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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)

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June 30, 2010  |  Comments (10)   |  Permalink

Reformation Polka

June 29, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Burning Down the Shack, by James B. De Young

Go to Monergism Books

“The number one error of The Shack,” James De Young summarizes in an appendix to his critique of that influential bestseller, “is that Paul Young commits the great evil that he faults the human race for committing from the beginning onward. Paul Young makes the number one evil in the world...to be the independence from God that Adam and Eve exercised in the Garden of Eden.... Yet Paul Young himself indulges the great sin of independence. By embracing the basics of universal reconciliation, Young creates his own view of how love and holiness or justice relate but does not reflect all those texts that talk about the judgment of God on the unbelievers who reject him”. This analysis, which I find indubitably correct, goes far toward explaining the root error that has sprung up in many bitter fruits, which, elsewhere, De Young enumerates: “Paul Young improperly redefines the meaning of the Trinity and the special roles of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He distorts the nature of Christ's crucifixion, the nature of sin and punishment, the wrath and judgment of God, and the nature of God's love and having a relationship with him. He has no place for the devil, the enemy of every Christian. He has corrupted the nature of forgiveness, the nature of faith and reconciliation, the nature of salvation, the very meaning of the gospel, who the children of God are, what the bible is, and the role of the institutions of the church, the state, and marriage. Indeed, he rejects the latter, twice calling them a 'trinity of terrors'”.

These accusations are supported with a multiplicity of troubling quotations taken directly from The Shack; and they serve as evidence of what great errors God in his righteous wrath is often well-pleased to plunge them into who have rejected the sole sufficiency of his own self-revelation in the inspired scriptures, and have turned instead to fashioning God after their own imaginations and the councils of their own hearts. This bestseller has sadly influenced the spiritual perceptions of countless persons. I ardently urge you, if you are one of that number, to take a moment to consider very soberly and seriously if the picture of God that Paul Young has painted in The Shack is in accordance with the God who has condescended to reveal himself in the bible.

De Young's book may help you to undertake that sober consideration. Because of his previous, personal acquaintance with Paul Young, the author of The Shack, he is aware of the latter's spiritual journey, which resulted in a wholesale acceptance of the false teaching of universal reconciliation, and the life-changing effects that this error had upon him. The telltale signs of universalism, as De Young points out, are suffused throughout the entire novel; but his personal knowledge of the author vindicates one's finding of such elements, and serves to assure the uncertain reader that they really are there and they really are of a destructive nature, and attended by devastating consequences.

Of course, the false teachings of The Shack are not so hidden that they must be brought to light by long, laborious trains of logic, but they often lie right on the surface. De Young has helpfully collated many of these heretical sentiments, and deals at length with all of them, often in a clear and helpful manner. Some of the novel's false doctrines, which he treats of at length, I will reproduce here: God the Father says, “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human”; “Although Jesus is fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything”; “I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it”; “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship”. Jesus says, “I don't create institutions – never have, never will”; “I have no desire to make [people] Christians”. The Holy Spirit says, “I have a great fondness for uncertainty”. These and many other direct quotations show a great multitude of errors, many of them serious enough that they have been condemned as heresy by the Church throughout its history (e.g. the heresy of “Patripassianism,” which says that God the Father suffered on the cross, and which Young clearly teaches, making his imagined character of God the Father to have nail prints on his [her!] wrists, among other things).

Continue reading "Book Review: Burning Down the Shack, by James B. De Young" »

June 29, 2010  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

"Hallelujah all I have is Christ, Hallelujah, Jesus is my life."

"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deut 30:6)

Bob Kauflin leads us in a new song for the Church, written by his son Jordan. "Hallelujah all I have is Christ, Hallelujah, Jesus is my life."

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Continue reading ""Hallelujah all I have is Christ, Hallelujah, Jesus is my life."" »

June 28, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off

Visitor
In my devotions this morning, I was reading from Deuteronomy 30, and was startled by words in verses 11 and 14 that sounded almost like a Pelagian declaration of human ability:

"This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off...."The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it."
Can you comment on a proper understanding of that passage?

Response
Those who are regenerate have been set free by the Spirit of Christ to the bondage of "total depravity" (John 8:36, Romans 6:18). Bondage to sin is a characteristic of those not yet born from above. Now that you have been born from above and the Spirit indwells you, "God's commands are not too difficult for you, for everyone born of God overcomes the world." (1 John 5:4). This parallel passage to the one you have quoted in Deuteronomy reveals a new affection granted to the regenerate.

Isolated, the Deuteronomy Text has every appearance of a Pelagian declaration, but in the context of the passage you quoted it actually reveals the exact opposite. What does it say? The promise of God to them was "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:5-7). Don't know if you noticed this but this text is in the same passage you quoted. It is the indicative (grace) that the imperative (commandment) was grounded in. Their obedience springs from God's prior action in them. The Word is near to them and where you find the Word, the Spirit is also working in the children of promise. The Israelites had been set free and were in covenant with God. The promises of grace, mind you, were just as valid for Old Testament believers as New Testament believers, otherwise, like us, none of them would have had hope.

In the New Testament other parallel passages might be found in 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18.

June 28, 2010  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Psalm Ten: Arise, O Yahweh! O God, Lift Up Your Hand!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Ten: Arise, O Yahweh! O God, Lift Up Your Hand!

Religion that begins and ends with the mind alone is in fact no religion, but an empty mockery; for true religion comes to full flower in the trials and temptations that beset a man, and gives him victory over them all. This much we may certainly learn from our psalm today, which is very closely connected with the preceding, and bears this relationship to it, that it takes up the same precious themes and truths, and most heartily employs them in the midst of a terrible trial, which threatens to overwhelm the faith and hope of the godly.

Continue reading "Psalm Ten: Arise, O Yahweh! O God, Lift Up Your Hand!" »

June 28, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Starting Point of Christian and Biblical Apologetics

"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..." (1 Peter 3:15)

The Lordship of Christ is the starting point of all Christian and Biblical apologetics (a reasoned defense of the faith). What exactly does that mean? How are we to apply this truth? My friend, Dr. James White explains in this 40 minute video below:

June 25, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

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June 25, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

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June 24, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

What is your view on limited atonement?

This is my quick response to Randy Alcorn's piece on Limited Atonement. Randy Alcorn is a four-point Calvinist who rejects particular redemption.

Brother Randy,

Jesus in his high priestly prayer in John 17, which is his prayer to the Father just prior to going to the cross, makes plain that his priestly prayer is "not for the world, but those the Father has given him." This passage seems to make plain that Jesus in his Priest-work has a particular people in mind for His atoning work. This is not drawn from some unaided logic. Likewise the idea presented in 1 John 2:2 as referring to all kinds of people is repeated later by the apostle John in Revelation 5:9 where he states that Jesus "purchased with his blood men FROM every tribe, nation, tongue ..." This gives a clear indication that this is what is on John's mind when he says "all"... not each and every person. Purchasing men OUT OF every nation.

Furthermore, If you affirm the truth of irresistible grace then you really already affirm limited atonement (without knowing it perhaps) because they are the same thing looked at from different perspectives. Where do you think irresistible grace came from? Did it come from Christ or is it some generic grace granted to the elect APART from the Person and work of Christ? Either you have a Christless irresistible grace, (which is impossible since all redemptive benefits have their source in Christ (Eph 1:4, 5) or an irresistible grace granted BY Christ. This error is very problematic, because 4-point Calvinists, IMHO, make the doctrines of grace into an impersonal abstraction. It is Particular Redemption in Christ that makes all the other particular graces possible. We are elect IN CHRIST, Irresistible grace is granted by the Spirit IN CHRIST, and it is Christ who preserves us to the end. Apart from Jesus these graces are abstract, Systematic theology --- ... but with Particular Redemption, Jesus dies for the elect in a way (a redemptive way) that he does not for the non-elect. That is, to procure irresistible grace (an all grace for that matter)

Mr. Alcorn, as much as you may embrace your four-point Calvinism, it is done away with Christ as the source of ALL GRACE.

June 24, 2010  |  Comments (24)   |  Permalink

Justification

The following is a quote from John Gerstner's Primer on Roman Catholicism:

Martin Luther, the great reformer, while still a Roman Catholic, had an experience which was the cue to his whole career. It occurred, according to his son, Paul, when, mounting the holy staircase of Rome on his knees in penance, he realized in a sudden flash of understanding the meaning of these words: “The just shall live by faith,” Romans 1:17. Immediately he rose from his knees and walked down the steps. This was the prelude to the Reformation. Was Luther right? Are men justified before God by faith alone? Let us see.

According to the Bible, justification is by faith in Christ; according to Rome, justification is by faith plus works. According to the Bible, justification produces good works; according to Rome, good works produce justification. According to the Bible, justification is by Christ alone; according to Rome, it is by Christ and the sinner. It would appear that the word of Rome and the Word of God are two different things. The following is a formula I have used for over 50 years when explaining this point:

Roman Catholic Teaching:
Faith + Works → Justification

Biblical Doctrine:
Faith → Justification + Works

It can be seen from the diagram that works are necessary for justification in both systems; but in the Roman system they are necessary as a prerequisite; in the biblical system they are necessary as a postrequisite.

Continue reading "Justification" »

June 24, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Patristics for Protestants: Feedback Needed!

To everyone interested: I have just set up an experimental new project, Patristics for Protestants, in which I hope to gather together many annotated quotations from the Church fathers, which pertain to many of the points of contention between Rome and the Protestants. This is still in its incipient stages, and your feedback would be most opportune. Please stop by, and leave suggestions!

Patristics for Protestants

June 24, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Ligonier National Conference 2010

The teaching sessions for last Thursday (at the Ligonier National Conference) are now available to be watched online here.

Sessions include:
Ed Stetzer - The Brave New World of New Media
Tim Challies - Principles for Conduct in Communication
Burk Parsons - Taking Captive New Media for the Church
Albert Mohler - The Hypersocialized Generation
Questions and Answers Session (various speakers)
John MacArthur - Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
Michael Horton - Is the Doctrine of Inerrancy Defensible?
John MacArthur - Does the Doctrine of Divine Decrees Eliminate Human Will?

June 23, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Nine: Yahweh Sits Enthroned Forever

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Nine: Yahweh Sits Enthroned Forever

The reader who is continuing in order through the book of the Psalms will remember that the last psalm marveled at the deeply paradoxical truth of man's frail and insignificant nature, which is nevertheless of immense importance to God, by whom all creation is destined to be brought into subjection to a man who will reign forever in righteousness, even the God-Man Jesus Christ, who tasted death for every man and is now crowned with glory and honor. It may capture the reader's attention, therefore, that immediately after speaking of how all kingly dominion will be given to man, the psalms go on to speak of the eternal, kingly dominion of the Lord Yahweh himself, who sits enthroned forever, and judges the world in righteousness (vss. 7-8). Yes, man will reign over all things; but above and behind man, and constantly supplying him with his kingly authority and royal glory, is the Lord who created him. He has reigned from all eternity past, and into all eternity future he will reign in righteousness. There is no word or thought or breath of man that does not obey his divine decree and follow his every bidding. No, in all their mad ragings and evil schemes, the men of this world will accomplish nothing but what God's hand and purpose had predestined to take place (Acts 4:28).

Continue reading "Psalm Nine: Yahweh Sits Enthroned Forever" »

June 21, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Why don’t Christians care, or care enough, that they are sinning?

In one of the Q&A sessions this week at the Ligonier National Conference, R.C. Sproul asked questions submitted by attendees. On the panel were Michael Horton, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler and Steven Lawson. An effort was made to capture in brief form the questions and answers but you may wish to track down the audio or video to hear lengthier responses. Here is one such question:

Why don’t Christians care, or care enough, that they are sinning?

Begg: Because we don’t truly understand the nature of the atonement and what has happened in Christ bearing our sins. A low view of the atonement goes in line with an easy-going view of sin in the same way that when people take sin seriously they have a solid and clear grasp of what has happened in Christ dying for us. This was not a moot question for Paul in writing Romans where the same question applied to the people he was writing to. The answer lies in the gospel. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves all day every day and one way we will fail is a fast fall into antinomianism (lawlessness). The ultimate reason is that the believer does not understand what it means to be united to Christ. If we don’t, we’ll have legalism on one hand or lawlessness on the other. People simply don’t know who they are in Christ.

Sproul offered one correction to the question saying that there is no such thing as a true Christian who does not care about his sin. The question should be “why don’t we care to the degree that we ought to care?” And it’s because our hearts are still less than fully sanctified and God has not fully revealed to us the sinfulness of our sin (and thank God for that). If God revealed to me right now the full measure of the continuing sin in my life, it would destroy me. God is gracious and gentle in correcting us gradually.

Continue reading "Why don’t Christians care, or care enough, that they are sinning?" »

June 19, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Source of Humility

"We are all naturally self-righteous. But it is in the grace applied by the Spirit alone that our hearts are humbled to see the righteousness of Christ. Humility is not drawn from our native resources."
June 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Can a person be truly happy in heaven knowing that a loved one is suffering under the wrath of God in hell?

Dr. R. C. Sproul spoke on this theme earlier today at the National Ligonier Conference and here are the notes. It provides good insight into our future state of glorification.

Romans 8: 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

June 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Book Review: This Is My Body, by Thomas J. Davis

Go to Monergism Books

If there is one symptom that serves better than any other to reveal the discrepancy between the first Reformers and their Protestant heirs today, when it comes to their respective theological emphases, practical piety, and just what is of central concern to the Christian faith, it may well be the question of the Eucharist. In very few Protestant circles today could it be said of the Lord's Supper that it obviously stands at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian and pursue a Christian life; in it's stead, all sorts of other, peripheral means of grace are sought, which usually involve a sort of individualism, and a personal, subjective element quite out of keeping with the objective reality of Christ's authoritative pronouncement, “This is my body”. The famous (or infamous) unyielding severity with which the Eucharistic wars were waged among the magisterial Reformers, and the fact that the papal mass unexceptionally drew some of the sternest denouncements from all of them, tells us at least this, that the matter was absolutely vital to them, to a degree that the average Evangelical would not understand today. But the question is, Why? What did they see in the Eucharist that was of such vast importance to all of them, regardless of how differently they may have viewed the matter?

In his examination of the Reformer's eucharistic thought, This Is My Body, Thomas J. Davis has done an excellent job of analyzing what Luther, Zwingli, and especially Calvin really had to say about the presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper; and along the way, he has uncovered just why it was so crucial a topic to them. What he has to say about Calvin's understanding in particular (to whom he devotes the bulk of the book) is meticulously-researched, well-reasoned and certain to shake up the common conception. His somewhat surprising, but probably right, assessment is that Calvin's doctrine of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist actually had more in common, and on more important points, with Luther's doctrine than it did with Zwingli's. In fact, it would perhaps not be too much to say that the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was as vital a point for Calvin as it was for Luther. And in addition, the bodily presence of Christ, although explained differently and fiercely rejecting any idea of ubiquity, had an immensely important role in Calvin's thought.

Undergirding much of Davis's analysis is his research into the importance of sign and thing-signified in sixteenth-century Europe (his concluding chapter is a penetrating discussion of sign and reality in Renaissance art, and the effects that this cultural paradigm may have had on the hermeneutics of the Reformers); and this information is helpful in unpacking Calvin's treatment of the Eucharist. Although Calvin, against Luther, was willing to talk of the Eucharistic elements as “signs,” the meaning of which must be made plain by the Word of institution, properly understood, he nevertheless considered the signs utterly necessary for the communication of grace. Against those who argued that the signs are unnecessary, since they build up the believer's mind through the Word, which in terms of mere understanding could be just as easily done by the Word alone (a fairly common perception today, as well!), Davis argues that “Calvin, however, considered the signs essential....it is the special function of the signs to imprint on the believer's heart one's communion with Christ. The imprinting process requires that physical signs accompany the word for two reasons: the necessity of God's condescension because of human weakness and the requirement that Christians follow God's commands.” In fact, in a later discussion, Davis suggests that, to Calvin, “sacraments convey a better understanding of salvation to the Christian than the Word alone, because the sacraments appeal to all of the bodily senses: taste, feel, smell, sight, and (with the adding of the Word to the sacramental sign) hearing” (emphasis added).

The importance of signs as instruments of grace reaches all the way to Calvin's Christology. God is never unmediated in our sight of him; and the ultimate instrument by which he revealed himself is the truly human body of Christ. Therefore, “Since Calvin's theology of God is instrumental, to speak of things as instruments is not to denigrate them: it is to put them in their proper place in relation to God. God remains the efficient cause of all good things, but those good things are carried by instruments of grace. As such, to say that Christ's body is instrumental in conferring salvation on the Christian and that the body and its senses are instrumental in appropriating knowledge and understanding of that salvation is not to denigrate the instruments but to understand their role” (emphasis added).

But even so, is not the fact that Calvin spoke of the elements as signs, in and of itself an indication of the great divide between himself and Luther? Without minimizing the differences, the two perspectives were perhaps not quite so antagonistic to each other as has often been made out. Although Calvin could never agree to the ubiquity of Christ's human body, simply because he clung so tenaciously to the ongoing fullness of Christ's humanity, including that physical element of a human body localized in space, he nevertheless attached a vital significance to the Christian's being made to partake of the human body of Christ – although, true to Calvin's custom, he was willing to let the mechanics of that union remain shrouded in a divine mystery beyond which he did not dare to penetrate – “Calvin was never able to fully comprehend, much less explain to others, the details of the mode of union”.

But he did consider the union essential: “The body of Christ is the sine qua non of Christian life. The Christian experience is nothing more and nothing less than participation in that body. And that, for John Calvin, is how God is to be known. Scripture, Sacrament, and preaching point to that body and present it; the Holy Spirit joins the Christian to it.” In this, to substantiate Davis's suggestion, Calvin really does seem closer to Luther than to Zwingli.

Davis hits upon a helpful truth when he is analyzing Calvin's hermeneutics, and particularly, his frequent use of (as well as finding of) the literary device of “synecdoche” (using a part for the whole), which enables him to give a compelling, brief description of Calvin's Eucharistic thought, which shows both the essential similarity and the greatest discontinuity with Luther's:

Calvin's insistence that we are saved by our participation in Christ's body and that we are fed by Christ's body can be read as drawing life from Christ's humanity. This is not to dispel the notion that when Calvin spoke of Christ's body he did not mean only Christ's body: he meant at least that. Did he mean more? I think so. Being human demands having a human body; we see Calvin as insistent on this in his eucharistic teaching, and one can read at length about this in his commentary on the ascension in Acts. But the reason Calvin demanded that Christ's body remain in heaven, even in the eucharistic celebration—hence the requirement of the Christian being lifted up to heaven in mind and spirit to be joined with Christ there—was because he thought the body, with its limitations, to be requisite for true humanity. And for Calvin, Christ must retain full humanity even after resurrection because the humanity of Christ is the mediatorial principle in Calvin's theology. In the humanity of Christ, the Christian sees incarnated the will of God. It is the humanity of Christ to which the Christian has access.

As the foregoing excerpts demonstrate, Davis exhibits both a detailed knowledge of Calvin's thought, not just from the Institutes, but from the entire body of his writings; and he is exceptionally adept at bringing all the various emphases and motifs of the great Genevan into a coherent and self-interpreting whole, which has some eye-opening effects on just how he really viewed the sacrament of communication with the body of Christ. This fresh understanding may well prove fruitful in the coming years in paving the way for a greater recognition of commonality between Lutheran and Reformed Eucharistic doctrine.

Available at Monergism Books.

June 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Conversation with Synergist on Free Will continued


Texts in bold are comments made by the visitor.

You said, "I agree with you that the "natural person" cannot come to God on his own, without God's help."

So then, in your above statement we are finally agreed and have established that the natural man has no free will. The will and affections are in bondage to sin unless God does something. Apart from grace... Apart from the Holy Spirit, left to himself, man remains hopeless and cannot and will not come to Jesus Christ. "The sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Pet 2:22). So the real question is not whether the natural man has a free will or not, since that has already been established by what you affirmed above. Therefore, the real question which makes us differ is not really about the will at all, but about the nature of God's grace. Where we differ is that while you believe the grace of Jesus Christ is necessary, you do not believe that His grace is sufficient. That is, you do not affirm that Christ is sufficient to grant everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. Instead you appear to believe that grace puts us in some kind of state in-between regeneracy and unregeneracy. Correct? Can you show me any Scripture which gives witness to this state which is not unregenerate but also not regenerate? I can see only two states of man after the fall in the Bible. Regenerate and unregenerate. I would be interested to see this third state you speak of. Grace is not a reward for faith, it is the result of it.

Next you said, "When I read the Bible, I find numerous scriptures that are best summarized by Paul's recognition in 1 Timothy 2:3-4 that, "God our Savior ... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." I read of people who are urged to repent, to choose life, to accept Christ and to be saved. To the Greeks who worshiped many gods and didn't know the true God, the apostle Paul reasoned about the Creator God and told them how "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Countless scriptures state or imply that God's invitation is to *everyone*.

With you, I affirm all of the above verses and emphasize them at least as much as you do when I proclaim the gospel to unbelievers. Indeed God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. Just as God desires all men to wholeheartedly obey his other commandments, he likewise desires all men to obey the command to repent and believe the gospel. I wholeheartedly affirm this. As a missionary for 10 years I called my friends to repent and believe the gospel. I am not sure where you are going with this or how it supposedly contradicts anything I have said to you. It is wholly 100% our responsibility to obey God's command to believe. You are forgetting however, that even though we are responsible to do so it does not make we are morally able, apart from grace, which even you acknowledged above. Again we come back to where we really do differ - and that is in the nature of God's grace. Since we have established that man has no free will apart from some kind of grace, the real question comes down to what grace really does for us.

You said, Not everyone will be saved, and we wonder why that is so. The gospels present the reason for it (most of the time, admittedly) as people failing to make a right decision. "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5) is typical of many verses. Is there any point to warning people that they ought to repent, if they really can't?

Of course people are not saved because fail to make the right decision and turn to Jesus Christ. That is because, by nature, they are hostile to Christ (Rom 8:7). In answer to your above question I must ask you a question: is there a point to God commanding us to obey the Ten Commandments perfectly, if we really can't? Or what about the commandments to love our neighbor and be holy and God is holy? These are all imperatives and tell us what we ought to do. What we can do and do do are always spoken of in the indicative in the Scripture. The purpose is clear why God does this - By the commands of God we become conscious of sin (Rom 3:19, 20). That is what Paul himself says is the purpose of the divine legislation. In other words, the purpose is not to show our ability, but our inability. Why? Obviously it is so we recognize that we are wholly dependent on God. You already acknowledge that a person cannot come to Christ apart from grace so we are half way there. What is the nature of that grace then. In John 3 Jesus says men love darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light. In other words their choice to reject Him is a moral choice. They find Jesus morally repugnant. They find hate for Him in their heart. But Jesus also makes clear that but those who come into the light do so because it has been wrought by God. A man must first be born again if he is to see and enter the kingdom of God, my gospel says..."born not of blood or the will of man or the will of the flesh but born of God" (John 1:13). These concepts are rampant through the scripture on just about every page. You see, we need to embrace the whole counsel of Scripture on this matter. Your view does not take the multitude of texts that show it is God who choose us that we may choose him into account. You only accept one half of the Bible.

You said, God loves us all, unconditionally

If this is true then why are some people in hell? Unconditional love means unconditional. He makes certain those he loves will be in heaven. You believe God's condition is faith. If we don't have faith then he casts us into hell. I fail to see how you can actually claim God's loves all unconditionally when you add this condition. Its like saying God's love is unconditional and then telling me that but he will throw us out if we don't run a marathon.

To summarize, where we differ is that while you believe Jesus is necessary for salvation, you do not believe he is sufficient to save us to the uttermost. That is, he does not provide all we need for salivation including a new heart to believe. That part is ours to do, as you said above. Yes we are commanded to do it and it is our responsibility but we all fall short of it. Why one has faith and not the other to you is not Jesus but something else in your flesh. Jesus takes us 99% of the way but we must contribute the last bit to our salvation. So salvation is not all of Christ in your view, if you are consistent.

Next you likened the sinner to a drowning man reaching out his hand to God. Here are a couple of things I like to say in response to this:

If you liken the sinner to a drowning man reaching out his hand to God and claim that this needs no merit from which to boast, consider this: You appear to assume from this analogy that the drowning man (the sinner) believes he is drowning (believes he is a sinner) and is actually humble enough to recognize his own plight. But are there any sinners who are naturally willing to receive the humbling terms of the gospel? Isn't it grace itself that makes us humble? Isn't it grace that makes us recognize we need Christ to save us in the first place? So then, do you believe that some are saved and not others is because some are more humble by nature? They naturally recognize their wretched condition and need for Christ, apart from grace? If you say grace caused it in that person, then, I ask, why are not all saved?

Further, your "drowning man" analogy, it is problematic for the following reason. What kind of parent would merely reach out His hand to save someone who was drowning and not offer further help if the child could not reach out to him? What kind of love it that? Your parent analogy sees his child in trouble and will only save him on condition that he has the capacity to swim through the waves and reach out and take hold of the father. The father will not, however, risk his life to actually MAKE SURE that the son does not drown, if he is unable or unwilling to reach out. His love does not act so it is an ineffectual love. His love depends completely on how the son responds. This means his love is conditional. Frankly, most people understand that the true love of a parent would "violate" their sons will if it meant it would save a child from drowning - because the parent knows better than the child what is good for him. His love is not weak-willed or ineffectual but he loves his children with a resolute will that gets accomplishes what His love dictates by actually saving his child, even by forfeiting his own life in the process. Again, is a father who MERELY reaches out his hand and does nothing more a loving father in any sense of the word?

What about those people God did not save?, Jonathan Edwards once wisely said, "If damnation be justice, then mercy may choose its own object." By using "drowning in a lake" as an analogy, you are making it sound like our condition before God is innocuous. This logical fallacy is called an "appeal to pity" (ad misercordiam). Perhaps if our problem were only of a physical disability or of an innocent man drowning then of course we might be more inclined to make God out to be an ogre if He chose not to save him. But this is not how the Scripture describes the disposition of a sinner's heart. The Scripture says the unregenerate are rebels, hostile to God by nature (Rom 8:7). Realizing that analogies are imperfect, this drowning analogy still depends on pity for it to work at all but is actually imposing an alien presupposition on the Scripture that we were just helplessly, innocently in need and God is, therefore, obligated to reach out to save us, lest we drown. So according to this analogy the one condition we must meet if God is to love us is to reach out and take hold of His hand which He is also obligated to extend. Not only is this kind of love conditional but this love does nothing to help the helpless except call to him from afar. I hope you see the clear problem with this reasoning. God is in no way obligated to to cancel anyone's debt, but because He is loving and merciful He paid the debt for those He came to save and applied it to them according to His sovereign good pleasure (Eph 1:4, 5). To those who are his children, He will do whatever it takes to make sure they are delivered from the jaws of death.

June 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Free Will Revisited

Here are some ways to respond to persons who assert that the natural man has a free will to come to Christ or believe the gospel. Someone recently wrote to me "I believe our free will and power to choose is real and a God-given part of our nature."

Response: One could only conclude from your assertions that you affirm that a natural person can come to faith in Jesus, apart from grace. That 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power For as soon as you acknowledge the necessity of grace and the Holy Spirit, you thereby affirm fallen man has no free will. All the passages in the Holy Scriptures that mention assistance or grace are they that do away with "free-will", and these are countless...For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because "free-will" can do nothing when left to itself.

Ask yourself, If man's will is free, what is it free from? Sin? If our will is free from sin what need is there at all for grace or the Holy Spirit? The very fact that we need the Holy Spirit proves once for all that man has no free will, if left to himself. In his natural state, apart from grace, he will not come to Christ. Rather his will and affections are in bondage to a corruption of nature. And that which is in bondage, by definition, is not free. We need Christ to set us free, or we have no hope. Are you really going to tell me that you can come to Christ with no help from grace? Our "chooser" is broken without grace. Free will is a concept completely foreign to the Holy Scripture. If you can find it there I will honestly change my position today, but it appears this is something you are bringing to the Text from the outside - your own presuppositions. Be honest with yourself and notice you provided no Scripture to back up your assertion, only declared it to be true because it only makes sense to you if we are created in God's image.

So lets be sure our conclusions are exegetical (biblical), not philosophical. If you can show me (or yourself) from the Scripture that a person can come to faith APART from the Holy Spirit, then I encourage you to continue believing what you do, but if you cannot find it in the Text, don't just agree to disagree with me, consider carefully that your presuppositions may just be wrong - inherited from whatever tradition you may have been involved with. Are there really parts of us that are unaffected by the Fall? After Adam and Eve fell, the Scripture declares that we are in a natural state called "the flesh" which does not have the Holy Spirit. Take the time to carefully read 1 Cor chapter 2 which makes this plain. Only the Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63)

We agree 100% that we are all responsible to obey the command to believe the gospel. But what I believe your mistake is to equate responsibility with moral ability. Consider this. We are responsible to perfectly obey the 10 commandments. God declares that we are to be holy as he is holy ... that if we disobey the law at one point it is as if we disobey the whole law. Now, the law is your responsibility to obey. Does that mean you are morally able???. No ... of course not - that is why we need the gospel. ... We are no no more able to obey than a homeless man can pay off a billion dollar debt. If he squandered the money in Vegas that he borrowed from the bank, his inability to repay does not alleviate his responsibility. He is still responsible to repay. Likewise we owe a debt in Adam we cannot repay. Thus the need for Christ.

June 17, 2010  |  Comments (21)   |  Permalink

Psalm Eight: What Is Man, That You Are Mindful of Him?

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Eight: What Is Man, That You Are Mindful of Him?

What a paradox is man! The Name of the Lord is majestic in all the earth, and the heavens above, ah, how much glory do they declare! Wherever one should turn his eye, there is all around him the stuff of awe-struck wonder, and the more deeply he probes, the greater the marvel becomes. In the depths of the deepest ocean, what brilliant flowers and beautiful creatures may be found hidden away from all prying eyes. In the vast expanse of the universe, what mind-boggling distances and unthinkable substances, what expansive galaxies and innumerable stars, what gasses and solids and plasmas and dark matters beyond the wildest surmisings of man. And here on this earth, such noble creatures may be found, the soaring eagle and massive elephant and untamable lion – it staggers the mind to try to conceive of it all, and after the attempt, the only reasonable verdict that one may come to is this, “O Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your Name!”

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June 14, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"Was Blind, But Now I See.."

Dear God, there was a time when I could not see any beauty at all in You; but now it is the highest and most lofty pursuit of my heart to know and love You. My heart was not more sensitive than another's to see this - I was blind (2 Cor 4:4) not merely short sighted - but You did it (2 Cor 4:6) - You allowed me to see enough of You to spend my whole life pursuing You, knowing one day all I ever wanted will be fulfilled in seeing You face to face. - John S.

This song below called simply "Beautiful" sung by Kari Jobe captures the heart cry of every true child of God.

June 14, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Book Review: God's Lyrics, by Douglas Sean O'Donnell

Go to Monergism Books

There are many books available on the specific question of music in worship, some focusing on lyrical content and others on musical style, with positions ranging from psalter-only, a capella singing to arguments for the superiority of the modern praise and worship genre to classic hymnody; but I'm not aware of any of them that do precisely what O'Donnell's new book, God's Lyrics, has done. He has not touched upon many of the pertinent issues: the application of the Regulative Principle of Worship, the question of musical style, and so on, are left untouched. But what he has put together is certainly an important contribution to the discussion, which may prove to be eye-opening at least, and even paradigm-shifting in some respects.

The basic concept of the book is simple enough: before we can properly evaluate the lyrics we sing in church, we must know what appropriate lyrics should look like. And if we would know what fitting lyrics should look like, we can do no better than to examine the inspired lyrics of God's people throughout the whole course of their history, see what they have sung about, and compare our songs against that standard. When we do so, however, the conclusion may be a little unexpected, whether we prefer classic hymnody or contemporary praise and worship!

In order to provide this evaluation, O'Donnell has done two things: first, he has given an exposition of the songs of God's people at the key junctures in their redemptive history – the two songs of Moses and the songs of Deborah, Hannah, David and Habakkuk (with some additional thoughts on Mary's Magnificat, Simeon's Nunc Dimittis, and the songs of Revelation). Second, he has drawn out all the major themes from those songs, and made a scientific comparison between those themes and the themes both of the most popular classic hymns and the most popular contemporary praise songs.

What O'Donnell has discovered, in this process, is a definite disconnect between biblical emphases and the emphases in our own singing, both in contemporary worship songs (unsurprisingly!) and also, to a lesser extent, in much classic hymnody. Although in a generally winsome way, he is very direct in pointing out our widespread failure to make our own singing thematically similar to the singing of God's people in scripture. Speaking of the Song of Moses, for instance, he suggests, “We can sing verses 13 and 17 and 18, which speak of the Lord's leading his people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land: 'You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode' (v. 13). But can we sing what falls between those verses, of the 'terror and dread' that will fall upon 'the inhabitants of Canaan'...?”

O'Donnell continues, “Maybe we should cut and paste our bibles, making them a collage of our culture, a mirror of our worldly minds and its conceptions of God and justice and salvation.... Or maybe we should just cut out all this cutting out and hear what God has to say”!

Hearing what God has to say is in fact what O'Donnell has striven to do in the first part of his book; and in the second part, he has compared what we customarily sing against that standard. His careful comparison of the fifty most popular modern praise songs has discovered several problems, the most serious of which is an overwhelming emphasis on the experiential, subjective element of the one worshiping, and a corresponding de-emphasis on the objective truths of the great works of God in history. Even the “God-centered language” of these songs “is often confused, if not nullified, by the language of self”.

But classic hymnody, as well, although not to the same degree, has some disparity of emphasis. Of the twenty-five most commonly sung pre-1800 hymns, the major discrepancy is the lack of rejoicing in God's righteous judgment against his enemies, which is such a dominant theme in biblical songs of redemption.

So where does all this leave us? Some would say, “psalter only (or inspired-text only) singing is the answer, of course!” I certainly wouldn't argue against drastically increasing the amount of divinely-inspired songs that the modern church sings in worship – and O'Donnell's appendix, in which he has put the six key songs of redemptive history in meter, and set them to some common hymn tunes, may prove a very valuable way to do that very thing. But without getting into Regulative Principle arguments (as that was not the burden of the book anyway), it must be admitted, even by those of us who believe that there is good warrant for composing and singing songs that accord with the scriptures, that what we present to our congregations to lift up to the Almighty God in worship is of utmost importance. If we do not give the matter serious attention – just as serious as the evaluation that O'Donnell has provided for us – then we are derelict. Without over-reacting and expelling good, biblically-sound songs, we need to ensure that we are only singing songs that fully agree with the biblical example and testimony; and also, that we are not singing a repertoire of songs which, when considered as a whole, fails to evince the balance and range of doctrines that the inspired text of scriptures portrays the church as singing. It is that latter principle that was eye-opening to me; and for providing ample evidence to work with in addressing the widespread failure in that regard, I am very grateful for O'Donnell's work.

Available at Monergism Books.

June 11, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Assurance of Salvation

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1]

Assurance is, simply, faith that God's love for you overcomes any obstacle: not that his love merely has the potential to do so, but that it actually does. Sometimes you're very conscious of the fact that you've put a lot of obstacles between yourself and God. You see your sin, and the guilt and shame can make it hard to believe that God's love could surmount even this. Again. "Maybe he forgives others who are better at this faith-and-repentance thing, but surely he doesn't forgive me." That's called doubt. The bad news is, doubt is more than just unhelpful when it comes to feeling good about your relationship with God. Doubt is actually insulting to God. Sure, doubt might be genuine, honest, authentic on your part. But your doubt reflects on him, says something about him. How long will you let your doubts declare that God is not trustworthy, not gracious to save you from all your sins?

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June 11, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Atonement in Hebrews

I have written a brief article and then include a 12 minute video by Dr. James White on the theme of the atonement here. It covers such issues as particular redemption and how Christ's sacrifice and intercession are intimately related. I trust it will be a blessing. - Rev. John Samson

June 09, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Seven: Judge Me, O Yahweh, According to My Righteousness

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Seven: Judge Me, O Yahweh, According to My Righteousness

Already had David found comfort from his sorrow over sin, and had assured himself that the Lord had seen his tears of penitence and would not rebuke him in his wrath (Psalm 6); and yet, as blessed as that forgiveness of sins and free absolution from guilt had been, a fuller confidence in his sure salvation from all his enemies required even more yet: for if his faith should remain strong in the promises of God, when all the world seemed set against him, he needed not just to know that he was forgiven, but also that he was positively righteous – not just that the Lord had nothing against him, but also that the Lord had seen everything good in him, and was well-disposed to help him for the beautiful and commendable things which adorned his heart, not just disinclined to rebuke him for the ugly and contemptible things over which he had mourned so deeply before.

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June 07, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Book Review: From the Resurrection to His Return, by Don Carson

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I love it when real scholars can write so simply and practically that someone who doesn't know it would never suspect that they're academicians. This is a trait that Carson has displayed from time-to-time – and his recent book on “Living Faithfully in the Last Days” in light of the soon return of Christ is a perfect example of that.

What is the book (or booklet) all about? It's just a practical exposition of a practical portion of scripture: 2 Timothy 3:1—4:8. Walking paragraph through paragraph, Carson explains what the Apostle Paul has to say about living in the last days; holding the right mentors in high regard; holding few illusions about the world; holding on to the Bible; and holding out the Bible to others. Very practical stuff, that cuts to the heart of certain widespread errors in the modern Church.

It's too bad that, of the immense body of writings available on the topic of “eschatology,” or the study of things and events surrounding the coming return of Christ, 99.9% of it is on the “what,” and only an infinitesimal fraction on the “so what”. But in the Bible, the “what” of Christ's soon and certain return is always used to fuel the “so what” of how to live in these last days. And Carson's book reflects that biblical emphasis that is so lacking elsewhere.

Even if you're wary of theological titles as slow-going, hard-to-read books, this is not a book to be intimidated by. It will take you an hour to read if you're a fast reader, two if you're slow; and that will be an hour or two well-spent. You will learn something, and it will be something very practical and of foundational importance for what really is the best way to spend this fleeting life on earth.

Available at Monergism Books.

June 05, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Fruits, Flakes, Fakes and Nuts - And How To Deal With Them

Today I had interchange with someone on the internet (actually a good friend who shall remain anonymous) on the subject of how we are to deal with the fake christian people in our lives. I have provided the interchange here in hopes the discussion might be helpful to others:

First of all I wrote: "True faith endures!! The true child of God MUST endure to the end, and WILL endure to the end, because it is God who started and will finish the work in him. Those who abandon faith in Christ were never really His. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for IF THEY HAD BEEN OF US, THEY WOULD HAVE CONTINUED WITH US. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." - 1 Jn 2:19

Someone responded to this saying: "Amen!! There are a lot of flakes among us, but there are also a lot of FAKES, pretending to be one of us. Sometimes they are workers of the enemy, and their mission is to destroy us and our ministry. Something to think about."

My response: "Very true.. the way to avoid flakiness in our lives is to be grounded always in the practical application of Scripture and not moved about by experience that has no backing in the Word.. and may God deliver us from the fakes. Deceived people deceive people. "

The person responded by saying: "I thought we were supposed to avoid fakes."

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June 05, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Christ Honoring Nature of Particular Redemption

"Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

The scope of Christ's work of redemption is both universal and particular: universal because it includes people of every ethnicity and nation; particular because Christ redeems a people for Himself from out of these nations, having had an eye for a remnant of mankind from every tribe. Here is the climax of God's redemptive purpose, fulfilling God's covenant to Abraham to bless the children of promise through his seed (Gen 12:2; Rom 9:6-13). This is why God has commanded the church to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18, 19) that He might gather those he has set apart for Himself in every city and town (Acts 18:10; John 17:9, 20)

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June 04, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Applying the Gospel

You may be quite familiar with the concept that the Christian grows in true holiness only by faith in God's grace. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is more than "just" the entryway to the Christian life; it is also the regular means by which we make progress in the Christian life. As we grow in our faith in the Gospel, we grow in the ability to honor God with our obedience. Biblically speaking, there is no other way to pursue our sanctification.

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June 03, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Before God, by Mike Sarkissian

Go to Monergism Books

It struck me, this week, that if you really want a litmus test of true saintliness, it won't do to look for sacrificial acts of charity, passion-filled preaching or writing, frenetic occupation with ministry-related works and endeavors, success in filling churches, sending out missionaries, becoming a “pop star” in the world of Evangelicalism. If you want a litmus test of true saintliness, all you really have to know about is a person's prayer life. There is no truer sign of a genuine, humbled, God-loving follower of Christ than one who, whether in public or private, cannot refrain from pouring out his soul to God continually, because he knows his sinfulness and inability for anything good, yes – but he also knows God as a Father and Jesus Christ as a faithful and sympathetic High Priest. That was one of many things that struck me while I was reading Mike Sarkissian's book, Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer; and I would strongly encourage anyone else to give it a careful reading.

The subject matter of the book makes it thoroughly practical, from cover-to-cover; and the way in which the subject matter is approached is commensurate with its importance. Prayer is coming to God on his own terms, at his invitation, in accordance with who he is, what he has done for us, and what he invites and commands us to do. From page one, Sarkissian's work is suffused with that perspective. Before he says a word about prayer, he spends some vital time discussing authority – and comes to the conclusion that it is only God's Word to us that provides any basis for what we believe or how we approach him. If we really want to pray, we must ask with the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray”. This is such a foundational point to make, for if we approach God in any other way, then it won't matter what or how we pray after that. God cannot be approached on our terms; and that is the first and non-negotiable lesson of prayer.

It is upon this firm foundation that Sarkissian builds his book; and fittingly, he undertakes to do nothing but explain what God himself, through his infallible word, has taught us about prayer. In this, he has done a tremendous job of giving a comprehensive overview of the complex treatment the scriptures give of prayer. A significant portion of the book is spent in a helpful and practical exposition of the Lord's Prayer, which is good; but he does not just account for Jesus' teaching on the nature of prayer, he also gives some time explaining his own example of a prayerful life, from his wilderness devotions to Gethsemane, as well as the foundational necessity of his intercessory and mediatory prayer for all the saints. Finally, he brings together the biblical witness to a whole plexus of related questions, touching on everything from posture in prayer to the questions of fasting and laying on hands, with many other such questions in between. Through it all, his writing remains characterized by three things: commitment to the scriptures alone as the ultimate authority to answer any of our questions; emphasis on simple explanation and practical application; and warm devotion.

I don't think Mike Sarkissian would take offense (or even contradict me) if I say that this book is not primarily valuable because he is a great scholar or expert in his field; he has been humble enough to recognize the valuable works of many saints and scholars before him, and has been more than ready to stand on their shoulders. The book is filled with quotes and information gleaned from dozens of well-selected sources, including Reformation greats such as John Calvin, many of the Puritans, and modern conservative scholars. This serves to make the book a treasure house of helpful information, from trusted sources, on a vital topic.

And really, Sarkissian just seems a down-to-earth guy with a pastoral heart and a love for Christ. Which is so much the better if you also happen to be a down-to-earth Christian who loves the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and desires to grow into a more intimate fellowship with him. If you're of that sort (as I am), then I'm confident this book will help you.

Available at Monergism Books

June 02, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Monergism Particular Redemption T-Shirt

Our new Particular Redemption T-Shirt bears the Text of Revelation 5:9-10. The following short exposition of this Text will show you why we think this text is so critical:

"Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth."

rev59shirt-model.jpg

The scope of Christ's work of redemption is both universal and particular: universal because it includes people of every ethnicity and nation; particular because Christ redeems a people for Himself from out of these nations, having had an eye for a remnant of mankind from every tribe. Here is the climax of God's redemptive purpose, fulfilling God's covenant to Abraham to bless the children of promise through his seed (Gen 12:2; Rom 9:6-13). This is why God has commanded the church to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18, 19) that He might gather those he has set apart for Himself in every city and town (Acts 18:10; John 17:9, 20)

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June 01, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Popular Definition of "Free Will" Self-Contradictory

The following is a definition lifted from a Christian dictionary... with a short comment that follows..

Free Will: The ability of an agent to make genuine choices that stem from the self. Libertarians argue that free will includes the power to determine the will itself, so that a person with free will can will more than one thing. Compatibilists typically view free will as the power to act in accordance with one's own will rather than being constrained by some external cause, allowing that the will itself may ultimately be causally determined by something beyond the self. Hard determinists deny the existence of free will altogether. Most Christian theologians agree that humans possess free will in some sense but disagree about what kind of freedom is necessary. The possession of free will does not entail an ability not to sin, since human freedom is shaped and limited by human character. Thus a human person may be free to choose among possibilities in some situations but still be unable to avoid all sin.1

1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 46-47.

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Comment: Evans said, "The possession of free will does not entail an ability not to sin, since human freedom is shaped and limited by human character."

This statement is contradictory. If the will must sin of necessity then it is in bondage to corruption, and that which is in bondage is not free. So we must ask, freedom from what? Freedom from coercion, yes, but not freedom from necessity (the necessity to sin in this case). So even the author of the definition himself rejects free will perhaps without even knowing it.

June 01, 2010  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

What is Reformed Theology? by R. C. Sproul (DVD series)

The roots of evangelical Christianity are found in the soil of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, which brought a return of true biblical theology to the world. In this series, Dr. R. C. Sproul offers an introduction to Reformed theology, the heart of historical evangelicalism. C.H. Spurgeon once said that Reformed theology is nothing other than biblical Christianity. These highly recommended twelve 23-minute messages include: Introduction; Catholic, Evangelical, and Reformed; Scripture Alone; Faith Alone (part 1): Faith Alone (part 2); Covenant; Total Depravity (part 1); Total Depravity (part 2); Unconditional Election; Limited Atonement; Irresistible Grace; Perseverance of the Saints.

From now until June 4, 2010, Ligonier Ministries is making this 12 part DVD series "What is Reformed Theology?" available for ANY size gift here.

June 01, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink