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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)

The Mosaic Covenant: Works or Grace?

The Westminster Confession of Faith, speaking of the unity of the Covenant of Grace from the time immediately after the Fall and forever thereafter, states, “This covenant [of grace] was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel” (WCF 7:5). In this brief summation, we may observe two things about the Mosaic administration of the Covenant: first, it was fundamentally an expression of the Covenant of Grace, and thus held forth the gospel to the people of God “by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come”; (WCF 7:5); and second, it was nevertheless in a sense utterly distinct from the New Covenant, even on so central an issue as the gospel itself. It was, in fact, appropriately designated a covenant of “law,” not just as acts of obedience flowing from gratefulness for the gospel, but as contradistinct from the very “Gospel” itself. In other words, it was, in one sense, in full continuity with the gospel first proclaimed to Abraham and consummated in Christ; and in another sense, of an entirely different legal principle.

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May 30, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Book Review: The Law Is Not of Faith, edited by Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David Van Drunen

In recent Reformed treatments of Covenant Theology, there have been several trajectories tending to emphasize ever more strongly the continuity between the Abrahamic, Sinaitic, and New covenants as different administrations of the Covenant of Grace, and correspondingly, to de-emphasize any discontinuities that may exist, particularly when it comes to the works-principle so evident in the giving of the Law, and in Paul's treatment of the Mosaic administration. Examples include John Murray's “monocovenantalism,” the New Perspective on Paul, and the Federal Vision, but the impact is wider than these examples might suggest, even to the extent that any suggestion within Reformed circles that Sinai entailed, in some sense, a republication of the Covenant of Works, is often met with stiff resistance and charges of Lutheran or (worse yet!) Dispensational influences. But does this widespread reaction against the teaching of republication have roots in historic Reformed thought? And more importantly, can it find support in the whole tenor of the Pentateuch and in the prophets and apostles who later interpreted it? According to the authors of The Law Is Not of Faith, the answer to that question is a resounding “No!”; and in support of that contention, they have mounted a redoubtable defense. This is stimulating, well-researched and exegetically-formidable writing, and at the same time it is very pertinent to many of the most hotly contended issues in Reformed theology today. I earnestly recommend it.

Continue reading "Book Review: The Law Is Not of Faith, edited by Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David Van Drunen" »

May 29, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Necessity of the Work of the Holy Spirit to Man's Salvation by J.C. Ryle

I invite special attention to this part of the subject. Let it be a settled thing in our minds that the matter we are considering in this paper is no mere speculative question in religion, about which it signifies little what we believe. On the contrary, it lies at the very foundation of all saving Christianity. Wrong about the Holy Spirit and His offices—and we are wrong to all eternity!

The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit arises from the total corruption of human nature. We are all by nature "dead in sins." (Eph. 2:1.) However shrewd, and clever, and wise in the things of this world, we are all dead towards God. The eyes of our understanding are blinded. We see nothing aright. Our wills, affections, and inclinations are alienated from Him who made us. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." (Rom. 8:7.) We have naturally neither faith, nor fear, nor love, nor holiness. In short, left to ourselves, we would never be saved.

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May 28, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

He Tried?

Rapper Shai Linne gives us a great lesson in Particular Redemption

Lyrics below

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May 26, 2009  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Five Arguments Against Future Justification According to Works

rick.jpgThis year has witnessed a publishing event of real interest to many Christians: the publication of N.T. Wright's Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision. Wright is widely considered the most provocative writer on justification today and the arrival of this book has deservedly garnered much attention. My purpose in this article is not to review Wright's book as a whole or even to assess his overall teaching on justification. Rather, I intend to respond to that part of his teaching that proposes a future justification by works for believers in Jesus Christ.

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May 26, 2009  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Pressing the Issue

Does the Bible Teach Prevenient Grace? (Quote from R. C. Sproul)

"As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that “comes before” something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with and assent to this grace are “elect.” Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost. The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man’s spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God’s grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn’t everyone get the same amount?

Think of it this way, in personal terms. If you are a Christian you are surely aware of other people who are not Christians. Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn’t God give the same gift to everybody?

Perhaps it wasn’t because you were more righteous. Perhaps it was because you are more intelligent. Why are you more intelligent? Because you study more (which really means you are more righteous)? Or are you more intelligent because God gave you a gift of intelligence he withheld from others? To be sure, most Christians who hold to the prevenient grace view would shrink from such answers. They see the implied arrogance in them. Rather they are more likely to say, “No, I chose Christ because I recognized my desperate need for him.” That certainly sounds more humble. But I must press the question. Why did you recognize your desperate need for Christ while your neighbor didn’t? Was it because you were more righteous than your neighbor, or more intelligent?

The question for advocates of prevenient grace is why some people cooperate with it and others don’t. How we answer that will reveal how gracious we believe our salvation really is. The $64,000 question is, “Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?”

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it." - R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, Ill.]

May 26, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Chapter Three: To the Non-Christian (Part One)

I am writing this book, not just because the message I have is good and true (although it is); but primarily, because the message I have matters. It matters to you. Whoever you might be, whatever you might think about Christianity, whether you're content as you are, looking for something more, unsure of Christianity, antagonistic to Christianity, or almost persuaded of Christianity – no matter what your situation may be, the true message of Christianity has something to say to you. In the next two chapters, I hope to speak to you specifically with some clear implications of the message I detailed in the previous chapter; and in order to do so as comprehensively as possible, I intend to address in order first the convinced atheists, agnostics, or adherents to non-Christian religions; second, the content, the satisfied and secular, the pursuers of pleasure and the American Dream; third, the dissatisfied, depressed, cynical or unsure; and fourth, those who are considering, who are at least open to Christianity, who are already searching and wanting to think these things through.

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May 25, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

500 Years On - Why John Calvin Still Matters

July 10, 2009 marks 500 years since the birth of John Calvin in Noyon, France. Dr. Robert Godfrey in an article "Calvin: Why He Still Matters" writes:

There can be no serious doubt that Calvin once mattered. Any honest historian of any point of view and of any religious conviction would agree that Calvin was one of the most important people in the history of western civilization. Not only was he a significant pastor and theologian in the sixteenth century, but the movement of which he was the principal leader led to the building of Reformed and Presbyterian churches with millions of members spread through centuries around the world. Certainly a man whose leadership, theology, and convictions can spark such a movement once mattered.

Historians from a wide range of points of view also acknowledge that Calvin not only mattered in the religious sphere and in the ecclesiastical sphere, but Calvin and Calvinism had an impact on a number of modern phenomena that we take for granted. Calvin is certainly associated with the rise of modern education and the conviction that citizens ought to be educated and that all people ought to be able to read the Bible. Such education was a fruit of the Reformation and Calvin.

Later in the article, concerning Calvin's insights into Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, Godfrey states:

Calvin is the first in the history of the church to develop the work of Christ in terms of those three offices. Martin Bucer had talked about it but had never developed it. Calvin is the pioneer here. What has Christ done for us? He has been our prophet—he has told us the truth, the full truth of God’s saving plan. What has Christ done for us? He has been our priest—he has offered himself as a sacrifice in our place to cover our sin, that we might belong to him. What has Christ done for us? He has been our king—he has promised us an eternal kingdom that will never pass away and never be shaken into which he will take us by his power. He has also promised us right now that we are citizens of that kingdom. Right now we enjoy his kingship and his care for us. That is his promise to us.

Read more here. - JS

May 23, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Cross Centered Life

crosscenter.jpg THE CROSS-CENTERED LIFE.

Here is an excerpt:

The Most Important Truth Is the Easiest to Forget

TIMOTHY'S HANDS TREMBLED as he read. He almost cradled the letter, as though his gentleness with the parchment would somehow be conveyed to its author, now chained in a cold Roman dungeon.

The letter came from the apostle Paul; it would be his last.

For years Timothy had pushed the thought of losing Paul out of his mind. Paul had been like a father. A friend and mentor who guided and instructed the young pastor. How could he minister without Paul's reassuring words, his confidence, his prayers? But now, Timothy knew Paul's death was imminent.

"I am already being poured out like a drink offering," Paul wrote, "and the time has come for my departure" (2 Timothy 4:6).

Timothy read the closing lines of the letter through his tears. But then he stopped and pushed them away abruptly. How could he wallow in grief when his old friend faced death so boldly?

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May 20, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Wolfram|Alpha - A Highly Advanced Knowledge Data Engine

"But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." - Daniel 12:4

Just wanted to give you a heads up about what is certain to be one of the most popular web sites on the internet. Wolfram|Alpha is a brand new highly advanced and sophisticated knowledge data site that has been launched this week. You will find it here.

The web site states the following as its goal: "Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come. With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement. As of now, Wolfram|Alpha contains 10+ trillion of pieces of data, 50,000+ types of algorithms and models, and linguistic capabilities for 1000+ domains. Built with Mathematica—which is itself the result of more than 20 years of development at Wolfram Research - Wolfram|Alpha's core code base now exceeds 5 million lines of symbolic Mathematica code. Running on supercomputer-class compute clusters, Wolfram|Alpha makes extensive use of the latest generation of web and parallel computing technologies, including webMathematica and gridMathematica."

It is definitely a site to bookmark. For a brief overview of some of the web site's capabilities, go here. You can use it for fun purposes such as to find out out how many days you have been alive or you can use it to calculate advanced mathematical questions. You can use it to find out the population of a country and its GDP and compare it with other nations, the area of a circle with a diameter of 10cm, the life expectancy of a male in Rhode Island, how much 20g of platinum would be worth today in the commodity market, or the human birth rate in America (its 8.17 births per minute) and how this compares with Iceland, India or Ukraine... there are almost endless possibilities. This site will be very popular with kids for school work, but should be of practical use to everyone. - JS

May 20, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Biblical Preaching is Spiritual in Its Essence

bp0519.jpgThis is one of the most vital truths about biblical preaching. Let me explain what I mean: the task of true preaching is not essentially intellectual or psychological or rhetorical; it is essentially spiritual.

Left to ourselves, we may do many things with a congregation. We may move them emotionally. We may attract them to ourselves personally, producing great loyalty. We may persuade them intellectually. We may educate them in a broad spectrum of Christian truth. But the one thing we can never do, left to ourselves, is to regenerate them spiritually and change them into the image of Jesus Christ, to bear his moral glory in their character. While that is the great calling of the church of Christ, it is essentially God’s work and not ours.

So it is possible to be homiletically brilliant, verbally fluent, theologically profound, biblically accurate and orthodox, and spiritually useless. That frightens me. I hope it frightens you, too. I think it is of this that Paul is speaking when he says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Cor. 3:6-7). It is very possible for us to be deeply concerned about homiletical ability and fluency and theological profundity and biblical orthodoxy, but to know nothing of the life – giving power of God with the burning anointing of the Holy Spirit upon our ministry. Campbell Morgan (Lloyd-Jones’s predecessor at the Westminster Chapel) divulged that at one crucial stage in his ministry he was in precisely this position, and sensed that God was sayingto him, “Preach on, great preacher, without me.” Alan Redpath used to say that the most penetrating question you could ask about any church situation was, “What is happening in this place that cannot be explained in merely human terms?”

So there is a world of difference between true biblical preaching and an academic lecture or a rhetorical performance. We are utterly dependent on the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Thank God, he uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty, and the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are (1 Cor. 1 :2,8). This is why it is absolutely essential to marry prayer to the ministry of the Word. In our ministries prayer is not supplemental; it is fundamental. Of course we subscribe to the principal that “this work is God’s work, not ours.” We subscribe to that because we are biblical Evangelicals, but the logical corollary of that statement is that prayer is a fundamental issue in the ministry of the Word, as in every part of our labor, and not, as we tend to make it, a supplemental matter.

E. M. Bounds, who wrote the remarkable little booklet Power through Prayer, says, “The church is on a stretch if not on a strain, looking for better methods. But men are God’s methods and while the church is looking for better methods, God is looking for better men.”

That, of course, does not mean that we should not be interested in methodology. Nor does it mean that we have to be stupid enough to ignore new ideas and new insights, or to be careless in our administration and exploration of methods that are valuable and effective. But we do need to ask God to write on our hearts that this task he has given us is spiritual in essence.

[Excerpt From "What is Biblical Preaching" by Eric J. Alexander, P&R, 2008]


May 19, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

More Thoughts on Christ's Active Obedience and its Relation to The Imputation of Christ's Righteousness

Active obedience: “Christ’s full obedience to all the prescriptions of the divine law…[making] available a perfect righteousness before the law that is imputed or reckoned to those who put their trust in him.

Passive Obedience: “[Christ's] willing obedience in bearing all the sanctions imposed by that law against his people because of their transgression…[being] the ground of God’s justification of sinners (Rom. 5:9), by which divine act they are pardoned…” Dr. Robert L. Reymond

By taking on the covenant obligations of the law as our representative we are made righteous in Him by His obedience. Romans 5:19 states: "For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous."

Something important to consider related to this:

God desires obedience, not sacrifice. God through history is looking for a man who would obey Him. He is not looking for someone who merely makes a perfect score on the test, but a human who is unfailingly devoted to Him as an image bearer - someone who mirrors his love, holiness, justice and truth. This is a constantly repeated theme throughout Scripture. Psalm 40, which Hebrews 10 quotes is one example:

Psalm 40:6-8 (English Standard Version)

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

Continue reading "More Thoughts on Christ's Active Obedience and its Relation to The Imputation of Christ's Righteousness" »

May 18, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Review: The Late Great Planet Church, Volume One, presented by NiceneCouncil.com

lategreatplanet150.jpgThe Late Great Planet Church (volume one) is a well-structured and easy-to-watch dvd presentation that gathers together the insights of several notable scholars and pastors, most of whom were formerly committed dispensationalists, specifically on the rise of dispensationalism and the often dubious nature of its history during its formative years. It continues with more recent trends, including both the “revised dispensationalism” championed by Charles Ryrie, and the “progressive dispensationalism” of such scholars as Darrell Bock and Craig Blaising. By the end of the dvd, the viewer will be well-acquainted with the basic history of the entire movement.

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May 18, 2009  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Monergism MP3 Library Mid- May Features

mp30518.jpg

Here are the updates to the Monergism MP3 Library. We have new preachers added to the “All North American Speakers Messages” folder: Charles Leiter, Hywel R. Jones, Steve Camp.

We have added Conrad Mbewe in the “All European & African Speakers Messages” folder.

We have added new sermons by the book in the Old Testament folders and New Testament folders.

We have added new conference folders: How Children Come to Faith in Christ, Children Desiring God Conference, Magnifying God: The Legacy of John Calvin in the 21st Century, Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference, The Scottish Reformed Conference and Twin Lakes Fellowship Conference.

May 18, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Chapter Two: What is Christianity?

Let me tell you from the beginning that Christianity is probably not what you think it is. It is probably much bigger, for one thing. Christianity is not just something you do on Sunday, it is not just one part of your life, another category to be fit in somewhere with work, friends, family, and entertainment. I am not a father, a husband, a co-worker, and a Christian. I am first, fundamentally, and all-inclusively a Christian. That is my identity, that is what defines me. I am no longer my own, and the life I live is no longer my own life: it is Christ who lives in me, and that makes me what I am, in every part of my life1. So then, I am not a Christian and a father, I am fundamentally a Christian father. I am not a Christian and a husband, I am fundamentally a Christian husband. I am a Christian co-worker, a Christian friend, a Christian while I work, eat, sleep, and play, a Christian who enjoys all the good gifts of God Christianly and acknowledges his glory in providing them all the while.

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May 18, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Athanasius on Scripture's Nature and Sufficiency

(taken from an article by Dr. James White at www.aomin.org) hear the words of Athanasius (c. 293 – 2 May 373), one of the chief spokesmen for Christ in the first few hundred years after Christ:

We note first and foremost the plain words from his work against the heathen:

For indeed the holy and God-breathed Scriptures are self-sufficient for the preaching of the truth.[1]

In this passage Athanasius begins with a fundamental tenet of his faith: the full sufficiency of Scripture for the proclamation of the truth. He immediately goes on to note that God uses other sources to teach truth as well, including godly men with an insight into Scripture. But he begins where Protestants and Roman Catholics part company: with the sufficiency of Scripture. He had learned such things from those who came before him. He even mentions the words of Antony, "The Scriptures are enough for instruction, but it is a good thing to encourage one another in the faith, and to stir up with words."[2]

When writing to the Egyptian bishops he asserted:

But since holy Scripture is of all things most sufficient for us, therefore recommending to those who desire to know more of these matters, to read the Divine word, I now hasten to set before you that which most claims attention, and for the sake of which principally I have written these things.[3]

The high view of Scripture is continued in this passage from Athanasius work on the Incarnation of the Word of God:

Let this, then, Christ-loving man, be our offering to you, just for a rudimentary sketch and outline, in a short compass, of the faith of Christ and of His Divine appearing usward. But you, taking occasion by this, if you light upon the text of the Scriptures, by genuinely applying your mind to them, will learn from them more completely and clearly the exact detail of what we have said. For they were spoken and written by God, through men who spoke for God.[4]

One will search in vain for a reference wherein this Father describes oral tradition in such a way, and yet Trent did not fear to so speak of tradition. Rather than finding OBrien's idea that Scripture is not a safe guide as to what we are to believe, Athanasius said: ". . . for the tokens of truth are more exact as drawn from Scripture, than from other sources."[5]

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May 18, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Useful Links for Mid-May 2009

More Americans “Pro-Life” Than “Pro-Choice” for First Time
A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

The Girl Nobody Wanted by Tim Keller
Succumbing to the world's definition of success brings devastation and disappointment, but God works with, through, and in weak people to give satisfaction.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory by Al Mohler
commencement address --- In just moments, these scholars of theology and the arts of ministry will receive their educational rewards, ‘with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities, appertaining thereto.’ There is but one problem — not one of these ministers is qualified to enter this calling.”

“The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight.” Desert Spring Church hosted Ray Ortlund, Jr. and Sam Storms - The audio is now available:

The Puritans - Perhaps the Web's most vast resource on the Puritans
The common spirituality that united Puritanism emphasized Christian experience and promoted corporate revival based upon the preaching of the Bible and wrought by the Holy Spirit.
Kelly M. Kapic and Randall C. Gleason

Understanding Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses on iTunes for free

May 15, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Doctrine of Republication (of the Covenant of Works)

thelawisnotoffaith-rt.jpgThe Law Is Not of Faith by Bryan D. Estelle, J.V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Editors)

[Hodge says] "God entered into a covenant with Adam", "the promise annexed to that covenant was life," "the condition was perfect obedience," and the penalty of this covenant was death." The covenant of works predicated on the command "This do and thou shalt live,"(Lev. 18:5) required perfect obedience by Adam and established a principle of strict justice or merit... The Work of Christ is a real satisfaction, of infinite merit, to the vindicatory justice of God; so that he saves people by doing for them, and in their stead, what they are unable to do for themselves, satisfying the demands of the law on their behalf, and bearing its penalty in their stead." -

...The law of Moses was, in the first place, a re-enactment of the covenant of works [but that is not its only function]. A covenant is simply a promise suspended upon a condition. The covenant of works, therefore, is nothing more than the promise of liffe suspended on the condition of perfect obedience.

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May 14, 2009  |  Comments (12)   |  Permalink

Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine?

Purgatory: the condition, process, or place of purification or temporary punishment in which, according to Roman Catholic belief, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven. Purgatory (Latin: purgatorium; from purgare, “to purge”)

The claim of the Roman Catholic Church is that the doctrine of purgatory was something all early Christians believed and that it can be substantiated from the Bible, most notably, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. However, what the text actually says and what Rome claims that it says are two different things. As Dr. James White points out: "where do you get the idea that this "fire" is in any way related to something that could be called "satispassio," (Satispassio: Suffering of Atonement) as Rome does? Purgatory (according to Rome) is for those who are headed to heaven: they died in a state of grace. The fire of purgatory (whether taken literally over time, as Rome obviously indicated for centuries on end, or now metaphorically, as the kinder, gentler Rome seems to indicate) is meant to cleanse away the temporal punishments of sins. But this testing in the day of judgment is about the motivations of the works done by Christian leaders. There is nothing here about temporal punishments. Besides, there is only one result of the testing in purgatory: everyone ends up in heaven. But there are two results of this testing: there are those whose works remain, and they receive a reward. And there are those who works are burned up, but they are saved anyway. So could someone tell me how there is anyone in purgatory whose works, upon being tested, are shown to be gold, silver, and precious stones? Aren't those the godly, the righteous, who receive a reward? But purgatory is for those who have in fact been judged, but, they are judged to have more temporal punishment for sin upon their souls than they have positive merit, so they must be cleansed and prepared through purgatory. So how does one get from a fire that tests works of Christian leaders, demonstrating who did what they did in life for the glory of Christ, to the fire of purgatory that should only be applied to those having temporal punishments of sin? You sure don't get there by exegesis."

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NASB) - 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Here is a very interesting interchange during the cross examination part of a publicly moderated debate between Dr. James White (the Protestant Christian apologist) and Father Stravinskas, a Roman Catholic apologist and priest. In this section, Dr. White is asking questions and Father Stravinskas is responding - JS:

May 14, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Cast your cares on the LORD - Psalm 55:22


a Kinetic Typography video by Seeds Family Worship Psalm 55:22 "Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." ~ NIV

May 12, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Gospel by John MacArthur

"He [the Father] made him [the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).

Jesus was guilty of nothing. Yet on the cross, the Father treated Him as if He had committed personally every sin ever committed by every individual who would ever believe. Though He was blameless, He faced the full fury of God's wrath, enduring the penalty of sin on behalf of those He came to save. In this way, the sinless Son of God became the perfect substitute for the sinful sons of men. As a result of Christ's sacrifice, the elect become the righteousness of God in Him. In the same way that the Father treated the Son as a sinner, even though the Son was sinless, the Father now treats believers as righteous, even though they were unrighteous. Jesus exchanged His life for sinners in order to fulfill the elective plan of God. And He did it so that, in the end, He might give back to the Father the love gift that the Father gave to Him.

May 12, 2009  |  Comments (20)   |  Permalink

Speaking Boldly Without Compromise

For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive. - Psalm 106:45, 46

God is controlling everything: the smallest molecules, big events, and even the hearts of men (Proverbs 21:1). God has a specific plan for you in redemptive history. And God reveals to us in the Scripture that he wants us to be witnesses in Babylon. God has a specific plan for our lives and, according to Scripture, will move into the heart of those he foreordains to put in our paths.

I believe there is strong scriptural warrant to believe that you will enjoy an unearthly protection when you live for Christ and speak boldly about Him. Many of us worry that if we stick our neck out to speak about Christ people may react negatively. We may worry about such things for a minute, but since God got us into this situation by calling us to be witnesses for him, he can get us out of it. God protects those who make a commitment to Him. And however people may react, the outcome is according to God's perfect plan. He has ultimate control over how the message you bring to people will be received. Remember, you are just the mailman. We do not create the massage, God does, and we must deliver that message intact. He will determine the outcome.

But many times we compromise because we're afraid we'll come in harm's way or be ridiculed when we speak about Christ but the fact is if we do not compromise, God will be our protection in the midst of trouble ... but as soon as you compromise, you forfeit that unearthly protection and, at that point, you're on your own.

Speaking of Israel Psalm 106:46 says, "He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives."Do you realize that God can not only sway a king, God can sway an entire society? This is because, verse 45 says He is a covenant keeping God and He made a covenant with His people. And, friends, we have a covenant with our God in Christ. In it he remembers not to treat us as our sins justly deserve. And further, because he has imputed to us Christ's righteousness, You are now children of God, in a covenant relationship that is indelible and unbreakable. So as you pray, ask God to have you move out into the world and engage with those who will be worthy of your time, and even if you do not see instant results, know that you are just the messenger whom God has assigned to this very encounter.

May 11, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Chapter One: The Reason I Write

I have recently begun writing a new book titled, If I Could Tell You Just One Thing. It's basically an appeal directed to a wide audience, including atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, nominal Christians, etc., with the foundationally important message of the gospel and its necessary implications. I'll occasionally be posting chapters here and would invite feedback on any of them. One final note: much of the material in the second chapter is taken from short articles I've written and posted here in the past, but the rest of the book will be entirely new.

If I Could Tell You Just One Thing

Chapter One: The Reason I Write

Why I am writing this book and why do I want you to read it?

The question is simple enough, but it has sufficient complexity, below its surface, to warrant an answer and an explanation, which I will attempt to give you in this chapter, in three parts: the first will deal with why I am writing; the second with why I am writing this book; and the third with why I want you to read it.

Read the rest of this entry...

May 11, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Panic Measures or Strategic Planning?

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Luke 12:37 (NIV)

Your phone rings. You pick it up to hear a familar voice, a long established friend, who informs you that he has just arrived at the airport and that he is on the way from there to your home to spend the weekend with you. How would you react? Perhaps there would be excitement as well as a measure of panic as your home would need to be prepared for your unexpected but welcome guest.

Now lets change the scenario - the same friend calls you and says he is coming anytime over the next 10 years, 30 years or even 50 years (I know, it takes a great deal of imagination to make this kind of leap but stay with me for a moment.. think this through). I tend to think it would be a lot harder to keep things prepared and ready for your guest if the friend could come knock on your front door any moment over a very long time period than if you had a few minutes warning.

There is a recurring phrase that Jesus used in the parables to describe the timing of His return - that of it being "after a long time" or "a long while." In Matthew 25:14-30 in the Parable of the Talents, verse 19 says, "Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them." Similarly, in Luke 20:9, the scripture says, "And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while..."

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May 11, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Book Review: A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes, edited by David W. Hall and Peter A. Lillback

The tenth of July, on this year of our Lord, 2009, will be a highly significant date for the reformed community, marking as it does the five hundredth birthday of John Calvin, the acclaimed Reformer of Geneva and author of one of the most enduring works ever penned, Institutes of the Christian Religion. As a sort of birthday present, editors David Hall and Peter Lillback have gathered together the insights of many competent scholars and teachers in the reformed tradition, to celebrate the occasion with A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes, a volume marked by a variety of characteristics ranging from warm appreciation for Calvin the man to insightful and up-to-date contributions to the ongoing discussion of the Genevan Reformer in the plethora of secondary literature that has grown up around his legacy. If you desire to delve a little deeper into Calvin and his stunning contribution to Christianity and culture (and who should not so desire!), then what better occasion than his five-hundredth birthday, and what better way to make good upon your desire than a foray into this riveting volume? I found myself much benefitted by my own excursion into its pages, and I'm certain you will echo my own sentiments if you take the same journey.

Continue reading "Book Review: A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes, edited by David W. Hall and Peter A. Lillback" »

May 09, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Here's How Oregonians will Celebrate Calvin's 500th

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In Celebration of John Calvin's 500th birthday Professor James T. Dennison will be presenting three lectures:
Reformation Geneva:
The French Connection (John Calvin) and the
Italian Connection (Francis Turretin)

Download Flyers Here

Working from his latest book, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English
Translation, Volume 1: 1523-1552, James T. Dennison will examine the life, catechisms, and
confessions of John Calvin in an illustrated power-point presentation. Beginning with this Calvin
quincentenary tribute, we will then ‘cross the bridge’ via the Italian Refugee Church in Geneva to the great Reformed scholastic, Francis Turretin. Dennison’s edition of Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology will provide the context for our final presentation.

Friday June 12 (7:00 - 8:30) & Saturday, June 13 (9:30 - 4:00)
Friday: 7:00pm - 8:15pm John Calvin and the Geneva Confessions with Q&A.
Saturday: 9:30am - 10:15am Puppeteers
Saturday: 10:30am - 11:45pm The Italian Church in Geneva with Q&A.
Saturday: 12:00pm - 1:30pm Potluck Lunch
Saturday: 1:30pm - 2:00pm Puppeteers
Saturday: 2:15pm - 3:30pm Francis Turretin at the Dawn of the Enlightenment with Q&A

Tucker Maxon School
2860 SE HOLGATE BLVD * PORTLAND 97202
$10 PER ADULT - CHILDREN FREE
DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS AND SPECIAL NEEDS
PLEASE PRE-REGISTER AT GRACEWL.COM OR CALL (503) 619-7387

Download Flyers Here

May 07, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Book Review and Other Deep Discounts

justification-leiter100.jpgReview: Justification and Regeneration (New Expanded Edition/with FAQ appendix)
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. more...


Several Deep Discounts Currently Being Offered at Monergism Books

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Click here for these and other deep discounts

May 07, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Foreword to John Barber, The Road From Eden by John M. Frame

roadfromedenRT.jpgForeword to John Barber, The Road From Eden by John M. Frame
From the biblical beginnings of their faith, Christians have wrestled with the relation of Christ to culture. In the Old Testament period, Israel developed a culture of its own, under the impetus of divine revelation, but also in constant interaction with the “nations,” from Egypt, to Canaan, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. Between the testaments, Greece and Rome entered their picture. The New Testament envisages the Kingdom of God coming to all the nations of the world, and the Christians faced the problem of what to accept and what to reject in the culture of these nations.

Since then, the Christian church has developed its own cultures in different places, or, as some would prefer, subcultures. It has also influenced the larger cultures in which it has been placed. Negatively, it has experienced oppression, even persecution, by cultures opposed to its gospel.

These experiences have led Christians to reflect on the nature of culture, biblical norms for culture, and especially the relation of Christ to the cultures in which they lived. Although the earliest church was often persecuted, they nevertheless sought peace with the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, and the writings of the Fathers explore ways of achieving that without compromising the standards revealed in Scripture. Augustine’s City of God is a great attempt to describe the positive role of God’s people in a non-Christian society. Medieval thinkers, writing in a culture actually dominated by the church, wrote with other perspectives. And the Reformation asked how our participation in culture is affected by the gospel of salvation by faith alone. Modern civilization raised new questions of this kind, answered differently by the many new denominations, sects, and traditions of professing Christianity.

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May 06, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Gospel-Driven: Good News People in a Bad News World by Michael Horton

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Gospel-Driven: Good News People in a Bad News World
(4 MP3s)


by Michael Horton
Reformation Society of Oregon Spring Theology Conference!

Session #1: The Front-Page God
Session #2: The Promise-Driven Life
Session #3: Feasting in a Fast-Food World
Session #4: Question and Answer

May 05, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Are Faith, Repentance and Sanctification Synergistic?

Visitor: I think that conversion and regeneration are mongergistic; but is repentance synergistic, and faith synergistic; is sanctification synergistic?

Response: In a manner of speaking yes. One could say that technically only regeneration is monergistic. This is because it is the only grace God gives us when we are utterly passive, or even hostile to Him. We do not cooperate with God to be regenerated. He regenerates us and, as a consequence of our new heart and the Spirit living in us, we most willingly cooperate. And, like you appear to conclude in your question, it is we, and not God, who actually exercise faith and repentance. Yet, I must admit that I am uncomfortable with the word "synergism" when applying it to faith, repentance and sanctification. This may perhaps be an improper word since these things effectually arise from a renewed heart. We are already redeemed so we are not working toward salvation, but rather, working from out of our salvation. We therefore no longer work in the sense that we are striving to earn anything redemptively. That is already a fait accompli. Our work is, rather, the inevitable outworking of our adoption as sons who are no longer slaves. We work from thankful hearts that spring forth from our new nature which God himself has given us. Having been regenerated, our own work never maintains our just standing before God. Christ has already proved sufficient for this and having joined us to Himself has given us rest from our work (read Heb 4).

Hope this helps
John

May 05, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Sola Gratia - Grace Alone

The religions of man often like to bring grace into the equation. Human works always play a role in obtaining salvation in these man made formulas. An appeal is often made that although works (human actions) must be involved before salvation can occur, it is still "grace alone" that saves because it is God alone who is the ultimate source of power for these works. They say that God (in the end) therefore gets the glory for the works we do to save ourselves.

While it is true that for the Christian, God's grace empowers us for Christian service (sanctification), the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the works we do play no role whatsoever in our salvation (justification) (Romans 4:4,5). In contrast, Rome confuses justification with sanctification for in their scheme, only when a man is fully sanctified will be be declared right with God (or justified). Yet Romans 5:1 declares that justification is a past tense event for the believing Christian - having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2 8, 9 also declares, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." According to the Bible, for grace to truly be grace, works cannot be mixed in. Romans 11:6 says, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace."

In contrast with all man made concepts, the Protestant Reformers heralded the message of "Sola Gratia," or Grace Alone. There was no confusion as to the meaning of the term. Sola Gratia meant grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the Lord. All false concepts of grace would seek to eliminate at least one of these clauses, but the biblical Gospel stands firm. Unless Grace alone is understood in this manner, man will always have some room for boasting.

The Reformers understood that man's only contribution to the table of redemption is in fact his sin. Man's will is not a deciding factor (Romans 9:16) because it is inseparately linked with his heart which is desperately wicked and while still in the flesh, he cannot submit to God (Rom 8: 7,8). It takes a new heart - a regenerated or born again heart - to enter or even see the kingdom of God (John 3). As Martin Luther said, ""If any man ascribes salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learnt Jesus Christ aright." Even though we are justified by simple faith, without any human works or human merit involved, even this faith is the gift of God and not a reason for which to boast, for any boasting of man robs God of His glory. The works we do are the fruit and not the root of our salvation. The fruit is necessary to affirm that the faith is genuine, but Jesus Christ is the Savior who saves through faith alone - plus nothing! Only when Sola Gratia is properly understood does Soli Deo Gloria (the fifth sola) maintain its integrity. The issue has never been the necessity of grace but the sufficiency of grace. All man made religion believes grace is necessary but cannot embrace grace's sufficiency, and because of this, stands in opporition to the only Gospel that saves.

Sola Gratia, Soli Deo Gloria. It is because saves us by His Grace Alone that all the glory for it goes to God alone. - JS

May 05, 2009  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Hebrews 6:4-9 (revisited)

from a previous blog article:

Hebrews 6:4-9
4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things- things that belong to salvation.

Invalid interpretations of this passage in Hebrews chapter 6 has resulted in much confusion on the issue of the perserverance (or preservation) of the saints. Here are some words on this from Vincent Cheung who was responding to someone who said that they still tended to read passages like this as an Arminian:

Question/Comment: "I have been thinking about Hebrews 6:4-6, and I am still struggling to be more impartial with it…. I recall that you have talked about these verses, but I am still struggling…

Response: Besides my own remarks, there are a number of commentaries that adequately address Hebrews 6. It is good to read and review them. After that, the struggle is not in attaining exegetical precision with the passage, but it is in the part of you that still tends to read it as an Arminian — as a self-centered rebel — when there is no warrant for it.

Consider the example of John 3:16. It says that whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life, which both Calvinism and Arminianism affirm, but it does not say who will believe or why they will believe. Thus the verse affirms only salvation by faith, and has no relevance to the disagreement between Calvinism and Arminianism until you bring other biblical passages into the discussion. However, many people want to read it as Arminians, and so they think that Arminianism is what it proves. They take the words "whoever believes" to mean something so different as, "Every man has free will, and anyone can by his free will believe in Christ apart from God's foreordination and direct control." I might as well deduce the entire Alice in Wonderland when someone says "Good morning" or "Have a nice day."

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May 02, 2009  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Book Review: The Reign of Grace, by Abraham Booth

To many people, the doctrines of grace are essentially just the five points of Calvinism, commonly remembered by the acronym “TULIP”; but in reality, the doctrine of God's sovereign, reigning grace impacts every part of Christian doctrine and life. Few people give more evidence of having come to understand and delight in the far-reaching implications of this marvelous grace of God than eighteenth century Baptist Abraham Booth. When he first learned of the doctrines of grace, his life was transformed, and he was driven to write of the precious treasure he had encountered in the warm and compelling volume, The Reign of Grace. For both the dour, stodgy old Calvinist whose affections are quite out of keeping with his doctrine and the non-Calvinist who is suspicious either of the truth or the practical effects of Calvinism, this masterpiece of heart and mind would be a very salutary cordial.

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May 02, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Middle Knowledge, Synergism and Grace

To teach that there is a Middle Knowledge that depends on the liberty of the creature is to support synergism. If God only knows hypotheticals, then our choice becomes essential for salvation. In which case the biblical teaching concerning the utter graciousness of salvation is undermined. - R. Scott Clark

Quoted from Ping-Pong Evangelicals and Middle Knowledge

May 01, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink