The Most Helpful Thing I Ever Learned As A Christian by Pastor John Samson
I wonder if you can relate to any of this. One of the first things God the Holy Spirit did for me after I had come to faith in Christ was to give me a deep settled assurance of salvation. Romans 8:16 tells us that "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God..." This inner witness brought me the sure knowledge that despite my many flaws and failures, I was in fact His â€“ His for all eternity. As I read the Scriptures, the wonders of this great salvation become clear â€“ God had saved me, I was His, and Christ did indeed love me and had given me eternal life. Heaven sent joy and peace flooded my soul. I knew I could say, â€œI am my Belovedâ€™s and He is mine.â€
But then, somewhere along the way this settled peace was disturbed. The wonders of His grace, wrought through Christ and His atoning work became obscuredâ€¦ not because I read some book countering Christianity and was swayed by the arguments, but because I came across Scriptures that at least at first glance, seemed to show that my salvation was a lot more flimsy and shaky than I first imagined. Perhaps you can identify with this.
Hereâ€™s what I mean: I read Scriptures such as â€œnothing can separate us from the love of Godâ€ (Rom 8: 39) but then read â€œthe one who endures to the end will be saved.â€ (Matt 24:13)
I read, â€œâ€¦whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal lifeâ€ (John 3:16) and then read â€œNow I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to youâ€”unless you believed in vain.â€ (1 Cor 15:1,2)
I thought, â€œwhich is it God? If someone believes, You say that they have eternal life, but here it says that someone can â€œbelieve in vain.â€ How could both statements be true?â€
2 Sermons on Hebrews 6
In depth teaching from Dr. James White (www.aomin.org) on this familiar but so often misunderstood passage here.
"I'm not a Calvinist or an Arminian" <<< Have you ever heard this?
I recently saw this comment online and responded to it
I'm not a Calvinist (or an Arminian), but the local church I am a member of, and many of the churches we have fellowship with, stand separate from and opposed to the 'Jesus is your buddy gospel' of modern evangelicalism. I'm grateful that these Christians [Calvinists] are taking the same stand, but am underwhelmed and a bit disappointed that it is the tenets of Calvinism which are being propagated. Nevertheless, may God use this to turn the tide according to His timing, and may this pervasive lack of reverence towards the holy, sovereign triune God be washed away.
Pro 9:10 - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."
Brother in Christ, Calvinism and Arminianism are usually just used as shorthand for Monergism & Synergism. Either you believe regeneration precedes faith or you do not? Either you affirm that Christ is sufficient to provide all you need for salvation (including a new heart to believe) or you affirm Christ is necessary but not sufficient i.e. provides only the opportunity but not the effectual grace. You either believe in the necessity of the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in salvation or you do not. If you ask yourself, "is faith also part of the gift of grace Christ purchases for his own" (John 6:63-65) OR "is faith the product of our unregenerated human nature?" The answer to these questions make it clear whether you believe salvation is by grace alone OR grace PLUS something you contribute. This is the essence of what people mean when they compare these two understandings of the Bible. You are either a monergist or synergist: Christ Alone or Christ PLUS. There is no third option.
Click Here for more resources on this topic.
Chapter Ten: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in His Causing That Very Love to Arise in Our Hearts, That We Might Have Fellowship with Him in Love
God loved us in Christ so deeply and fully that we, seeing his great love and being overwhelmed by it, could not help but love him and all those others for whom he died; and thus his love became reciprocal, and flourished among his people who had been full of hate and self-interest. We love â€“ both him and his Church â€“ because he first loved us (1 John 4:19-21). Because he loved us so greatly, he loved our love back to him, and he caused that love to him to arise in our hearts, and to ascend to him upon his throne, where he delights to dwell among the praises of his people. He loves to see us delight in him, and so he makes us delight in giving love back to him who gave all his love for us. Now, we are all one as the Persons of the Trinity are one, and we all share in the same fellowship of love (1 John 1:3). God the Father loves us with no other love but that by which he loves the Son (John 17:23); the Son loves us with the same love by which the Father loves him (John 15:9); the Spirit who loves to dwell with the Father and Son loves us and comes to dwell within us too, so that we all might be one. This love is unspeakably great.
Monergism (Calvinism) v. Synergism (Arminianism) Debate
This is highly recommended - an excellent exchange/debate between Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. James White which took place earlier today here. Over the course of the 90 minutes, three main texts are debated, namely John 6, Romans 8-9, and Ephesians 1.
Can a true Christian fall from grace? Pastor John Samson
Can salvation be lost? New article posted here.
The Emergent Church and the Gospel
A simple reading of the Bible will reveal that the gospel is not about what we have done for Jesus, but what Jesus has done for us (Rom 5:19, 2 Cor 5:21, Phil 2:8). The mystery of God has been made manifest in the Person and work of the Son, who frees prisoners, gives sight to the blind, breaks loose our chains and changes hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. At one time we were taken captive to do Satan's will and could not escape until Christ set us free. In other words, Christ did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He lived the perfect life that we should have lived and died the death we should have died, in order to free us so that we might then proclaim His excellencies, make known his gospel and spread justice and mercy to the poor.
But this is not what many of the the most notable characters in the Emerging church (e.g. McClaren, McManus, Bell) mean when they use the term â€œgospelâ€; for Christ, in their view, did not primarily come to us as a Savior, who delivers us from His just wrath, but rather, He came to make us "Christ followers". In other words, Jesus came as a moral example of how we might live, treat one another, and form communities. But as has been repeatedly shown throughout the testaments, this is a recipe for failure. In Romans 3:20 the Apostle teaches that the purpose of the law was not so much to show us how to live (although it was that too), but more importantly, to reveal our moral inability and hopeless bondage to sin in the face of God's holy majesty apart from the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Some major voices in the emergent church are saying they want a relationship with Jesus and not doctrines, but we must ask which Jesus do they want to have a relationship with? If words mean anything it appears they want a relationship with a moralistic Jesus of their own imagination. They want to believe that God is pleased with us because of what we do ... that He is pleased with us if we join Him in being active in crusades against social ills such as corporate greed, global warming, racism and poverty. That doing this is what the Gospel is all about. But as good as some of these things might be, God is not pleased with them if they do not come from faith in Jesus Christ as a Savior first, not as a mere example for us to follow. The background of the true gospel is that Jesus revealed His sinlessness and our moral impotence and bankruptcy in the face of his holiness. Thus our need for His mercy. But McLaren and many of the other emergent church leaders trumpet their belief that the gospel is more about ethics than the work of Christ on our behalf. They appeal to bettering the world around us as a task that is opposed to and more pressing than seeing our own rebellion and poverty, which prove our need for reconciliation to God through the life, death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. This unbiblical bifurcation of orthopraxy and orthodoxy, and foundational preference for the former, is just plain contrary to the Christian gospel.
Ultimately, the emergent "gospel" is not about the grace of Jesus Christ who delivers people from the wrath of God and puts them into the kingdom of light, but rather about becoming a 'Jesus follower', about walking as Jesus walked and trying to live the life he exemplified. Apart from the fact that, according to Scripture, this is an impossible goal when drawing from our native resources, but it misses the whole point for which Jesus came. The gospels showed Jesus setting his face like flint toward Jerusalem for a reason. He did not come primarily to be a moral example for us, but to become a Savior who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The emergent ideology, in other words, is appealing to the fallen will without the merciful act that God has done for us in Jesus. Since we woefully fall short of God's call to us to live this way, it offers no hope.
In his book, Why We're Not Emergent, Kevin DeYoung says, "I am convinced that a major problem with the emerging church is that they refuse to have their cake and eat it too. The whole movement seems to be built on reductionistic, even modernistic, either-or categories. They pit information versus transformation, believing versus belonging, and propositions about Christ versus the person of Christ. The emerging church will be a helpful corrective against real, and sometimes perceived, abuses in evangelicalism when they discover the genius of the "and," and stop forcing us to accept half-truths."
My fear, and I believe it is well founded, is that Emergent (and emerging) is just a newly cast form of the old Semi-Pelagian heresy of behavior modification, or to put it bluntly, moralism. The most tragic "either-or" category they have set up for themselves is this: faith in Christ as a Savior versus following Christ as an example. Many of its leading proponents assert that right living leads to right doctrine, thus reversing the Biblical priority of grace. But ethics are not what make Christianity to differ from other world religions. All world religions offer ethical programs that are remarkably similar to ours. But ethics/morals don't bring us into relationship with God unless you can perfectly keep them (James 2:10, Gal 3:10-12). In that case, you might need a helper, but you certainly don't need a Savior. What makes Christianity to differ is that it is the only way which acknowledges that its own adherents are rebels and without hope in themselves, that is, apart from the sovereign mercy of their Head, who procured salvation for them. All other religions rely on moral improvement and good works, but Christ has shown us that "there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (Ecc 7:20) Trusting in Jesus as a moral example alone, trusting in our good works and the social justice we do, simply makes Jesus' Person and work of no effect, for we are ascribing the power to do those things to ourselves apart from His redeeming us. Thus it would appear that both the emergent and seeker sensitive churches are cut from the same moralistic cloth. If you are a young person considering either of these, remember that seeing Christ as merely an example and seeing church as a place to hear stories about how we are to live, apart from the new birth, is a man-centered and not a Christ-centered message and should be steered clear of as you would a poisonous viper.
Chapter Nine: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in the Purity of His Motivation
Among men, those who are beloved are often they who are able to make some return upon that love: we love the rich, because they can repay us by purchasing pleasant gifts for us, or the honorable, because we may obtain some greater dignity in the eyes of others by our association and friendship with them. Even in the case of truer love, there is often some lesser motivation mingled with it, as when a man truly loves a woman, and desires to please her and care for her, but he is also lonely, and wishes companionship for himself, or he longs for children, or desires the familiar intimacies of the married life, or many other such things.
But nowhere in all creation may be found a love so pure in its motivation as the love of Christ for his Church: he made all things and was by rights the heir of all creation; and even if he had never made anything, he was already fully satisfied, utterly self-sufficient, without need or want but entirely complacent and full of joy in the fellowship of the Trinity. Why then would he who was rich with every kind of possession and pleasure imaginable become poor for our sakes (2 Cor. 8:9)? Why would he leave his glorious dwelling place in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), and become homeless, hungry, shivering, tired, poor, and wretched? What could he have to gain from us worms and wretches? It was only love, pure, divine, overwhelming love, that could have constrained him to lay aside the full expression of his divine glory for our salvation.
The Inspiration and Preservation of the Word of God
The first question in recorded history was a subtle attack on God's word. The questioner was the serpent in the garden of Eden, asking "Did God really say?" The devil's intentions have not changed over time. He seeks to destroy mankind's trust and confidence in the word of God.
Part of our responsibility as Christians in obeying the command of 1 Peter 3:15 in being ready with an answer for the reason of the hope that lies within us, involves being able to defend both the inspiration and the preservation of the text of holy Scripture. Here is excellent material in this regard from a very recent one hour televison program from the United Kingdom. Dr. James White defends the reliability of the New Testament and along the way, brings much needed clarity to the issues of the canon of Scripture, the Apocrypha, alleged insertions of the deity of Christ into the manuscripts, what the Council of Nicea was actually about, and the method in which God made sure His word was preserved for His people.
In decades past, this was probably an area of study only of interest to scholars, but with the mainstream media so hostile and prevalent in its attacks on the Bible, we all need SOME knowledge of these issues. That is why I would recommend the viewing of this video (below) very highly. The facts are actually on our side. (There seems to be an annoying 2 second lag between the audio and the video throughout, but hopefully you can still follow the discussion). - John Samson
Watch Out for the Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
Updated article with links to counter cult ministries here. - JS
Generation after generation has read the insights of its writers. This is why fresh statements of old truth are always needed. Without them people will read error.
Daniel Webster once said, "If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will."1
Millions of people are going to read. If they don't read contemporary Christian books, they are going to read contemporary secular books. They will read.
It is amazing to watch people in the airports. At any given moment there must be hundreds of thousands of people reading just in airports. One of the things we Christians need to be committed to, besides reading, is giving away solid books to those who might read them, but would never buy them.
The ripple effect is incalculable. Consider this illustration: A book by Richard Sibbes, one of the choicest of the Puritan writers, was read by Richard Baxter, who was greatly blessed by it. Baxter then wrote his Call to the Unconverted which deeply influenced Philip Doddridge, who in turn wrote The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. This brought the young William Wilberforce, subsequent English statesman and foe of slavery, to serious thoughts of eternity. Wilberforce wrote his Practical Book of Christianity which fired the soul of Leigh Richmond. Richmond, in turn, wrote The Dairyman's Daughter, a book that brought thousands to the Lord, helping Thomas Chalmers the great preacher, among others.2
It seems to me that in a literate culture like ours, where most of us know how to read and where books are available, the Biblical mandate is: keep on reading what will open the Holy Scriptures to you more and more. And keep praying for Bible-saturated writers. There are many great old books to read. But each new generation needs its own writers to make the message fresh. Read and pray. And then obey.
 Ernest Reisinger, 'Every Christian a Publisher,' Free Grace Broadcaster, Issue 51, Winter, 1995, p. 17.
 'Every Christian a Publisher,' p. 18.
From John Piperâ€™s desiringGod website, February 20, 2002.
Repenting of our Good Works by Tim Keller
What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness â€“ the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that weâ€™ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.
It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lordâ€”lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodnessâ€”that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everythingâ€”how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. Itâ€™s called the new birth because its so radicalâ€
â€“ Timothy Keller The Prodigal God (Dutton Books 2008) pp 77-78
A little hymn I wrote during my Sudan trip. It's not very good (certainly not good enough for so great a Savior!), but it's what came. The title is Latin, and translates literally, although in rather crude English, as "Veriest Light".
Light of true Light! whose winsome ray
Earthward descends from bright
And never-ending heaven's day
In grace, â€“ true Light of Light!
That from the Father's blazing throne
Pierced through our sinful night
With healing wings out o'er us thrown, â€“
Bright Sun of light and right!
Beat darkness down and go before,
Illuming all our way;
Let sins and doubts and devils cow'r
Before swift-dawning day;
Make dark deeds cease, and fears and strife;
Earth dark make heaven bright;
Bring light which is our truth and life
And peace, true Light of Light.
The Love of God and the Glory of God - How do they relate?
If you have time to watch this video (which lasts just over an hour) I believe you will find this to be well worth the investment. Here John Piper wrestles with exceedingly precious and profound doctrines from the Bible - as they relate to God's love for us and the pursuit of His own glory. - JS
"Love is doing whatever you have to do at whatever cost to yourself to help the one loved be enthralled fully and forever with what is most satisfying - namely, God." - John Piper
Athanasius wrote a letter to Marcellinus regarding the Psalms...
For those interested in Patristics (the study of the Early Church fathers) and its relationship to modern day Roman Catholicism, there is an excellent must read article by TurretinFan here.
There's something about Mary?
Who is Mary, the mother of Jesus? According to the Roman Catholic Church, she was the only person other than Jesus who was born without original sin, she remained a virgin throughout her life, she was assumed into heaven, she is to receive prayer and devotion, she is a mediatrix between God and man, and she dispenses grace to those in need. In their reaction to Roman Catholic excesses, many Protestants have ignored Mary altogether. In this series, R.C. Sproul explains what the Bible teaches us about Mary, separating truth from falsehood, and giving appropriate honor where honor is due.
Five 23-minute messages on CD:
A Model of Submission
Mary's Magnificent Savior
Listen to Him!
Questions and Answers
Available for any sized gift to Ligonier Ministries until Sunday March 21, 2010 here.
Hallelujah, What a Savior!
If a judge acts justly, no crime is committed. It is in fact the judge's job to be just. He can actually lose his right to judge if he fails to dispense justice. Yet, here's the amazing Gospel truth - all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Christ were transferred to our Substitute and the justice we deserved fell upon Him instead on the cross. We not only received mercy (Christ bore our punishment) and not justice, but amazingly, He took our justice.. He bore our sins in His body on the tree, He was punished in our place. God's great mercy is shown in not giving us the justice we deserved, but God went even further and then gave us GRACE because of Christ, as the very righteousness of Christ - a life that kept the law of God perfectly for more than 30 years, blameless in thought, word and deed - was credited to our account. This grace is not a heavenly substance of some kind, but is Christ Himself, of whom the Father said, "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!" and what flows to us is totally unmerited favor - the very righteousness of the perfect God-Man, so that we can stand before God, right and clean and pure in His sight. God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Hear the Judge's words to every believer in Christ, "I declare you just in My sight, not guilty, reckoned righteous with the righteousness of My beloved Son, and this is your standing before Me, forever!" Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The perfect Lamb took our place and bore our shame and punishment and His perfect, flawless and beautiful righteousness is now ours by God's grace alone received through faith in Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone. Hallelujah, what a Savior! - John Samson
It must be difficult in America...
An American pastor was visiting the pastor of a Church in a country where Christians are under heavy persecution. The US pastor said, "It must be so very difficult to pastor the church here." The other pastor replied, "Not so, it must be difficult in America. Here we know who the true Christians are."
Be killing sin or sin will be killing you
John Piper on the mortification of sin (approx. 62 minutes)
Ezekiel 18 and the doctrine of Original Sin
An objection to the biblical doctrine of Original Sin is sometimes raised by citing Ezekiel 18:20, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."
Here is an excellent short article on this subject dealing with the verse in its proper context. Once again we see the value of seeing a verse in its proper setting rather than in isolation.
I love the Trinity
Do you have a firm grasp of the doctrine of the Trinity? Can you defend it? Why even bother? Hear why the Trinity should matter to us from my friend Dr. James White as he explains this precious Bible doctrine on the 3/3/10 airdate (2nd hour) program here. The program lasts approximately 37 minutes, 30 seconds (commercials are already taken out). - JS
Quote from "Knowing God"
"[God] shows his freedom and lordship by discriminating between sinners, causing some to hear the gospel while others do not hear it, and moving some of those who hear it to repentance while leaving others in their unbelief, thus teaching his saints that he owes mercy to none and that it is entirely of his grace, not at all through their own effort, that they themselves have found life." - J.I. Packer, Knowing God
What Do We Mean When We Declare that Human Beings Have No Free Will?
What Do We Mean When We Declare that Human Beings Have No Free Will? @Monergism.com
We must bring clarity when we declare that man has no â€œfree willâ€ because many persons confuse coercion with necessity. Some believe that when we say people have no free will we somehow mean that their will is coerced from the outside into acting a certain way. But this could not be further from the truth. Apart from the Holy Spirit no one comes to Christ because people are in bondage to a corruption of nature... so they sin, not due to coercion, but of a necessity of their fallen nature. In his very helpful book, The Bondage and Liberation of the Will John Calvin clarifies" More...
All Preachers Should Get A Short Course in Logic
It is an amazingly high calling to be a teacher of God's word. It carries with it both great privilege and great responsibility. It is a holy and awesome task.
I believe it would help every teacher of the Bible to have even a short course in logic. I need it. We all need it. It definitely would stop some ridiculous stuff being taught.
In the realm of logic, I am very much a layman. However, I do know this - in logic we learn the difference between a necessary implication (because something is explicitly stated) and a statement that is a possible implication (but not necessary).
An example of a necessary implication of a statement:
Statement 1. If it snows - the school will close.
Implication - It is snowing, therefore the school is closed.
There is no wiggle room here - if the first sentence is true, then the second sentence (the implication) necessarily follows.
On the other hand, here's an example of a possible implication (that may or may not be true):
Statement 2. Timothy will work at his father's farm this summer.
Implication: Timothy will work at both his father's farm and at the grocery store.
Here if the first sentence is true, then the second sentence in the statement MAY be true, but it does not follow from the first. He may work in two different places - this is true, but that is not something that can be verified from the first sentence. It is a possible but not a necessary implication.
Here's where I go with all this. We as God's ministers should only preach and teach necessary implications as doctrine - that which is explicitly stated. Doctrine should never be built on POSSIBLE implications of a text, but NECESSARY implications - this is the essence of exegesis, drawing out from the text what is actually there. The opposite is eisegesis, reading into the text things that are never actually stated.
Just exercising this principle of logic would serve us all so well, especially over passages such as Hebrews 6:4-9:
Chapter Eight: The Greatness of the Love of Christ is Displayed in His Subjection of All Else to His Purpose of Redeeming Us.
When it comes to discerning the nature and degree of the loves and passions bound up in the souls of men, it is evident that, whenever any action they should perform is motivated by multiple desires or goals, any one of those goals or desires is lesser than it might have been. If, for example, I should drive into town to buy three or four different items, when no one of them alone would have been sufficient to motivate me to make the trip, I am showing that no one of those items is as important to me as another single item might be at another time, if that one item could compel me to make a trip just to acquire it alone. But still, there may be an object or goal more highly valued and desired than that one item alone for which I was willing to make a trip; and this may be shown by my willingness to devote a whole series of actions for the accomplishment of a single goal. I may value a high education, and perform many actions requisite to obtaining a degree from an acclaimed university. The number and quality of the actions and goods that I exchange for the accomplishment of this goal shows that it is very dear to me indeed. Or else, I may love a woman and make many trips and do many things with the single goal in mind of making her my wife. Because she is dearer to me than that one item I was willing to make a single trip for, I am therefore willing to make many trips in order to gain her. So then, if the goal or desire compelling my action is single, it evinces a greater love than if it is divided between various ends; and if that single goal or desire motivates many actions and sacrifices, it evinces a greater love than if it motivates one or two actions alone.