"...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)

Our Recent Visit to Mars Hill Church, Seattle

This last weekend on the spur of the moment my wife and I decided to drive up to Seattle for the weekend. It is a 3 hour drive from Portland and a badly needed getaway from our daily routine. After arriving in our downtown Seattle hotel our first stop was Piroshky Piroshky, a hole in the wall on the waterfront at Pike’s Market which sells incredible Russian pastries. My wife and I both love the meat-filled pastries the best and we ate a couple while we enjoyed the rare sunny afternoon on the park bench overlooking the water. It was really a blessing to sit in the sun after a solid month of grey skies. We had a lot to be thankful for. We were excited to be there and saw this as an opportunity for a time of refreshment. We were not disappointed.

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February 27, 2009  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (46 -- The Second Confirmation of the Covenant)

For this commandment which I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, and it is not far off: it is not in heaven, that one should say, “Who will go up for us into heaven, and receive it for us, that we may hear it and do it?”; and it is not across the sea, that one should say, “Who will go over for us across the sea and receive it for us, that we may hear it and do it?”; but the word is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you might do it. – Deuteronomy 30:11-14

At the conclusion of the book of Deuteronomy, which has been a book marked by very many repetitions and second affirmations of things, there is also a second confirmation made of the Covenant which was originally confirmed on Mount Sinai, in Horeb (see Deuteronomy 29:1). On the occasion of this confirmation, Moses takes great pains to describe many notable things about this covenant, what benefits and advantages it holds forth, wherein it is essentially inadequate, and so on; and when he is coming to the climactic conclusion of his speech, he is very emphatic to drive home Christ to the people, that they might take comfort in the certain hope of his mercy, and not be overwhelmed by the strict demands of the Law. Let us look to the comforting words quoted above, to see how well they are designed to lead the children of Israel, who were under the Law, to Christ their Savior, who should free them from its demands and enable them to obey it; but first, we must notice a few significant things about the nature of this Covenant of Law that Moses is here confirming; for it may seem to many minds to be in such opposition to the gospel of Christ, that it is enigmatical or even impossible that it should at one and the same time hold him forth so freely to the people. But this is a confusion that we will certainly clear up, by the Spirit's illuminating grace.

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February 27, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

How to fit in at almost any Church - Instructional Video

February 27, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Review: Basic Training for Defending the Faith (DVD series), by Greg Bahnsen

The responsibility of Christians to proclaim and defend their faith reasonably and intelligibly, in the face of worldviews and philosophies that are antagonistic to Christianity, is a serious biblical concern. So how do we go about equipping ourselves for the task? In order to defend the faith adequately, must we be current with the prevalent philosophies and epistemologies of the day, and eloquent enough to mount a persuasive argument within the confines of those philosophies? In other words, must we be skillful enough thinkers to beat the atheists on their own playing field? No, Dr. Bahnsen would insist; although understanding philosophy and epistemology may be useful, ultimately, if we would be successful apologists, we only need to learn to think as Christians. And in this clear, scriptural, penetrating series of lectures, he demonstrates exactly what that means, and how it can equip any Christian to be a biblical and competent apologist.

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February 26, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

God Receives Me on the Footing of His Perfection

Poor as my faith in this Substitute may be, it places me at once in the position of one to whom "God imputes righteousness without works." God is willing to receive me on the footing of his perfection; if I am willing to he thus received, in the perfection of another with whom God is well pleased, the whole transaction is completed. I am justified by his blood. "As he is, so am I (even) in this world" even now, with all my imperfections and evils.

To be entitled to use another's name when my own name is worthless, to be allowed to wear another's raiment because my own is torn and filthy, to appear before God in another's person––the person of the Beloved Son––this is the summit of all blessing. The sin-bearer and I have exchanged names, robes, and persons! I am now represented by him, my own personality having disappeared. He now appears in the presence of God for me (Hebrews 9:24). All that makes him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me. His excellency and glory are seen as if they were mine. I receive the love and the fellowship and the glory as if I had earned them all. So entirely one am I with the sin bearer that God treats me not merely as if I had not done the evil that I have done, but as if I had done all the good which I have not done, but which my substitute has done. In one sense I am still the poor sinner, once under wrath; in another I am altogether righteous and shall be so forever because of the perfect one in whose perfection I appear before God. Nor is this a false pretense or a hollow fiction which carries no results or blessings with it. It is an exchange which has been provided by the Judge and sanctioned by law; an exchange of which any sinner upon earth may avail himself and be blest.

Excerpt from The Everlasting Righteousnessby Horatius Bonar

February 25, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

A Prayer List

As Christians we now live in a very fast-paced world that is filled with images and distractions. Some may use this as an excuse for their lack of prayer, but instead this is a good argument why we should spend more time in daily prayer in the presence of our Lord. The more responsibility thrust upon us and the more complicated a life we have, the more time we should spend in God's presence. The state of entire daily renunciation of self-will for God's will can only occur when we are disciplined to take a good chunk of time out of our time to confess, give thanks, praise, intercede and come before God in earnest supplication. As we come before Him in this humble posture, then, in conforming to His will, we are enabled, through grace, to die to our self-exertion, opinions, preferences, tastes and will; die to the world, its approval and censure, die to the approval and blame of brethren and friends and instead be content to be approved unto God alone. We come to God for grace to change ourselves and the world we touch. In other words, the grace of God sovereignly dispensed through prayer gives us great help in our growth in holiness (deliverance from the self-centered life). Then, as we go into the joys and disappointments of each day we know the presence of God even in the most trifling of duties and can more easily recollect ourselves in His presence. We then become God-centered people, which gives us the power to be others-centered. This type of spirituality is desperately needed as we daily enter into a secularized world that has practically and effectively removed God from the public square. The light of God's glory will reflect from the face of a saint who is long on his knees and the world will take notice.

In order to to be of assistance in getting your prayer life moving I am here including a list of suggested things to pray for.

February 25, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Distinction of Natural and Moral Necessity and Inability

Excerpt from The Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards

That Necessity which has been explained, consisting in an infallible connexion of the things signified by the subject and predicate of a proposition, as intelligent beings are the subjects of it, is distinguished into moral and natural Necessity.

I shall not now stand to inquire whether this distinction be a proper and perfect distinction; but shall only explain how these two sorts of Necessity are understood, as the terms are sometimes used, and as they are used in the following discourse.

The phrase, moral Necessity, is used variously: some- times it is used for a Necessity of moral obligation. So we say, a man is under Necessity, when he is under bonds of duty and conscience, from which he cannot be discharged. Again, the word Necessity is often used for great obligation in point of interest. Sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that apparent connexion of things, which is the ground of moral evidence; and so is distinguished from absolute Necessity, or that sure connexion of things, that is a foundation for infallible certainty. In this sense, moral Necessity signifies much the same as that high degree of probability, which is ordinarily sufficient to satisfy mankind, in their conduct and behavior in the world, as they would consult their own safety and interest, and treat others properly as members of society. And sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that Necessity of connexion and consequence, which arises from such moral causes, as the strength of inclination, or motives, and the connexion which there is in many cases between these and such certain volitions and actions. And it is in this sense, that I use the phrase, moral necessity, in the following discourse.

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February 20, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (45 -- The Blessings and Curses Upon Mounts Gerizim and Ebal)

And Moses commanded the people that day, saying, “These shall stand to bless the people upon Mount Gerazim when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Joseph and Benjamin; and these shall stand for the curse upon Mount Ebal: Reuben, Gad and Asher; and Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali”. – Deuteronomy 27:11-13

Before the children of Israel had entered the promised land, when Moses was still giving his final instructions to them, he commanded them, when they had once crossed over the Jordan River, to set up an altar of unhewn stones on Mount Ebal; and then, when they were all gathered together, to stand six tribes on Mount Gerazim and six tribes on Mount Ebal, the former to call out the covenant blessings and the latter to call out the covenant curses. In this arrangement, we may see several things which are intended for our instruction: first, that the covenant did not just threaten curses or promise blessings, but that it held forth both to the people; second, that even within the twelve tribes, there were those who, by divine choice, should be made to experience the curses, and those who should inherit the blessings; and we may note here, that all those whom God commanded to stand on Mount Gerazim for blessing were children of the free women of Jacob, that is, of Leah and Rachel, and not of their servants Bilhah and Zilpah; and so we may be instructed by this, that only we who are children of the free woman by faith, and not those who are children of slaves by the works of the flesh, shall know the covenant blessings (cf. Galatians 4:22-31); and third, that those who were chosen for blessing would escape the curses not by their own efforts, but only through the divinely-supplied sacrifice of grace; for the altar of burnt offering was made of unhewn stones, as if to say, God himself will provide a sacrifice not made with hands; and it was placed upon Mount Ebal and not Mount Gerazim, as if to say, “Mount Gerazim with its blessings is for you because Mount Ebal with its curses is for my Sacrifice”; who is, of course, the Christ.

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February 20, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Book Review: The Gospel for Real Life, by Jerry Bridges

Synopsis: By now, many of us are familiar with the slogan so often trumpeted by Jerry Bridges (as well as others), that we should “preach the gospel to ourselves everyday”. But what is the gospel, exactly, that it should be able to stand up under the weight of this life-encompassing dictate? Surely, after enough time has lapsed, this will become dull and redundant, right? Surely, in all of life's multifarious exigencies, some problem will arise that requires some other answer, some more practical solution, will it not? Perhaps, if this is our perspective, it is because we have a reductionistic understanding of what the gospel is, and all the benefits it entails. And if this is the case, then Jerry Bridges' book, The Gospel for Real Life, will prove a valuable resource for working through just what the gospel is, and what it means for everyday life.

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February 19, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Condemned by Adam's Sin or Our Own?

Those born between Adam and Moses, (and I think it holds true today), how were they condemned to Hell? Adams Sin? Or their own?

we not only choose sin but we inherit it (Rom 5:12, 18, 19). Human beings are either in Adam or in Christ. Our sin and Adams' sin are, in many ways, essentially one and the same. There is a passage which says that the Levitcal priesthood gave tithes to Melchizedek in the loins of Abraham (Hebrews 7:9-11). In the same sence, we were in Adam's loins (so to speak) so we were participating (no, cheering him on) in his sin. There is such a close identification for us in Adam that the Romans passage teaches that all of humanity experience death because of him. Likewise when we are united to Christ by grace through faith we are united to Him in his life, death and resurrection. We participatein what He accomplished for us. We are declared righteous in Christ and granted a new heart which loves Him and His law. Is this imputation of grace any more "fair" than the imputation of sin from Adam? Both sin (when we were born in Adam) and grace (when we are united to Christ) are imputed to us apart from what we may individually think we may deserve. Our moral bankruptcy and inability is not like a physical inability that we cannot help, no, it is like a debt we cannot repay. And, like a debt, our inability to repay it does not thereby alleviate our responsibility to do so. As for those born between Adam and Moses it is the same as those born in countries or situations where they will never hear the gospel. God will judge them based on thier sin in Adam and the sin against the light given them, and that will be enough to condemn them.

In individualized cultures such as ours such collective thinking about the human race is hard to grasp but the Bible is a federal (representative) document from start to finish. Consider that all people inherit many things (good and bad) from their parents or the countries they are born in and this occurs in many ways that may seem unfair to the (external) casual observer. But we all certainly get better than we deserve in this life. What really should amaze us is that God is merciful to us at all. We can rejoice greatly in that ... that He has set his affection on a people whom He has set aside for Himself, in spite of our rebellion (see Ezekiel 26:22 to the end of the chapter).

February 19, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Human Language & Inspiration

However, with the aid of divine inspiration and the superintendence of the Holy Spirit in the giving of sacred Scripture, the writings of the Bible are free from the normal tendencies and propensities of fallen men to distort the truth. Though our language, and especially our language about God, is never comprehensive and exhaustive in its ability to capture eternal truths, nevertheless it is adequate to give us truth without falsehood. For example, if we made a statement that Chicago is a city in the state of Illinois, the truth communicated by that statement would in no way be exhaustive. That is, all that could possibly be understood of the nature and scope of the city of Chicago would not be known by any human being who made such a statement, nor would all the complexities that go into and comprise the state of Illinois be understood totally by the speaker. Certainly if God made the statement “Chicago is a city in the state of Illinois,” within his mind there would be total comprehension of all that is involved in Chicago and Illinois. Nevertheless, the fact that God makes the statement “Chicago is a city in the state of Illinois” would not in itself make the statement more or less true than if a human being made the statement. Though we recognize that human language is limited by creatureliness, we do not allow the inference that therefore human language must necessarily be distortive of truth.

Quote from Pages 130-131 of Scripture Alone by R.C. Sproul

February 19, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Online Sermons

Maybe this has been said before; people listen to too many online sermons. Sure, the problem is probably limited to reformed-ish churchgoers, but that's the tank I swim in, so it seems like everybody. I've noticed a few damaging side effects that I would like to share with you, maybe to encourage you to listen to less online sermons, but at least to help you use your "I've Heard All of Piper's Sermons for Seven Years" Powers for good and not for evil. I'll be brief.

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February 18, 2009  |  Comments (21)   |  Permalink

Bill Clinton the "Calvinist"

Embedded video from CNN Video

February 18, 2009  |  Comments (25)   |  Permalink

"I remember..." by Pastor John Samson

I have not always been reformed in my thinking as a Christian. I remember my own journey in coming to embrace the doctrines of grace, certain things impressed me. I was very much impressed that most of the great theologians of the church taught these doctrines of God's Sovereignty. While they certainly had their differences on some things, when it came to election, they were all in complete agreement.

None of these men individually, or even all of them collectively, could be in any way classed as infallible, yet because they all saw these issues in the same way, I remember thinking that this fact alone should cause me to pause and reflect a little. I realised that it would be the height of pride on my part to dismiss everything they have to say without giving them a fair hearing. God had used these men greatly as his champions in church history; entire nations were affected by their ministries, both in their day and on into our own, and humility would teach me to at least become somewhat familar with their words and works, and not just read what others might say about them with all the bias that usually goes with that.

However, it was not the greats of church history that carried the most weight with me. It was not their writings and commentaries, as good as they were. What convinced me was seeing the doctrines clearly taught in Scripture. Understanding what Paul taught in Romans 8 and 9 as well as Ephesians 1 and 2 (after dispensing with much of my human traditions in the process) had a huge effect on me. Yet what brought me all of the way over into seeing it, and much more than that, embracing it, and delighting in it, was seeing the doctrines taught through the words of my Master, the Lord Himself.

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February 16, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

How Does God Regnerate Us by John Piper

009finallyalive.jpgOne of the unsettling things about the new birth, which Jesus says we all must experience in order to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), is that we don’t control it. We don’t decide to make it happen any more than a baby decides to make his birth happen—or, more accurately, make his conception happen. Or even more accurately: We don’t decide to make it happen any more than dead men decide to give themselves life. The reason we need to be born again is that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. That’s why we need the new birth, and that’s why we can’t make it happen. This is one reason why we speak of the sovereign grace of God. Or better: This is one reason why we love the sovereign grace of God.

Our condition before the new birth is that we treasure sin and self-exaltation so much that that we cannot treasure Christ supremely. In other words, we are so rebellious at the root of our fallen human nature that we can’t find it in ourselves to humbly see and savor Jesus Christ above all things. And we are guilty for this. This is real evil in us. We are blameworthy for this spiritual hardness and deadness. Our consciences do not excuse us when we are so resistant to Christ we can’t see him as supremely attractive.

Fire and Heat Inseparable

Something has to happen to us. Jesus said we must be born again (John 3:3). The Holy Spirit has to work a miracle in our hearts and give us new spiritual life. We were dead, and we need to be made alive. We need ears that can hear truth as supremely desirable, and we need eyes than see Christ and his way of salvation as supremely beautiful. We need hearts that are soft and receptive to the word of God. In short, we need new life. We need to be born again.

The way this happens, as we have seen so far, is that the Spirit of God supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith. The new spiritual life that we receive in the new birth is not separate from union with Jesus, and it is not separate from faith. When God in the riches of his mercy and the greatness of his love and the sovereignty of his grace chooses to regenerate us, he gives us new life by uniting us to Christ. “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). Our first experience of this is the faith in Jesus that this life brings. There is no separation of time here. When we are born gain, we believe. And when we believe, we know we have been born again. When there is fire, there is heat. When there is new birth, there ... More....

Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Finally Alive by John Piper

February 13, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (44 -- The Prophet Like Moses)

Yahweh your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me, from your midst, from among your brethren; unto him you shall hearken. According to all that you asked of Yahweh your God at Horeb, on the day of the assembly, saying, “May I not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, and may I not see this great fire any more, that I might not die!”. And Yahweh said unto me, “They have done well in what they have spoken. A Prophet like you I shall raise up for them from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak all that I command him unto them. And it shall come to pass that, every man which will not hearken unto the words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him”. – Deuteronomy 18:15-19

When the people saw the Lord come down upon Mount Sinai in great power, so that the very mountains shook, and there were thunderings and lightnings, and a very thick darkness, and raging tempests and fires (Exodus 19:16-19; cf. also Hebrews 12:18-21), then the people were terrified, and were not only too afraid to go up the mount into the presence of the Lord, but they even asked of him not to speak to them again in so dreadful a way, and not to show them again this merest glimpse of his terrible glory (Exodus 20:18-21). God then told Moses that they were right to request this of him, thereby acknowledging that it was too much for the people to bear to have any glimpse of him or any word from him, except it should be given through a Mediator. Now, Moses himself was this mediator for a time, and he went up into the holy mount and brought down God's words to the people; but he was inadequate for the task, and could not at all bring the people up to God, nor yet give them sufficient words in order to be a complete and satisfactory self-revelation; and so, God promised to send another Prophet like Moses, who should be greater than he, and reveal God in full, and make the people fit to come to him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). This promise ranks among the greatest in all the Pentateuch, and its fulfillment was ardently hoped for by all Israel until the coming of Jesus, of whom the apostle John said that, “the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), thereby confirming that Jesus was greater than Moses, and was that Prophet of whom Moses had spoken so long before.

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February 13, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Divine Foreknowledge -- Quote by R.C. Sproul

God knows both the micro- and macro-dimensions of the entire universe. He numbers the very hairs of our heads. Not only does he know what we will do before we do it, but also he knows all the options we could have chosen at the moment. He knows all contingencies. Yet God’s knowledge of contingencies is not itself contingent. His foreknowledge is perfect and absolute. He is not a Great Chess Player who must wait to see what we will do, but he knows absolutely what we will do before we do it. Before a word is even formed on our lips, he knows it altogether. Thus Luther responds to Erasmus:

It is, then, fundamentally necessary and wholesome for Christians to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that He foresees, purpose, and does all things according to His own immutable, eternal and infallible will. This bombshell knocks “free-will” flat, and utterly shatter it; so that those who want to assert it must either deny my bombshell, or pretend not to notice it, or find some other way of dodging it…

…You insist that we would learn the immutability of God’s will, while forbidding us to know the immutability of His foreknowledge! Do you suppose that He does not will what He foreknows, or that He does not foreknow what He will? If he wills what He foreknows, His will is eternal and changeless, because His nature is so. From which it follows, by resistless logic, that all we do, however it may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, is in reality done necessarily and immutable in respect of God’s will. For the will of God is effective and cannot be impeded, since power belongs to God’s nature; and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived. Since then His will is not impeded, what is done cannot but be done where, when, how, as far as, and by whom, He foresees and wills.

Quote from page 90 of Willing to R.C. Sproul

February 11, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Review: Chosen for Life by Sam Storms

Reviewed by Jeff Barrett

Clear. If one word could sum up Sam Storm’s work on the doctrine of divine election, it would be clear. Storms’ work was first published by Baker in 1987, but this revised and expanded edition published by Crossway in 2007 was my first encounter with Storms as an author.

The book begins with a brief parable about Jerry and Ed, plausibly fictitious, nineteen-year-old, identical twins with evidently identical lives until a mysterious distinction is revealed. This hypothetical relationship clearly grounds Storms’ proceeding discussion in the soil of life, and the author recalls his readers back to the story of Jerry and Ed to force an honest handling of an often theoretical topic.

Storms walks his readers thoroughly through the crucial biblical passages, devoting three chapters to the handling of Romans 9 alone. Further strengthening Chosen for Life are the two latter chapters which succinctly answer “Crucial Questions Concerning Election” as well as the appendices on problem passages in scripture, prayer and evangelism, and the justification of God’s eternal decrees. The author’s commitment to scriptural exegesis suites the humility of his language and commends his work to the mind of the reader. Those who agree – and those who are thus persuaded to agree – will be strengthened in their personal faith by confidence in God’s good sovereignty. Those who disagree will be called to pause and reflect deeply on their own grounds for confidence in God’s goodness.


February 11, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

‘The Growing Seed' by Terry Johnson

Mark 4:26-29

Growth through God’s Word

And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows--how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

The second half of the twentieth century saw an unprecedented interest in principles by which the church grows. When Donald A. McGavran founded the Institute of Church Growth in Eugene, Oregon in 1959, which in 1965 because Fuller Seminary’s School of Church Growth, a movement was born. The ‘Church Growth Movement’ has spawned thousands of articles and books, and has been exceptionally influential. Focusing on measurable results, it has constantly asked the question, what causes the church to grow? What practical steps can be taken to produce growth? What methods and techniques, what strategies and programs are more conducive to the growth of the church?

These are important question and answering them can be fruitful. Every church should constantly be evaluating its ministry and asking if it can’t be doing things more effectively than they are currently being done. But one of the unintended consequences of this movement has been the gradual secularization of church-building. Increasingly the business of growing the church has been understood in increasingly secular ways. The same method by which businesses and institutions grow have been applied to the church. Management and marketing principles have taken on greater and greater importance. Demographic surveys and focus groups have been used to fine tune the method by which the gospel has been presented, and even the message itself. Sometimes in the name of relating to the culture, sometimes in the name of removing what might offend, revolutionary changes have been made in the public ministry of the church, all in the name of growth. The motives have been noble, but many of these changes have been ill-considered. Most important, the line separating what God does and what we do, between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, has been blurred. At times, it has seemed that the progress of the kingdom has been reduced to a natural process that can be engineered by human agents. The supernatural and spiritual character of the church has been dismissed in the process.

Is the growth of the church fundamentally a work of man or a work of God? If things have gotten seriously confused, we should not be surprised. Most, if not all, of the error in the history of the church, from the ancient Arians and Pelagians, to the modern-day Schleiermacher-inspired liberals, to New England’s Unitarians, has been perpetuated in the name of evangelism. Positive motives do not guarantee biblical results.


February 09, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Defending Sola Fide - A Historical Overview

The youtube video below is an overview of the historic and present day attacks against the doctrine of sola fide (justification by faith alone). Lasting approx. 72 minutes, this presentation made on Saturday, February 7, 2009 by Dr. James White is excellent for both its clarity and insight and I recommend it highly. - JS

February 09, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

What is "that"?

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)

In these words, the Apostle Paul destroys all notions of salvation by works. We are saved by the grace of God which is received through faith, and works play no part at all. As the next verse (v.10) makes clear, God has indeed planned for believers to do good works, but as this and many other passages in scripture would affirm, the works are the fruit and not the root of our salvation. True believers do good works, but works play no role at all in how we receive salvation, for it is "not as a result of works."

This much is clear, but questions have arisen as to what exactly is meant by the one word "that" in Ephesians 2:8. We know that whatever it is, it is the gift of God, but can we determine exactly what this gift is?

Some say that the gift is "faith" while others say it is "grace" and still others say it is "salvation." What may be a point of dispute from the reading of the English translations becomes settled when looking into the original Greek text.

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February 06, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (43 The Second Giving of the Law)

Behold, I am placing before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing if you hearken unto the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you this day, and the curse if you will not hearken unto the commandments of Yahweh your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known. – Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Immediately after God first gave his Law to the people whom he had chosen, and established his covenant with them, they showed their unworthiness by transgressing his commandments, and building a golden calf to worship in his stead. But instead of casting off his people, God brought them through forty years of testing in the wilderness, and thereafter, when he was about to bring them into the land that he had covenanted to give them, he gave them the Law a second time, through Moses his servant, and reminded them in many ways of all the blessings he had promised their fathers to give to them, which they had not yet received; and he therefore enjoined the strictest obedience upon them most ardently, in order that they might enter into the joy of the promised blessings. This second giving of the Law, after the failure of Israel to obey it when it was first given, is recorded for us in the final book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy; which is a name that simply means “second law”.

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February 06, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Recent White v. Ehrman Debate

As many of our readers are aware, Dr. James White had a well publicized debate (January 21, 2009) with Dr. Bart Ehrman on the issue of textual variants and the reliability of the New Testament (CD's and MP3's are now available with DVD to follow shortly). It was interesting to read Dr. White's goals in preparation for this debate and what he feels was accomplished. You can read of it here.

February 02, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Mike Horton's People and Place Wins 2009 Christianity Today book award

People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology Michael S. Horton (Westminster John Knox)
Mike Horton's People and Place won the 2009 Christianity Today book award for the best theology/ethics text. CT's judges said: Our judges said: "A first-rate work that engages recent world-class voices across the confessional spectrum. Horton offers acute interpretations of his dialogue partners and fashions his own well-argued theses into a constructive, orthodox, biblical, Reformed ecclesiology. This is the kind of scholarly quality that 'neo-evangelicals' were hoping for when Carl Henry and company articulated their vision."

February 02, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink