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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)

Christian Epicurians

"A godly man in his afflictions is, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things, (2 Cor. 6:10) and in his abundance, he hath all things, but possesseth nothing: for he possesses things, as if he did not possess them, as the Apostle's counsel is, (1 Cor. 7:31) He marries as if he married not; he weeps as if he wept not; he rejoices as if he rejoiced not; he buys as if he possessed not; because the fashion of this world passeth away. It was an excellent speech of Luther, concerning worldly things; "I have protested, that I will never be satisfied with the creature, (this is to be a Protestant in deed, as well as in truth)". A godly man is an Epicure in Christ; he would never play the Epicure, but in Christ, and in God: In them, and towards them, he gives his affections their full swing, and as a wicked man is said to enlarge his desires (after the Earth) as Hell, (Hab. 2:5) so he enlarges his desires (after Heaven) as Heaven, and complains his desires are no larger. In the thoughts of Christ he sits down, and would take his fill, he saith, "I am safe in Him, I am quiet and at rest"; he saith to his soul, "soul, doest thou see That Christ, and doest thou take notice of those promises? Thou hast goods laid up in Him, in them for many years, yea for eternity, soul take thine ease, take it fully, thou hast riches, thou hast an estate that can never be spent, soul, eat, drink, and be merry; His blood is drink indeed, and his flesh is meat indeed, joy in Christ is joy indeed, unspeakable joy here, and fullness of joy hereafter; In His presence there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore." Until the soul pitches thus on Christ, it is not in safety, much less in rest or quiet."

From Practical Observations on Job by Joseph Caryl, page 475, Volume 1.

April 30, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (19 – His Words of Judgment)

Nevertheless I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for you. – Matthew 11:24

During the course of our journey through the gospels, we have meditated much upon the meek and lamb-like qualities of Jesus, as he performed his mighty miracles of healing, forgiveness, and restoration. And it is fitting that we have done so, for he did not come to earth, at that time, to condemn it, but to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Truly has John declared to us, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). However, there is coming a day when the Son of Man will return again in great and terrible glory, with the flaming fire of fearful vengeance, to magnify the power of his wrath against all those who do not know God (II Thessalonians 1:6-10). At that time we will see the fullness of his Lion-like glory, poured out in righteous fury, joining together with the fullness of Lamb-like glory that he demonstrated before, when he stooped to the death of the cross – and woe to all those who have not called upon his name, when we see him thus a second time! In our next gospel account, we hear the slightest whisper of the coming winds of judgment, as our Savior sternly denounces those cities which have seen the gentle and incarnate God, and have despised him. Oh, let us tremble at this fearful presage, and flee for mercy to the only place where God's wrath will not then fall, for it has already fallen there and been assuaged – the bosom of Jesus our Savior. For if we be not found in him, we will drink from the same cup that has been promised to Chorazin and Bethsaida.

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April 28, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Monergism Books - Full Catalog by Author

At Monergism Books, for your convenience, we just put together a full catalog of our books listed by Author. This was not previously available so those of you who find it easier to search by author, hopefully this is beneficial to you. You may actually find some books on the site that you did not know we carried. Thanks to Jonathan Bicker for putting this together.

April 27, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Engaging Culture - John 17:17-19 by Arturo G. Azurdia III

This last weekend I had the great privelege to attend a men's conference at Estacada Christian Church which was led by Dr. Arturo G. Azurdia III. He delivered three phenomenal sermons, which he and the church have generously given me permission to post at Monergism.com in MP3 format.

All three sermons were an exposition of a section of the High Priestly Prayer in John 17:17-19. He pointed out many things in the Text I had not previously considered, especially with regard to our Lord's prayer to sanctify us that we might engage the culture. I especially want to recommend the third sermon which is one of the best expositions of particular atonement I have ever heard. I highly recommend all three sermons and hope you benefit as much as I did.

May the Lord richly bless you by opening your heart and ears to His word preached through a gifted servant.
Click here to go to the conference page on Monergism.com

April 26, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (18 – His Raising the Widow's Son)

And having approached, he touched the bier, and those bearing it stood still; and he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And the dead sat up and began to speak, and he gave him to his mother. – Luke 7:14-15

As manifold and diverse as are the wretched effects to which sin has given rise, they may all be brought under this one heading, death. So God spoke to man in the beginning, solemnly testifying that, in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would surely die (Genesis 2:17); and such in fact occurred, that first man and all after him being suddenly and irretrievably plunged into that spiritual death which consists of separation from fellowship with God, who is our life. And ah, how the effects of this death spread throughout the earth, engendering in men the death-thoughts and lusts which may never be found in God's presence, plunging the very world into chaos and confusion, covering the earth's fruitful soil with thorns and thistles, filling the instincts of all the brute beasts with rapine and cruel bloodshed, and finally bringing down the afflicted body of every death-cursed man in sorrow to the grave. And for all this, it is only the beginning, the first death – and oh how fearful will be the second death of eternal torment which awaits fallen man at the final judgment (Revelation 20:14)! Truly may it be said, that when we were in this miserable condition, we were, through fear of death, held in perpetual bondage under our cruel master, the Devil and Deceiver of mankind (Hebrews 2:14-15). Ah, wretched men! Who shall be found to deliver us from so great a calamity? But there is one who fully participated in our flesh and blood, in order that, by tasting death for us, he might destroy the one who possessed the power of death, and so reconcile us to God! To this mighty Conqueror of the grave, let us now turn our attention.

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April 26, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Messianic Jews in Israel

An video from Israel Channel 2 News - 23 on Messianic Jews in Israel

April 25, 2007  |  Comments (10)   |  Permalink

JONATHAN EDWARDS' 'THE EXCELLENCY OF CHRIST'- Edited by Charles R. Biggs

Dear Beloved in Christ,

In my reading and study, I am oftentimes reminded of what C. S. Lewis said one time concerning the reading of old books. In essence, Lewis wrote that for every new book we read, we ought to read at least three old ones. What he wanted to communicated wisely to the Church was that the reading of old books takes us out of our culture and religious "present-tense" context and allows us to see a clearer and bigger picture of the teaching of Scripture without being hindered by the biases and narrowness of our present cultural milieu or context.

Recently, as I was studying and praying generally for the future of Christ's Church, and considering more specifically gaining wisdom with regard to how to pastor Christ's people, I came across a discourse, or study written by Jonathan Edwards in the early 18th century. Jonathan Edwards was a great and godly preacher of God's Word, and was perhaps the finest and most able theologian America has ever produced!

The discourse or study is entitled 'The Excellency of Christ'. The study struck me deeply in my heart and mind because it helped me to reflect on the glory of God in the incarnation, but perhaps even more practically, it helped me to think of how Christ builds and matures His Church in a way consistent with the incarnation, yet paradoxical with regards to the ways and methods of the world.

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April 25, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Advance of the Kingdom

The following notes were taken from power point slides, which were used for a series of ten sermons delivered by Pastor Dave Hayton, at Martin Baptist Church. They give a brief overview of the basic message of the biblical story from Genesis to Revelation. I trust that they will be as helpful for many of you as they were for me, when I first heard them.

The Advance of the Kingdom
Seeing the Sequence and Significance of the Biblical Story
by Dave Hayton
“His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.”
Daniel 4:3b

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April 25, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Hidden Idolatries

Circumstances are very good at revealing our hidden idolatries. We all have God-given desires and so our desires are a good thing in themselves. But these desires become idolatry when they become inordinate. That is, when they take precedence over God and His providence in the specific circumstances of your life. For example, at the office we now have a couple of employees at Monergism.com. There is nothing the matter with wanting the Internet connections to be working for everyone here so they can be productive. But I remember one day when the computer connections went down and information was irretrievably lost that I boiled over in anger and wanted to throw my computer off of a high building. I even raised my voice to the computer (an inanimate object) and had some angry words for it. But here I was displaying natural human instinct to believe that I was the sovereign of the universe, so in doing so I sinned by trying to steal God's glory by being more than a little discontent at the unfolding of His plan. In such situations, we are either worshipping God, something else or ourselves. Instead I should remind myself beforehand each day that God is sovereign so "if the Lord wills I will do this or that..." for God may very well have had something else in mind for you [me] that day, something contrary to your good desires.

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April 23, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Four Short Book Reviews

Four Short Books reviews by Monergism.com's B. K. Campbell

“Pushing the Antitheses" by Greg Bahnsen
I have always recommended anything by Greg Bahnsen. The reason is simple: he was a champion defender of the Christian faith. Young minds can learn so much from him. Bahnsen had a “matter-of-fact” method for debunking the ideologies of non-belief. He is easy to understand, sharp as sharp can be and Biblically sound as a theologian. In Bahnsen you can always expect the best and strongest of “Van tillian thought” without the muddled wording of Van til. This is because Bahnsen was a great communicator. “Pushing the Antitheses” is just as helpful as any of his works on apologetics I recommend it to young and old alike. An apologist’s apologist for non-apologists.

The Reformation By Stephen J. Nicholas
In my estimation Stephen J. Nichols is one of the greatest biographers of our time. His treatment of Machen and Luther where astounding. The concise nature of his format for writing is sensible and realistic. Nichols often does in 100 pages what others can’t do in 500. He effectively tells the story, informs of history and completely brings to life men and women of the past. This new work in no way falls short. It is a powerful and inspiring little book packed full of entertaining details. His narratives seem to have a lively flow that will not bore the reader. It’s hard to put the book down and with only 160 pages easy to finish. This is a great introduction to the Reformation and with so many Reformation books out there this is a good place to start. If the passion is not there already this book will ignite a desire to dig deeper. Read it as your first book on the Reformation or a revival and commemoration of that great event in human history.

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April 23, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Whosoever Will May Come

On his blog, Vincent Cheung writes: The following is an edited email correspondence.

When I speak to my parents and pastor, it is typical for them to bring up the line "whosoever will may come" as the statement that somehow proves man's free will and refutes the idea that salvation comes from God alone.

One of the most frequent fallacies that people commit is the fallacy of irrelevance. Therefore, whenever we come across an argument or objection that supposedly refutes what Scripture teaches, sometimes it suffices to simply ask, "So what?"

Like many of the objections from Arminians, this one entirely misses the point. Perhaps they have in mind Revelation 22:17, which says, "whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (KJV). Since this is what God says, we readily agree with it, but then what? Who will actually come? It does not tell us. Or, to be more precise, why does anyone decide to come? What is the metaphysical and spiritual cause behind the person's decision and his change in disposition? That is the question. The statement from Revelation, or any other "whosoever" statement for that matter, tells us only about what is available to or what will happen to the person who comes. It does not tell us why anyone would come, or why a person comes when he does.

Here is something that I wrote in Born Again, my exposition of John 3:

I can say, "Whoever becomes a fish can breath under water." The statement is true, but it does not mean that a person can become a fish anytime he wishes. In fact, any inference about one's ability is strictly invalid, since the statement contains no information about ability except for the fish's ability to breath under water. Whether or not it is possible for a person to become a fish, one can infer nothing about it from the statement itself, but it only informs us as to what would happen to a person who turns into a fish.

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April 22, 2007  |  Comments (17)   |  Permalink

The Purity of New Covenant Membership as a Defense of Credo-Baptism

Some of you may wonder, "Why even post on such a controversial topic, when many godly men and qualified exegetes may be found on both sides of the question?" I agree that there are other more important issues on which we should expend the bulk of our energies; but baptism is a precious sign from God, and its importance should not be diminished, either. So when a Baptist friend of mine asked for some feedback on an article he had written defending credo-baptism (the link to his article is at the bottom of this post), I decided to post my response here, as well. I trust that any dialogue may be useful in helping all of us grow up to greater doctrinal maturity, and will be employed with love and an acknowledgement of our unity in the gospel.

Although many credo-baptists will base their argumentation on the fact that every clear New Testament example of baptism follows a confession of faith, there are some who recognize the problem with this argument, namely, that while it is helpful and gives clear exemplary warrant for the practice to be followed in like cases for the church today, it does not provide any example to be followed for the case in question: what do we do with the children of believers. If we had a clear New Testament example for this situation, the debate would be effectually over. But as it is, we are forced to bring other scriptural data to bear on a question which is not explicitly addressed in the bible. Recognizing this shortcoming of exemplary New Testament texts, these Baptist apologists have largely based their arguments on the prophesied difference between the Old and New Covenants, with respect to the purity of their respective membership. On a number of points, they are to be commended; for first, they have recognized the need for additional biblical evidence; and second they have sought this additional evidence in the right place – they have honed in on the true locus of the debate. The strands of evidence we must employ, in the pursuit of a biblical stance on the baptism issue, have ultimately to do with the nature of the New Covenant, and the quality of its members.

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April 20, 2007  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

No Hope Outside of Christ by Paul David Tripp

The following is an excerpt from Paul David Tripp's excellent book,
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

"The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)

"This is what God has been working on. All of history has been moving toward this one moment." God had not forgotten or lost interest in humanity. Since that horrible fall into sin, he had been bringing the world to this day. What looked pointless and out of control was, in fact, the unfolding of God's wonderful story of redemption, which reached a crescendo with the coming of Christ...

The question is, "The time has come for what?" Jesus is announcing the nearness of the kingdom of God. It is a quiet way of saying, "I am the King of kings and I have brought the power of my kingdom with me."...

In our self-absorbed culture, we need to see the grandeur of this kingdom. We cannot shrink it to the size of our needs and desires. It takes us far beyond personal situations and relationships. The King came not to make our agenda possible, but to draw us into something more amazing, glorious, and wonderful than we could ever imagine. Perhaps the best way to understand the grand purpose is to eavesdrop on eternity. In Revelation 19:6-8, the great multitude of the redeemed stands before the throne and, like the roar of rapids, exclaims:

Hallelujah! For the Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear."

Think about what they are singing. It is not, "I got my that job! My marriage was fantastic! I was surrounded by great friends and my kids turned out well." It is not, "I defeated depression and mastered my fears." Two things capture the hearts of the assembled throng:

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April 20, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Wounded

I often feel like I'm running around in this life trying to prove myself to someone. I want to be the smartest, funniest, most likable person that you know. If you tell me about someone else being smart, funny, or likable, I'll probably get jealous and try to think of ways to tell you that in fact I am smart, funny, and likable. And you don't want to see me when we're talking about spirituality.

I'll do almost anything to avoid bearing the brunt of jokes, insults, or accusations: even if they're true. If something I say or do gets me into trouble, I'll try to spin it so that someone else ends up looking worse. If you tell me it looks like I've been gaining weight, I'll quickly inform you that in fact I have been working out recently, and it's probably muscle you're noticing in those chins.

It could be that I'm trying to protect myself against losing something important to me. Or it could well be that I've lost that something, and I'm trying to get it back. Or maybe it's that I'm trying to get something I never had in the first place.

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April 19, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

J.I. Packer - Newly Inducted into the Hall of Contemporary Reformers



illustration by Steve Hesselman

Yes, I know, some will think that due to ECT this choice controversial, but God has used Packer as an instrument to produce so much good and help so many people grow in grace and Christian piety, that I thought it was a no-brainer. Please take the time to check out the enormous amount of available online resources from Packer near the bottom of his page... Click Here to Enter

April 18, 2007  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (17 – His Healing of the Centurion's Servant)

And when Jesus heard, he marveled, and said to those who were following, “Truly I say unto you, I have not found such faith from anyone in Israel”. – Matthew 8:10

In all of the scriptures, there is no more precious truth than this: “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all who call upon him; for 'Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved'” (Romans 10:12-13). And in all the gospels, there are few accounts which more poignantly display this truth than the account of the Gentile centurion, who called upon the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and found him rich indeed. How well-adapted this account is to strengthen the faith of all of us who, being alienated from the covenants of God, were grafted against nature into God's good tree (Ephesians 2:11-13; Romans 11:17-24)! Let us then look to this history with a mind to imitate this man's faith, so far as our Savior commended it; for in so doing, we will find the same Savior abounding in mercy to us, even as he did to the centurion in Galilee.

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April 18, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Muddled Motives

The Bible teaches that we should do good things rather than bad things, and that we should do them from good motives like loving God or loving other people. The Bible condemns bad motives (selfish pride, envy, lust, etc.) along with bad actions (boasting, murder, adultery, etc.).

But good motives and bad motives frequently produce the same good actions. Selfish pride can produce upright behavior; envy can help you provide well for your family; lust can produce chivalry. These actions are all condoned by the Bible, but the motives behind them are strongly condemned.

So what do you do when you are aware of both good and bad motives at work in you to produce the same good action? This is a real dilemma, because it happens most of the time a Christian does anything at all. You truly love your wife and want to treat her to a special evening, and you really want others to see this trophy on your arm at the most expensive restaurant in town... so do you still take her there? If you do, your ego is fed, which is bad. But your wife feels loved, which is good.

Help??

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April 16, 2007  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Let No Man Flatter Himself

"Let no man flatter himself: of himself he is a devil: his happiness he owes entirely to God. What have you of your own but sin? Take your sin which is your own; for righteousness is of God ... Why presume so much on the capability of nature? It is wounded, maimed, vexed, lost. The thing wanted is genuine confession, not false defense...When any one knows that he is nothing in himself, and has no help from himself, the weapons within himself are broken, and the war is ended. - Augustine, De Natura et Gratia
April 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

20 Years On - A Testimony Concerning God's Grace

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:18

I was looking through an old autograph book this week. It contained signatures of all my Bible College (seminary) friends from June 1987. Some of the people who wrote in this little book are now in heaven... men like Rev. James Hunt, the Dean of Students, and an Irish student called Vaughan Gage, who was killed on a missionary trip to Africa under very suspicious circumstances... and one of them is now a Member of Parliament in England... their words are very precious to me.

In one entry a friend of mine, Graeme Adams, now a pastor in Dundee, Scotland drew three crosses on a hill, the central one being the largest one.. and he wrote these simple words: "John.. always remember Calvary. Graeme" He probably doesn't remember doing that.. but now, 20 years on (in 2 months..) he and I are continuing to do just that.. remembering Calvary, all because of the grace of God.

How gracious God is to us... not only for the cross, but for the grace to help us see its worth, and sustain our interest as the years roll by. That ugly cross.. the place of torture, pain and suffering is beautiful in our eyes, for what Christ achieved for us there makes it our only gateway to heaven. Quite something eh? - Pastor John Samson

P.S. Want to be blessed by an outstanding article on the cross?? See J. I. Packer's "The Logic of Penal Substitution" article found here .

April 15, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Predestination for God's Glory: A Study of Ephesians 1:3-14

charles-biggs-small-file.jpg

Today's study focuses on the sovereignty of God revealed in the salvation of His people.

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 sets 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 1:3-14, 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!
Ephesians 1:1-14

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April 13, 2007  |  Comments (12)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (16 – His Works on the Sabbath)

My Father works until now, and I also work. – John 5:17
For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. – Matthew 12:8

Of all the blessings that God has given to his people throughout the ages, one of the most precious is their Sabbath rest. How wearisome is the toil and labor through which we must pass on our journey through this sin-cursed world! How impossible that our sin-cursed bodies and souls should keep pressing on, apart from the necessary refreshment of regular rest and frequent meditation on the bounty of the Lord! But far greater even than this pleasant shadow-blessing, which God gave to the children of Israel, is the One from whose generous hand this and all other riches flow down to his people. Far greater than this imperfect reminder of the delightful rest which awaits us when the work has been perfectly accomplished, is the One who is, in himself, the fulfillment of the picture. And we see both of these precious realities in Christ Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, and our true Sabbath rest. As the Lord of the Sabbath, he is the One who perfectly accomplished the work of redemption, and so earned the right to dispense a rest which is the reward and culmination of a perfect work completed. And as the fulfillment of the picture, he himself is that reward, that rest, that joyful celebration of culminating victory which awaits those who finish their course.

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April 10, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

New Monergism.com T-Shirt (April 2007)

At long last, the T-Shirts have arrived!

With the recent resurgence of INTEREST IN Reformation theology, many search for ways to expose the world to the doctrines of grace. This T-shirt piques the interest of onlookers and provides an excellent bridge for introducing the Biblical beliefs recovered and heralded during the the Reformation.

When you wear the T-Shirt you help spread the word about Monergism.com to those who see the logo on the front of your shirt. The back of the shirt bears the name and likeness of one of the best-known Protestant Reformers, Swiss theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) with his emphasis on the centrality of Jesus Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s sovereignty of grace in Christ helped codify the teachings of the Reformation with his first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1539. The Institutes presents with unmatched clarity a vision of God in his majesty, of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, of the Holy Spirit as the giver of faith, of the Bible as the final authority, and of the church as the holy people of God. Its doctrine of Predestination is Calvin's detailed exegesis of the Scripture coupled with his deduction from his belief in human sinfulness and God's sovereign mercy in Christ.

Don't be shy. Wear it boldly. A great conversation-starter
Shirts are pre-shrunk and WILL NOT SHRINK! They are Haynes Beefy-Ts. These shirts last for years of wear - not a few months. The shirt is printed with high quality graphics. This shirt is professionally designed and crafted. The quality of our shirt is the best constructed and heaviest weight of cotton on the market. It is 100% Cotton PRESHRUNK.

Available at Monergism Books

April 09, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 15: Jesus' Resurrection)

I. Introduction

When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” he was making a definite assertion that no price remained to be paid for our redemption; he had suffered God's full wrath against our sins, and he had satisfied the law's fullest demands for justice. However, this did not mean that the story of redemption was complete: for even though Jesus had made satisfaction for sin, the final seal of the efficacy of that satisfaction and of his eternal victory over death and the grave (sin's bitter effects), was yet to come, three days later. The resurrection of Christ is the necessary conclusion to his sacrificial death. If his death really did overcome sin and its results; if it really did deal the death blow to the Serpent who had waged war against mankind by tempting them to sin; then it was impossible that death should hold him (see Acts 2:22-28). Jesus won the victory on the cross; but the victory that he won was displayed three days later in his resurrection from the dead. In his death, he won for all of his children an eternal, resurrection life. To borrow the title of John Owen's outstanding work, we have certainly encountered “the death of death in the death of Christ”.

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April 07, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Christ Died for the Ungodly By Horatius Bonar

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

The divine testimony concerning man is, that he is a sinner. God bears witness against him, not for him; and testifies that “there is none righteous, no, not one”; that there is “none that doeth good”; none “that understandeth”; none that even seeks after God, and, still more, none that loves Him (Psa 14:1-3; Rom 3:10-12). God speaks of man kindly, but severely; as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one who will make no terms with sin, and will “by no means clear the guilty.”

He declares man to be a lost one, a stray one, a rebel, a “hater of God” (Rom 1:30); not a sinner occasionally, but a sinner always; not a sinner in part, with many good things about him; but wholly a sinner, with no compensating goodness; evil in heart as well as life, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1); an evil doer, and therefore under condemnation; an enemy of God, and therefore “under wrath”; a breaker of the righteous law, and therefore under “the curse of the law” (Gal 3:10). The sinner not merely brings forth sin, but he carries it about with him, as his second self; he is a body or mass of sin (Rom 6:6), a “body of death” (Rom 7:24), subject not to the law of God, but to “the law of sin” (Rom 7:23).

There is another and yet worse charge against him. He does not believe on the name of the Son of God, nor love the Christ of God. This is his sin of sins. That his heart is not right with God is the first charge against him. That his heart is not right with the Son of God is the second. And it is this second that is the crowning, crushing sin, carrying with it more terrible damnation than all other sins together.

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April 06, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

For whom did Jesus taste death? by John Piper

Hebrews 2:9 - But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

For Those He Came to Save
Yesterday I marched for Jesus along with thousands of others in the Twin Cities and with millions of others around the world. As I turned from Nicollet Mall onto Sixth Street we were singing the second stanza of "Crown Him With Many Crowns." I am probably the only one who was thinking at that moment of this morning's message. The title of the message this morning is, "For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death?" The second verse of "Crown Him with Many Crowns" goes like this:

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o'er the grave.
Who rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.

His glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high.
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

He triumphed over the grave and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save. "For those he came to save." These words seem to signal that the writer of this hymn believes that Christ had a design to really save a particular group of people by his death. He triumphed over the grave for those he came to save. It sounds like there are some he came to save, and that for these the grave is defeated and eternal life is given.

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April 06, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Question about Forgiveness/Arminianism

Received this important question this morning from a visitor:

Question: Hi, About 2-3 weeks ago my church taught from the pulpit through the Lord's Prayer and when it got to Forgive as you are willing to forgive others, the teaching was if you don't forgive someone and you die, you lose your salvation and go to Hell. I took issue with this teaching, and started researching, and I've been on your web site for all this time since looking for answers, but it's still unclear to me. I'm open to your views. I immediately asked the pastor questions and it's clear even though he didn't tell me the answers to my questions that he's Arminian in his thinking. He thinks all kinds of things that I dont' see. I believe in total depravity and he doesn't teach that. I'm considering leaving my church over this, and I want to make sure I understand before I decide to leave. It's not really something I want to do, but I feel that I need to go somewhere the doctrine is better. I just can't understand why someone can think God could save a person and then toss them to Hell. It makes no sense to me. I know I'm a sinner, I know Christ died for me. Isn't that enough?

Response:

Hi ____ Thank you for your email and for your willingness to in explain your current situation. The short answer to your question is no, God will not forgive us if we fail to forgive others, but if we are in Christ, He will forgive us for Jesus' sake. Yes, Christ is enough. This kind of preaching is a classic example of a failure to read a Text in relation to Jesus Christ. If we read a Text in isloation without relation to the whole, and without relation to Christ, we almost always end up with a disconnect to the whole purpose of the passage.

Your concern about your pastors' sermon is right on target because the work of Christ is indeed enough to save you completely. In searching the Scripture, it should become clear that any church that teaches that the sinner can either ATTAIN or MAINTAIN their own justification before God is not teaching the gospel. If someone says that we can lose our salvation, it is the same as teaching that what Jesus did for us on the cross was insufficient. That our sin is somehow greater than His grace. If we can lose our salvation then what Jesus did was not enough, which would mean that WE must pay part of the price of our own redemption. The Bible teaches, rather, that Jesus work is sufficient (Heb 1:3; 4:12-16; 10:11-12). Therefore, anyone who teaches that the crosswork of Christ is not enough to save you completely, and that we must add our own works or moral ability to Christ's merits (like your pastor) I am afraid, is teaching false doctrine. It is a low view of Christ and what He has done for us and a failure to read the Bible with Christ's own Hermeneutic (John 1:43-45, John 5:39, 40, John 20:31; Luke 24:25-27 & 44-46). No one can obey the Law perfectly, only Christ has done so, and He did for us what we were unable to do for ourselves. His blood "reminds" God not to treat us as our sins justly deserve every day. That is the whole point of the gospel ... that we are set free from the fear that our performance is what determines our destiny, Christ does. For if our merit was intermingled with Christ's work then our redmeption is incomplete and we will never know if what we have done is enough. We trust, rather, in Christ and His finished work, not ourselves and our ability to keep the law. He kept the law because we could not. The gospel teaches that we justly deserve the wrath of God save in Christ's mercy alone.

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April 06, 2007  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Love, Unity, and Doctrinal Precision

It is currently in vogue within American evangelicalism to play against each other the complementary realities of Christian love and unity, on the one hand; and on the other hand, the necessity for a strenuous biblical precision in formulating and contending for those points of doctrine which are secondary in importance – that is, those doctrines which, to believe one way or the other, would not per se corrupt the essential purity of the gospel. A concrete example of such secondary matters would be one's beliefs in the debate between cessationism or continuationism of the so-called "sign gifts"; or else one's understanding of the nature of the millennial reign of Christ, or one's position on the mode of baptism.

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April 06, 2007  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (15 – His Healing of a Paralytic)

Mark 2:9-11 Which is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your bed, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (he says to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto you, Arise, and take up your bed, and go your way into your house.

The next miracle that our Savior performed is especially notable in that it is coupled with the clearest expression of the ultimate purpose that Jesus had in his many merciful acts of healing. In other accounts, we may certainly suppose that Christ’s mighty works demonstrated his divine power and vindicated his claims to be the Messiah. But in this story alone do we find Christ saying so clearly that such a healing was so that, “You may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.” We will do well to learn from this saying. Christ’s authority over the effect necessitates that he also have authority over the cause. His power in the sign demonstrates his power in the thing signified. His ability to heal the dreadful disease of paralysis ought to have instructed all who saw him, that he was likewise able to heal that terrible ultimate source of paralysis and every other unhappy affliction of mankind: the sinful nature that Adam passed down to all of his descendants. And if it were so mighty and blessed a circumstance to be delivered from the effect, how blessed must it be to be delivered from the ultimate source?

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April 03, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Justification - Paul and James Easily Reconciled

"In Romans 3:28 Paul says, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." In James 2:24 we read, "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." If the word justify means the same thing in both cases, we have an irreconcilable contradiction between two biblical writers on an issue that concerns our eternal destinies. Luther called "justification by faith" the article upon which the church stands or falls. The meaning of justification and the question of how it takes place is no mere trifle. Yet Paul says it is by faith apart from works, and James says it is by works and not by faith alone. To make matters more difficult, Paul insists in Romans 4 that Abraham is justified when he believes the promise of God before he is circumcised. He has Abraham justified in Genesis 15. James says, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?" (James 2:21). James does not have Abraham justified until Genesis 22.

This question of justification is easily resolved if we examine the possible meanings of the term justify and apply them within the context of the respective passages. The term justify may mean (1) to restore to a state of reconciliation with God those who stand under the judgment of his law or (2) to demonstrate or vindicate.

Jesus says for example, "Wisdom is justified of all her children" (Lk 7:35 KJV). What does he mean? Does he mean that wisdom is restored to fellowship with God and saved from his wrath? Obviously not. The plain meaning of his words is that a wise act produces good fruit. The claim to wisdom is vindicated by the result. A wise decision is shown to be wise by its results. Jesus is speaking in practical terms, not theological terms, when he uses the word justified in this way.

How does Paul use the word in Romans 3? Here, there is no dispute. Paul is clearly speaking about justification in the ultimate theological sense.

What about James? If we examine the context of James, we will see that he is dealing with a different question from Paul. James says in 2:14, "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" James is raising a question of what kind of faith is necessary for salvation. He is saying that true faith brings forth works. A faith without works he calls a dead faith, a faith that is not genuine. The point is that people can say they have faith when in fact they have no faith. The claim to faith is vindicated or justified when it is manifested by the fruit of faith, namely works. Abraham is justified or vindicated in our sight by his fruit. In a sense, Abraham's claim to justification is justified by his works. The Reformers understood that when they stated the formula, "Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.""

R. C. Sproul - Knowing Scripture; InterVasity Press, p. 83, 84

April 02, 2007  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Evangelical Zionism

A rather disturbing trend among some evangelical groups in the past decade is the rise of Christian Zionism. Among those who are among their number there are some radical elements which think that they can help hasten the Apocalypse by means of forcing the fulfillment of prophesy. This, they believe, can be done by helping Orthodox Jews to raise red heifers and assist in rebuilding the Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in the first century in Jerusalem. Several evangelical groups are actually raising and shipping red heifers to Israel in the belief that the birth of a red heifer in Israel will signal the rebuilding of the Temple.

A cattle rancher and ordained minister with the National Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, Clyde Lott believes, like many dispensationalists, that three preconditions mentioned in the Bible are necessary for the coming of the Messiah: the state of Israel must be restored; Jerusalem must be in Jewish hands; and the Temple, last destroyed in 70 A.D., must be rebuilt. The modern state of Israel, of course, was established in 1948, and since 1967, the Jewish state has controlled all of Jerusalem. That leaves the rebuilding of the Temple, and since a red heifer was part of the sacrificial ritual in the Temple -- mentioned several times in the Bible, including in the Book of Numbers, chapters 19-22 -- many believe the birth of a red heifer in Israel will signal the Temple's return. Many Jews believe that the same preconditions will bring about the coming of the Jewish Messiah.

At least two other American Christians are breeding similar cows in the United States in hopes of bringing them to Israel, according to Gershon Solomon, the leader of the Temple Mount Faithful, another group dedicated to rebuilding the Temple.

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April 02, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 14: Golgotha)

I. The Day of Atonement and the Climax of History

So far, in our journey through the tabernacle, there is only one place we have not been; and that one place is so holy that only the High Priest could enter it, and only once a year, bringing sacrificial blood for his own sins and the sins of the people. This is the Holy of Holies, a room behind the veil which separated it from the Holy Place, in which was the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, covered with solid gold. This is where God's glory and presence specifically dwelt, in the days before the Temple, and, as the furniture in the room suggests, it was only because of divine mercy that the Holy God could even dwell among his people; and furthermore, it was only because of the divine covenant that he had made with them.

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April 01, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink