, buy, while remaining discontent, dissatisfied, and ultimately disconnected from the needs of others around us each and every day!

Continue reading ""The Long Winter of Our Discontentment"- Pastor Charles R. Biggs" »

March 07, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (12– His Healing of the Man with an Unclean Spirit)

Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

Before our Savior began his public ministry, during his probation in the wilderness, he utterly overcame the Devil, as we have before observed. It is no doubt at this time that he “beheld Satan fall as lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18); indeed, he then bound him as one binds a strong man, so that he might enter his house and despoil him (see Matthew 12:28-29). From that point, no demon ventured to assault our Lord directly, but always trembled before him, and sought his leniency in servile fear. However, all the hosts of Satan were still mightily attempting to oppose the work of Christ; not by directly attacking him, but by bringing into bondage the sons of men, whom he had come to redeem and deliver. Now, it is certainly clear that Christ had not triumphed over Satan for his own sake; for he had, from eternity past, been sovereignly in control of the Serpent’s actions, telling him what he may or may not do, and using even the Devil’s brazen wickedness, but always for his own good purposes (see Job 1-2). In that he defeated him in the wilderness, then, he defeated him with respect to the control he had usurped over fallen mankind. He had succeeded where Adam had failed; and thus he was free to take the effects of his own great success, and to apply them to those who, without him, were hopelessly in bondage to the “god of this world” (see II Corinthians 4:4). In our account in Mark, we see for the first of what would become innumerable instances, how he is willing to do just that.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (12– His Healing of the Man with an Unclean Spirit)" »

March 05, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Sample of Comments Received on the New Monergism.com

The following are samples of emails I have received over the past week regarding the launch of the new website. . Names have been removed...
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Dear Mr. Hendryx,

Thank you for Monergism.com. I am an Area Director for Young Life and on the long term track at RTS and monergism.com has been a great asset to those of us in Young Life who are distinctively reformed. Your site is the first place I refer younger staff folks and is the place where I go for quick reference.

One thing I have looked for and have not been able to find is a summary article that categorizes major contemporary publishing houses, seminaries and "celebrity" authors by their theological distinctives. This would be useful because I am often given books, articles or particular fad authors to read and knowing the theological background of their source would be useful. There maybe a forum for this already and this may be something that is already a part of Monergism.com, but I have not been able to find it.

Thanks for all you do!

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Your website it excellent and contains an immeasrable wealth of truth. Having a resource such as this is a treasure, expecially in this semi-Pelagian dessert of central Kansas. A more penurious understanding of the doctrines of grace and appreciation of the Reformation would be hard to locate than what one finds all around us here. So I appreciate your work and generous resources. Keep up the good work.


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March 05, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: Using the Talpiot Tomb as a Witness by Dr. James White

From the blog at www.aomin.org, Dr. James White writes:

It is the morning after. Those with an interest in the subject of the resurrection have already seen the film. As most of you know, today I launch into a high-speed book writing project to attempt to collect, collate, and present in a clear and understandable fashion the main arguments and facts regarding the Talpiot Tomb, DNA, patina, statistics, gnostic writings and the like. But at best, that book will not be out until Easter. So how about today? Rather than hope no one will ask you what you think, I believe we should be on the offensive---without being offensive. As I suggested with The Passion and with The Da Vinci Code, let's use this situation to God's glory and for the proclamation of the truth.

Well, it sure looks like the experts have put a crink in your religion! Actually, just the opposite. Instead, we have yet another example of how those who oppose the resurrection of Christ are willing to manipulate facts just to get maximum impact. In reality, the main problem with the film and book is its sensationalistic bent that leads Jacobovici and Cameron, etc., to take otherwise interesting historical facts and twist them into an attempt to turn a regular Jewish tomb into the family tomb of Jesus.

But they have DNA evidence! Yes, mitochondrial DNA evidence that conclusively proves that the tiny bone fragments recovered from ossuaries 80-500 and 80-503 came from people who were not related to one another maternally. Nothing more....

Continue reading "Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: Using the Talpiot Tomb as a Witness by Dr. James White" »

March 05, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 10: The Triumphal Entry)

I. Introduction

As we mentioned in the first lesson, the gospel of John may be divided into two major sections, the first of which emphasizes Jesus' sign-miracles and connected discourses; and the second of which emphasizes the true meaning and manifold effects of Jesus' death and resurrection. In this lesson, we will look at chapter twelve, which is the final chapter in the first major section. It makes sense, then, that in this chapter many loose ends are tied up (in a manner of speaking), and many themes that we have noticed time and again, in the previous twelve chapters, are brought up once more, and developed as fully as they ever will be. In a way, this is both a summary and climax of the great theological truths which John has been intent on teaching throughout the first half of his gospel.

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March 04, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Christ's Use of the Law to Promote Piety in the Christian

Read my new post at Monergism.com

Christ's Use of the Law to Promote Piety in the Christian
Joel Beeke on Calvin's three uses of the law with JWH comments following

March 02, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Love and Knowledge by Pastor John Samson

"Which commandment is the most important of all?"
Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' - Mark 12:28-30 ESV

If you love someone, you want to know all about them don't you? You want to learn of their likes and dislikes, their interests and hobbies, as well as their hopes and dreams.

How different this is from our culture's mindset. Love is portrayed as merely a feeling (which it certainly is, but it is far more than that). A pop song of a former era describes the essence of love in many people's minds today. The title, "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?" says it all. But is that true? Can love exist without knowledge? I don't think so. Loving someone does not mean merely feeling something, but also knowing something. Could someone truly love another person yet have no interest in knowing more about them? I don't think so.

When it comes to God, Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We often hear sermons telling us to love Him with our hearts, and even our strength (having a passion to spread His Gospel through our life and testimony). But what of the soul, and what of the mind? We love God with our minds by consistently thinking right thoughts about Him; by finding out what He has revealed about Himself to us in His Word.

Continue reading "Love and Knowledge by Pastor John Samson" »

March 01, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink