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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)

Images of the Savior (8 -- Abraham's Victory and Melchizedek's Blessing)

And Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out bread and wine (now, he was the priest of the Most High God), and he blessed him, and he said, “Blessed be Abram by the Most High God, the Possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your enemies into your hand”. And he gave to him a tenth of everything. – Genesis 14:18-20

In the next episode of Abraham's life, in which he arises in behalf of Lot, his nephew, who had been taken captive by Chedorlaomer and the other kings with him, and wins a very great victory over this confederation of kings, slaughtering them in the valley of Shaveh, and thereafter, is blessed by Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, we may discern two very notable images of the coming Savior: for first of all, Abraham's slaughter of the kings is a type of the Messiah's later victory, in several specific instances; but even more notable yet is the image of the Savior which we encounter in the person of Melchizedek, who stands out as one of the foremost types of Christ in all the Old Testament. From these two related events, Abraham's victory and Melchizedek's bringing a blessing, we will now see what we may learn of Abraham's Seed, who is our great High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (8 -- Abraham's Victory and Melchizedek's Blessing)" »

May 30, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Ben Stein Interview)

If you have not already seen this interview of Ben Stein (conducted by R. C. Sproul) it is very well worth seeing found here. Stein exposes the great cover up in academic circles regarding evolution and the lengths that are gone to to eradicate all talk of intelligent design in the movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." The interview last approximately 27 minutes.

May 29, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The mind of the author...

From Nine Marks Ministries, a very insightful interview between host Mark Dever and R. C. Sproul (back in 2005). Their topic was "Theology & Books" with R.C. sharing his thoughts regarding many of his books. Here are some of the topics and their corresponding time codes:

03:40 -- R.C. Sproul the Writer
11:22 -- Dever's suggestions of where to get started with R.C.'s books
16:42 -- How would you define total depravity?
17:47 -- Why is it important for pastors to get a hold of [total depravity] directly today?
19:05 -- One of the things I appreciate about your writings is you take depravity seriously. So many popular Christian authors out there are telling people that they should have better self-esteem, and that they should feel good. They're kind of therapeutic. You don't do that at all. You wrote one back in the eighties called The Hunger for Significance. Do you want to talk about that book for just a moment?
25:59 -- The Holiness of God. You were writing this because you thought people were just misunderstanding God. They had too high a view of man and too low a view of God.
28:30 -- You wrote [a book] on the heart of Reformed theology called Grace Unknown. (Now titled What is Reformed Theology?)
29:30 -- Willing to Believe, the controversy over free will.
30:50 -- The Dark Side of Islam
31:55 -- What's the basic idea behind unconditional election?
32:55 -- You talk about unconditional election in Chosen by God, which you think might be your most important book. Why did you write this back in 1986?
34:17 -- Much more recently you wrote Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie that Binds Evangelicals Together. This was essentially because of some of the confusion in the evangelical community because of the document Evangelicals & Catholics Together.
35:55 -- While we're thinking about the Gospel, tell us about the atonement. What is the atonement?
38:20 -- The Glory of Christ

Books on Apologetics (43:33)
43:47 -- If There's a God, Why are There Atheists?
44:23 -- Reason to Believe
44:59 -- Explaining Inerrancy and Knowing Scripture
45:15 -- Ethics and the Christian (currently out-of-print)
45:55 -- Classical Apologetics
46:33 -- Lifeviews
46:50 -- The Mystery of the Holy Spirit
47:20 -- Not a Chance
48:28 -- Choosing My Religion
48:47 -- The Consequences of Ideas
49:15 -- Defending Your Faith
49:47 -- Last doctrine to ask you about: perseverance of the saints. I'm a Southern Baptist, and that doctrine is abused when some friends talk about "once saved, always saved," and I'm scared that they've never been saved in the first place. But (perseverance) is a precious doctrine. You want to spell it out for us?

Books on the Christian life (51:50)
52:06 -- Knowing Scripture
52:27 -- God's Will and the Christian
52:56 -- Pleasing God (currently out-of-print)
53:32 -- Surprised by Suffering (currently out-of-print)
54:00 -- The Invisible Hand
54:28 -- The Last Days According to Jesus
56:13 -- Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow (currently out-of-print)
56:30 -- When Worlds Collide

57:13 -- What things do you most appreciate about the current scene in American evangelicalism?
57:34 -- What things are you most concerned about?

You can hear the interview here.

May 28, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Maintaining Certainty While Respecting Others

As with all inconsistent worldviews, there is a certain degree of truth in what is being said by emergent postmoderns [regarding certainty]. We must acknowledge that many people have historically used certainty for oppression and power. Even many persons who claim the name of Christ have done so. But could this not be said of any position, including the emergent position against certainty itself? Emergents are quite "certain" of their position of uncertainty and want others to believe it as well. It seems to be central to their gospel dogma, which has affirmations and denials and a missionary force, just like every other creed. If they are certain of the "dogma of uncertainty" then isn't it also fair to ask if they are not using this position as an attempt to gain power over others? And since certainty is impossible to avoid at some level, rather than pretend that we are free from it, it is a better question to ask how we can maintain certainty without oppressing others. I think THAT is the question we must ask. How can I respectfully engage with others in the culture and still maintain ardent faithfulness to Christ? And the answer to this question is actually in the gospel itself (how it affects me if I really understand it): The "grace narrative" rather then the "moral improvement narrative", as Tim Keller likes to call it. As long as we think we must judge ourselves by our morals, then we always compare ourselves to others, and boasting is the inevitable consequence. But when we come to understand the gospel of free grace, as we should, then all pretence falls away because I see myself as I really am ... a sinner who justly deserves the wrath of God save for Christ's mercy alone. In fact, there are many people (skeptics) out there who may be better morally than I am. Therefore I can have a real degree of solidarity with everyone; with the poor, the disenfranchised, the criminal, because that's me, if left to myself. It is the grace of God ALONE that makes me to differ, and so what free grace does is that it makes it so that I can only point to Jesus and what He has done for me, for there never will be someting I can point to in myself which makes me superior to others in light of God's majesty and holiness. The emerging church may be right to point out that modern fundamentalism wields power in unflattering ways, but it was not because of its certainty, but rather because of its semi-pelagian roots: its' belief deep down that it is better than others. But the gospel of grace is the great equalizer which shows me that I am simply a beggar pointing out to other beggars where they might find bread. So a robust Calvinistic understanding of the sovereignty of God and the finished work of Jesus on our behalf would go a long way in recovering the gospel which is essentilly lost in most modern evangelicalism, including the emerging church. Yes. the church has historically sought power in unbiblical ways. So the problem of power is one we must deal with but it is not because of our certainty, but because we were certain about the wrong things. Again, Tim Keller likes to point out that fundamentalism is not the problem of wars in the world. "Just look at the Amish", he says. It is the wrong fundamentalism that causes wars and oppression, not fundamentalism itself. So the answer is to be more certain and faithful to the gospel, not less.

Excerpt from Deconstructing Uncertainty

May 27, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind

Reformation21 has posted a review Dr. Sproul just finished of prominent atheist-turned-theist Antony Flew's new book There Is A God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

Read the entire review here .

May 26, 2008  |  Comments (13)   |  Permalink

China Earthquake Relief

Friends, there are millions of Chinese homeless because of the May 12 earthquake. Here is a summary article about the disaster. Here is where you can donate online to the PCA's Mission to the World relief effort as your heart is moved.

May 24, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (7 -- Abraham's Sojourn in Egypt)

And Yahweh smote Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife; and Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not reveal to me that she is your wife? Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her unto me for a wife? So now, behold your wife: take her and go”. – Genesis 12:17-19

Given the unique status of the patriarch Abraham, who was called out to be the first in the line of the people of God, and the father of all those who should later believe, and from whom it was also said that the promised Seed of the woman should come, it is to be expected that his life should prefigure and anticipate the life of the faithful, that is, of the Church as a whole and all her members in particular, and most especially, the life of Christ himself, the Seed through whom he would inherit his eternal blessing. And as we study the life of Abraham, after his first calling, with this principle in mind, we are eminently justified in our supposition; for the first account we are given of his subsequent life, in which he is driven to sojourn in Egypt by a fierce famine, is very much like the later history of God's people, and also foreshadows the life of Christ himself. In what ways this is so, how Abraham's experiences are a type both of the Church's journey to paradise and of the Messiah's work of redemption, we will now make clear.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (7 -- Abraham's Sojourn in Egypt)" »

May 23, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Finally Alive: What Happens When We are Born Again

On his recent leave, among other projects John Piper completed a book called "Finally Alive: What Happens When We are Born Again" - A book about the miracle of sovereign, regenerating grace, and how God makes the gospel of Christ the means of raising the spiritually dead. I hope that showing that the new birth is not in our control helps make pastors and other Christians desperate for the supernatural in their ministries.

Since this a close subject to our heart at Monergism.com we eagerly anticipate its release.

May 22, 2008  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Jesus, Example or Savior?

Here are two fine quotes from andrew purves' "reconstructing pastoral theology"

"To be clear: union with Christ does not lead to an imitation of Christ, a life spent following Jesus’ example in the hope that we will become better people. The Christian life is not to be understood as obedience to either an ethical imperative or a spiritual ideal. Rather, the Christian life is the radical and converting participation in Jesus Christ’s own being and life, and thus a sharing in his righteousness, holiness, and mission through the bond of the Holy Spirit."

"Note, too, the emphasis I place on the work of the Holy Spirit. Union with Christ is entirely a work of God. Our human acts, beliefs, and decisions are powerless to effect a relationship with God. John Calvin understood that our deepest self had to become reconfigured and reconstituted or, to use his words, “regenerated” or “vivified,” through related to Jesus Christ. … God must reorder us be turning us in a new direction be uniting us to Jesus. So our being and becoming Christian is a divine initiative and not something that can be worked out through heightened religiosity, morality, activity, will, or spirituality. We are conjoined to Christ by the unilateral work of God though the Holy Spirit – to effect what Calvin called a “mystical union.”"

For further reading on this, you might be interested in a new essay Nathan and I co-wrote called Deconstructing Uncertainty which critiques the Emergent claims that faithfulness is to be pursued over against certainty

May 21, 2008  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

I would value your prayers...

I would value your prayers for today (Wednesday) and Friday as I have the opportunity of hosting a live 2 hour Christian radio call in show at KPXQ 1360AM in the Greater Phoenix area. The normal host of the program (Andrew Tallman) is away on vacation and has asked me to fill in for him for these two evenings.

The show consists of a 10-12 minute teaching segment that I will do (at the start of each hour) and then people can call in with comments and questions. I am told that up to 20,000 people are listening in at any given moment. Please pray that the word of God will go forth clearly and boldly and that I would have the grace and wisdom to handle any questions from the callers.

Though the radio station can only be heard in Arizona, should you be interested, you can also hear both shows live as they air from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Arizona time) on the internet here. - John Samson

May 21, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

May Giveaway - Win a $200 Shopping Spree

Challies.com and Monergism Books pair up to give away some great prizes

This month’s prizes will actually let you build your own prize. We’re giving away gift certificates that are redeemable for anything you’d like to buy from Monergism Books—books, Bibles, commentaries, DVDs, t-shirts, music, tracts…whatever catches your eye.

First prize: $200 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.
Second prize: $75 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.
Third Prize: $35 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.

Click Here to learn More

May 21, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus - the Powerful and Perfect Savior

Dr. James White's 10 minute closing statement in a debate with George Bryson on Calvinism.

May 19, 2008  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

A Call to Revolution

It is the year 2008. The gospel has been spreading and the Kingdom of Christ has been growing for nearly two thousand years. But not without setbacks. For almost a thousand years, in the middle ages, the gospel was slowly obscured by the corruptions of a satanically-influenced medieval church. The light was almost entirely extinguished. But then God raised up a man, shaken to the core by a sudden insight into the inexpressably glorious truth proclaimed in Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith,” and the whole world was again turned upside down with the divine power of the gospel. Two hundred years later, when hypocrisy and self-motivated will-religion had nearly swallowed up the good effects of the Reformation, a diverse and unlikely group of men, including John Bunyan, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and even John and Charles Wesley trumpeted the joyful news that once again shook up the sleeping world, and fueled a missions movement that has reached across the globe for the sake of the Name. And now, more than two hundred years later, the gospel that has once more been attacked and suppressed, and has given way on many fronts to the false gospels of prosperity, self-esteem, inclusivism, and tolerance, is on the rise again. The heavenly insights of Edwards, Owen, and others on the sovereignty of God, his unconquerable grace, and the joy which his glory produces in those who are his has fueled another generation of outnumbered but unfailingly victorious men and women ready to give up their lives for the King. A last, great missions-minded movement is preparing for a final thrust into the heart of unconquered territories, and the trumpet sound which announces that the kingdoms of this world are the kingdoms of our Savior can almost be heard.

Continue reading "A Call to Revolution" »

May 17, 2008  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

John 3:16 - Exposing our Traditions

I wrote a short article on this verse some time back. In one section I wrote: It may come as a big surprise to learn that in the original Greek of John 3:16, there is no word "whoever." The word "whoever" is expressing a phrase in Greek which is difficult to express smoothly in English.

Literally, the text reads "in order that every the one believing in Him, not to perish, but have everlasting life." It says "every" or "all the one believing..." That's hard to express in English, but in essence, it is saying "all the believing ones." That's what is being communicated. It is saying that there is no such thing as a believing one who does not receive eternal life, but who perishes. Though our English translation says "whoever believes" the literal rendering is accurately translated as "every believing one" and the emphasis is NOT AT ALL on the "whosoever" but on the belief. The ones BELIEVING will not have one consequence but will have another. They will not perish but will have everlasting life.

Why? Because of the main verb - because God GAVE His Son. God gave His Son for the purpose (Greek: hina) that every believing one should not perish, but that every believing one should have everlasting life.

The text (John 3:16) actually speaks of a limitation of a particular rather than a universal redemption, for clearly, not everyone will be saved, but only those who believe in Christ. The Father gave His Son for the purpose of those who believe. The Son is given so that the believing ones will not perish, but opposite to that, have eternal life. That is the purpose of the giving.

So, what John 3:16 teaches is:
ALL who do A (believe in Him)
will not B (perish)
but will have C (everlasting life)

What does this text tell us about who WILL believe or who CAN believe? The answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! The text does not address the issue of who WILL believe or who CAN believe.

However, if you do want to know John's view on who CAN exercise faith, he does deal with that question - just not in this text. If you go back a few verses in the chapter to John 3:3, John quotes Jesus as saying "unless a man is born again he CANNOT enter the kingdom of God." That's clear isn't it?

full article here...

May 16, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"WHOSOEVER"

Visitor: You still must someday deal with the achilles heal of your theology. How do you reconcile "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Begotten Son the WHOSOEVER believes in Him will have eternal life" with a theology that believes God creates the vast majority of creation for the singular purpose of eternally damning them and their doom is sealed by the nature they were born with?

Response:
"For God so loved the world that He gave his only Begotten Son the WHOSOEVER believes in Him will have eternal life."

Friend, this is a passage from Scripture itself and I believe it just as it is written. WHOSOEVER believes the gospel will be saved. Anyone who's faith is in Jesus Christ, their sins are forgiven and they have eternal life. The misunderstanding here, I believe, is that you have failed to read the passage in its context. The passage (John 3) goes on to say, but men loved darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light ... those who do show what has been done is wrought by God. And prior to this same text is reads "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) Which means that they "were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). "so then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom 9:16)

Continue reading ""WHOSOEVER"" »

May 16, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (6 -- The Promise Made to Abraham)

And Yahweh said to Abram, “Go from your land and from your kindred and from the house of your father, unto the land which I shall show you; and I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you, and all the families of the earth will be blessed in you.” – Genesis 12:1-3

Of all the promises and foreshadows of the coming of Christ and his accomplishing his mighty work of redemption, there is none in all the Old Testament that is more foundational than the promise made to Abraham, when God called him out from the land of his people and brought him into the land of Canaan, and there entered into a solemn covenant with him, promising to be his God and his exceeding great reward. This calling and promise was so monumental as thoroughly to govern the course of redemptive history from that point on, and to shape forever afterward the nature and substance of the blessings which the promised Christ's redemption should provide. Thus it is that, at the conclusion of the history of God's redeeming his people, the final proclamation, sealing up every blessing and fulfilling every promise, will come in these words: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and he shall be God with them, their God” (Revelation 21:3). This is a conclusion that was most explicitly marked out in the calling of Abraham, and serves only as the actual accomplishment of all that was promised at that time; and at the heart of that promise, we see Christ himself, who should become “Immanuel,” that is, “God with us,” and so provide in himself the substance of every good thing which God had covenanted to give to Abraham and his offspring. It would certainly behove us, therefore, to look in more detail at this monumental occasion, in which the promise of a conquering Seed takes on a history-shaping clarity and significance.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (6 -- The Promise Made to Abraham)" »

May 16, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What was in C. S. Lewis' mind as he was writing the Chronicles of Narnia?

As the movie "Prince Caspian" starts to play in movie theaters in America today, it is very interesting to discover exactly what was in the mind of C. S. Lewis as he penned the book (of the same title) and the seven book series of which it is a part, known as "the Chronicles of Narnia." Dr. Leland Ryken has written a short but insightful article on this subject here that is well worth reading.

May 16, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Thou Shall Not Steal

Where does you tax money go?

Economist M. Stanton Evans writes: "The principle beneficiaries of the money absorbed and dispensed by government are not poor blacks in ghettos or Appalachian whites or elderly pensioners receiving Social Security checks...The major beneficiaries, instead, are the employess of government itself--people engaged in administering some real or imagined service to the underprivileged or, as the case may be, the overprivileged ...the gross effect of increased government spending is to transfer money away from relatively low income people -- average taxpayers who must pay the bills--to relatively high income people--Federal functionaries who are being paid out of the taxpayer's pocket...the two richest counties in the United States are...Montgomery County Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia--principal bedroom communities for Federal Workers in Washington D.C." Ronald Nash, referring to the statement of the prominent black economist Walter E. Williams, that in 1979 the U.S. was spending $250 billion annually "just to fight poverty," responds: "Had this amount of money been distributed equally to all families below the poverty level, each of them would have received an annual payment of $34,000."
- M Stanton Evans and Walter E. Williams quoted by Ron Nash in Economic Justice and the State

May 15, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

What I am Reading

Last Month Completed Reading:

The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World
David F. Wells (Author)

Law of Perfect Freedom: Relating to God and Others Through the Ten Commandments
by Michael Horton

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright

Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)
by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck

Currently Reading
The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations
Michael W. Holmes (Author & Translator)

The Fear of God by John Bunyan (we are going through this in our men's group)

May 15, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

"We should read old books" - John Piper

In a recent posting by John Piper on how he decides which books to read, he ends by saying this...

I don't think we ought to be reading new books all the time. I think we should read old books. And then the question is whether time and history has proven them. There are some books that have been around forever, and they are, generation after generation, witnessed to as being very shaping to people's lives. So I think we should constantly be exposing ourselves to those classics and not always reading the latest thing.

So I recommend reading 1) things that relate to the passions of your life, 2) recommendations from people that are responsible and that you respect, and 3) time-proven, classic, deep works on various issues.

What are two or three classics that you would recommend to just about anyone?

The Bible, the most proven and most useful book, should be in your reading list every day.

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. Everybody, I think, who can read English can benefit from working their way through that. In my own life I put The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards very high up the list. And for those with a really strong theological bent, The Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards. [Some other] massively influential books in my life:

Bondage of the Will, by Martin Luther.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

The Mortification of Sin and Communion with God by John Owen.

May 14, 2008  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

My Sin Makes Me Worry If I am Really Saved

Once in a while I will receive an email like the following from someone who is worried that some sin they have committed may have crossed the place of no return to God's favor.

Visitor: Even after I was sealed for the day of redemption, I still have sinned against God. I continue to fight addicting sin(s), and though most of the time I defeat the sin, sometimes I foolishly give in to it. I'm so sorry that I have given in to foolish and sinful lusts, and all I want to do is to cast away those actions forever, and to be forgiven, and sin no more. But I don't know if I am saved anymore, because I have really been scared that my repentance is not true, because I have again sinned, and that God has cast me away. Please help me, because I am very scared. I want to be forgiven and be different.

Response: Your sin is not greater than Christ's grace and work. Having been united to Christ, the Spirit of adoption can come to you no more with a Spirit of bondage and fear because in Christ you no longer stand in your own sins, merit or performances, but are clothed in His righteousness. Becaue of Jesus you are already on the other side of justice and it can no longer have you (Rom 8:1). No condemnation for you in Christ for the full justice of God has been satisfied. Christ's once for all sacrifice means there is no longer necessary a sacrifice for sin year after year (as in Leviticus) but now His atoning work is sufficient for all time for you before God. Remember, you can neither attain, nor maintain, your right standing before God. You never did and never will, for sin cannot disolve the covenant which God has graciously granted you in Christ. Now as always, our only hope is Jesus Christ. When God justified you, He did not then, and does not now, look at you but rather, at the covenant He made with you in Christ. Consider, when God made the covenant of grace with Abraham, God made Abraham sleep and God himself walked through the divided animals and so promised to take on Himself the punishment if Abraham did not fulfill his side of the covenant. And so it was, the seed of Abraham (that's us) all failed to keep the covenant and so God Himself came in the flesh to fully bear up the punishment we justly deserve for not keeping our side of it. Jesus Kept it for us. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves, from our side. We are justified for His sake, not for anything God sees in us or will see in us.

Continue reading "My Sin Makes Me Worry If I am Really Saved" »

May 14, 2008  |  Comments (21)   |  Permalink

Are We Trusting Gov't for Social Justice

The weak, the fatherless and single women are especially vulnerable to being overpowered by the faceless arbitrary powers around them, especially in our present fragmented society. The defenseless are subject to the greatest creulty. And while the law of the land usally does something to protect the weak, it does so imperfectly. In fact it woefully falls short in what must be done to help and without any personal touch. That is where the church comes in since the government cannot substitute sufficiently. Just as God has freed us from our captivity from the savages of sin and given us great dignity so we are to treat the weak and helpless. The government can never really substitute for a father and likewise the church should consider these things when it go out to help others, to be a father to them. Do not simply rely on a government bureaucracy to take care of these things for you. Our personal involvement in them will make a much greater impact in their lives than a system for their good.

The fatherless are without someone who was intended to be in their lives. There was no one there to point the way, to nurture, protect and provided for them. Do not simply count on your tax money to help from a distance but get involved with the most vulnerable in your community. The weakest among us are due the greatest protection and consideration by the caring community. In Deut 14:29 & Isa 1:17 the law required that the fatherless orphan be looked after and needs taken care of, that is, their physical and spiritual well being. In this our Lord is glorified as what we do for them we do for Him.

May 13, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Five Solas T-Shirt Now in White & Blue

0005solas_white.jpg
This Popular Five Solas T-Shirt
is now available in white


May 12, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Emergent Church and the Gospel

The gospel is not about any merit I have on my own, but is based upon Jesus' merit alone. It is not what we have done for Jesus, but what Jesus has done for us (Rom 5:19, 2 Cor 5:21, Phil 2:8). In the covenant rainbow sign with Noah, God says He "remembers" never to flood the world this way again, so likewise in the covenant in Christ's blood, God "remembers" not to treat us as we justly deserve for our sins. The mystery of God has been made manifest in the Person and work of the Son, who frees the prisoners, gives sight to the blind, breaks loose the chains and changes hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We were taken captive to do Satan's will and could not escape until Christ set us free. In other words, Christ, in His cross work, does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He lived the perfect life that we should have lived and died the death we should have died, in order to free us so that we might then proclaim His excellencies, make known his gospel and spread justice and mercy to the poor.

But this is not what many of the the most notable characters in the Emerging church (e.g. McClaren, McManus, Bell) mean when they use the term “gospel”; for Christ, in their view, did not come so much as a Savior, who delivers us from His just wrath, but rather, came to make us "Christ followers". Jesus came as a moral example of how we might live, treat one another, and form communities. But as has been repeatedly shown throughout the testaments, this is a recipe for failure. In Romans 3:20 the Apostle teaches that the purpose of the law was not so much to show us how to live (although it was that too), but more to reveal our moral inability and hopeless bondage to sin apart from the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Some major voices in the emergent church are saying they want a relationship with Jesus and not doctrines, but we must ask which Jesus do they want to have a relationship with? If words mean anything it appears they want a relationship with a moralistic Jesus of their own imagination. They want to believe that God is pleased with us because of what we do ... that He is pleased with us if we join HIm in being active in crusades against social ills such as corporate greed, global warming, racism and poverty. That doing this is what the Gospel is all about. But as good as some of these things might be, God is not pleased with them if they do not come from faith in Jesus Christ as a Savior first, not as a mere example for us to follow. For instance, Jesus revealed His sinlessness and our moral impotence in the face of it. and thus our need for His mercy. But McLaren and many of the other emergent church leaders trumpet their belief that the gospel is more about ethics than the work of Christ on our behalf. They appeal to bettering the world around us as a task that is opposed to and more pressing than seeing our own rebellion and poverty, which prove our need for reconciliation to God through the life, death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. This unbiblical bifurcation of orthopraxy and orthodoxy, and foundational preference for the former, is just plain contrary to the Christian gospel.

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May 12, 2008  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Kingdom Expansion in SE Asia

The following is a recent enounter my missionary friends had in SE Asia.

"I have been healed so many times by the Buddhist monks, but the demon
spirits keep coming back. It doesn't really work like I thought. I don't
care who I pray to, I just need healing. "

These were the desperate words I heard 1 month ago from my next door
neighbor, Ihsan. After praying for she and her family for 4 + years, I knew
the time was finally right to introduce her to Jesus, and that only He had
the power to heal what was plaguing her.

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May 12, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Justification and Regeneration, by Charles Leiter

Synopsis: Dealing with the two major aspects of man's sin problem before God – objective guilt and moral corruption – and the two major aspects of the redemptive work of Christ that overcome these problems, Justification and Regeneration, by Charles Leiter, is a book that explains in clear, simple, and eminently biblical terms the very heart of the gospel. Its value can scarcely be overestimated, in a day when the true gospel has been all but forgotten in much of Evangelicalism, and many believers struggle to live a truly Christian life in spite of widespread confusion and ignorance as to what constitutes the foundation of Christianity. To anyone who may be discouraged by a seeming lack of progress and real substance in his walk as a believer, in spite of a ready familiarity with all the emphases and strategems of American Evangelicalism, I enthusiastically say, “Read this book!”. It may be the most important book you read this year or for many years.

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May 10, 2008  |  Comments (10)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (5 -- Noah's Ark)

And behold, I am bringing a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will confirm my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark: you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you; and from every living thing, from all flesh, two of everything you shall bring into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female. – Genesis 6:17-19

The Kingdom of God, composed as we have seen of all those who had placed their faith in God's promise of a coming Seed who should deliver them from sin and the Serpent, began to grow greatly from its small beginnings, when it was represented only by Adam and Eve and the first martyr, Abel. For soon after Abel had given his life for his testimony of faith, God added another seed to Eve, namely Seth, to strengthen her faith, and through whom he should continue the line from which she still hoped the Messiah should come. From Seth, God was in fact pleased to cause his Kingdom to continue, and whenever she began to be in any desperate straits, or on the brink of extermination, he blessed her with whatever grace she needed to survive and persevere. For first of all, we find the first report of a great revival among God's people in the days of Enosh, the son of Seth (Genesis 4:26). We must suppose that at this time the Church had grown very cold and hardhearted, as she has done many times throughout her history; but rather than let her love grow entirely extinct, God sent his Spirit to stir up the hearts of his people to call upon the name of the Lord. This is the first of what would soon become very many times of corporate revival, such as those in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29-31) and Josiah (2 Chronicles 34-35), or much later, those now known as the Reformation of the sixteenth century, and the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century after Christ.

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May 09, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

epistemic hubris

Have you heard this from someone recently? That "WE CANNOT KNOW, with certainty, what God has revealed, so anyone who thinks he does is proud or arrogant? We must, rather, they say, embrace God as mystery?" I don't know about you but I have heard this more than once in the past few weeks. In light of this shouldn't we be asking ourselves the following questions so we can, at least, maintain a degree of intellectual honesty:

Is not this assertion that "we cannot know" itself a dogma with affirmations and denials? Is not this itself a statement of knowledge? Is "we cannot know with certainty" not itself an assertion of KNOWLEDGE (a dogmatic assertion) as THE WAY to interpret Scripture? Whether conscious of it or not, this is what is called "double-talk" and those who believe this are doing the very thing they claim to despise, even in the very speaking of it. Its like Oprah stating on national television that it is arrogant to think Jesus is the only way, and then turning around and telling us the ONLY WAY is to believe that all religions lead to the same God. Is this not itself an arrogant claim ... a claim which must have a bird's eye view of knowledge to state it with such certainty.

The Apostle Peter said, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God"(1 Pet. 4:11). Fact is, it is unavoidable to make any statements without making some kind of affirmation or denial. To claim no one can know about revealation with certainty is itself a claim to know how God operates with certainty. Where does the Scripture itself say that humility is characterized by taking what has God revealed to us (Deut 29:29) and saying we cannot understand it or cannot make statements with certainty, such that we much view all Scripture a total mystery? But this is not how God defines humility. Real humility is to think our thoughts after God, rather than impose our own thoughts on the text. True humility is to see ourselves in light of the glory and majesty of God. By this we become undone and recognize who we are before God and man. By this be come face to face with our own spiritual bankruptcy before God and thus understand that we are clearly no better morally than anyone. We have nothing in ourselves to recommend to God. Salvation by grace ALONE then, understood properly, should teach us that we have nothing to boast in, save in God's mercy alone in Jesus Christ. We are only beggars leading other beggars to bread. ANY BOAST then is contrary to the gospel of grace. True Christianity, according to Paul, is to worship in the Holy Spirit, glory in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. That our salvation is ALL of Christ. This is something God has revealed to us with certainty. If I have a conviction that only Jesus can save, not my self-effort effort, then this kind of certainty will make us the polar opposite of proud.

Those calling for epistemic humility tend the same ones who reject these central Christian doctrines described above which undo us and glory in Christ alone in favor of praxis, as if the two could be separated. But I would argue that by rejecting Biblical teaching such as Sola Gratia/Solus Christus, our praxis just becomes another form of moralism, which does not differentiate Christianity from any other religion. So it should be evident that this very way of defining arrogance and humility is itself broken and contradictory. Does not God define hubris as those who trust in praxis (works) rather than in Christ ALONE? That means Christ for our all in all, the Author and Perfector of our faith, who unites us to Himself that we might live. If Jesus Christ is not central to one's belief (not as a moral example, but as a Savior) then we have not understood even the very basis of Christianity and traded it for a philosophy.

May 08, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Disintegration: Worshipping the True God in the Wrong Way

In the preamble to the Commandments God asserts, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). The relationship that God has established with us, freeing us from bondage, is the basis from which we can now serve him and serve others. Our law-keeping flows out of this new gracious, familial relationship that God has initiated. Obedience to the covenant occurs after we are made members of the covenant; obedience, in other words, is the result of being joined in union with Christ; This means that our obedience neither initiates nor maintains that relationship, since Christ's work is sufficient for us both now and forever. We obey because we are saved, not saved because we obey.

I have to emphasize these points because we need constant reminding of them lest we invert the order of the gospel. Today we are going to focus in on the third commandment which teaches us that we are not to misuse the name of our God. We select this commandment because in our individualistic age it is easy to forget that God is sovereign and, therefore, we cannot worship God anyway we choose. Moses read the third commandment as follows:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

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May 07, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

An African-American Vision in the PCA

HT: Anthony J. Carter

May 07, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Eternal Treasure of the Unshakeable Kingdom

KINGDOM DISCIPLESHIP 101:
THE ETERNAL TREASURE OF THE KINGDOM
LUKE 12:13-34
REV. CHARLES R. BIGGS

In today’s text from Dr. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples more on what it means to live our lives in light of who God is, his character, and his revealed Kingdom (as we learned in our last sermon on Kingdom Discipleship 101: Knowing God). As Christians, our treasure is located in heaven with Jesus Christ.

Now I realize that the title of the sermon today ‘The Eternal Treasure of the Kingdom’ may sound like the subtitle to an Indiana Jones adventure movie. That is not all that accidental! As with adventure or fantasy movies such as this one and with other classic stories, there is man’s search or attempt at attaining riches here in this present world (that we all identify with)- -only for the treasure and riches to be stolen or lost through foolishness (I think of Treasure of the Sierra Madre).

This “search for treasure story” is an archetypal or model kind of story that all can relate to because of an inherent desire all humans have for permanence and security. This “search for treasure story” is one we learn throughout Scripture as well: Man seeks and searches all his life to build a kingdom and live with lots of riches, but at the end he either loses the riches, or he dies (and then they do him no good).

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon called this “vanity” or “meaninglessness” or “chasing after the wind”.

Now many of us do not perhaps get involved in formal search parties to the end of the world for “lost pirate gold” or diamonds, or seek to move westward in an attempt at a great gusher of black gold.

We are tempted to live in this life as if there were no accountability to God with regard to what he has given to us. We are indeed tempted to live as if our possessions could never rust, perish or be stolen, and we are tempted to live like this because we seek permanence and security as those made in God’s image. When we do not have the permanence and security that we think we should have, we grow anxious, worried and insecure.

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May 07, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Online Survey

A Christian group is seeking to collect data through an online survey. If you have time to take part in a 3 minute survey on the relationship between Christian doctrine and personal experience click here.

May 07, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Minister's Idols

"I submit, however, that buildings, bodies, and budgets often eclipse Word, sacrament, and discipline because this is often how congregations and ministers define themselves. It is hard to say who started it, whether ministers value those things because congregations do, because those are the sorts of things for which they are rewarded by the congregation or vice-versa. Ultimately it does not matter why we do it. What matters is that we do it. These are the status symbols that we covet: a growing budget, increasing attendance, and a bigger building. These are the idols that shape the program-driven church. These are the gods that drive the liturgy of the church-growth movement. These gods offer a covenant of works: do “this and prosper.” They promise tangible rewards to those who serve them faithfully. ." - R. Scott Clark

Quote from The Killer B’s: Idols of the Minister’s Heart

May 06, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Gospel and Pastoral Ministry

Recently, having heard John piper's amazing lecture/sermon given during T4G, my first thought about it was that John Piper is not deconstructioning the Text but it has deconstructed him ... it has gripped and taken hold of him and he was just being used as an instrument to proclaim it. Then today when I saw this quote by Andrew Purves, I thought it expressed this sentiment quite well:

Romans 6:17

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were entrusted…

Andrew Purves, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology (pg. xvi)

Paul does not have it backward. One might think that doctrines are to be entrusted to believers, but believers are entrusted to doctrines, meaning by this the reality of God in Christ for us. It is the gospel that possesses ministry, not ministry that possesses the gospel. ...[T]he actuality of the gospel is the basis for the possibility of our ministry. It is not Jesus Christ who needs pastoral work, it is pastoral work that needs Jesus Christ. Just as faith lives not by human effort, but solely by the grace of God in, through, and as Jesus Christ, and through our incorporation into his life, so also ministry must be understood to be built not upon human striving for growth, well-being, and health but upon the grace of God which is understood now as a participation in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, on earth, in heaven, and as the one who will come again. The focus of pastoral theology, then, is on God’s extrinsic grace in Jesus Christ, on the gospel that is verbum alienum, a Word from beyond us, and to which gracious Word and to that Word alone pastoral theology and pastoral practice must submit in order to be faithful to the gospel.
May 06, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (4 -- The Life of Abel)

And Abel also brought from the firstborn of his flock, and from their fat; and Yahweh had regard for Abel and for his offering. – Genesis 4:4

Very soon after God had made his first promise to mankind that he would send a Deliverer, he began to advance his redemptive design along several different lines, all of which would eventually culminate in the advent and work of the promised Seed, and his gathering together in himself a multitude of people, whom he had undertaken to bring back to God. This era of redemptive history is characterized by a series of highly notable firsts, which would set the stage for the promised coming of salvation by putting in motion those forces which should prepare the way for the coming of the Seed, and ultimately bring about the fullness of time in which God should finally send him; and also, they whisper ahead of time the way in which this Savior, when he had finally come, should go about his work of saving his people. Of these firsts, one of the most significant is the life of Abel, the first man born twice, which we will look into in due time; but for now, let us mention a few other notable circumstances that God had already brought about.

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May 02, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

An Apology from Dr. Tim Keller

Dr. Keller makes a public apology! 1 Peter 3:15 tells us, "... but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;"

The word "defense" here is the Greek word apologia, from which we get the English word "apology". Historically, the word apology refered to giving a reasoned defense of a position held.

I am fairly new to the ministry of Dr. Keller but became something of an instant admirer after watching his lecture at the Veritas Forum defending the Christian faith. I encourage you to watch it to sharpen your own skills in defending the faith. It is also something useful to point non-christian friends towards as a discussion starter. - John Samson


May 02, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Together for the Gospel Approved Book List

Each of these books were carefully selected for the Together for the Gospel '08 book store. Specifically, Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, and Mark Dever reviewed a larger list of books from several publishers; if any one of the four crossed out a title out, the book did not make it on the final list. Of the books included, the four men do not claim to endorse everything in every book, but every book is one they believe pastors should know about and will find useful in their ministries.

See List Here(.pdf)

May 01, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink