"...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)

The History of the Kirk of Scotland by David Calderwood

The following files are in .pdf format.

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 1 (1842)
The Preamble
The History 1514-1560

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 2 (1843)
The History 1560-1570

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 3 (1843)
The History 1570-1583

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 4 (1843)
The History 1584-1588

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 5 (1844)
The History 1589-1599

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 6 (1845)
The History 1600-1608

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 7 (1845)
The History 1609-1625

The History of the Kirk of Scotland, Volume 8 (1849)
Appendix and General Index

March 28, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Ignatius of Antioch in Context

Back in the year 2004, to facilitate my on-going education, I attended a seminary class taught by Dr. James White on the Early Church Fathers (also known as Patristics). It was fascinating to read the writings of precious men of God from the first few centuries who hold to the same faith as I do. Yet it has to be said, the Early Church Fathers were indeed a mixed bag.

Just as if you or I would go to a Christian bookstore today, we would find good books, scholarly books, and books that propagate shoddy scholarship and even false doctrine; so it was in the Early Church. Yet in studying their writings we learn a great deal about how the early Christians worshipped, what was important to them, what the issues were that were causing controversy and of course, what they believed about a whole host of issues.

I have a Roman Catholic friend named Steve. He told me some years back that he was considering quitting his full time job to seek training so that he might one day enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. As you might imagine, he and I have often had lively debate with each other, centering mostly on the subject of justification by faith alone, but on other issues too.

Just today Steve wrote to me challenging me to deal with the subject of Ignatius, an Early Church Father, who was discipled by the Apostle John. Because of his direct link to John, Ignatius is one of the most important Church Fathers.

The apologists of Rome often make the claim that Ignatius taught the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist (the term “eucharist" simply means “the giving of thanks”) and of transubstantiation (that when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, it becomes the literal blood, body and divinity of Jesus Christ). But is this true? Did Ignatius actually teach this? Or have Ignatius’ words been taken out of context?

Because the issue of Ignatius is an oft repeated claim of Rome, Dr. White put some of his class (dealing with Ignatius specifically) onto youtube videos. Because of time restraints (each video lasts only a few minutes) there are five videos. They are well worth the effort to watch them. I recommend them very highly (found here). - JS

March 27, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Apostles Today?

What are we to do with ministers in our day who say they are apostles? Many are simply self professed men seeking to draw disciples after themselves and whose doctrine is highly problematic at best, or at worst, completely heretical. These men are not merely false apostles, but perhaps even false disciples of Christ.

But what of the people who seem to be, from all outward appearances anyway, “sane” individuals – Christian ministers who have excellent and sound theology but still insist that there are apostles today and.. wait for it.. actually believe they are apostles themselves?

I am thinking of men like C.J. Mahaney (of Sovereign Grace Ministries) in the USA and of Terry Virgo (of New Frontiers Ministries) in the United Kingdom. These are highly respected men who have served the cause of Christ faithfully for decades and have established a huge network of pastors and churches under them who look to them for leadership and guidance, both locally in their home nation and overseas.

What do we do with these men? I have to admit that my initial impulse was to reject completely the idea of apostles being alive today. However, I have enough respect for these men to at least allow them to define what they mean when they use the term. Therefore, I think the first thing we need to do is take a deep breath and allow them to explain themselves. More here. - JS

March 24, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Responding to Apostasy

“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 John 2:19

Apostasy – how do we handle it? Christians view apostasy according to their understanding of the work of God in salvation. It is just here where we find a great divide of opinion between those embracing the reformed doctrines of grace, and those who do not. More here.

March 23, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Two Types of Religion

The story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4 typifies the two types of religion in the world. One is acceptable to God, the other is not. More here. - JS

March 21, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Preaching the Five Solas

Preacher: What would you preach if you knew it would be your last sermon?

I would not need too much time to come up with an answer to that question. My answer would be “the Five Solas of the Gospel."

This morning I woke to find this encouraging e-mail in my inbox:

Dear Pastor John,

I thought you might like to know that I listened to your sermon tonight, “The Five Solas of the Gospel” and was greatly blessed.

Not only do I like your preaching “style” but I must tell you that I was most blessed by how you captured, and expressed the spirit of the Reformation. It was as if I myself had entered into the story and burned with the same zeal and passion that Martin Luther and the Reformers did.

As you know, so much of what passes off as Christian preaching today would hardly be considered such by the early church fathers. Thank you so much for preaching and posting a message that I can only describe as a return to the “old paths” — something that the church so desperately needs at this hour.

May God raise up more men to preach like this, and may He open many more doors for you to preach the Gospel.

Your friend & sister in Christ,

And, I truly mean every word of this!"

Praise the Lord! As I say, it was very encouraging to read this. I pray that the message could be a blessing to others also. It can be heard here. God bless. - JS

March 19, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Outreach to India

Two opportunities are before us to impact the people and churches in the state of Kerala, India. I would covet your prayers. Details here. JS

March 17, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Few Hellish Thoughts

A very good friend of mine, Pastor Graeme Adams, from Dundee, Scotland writes, "“Are you orthodox on the issue of hell? Good! Does it cause you to pray and weep for the lost and actively seek ways to reach them with the good news of Jesus, or be smug or worse because you know something Rob Bell doesn’t? It’s incredibly sad and harmful when high profile leaders propagate heresy, AND when millions of Christians profess faith, historical biblical faith, and yet don’t live it. Heresy and Cold lifeless heartless Orthodoxy are partners in crime against humanity and God. May God use this issue to break our hearts.”

I've put further thoughts together here. - JS

March 16, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Understanding Luke 10:13

In Luke 10 Jesus said, “13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades."

In verse 13, Jesus made it clear that if the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon had observed the same mighty works as those done in Chorazin and Bethsaida, they would have repented.

Someone who wears Arminian or synergistic glasses as they view this text (verse 13) might argue that the Reformed doctrine of Total Depravity teaches that far more is needed than merely the observation of mighty works for someone to repent – it would need the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit – so what would the Reformed response be to this? How are we to understand Jesus’ words?

It’s a good question, and just for fun, I thought I would call Dr. James White on his live dividing line program earlier today to see what kind of answer he would provide.

Though we don’t get to spend a whole lot of time together, James and I are good friends and he starts out by calling me Silly Brit 2.

You might ask, “Why Silly Brit 2?”

I believe the answer is quite simple in James’ mind; the name Silly Brit 1 was already taken!!

Being called “Silly Brit 2″ though prompted a response from me, which was somewhat .. well… silly.

I immediately took the opportunity to start speaking with a quite outragous Chinese accent (which James, for some reason, mistakenly thought was Japanese), assuming the identity of a man named Zacky Poo Poo, telling James I would no longer be delivering sausages to him because he is a very poor tipper!

Yeah.. and its kinda downhill from there!!

But the answer James eventually provided to my question was well worth hearing.

If all you wish to do is hear the question and answer interaction between myself and James, once the program starts you can move the audio recording on to about the 16 or 17 minute mark. However, it’s an excellent show and I especially enjoyed James’ comments regarding Rob Bell later in the program.

You will find the program at this link. - JS

March 15, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Faithful are the wounds of a friend

On Sunday evening, God used a friend to speak directly into my life. I hope you have such a friend. See here.

March 15, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus and Tsunamis

When it comes to God and His Sovereign right to do all He pleases in heaven and on earth (Psalm 115:3) such is the depravity of mankind that we take our seat in the court of human opinion as both the jury and Judge, putting God Himself in the dock, demanding He answer the charges of injustice. We want answers! We feel we have that right! And we are ready to find Him guilty as charged for violating some moral law.

When devastation occurs, many wish to point their cannons Godward demanding that He explain Himself to us. Jesus words in Luke 13 shows us that in all reality, God's guns are rightfully aimed in our direction and it is we who must repent, not God. Short article here.

March 13, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Lord Commands us to Keep His Precepts

The Lord has indeed "commanded us to keep His precepts." But, alas! where is our power?

When you aim at the perfect standard of holiness, you should, at your best moments, and in your highest attainments, fall so far below it; seeing indeed the way before you, but feeling yourself without ability to walk in it? Then let a sense of your helplessness for the work of the Lord lead you to the throne of grace, to pray, and watch, and wait, for the strengthening and refreshing influences of the Spirit of grace. Here let your faith realize at one and the same view your utter insufficiency, and His complete All-sufficiency....We might as soon create a world, as create in our hearts one pulse of spiritual life. And yet our inability does not cancel our obligation. What then remains for us, but to return the mandate to heaven, accompanied with an earnest prayer, that the Lord would write upon our hearts those statutes, to which He requires obedience in His word?, "You have commanded us to keep Your statutes diligently." We acknowledge, Lord, our obligation; but we feel our impotency. Lord, help us: we look unto You. "Oh that our ways were directed to keep Your statutes!" "Give what You command—and then command what You will." (Augustine.)

"Faith is then the principle of evangelical obedience, and the promises of His grace enables us for duty, at the very time that we are commanded to it. In this view are brought together the supreme authority of the Lawgiver, the total insufficiency of the creature, the full provisions of the Savior, and the all-sufficiency of "the God of grace."

Oh that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! - Ps.119:5

Quote from Exposition on Paslm 119 by Charles Bridges

March 13, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Solomon's Song (2)

After reading my brief overview posted last week concerning what the Song of Solomon is all about, someone wrote to me with this question:

Interesting… so if Song of Songs is “not a book about Christ” why is it in the Bible? The way I understand the Old Testament and, it seems, the way Christ understood it, is that it is ALL about Christ. The book of Hebrews rather liberally applies the temple, sacrificial system, and priesthood to Christ… why not the Song?

My Response: It is a huge oversimplification to say that ALL the Old Testament is about Christ. Of course, much of it does point to Christ. Jesus was able to reveal much of this to the two who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:44 – “Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

“Everything written about me” is not the same thing as saying “everything written is about me.”

Continue reading "Solomon's Song (2)" »

March 07, 2011  |  Comments (23)   |  Permalink

The Law Promised Life

"For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them (Ro 10:5). [but] The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me (Ro 7:10) "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (Jas 2:10) "For God [sent] his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh ... in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Ro 8:3-4)

Perfect law-keeping is required to merit eternal life. But the law, rather, brings death because we all have failed to keep it, save for Jesus Christ who was "born under the law" and fulfilled its righteous requirements on our behalf. Praise be to God.

March 06, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Solomon's Song

Question: I am trying to make sense of the Song of Solomon. I recently went to a Bible study where the teacher was saying that it is a book about Christ and His Bride (the Church) but as I read it, I am not sure about that and this interpretation seems to raise more questions than it answers in my mind. Any thoughts?

Answer: Thanks for your question. I believe you are right to question the interpretation you heard for the simple reason that the Song of Solomon is not a book about Christ and His Church. What you heard is not a new idea, but though quite widespread, actually has no basis in Scripture.

The concept stems from what theologians call the “allegorical” method of interpretation, which ignores the historical background and the actual subject matter on display to instead look for a “deeper” or “hidden” meaning, spiritualizing every word and detail to seek to make application to Christ. Though the method has noble motivation, the fact remains that Christ and His Church are never mentioned in the book.

Actually the book is about romance and love, even erotic love between Solomon and his bride. I am told that in Hebrew society, young boys are not permitted to read the book until their “bar mitzvah” when they “come of age” so to speak, and are considered fully adult men by their community. That is because the Jews understood the book to be something of a handbook for marriage. More here. - JS

March 04, 2011  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Paul, to the Galatians

When Paul wrote to the Galatian Church to warn of the Judaizing heresy, he did not mention the fact that the Judaizers embraced Christ as Messiah and were probably in all other ways fully orthodox.

I am sure they believed all the Old Testament. Perhaps they would even affirm the true humanity and full deity of Christ. Perhaps even Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners on the cross, and even His resurrection from the grave… on and on we could go.

Yet the Apostle Paul never mentioned any of this in his letter to the Galatians. Why not? For the simple reason that there was no need to do so. That was because in spite of all the many vital doctrines the Judaizers would affirm, they added one thing to the biblical gospel (it happened to be circumcision in this case) and the gospel is not something anyone can mess with. Jesus + circumcision is not the gospel.

Paul’s reaction, and I might say, his Holy Spirit inspired reaction, was to warn of the false doctrine in no uncertain terms calling it for what it was, “a different gospel.”

Galatians 1: 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant (slave) of Christ.

Imagine what the reaction would have been when Paul’s letter to the congregation was read out loud to the people. Certainly, there would have been Judaizers present in the services when the words were heard in the various Christian meeting places in Galatia. Its no real stretch of the imagination to say that we can be sure that Paul would have been hated by many.

The Apostle Paul could not have been more clear. He pronounced the eternal curse of God on anyone preaching another gospel, even if the one preaching it was Paul himself or even a heavenly angel.

I can imagine people saying, “Where is the love Paul? Do you not recognize the wonderful things the Judaizers have brought to our congregation? They can teach us so much about God’s law. They can show us how Christ fulfills all the types and shadows and even the Feasts of Israel. We have been so enriched by all they have taught us. What’s wrong with you for being so short sighted Paul? If you had heard ALL these men have been teaching you would not write in this way….”

But what Paul wrote – every word of it – was inspired by the Holy Spirit, even when he called the perpetrators of the false doctrine “false brothers.” (Gal 2:4)

Continue reading "Paul, to the Galatians" »

March 04, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

TULIP (10)

For those who have been continuing on with the TULIP seminar, the final post is now up here, where I invite your comments and feedback. - JS

March 03, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Christ and the Gospel not Old Testament Themes at All? A Hyper-Troubling Conclusion of a Hyper-Dispensationalist

“But since I've spent almost all my study time in the OT during the last two months, it's almost as though I've left the Gospel Carnival behind. Kind of like going for a drive in the country, but better. It's been very refreshing, but the funny thing is that, despite the fact that I have been spending considerably more time than normal in my Bible for the past two months, I've read virtually nothing about Christ, the Cross, or the Gospel.
Now some of you are probably shaking your heads right now and saying, "This guy doesn't know how to read his Bible--it's ALL about Christ if you know how to successfully navigate between the lines!" And I'm not blind to the redemptive thread that winds through the Bible. But the thing is, when I stop reading between the lines and just start reading the lines, Christ and the Gospel do not emerge as major OT themes. In fact, they're not themes at all.
And so I'm musing here. If robust faith and rigid separatism could flourish in the OT without reference to the themes of Christ and the Gospel, is it really possible to jettison everything else today and base fellowship strictly or even primarily upon fidelity to the Gospel?” – Dr. Mark Snoeberger, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary[1]

The three paragraphs quoted above are frankly quite troubling on a number of levels. One is their source: Dr. Mark Snoeberger, a professor at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, which, although long noted for its adherence to revised Dispensationalism of the Ryrian sort, actually commands some sort of respect in certain Baptist circles as being a basically sound and academically qualified institution of higher learning. Now, not all Dispensationalists would say such extreme things as Dr. Snoeberger has been saying; but it is disconcerting to note that this is not coming from the lips of some wild-eyed radical on the fringe, but from one of the more influential of the fundamental Baptist seminaries that still adhere to Dispensationalism in the basic form it took at Ryrie's Dallas Theological Seminary, some decades ago.

Continue reading "Christ and the Gospel not Old Testament Themes at All? A Hyper-Troubling Conclusion of a Hyper-Dispensationalist" »

March 02, 2011  |  Comments (13)   |  Permalink

The Satanic Power of a Question

Cosmic treason, a brutal attack, yet subtle in the extreme, the serpent asked the first ever question in the Universe, and this world has never been the same since. Article here. - JS

March 02, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

30 Years Ago Today...

On March 1, 1981, perhaps the greatest preacher of the 20th Century, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones went on to his eternal reward in heaven.

My own father, Rev. Redvers J. Samson, was a great Baptist preacher, and he had two favorite preachers. One was Dr. G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945), and the other was Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the man known affectionately as "the Dr." Both men were remarkably gifted Bible expositors. Of the two, I think Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones might have been number one in my Dad's eyes, perhaps because he was a fellow Welshman.

When I entered into the ministry, 24 years ago, my father gave me an outstanding gift, namely Dr. Lloyd-Jones' outstanding multi-volume sets of commentaries on Romans and Ephesians. At the time, I did not fully grasp their true value, but over time, I have come to see them as a magnificent biblical resource. To this day, they continue to bless and enrich my life and ministry.

Here is a rare television interview of "the Dr" as he explains why he left a successful medical practice to pursue the call to the ministry. - JS

March 01, 2011  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink