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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)

Fall Theology Conference with Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

krteaching.gifOctober 17th, 2009 is the Fall Theology Conference in the Northwest with Dr. Kim Riddlebarger. He will be speaking on Eschatology. Our Blessed Hope: A biblical look at the end times. Register by logging on to www.estacadachristianchurch.org and click on the events registration tab. All who attend will be given a free copy of messages given by Kim Riddlebarger, Michael Horton, and R. Scott Clark on the topic of eschatology. Graciously donated by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Any questions call 503-630-6707

September 30, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Christianity - a Cleverly Devised Myth? by Dr. James White

2 Peter 1: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Secular Colleges and Universities today are promoting the idea that Christianity borrowed stores of dying and rising gods from the cultures and religions around them to start a new religion. From Sunday, September 27 (a.m.), fresh from his debate with Dan Barker on this theme the day before, here is Dr. James White refuting this claim. (youtube video - approx. 49 minutes)

September 30, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Questions on Slavery, Incest, Polygamy & Genocide in the OT

Question:

Hi John, Are there any good books/articles online that you'd recommend to read on the following topics:

Slavery, Incest, Polygamy...

To handle questions about slavery in the Bible and slave owners being permitted to beat their slaves and retain ownership of the wife and children of a male slave that is freed at a certain point ; questions about incest (Abraham and his half sister, etc); polygamy (God telling David that He gave him his wives); God commanding the children of Israel to put to death those who stray from Judaism; women being forced to marry a man who raped them; the Israelites being commanded to wipe out entire communities, including women and children (some would say that the Jews were responsible for multiple holocausts); etc., etc. Looking forward to hearing from you.

------------------------------------------------

Response:

Thanks for your questions. They are important and ones many postmoderns like to ask these days.

Regarding slavery, Exodus 21:16 says

"He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death."

Deuteronomy 24:7 likewise says,

"If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you."

In other words, slavery was not the same thing as the kind we saw in 19th century America where people went to Africa, kidnapped people and brought them home to sell them to the highest bidder. Such would be a capital crime in the OT, according to these passages. Instead, persons who were slaves were either paying off a debt, or persons who attacked Israel and captured in battle. Someone may have some problems with this but it is not the type of slavery we usually think of today. The ‘slavery’ mentioned in the Old Testament was really indentured servant hood and was a very different kind of institution than the New World slavery that developed in modern times. For example, Exodus 21:27 says that if you knock a slave’s tooth out, the slave has to go free. That doesn’t sound like the same institution you are thinking of, does it? Slavery in the Greco-Roman world was harsher than the indentured servant hood of Israel, but it was almost never for life (average 10-15 years in length) and slaves were paid and lived about the same as other working people. So be careful when you equate the African slave trade to the forms of slavery and servant hood you hear about in the Bible. We still have slavery today and it takes place in the prisons. People pay a debt they owe society there.

Continue reading "Questions on Slavery, Incest, Polygamy & Genocide in the OT" »

September 29, 2009  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

State of the Nation - Why are the Churches losing their young people?

America has more Christian resources and Bible colleges than ever in its history, yet the nation is on a spiritual downward spiral. What has happened? Why is the church not reaching the culture? Get the full report—find out the reasons behind the collapse of Christianity in the Western world!

A most shocking and profound message on the state of the nation in America from Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. Parts 1, 2 and 3 available here.

September 29, 2009  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink

A little less conversation, a little more action

One of the observations made about reformed people (from those on the other side of the aisle, so to speak) is that while they are busy about the task of getting out there with the Gospel, the reformed folk stay in their ivory towers teaching seminars on Divine election. Of course, there are wonderful exceptions to this, but I think in general, the criticism is valid - they have a point. Historically, of course, it was the truth of Divine election which propelled the entire missionary movement around the world because of the Scripture bourne conviction that Christ had "other sheep - not of this fold" in distant lands. Yet I believe in general, many modern day Reformed Christians and Churches could be quite accurately described as "guilty as charged." Thank God for accuracy, for hermeneutics and exegesis.. but what about Evangelism? There seems to be little passion or compassion for lost souls. Revive us oh Lord!

Where are the great Reformed Evangelists in our day, so prominent in former eras? Are we able to name even one? Where are choice servants of God - men like George Whitefield?

Sometimes it takes an Arminian Evangelist to wake us up to the task at hand, like the one I read this morning (unnamed):

"If we want New Testament revival we should study the New Testament pattern. If we take Acts as the true ideal, then Acts also reveals the formula. It is absolutely clear that it was by the preaching of the Gospel. That is clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 1:21. ‘It has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe’. They prayed, but they asked God to bless their evangelism --- not for Him to do what He had told them to do. People pray ‘do it again, Lord’. But WE should ‘do again’ what the first Christians did... They preached, witnessed and worked as if it all depended on them, and prayed as if it all depended on God...

Look at Acts 5:42 ‘Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ’. Paul’s witness in Ephesus caused the whole city to riot. No wonder! He said ‘I taught you publicly and from house to house. For three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears’. Even slaves found ways to preach Christ.

Timothy is seen as a bishop today, but Paul told him to do the work of an evangelist, not just pray for revival. The early church was alive and lively, always in action. That is what passing from death to life meant for them. They lived! Quickened! Revived! ... We are “co-workers together with Christ” – what glorious partnership."

Without doubt, God is Sovereign in the matter of election, and yet He has ordained that we Christians preach the Gospel to every creature. God has His ends (His elect coming to Christ - Romans 8 and 9), but He uses means to achieve them (the preaching of the good news - Romans 10). How shall they hear without a preacher? ...and how about you and me? How long has it been since you shared the Gospel with someone? Did you need to hear this today?

September 28, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Jesus Christ as Denouement in the Theater of God - John Piper

Here is John Piper's message, from the Desiring God Conference, September 27, 2009 where his theme concerns how Jesus Christ relates to the ultimate purpose of God in creating the universe as the theater of God:

September 28, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Calvin, the Bible, and the Western World

One of the sessions at today's Desiring God 2009 Conference, here is Doug Wilson speaking on "The Sacred Script in the Theater of God: Calvin, the Bible, and the Western World."

September 26, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Mathetes to Diognetus

One of the earliest Christian letters in existence, likely written very shortly after the death of the last apostle, is anonymous, addressed to a certain Diognetus by one who simply calls himself, "Mathetes," that is, a "Disciple". Diognetus is an unbeliever, and hence the letter is primarily evangelistic. So what about the gospel would so early a Christian emphasize, in his endeavors to spread the good news to others? Nothing, of course, but the "Great Exchange"! Consider his following words:

"But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had clearly been shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great longsuffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on the burden of our iniquities, He gave His Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!"

So where are they who claim that justification only by an imputed, external righteousness is a doctrine new to the Protestant Reformation?

September 25, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Prayer Life (a window)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? - Psalm 42: 1, 2

My ears always prick up when I hear a man of God give us something of a window into his prayer life. I am especially eager to hear and learn from others who display a consistent and effectual life in prayer.

I just came across this brief three and a half minute video (below) of Pastor Matt Chandler (from Dallas, Texas) and trust it will be a blessing to you in this regard. May it stir all of our hearts and focus our minds to live Coram Deo "before the face of God" - the very purpose for us being justified by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. - JS

Continue reading "The Prayer Life (a window)" »

September 25, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

This is my story, this is my song....

From Passion 2007, held in Atlanta, Georgia. This is Chris Tomlin (and others) leading Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)... Each word is so poignant- so true. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God, the Lord of all glory, Jesus the Messiah!

September 25, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Puritans: Can They Teach Us Anything Today?

I recently read the notes of a lecture by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson on the Puritans and what they can teach us today. The short answer to the question is.. a whole lot! Puritans were individuals who wanted to see the church purified according to the teaching of Scripture, and also wanted to see their lives, in great detail, purified by the Word of God.

Here, Dr. Ferguson presents the big picture overview concerning why the Puritans and their writings can be so useful to us in our own day. I was particularly struck by how the Puritans sought to practically apply the Bible in the home life of each family in the local church and how all the doctrine expoused was so very Trinitarian. It is excellent material. I hope it will stir in us a desire to read more of their writings. You will find part one of his talk here, part two here. The audio recording of this lecture can be found here: Enjoy! - JS

September 22, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Does John 20:31 to prove that faith precedes regeneration?

I recently received the following question from a brother who is struggling with monergistic regeneration and the doctrines of grace.

Visitor:
Dear brother John.

Please pray for me. I feel so confused right now. So lost theologically. I feel like giving up in my pursuit of true, Biblical theology. My strength is just gone. I feel as though I'll never really know "the truth" concerning matters of the Gospel, salvation, etc. Once I began to see and passionately understand the doctrines of grace, I was looking to find some passages from the Geneva Bible, and randomly, I came across a website that attacked the doctrines of grace. Specifically they cited John 20:31 to prove that faith precedes regeneration. "believing you might have life." What are your thoughts on this verse?
--------------

Response:
Thanks for taking the time to share your struggles with me. I will remember to keep you in my prayers brother. Let's take a closer look at the text you mentioned:

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:31

Justification & Eternal Life is granted by God to those who place our faith in Christ alone. All Christians affirm this truth. Calvinists, Arminians, Monergists and synergists. But does this single Text exclude the possibility that the Holy Spirit works to change our hearts prior to faith? To use an isolated text like this to try and prove that the Holy Spirit is not active in opening our eyes and ears to the gospel prior to faith is simply refusing to look at the entirety of revelation, especially when the full counsel of Scripture, in countless places, says otherwise. The Bible teaches that the word alone will not persuade people who are hostile to God by nature (Rom 8:7). For just one example of the necessity of the Spirit, have a look at 1 Thess 1:4,5:

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."

Continue reading "Does John 20:31 to prove that faith precedes regeneration?" »

September 21, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Total Depravity & Man's Responsibility

John 6:44 - Jesus said "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

John 3:19-21 "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

The Scripture teaches us clearly that man has an inability to come to Christ outside of God effectually drawing him (John 6:44) yet this does NOT remove man's responsibility to do so. How can this be the case? John Piper explains using a very helpful illustration in the short audio segment below:

September 18, 2009  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

What to say when Mormons say that Jesus said "I say you are gods" (follow all that?)

The chief reason for me being a Reformed Christian is not a heartfelt devotion to the Magisterial Reformers like Martin Luther or John Calvin. No, the main reason is that the Reformed message thunders out from the pages of Scripture when the principles of hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) are applied. When the text is left to speak for itself, within its own context, the truth is clearly seen. Texts taken out of their setting can be made to support many erroneous views and heresies. Surely, a text out of context is a pretext for all false doctrine. However, error is exposed when individual texts are subjected to analysis such as identifying the background, use of words, context, syntax, etc.

Some people are very quick to say that "the Lord" showed them the meaning of a verse. Yet it is often the case that the context of the verse totally repudiates the interpretation given. To fail to study the text's context is not a mark of spirituality, but the exact opposite - a failure to honor the Holy Spirit who inspired the original words. We would never wish for our own words to be treated this way. How much more should this be the case when it is God the Holy Spirit who has inspired Scripture?

An old heresy, based upon a misinterpretation of John 10:34, suggests that men can become gods. This is the doctrine espoused by the LDS (Mormons) and other cult groups (many Word of Faith preachers teach this also). I will let an excerpt from Dr. James White's book "Is the Mormon my Brother?" show the context and true meaning of John 10:34.

Dr. White writes:

Continue reading "What to say when Mormons say that Jesus said "I say you are gods" (follow all that?)" »

September 16, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Time - Top 50 Internet web sites for 2009

The internet has changed life for most people in the last decade. Time magazine has recently made its list of the top 50 sites for 2009. Certainly, some sites on the list are much more useful than others, from sites which reveal how to save on gas in your local area, price comparison sites, to money saving ideas around the home, games, news, and many others, this list is useful for those who wish to make the most of what is currently out there in cyberspace. Here is the list.

September 14, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

An Overview of the Reformation by Dr. James White

September 14, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Did you ever just wonder what the band Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody would look and sound like if they tried to tell the story of David and Goliath? Well, thanks to the apologetix and WT Wesley Foundation, wonder no more...

September 12, 2009  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Love Constrained to Obedience

A hymn-poem by William Cowper (1731-1800) to encourage you and prepare you for worship on the Lord's Day (based on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15:

No strength of nature can suffice
To serve the Lord aright:
And what she has she misapplies,
For want of clearer light.

How long beneath the law I lay
In bondage and distress;
I toll’d the precept to obey,
But toil’d without success.

Then, to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its power within,
I feel I hate it too.

Then all my servile works were done
A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose His ways.

“What shall I do,” was then the word,
“That I may worthier grow?”
“What shall I render to the Lord?”
Is my inquiry now.

To see the law by Christ fulfilled
And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.

William Cooper

ESV 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

September 12, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Tell 'em to choose Christ, to turn from sin, to repent, to believe, to come.. knowing only the elect ever will

Jesus - "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt 11:28

Jesus - "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." - John 6:44

Dan Phillips at the Pyromaniacs blog wrote the article that follows below.. All I need to say is, "well said Dan!" - JS

To be Biblical, theology at least has to deal with the raw data of Scripture. Any system will have parts it sings with, and parts it groans and sings with — but where you find yourself groaning too heartily, you should take a second look at your system. I think it's beyond rational debate that the Bible envisions man as by design a deciding creature. "The plans of the heart belong to man," Solomon writes (Proverbs 16:1a), and the word translated "plans" suggests "arrangements." A lot of decisions go into an arrangement: do this, then this, then either this or this, depending on what happens.... This is the assigned lot of man, and rightly so. All over Scripture.

God faces Cain with a choice between doing well and yielding to sin (Genesis 4:7). Through Moses, God presents Pharaoh with a number of choices (cf. Exodus 8:1-2). To the nation, Moses cries, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Fast-forwarding to the ministry of our Lord, we see many choices laid out, and the ringing command to choose rightly. "Repent," Jesus calls (Matthew 4:17); choose the narrow gate over the deadly broad way, Jesus warns (Matthew 7:13-14); come (Matthew 11:28), go (Matthew 28:19). Choices, choices. Yet behind and over it all is the sovereign will of God, which is exhaustive and invincible, and which always has both the first and the last word.

So should we be reluctant to use the language of choosing and deciding? Evidently not. The Bible surely does it freely and frequently.

I think where we get hung up is in failing to deal wisely and believingly with Deuteronomy 29:29 — "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

Part of the problem, then, is that we concern ourselves too much with the wrong side of the equation. We gum up a critical difference that this verse reveals. On the one hand, it is absolutely true that we can't do anything apart from God's sovereign will. We can't live (James 4:15) nor breathe (Daniel 5:23), let alone plan (Proverbs 21:1) nor do (Proverbs 16:9b). His sovereign will is a sure thing, and it is a secret thing. But how does that rubber meet the road? Does that mean we shouldn't do anything unless we know whether it's God's sovereign will? If that's our chosen path, then evidently it's God's sovereign will that we be useless, pathetic idiots.

Continue reading "Tell 'em to choose Christ, to turn from sin, to repent, to believe, to come.. knowing only the elect ever will" »

September 10, 2009  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

"Taste and See that the LORD is Good!"- Edwards on 'Bonum Utile' and 'Bonum Formosum'

ESV Isaiah 6:3 And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

ESV Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

How do we increase in our love for God as His people? How do we seek to desire God above all things and join with the angels in singing: “Holy, holy, holy” both day and night?

We must taste and see that the LORD is good. As Jonathan Edwards taught in ‘The Religious Affections’ Part III, we must not only have an abstract sense of the taste of God’s holiness and beauty, but we must have knowledge of it for ourselves by the Holy Spirit.

Edwards said that as we may have an understanding that honey is sweet, it is much different to have an experience of actually tasting the honey and knowing first hand and experientially that the honey is sweet.

ESV Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Edwards wrote in ‘The Religious Affections’*: “A true love to God must begin with a delight in his holiness….

Continue reading ""Taste and See that the LORD is Good!"- Edwards on 'Bonum Utile' and 'Bonum Formosum'" »

September 10, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"Controlled by Love": Pleasing God Unselfishly

ESV 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Am I controlled by the love of Christ in my Christian walk? Are you controlled by the love of Christ in the Christian life? Or are we living ultimately for ourselves, even as those who profess the name of Christ?

In 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, the Apostle Paul teaches us that we either live for God out of love for Jesus Christ or we live for self. As I have been reading and meditating on this scripture and some of the works of Jonathan Edwards, I have been forced to think about how believers please God in their obedience.

In this blog, I would love to have more thoughts from you, some healthy sharpening, and your own experience on pleasing God from the heart. This is presented here as some thoughts in progress that I am attempting to formulate for a study.

The issues that I am trying to get at in my ponderings and in how these thoughts would influence my sermon preparation as a pastor are: "How do I get myself to think more deeply about my own heart before God?" "How do I obey God; that is, what is my motivation for obedience to God?" "As a pastor how do I biblically motivate myself and other believers to seek to please God through obedience?"

Continue reading ""Controlled by Love": Pleasing God Unselfishly" »

September 09, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Awaiting Our Blessed Hope: A Biblical Look at the End Times

ECC-Fall-90Conf-WEBAd.jpg
The Reformation Society of Oregon is pleased to welcome Kim Riddlebarger, pastor and host of The White Horse Inn Talk Show, to the Fall Theology Conference, Saturday October 17th 2009. If you live in the Pacific Northwest please join us:

For more informaiton, download the flyer here

September 09, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Some are optimistic; others just have misty optics.

The Scripture tells us that a merry heart does good like a medicine. The Two Ronnies was a British comedy show that aired on BBC 1 from 1971 to 1987. It featured the double act of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, the "Two Ronnies" of the title. I was trying to think of a verse to go with this youtube video. Maybe 1 Corinthians 13: 12 - "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." That's a real stretch of course. - JS

September 09, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Assumptions, Traditions and a Biblical Filter

I recently succumbed to the internet phenomenon of Facebook and became a member of the online community. It has been fun to find people I knew from 20 years ago and more, even on the other side of the world. There's a feature of facebook that allows you to become a "fan" of a person or organization and what it means is that when they post something, it appears on your "wall" and you can see it and read it automatically, without having to go to their site to see it. Well, I have signed up with a number of ministries I enjoy and its been great to read their insights as they post them. However, I signed up to become a "fan" of a certain evangelist who shall be nameless (his name is not important for the sake of this article). The reason for signing up was that he is regularly stirring up the Body of Christ to get the Gospel out to people and I appreciate this so much and look forward to his comments in this regard. Today though, he shifted focus and talked about faith. Now I love the subject of faith and was interested in what he had to say. I read his words but realized quickly that we would not be seeing eye to eye when it came to this theme. That is because he assumes man's ability to believe the Gospel outside of regeneration. I think the best way to explain this is to quote his words below in italics and then add my own comments.

The elementary fact is that faith is in-built. We are born believers.

hmmm.. Isn't this an assumption rather than something Scripture teaches? Does not Scripture teach that we are born spiritually dead and need resurrection (Romans 5; Eph 2; 1 Cor 15)?

If you think you have no faith – try it! Try not believing in anything or anybody – your wife, husband, doctor, bank, boss, baker, or chef.

Certainly unregenerate man believes many things.. it is impossible NOT to believe something... but faith in Christ is impossible for natural man outside of God's activity. Jesus said, "NO ONE CAN COME TO ME UNLESS the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44).

Continue reading "Assumptions, Traditions and a Biblical Filter" »

September 07, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Sovereign Grace

"How would you describe your conversion experience? Did God come looking for you, or was it the other way around? In your mind, is the accent on the initiative and intervention of God, or on your response of repentance and faith? First impressions are lasting impressions. There are serious consequences when we misinterpret our conversion experience. But there are wonderful, ongoing, life-transforming benefits when we rightly understand it." (from the Sovereign Grace Ministries website).

I am delighted to see C. J. Mahaney's two part message on "Sovereign Grace" become available in this form (on Vimeo video below) so that it might reach a wider audience. As a pastor, I have seen God use this teaching in the lives of many of the people I serve, who had, up until viewing this, very much struggled reconciling the lofty concepts of Divine Sovereign Election and human free will. Though mystery certainly remains, much can be gleaned and understood as we expose our hearts and minds to the word of God.

Thank you C.J. and thank you Sovereign Grace Ministries for making this message more readily available. It is a precious gift to the entire Body of Christ. It was recorded at the Sovereign Grace Small Group Leaders Conference East in Gaithersburg, Maryland, on November 14, 2002. The teaching is based on Ephesians 1:3-14 and is in two sessions, lasting a total of approximately 97 minutes. I recommend it very highly both for personal spiritual edification and as something to point people to who are new to the doctrines of grace. - Rev. John Samson, Pastor, King's Church, Phoenix

Continue reading "Sovereign Grace" »

September 07, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Jonathan Edwards on the Excellency of Christ

Jonathan Edwards on the Excellency of Christ

I wanted to share with you an updated reading of Edwards' 'The Excellency of Christ' for you to ponder and prayerfully consider as pastors and Christians. May this study from the 18th century focus our attention on the wisdom and glory gained in reflection upon the incarnation of Christ.


May the Church of Jesus Christ through weakness, humility, and irrelevance become the Church that Jesus Christ has prayed for us to become by His grace (John 17).

I invite you to ponder the excellency, glory, beauty, wisdom and exceeding condescension of the God-Man in this study! Behold our Glorious Lord and the King of the Church!


Continue reading "Jonathan Edwards on the Excellency of Christ" »

September 06, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Short Response to so-called 4-Point Calvinists

This is a quick response I wrote to someone who claimed to be a four-pointer:

A 4-point calvinist is actuallly an impossible suppostion. Consider, if you affirm the doctrine of irresistible grace (as all 4-pointers claim to do), then you already believe in limited atonement, because irresistible grace comes from Christ and Christ alone, and this effectual grace is granted to the elect only. In other words, Christ died for the elect in a way (a redemptive way to procure irresistible grace) which he did not for the non-elect. Irresistible grace is not some generic grace to be had apart from Christ, for all redemptive blessings flow from Christ, including that one. For Jesus purchased with his blood, men from every tribe, nation, language (Rev 5:9). The doctrines of grace are, therefore, Christocentric, with Christ always at the top of the chiasm, making all other graces effectual and meaningful. In other words, to reject the "L" is to remove Christ from the equation and make the doctrines of grace into a theological abstraction. So ultimately 4-point Calvinism is no Calvinism at all for Christ is the center of all true Calvinism. More specifically 4-point Calvinism is simply being inconsistent with what they already know: Irresistible grace is not Christless.

Solus Christus
John

September 04, 2009  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Didactic Music

didactic_itunes_lg

When you think of different items that obviously go together as pairs, what comes to mind? Peanut butter and jelly? Socks and shoes? Reformed theology and hip-hop music? Uh...probably not those last two.

But actually, believe it or not, there are a few groups today who are intent on showing that those two items – rock solid reformed theology and hip-hop – can belong together. One such group is Christcentric, and they sent me their latest album, Didactic Music, volume one, to preview ahead of time. Below is my review of their lyrics – and after that, an enlightening interview I had with Christcentric, where they explain just what makes them tick.

Continue reading "Didactic Music" »

September 04, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Paul Helm & Michael Horton on N. T. Wright

Horton and Helm review N.T. Wright's new book on Justificaiton

Helm on Wright Part I, Part II, Part III

Horton on Wright Part I, Part II, Part III

September 03, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What the Bible Says About Baptism

Some of you may already be aware of my two categorized scripture lists available from Monergism Books: What the Bible Says About the Doctrines of Grace and What the Bible Says About the People of God. Well, I just completed another such list, laying out the various scripture passages touching upon baptism -- what it means, what it does, to whom it should be performed, etc. You can read the list here:

Full Text

What the Bible Says About Baptism (Google Docs)

What the Bible Says About Baptism (Scribd)

Reference Only

What the Bible Says About Baptism (Google Docs)

What the Bible Says About Baptism (Scribd)

September 02, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Is the Reformation Over?

"Rome has always taught that justification is based upon faith, on Christ, and on grace. The difference, however, is that Rome continues to deny that justification is based on Christ alone, received by faith alone, and given by grace alone. The difference between these two positions is the difference between salvation and its opposite." - see Dr. R. C. Sproul's article here.

September 02, 2009  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Office Hours Broadcast

Westminster Seminary California began an excellent new podcast on Monday 17 August. Here's the web link: http://www.wscal.edu/officehours

Listeners cans subscribe to Office Hours on iTunes and via our website

The first program is a 14:51 preview to season one and features audio from a few of the shows. To encourage people to subscribe and to listen they're giving away five gift packages (books by Horton, Godfrey, and Stonehouse, conference passes, and audio) during season one. Instructions for how to participate are in the preview show and on the website linked above.

The interviews are substantial but season 1 has a biographical theme running through it. They plan additional shows through the year, e.g. an interview with members of the faculty discussing the upcoming faculty conference Christ, Kingdom, and Culture. They also expect to broadcast interviews with visiting scholars. There is a broadcast scheduled for the first monday of each month with new broadcasts to be added to the schedule. Here are the shows ready for broadcast:

The first two full shows will be released on 31 August:

Episode #1 August 31 - Bob Godfrey President and Professor of Church History
Episode #2 August 31 - Julius Kim, Associate Professor of Practical Theology
Episode #3 October 5 - Mike Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics
Episode #4 Nov 2, 2009 - Steve Baugh, Professor of NT
Episode #5 Dec 7, 2009 - David Van Drunen, Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics
Episode #6 Jan 4, 2010- R. Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology (Mike Horton hosts)
Episode #7 Feb 1, 2010 - Joel Kim, Assistant Professor of NT
Episode #8 Mar 1, 2010 - John Fesko, Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
Episode #9 Apr 5, 2010 - (1) Josh Van Ee, Assistant Professor of OT and (2) David Zadok, A retired major in the Israeli Army, a WSC graduate, and elder in a Reformed congregation in Israel.
Episode #10 May 3, 2010 - Dennis Johnson, Professor of Practical Theology
Episode #11 June 7, 2010 - Bryan Estelle, Associate Professor of OT


September 01, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink