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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)

Eight audio sermons now posted

Thanks to the technical expertise of a man far smarter than myself, eight of my sermons are now posted here, covering a wide range of themes. I trust they will be a blessing. – JS

February 28, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Run for your life!

A new book by Ann Voskamp called "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" has gained extreme popularity among many Christian women today. However, questions have arisen regarding the author's use of very explicit metaphor in which she describes union with God in carnal terms, specifically as a sexual affair.

One of the roles a true shepherd of the sheep has is to warn the flock of false doctrine, to help them steer clear of unhealthy or dangerous spiritual food. I do so here. My advice, for what its worth - when you see these concepts being taught, run for your life! More at this link. - JS

February 26, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Ask R. C. Live (Part 1)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010, marked the first official session of Ask R.C. Live, a special event where Dr. Sproul answers questions from an online audience. Students were able to submit their questions via Facebook and Twitter leading up to and during this 45-minute session. The questions included:

Being reformed and committed to the doctrine of God's Sovereignty, why is it that the vast majority of Christians in our day seem more influenced by an Arminian theology?

Does God have two wills?

Do we violate the second commandment when we make images of Christ?

What is the biblical way to leave a Church? What doctrinal issues would rise to the level of making it prudent or even necessary to do so?

What are the means by which your writing and communication skills have been shaped?

How can I be sure of my salvation?

What is the official stance of the Roman Catholic Church concerning justification (and where can I find it)?

Should women be ordained or have governing authority in the Church?

Enjoy Dr. Sproul as he answers these questions in this video below. - JS

Ask R.C. Live (Nov. 30, 2010) from Ligonier on Vimeo.

February 26, 2011  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Book

As Christians, we believe the Bible is inspired by God, the very word of God, without error, the sole infallible rule of faith for all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. The word “Bible” means “the book.” Its very title makes the claim that irrespective of whatever else you read, only the Bible is ‘THE BOOK’ because of its Divine authorship.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God breathed…”

Jesus Himself had this high view of Scripture. In quoting from the book of Genesis, Jesus said, “…have you not read what was spoken to you by God…” (Matt. 22:31)

But… the Bible would say this kind of thing, wouldn’t it?

All religions and cults claim that their sacred book is inspired. Is there any objective evidence we can point to that would show the Bible to be of a supernatural origin, or certainly more than a book filled with the thoughts and opinions of mere mortal men?

Here’s just a couple of evidences that support the Bible’s claim to being the Word of God, so that we can believe it, beyond doubt. - JS

February 25, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

TULIP (9)

For those following the TULIP online seminar, part 9 has now been posted here. - JS

February 23, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Needed Prayers for New Zealand

A good friend of mine who lives in Christ Church New Zealand, sent me the following letter this morning with permission to share its contents. Last night when I heard the news of Christ Church having been lain waste,I thought of he and his family right away I was glad to hear from him this morning and this is what he has to share:

Dear John my old Bro., on September 4th last year we had a 7.1 earthquake here in Christchurch with one death linked indirectly to it and multitudes of buildings and infrastructure damage in the billions of dollars. Well yesterday 22nd at around 1:00 pm our time we had another earthquake at 6.3 far shallower and with much much more violent shaking and the aftershocks have been on going ever since with much more damage and scores of deaths. Very frightening and many Christchurch residents are in shock and homeless. As of midnight 22nd the death toll stands at 65 with many more people unaccounted for and at first light will probably paint an even more grim picture but also there is good news and many have been pulled to safety. Our power (80% of Christchurch was out intially) was down until around 12:30 am this morning 23rd our time and is now back on but our water and sewerage is out and we do not know for how long. We do have supplies stored away for about a week with some spare to share with neighbours if the need arises. It is a mess here in Christchurch and the face of Christchurch has been changed forever. Many many historic buildings have been lost and even the cathedral in the centre of the city has been severely damaged and some people were killed that were up the spire which had collapsed. We have specialist teams flying in from Australia and the USA to help in search and rescue which is a real blessing.

Anyway John my friend, I am emailing you this to ask you if you would please pray for Anne and I and for the people of Christchurch for strength to face the tough days ahead. Thanks.

Here is a link to one of the newspapers here that is covering it: http://www.stuff.co.nz/

and a link to television coverage: http://tvnz.co.nz/

Continue reading "Needed Prayers for New Zealand" »

February 22, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Pastor and the Kitten

as told by Steve Brown. Enjoy! - JS

February 22, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Is every Christian supposed to be involved in Evangelism?

Dr. James White's answer may surprise you here. - JS

February 21, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Gospel Proclaimed to All, None Seek it but the Regenerate

calvinbw.jpg"Men are to be taught, indeed, that the Divine benignity is free to all who seek it, without any exception; but since none begin to seek it, but those who have been inspired by heavenly grace, not even this diminutive portion ought to be taken from his praise. This is the privilege of the elect, that being regenerated by the Spirit of God, they are led and governed by his direction. Wherefore Augustine as justly ridicules those who arrogate to themselves any part of a good volition, as he reprehends others, who suppose that to be given promiscuously to all, which is the special evidence of gratuitous election. "Nature," says he, "is common to all men, but not grace." He calls it "a transparent subtlety, which shines merely with vanity, when that is extended generally to all, which God confers on whom he chooses."
John Calvin, Institutes, Book II, Section 10

February 19, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

False Prophecies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

Deut 18:20 "But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him."

From the files of official Jehovah's Witness sources, here are some of the documented false prophecies. - JS

February 19, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I Don't Want Free Will" by Martin Luther

luther23.jpg"I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want "free-will" to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground ; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success.¦ But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God." - Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 313-314.

February 18, 2011  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Questions on the Abrahamic Covenant

A good friend of mine emailed these questions here for posting.

Is the Abrahamic Covenant for Jews only?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

Is God still obligated today, to the Covenant He made with Abraham?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

Were children part of the Abrahamic Covenant up to year 30 AD?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

Did the male Jewish children receive the mark of the Abrahamic Covenant up to year 30AD?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

Are Gentile children part of the Abrahamic Covenant today?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

Has God withdrew the mark of the Abrahamic Covenant for children today?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

Has God replaced the Sacrament of Passover with Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

Has God replaced the Sacrament of Circumcision with the Sacrament of Baptism?
[ ] YES
[ ] NO

February 18, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Is God's love unconditional?

I am not entirely sure I used the phrase "God loves you unconditionally" when preaching the gospel to people, but many years ago I made a conscious determination never to do so. Here's why. - JS

February 17, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Man vs. Machine

There's something very exciting about seeing a super computer in action on a TV show. Four years in the making, this super computer recognizes human language and can answer questions fast enough to beat the best of the best mankind has to offer.

Its all very fascinating, but more than a little scary too.

"Watson is the name given to IBM's supercomputer, which proved both faster and smarter than the two most decorated Jeopardy champions of all time.

Watson, which is much too large to fit behind a podium, was represented by an avatar and fed the questions via text. This occurred at the same time Jeopardy host Alex Trebek read the questions out loud to Ken Jennings, who hold's Jeopardy's longest win streak ever at 74 games, and Brad Rutter, whose more than $3.2 million in winnings is also a record. But they were no match for Watson, who rang in faster and answered more questions correctly, including a pair of Daily Double questions, one of which Watson was only about 32 percent sure of his answer yet still got it correct."


February 17, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Does Romans 2:13 Prove We Can Be Declared Righteous by Obedience to the Law and Self-Effort?

In my recent post entitled "Grace Does Away with Free Will Altogether" I had a visitor quote me Romans 2:13 to demonstrate that through self-will we can obey the law and be declared righteous. Lets look at it:

"It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13

My Response: Yes read in isolation that text would appear to be teaching that someone could be saved by obeying the law, apart from grace. And indeed it is true that we would save ourselves if we never committed sin. But such an interpretation completely misses the context of the verse since you conclude we have the moral capacity to obey the law and live. Jesus alone has this honor. Paul is teaching the contrary to fallen humanity.... He (in Rom 2:13) is middle of building his case that Jews and Gentiles alike are both under sin and have thus forfeited their claims to life by means of obeying the law. And he ends the section by saying just this: "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:19, 20). In other words, the purpose of the law is not to show our ability but our inability. And this then shows that Paul means exactly the opposite of what you are trying to make the verse say. Romans 2:13 is not declaring what we can do, but what we ought to do -- and ultimately, as we see later, do in Christ. I fear this is what happens when we read a text in isolation. Rather, in context, it becomes clear that Paul is saying IF you obeyed the law you would be declared righteous. But then goes on for the next chapter and a half to prove that you fail the test.

Here are two articles on the subject of Rom 2 that may help further illumine.

Romans 2:13 and the Covenant of Works

Do Believers "Receive Eternal Life According to Their Works"?

February 16, 2011  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

TULIP (8)

For those continuing on through the TULIP seminar online, part 8 has now been posted here. - JS

February 16, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Free eBook: What the Bible Says About the DOCTRINES OF GRACE

wbsadog.jpgFree eBook: What the Bible Says About the DOCTRINES OF GRACE by Nathan Pitchford - Available in both Kindle .mobi and ePub formats

God has recently given us the opportunity to discuss some theological issues with other Christians who believe differently than we do on a number of points, most notably the doctrines of grace. In such a circumstance, given the overwhelming supply of scriptural evidence that comes to bear on the topic, it seemed to me that the best approach would be a simple categorized scripture list: the fact that the entire paper would be scriptures, with the exception of a few brief explanatory notes, would underscore the truth that this is God's own word and teaching; and the fact that it would be categorized would facilitate the ready comparison of scripture with scripture so as to lead one to a full-orbed understanding of the biblical teaching. Although I found a few good scripture lists of that nature available online, none of them was laid out in quite the progression that I was looking for, and so I developed my own. I'm posting it here with just the scripture references. Below, for your convenience I have provided a condensed version and a full version of the study. The study is also available in print from Monergism Books.

February 15, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Skeleton in the Closet

Many call Charles Finney "America’s greatest revivalist." Few are aware he rejected essential Christian truth. His influence is widespread in today's Church, but even more troubling is the pervasive Pelagianism that he taught.

Why is this such a problem?

Dr. Sproul explains here. - JS

February 15, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Need for Grace Does Away with Free Will Altogether

"The Need for Grace Does Away with Free Will Altogether" is the title of our new eBook. But is the title of the eBook an overstatement? Apparently some brothers seem to think so. After posting the book I received the following comment quoting the WCF:

Visitor: "God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined, to good or evil." Westminster Confession of Faith, IX:i

My Response: [yes] for Adam. Yet the fall turned freedom into necessity. In the same chapter of the WSF it also says, III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:(d) so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,(e) and dead in sin,(f) is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.(g) So while his will is not forced or coerced, now does evil by necessity, due to his own corruption of nature. peace to you

Visitor: John Paragraph one of Chapter 9 in the WCF does not apply simply to Adam - it is a confessional statement about the constitution of man as man. The very chapter heading is "Of Free Will." The doctrine of free will has historically been pivo...tal and maintained in Reformed theology. It needs to be defined, of course, but the confession affirms it. I am pushing back on the title above: "The Need for Grace Does Away with Free Will Altogether." Altogether? We overstate the case when we deny 'free will." Man's will is bound to his nature and as you stated, does evil by necessity. Just because we reject "libertarian free will" doesn't mean that we reject the biblical concept of man's natural liberty of will / free agency. Berkhof, Calvin, Hodge, Grudem, etc. are all going to speak in some sense of man's free acts and choices. Man, even fallen man has the ability to act on choice, he is free to choose as he desires - and this is why the confessional language of "neither forced" nor determined by "any necessity of nature" are crucial. Men are free, there could not be human responsibility and accountability if this were not the case. Grudem, "We must insist that we have the power of 'willing' choice; otherwise we will fall into the error of fatalism or determinism and thus conclude that our choices do not matter, or that we cannot really make willing choices." Errors on the opposite extreme may be just as dangerous as those we fear on the other. Man's will is enslaved, yes - bound to his sinful nature - yet free to choose as he wills, with real responsibility for those choices.

Peace to you as well my brother. I'm sure that our convictions are not far from each other, but I do think we need to be careful about discarding a concept like "free will" just because others misrepresent or misdefine it. Over-correction is an ever present danger; the misuse of something or the abuse of something does not nullify it's proper or legitimate use.

My Response: I could not disagree more. What you mean to say perhaps is that we have a will, and that is can and does act voluntarily. But it is not free. FAR FROM IT. Freedom from coercion yes, but not freedom from necessity. The kind of "free... will" you are talking about is a philosophical concept, not the Bible. The Bible defines freedom relative to sin. Those who are in a fallen state are in bondage to a corruption of nature and, last time I looked freedom and bondage are contrary concepts.

This has always been the way it was discussed historically in the church.

Of course we are responsible to obey the command to repent and believe the gospel. In the Divine economy men are responsible to believe the gospel, but are morally impotent to do so (when drawing from their own native resources). This inability (due to our intimate solidarity with Adam's sin) is something we are culpable for, much like owing a debt we cannot repay. So God has every right to call us all to account to 'repay our debt', so to speak, even though fallen man does not have the resources or will to do so. The Church has a privilege and an obligation to call all men to repent and believe the gospel (an imperative) but, left to themselves, no one believes. But God, in his great mercy, still has mercy on many, opening their hearts to the gospel that that might believe.

To this sometimes a synergist often quotes "whosoever will may come" to which we reply that this quote does not teach an indicative of what we are able to do, but rather, teaches what we 'ought' to do. As Martin Luther said, "Does it follow from: 'turn ye' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but the 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power...But it does not follow from this that man is converted by his own power, nor do the words say so; they simply say: "if thou wilt turn, telling man what he should do. When he knows it, and sees that he cannot do it, he will ask whence he may find ability to do it..." Luther BW,164

you see Martin Luther understood the will in the same way I do. And this is the same way Calvin and others also understood. That is why it is important to define UP FRONT by asking "FREE FROM WHAT?"

Here is a quote from Spurgeon as well which shows how the term has been used in church history. I think the modern use of the term is a confused way of speaking about it.

"Free will I have often heard of, but I have never seen it. I have ...always met with will, and plenty of it, but it has either been led captive by sin or held in the blessed bonds of grace." - C. H. Spurgeon

That is why "the need for grace does away with free will altogether" is no overstatement. For apart from grace, and apart from the Holy Spirit, does the natural man have a free will to believe the gospel? No, he is in bondage to sin. That is why Jesus says "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) -- In other words, apart form the Son setting you free, you are not free but in bondage, a slave to sin.

Now look back at the part of the confession you quoted. It says, "the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined, to good or evil."

It was never forced, but now (after the fall) it is evil by necessity of nature. So the quote is specifically speaking of a pre-fall man. Post fall man DOES sin "by any absolute necessity of nature." That is why the next line of the confession (as I have shown) shows the result the fall had on the will.

February 13, 2011  |  Comments (33)   |  Permalink

What is true saving faith? What does it look like?

I was recently asked, "could you explain to me what true saving faith looks like? I think the New Testament shows us that there is a false kind of faith that can look like the real thing, but is a flawed and deceptive substitute. Am I right?" I attempt to answer that question here. - JS

February 13, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Learning a New Language

"Upon taking their oath of citizenship, immigrants begin to learn the language and customs of their new country. Yet when God claims us as the beneficiaries of his covenant mercies in Christ, we are relocated from the fading empire of sin and death to the kingdom of grace."

"...nobody has to be taught the world's story; we are born with it, as fallen children of Adam. However, we have to be taught out of it by persistent pastors and teachers who know that we prefer by nature to think differently of God and ourselves than the Scriptures require..."

It is the constant renewing of our mind by God's Word that reorients us away from this fading age with its aimless plot, its "empty words" (Eph 5:6) and "philosophy and empty deceit" (Col 2:8), toward the everlasting inheritance in Christ.

- Michael Horton

February 12, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Free Will Synergism Vs. Free Grace Monergism

Synergists teach '... and as many as believed were ordained to eternal life.' but the Bible teaches 'And as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.' (Acts 13:48)

Synergists teach '...no one knows the Father except those who choose the Son.' But the Bible teaches that 'no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him' (Matt 11:27) They are the ones who 'choose' the Son.

Synergists teach that 'All can come to Christ of their own free will', but Jesus teaches that 'no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.' (John 6:65) and all whom He grants will come (John 6:37)

Synergists teach that 'you are not Christ's sheep because you do not believe', but Jesus teaches that 'you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.' (John 10:26)

Synergists teach that 'the reason you are not of God is because you are unwilling to hear and believe God's words.' Jesus, on the other hand, taught, 'The reason why you do not hear [God's words] is that you are not of God." (John 8:47)

Synergists teach that 'salvation is so easy a cave man can do it" but the Bible teaches that “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

In the Divine economy men are responsible to believe the gospel, but are morally impotent to do so from their own native resource. This inability (due to our intimate solidarity with Adam's sin) is something we are culpable for, like owing a debt we cannot repay. So God has every right to call us all to account to 'repay our debt', so to speak, even though we do not have the resources to do so. The Church is to call all men to repent and believe the gospel (an imperative) but no one believes. But God, in his great mercy, still has mercy on many, opening their hearts to the gospel that that might believe.

To this sometimes a synergist often quotes "whosoever will may come" to which we reply that this quote does not teach an indicative of what we are able to do, but rather, teaches what we 'ought' to do. As Martin Luther said, "Does it follow from: 'turn ye' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but the 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power...But it does not follow from this that man is converted by his own power, nor do the words say so; they simply say: "if thou wilt turn, telling man what he should do. When he knows it, and sees that he cannot do it, he will ask whence he may find ability to do it..." Luther BW,164

February 11, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

How deep the Father's love for us

The Doctrines of Grace have not been fully grasped if they only bring us intellectual knowledge or some kind of mental stimulation. Properly understood, they lead every true child of God to new depths of worship of our great God.

The song "How deep the Father’s love for us" written by Stuart Townend is definitely amongst my all time favorites. I have been moved to tears many times as I have contemplated the words. How thankful I am for the Father’s love – so vast and immeasurable. - JS


February 11, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

TULIP (7)

For those following the online study of TULIP at my blog, part 7 has now been posted here, the subject being "Limited Atonement." - JS

To whet your appetite, here are some quotes by C. H. Spurgeon on this theme:

“I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it.” (Sermon number 173 – Metropolitan Pulpit 4:121)

“The doctrine of Holy Scripture is this, that inasmuch as man could not keep God’s law, having fallen in Adam, Christ came and fulfilled the law on the behalf of his people; and that inasmuch as man had already broken the divine law and incurred the penalty of the wrath of God, Christ came and suffered in the room, place, and stead of his elect ones, that so by his enduring the full vials of wrath, they might be emptied out and not a drop might ever fall upon the heads of his blood-bought people.” (Sermon 310 – “Christ our Substitute – New Park Street, Southwark)

Continue reading "TULIP (7)" »

February 09, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Law and Gospel

The Law is good. The Law is perfect and holy. There is no defect in the Law of God. The problem is not the Law itself but that man is a sinner by nature and cannot keep the Law. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin. Rather than curb sin, the law brings sin out into the open, revealing to us the depths of our human, sinful depravity.

Imagine a large plane glass window. You can break it by driving a tank through it, or you can simply fire the smallest pellet from a gun through the glass, but in both cases, the glass is broken and needs to be replaced. In the same way, to break even one of God’s commandments makes a person guilty of breaking it all. As James 2:10 reminds us, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

Man as a sinner cannot keep the Law and to fail to keep it in one part makes us guilty of breaking it all. That’s because the law is a complete set of requirements and we have broken it. We have all commited high treason deliberately.

The Law was given not to make people righteous but in fact to forever shut men’s mouths regarding any attempt at self justification before God. The Law reveals sin, and knowing the holiness and righteousness of God, it shows us our desperate condition before Him. When the Law does it work, it reveals sin to the point that we understand the justice we deserve and cry out for intervention from a Savior. That is why even in the Old Covenant Law system, there were sacrifices of atonement for sin, pointing us to One who would come and remove sin by His perfect sacrifice as the Lamb of God.

The Law reveals the holiness of God, the exceeding sinfulness of our sin, and its remedy in the sin bearing substitute lamb. More on this here. - JS

February 09, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Romans 9:6-24

This last weekend, Dr. James White was speaking in Dublin, Ireland at the Arann Reformed Baptist Church there. He spoke on a number of themes. One of his sessions was on Romans 9:6-24 and for those who wish to hear exegesis of this famous passage, you might want to add this to your listening material. The audio has now been posted here and I recommend it highly. - JS

February 08, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Practice Makes...

"What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." - Phil 4:9

Ever heard the phrase "practice makes perfect." Sure, we all have. But is it true?

It is true, only if you are doing the right thing in the right way.

If you want to be a better cyclist, make sure you are not using square wheels. That's an obvious one. Most of our issues are far less obvious, at least to us. We all have our blind spots.

Want to improve your financial state? Are you willing to have someone assess what you are doing daily, weekly or monthly that might be hurting you? Are you really willing for change?

Take your golf swing - you could be holding the club wrong, and standing with your feet in the wrong place and the problem is this - the more you practice, the more you will simply reinforce your problem swing. What you need is the insight of a golfing coach who can tell you what you might be doing wrong. He can see what you cannot see by yourself. He can tell you what you can do to dramatically improve your current results. Once you get his sound advice, adjust accordingly and then, once you know you are doing the right thing in the right way, practice, practice, practice.

Here's the principle: Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

What are you practicing? Some things are not worth practicing. Some people are not worth following.

Think about each aspect of your life - your spiritual, physical, mental, social and financial life. What is the dream you have? Writing a book? Restoring a broken or stale relationship? Getting in physical shape? Growing spiritually? Being the spiritual leader in the home? Getting out of debt? Financial freedom so that you can live in such a way that you can be a great channel of supply for God's kingdom? What is it that thrills your heart? What is your dream?

What is your goal in each area? Do you have one?

Then think about this. If you keep doing what you are currently doing, over and over again, will you eventually reach your goal?

Is there anything you can make a part of your daily schedule and routine that would, over time, transform your dream into reality?

Is there anything you need to change? Is there anything you can do today and make a part of your life?

Would you pray about this, asking God for His insight and wisdom? And will you be a doer of the word and not a hearer only?

God bless! - JS

February 08, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Foreknowledge

Isn’t Divine election (God’s choice to save sinners) based upon the fact that He knows everything, even the end from the beginning, and therefore knows ahead of time what man will choose? Though it is a choice made in eternity past, God simply chooses (elects) those He sees ahead of time will choose Him. Correct?

Thanks for your question. God certainly does know everything, including all the future actions of man, but the quick answer is “no," election is not based on God’s foreknowledge of man’s choice. More here.

Continue reading "Foreknowledge" »

February 07, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Do We Ever Think About our Souls at All?


"Thousands of ... people, I fear, cannot answer that question satisfactorily. They never give the subject of religion any place in their thoughts. From the beginning of the year to the end they are absorbed in the pursuit of business, pleasure, politics, money, or self-indulgence of some kind or another. Death, and judgment, and eternity, and heaven, and hell, and a world to come, are never calmly looked at and considered. They live on as if they were never going to die, or rise again, or stand at the bar of God, or receive an eternal sentence! They do not openly oppose religion, for they have not sufficient reflection about it to do so; but they eat and drink, and sleep, and get money, and spend money, as if religion was a mere fiction and not a reality. They are neither Romanists, nor Socinians, nor infidels, nor High Church, nor Low Church, nor Broad Church. They are just nothing at all, and do not take the trouble to have opinions. A more senseless and unreasonable way of living cannot be conceived; but they do not pretend to reason about it. They simply never think about God, unless frightened for few minutes by sickness, death in their families, or an accident. Barring such interruptions, they appear to ignore religion altogether, and hold on to their way cool and undisturbed, as if there were nothing worth thinking of except this world.

It is hard to imagine a life more unworthy of an immortal creature than such a life as I have just described, for it reduces a man to the level of a beast...."

Excerpt from SELF-INQUIRY by J. C. Ryle

February 06, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The King James Only Controversy

This year (2011) marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. It is by far the most widely read book in the English speaking world and has been hugely influential - the greatest single source in English and American literature. It remains an excellent translation and there is no doubt that God has used the KJV greatly through the centuries.

In this video, Justin Taylor conducts a very informative interview with Dr. Leland Ryken regarding the history of the King James Bible. Professor Ryken is the author of the recently released book "The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation."

Justin Taylor Interview: Leland Ryken, "The History of the King James Bible" from Crossway on Vimeo.

So the King James Bible is a wonderful thing. Yet King James Onlyism is the belief that the King James Bible of 1611 is the only one we should ever use. The advocates of this view form a very fringe group who often make a loud noise and cause a lot of damage to the Church. They believe anyone who uses a different version to the KJV is in league with the devil.

There is a difference between the King James Only group and King James Preferred, the latter being those who simply prefer to use the King James Version while still respecting other more recent translations.

Earlier this week, my friend, Dr. James White was involved in a television debate (on Revelation TV) in the United Kingdom with a King James Only advocate, Pastor Jack Moorman. It included a live studio audience. Someone recorded the debate off the web, and has already posted it on YouTube. The video is at a very low frame rate and is a little difficult to watch. In any case, here's the program:

For further information on this subject, I recommend Dr. James White's book, "The King James Only Controversy," available from monergism books here. - JS

February 05, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Jesus Died For the Children of God who are Scattered Abroad.

John 11:49-52 (English Standard Version)

49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Revelation 5:9 (English Standard Version)

9And they sang a new song, saying, "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,

FROM EVERY TRIBE & Jesus would die gather into one the children of God WHO are scattered abroad.

In other words, where the Scripture says Jesus died for the whole world, (also written by the apostle John) it interprets itself by showing that he means all people without distinction not all people without exception. Not Jews only, but Jews and Gentiles FROM every nation.

February 05, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Why Did Jesus Need to Be Baptized?

Question? My Christian brothers and sisters I have a question for you, why was Jesus baptized? I just want to see what you guys think. Thanks

Answer: "To fulfill all righteousness" - which is his own answer. In other words, while Jesus is eternal God in essence, he needed to fulfill the law from our side as a human being so as to fully represent us. Christ’s full obedience to all the prescriptions of the divine law made available a perfect righteousness before the law that is imputed or reckoned to those who put their trust in him. This is often called the active obedience of Christ. The passive obedience, on the other hand is His willing obedience in bearing all the sanctions imposed by that law against his people because of their transgression which is the ground of God’s justification of sinners (Rom. 5:9).

February 04, 2011  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Conference on Adoption in Portland, OR

Dear friends,

The Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, which is being held in the Portland area this year is just around the corner. It begins three weeks from today to be exact. For one, I am excited about the caliber of preachers that will be addressing the subject of "Adoption" this year. We will be joined by Dr. Steve Lawson, Dr. Joel Beeke, Rev. Al Martin, and Rev. Richard Phillips. Registration is still open and I would be excited to see each of you there.

The conference is being held at the Estacada Christian Church on February 25 and 26 with the conference concluding with the Lord's Day worship on February 27. If you would like more information or would like to register log on to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals website: www.alliancenet.org and register. Of course, if you have any questions I invite you to send me an email or contact me at 503-522-0340.

In Christ,

David Thommen

February 04, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

TULIP (6)

For those continuing on through the TULIP series online, part 6 has now been posted here. - JS

February 03, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Godhood of God

Part of the inheritance of every true child of God is the knowledge and sweet comfort of God's Sovereignty. See here. - JS

February 02, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Samson Responds to MacArthur

(Humor Alert) I am sorry but I just couldn't let this one go. I felt I had to respond. He went too far this time! Dr. John MacArthur is just plain wrong on this one. - JS

February 01, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink