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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)

Dependence on Our Own Strength or Realization of our Impotence

Helpful Quote from Jonathan Edwards

"My longings after it, put me upon pursuing and pressing after them. It was my continual strife day and night, and constant inquiry, how I should be more holy, and live more holily, and more becoming a child of God, and disciple of Christ. I sought an increase of grace and holiness, and that I might live an holy life, with vastly more earnestness, than ever I sought grace, before I had it. I used to be continually examining myself, and studying and contriving for likely ways and means, how I should live holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness, than ever I pursued anything in my life: but with too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me. My experience had not then taught me, as it has done since, my extreme feebleness and impotence, every manner of way; and the innumerable and bottomless depths of secret corruption and deceit, that there was in my heart."

Source of Edwards quote: (Marsden, Jonathan Edwards, 53). The quote is from his “Personal Narrative” in the Yale Works, 16:797. HT Steve Camp

Related Essay
Notes on Our Ongoing Need of Redemption as Christians

June 30, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (12 -- The Provision of a Wife for Isaac)

Yahweh, the God of heaven, who took me from the house of my father and from the land of my birth, and who spoke unto me, and who swore unto me, saying, “To your seed I will give this land,” he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. – Genesis 24:7

It is altogether fitting that Abraham’s promised Son, Isaac, should be set forth as a type of our Savior in every notable event of his life: for, first of all, his birth was of so miraculous a nature as to reinforce to Abraham the truth that the promised Seed, who would bless all the nations of the earth, could never come naturally, by the efforts of the flesh, as Ishmael came. On the contrary Isaac came by the divine promise, and through the divine power, which is even able to bring life out of death. And so that son in whom was said to be the promised Seed, Christ our Savior, was, even from his birth, a type of the Savior, by virtue of his life which was brought out of death, through the power of God, and in accordance with his covenant promise. And second, in the account of Abraham’s testing, we have as clear a personal type as can be found in all of scriptures, of the substitutionary sacrifice and the rising again of our Savior; by means of which test, Abraham demonstrated his faith in the coming Messiah, whom he knew that God would certainly raise from the dead, and thus received his own promised son, “in a figure,” back from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). And so, if in two marvelous and unsurpassed ways this man Isaac served to foreshadow the life of our Savior, then we may with some reason suppose that the next notable circumstance in his life, the means by which he obtained his wife, may also convey some truth to us about the coming work of the true Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ. In pursuance of which expectation, we will now turn to the account in Genesis, chapter twenty-four.

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June 27, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Lord AND Savior: Just an Observation

As Christians we sometimes forget we are desperate sinners, thus fail to see that we need an ongoing Savior. In light of this, we must never see Jesus as Lord, and not at the same time, as Savior ... even after conversion. The converse is also true since Lord and Savior are inseparably intertwined and come as a package. Seeing Jesus only as Lord (emerging church) leads to moralism and so we judge ourselves by our morals and activism -- where we inevitably compare ourselves to others, and boasting or envy is usually the unintended consequence. Our personal virtue functionally becomes a savior. On ther other hand, if we only view Jesus as Savior (Grace Evangelical Society, Zane Hodges), when we come to faith it leads to antinomianism and a weak, once saved, always saved mentality prevails, which fails to see the necessity of obedience and good works to demonstrate the reality of the gospel at work in us.

June 26, 2008  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Our Ongoing Need of Redemption as Christians

"Fear, lest, by forgetting what you are by nature, you also forget the need that you have of continual pardon, support, and supplies from the Spirit of grace, and so grow proud of your own abilities, or of what you have received from God, and fall into condemnation ... Fear, and that will make you little in your own eyes, keep you humble, put you upon crying to God for protection, and upon lying at his footstool for mercy; that will also make you have low thoughts of your own parts, your own doings and cause you to prefer your brother before yourself. And so you will walk in humiliation and be continually under the teachings of god, and under His conduct in your way, God will teach the humble. "The meek will He guide in judgment, and the meek will He teach His way." (Psalm 25:9) (John Bunyan - The Fear of God, page 96)

Related Article
Our Ongoing Need of Redemption as Christians by J.W. Hendryx

June 25, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

When Grace Comes Home: How the Doctrines of Grace Change Your Life

A book we highly recommend has come back into print. Terry Johnson does an excellent job showing precisely why the doctrines of grace are practical for every day life. Anticipating significant interest in the book Monergism Books has secured a large number of copies and marked down to a 30% discout off retail.

When Grace Comes Home:
How the Doctrines of Grace Change Your Life

by Terry L. Johnson
back in print!!!

Sample Chapter: Adversity by Terry L. Johnson

June 24, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Jesus in China

Frontline World will show Jesus in China this evening at 9 on PBS

A massive wave of Christianity has been sweeping across China in recent years, and the Chinese ruling party, officially atheist, is now struggling how to figure out how to control it.In Jesus in China a joing project of FRONTLINE/WORLD and the Chicago Tribune, reporter Evan Osnos investigates one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world, and how it could potentially transform China at this explosive moment in the country's development.

See more here

There is also an article in the Chicago Tribune on the same topic called Jesus in China: Christianity's rapid rise

June 24, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Evangelical Christians "more tolerant" than Previously Thought

Yesterday I read a very discouraging (but not surprising) article by Time Magazine online which, frankly, made my heart a little heavy for the rest of the day. It says that 57% of those who attend evangelical churches now say they believe that adherents of non-Christian religions might also be saved. Time writes:

Americans of every religious stripe are considerably more tolerant of the beliefs of others than most of us might have assumed, according to a new poll released Monday. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life last year surveyed 35,000 American, and found that 70% of respondents agreed with the statement "Many religions can lead to eternal life." Even more remarkable was the fact that 57% of Evangelical Christians were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to salvation, since most Christians historically have embraced the words of Jesus, in the Gospel of John, that "no one comes to the Father except through me." Even as mainline churches had become more tolerant, the exclusivity of Christianity's path to heaven has long been one of the Evangelicals' fundamental tenets. The new poll suggests a major shift, at least in the pews. Read more...
Comments: The first reason to be sad, of course, is to see so many so-called brother and sisters have no real comprehension of the necessity of good news of the gospel. That there is no hope save in the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. I wonder: do they expect that God will be unjust and simply waive his hand at all the flagrant rebellion we all have committed against Him each day? How is it that people, especially evangelicals, cannot not see the seriousness of our situation here on earth? We all, including me, have no hope unless God provides a Savior. No amount of moral exertion that I can do will make a difference. My so-called contribution of goodness woefully falls short of what God requires. If 57% of Evangelicals believe there are other ways to God then, by default, they are rejecting the necessity of Christ and, in turn, believing in their own inherent goodness and moral ability. Nothing less than self-justification. As a result how can they, in good conscience, any longer call themselves Christians? What is distinctively Christian about it any longer? Is it because they are moral people? Well, people from many religions and backgrounds believe we must be moral. But that has very little to do with Christianity since God's Law only reveals our true spiritually bankrupt condition. Yeah if you are perfect you don't need a Savior but I don't run into perfectly holy people very often, do you? We don't need moral improvement but an entirely new person. It is my contention that most people prefer to avoid this bad news so they create false gospels that appeal to their self-righteousness. Don't we all have a tendency to do this? It’s in our nature. But we must face the reality about ourselves as humans. I mean, anyone who believes that God will accept them into His presence based on their own merit must think of pretty highly of themselves, no? Perhaps "tolerance" has finally become the norm for evangelicals and frankly, this news shows the church is in just as bad of shape as the Roman Catholic Church during the middle ages.

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June 24, 2008  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Major Updates at Monergism.com

These last couple of weeks there were many major updates on Monergism.com including the following categories: Postmodernism, eccelsiology, leadership, Resources on 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews (606 links), hermeneutics and guidance. In each of these categories we have mined and gathered the most Christ-honoring materials from around the web and made it available to you free all in one place.

Sponsor:
Reformed Books & Resources for Christians

June 20, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (11 -- The Offering Up of Isaac on Mount Moriah)

And the Angel of Yahweh called unto Abraham from heaven a second time, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says Yahweh, that because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heaven, and like the sand which is upon the seashore, and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies; and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed by your seed, because you obeyed my voice”. – Genesis 22:15-18

We have already observed how perfectly fitted the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac was to foreshadow the virgin birth of Abraham's true promised Seed, Jesus Christ; and now, as we continue to examine the details of his later history, we come to find as well that God was pleased to arrange circumstances in such a way as to make his life prefigure in an astonishing and unsurpassed manner the substitutionary offering of Christ on the cross. This truth, from the outset, should serve to underscore the illimitable worth and precise centrality of the atoning death of Christ: his virgin birth, as sweet and awe-inspiring as it was, had no other end than the bloody death of Calvary which should follow it some thirty-three years later. The virgin birth was a mighty and necessary step toward a great end; but the end itself was Calvary. We see this relationship hinted at also in the life of Isaac, Abraham's first promised seed, who was given a miraculous birth just to have it taken away from him violently and unseasonably (in a figure) by the very God who had brought him into the world in the first place.

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June 20, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

ESV Deluxe Compact TruTone Bible - For Blackletter Christians

ESV01.jpgESV Deluxe Compact TruTone Bible: Royal Blue, Eternity Design, Black Letter - This new size Bible takes the features that have earned the ESV Compact Bible such popularity and enhanced them. The deluxe edition’s slightly larger trim size and larger font allow it to retain its classic portability while improving its readability. THAT IS WHAT WE REALLY LIKE ABOUT THIS BIBLE. Previously, even with 20/20 vision we had some difficulty reading the font in the ESV compact bibles. No longer This one we can actually read!!! The font is not large but just the right size for a compact bible in our estimation. The original Compact had 6.2-point type while this one is 6.55, and while this may not seem that much different, it actually made it comfortable to read. So with the Deluxe version because of this it is the first time we can enthusiatically recommend the ESV compacts. The English Standard Version (ESV) Bible is a new, essentially literal Bible translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and depth of meaning.

Product Details
* 6.55-point type
* 12,000-entry concordance
* Size: 3.875″ x 6"
* No center-column cross-reference system
* Words of Christ in black
* Ribbon marker
* Free software download request card included
* No maps
* Not thumb-indexed
* The cover is a handstitched, soft, leather-like material and features a unique design

For Blackletter Christians who believe in the whole council of Scripture.

40% of at Monergism Books

See a sample of the inside (Matthew 1-5).

Also in the following style: ESV Deluxe Compact TruTone Bible: Sienna, Crossroads Design, Black Letter

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June 18, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Faith's Reasons for Believing by Robert Reymond

Reviewed by James Anderson

The subtitle of Robert Reymond’s latest book on apologetics gives a fair impression of its purpose and tone: “An Apologetic Antidote to Mindless Christianity (and to Thoughtless Atheism)”. Reymond’s goal is to counter not only the attacks of “militant atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, but also the “mindless Christianity” of believers who are unable or unwilling to offer any reasons for the faith they profess.

The book is adapted from lecture material originally prepared for a seminary course in apologetics and is therefore pitched at that level. Reymond’s approach to apologetics is self-consciously presuppositionalist, with the title of the book designed to reflect that approach. Our method in apologetics should not be to start from a position without any faith commitments and to use our reasoning to construct a position of faith ‘from scratch’. Rather, we should unashamedly start with the faith we already profess, and reasoning in a manner consistent with that faith we should explain why it makes good sense to believe as we do. Reymond insists that “one’s first principle … is all-important in Christian apologetics”. You either begin with the conviction that the Bible is God’s Word and ground your knowledge and reasoning on that firm foundation, or else you build on some other foundation that will ultimately prove to be quicksand.

read more...

Available at Monergism Books

Review Copyright © 2007 Discerning Reader

June 18, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption

Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption by Joel R. Beeke (Author)

June 17, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus Made a Wrath Absorbing Sacrifice for Sinners

Some points you may want to keep in mind when explaining the story of redemption to others.

Man was created to glorify God & Enjoy Him forever
"Worthy are you, our Lord and our God to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things." (Rev 4:11) "Do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31)

Man has failed to glorify God & is under His just condemnation
"For all have sinned..." (Rom 3:23) The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction" (2 Thes 1:9)

Jesus Bore the wrath and suffered the punishment sinners deserve
Not wishing that sinners perish forever, God determined to save a people for Himself in the Eternal Son who became a man and lived the life we should have lived and died the death we justly deserve. God loves sinners and sent Son to the the wrath absorbing sacrifice for their sin (1 John 4:10; John 6:37) he "...gave His life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45) & "rose again" from the dead (2 Cor 5:15) on their behalf.

All who, by the grace of God, turn to Jesus in repent submissive faith are forgiven & begin a life-changing, eternally satisfying relationship with God!
"Repent and believe the gospel (Mk 1:5) "In Your presnece is fullness of Joy (Ps 16:11)

June 17, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (10 -- The Birth of Isaac)

Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the appointed time I will return unto you, at the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. – Genesis 18:14

Of all the notable things that could be said of the life of Abraham our father, without a doubt the most outstanding is only this: he was promised by the God of heaven, to whom nothing is impossible, that he should be given a Seed who would bless all the nations of the earth, and bring down the very presence of God to mankind. It stands to reason, then, that of all the types that we see displayed in Abraham's calling, wanderings, the covenant ceremonies he went through, and so on, one of the most notable should pertain to his being given a seed, quite apart from natural human means, as a testimony to the life-giving and promise-fulfilling power of the God who first called him out from his land and kindred. And in actual fact, this is precisely what we encounter in the birth of Isaac, Abraham's promised heir, and the most remarkable type of the virgin birth of our Savior in all the Old Testament histories.

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June 13, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Mark Dever on Doctrinal Discernment and the Gospel

June 10, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Sowing Seeds for Christ

June 09, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Covenant of Works by Wayne Grudem

Some have questioned whether it is appropriate to speak of a covenant of works that God had with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The actual word covenant is not used in the Genesis narratives. However, the essential parts of the covenant are all there—a clear definition of the parties involved, a legally binding set of provisions that stipulates the conditions of their relationship, the promise of blessings for obedience, and the condition for obtaining those blessings. Moreover, Hosea 6:7, in referring to the sins of Israel, says, “But like Adam they transgressed the covenant”

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June 06, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (9 -- The Destruction of Sodom)

The sun came out upon the earth, and Lot went to Zoar. And Yahweh rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh, out of heaven. And he overthrew all those cities, and all the surrounding region, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and the growth of the ground. But his wife gazed back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. – Genesis 19:23-26

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven, Lot's gracious deliverance from that judgment, and Abraham's mediation for him, provide a very notable glimpse of the future destruction of the world, and the deliverance of the righteous from the midst of God's burning wrath, through the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (see 1 Timothy 2:5); as we shall see in several particulars noted in the paragraphs below.

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June 06, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Some Helpful Links 06-05-08

Adversity by Terry johnson - This is an outstanding chapter from the book, When Grace Comes Home by Terry L. Johnson. Ephhasizes the practical implications of the doctrines of grace ... how an understanding of God's sovereign, effectual mercy in Christ towards sinners like us, can change lives in very practical ways.

Outlines of Theology by A.A. Hodge Now online! In reviewing A. A. Hodge's Outlines in Theology (1878) C.H. Spurgeon once stated: "We commend the Outlines of Theology to all who would be well instructed in the faith. It is the standard text-book of our college. We differ from its teachings upon baptism, but in almost everything else we endorse Hodge to the letter." [my emphasis] In agreement with Spurgeon's enthusiasm, we believe this book should be on every persons shelf. Outlines of Theology also available in print.

June 05, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Gospel is Historical

What does it mean when we say that the gospel is historical?

Dr. Tim Keller explains:

The gospel is historical . . . The word “gospel” shows up twice [1 Peter 1:1-12, 1:22-2:12]. Gospel actually means “good news.” You see it spelled out a little bit when it says “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Why do we say that the gospel is good news? Some years ago, I heard a tape series I am sure was never put into print by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. It was an evening sermon series on 1 Corinthians 15. He clarified how the Gospel is based on historical events in how the religion got its start. He said there was a big difference between advice and news. The Gospel, he would say, is good news, but not good advice. Here’s what he said about that: “Advice is counsel about something that hasn’t happened yet, but you can do something about it. News is a report about something that has happened which you can’t do anything about because it has been done for you and all you can do is to respond to it.”

So he says think this out: here’s a king, and he goes into a battle against an invading army to defend his land. If the king defeats the invading army, he sends back to the capital city messengers, envoys, very happy envoys. He sends back good newsers. And what they come back with is a report. They come back and they say: It’s been defeated and it’s been all done. Therefore respond with joy and now go about your lives in this peace which has been achieved for you. But if he doesn’t defeat the invading army, and the invading army breaks through, the king sends back military advisers and says . . . “Marksmen over here and the horseman over there, and we will have to fight for our lives.” Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones says that every other religion sends military advisers to people. Every other religion says that if you want to achieve salvation, you will have to fight for your life. Every other religion is sending advice saying “here are the rites, here are the rituals, here’s the transformation of the consciousness and here are the laws and the regulations. Marksmen over here and horsemen over there and we are going to fight for our lives.” We send heralds; we send messengers and not military advisers. Isn’t that clarifying? It’s just incredibly clarifying. And it’s not like there’s nothing to do about it, my goodness. Both the messenger and the military adviser get an enormous response. One is a response of joy and the other one is a response of fear. All other religions give advice and they drive everything you do with fear . . . as you know, when you hear the gospel, when you hear the message that it’s all been done for you, it’s a historical event that has happened, your salvation is accomplished for you, what do you want to do? You want obey the Ten Commandments, you want to pray, and you want to please the one that did this for you.

If, on the other hand, military advisers say you have to live a really good life if you want to get into heaven, what do you do? You want to pray and you want to obey the Ten Commandments. It looks the same, doesn’t it? But for two radically different reasons: One is joy and the other one is fear. In the short run, they look alike. But in the long run, over here we have burn out and self-righteousness and guilt and all sorts of problems. And that’s fascinating. But having said that, what’s the ministry implication? The ministry implication is this: the significance of preaching, of proclamation, of declarative preaching, is irreplaceably central in Gospel ministry. Declarative preaching is irreplaceably central.Why? If basically we are sending people “how to”, if we are saying here’s the “how to” to live the right way, if that’s the primary message, I am not sure words are necessarily the best thing to send. You want to send a model. If I was to teach an advanced seminar on preaching (and I never have) I would make everybody read CS Lewis’ Studies in Words. It’s amazing because we are wordsmiths and he shows you how important it is to craft your words properly. The last chapter is called “At the Fringe of Language” and he says language can’t do everything. He says that one of the things language cannot do is describe complex operations. On the other hand, when it comes to describing how, to explain to somebody that Joshua Chamberlain, without any ammunition, charged down Little Round Top in an incredible, risky adventure at the height of the Battle of Gettysburg, and as a result changed the course of history. You don’t show people that, you tell them that. It’s something that happened, you describe it. You tell them that. If you are going to give them how-tos, very often what you want is modeling and dialogue, action and reflection and so forth.

Therefore, if you believe the gospel is good news, declarative preaching (verbal proclaiming) will always be irreplaceably central to what we do. However, if you subscribe to the assertion that the gospel is simply good advice on how to live a life that changes people and connects to God . . . dialogue would be alright. Stories and modeling and reflection would be more important. In other words, you would believe what some people would quip: “proclaim the gospel, use words if necessary”. You’ve probably heard that. That shows, I think, that they don’t quite understand what the gospel is all about.

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June 05, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Fellowship Ideas

You're bored. Looking for something to do with your friends this summer to revitalize fellowship? What should you do?

1. Begin a reading group. The Lord uses books to stir our affections toward Him and one another and may even turn lives around. Consider getting together with a few friends and starting a men's group/women's group where small, but enriching books can be read out loud and and discussed as you are reading. Pick out a classic Christ-honoring book and provide plenty of coffee and baked goods. Then meet every week to discuss the book as you read through it together. We have been doing this for a few years now every Wednesday morning and have found it to stir better fellowship around God's word and has provided a venue where we can learn from those who went before us and one another. While we read we simply break in when the words stir us to greater reflection. Enjoy the time together and observe how people grow as a result. Some of the best books we have read together included The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston, The Fear of God by John Bunyan or Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard. Or watch a DVD together like Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism. Have each person buy their own book, but designate one person to order the books for the group.

2. Eat together. And having lived in China for many years I can tell you that nothing brings together people like tasty food. Have some fun by exploring some exotic cuisine in your city. Find the best rated places in a local paper or online and give it a try. Eat some foods you have never tried before with your group. Some may not be able to to this every week, so perhaps try to do it once a month. Or once a month have each of your friends bring over a dish so that each persons'cooking burden will be minimal. Eat whatever people bring.

June 03, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink