"...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)

From Packer's Intro to Luther's Bondage of the Will

J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, translators of Luther’s masterpiece Bondage of the Will from German and Latin to English, say in the Introduction:

Free will was no academic question to Luther; the whole Gospel of the grace of God, he held, was bound up with it, and stood or fell according to the way one decided it. . . . It is not the part of a true theologian, Luther holds, to be unconcerned, or to pretend to be unconcerned, when the Gospel is in danger. . . . [T]he doctrine of The Bondage of the Will in particular was the cornerstone of the Gospel and the foundation of faith (40-41, emphasis added).
In particular, the denial of free will was to Luther the foundation of the Biblical doctrine of grace, and a hearty endorsement of that denial was the first step for anyone who would understand the Gospel and come to faith in God. The man who has not yet practically and experimentally learned the bondage of his will in sin has not yet comprehended any part of the Gospel (44-45). Justification by faith alone is a truth that needs interpretation. The principle of sola fide [by faith alone] is not rightly understood till it is seen as anchored in the broader principle of sola gratia [by grace alone] . . . for to rely on oneself for faith is not different in principle from relying on oneself for works (59). The Bible teaches that faith itself is and has to be a gift of God, by grace, and not of self (Ephesians 2:8). It is safe to deduce that for Luther, any evangelist who advocates free will has not only "not yet comprehended any part of the Gospel," but also that he has not yet preached the Gospel at all; his is a counterfeit gospel.

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November 30, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Clarifying the Love of God for His People in Christ

Although some may not think so, we really do work hard to accurately represent those whose positions differ from us in regards to the work of Christ in our salvation. Recently I gave an illustration which highlighted the differences between the Arminian traditions' view of God's love and the traditional Augustinian view, which at least one visitor said misrepresented both sides ...

The illustration has two parents whose children run out into the street when a car is coming. The first parent calls to his child to get out of the way but stays on the curb hoping he will obey, while the other parent sees the danger and runs out to scoop up the child to make certain he/she is safe. We believe this demonstrates two radically different conceptions of love. Synergists often challenge us that we put God's holiness over His love, but this illustration attempts to highlight that this is not the case, but rather, reveals a vastly different view of God's love and the message of salvation: one type of love is intensive and the other extensive. One loves makes certain that the job is done - that the child is safe, while the other love does not make this a certainly but sees love in the giving of a choice itself ... and consequently values more highly the will of the child as the final determiner of salvation.

To clarify this illustration so you can see how it explicitly explains the two positions:

First of all, both positions believe that Christ died for sinners .... but there are clear differences in what Christ's death actually accomplishes for His children:

1) The Arminian position believes that Christ does a great deal to bring salvation to His people, but His death does not actually secure that salvation. It is not sufficient of itself to save lost people. There is still a requirement that sinners themselves must meet if Christ's death is to be effectual ... in other words, what Christ does for sinners in the Arminian scheme is really conditioned upon man fulfilling another requirement that is in addition to Christ's death ... in this case, faith.

2) The Augustinian position, in contrast, believes that Christ's death and resurrection actually secures the salvation of His people. It is completely sufficient in itself to save sinners. God does require faith of His people but Christ's death even pays for the sin of our unbelief and thus He meets all the requirements necessary for our salvation ... requirements that we were morally impotent to meet ourselves. Thus, Jesus Christ gives His children everything necessary to secure salvation. This is an unconditional love ... salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. Christ plus nothing. Salvation is, therefore, not conditioned upon our prior faith but Christ actually even secures our faith. The finished work of Christ guarantees that none of his children will be lost and will all be raised up at the last day (John 6:37-39, 44)

November 30, 2007  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Welcome. Christmas Ideas 2007

November 28, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Monergism Review of A World of Difference by Kenneth Richard Samples

How Good Can It Be?

A World of Difference covers a wide variety of topics. The result is that some of the topics can only receive a superficial treatment. However, even superficial is better than none (which is the case with most bos on worldviews). The reader must not forget that the work is predominantly “evidential” in its apologetical approach. Yet, one should not think that this detracts from the book’s usefulness. The work contains some impressive sections, notably, the introductory course on logic; this section will greatly help first time readers on apologetics and should be read by all those who know nothing about logic. Overall A World of Difference is “better” and “deeper” than your standard “evidential” textbook. It would serve as a great “first acquaintance” or solid “primer” on apologetics. The writing is easy to understand and the format makes sifting through the topics effortless. Even the most novice reader will not struggle with the explanations. In the grand scheme of things, it is the most “exhaustive” book on the concept of worldview that I have seen. Compared with other books on worldviews, Samples gives the reader more to think about because he covers more ground. Racking my brain, I can’t think of another work that is comparable.

An example of topics addressed include: A definition of the concept of worldview, Discerning truth, Logic 101 (which includes details about fallacies), A Christian perspective on History, Concepts of creeds, A partial exposition of the Apostles Creed, A Defense of God’s written Word, A defense of the concept of Sola Scriptura (including what it does not mean), Theological notes on the Christian view of God and how God relates to the concept of Worldview, Plenty of charts to assist with comprehension, The doctrine of Creation, An exposition on Providence, The Christian view of man, The Christian view of Moral Values and a critical examination of the most predominate anti-Christian Worldviews including charts in the Appendix.

After reading the work it is clear that Samples intended to ground his readers in the truth, rather than explain the faulty beliefs of other systems. By using this approach he helps the Christian to understand what is false by learning to think in terms of what is true. Essentially, because we know what is true it will make “evident” that which is false. With this I am in full agreement. Study the real picture and you will recognize the discrepancies in those that are false. In the end, I would go so far as to say that a skilled apologist (Presuppositional or Evidential) will find many resources in this book and a beginner will be greatly helped by it. I recommend it simply because it gathers so much apologetical information in one place. Labeled, a very useful resource on apologetics. Reviewed by's B. K. Campbell.

Available at a discount from Monergism Books

November 28, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Rejected Redeemers

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” [Exodus 2:11-22]

Moses had the best life imaginable in this world. He had all the privilege, prestige, and comfort of the royal household of the greatest nation on earth at the time. And he threw it all away in order to identify with slaves, to become a refugee. He chose alienation and exile over acceptance and luxury.

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November 27, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Understanding Free Will

from the archives - by John Samson...

Why are you reading this? Yes, this particular sentence? There are billions of sentences out there just waiting to be read, in many different languages, but right now, you are reading this one. Why?

Well, it could be that some reformed and crazed individual has put a gun to your head and told you that if you did not read this article he would shoot you. He would definitely be what I refer to as a "caged stage Calvinist," when after coming to understand the doctrines of grace, for a period of a couple of years or so, he needs to be locked up in a cage. That's the best thing for everybody concerned!! His zeal for reformational truth needs to be augmented with sanity in human relations! He sends books, tapes, CD's, DVD's, and e-mails to all unsuspecting victims, regardless of whether or not they have ever shown an interest in these things. Christmas is his favorite time of the year, for he's been eagerly waiting for this opportunity to send R. C. Sproul's book "Chosen by God" to everyone he knows. He's on a mission alright, but the best thing would be for him to cool down for a couple of years in a cage!

However, even with the crazed reformed nut with a gun scenario, you are still making the choice to read this blog article rather than face the contents of the gun. You prefer to read this rather than to feel the impact of the bullet. Even now, you are reading this because you want to - right now you do, anyway. In fact, because this is your strongest inclination, there is no possible way for you to be reading anything else at this moment.

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November 27, 2007  |  Comments (17)   |  Permalink

Buliding Bridges Conference: Southern Baptists and Calvinism

Streaming audio and/or MP3 podcasts of sessions from the Building Bridges: Southern Baptists and Calvinism conference, sponsored by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Founders Ministries. The conference, which takes place Nov. 26-28 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center, consists of sessions featuring speakers who address different perspectives of each of the topics listed below.

Buliding Bridges Conference: Southern Baptists and Calvinism <

November 27, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (47 – His Trials and Scourging)

Then he released unto them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him up to be crucified. – Matthew 27:26

From the days of righteous Abel, unto whose blood sacrifice the Lord had respect, how many millions of sacrificial lambs had been led to the foot of the altar and there slain? And of them all, how many had lifted up their voice in protest, demanding that they who had done the crimes should receive their own just reward? In the same way it was fitting that our true and final sacrificial Lamb, whose blood really did take away sin, should be like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, not opening his mouth before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7). Oh, let us tremble in wonder as we see the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, meek and silent before his oppressors, led away without protest to the bitter scourge and the cruel tree! For it was because of our iniquities, which the Lord had laid upon him, that he was so fiercely reproached and beaten and slain; and the stripes which bloodied his back flowed forth red in healing and peace for us all (Isaiah 53:5-6). Oh, how can our hearts not melt in everlasting worship as we see our Savior condemned against justice so that we who ought to have been condemned might be acquitted indeed? To this account we now turn; and every step we take, from here to the cross, we are treading upon holy ground, and entering into the mysteries of the Godhead; let us do so in fear and with trembling joy!

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November 26, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What Love is This?

"[Arminians] ... say that the Augustinian tradition subordinates the love of God to the will of God ... But this is not what distinguishes the Augustinian tradition from the Arminian tradition. The distinction is between intensive and extensive love, between an intensive love that saves its loved ones, and an extensive love that loves everyone in general and saves no one in particular. Or if you really wish to cast this in terms of willpower, it's the distinction between divine willpower and human willpower. Or, to put the two together, does God will the salvation of everyone with a weak-willed, ineffectual love, or does God love his loved ones with a resolute will that gets the job done? The God of Calvin is the good shepherd, who names and numbers his sheep, who saves the lost sheep and fends off the wolf. The God of Wesley is the hireling, who knows not the flock by name and number, who lets the sheep go astray and be eaten by the wolf. Which is more loving, I ask? - Steve Hays

An illustration that may further shed light on this is as follows:

Two parents see their child run out in the street. A car is coming. The first parent calls out to the child hoping he will get out of the way in time. In other words, he gives him a choice. The second parent on the other hand, due to his love for the child runs out at the risk of His own life, scoops up the child and MAKES CERTAIN his child is not run over.

Even on an earthly level we see that true parental love acts and gets the job done. This kind of intensive love does not stand on the sidelines worried about whether their child's will was violated or not. He cares too much for the child to make his will the deciding factor. Yes the child will believe and trust in his parent, but the parent loves the child first, not because of what he does (conditional acceptance) but because the parent loves the child. Therefore the Arminian tradition has a view of God whose love is conditional while those in the Augustinian tradition see HIs love for His people as unconditional.

To clarify the illustration so you can see how it explicitly explains the two positions:

First of all, both positions believe that Christ died for sinners .... but there are clear differences in what Christ's death actually accomplishes for His children:

1) The Arminian position believes that Christ does a great deal to bring salvation to His people, but His death does not actually secure that salvation. It is not sufficient of itself to save lost people. There is still a requirement that sinners themselves must meet if Christ's death is to be effectual ... in other words, what Christ does for sinners in the Arminian scheme is really conditioned upon man fulfilling another requirement that is in addition to Christ's death ... in this case, faith.

2) The Augustinian position, in contrast, believes that Christ's death and resurrection actually secures the salvation of His people. It is completely sufficient in itself to save sinners. God does require faith of His people but Christ's death even pays for the sin of our unbelief and thus He meets all the requirements necessary for our salvation ... requirements that we were morally impotent to meet ourselves. Thus, Jesus Christ gives His children everything necessary to secure salvation. This is an unconditional love ... salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. Christ pluys nothing. Salvation is not conditioned upon our prior faith but Christ actually secures our faith. The finished work of Christ guarantees that none of his children will be lost.

November 26, 2007  |  Comments (18)   |  Permalink


Post-Thanksgiving Sale at Monergism Books. If you have had your fill of yams take a look .. we have DOZENS of books deeply reduced for your reading pleasure. Books that will fill your mind with the wonder, glory and beauty of God, in Jesus Christ.

Remember that according to Romans chapter one, unbelievers seek only to wipe clean all memory of their sense of God which the Lord planted in their hearts at conception. The problem we have when we approach our unbelieving friends is not that they lack data, but that their hearts are hardened to Christ. Our plea to them must therefore be mixed with continual prayer to the only One who can free them from their natural blindness.

We must remind our friends daily that their main concern in life should be to seek God with all the affections of their hearts and that they will remain restless until their hearts find rest in God, as Augustine said. Most's people's estimate of God is based and goverened by their fallen mind and thus fail to see his matchless beauty. As a result they turn from Him and rather worship the vain creations of their own wicked hearts. Let us no longer speculate about God with that inner "light" which is only sin, and can only distort the true nature of the King....but rather, let us lovingly gaze upon His revelation, for we can only truly know God as he has chosen revealed himself to us. Let us pray he free us from the slavery to sin and grant us eyes to see and love his goodness, especially as he has reveled it in His Son. Jesus Christ.

November 23, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Does Paul Thank the Thessalonians for their Work of Faith?

Visitor Responds to the post "Is Faith a Work?"

Visitor Question: In Thessalonians Chapter 1 Verse 3 Paul thanks the Thessalonians for their "work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope".For what is he thanking them and why?

Context suggests that faith begets work, love begets labor, and hope begets endurance. Faith, hope, and love - the spiritual gifts. In Paul's 1st Letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes the spiritual gifts and defines love as the greatest of the three. If faith alone is the prerequisite for salvation, then where falls hope and love and how do you reconcile Paul's ordering of the gifts in Corinthians with the concept of faith alone? Are we to assume that the gifts of hope and love also resultant of grace, or are they borne of faith or are they given independently? As spiritual gifts, are hope and love also to be differentiated as recieved involuntarily by the faithful and therefore not available to all? Finally, is it possible to have these gifts bestowed upon you and yet to refrain unintentionally from acting upon them? Thank you, Mike

Response: Mike thanks for your post.

You may wish to take a closer look at the passage in 1 thess you cited:

I Thess. 1:2-4, Paul states "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."

You asked why Paul thanks the Thessalonians for their work of faith ... but does he say this? Look more closely. He does not say he thanks the Thessalonians, but rather, that he thanks God for their work of faith. So Paul is grateful to God for what they did. This is profound. Why doesn't he thank the Thessalonians for it? Because Paul is not looking to the secondary source of faith but to the fountain, the real source, which is God Himself.

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November 21, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

E-Sword Files

The .top files of my scripture lists on the Doctrines of Grace and the People of God (for use on e-Sword) are now available here. There are also files for similar lists on the Trinity, Knowing Our God, and Knowing Ourselves. If anyone would benefit from them, please feel free to download and use them!

November 21, 2007  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Stem Cell Breakthrough Uses No Embryos

By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer

NEW YORK - Scientists have made ordinary human skin cells take on the chameleon-like powers of embryonic stem cells, a startling breakthrough that might someday deliver the medical payoffs of embryo cloning without the controversy. More....

November 20, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Commentary on the NT Use of the OT

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
G. K. Beale & D. A. Carson (Editors)

Readers of the New Testament often encounter quotes or allusions to the Old Testament that may be unfamiliar or obscure. In this volume, G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson have brought together a distinguished team of scholars to isolate, catalog, and comment on both the obvious Old Testament quotations and the more subtle allusions found in the New Testament. The result is a comprehensive commentary on the Old Testament references that appear from Matthew through Revelation. It is a vital resource for the reference library of every student of the New Testament.

Available at Monergism Books 40% Discount

November 19, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Apologetics for Hipsters & Other Secularists

"Although They Knew God ... They Suppressed the Truth..."

The opportunities are wide open for Christians to speak with secular people these days, especially if you live in a metropolitan area. The average hipster you may meet in the medium to big sized city is a secularist who may listen to NPR, has a liberal, ecological, and/or anti-capitalist political ideology ... wears vintage clothing from a thrift store and consumes ethically. He or she often either rides a bike, uses public transportation or even may be driving a hybrid or bio-diesel vehicle. This person is deeply concerned with the ethical treatment of animals, is strongly against slavery, torture, racism and political oppression against women. Another characteristic of this individual is that he/she thinks Christianity is irrelevant at best.

Since we deeply care about the eternal destinies of such individuals how should we go about reaching such a person with the gospel? Where would you start?

Once of the more effective ways, I have found, is to remember that that your secular friend already knows God exists. He/she knows God exists and lives as if He does. In Romans chapter 1 Paul clearly teaches this about all people when he says, "For although they knew God" (verse 21) " their unrighteousness suppress the truth" (verse 18).

But how can we demonstrate to your friends that they already believe in God, when intellectually they deny His existence?

While there are many ways this could be done, I would like to suggest one way that I have found to be quite persuasive: The knowledge of God through their own morality.

Continue reading "Apologetics for Hipsters & Other Secularists" »

November 16, 2007  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (46 – His Prayer in Gethsemane)

Then he says unto them, my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; stay here and watch with me”. And going ahead a little, he fell upon his face, praying and saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”. – Matthew 26:38-39

O reader, we have followed our dear Savior many places, and have seen him in many lights, as the divine Son of God speaking with power and authority, as the great Physician tirelessly working his miracles of healing and deliverance, and as a man of deep and perfect human emotions, angry with the hypocrites, compassionate to the helpless, weeping with the bereaved. But never before have we seen the depths of sorrow that Jesus would plummet this night, as abandoned by all his friends, betrayed by him who ate at his table, and assailed by all the forces of darkness he cried out to his Father whom he had always pleased in every way, and received from him only the answer that he must indeed drink to its dregs the bitter cup of wrath. Oh, who will not mourn with him, this fairest among ten thousand, who deserves nothing but the infinite joy of the ever-blessed Godhead, but willingly takes into his bosom instead the greatest suffering that all the accumulated sins of mankind have ever merited? Wonder of wonders, that the God of the universe should become a man of sorrows! And wonder of wonders, ah, how far beyond words, that he should do so for us. Let the hardest heart of stone break into a million pieces, and melt into tears of sorrow and gratitude for all that this man has become, sharing in our infirmities so that we might share in his glory!

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November 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

God's Grace in the Gospel - not just necessary but sufficient

The Reformers of the 16th Century called the Church back to the one true Biblical Gospel: With Scripture alone as the firm foundation they affirmed that justification is by God's grace alone, received through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.

In contrast with the Reformers, Rome believed (then as well as now) that justification is by grace, through faith and because of Christ, and issued an anathema on those who affirmed that faith alone justifies (at the Council of Trent). However, it is the little word "alone" that identifies the one true biblical Gospel and all other pretenders as false gospels. What Rome does not believe is that justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. For Rome, justification is by grace plus merit, through faith plus works; by Christ plus the sinner's contribution of inherent righteousness. Dr. James White addresses this theme in clear terms in a quote taken from his blog at, November 14, 2007

How can one say "faith alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone" and then say "propitiatory Mass that never perfects, grace mediated through Mary, temporal punishments, purgatory, and satispassio"? Or to return to the Galatian context, what basis does anyone have to believe that one can say "faith alone in an all sufficient Christ" and "circumcision necessary to have true faith in Christ" at the same time without involving such a contradiction as to render words meaningless? What is it about the Galatian heresy that rendered its proponents anathema that is not present in the pantheon of Roman additions to the gospel? How many times does Rome have to say "no, no, faith alone is not sufficient, you need sacraments, you need the priesthood, you need indulgences, confessions, penances, and a never-perfecting re-presentation of Calvary" before she catches up with the Judaizers in Galatia?... If you can't tell the difference between "faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone to the glory of God alone" and Rome's man-centered, peace-robbing, soul-destroying "gospel," then God has not spoken, He has not even mumbled, and we are of all men most to be pitied.

November 14, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

New Titles at Monergism Books 11/07


Some long awaited titles are now available at Monergism Books.

The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism by Craig R. Brown
Forward by R.C. Sproul

The Geneva Bible: 1560 Edition (Hardback)
by Hendrickson Publishers

Rediscovering Catechism: The Art of Equipping Covenant Children
Donald Van Dyken (Author)

World of Difference, A: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test
Kenneth Richard Samples

November 13, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

If the Gospel wasn't clear and we couldn't actually know what it was...

If the Gospel was not clear and we could not know it was... then Paul was so very wrong in writing as he did to the churches of Galatia. If theological precision and accuracy concerning the nature of the Gospel is not particularly important for unity amongst "brothers", then it would follow that the following imaginary letter to Paul would needed to have been written (found at Dr. James White's web site) to correct his extreme narrow mindedness:

Dear Paul:

In reviewing your letter to the churches of Galatia, we, the modern men of the 21st century, have come to the conclusion that you truly missed the point in your very pointed and, may we say, unloving comments regarding the faithful brothers with whom you had but a minor theological difference. We are in particular offended that you would identify men who clearly confess faith in Christ and who have risked their lives for their faith "false brethren." Who are you to make such a harsh judgment, in light of their many evidences of faith? These men are Christians, and to call them false brethren is a serious sin! You are bearing false witness against them! And to dare to read the intentions of their hearts so as to say they were "sneaking" into the fellowship is simply beyond the pale. You should be ashamed of yourself! All you disagree on is a minor point of theology! They believe in Christ! They believe in His resurrection! They simply believe one should be circumcised so as to be a part of the covenant people of God! How narrow of you to exclude them from the fellowship of faith simply on the basis of such a minor thing as this! Why won't you focus upon the areas of agreement you have? Why focus only upon differences, the negatives? Don't you realize you will never win people to your views if you continue to act in this fashion? We seriously request that you apologize to the faithful brothers you anathematized in your ill-advised letter to the churches of Galatia. By this, true peace and unity might be achieved!

Selah (stop, think and meditate) - with Scripture alone as our firm foundation we affirm that justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone. - JS

November 12, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Grace Fuels Ethics

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” [Exodus 1:15-22]

Probably one of the first things you think when reading this text is: "Wait a second… the midwives told a lie. That's bad, right? But it helped them out, so does that mean it's okay to lie to accomplish good?" This is a confusing ethical dilemma, and the essence of it is familiar to many of us. Is it okay to break the law of God in order to bring about "the greater good?" Does the end justify the means, when the means are obviously sin in themselves? If my boss wants me to conduct business dishonestly, and threatens my job security if I don't comply, should I do it? What if my marriage or the lives of my children depend on it? Do I lie to get ahead in life, or preserve my life, or even to preserve the lives of others? Do I cheat, steal, or otherwise go against God's character and expressed will, because the outcome will be better than if I don't?

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November 11, 2007  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (45 – His High-Priestly Prayer)

These things Jesus spoke, and lifting up his eyes unto heaven, he said, “Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son in order that the Son might glorify you, even as you gave to him authority over all flesh, in order that all which you have given to him, he might give to them eternal life; and this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. – John 17:1-3

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest, having offered a sacrifice for his own sins and the sins of the people, would bring the blood of the sacrifice into the Holy Place, and place it upon the horns of the altar of incense, the smoke of which would ascend before God; and then, he would pass through the veil into the Holy of holies, bringing the blood of the sacrifice to the mercy seat, and thus atoning for the sins of the people (See Leviticus 16). In this circumstance, we see that the sacrifice was not considered effective until it had been joined with the intercession of the High Priest: the smoke from the blood which the priest placed upon the altar of incense rose up before God as a symbol of his prayers in behalf of the people, on the basis of the sacrifice that he had made for them; and only then did God accept his offering. But in the continual observance of this Day of Atonement, year after year, together with the ongoing presence of the veil, we see that no sacrifice and no high-priestly prayer had yet been finally sufficient to atone for the people's sins, and bring them into God's presence. There still remained the need both for a perfect sacrifice and a perfect High Priest, who could join his effective intercession with his sufficient offering, and thus tear down the veil which barred men from entering God's presence forevermore. As we look to our account today, let us rejoice in Jesus our High Priest, who joined his effective pleas with his perfect blood, and so rendered our salvation doubly secure!

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November 09, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Growth Update

Thank you for continuing to use the vast resources available at God has graciously blessed us over the past several years by increasing the traffic more than we anticipated. By order of magnitude, it has now become the largest Reformed website on the Internet (having 10s of thousands of links to valuable resources). This has now exploded into various side projects such as the Hall of Contemporary Reformers, TakeUpAndRead ((book reviews), China Christian Books (Free Reformed Essays in Chinese), and our disount retail online store Monergism Books and several other new surprise projects that are soon-to-be-launched.

If you are considering supporting this ministry, remember that you can do so simply by purchasing books & resources at our newly designed store. Today there are many new items we have put on deep discount in our sale section. Take note that one of our most popular sellers, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges and its study guide are now available again after the first printing sales were exhausted at the publisher. We are also building a section for recommended Christmas gift bundles. Peace on Earth

J.W. Hendryx

November 09, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Understanding 1 John 2:2

From the archives on this blog (from October 2005) by Rev. John Samson

Many of you know something of my struggle in coming to understand and appreciate the doctrines of grace. One of the biggest hurdles I encountered was my traditional understanding of 1 John 2:2. For a long time, it acted much like a roadblock in my thinking, preventing me from believing what I now consider to be the clear and consistent teaching of scripture.

How are we to understand the verse then?

Let me start by affirming that scripture is explicit in saying that Jesus died:

for God's people ("He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of My people" - Isaiah 53:8; "He shall save His people from their sins" - Matt. 1:21);

for His sheep ("I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." - John 10:11 - note that Jesus categorically states that some are not His sheep - "but you do not believe because you are not My sheep." - John 10:26)

for His friends ("Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you." - John 15:13-14;

for the Church ("... the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood." - Acts 20:28; "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her..." - Eph. 5:25, 26).

Indeed, as God allows us to gain a glimpse into the future, Revelation 5:9 reveals the song of the throngs of heaven as they sing to the Lamb upon His throne, "And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Notice that it does not say that He ransomed everybody in every tribe, etc., but that He ransomed people for God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

Yet at least at first glance, 1 John 2:2 seems to strongly deny this idea that Jesus' death was designed for a particular people. The verse states, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

I don't believe that scripture contradicts itself. That is in fact why we are told to study the word of God in order that we might rightly divide it (2 Tim. 2:15) rather than simply throw up our hands saying a particular verse contradicts others on the same subject. "All Scripture is God breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16) and because there is one Divine Author of Scripture who does not contradict Himself, I am convinced that hard work and careful study will eliminate apparent contradictions.

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November 09, 2007  |  Comments (24)   |  Permalink

Scratching the surface

J.W. Hendryx

Our society has become increasingly characterized by a victim mentality ... ... and this became even more painfully obvious to me after returning from living in Asia for 10 years. The cultural contrast in this respect could not be more stark. The most obvious place in our society that we see this are the endless frivolous lawsuits that take place every day. But it begins at an individual level and I have been thinking about what some of the causes of this are. I have concluded that one of the largest contributors to the victim mentality is popular psychology. It tends to view most personal problems as the result of the way we were treated by our parents when we grew up. We are simply victims that just need to look inwardly at self and our childhood and we can begin to solve our issues, as the prevailing wisdom goes. But may I suggest that this seems to be a VERY superficial way of looking at the nature of things.

Consider this: when you squeeze something, what is inside tends to come out. If man were by nature good, then when he was squeezed we would expect only good to come out. If he is by nature corrupt and wicked, then we would expect dirt to come out. As we know, the Scripture asserts that our life apart from God is a polluted well, so when that water is brought up to the surface we can only expect to find polluted water. No doubt there is good intermingled since we were created in God's image, but a little bit of pollution has poisioned whole well. This is why the excessive introspection of popular psychology can only point to symptoms but not the disease. Left to himself, man remains the same and will never, of himself, issue fresh water, so to speak.

If you doubt this logic, consider this: Jesus was squeezed from all sides, more than any of us will ever be, and yet, what came out was living water ... that which is true, beautiful and good. What happens to us on the outside does not make us who we are, it only helps reveal what is already there. So the solution is not excessive introspection or having a psychologist only tell you that you are the way you are because of some traumatic childhood experience. This will only lead to a victim mentality, a society that shirks responsibility and always looks for someone to blame. Sound familiar? This is where we live folks and it needs to be exposed for the fraudulent religion that it is. Don't buy into it but let your mind be transformed by the word of God.

The solution is to take the advice (or command, rather) of Jesus Christ to take ownership of our sin ... Confess it and abide in Him. We will never defeat the world, the flesh or the devil of our own fleshly powers. They are all stronger than us by nature. But in Christ we are impregnable against such things because he has already overcome them. As we learn to abide in Him rather than wallow in our selves while gazing at our own navels, then, in His presence, it exposes us for who we really are and there is a Hand to pull us out of the mire. We have no hope save in the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. Chrisitanity is not a moral improvement or behavior modification program. It is about taking off the old self and clothing oneself with Jesus Christ. Its about replacment, not self-help. Psychology cannot save you, nor can your weak will. Take hold of Christ and yield to His providence in all things. Drink at His well daily, and then, when you are squeezed, a well bubbling up to eternal life will spill out and overflow to those the Lord puts in your life.

November 08, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Choosing to Believe and Luther's Bondage of the Will


Hi, I just came across your site, after trying to understand Luther and his ideologies, and something about these quotes confuses me: [after reading this article] If he is saying that accepting Christ as your savior is sufficient to receive God's grace, does he not discount the fact that CHOOSING to accept the sacrifice of Jesus is in and of itself, an action?


Hi Mike ... Yes, choosing Christ is an action but faith and choice do not spring from an unrenewed heart. God must renew the heart if we are to believe and obey the gospel. Apart from the Holy Spirit no one natually comes to faith in Christ.

The new birth is not a decision you make. Whoever you are, however you came to Jesus Christ, is because God has done a supernatural work of grace in your heart. That is why we pray for unbelievers because they would never come on their own.

Notice the order of grace in the following passage:
Ezekiel 36:25-27 says 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Likewise Jesus teaches that no one can believe in him unless first God grants it (John 6:65) and ALL that God grants will believe (John 6:37). Luther's wrote Bondage of the Will to point out that the Bible teaches that we are morally unable to obey any of God's commands, including the command to believe, apart from a supernatural work of grace in the heart of the unregenerate.

Hope this helps

November 06, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Sound Advice for Studying Theology at Home

No Time for Seminary? Here is some sound advice for studying theology at home. Due to the compromising theological climate at many modern seminaries, we believe that if you take the time to carefully read the following materials you will get a better theological education than 90% of seminary graduates. Click on the following links if you are interested in learning more or want to purchase any of these books.

Theology 101 Bundle: Beginner-level Curriculum
This bundle includes the following 7 books:
1) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
2) According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy
3) The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
4) The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
5) Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
6) Knowing God (paperback) by J. I. Packer
7) What is Reformed Theology? by R. C. Sproul

Theology 301 Bundle: Intermediate-level Curriculum
This bundle includes the following 6 books:
1) Westminster Confession of Faith
2) A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson
3) The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson
4) The Lord's Prayer (paperback) by Thomas Watson
5) Outlines of Theology by A. A. Hodge
6) An Old Testament Theology by Bruce K. Waltke

We suggest you read the books listed above in the following order: 1) Westminster Confession of Faith: a) the Shorter Catechism; b) the Larger Catechism; c) the Confession; 2) A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson; 3) The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson; 4) The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson; 5) Outlines of Theology by A. A. Hodge; & 6) An Old Testament Theology by Bruce K. Waltke.

Theology 501 Bundle: Advanced-level Curriculum
The Bundle includes the following seven items
1) A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (2nd ed.) by Robert L. Reymond
2) Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos
3) The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther
4) Overcoming Sin & Temptation by John Owen (edited by Kelly M. Kapic & Justin Taylor)
5) The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
6) God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton
7) Institutes of Elenctic Theology (3 vol. set) by Francis Turretin

November 05, 2007  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Spurgeon Quote

My dear friends, after all, the kicking against the doctrine of election is a kicking against the gospel, because this doctrine is a first principle in the divine plan of mercy, and when rightly known, it prepares our minds to receive all the other doctrines. Or on the contrary, misunderstand this, and you are pretty sure to make mistakes about all the rest.

Take for instance final perseverance; some men say, "If we continue in faith, and if we continue in holiness, we shall certainly be saved at last." Do you not see at once that this is legality—that this is hanging our salvation upon our work—that this is making our eternal life to depend on something we do?

Nay, the doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works, lifted up; for he always thinks faith is a work of the creature and a condition of his acceptance. It is as false to say that man is saved by faith as a work, as that he is saved by the deeds of the law. We are saved by faith as the gift of God, and as the first token of his eternal favor to us; but it is not faith as our work that saves, otherwise we are saved by works, and not by grace at all.

If you need any argument upon this point, I refer you to our great apostle Paul, who so constantly combats the idea that works and grace can ever be united together, for he argues, "If it be of grace, then it is no more of works otherwise grace were no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more of grace, otherwise work is no more work."

C. H. Spurgeon - from "Effects of Sound Doctrine," a sermon delivered Sunday evening, April 22nd, 1860, at New Park Street Chapel.

November 02, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (44 – His Last Supper)

And while they were eating, Jesus took bread, and having blessed it, he broke it, and after giving it to the disciples, he said, “Take, eat; this is my body”. And he took the cup, and having blessed it, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the New Covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. And I say unto you, that from now on, I will no longer drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new in the Kingdom of my Father”. – Matthew 26:26-29

Oh, how many a weary sinner, after having been born again through the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), has soon found himself in desperate straits once more, hard-pressed by his besetting sins, dirtied with the filth of the world, hungering and thirsting after the true righteousness which he had tasted of before, and apart from which he can no longer be satisfied! To such a weary pilgrim, as each of us has more than once been, there is no more welcome sight than a table spread in the wilderness with that richest of all feasts, the broken body of Christ, through which comes nourishment, sustenance, forgiveness, and true righteousness; and the wine of his blood, bringing peace, joy, and covenant-life. Let us rejoice at this marvelous dispensation of grace, and make earnest and frequent use of it! A child having just been born has life indeed, but he will not be long sustained without his necessary food; and so a child having been born into the family of God, which birth is symbolized by baptism, in which he is united with Christ in his death and resurrection, still has a daily and pressing need to be sustained with the body and blood of Christ throughout the time of his pilgrimage home. Baptism signifies the impartation of life, and the Lord's table the sustenance and nourishment of that same life; and we cannot do long without this necessary means of grace. Let us then look to the account of our Lord's last supper with great joy, and recognizing those great realities that he holds forth in the bread and the cup, to us as well as those first disciples, let us be diligent to observe the same as often as we gather together with the body of Christ; for in doing so, we will be vivified and strengthened with true righteousness and spiritual life.

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November 02, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink