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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)

1 John 5:1 - Regeneration Precedes Faith

Being Born of God Precedes Saving Faith.

Is 1 John 5:1 relevant to the discussion of regeneration and faith? It surely is, even if many in evangelicalism today refuse to go deep enough into the text to discover that fact.

Dr. James White, in this video below, provides a study of 1 John 5:1, 1 John 2:29 and 1 John 4:7, in light of Calvary Chapel's Brian Brodersen's comments.

February 27, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Spurgeon on Monergistic Regeneration

"You must be born again."

Do not think Christians are made by education; they are made by creation. You may wash a corpse as long as you please, and that corpse could be clean, but you cannot wash life into it!

You may deck it in flowers, and robe it in scarlet and fine linen, but you cannot make it live! The vital spark must come from above! Regeneration is not of the will of man, nor of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but by the power and energy of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God alone!

See then, the ruin of nature and the freeness of grace! Void and dark, a chaos given up to be covered withnblackness and darkness forever, and, while as yet it is unseeking God, the light arises, and the promise is fulfilled, "I am found of them that sought me not; I said, behold me! behold me! to a people that were not a people."

While we were lying in our blood, filthily polluted, defiled, he passed by, and he said in the sovereignty of his love, "Live!" and we do live. The whole must be traced to sovereign grace! From this sacred well of discriminating distinguishing grace we must draw water this morning, and we must pour it out, saying, "Oh Lord, I will praise your name, for the first origin of my light was your sovereign purpose, and nothing in me."

Excerpt from Spurgeon’s sermon,"Light, Natural and Spiritual" No. 660.

February 24, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Take a Tour of Dr. R. C. Sproul's Office

The Scripture says that in the last days, God will send a strong delusion, and that is nowhere more apparent than in Dr. Sproul's lifelong devotion to the Pittsburg Stellers!! (its so sad.. the wrong team.. and even the wrong sport... for it is very obvious that God has a peculiar love for His beloved soccer team, Liverpool in England, and this is something God reveals only to His elect people) .... but all joking aside, I loved this brief video showing some of R.C.'s personal momentos. Dr. Sproul is a man who has been used by God to profoundly impact my life, ministry and understanding of God's word and I am merely one amongst so many who can say this. I thank God for R.C. Sproul - May God continue to give him good health and many more fruitful years of service to us here in the Body of Christ. - JS

R.C. Sproul - Study Video from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

February 23, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Seek First the Kingdom by Thomas Manton

001voicespast-01.jpgExcerpt from Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." -Matthew 6:33

Until we get our hearts out of the world, how easily our hearts are carried away with the thoughts of earthly concerns! Until we can separate and purge our spirits, how we mingle our prayers with many ridiculous thoughts! It is too usual for us to deal with God as an unskilled person that will gather a posy for his friend, and put in as many or more stinking weeds than he does choice flowers. The flesh introduces, and our carnal hearts insert and interlace our prayers with vain thoughts and earthly distractions. Then, when we come to offer incense to God with our censer, we mingle sulphur with our incense. Therefore, we should always labour to get our hearts above the world into the presence of God, as if we were by him in heaven, and wholly swallowed up with his glory. Though our bodies are on earth, our spirits should be in heaven. Until we get above the mists of the world, we
can see nothing of clearness and comfort; but when we can get God and our hearts together, then we can see there is much in the fountain, though nothing in the stream; and though little on earth, yet we have a God in heaven! This is our great aim, to be with God in heaven. His residence is there, and we seek that our hearts might be there. We have liberty to ask supplies for the outward life, but chiefly we should ask spiritual and heavenly things: ‘First, seek the kingdom of God’ etc.. If God is our heavenly Father, our first and main care should be to ask things suitable to his being, and his excellencies. When we ask supplies of the outward life, food and raiment, God may give it to us, but it is far more pleasing to him when we ask for grace. In every prayer we should seek to be made more heavenly minded by conversing with our heavenly Father.

4 January
Thomas Manton, Works, i:60-62

February 23, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Chapter Seven: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in the Particularity with Which He Loved Us

The Greatness of the Love of Christ
Chapter Seven: The greatness of the love of Christ is displayed in the particularity with which he loved us.

When a man loves a woman deeply enough, he shows that love by taking her unto himself and solemnly vowing to have and to hold her alone, and to reject the advances and embraces of any other woman. If he proves unfaithful to his vows, and shares his love with other women, he has terribly offended the first woman of his love, and has wrought a great crime and offense. In a similar way, the greatness of the love of Christ is displayed in his willingness to take those alone whom the Father has given him and whom he knows by name, and to make them into his one, spotless bride, whom he loves with all his heart, and in favor of whom he will reject all others. He could have had any portion and inheritance in heaven or on the earth, but he has chosen his people as his portion, and in them he delights. From all eternity, he asked for this one people, and none other, to be his bride and inheritance (Psalm 2:8; 28:9; 33:12; 74:2; 78:71; 94:14); and he has never been unfaithful to this people in word or action or in the thoughts of his heart, but with a fierce and jealous persistence and particularity, he has wooed and pursued and won her as his glorious wife.

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February 22, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Classic Newly Reformatted Uploaded Essays @Monergism

Cunningham, William - THE SOCINIAN CONTROVERSY
Dickson, David - THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE
Hurrion, John - THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PARTICULAR REDEMPTION
Warfield, B.B. - CALVIN'S DOCTRINE OF GOD
Warfield, B.B. - GOD-INSPIRED SCRIPTURE
Warfield, B.B. - "IT SAYS:" "SCRIPTURE SAYS:" "GOD SAYS"
Warfield, B.B. - THE REAL PROBLEM OF INSPIRATION
Warfield, B.B. - THE NEW TESTAMENT TERMINOLOGY OF "REDEMPTION

February 22, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Fall and its Consequences

Back in November 2005, I posted an article on the theme of the Fall and its effects. In re-reading it again today I was gripped by just how clearly Scripture speaks to the issue, and also how the various church councils brought clarity to the subject. At the end of the article itself an interesting discussion takes place and I encourage you to refresh yourself in what the Bible has to say on this very important topic here. - JS

February 22, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Augustine on Calling

God indeed calls many predestinated children of His, to make them members of His only predestinated Son,—not with that calling with which they were called who would not come to the marriage, since with that calling were called also the Jews, to whom Christ crucified is an offence, and the Gentiles, to whom Christ crucified is foolishness; but with that calling He calls the predestinated which the apostle distinguished when he said that he preached Christ, the wisdom of God and the power of God, to them that were called, Jews as well as Greeks. For thus he says “But unto them which are called,”3513 in order to show that there were some who were not called; knowing that there is a certain sure calling of those who are called according to God’s purpose, whom He has foreknown and predestinated before to be conformed to the image of His Son. And it was this calling he meant when he said, “Not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said unto her, That the elder shall serve the younger.”3514 Did he say, “Not of works, but of him that believeth”? Rather, he actually took this away from man, that he might give the whole to God. Therefore he said, “But of Him that calleth,”—not with any sort of calling whatever, but with that calling wherewith a man is made a believer. (Rebuke and Grace 14).

February 17, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Grace is not a "Thing"

It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself.

Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. - Sinclair Ferguson

February 17, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Cultivating a Gospel Centered Marriage

Download the Brochure (.pdf) If you live in the Portland area, you're invited to a marriage workshop entitled, "Cultivating a Gospel Centered Marriage." Evergreen Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, is hosting this workshop for married and engaged couples on March 12 and 13 (Friday night, Saturday morning). The speakers are Stu and Ruth Ann Batstone of World Harvest Mission. The cost is an affordable $50 per couple. Hotel and registration information is available on Evergreen's website. You can click on the image to download a brochure (.pdf).

February 17, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Christ’s Active and Passive Obedience by W.G.T. Shedd

A distinction is made between Christ’s active and passive obedience. The latter denotes Christ’s sufferings of every kind—the sum total of the sorrow and pain which he endured in his estate of humiliation. The term passive is used etymologically. His suffering is denominated “obedience” because it came by reason of his submission to the conditions under which he voluntarily placed himself when he consented to be the sinner’s substitute. He vicariously submitted to the sentence “the soul that sins, it shall die” and was “obedient unto death” (Phil. 2:8).

Christ’s passive or suffering obedience is not to be confined to what he experienced in the garden and on the cross. This suffering was the culmination of his piacular sorrow, but not the whole of it. Everything in his human and earthly career that was distressing belongs to his passive obedience. It is a true remark of Edwards that the blood of Christ’s circumcision was as really a part of his vicarious atonement as the blood that flowed from his pierced side. And not only his suffering proper, but his humiliation, also, was expiatory, because this was a kind of suffering. Says Edwards (Redemption 2.1.2):

The satisfaction or propitiation of Christ consists either in his suffering evil or his being subject to abasement. Thus Christ made satisfaction for sin by continuing under the power of death while he lay buried in the grave, though neither his body nor soul properly endured any suffering after he was dead. Whatever Christ was subject to that was the judicial fruit of sin had the nature of satisfaction for sin. But not only proper suffering, but all abasement and depression of the state and circumstances of mankind [human nature] below its primitive honor and dignity, such as his body remaining under death, and body and soul remaining separate, and other things that might be mentioned, are the judicial fruits of sin.

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February 17, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Roots: Let the Old Testament Speak, by Alec Motyer

Go to Monergism Books

The problem of attempting to write a midsize book surveying the entire Old Testament is obvious from the outset – there is simply too much information that could be put into it profitably, but that will simply not fit. Is it best to deal at length with the historic culture and context of the original writings, taking into account archeological discoveries and ancient near eastern scholarship? Would it be better to interact with the various approaches to Old Testament exegesis in Church history? Does one give a basic survey of each book in chronological order, or else in the order in which they exist either in our bible or the original Hebrew arrangement? Would it be better to provide a more detailed exegesis of the most significant passages, or an analysis of the different structural elements and over-arching motifs of the various writings? Alec Motyer has clearly wrestled with these issues, and the result has been a fairly balanced mixture of all of the above, although he gives more emphasis to certain elements than to others. The result is a survey that gives the briefest introduction to a plethora of OT related studies, while providing a much fuller treatment of the Old Testament writings themselves, with an eye for overarching structure and a fine sensitivity to the differences between authors and genres within the OT.

Motyer loves to talk about the OT, and his enthusiasm spills over on just about every page – but at the same time, his intimate knowledge of the OT as a whole and his mastery of the Hebrew language provide a scholarly depth beyond that which many one-volume surveys or introductions might evince. This combination of sensitivity to the richness of the Hebrew language and a comprehensive knowledge of his material make for (in my opinion) Motyer's greatest strength: an ability to analyze the various books according to their literary structure, original intent, and distinctive emphases. And nowhere is he better at this than in the prophets. The array of prophetic writings that have been left to us in the OT is dazzlingly diverse. It is remarkable that such deep and masterful writings, all bound together by the same great subject and theme, can be so amazingly different from each other – and it takes one of Motyer's caliber to paint those fundamental and yet harmonious differences within an overarching, Messianic unity. To Motyer, the prophets are real, living personalities, utterly different from each other, and yet transformed even within the confines of their own personalities and idiosyncrasies to the larger-than-life figures that we cannot help but love. But not only are the prophets real and vibrant – so also their writings are alive with a thousand marvels and intricacies. Motyer has a knack for seeing patterns, themes, intentional structures that make texts come alive, but that are easy to miss even in the original, and sometimes virtually impossible to pick up on in translation.

I love Motyer's theological conservatism on such vital doctrines as justification by faith alone, the penal, substitutionary atonement, the imputation of Christ's righteousness, and other such things. “The blood of the lamb is propitiatory because it is substitutionary,” he affirms; “This is a truth intrinsic to the way the story is told”. But even more important than this is his conviction that all of those things looked ahead to Christ. “Jesus is the 'end grain' of the prophetic scriptures. He is what was there and intended from the start,” Motyer explains elsewhere. “It will be one of the most fascinating aspects of our study of the Old Testament to see this probing and deepening at work, always moving forward to the climactic flowering in Jesus”.

Continue reading "Book Review: Roots: Let the Old Testament Speak, by Alec Motyer" »

February 15, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Chapter Six: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in the Constancy of His Affection

The Greatness of the Love of Christ
Chapter Six: The greatness of the love of Christ is displayed in the constancy of his affection.

The unique and unrivaled greatness of the love of Christ for his Church may be seen very clearly in this, that of all husbands his love is the most faithful, constant, and unchanging. When men love, they may seem to have a love so great and passionate that it could never die, and they may love so deeply that they become sick and miserable whenever they are separated from their beloved, and feel as if they will die if they cannot look upon them. Amnon, the brother of Absalom, had such a love for his sister Tamar, but when his love had been consummated, it was immediately extinguished as a little spark separated from the fire, and he utterly loathed her instead (2 Sam. 13:1-19). How different is this love from the love of Christ! Even the best of human loves last but a lifetime, but his love was conceived before the world began, it was born with the dawning of human time, it grew to maturity with the climax of human history, and for all eternity, it will continue to increase in its infinite fullness, so that we might forever grow in our knowledge of its breadth and width and height and depth, and still never plumb the farthest reaches of his surpassing love for us. Truly has the beloved disciple proclaimed that Jesus, “having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

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February 15, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787). On the covenant of works

“All men by nature, and even believers, in so far as they are unrenewed, desire to be under the covenant of works, and to obtain happiness by their own righteousness, or the condition of it. 1. It is natural to men, and hence men of every form or religion, station, office, education, or manner of life, agree in it (Romans 9:31,32; 10:3; Jonah 1:16; Matthew 19:16; John 6:28; Acts 2:37; Luke 15:19). 2. Our own working or suffering, in order to obtain happiness from God, is exceedingly suited to the pride of our corrupt nature, and makes us to look on God as our debtor (Romans 10:3; 7:9,13; John 5:45; Isaiah 58:3). It is like pangs of death to quit our hold of the law (Romans 7:4,9; Galatians 2:19). 3. Men’s ignorance of the extensive and high demands of the broken law, and of their own utter inability to keep it, — or their care to abridge their apprehensions of them, and to enlarge their conceit of their own ability, mightily promote their desire to be under it (Romans 7:9-13; 10:3; Galatians 4:21). 4. Men have naturally a peculiar enmity against God and his gracious method of redemption, — against Jesus Christ and his whole mediation, particularly his sacrificing work; and hence love to oppose the honor of it be cleaving to legal methods of obtaining happiness (Romans 8:7; John 15:24; Romans 10:3; 9:32; 5:21; Galatians 2:21; 5:2,4).”

- The Systematic Theology of John Brown of Haddington [Reformation Heritage Books: 2002] p. 212

February 13, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Robert Morrison Project

Please consider how you can support the Robert Morrison Project:

The Robert Morrison Project [www.robertmorrisonproject.org] is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to legally translating and publishing reformed literature in China and other South East Asian countries. Starting about ten years ago it became possible to legally publish some forms of Christian literature in China. Slowly, over the past few years, more and more titles entered legal circulation. The door is not completely open but it is cracked open and some good quality Reformed titles are being published and distributed in China. Most amazing of all, the genres of literature that the government has been allowing to be published are the very genres that Reformed publishers have been focusing on for the past 50+ years.

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February 12, 2010  |  Comments (17)   |  Permalink

What Does the Phrase 'Dead in Sin" Mean?

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" - Ephesians 2:1

"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)" - Ephesians 2:5

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" - Colossians 2:13

What does the phrase 'dead in sin" mean? What does it mean to be spiritual dead?

Arminian or synergistic arguments against the Calvinist interpretation 'dead in sin' usually go something like this:

Read more...

February 10, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Sentimental Jesus of Tradition v. The Biblical Jesus

In the video below, Dr. James White responds to the recent accusation made by Brian Broderson of Calvary Chapel that Calvinism lacks the heart of Jesus:

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February 10, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Most Influential Books

For the Christian, the most important book to read is the God breathed Scriptures - the Bible. Apart from this, there are a number of very important books that should be read. Many are books I would wish my children to read.

From the Ligonier Ministries website, there is a blog entry that reads as follows:

"Dr. R. C. Sproul has read many books in his lifetime. The following titles are some of the most influential books that have helped to shape his thinking and ministry:

1. The Freedom of the Will, Edwards
2. The Bondage of the Will, Luther
3. Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin
4. God in Modern Philosophy, Collins
5. A Time for Truth, Simons
6. Charity and Its Fruits, Edwards
7. The Person of Christ, Berkhouwer
8. Gospel Fear, Burroughs
9. Gospel Worship, Burroughs
10. Institutes of Elenctic Theology (3 Vol.), Turretin
11. Principles of Conduct, Murray
12. A Christian View of Men & Things, Clark
13. Thales to Dewey, Clark
14. Here I Stand, Bainton
15. A Simple Way to Pray, Luther
16. The Coming of the Kingdom, Ridderbos"

February 09, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Chapter Five: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in the Manifold Riches He Has Given Us

The Greatness of the Love of Christ
Chapter Five: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in the Manifold Riches He Has Given Us

Another consideration by which we may assure our hearts of the greatness of the love of Christ for us is this, that he has freely provided for us innumerable gospel blessings which are vast and rich beyond all measure. Even among men, we understand that love which is love indeed always seeks to give good and pleasing things to the beloved. If we say that we love our children, but when they need an egg or a piece of bread, we give them a scorpion instead, we have no true love for them at all (Luke 11:11-13). Love always seeks the good of the beloved, and the greater the proffered good, the greater the love must be which offers it. If this is the case, then how great beyond all understanding must the love of Christ be for us, for the riches he has given us in the gospel are immense, manifold, and precious beyond all understanding!

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February 08, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Small Things, Big Things, by Michael A. Milton

Good theology that begins and ends in the classroom is not good theology at all. Right doctrine by its very nature is broad enough to give sense and meaning to every facet of life, whether of the intellect or the affections of the heart, whether in the seminary or the cornfields of Kansas. Unfortunately, this truth is not always recognized; and when it is recognized, it is not always intentionally applied in practice. Michael A. Milton is one who cannot seem to forget the truth of God's sovereign grace and active providence no matter what he's doing. The realm of the unimportant, the tyranny of “small things,” doesn't seem to exist for him – because in the smallest things, there are pointers to and reminders of the very big things of God's eternal love for his children in Christ Jesus. Small Things, Big Things is a book that will probably help you start to see things the same way; and if it does it will be well worth your while to read.

To be up front with everyone, I am pretty leery of the whole genre of spiritual/religious meditations on everyday events. More often than not, this kind of book is plagued with at least two problems: first, man-centered theology seems to thrive on that sort of fare; and even if not man-centered theology per se, there is usually a fuzziness and general lack of substance at best. And second, there is often the tendency to try to fix problems and heal wounds that are very deep and very real with trite, “feel-good” kinds of stories that simply do not pose true solutions to the vast extent of fallen man's need. Try telling someone, “Your wife is leaving you, your kid is on drugs and in and out of prison, every day is a struggle to believe or even to survive – I know what you need! Read this “chicken soup” story about how a poor little boy got the toy he wanted for Christmas; that will fix all your problems!” But too often, this kind of book tries to accomplish that impossible task. They heal the wounds of God's people lightly.

Milton's book has largely succeeded in avoiding these errors, however. Has he done it perfectly? Perhaps not; but what he has done is to tackle a difficult and much-needed topic for the Reformed world today, that of the immanence of God in the everyday affairs of his people, in a manner that has not trivialized the extent of their need, nor cast them upon some sort of positive-thinking, “look on the bright side of life” mentality. He has a shepherd's heart for the people of God, he is willing to give of himself as a person who has hurt deeply but has overcome by God's grace, and who is confident that God's grace will prevail in the lives of every last little lamb for whom Christ died. “I dare not trivialize deep waters with little droplets of axioms,” he says. “The gospel is deep enough, Christ is savior enough, and God's patience and love are long enough and wide enough to hold you while you pray and hope and wait”. Hurting sheep do not need to hear feel-good stories, they need to hear that. And while Milton does see surprising testimonies of God's grace in the most mundane of affairs, it is never the stories themselves that he emphasizes, but the gracious God who gives glimpses of himself in all those things.

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February 06, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Doctrine of Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul

From the Ligonier Ministries (Dr. R. C. Sproul) website - "For the past few decades, a paradigm shift in New Testament scholarship has led some researchers to question whether the church has rightly understood first-century Judaism and the apostle Paul. In the name of a “New Perspective on Paul,” certain men are calling for a reassessment of the traditional Pauline understanding of the doctrine of justification, the nature of good works, and other elements essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Prominent among these figures is N.T. Wright, bishop of Durham and theologian who in his voluminous writings is demanding a new reading of Paul, even claiming that the Protestant Reformers misunderstood the apostle.

These accusations cannot be easily brushed aside, for they strike at the heart of our entire understanding of salvation. With an aim to analyze the merit of Wright’s claims and expose both the strengths and weaknesses of his approach, the editors of Tabletalk magazine have put together this collection of tools to help Christians discern the errors behind the approach of N.T. Wright. It is our hope that you will find these resources helpful in understanding the biblical doctrine of salvation and for making an informed assessment of the work of Wright and other New Perspective thinkers."

These resources are found here.

February 06, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Does Baptism Save? (two quotes)

"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.." (1 Peter 3:21 - ESV)

Two helpful quotes on this verse:

"Now Peter sees a comparison between the waters of the flood and the waters of baptism... Now there are some denominations that love this verse because it seems at first to support the view called "baptismal regeneration." That is, baptism does something to the candidate: it saves by bringing about new birth. So, for example, one of the baptismal liturgies for infants says, "Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's Church, let us give thanks."

Now the problem with this is that Peter seems very aware that his words are open to dangerous misuse. This is why, as soon as they are out of his mouth, as it were, he qualifies them lest we take them the wrong way. In verse 21 he does say, "Baptism now saves you" - that sounds like the water has a saving effect in and of itself apart from faith. He knows that is what it sounds like and so he adds immediately, "Not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience - through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (Or your version might have: "the pledge of a good conscience toward God").

But the point seems to be this: When I speak of baptism saving, Peter says, I don't mean that the water, immersing the body and cleansing the flesh, is of any saving effect; what I mean is that, insofar as baptism is "an appeal to God for a good conscience," (or is "a pledge of a good conscience toward God"), it saves. Paul said in Romans 10:13, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord - everyone who appeals to the Lord - will be saved." Paul does not mean that faith alone fails to save. He means that faith calls on God. That's what faith does. Now Peter is saying, "Baptism is the God-ordained, symbolic expression of that call to God. It is an appeal to God - either in the form of repentance or in the form of commitment.

What is Baptism?

Now this is fundamentally important in our understanding of what baptism is in the New Testament. James Dunn is right I think when he says that "1 Peter 3:21 is the nearest approach to a definition of baptism that the New Testament affords" (Baptism in the Holy Spirit, p. 219). What is baptism? Baptism is a symbolic expression of the heart's "appeal to God." Baptism is a calling on God. It is a way of saying to God with our whole body, "I trust you to take me into Christ like Noah was taken into the ark, and to make Jesus the Substitute for my sins and to bring me through these waters of death and judgment into new and everlasting life through the resurrection of Jesus my Lord."

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February 05, 2010  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Spurgeon on John 6:66

John 6:66, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked with Him no more”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, preaching on this passage (on 2/5/1882) said:

"The defection in this case was on account of doctrine... The truth was too hard for them, it was not to be borne with. “It is a hard saying. Who can hear it?” A true disciple sits at the feet of his Master, and believes what he is told even when he cannot quite comprehend the meaning, or see the reasons for what his Master utters; but these men had not the essential spirit of a disciple, and consequently when their Instructor began to unfold the innermost parts of the roll of truth, they would not listen to His reading of it. They would believe as far as they could understand, but when they could not comprehend they turned on their heel and left the school of the Great Teacher. Besides, the Lord Jesus Christ had taught the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and of the need of the Spirit of God, that men should be led to Him, “for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” Here our Lord uttered a bit of old-fashioned free-grace doctrine, such as people nowadays do not like. They call it “Calvinism”, and put it aside among the old exploded tenets which this enlightened age knows nothing of. What right they have to ascribe to the Genevan reformer a doctrine as old as the hills I do not know. But our Lord Jesus never hesitated to fling that truth into the face of His enemies. He told them, “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Here he tells them plainly that they could not come unto Him unless the Father gave them the grace to come. This humbling doctrine they could not receive, and so they went aside." (Sermons, 28, 111-2)

February 02, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Chapter Four: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in the Extent to Which He Went in Making Us His Own

The Greatness of the Love of Christ
Chapter Four: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in the Extent to Which He Went in Making Us His Own.

When we consider the love of men, we immediately realize that one thing in which the greatness of their love may be seen is the extent to which they are willing to go, and the labors they are ready to undertake, in order to win for themselves their beloved. It was a great love of Jacob for Rachel that he labored for her seven years, and they seemed but a few days (Gen. 29:18-20); but how much greater must the love of our Savior be for us, who for thirty-three years set his hand to unspeakably great and difficult labors and never looked back, until he had finally made us his own! But no, it was far longer than thirty-three years, even, that he undertook his immense labors to redeem us – for from all eternity, before the worlds had been created, he solemnly undertook to make us his own, and for all of history he has been engaged in no other work but that.

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February 01, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink