"...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)

8 Minutes in John Chapter 6 - Dr. James White

8 Minutes in John 6 from Nathan W. Bingham on Vimeo.

July 28, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

For a Limited Time, 2 Radio Shows Online..

A number of people have asked me how to access the archives found on the KPXQ Christian radio station in Phoenix, AZ website in order listen to the 2 radio shows I recently did online. They are available to listen to for a LIMITED time (2-3 weeks).

The show dates were July 19 and July 26 and split into hour one of the show here: and hour two found here. People have written to me from as far away as Northern Ireland and England to say that enjoyed the shows online. The internet certainly brings people together worldwide in a way unforseen by former gernerations. God bless. - Pastor John Samson

July 27, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Over-Realized Postmillenial Eschatology

In one of his classes on the gospel of John, Jim Dennison made some interesting comments on theological & political liberalism and eschatology. He said that the kind of eschatology in the New Testament is not a fully realized eschatology. A fully realized eschatology [on the other hand] would say that now the fullest realization of eschatological reality is accomplished. That eschatology NOW is completed - the present time is the eschatological era. Any future time has no eschatological significance. This is the eschatology of liberalism. Also the eschatology of all political and social utopianisms, whether they be fascist, socialist or communist. This is the Immanentization of the eschaton. All political utopians or liberals are Immanentizations of heaven on earth (Vogel). The bringing of heaven on earth now. Your liberal theologies, whether they be neo-orthodoxy, liberation theologies are now fully realized eschatological theologies. No future. Which means they de-eschatologize the future.

July 26, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Breaking Us Down to Bind Us Up

Sermon Audio:

Breaking Us Down to Bind Us Up - Hosea 6:1-3

Sermon Manuscript:

Come and let us return to Yahweh, because he has torn, that he may heal us; he has struck, that he may bind us up. He will make us alive after two days; on the third day, he will raise us up, that we may live before his face. So let us know, let us pursue to know Yahweh! His going forth is as sure as the dawn, and he will come to us like the rain, like the Spring rain that falls upon the earth. – Hosea 6:1-3

Context of the Prophecy

The prophet Hosea, as indeed all the other prophets in some manner or another, was concerned most especially with the terrible coming exile first predicted by Moses, which would actually be brought about because of the people's hardheartedness and impenitent breaking of the Law; and yet, as strongly as Hosea thundered his threatenings of this fearful judgment of exile against the people, God did not leave them entirely without hope, but by many strong and sure consolations promised to them a later restoration which, however his Law may have been broken, was nevertheless promised by the Gospel, which from the beginning assured the elect remnant of God's free mercy and salvation, and which the Law, coming four hundred and thirty years after, could never abrogate (Gal. 3:17).

Continue reading "Breaking Us Down to Bind Us Up" »

July 26, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Do Calvinists Believe Faith is Meritorious?

Today I received the following question in my email box:

question: In saying that individuals putting their faith in Christ are doing something meritorious, are not Calvinists saying faith is a work? But the Bible contrasts them.

response: Hi and thanks for your email. The bible contrasts faith and works in the sense that faith always looks away from itself to Christ for salvation. It no longer has confidence in the flesh but can glory only in Christ Jesus. However, at the same time, the Bible also teaches that even the very humility to believe the gospel is a gift of grace. No one naturally submits to the humbling terms of the gospel. Jesus himself said that "no one can come to me unless God grants it." (John 6:65). So apart from the grace of the Holy Spirit no one comes to Christ in his own native resources. By nature he is hostile to God (Rom 8:7), loves darkness, hates the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19, 20). The man who is still in the flesh (without the Holy Spirit) does not submit to Christ, he does not, indeed, cannot understand spiritual truths and thinks they are foolish (1 Cor 2:14). Only the Holy Spirit can reveal spiritual truth. God must first open our spiritually blind eyes and unplug our deaf ears, and turn our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. (Ezek 36:26-28) No one can believe while their heart is still stone. I.e. it takes a miracle of grace to believe. Faith and obedience are both impossible apart from renewal of heart.

So my point is that while faith and works are indeed contrasted in Scripture, as you say, they were not meant to be contrasted in such a way that it would create another excuse for human boasting. We all too easily find ways of trying to make our own contributions to salvation and our flesh looks for loopholes. Those who claim they can believe apart from the work of the Holy Spirit end up having only themselves to thank for their faith. In reality, however, true Christians all thank God for conversion because we cannot attribute our believing the gospel to our own wisdom, sound judgment, or good sense. May God get all the praise for saving us, including giving us a new heart to believe. Once we somehow believe that faith is not something I can thank God for but my own contribution then I can boast over my neighbor who does not believe. I can wrongly thank God I am not like him because I made a good choice and he did not. No. We were saved by Christ alone. May the multi-faceted glory of Christ shine clear that all may see that our salvation is by grace alone. We conclude that faith is not a work BUT we make it into a work as soon as we view it as something we can autonomously come up with from our native resources, apart from any work of the Holy Spirit.

Hope this helps
John Hendryx

"It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ.... It is not, strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith. The saving power resides exclusively, not int he act of faith or the attitude of faith or in the nature of faith, but in the object of faith." - B. B. Warfield

"Faith itself is man's act or work and is thereby excluded from being any part of his justifying righteousness. It is one thing to be justified by faith merely as an instrument by which man receives the righteousness of Christ, and another to be justified FOR faith as an act or work of the law. If a sinner, then, relies on his actings of faith or works of obedience to any of the commands of the law for a title to eternal life, he seeks to be justified by works of the law as much as if his works were perfect. If he depends either in whole or in part, on his faith and repentance for a right to any promised blessing, he thereby so annexes that promise to the commands to believe and repent as to form them for himself into a covenant of works. Building his confidence before God upon his faith, repentance and other acts of obedience, he places them in Christ's stead as his grounds of right to the promise and so he demonstrates himself to be of the works of the law and so be under the curse." Galatians 3:10 - John Colquhoun (A Treatise on Law and the Gospel)

"Let all the 'free-will' in the world do all it can with all its strength; it will never give rise to a single instance of ability to avoid being hardened if God does not give the Spirit, or of meriting mercy if it is left to its own strength." - Martin Luther

July 25, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Establishing One's Own Righteousness

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

Christ alone is sufficient to save us to the uttermost. Righteousness is found in Him, and no where else. Not Christ "plus" the addition of something I contribute to the price of my redemption. Any addition to Christ is essentially an affirmation that Christ is not enough.

As Paul noted in the above quote, there are many people who do not know Christ yet are zealous to daily read their Bible, take the Eucharist and do good works, all good things in themselves, but not if they are not grounded in the gospel. They are trusting in these things to get them to where they want to go rather than in Christ alone. On Friday I encountered a very devout Roman Catholic who came into our office looking for books (not knowing the content of our books). She was extremely zealous and sincerely devoted to "Jesus" and the "Trinity" and to daily prayer. She asked what Monergism meant and became deeply upset about the implications of "Christ alone" and "Scripture alone" saying that her faith was much bigger than that. I asked, "bigger than Christ"? It was frankly gut-wrenching to stand there and explain that our differences were more than just secondary. But in the end I had to be open and tell her that while indeed Rome believes that Jesus is necessary, yet they do not believe He is sufficient, and therefore are opposed to the true gospel. The Roman Catholic Church essentially believes that Jesus takes our account to zero but then we need to complete where Christ is lacking in righteousness by adding our own merit to His. The doctrine of Purgatory attests to the fact that they do not believe Jesus Christ is enough to save them - but that they must contribute something to it. This clearly runs into the same violation that Paul warns of in Galatians: "Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?' (Gal 3:3).

Note: An interesting turn in the discussion, which I think worth mentioning, is the RCC who came by our office used the common liberal progressive argument that I was being "exclusionary" and not "inclusive" and so my heart was hardened. However, I pointed out the fact that this actually goes both ways. RCC likewise denies what I believe to be true so it is being no less inclusive. As long as I did not believe in Christianity the way she did I was being exclusive. Ironic. People forget very quickly that the Council of Trent anathematizes the gospel of Jesus Christ that we hold true. This inclusion/exclusion argument is really a form of self-deception by those who use it because it does not see itself rightly, that in the very act of speaking against exclusion, it is being exclusive.

Please pray that the many zealous people out there we meet daily (like the person in my encounter) would see they are trusting in their own righteousness and that God would graciously move by His Spirit upon them to turn their heart of stone to a heart of flesh so they would submit to God’s righteousness, found in Jesus Christ alone.

July 24, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

In case you had not noticed, everything just changed!!

July 22, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

What is the Central Theme of the Bible?

Everyone is in covenant with God and the sanctions are according to which covenant you are in. Covenants are the architectural framework, the superstructure of the Bible. Covenant theology is just biblical theology because we find covenants everywhere in the Bible. Many scholars try to discover what is the center of the Bible ... the center of biblical theology? Some of the proposed centers for biblical theology are God, Israel, Covenant, creation, kingdom, salvation, new creation, and so forth. None of these are the center of the Bible though. They lose their meaning without Christ. If there is no Christ, there is no kingdom to talk about. The diversity of the Bible is unified in Christ. He is the center that holds all of the biblical data together. While the covenants night be the vehicle by which God relates to his people and the kingdom of God is certainly his pervasive rule over all people yet the fullest expression of God and His glory come in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and this is why covenants are important. They teach us about Him.
- Rev Dan McManigal, from his lecture series on Covenant Theology

July 22, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Irreducible Complexity

The progress in our knowledge of the irreducible complexity of life has rendered us truly "without excuse" when it comes to our attributing to the natural order that which God reserves for himself. Any person who can look at the mechanics of the cell, realize the order, the information, the complexity that makes any computer you are using to read this post look like a stick and a rock in comparison, and yet continue in the suppression of the God-instilled knowledge of His own existence is a person remaining in utter rebellion. - Dr. James White

July 21, 2010  |  Comments (10)   |  Permalink

Purcell's Te Deum, Part 2

A centuries-old hymn, Clare College, Cambridge University

July 20, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

This made me smile, but it was still sad to watch...

How on earth can Robert Green (the England goalkeeper) ever be allowed to forget his major blunder in the World Cup game against the United States? I am so glad for God's promise that "your sins I will remember no more." As God, He knows everything - He is omniscient... yet He has promised not to recall our sins (bring them up against us). Hallalujah! - JS

July 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Thirteen: Lighten My Eyes, Lest I Sleep in Death!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Thirteen: Lighten My Eyes, Lest I Sleep in Death!

Through all the course of his life, David was very often opposed by many enemies who were stronger than he: whether it was King Saul, who without a cause so many times sought his life; or Achish, the king of the Philistines, before whom he was forced to feign madness; or those raiders who stole away his wives and goods in Ziklag; or even his own son Absalom, who raised up a mighty host against him, and drove him out of Jerusalem; by all these enemies and more, he was constantly opposed, afflicted, and oppressed – and yet, in the face of such enmity, he constantly evinced a calm and steady assurance of God's favor and salvation, because of which he could laugh at all his foes, and sleep in peace even when they were surrounding him on every side.

Continue reading "Psalm Thirteen: Lighten My Eyes, Lest I Sleep in Death!" »

July 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Five Solas - Five Things Together That Stand Alone

New to the reformed faith, I remember taking a car journey with a fellow minister. I had a book in my hands outlining the five Solas of the Protestant Reformation. Seeing this, my preacher friend remarked, “I just don’t get it? The word “Sola” means alone, right?”

“Yes” I replied.

He then said, “Well how is it in any way possible for five things together to be alone? Its utter hogwash.”

Now I was not sure exactly what “hogwash” was. Perhaps it is the water left behind in a tub after a pig has taken a bath. I wasn’t sure… but whatever it was, I could tell that it was not good in any way at all. My preacher friend thought the concept of the five Solas was intellectually untenable.

You are probably now waiting for me to finish this story by saying that in intellectual prowess and intestinal fortitude, I rose up (if that is possible in the passenger seat of a car) and put ignorance and unbelief to the sword, with a single blast of God given wisdom as the oracles of God thundered forth out of my mouth. Well, I could end the story that way, but I would be lying. The fact is, I did not really know how to answer him. I stumbled around… I am sure I said something, and yet he and I both knew that I had no adequate answer that day.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew there was an answer. I just was not sure what it was or how to articulate it.

Many years on, if I was asked that same question today I think I would seek to provide an answer by using a simple illustration. As with most illustrations (or parables) there is usually a limit as to how far one can go – each image in the parable cannot usually be stretched too far, but the illustration can at least provide a window, an insight, that can help people understand concepts far better than before. The same is true in this case.

Continue reading "The Five Solas - Five Things Together That Stand Alone" »

July 18, 2010  |  Comments (12)   |  Permalink

The Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 & The Baptist Catechism

BaptistConfessionLeather1689.jpgThe Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 & The Baptist Catechism
This volume uses the accepted editions of both the Confession and Catechism along with the Scripture Proofs for both. Also included is a brief Introduction by Dr. Jim Renihan, and the original Appendix on Baptism. Aside from the differences on Baptism, almost identical to the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith.

Finally the Reformed Baptists will have their most important doctrinal statements in a form that will endure for generations to come. This beautiful edition will send the right message to the watching world about the enduring value of these documents.

- 60# paper (360 ppi for long-lasting durability)
- Gold stamping on both spine and front cover
- 1/4" marker ribbon, black, bound into the book

Book Includes:
-Historical Introduction by Jim Renihan
-Original Letter to the Reader
-The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689
-Original Appendix on Baptism
-The Baptist Catechism with Scripture Proofs

This is not a modernized version of the Confession or the Catechism.

Now available

July 17, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Next 2 Mondays...

THE NEXT 2 MONDAY EVENINGS (July 19 and 26), God willing, I will be hosting a live 2 hour LIVE Christian radio program (the Andrew Tallman show) covering all Phoenix, Arizona (1360 on the AM dial locally). Andrew is taking a well earned vacation and has asked me to fill in as a host. The show airs live from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. AZ time, and it can be heard all around the world live on the internet at

Apparantly anywhere between 3,000 and 12,000 people are listening at any given moment (the vast majority of listeners are Christians, but of course some are not) and so over a 2 hour time frame, that adds up to a lot. Its a tremendous opportunity. I get to teach/share on any subject and take comments and questions from those calling into the show. I would really value your prayers. - John Samson

July 16, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

A Few Thoughts on Federal Headship

To those who decry the fairness of the federal headship of Adam, (that we are in bondage to sin because of his rebellion), consider that we see every day examples of this principle all around us ... your country of birth was not by choice, but because of your where your parents lived when they gave you birth. In many countries children are born into poverty, have disease and die in infancy, solely because of who their parents were. Did not God decide our parents?

Adam's posterity are under a curse. We live in a world of sin and we all die because of his rebellion. Not Fair? Every time you sin you give your yea and AMEN to what he did. We have such solidarity with Adam as fallen creatures that he federally represented us - such that what he did, counts as what we did. Likewise the last Adam, Jesus Christ, federally represents us so that what he did for us also counts as what we did. You cannot reject this doctrine for Adam but have it for Christ.

Therefore, we should not complain. God does not make mistakes. He does everything He does for a reason. He ordained your country of birth and your parents and the length of your life.

July 15, 2010  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Wesley and Regeneration

Recently I saw someone post the following quote by Paul Washer on Facebook with my response following:

"Calvinism is not the issue. I’ll tell you what the issue is. Regeneration. And that is why I can have fellowship with Wesley and Ravenhill and Tozer and all the rest because regardless of where they stood on the other issues they believed that salvation could not be manipulated by the preacher, that it was a magnificent work of the power of almighty God. And with them, therefore, I stand, that it was a work of God." -Paul Washer
Regeneration is actually the crux of where we differ with Wesley. Wesley wholeheartedly believed regeneration was synergistic, not monergistic. I agree with Washer's statement, that Calvinism is not the issue, regeneration is. But regeneration is precisely where Wesley went wrong.

You quote Washer saying "with them [Arminians], therefore, I stand, that it was a work of God."

Yes Arminians believed regeneration was a work of God but they rejected the idea that regeneration was a work of God ALONE. That is the main difference.

However, my willingness to have fellowship with Wesleyan Arminians is not based on this at all. It is based on the fact that perfect theology is not what saves, the Person, Work and applied grace of Jesus Christ is what saves. Any Wesleyan/Arminian would tell you that there is "no hope save in the Person and work of Jesus Christ" ... even though their theology makes them wildly inconsistent on this issue.

July 14, 2010  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Know your enemy

The devil is not some skinny guy in a red suit with horns, a tail and a pitch fork. In Medieval history, people in towns and villages sensing his presence in the community, dressed up that way to try to mock the devil, believing that if they could wound his pride (pride being the cause of his fall from heaven), the devil would leave them well alone. Later generations had no idea of the reason for the caricature and thought that the mock image was the real thing... but though evil in the extreme, he is dazzlingly beautiful, and even comes as an "angel of light" as he seeks to deceive people with his lies. Knowing your enemy and his mode of attack is a key to living a life free from his clutches. - JS

Here's Pastor Mark Driscoll explaining 9 names for the devil in Scripture:

July 13, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A word of caution

Most Christians do not think enough, or study enough in order to pursue God with their minds as well as their hearts, but as Dr. John Piper reminds us, there is a ditch on the other side of the road - an intellectualism that pursues the study of God without relationship with God. In the short video below, he encourages Christians to value theology as a means for knowing God, without making theology God.

July 13, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twelve: Save, O Yahweh, Because the Godly One Has Come to an End!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twelve: Save, O Yahweh, Because the Godly One Has Come to an End!

There have been times in Church history, and also, no doubt, times in the personal history of many of the saints, when it seems as if all the righteous have vanished away. So Elijah cried out in an agony of despair, “I, only I am left, and they seek my life!” (1 Kings 19:10); and the echoes of that sharp complaint have since reverberated in many souls populating the Kingdom after him. In those times, the only bedrock of hope is the unshakeable truth that “the words of Yahweh are pure words, silver refined in a furnace in the earth, purified seven times” (vs. 6); and those words include many strong promises of deliverance from every enemy, which the righteous always seize upon and plead back to the Father (vss. 7-8).

Continue reading "Psalm Twelve: Save, O Yahweh, Because the Godly One Has Come to an End!" »

July 12, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm and Antipsalm by David Powlison

I found this excerpt from notes provided from a counseling class David Powlison was teaching here. It is quite profound and I thought I would pass it on. - JS

The antipsalm tells what life feels like and looks like whenever God vanishes from sight: the "I'm-all-alone-in-the-universe" experience. The antipsalm captures the drivenness and pointlessness of life-purposes that become petty, and thus self-defeating. It expresses the fears and silent despair that cannot find a voice. There’s no one to really talk to, no one who really cares. Something bad gets last say, when whatever I live for is not God, when how I’m living forgets what’s so.

Antipsalm 23
I’m on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I'm always restless. I’m easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It’s a jungle – I feel overwhelmed. It’s a desert – I’m thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can't fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life's confusing. Why don’t things ever really work out?
I'm haunted by emptiness and futility – shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I'd rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.
I'm alone… facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can’t really trust anyone. No one has my back.
No one is really for me – except me.
And I'm so much all about ME, sometimes it's sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough. I’m left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, "Hell is other people."
I have to add, "Hell is also myself."
It’s a living death, and then I die.

But the antipsalm doesn’t tell the final story...

Continue reading "Psalm and Antipsalm by David Powlison" »

July 11, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Winning the Private War in the Mind

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Over the years there have been extremely dubious or downright ridiculous teachings about spiritual warfare in the Church at large. Much of it was borne out of ignorance, speculation, superstition or religious tradition. Yet there is a reality to spiritual warfare and it is something God certainly wants us to know about, or else He would not have revealed it to us in His Word. If we just stay with the Scripture, we will be on safe and sure ground. God wants us to understand the warfare, know our enemy and live a life free from his clutches.

In Ephesians 6:12 the Apostle outlines the arena of warfare in which all Christians are engaged. One scholar translated the original words as follows: “For our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies, but against rulers with various areas and descending orders of authority, against the world-dominators of this present darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.” The picture here is of a very highly structured and well organized kingdom with descending orders of authority and different rulers and sub rulers responsible for different areas of their territory.

Continue reading "Winning the Private War in the Mind" »

July 11, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit

Based on Acts 5 and 1 Corinthians 12, here is Dr. James White in a 24 minute teaching on the vital subject of the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit.

July 09, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

MONERGISM BOOK REVIEW: Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns by T. David Gordon

whyjohnnycantsing.jpgWhy Johnny Can't Sing Hymns by T. David Gordon Reviewed by Rev. David Thommen

“Contemporary”, “traditional”, and “blended” are words that have come to signify the divide that occurs within the church over the issue of worship. This can be a “hot-button” issue in many churches in which the polarity of sides is often relegated to personal preference versus biblically informed. Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns is not the usual foray into this discussion. As a matter of fact, it is a real breath of fresh air that challenges us how to think about music within the context of the church and how influential the music culture outside the church has had on the music within the church.

Dr. Gordon states that the goal he is pursuing in this book is to “explain why we have a preference for music that is often literarily, theologically, or musically inferior” (p. 15). He makes no apologies concerning this being a “candid discussion of the literary, musical, and theological criteria by which the church has ordinarily assessed worship music” (p. 16). But it is much more than a critique; it is an observation of how “cultural changes…have impoverished congregational praise.”

The book opens with a rebuttal of the assumption that music is insignificant. Where the discussion concerning worship is usually relegated to the lyrical content of the song, here Dr. Gordon builds a biblical theology regarding not just the words that are significant, but the music that accompanies these words. He concludes: “Biblically, then, neither music nor song is merely a matter of entertainment or amusement. Both are very serious business. …Song is the divinely instituted, divinely commanded, and divinely regulated means of responding to God’s great works of creation, preservation and deliverance” (p. 31). He develops this thought further in a subsequent chapter entitled “form and content.”

A very helpful chapter is entitled “aesthetic relativism.” Is our worship simply a matter of “taste”? If it is a matter of taste, then the current taste is "contemporary", and such an attitude disassociates the current church with its historic roots. This, Gordon states, is one of the greatest travesties of the abandonment of historic hymnody. It disenfranchises the “contemporary” church from the “historic.” The contemporary church is guilty of “chronological snobbery” regarding the matter of music and song in the church.

Gordon spends a fair bit of time working through the questions that one ought to be asking concerning this matter of song in the corporate worship context and makes significant challenges to those who are responsible for making such decisions. At the end of each chapter, Gordon provides thoughtful and insightful study questions that are a benefit to working through the issues raised.

One of the issues Gordon raises is that terminology and practice of “new” versus “old” or “contemporary” versus “traditional” is based on pragmatic issues. That if a church wants to reach the younger culture then they must use contemporary (read songs) to do it. He writes, regarding the lunacy of this type of thinking, “To ‘reach’ the young by propagating youth culture would be analogous to Jesus ‘reaching’ the rich young man by giving him money.” Money was part of that particular sinner’s problem, part of the reason he needed to be reached. Extended adolescence is part of what our youth need to be delivered from” (p. 162).

In conclusion Gordon argues that he is concerned about the jettisoning of centuries of hymnody, which he argues in an earlier chapter is un-Christian, not for the reason that this matter has become divisive, although he is no fan of this, but his concern is the “such a near-total change has taken place in Christian worship in about two decades, without significant theological study” (p. 170).

Although he has sounded an alarm and raised many penetrating questions, Gordon is not like many today who want to simply criticize and deconstruct, but he offers sage wisdom on how church leadership can right the ship. It does not begin with simply starting to sing hymns; it begins by educating the people that singing God’s praise is solemn duty.

Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns is under 200 pages and extremely readable. Gordon writes with a lucid, concise, and penetrating style that engages the reader making it extremely difficult to put down. I would commend this book especially to those who make decisions each week regarding the form and content of the corporate worship, but I would also commend this book to any who would seek to find an answer to the question “Why should Johnny sing hymns?”

Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns by T. David Gordon, now available at Monergism Books

July 07, 2010  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Augustine’s Story

From the book, "Finally Alive" by John Piper, pages 9-11

For Augustine, the idol that kept him from Christ was sex. He had given way to his passions for the last sixteen years. He had left home at age sixteen, but his mother Monica had never ceased to pray. He was now almost thirty-two. “I began to search for a means of gaining the strength I needed to enjoy you [O Lord], but I could not find this means until I embraced the mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ.”1

Then came one of the most important days in church history. It was late August, 386. Augustine was almost thirty-two years old. With his best friend Alypius, he was talking about the remarkable sacrifice and holiness of Antony, an Egyptian monk. Augustine was stung by his own bestial bondage to lust, when others were free and holy in Christ. There was a small garden attached to the house where we lodged.…I now found myself driven by the tumult in my breast to take refuge in this garden, where no one could interrupt that fierce struggle in which I was my own contestant.…I was beside myself with madness that would bring me sanity. I was dying a death that would bring me life.…I was frantic, overcome by violent anger with myself for not accepting your will and entering into your covenant.…I tore my hair and hammered my forehead with my fists; I locked my fingers and hugged my knees.2 But he began to see more clearly that the gain was far greater than the loss, and by a miracle of grace he began to see the beauty of chastity in the presence of Christ. The battle came down to the beauty of continence in fellowship with Christ versus the “trifles” that plucked at his flesh.

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July 06, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Eleven: If the Foundations Be Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Eleven: If the Foundations Be Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?

It is no uncommon experience for the saint to be tempted by many strong and appealing arguments to abandon his hope in the Lord, when waves of fierce opposition arise. So was David often tempted, and so also are all who trust in Christ thus tempted at times. “What has your religion done for you?”, the sneering voices of the fickle crowds inquire; and joining in the insidious plot, the devil whispers into the ear of your heart the same deceptive question, and your own weak flesh rises up to confirm the lie. “Yes, I have trusted in God, I have sought to serve him in all that I do, I have denied myself the opportunity for greater riches and power and security, because I have not been willing to break his Law and build myself up by treating the weak unfairly, or being deceitful and unethical in my practices; and I have ever kept myself from relying on the strong-seeming hills of prominent position and well-supplied bank accounts, those mountains which never fail to bear up the wicked – and here I am on the brink of destruction, and they still prosper! Should I not flee to those same mountains as a bird?”

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July 06, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Moralism - Not Just Sub Christian But Anti-Christian

"Choose to be happy, treat people with respect, think and speak positive things, plan your life and execute your plan" and on and on it goes. The message sounds so good as it thunders out from pulpits, business seminars and in facebook comments everywhere. What is so deceptive about the message is that there is nothing inherantly wrong with what is said. It is what's MISSING that is so devilish. Its MORALISM - sub Christian and anti-Christian. What is missing is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. WITHOUT CHRIST AND HIS GOSPEL NO MESSAGE IS A CHRISTIAN MESSAGE. Lets get the gospel right, fully embrace it and then with the Holy Spirit's help, go to work on APPLYING THIS GOSPEL to every area of our lives. We are brought into right standing with God by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. That's the Gospel. To assume it is to deny it... and any message that is not the Gospel is a counterfeit. - JS

July 05, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Car Insurance, Chess and the World Cup

Its the final week of the soccer World Cup. There are only four teams left; the Netherlands, Uruquay, Germany and Spain... so we need to ask the question on everyone's lips, "Car Insurance, Chess and the World Cup - what do they have in common?"

The answer: "Not a whole lot... until now anyway." :-)

July 05, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

On the Shoulders of Giants

Eph 4: 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ..

Throughout the centuries the ascended Christ has given gifts to His Church. These gifts are men - living, walking, breathing, imperfect men - great preachers and teachers of the Church (Eph 4:7-12). Not one of them individually nor even all of them collectively are infallible, but I am a fool if I do not stop to at least consider what insight they have to teach me.

Lord, You gave them as gifts to me in my development to become more like You. Oh, develop humility in me so I may gain insights from those who have gone before me and those You have raised up even in my own day; for in this I will see so much further than I could see by myself alone.

"We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours." - John of Salisbury, 1159.

July 01, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink