"...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)

Happy Reformation Day!

"The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God."

Martin Luther, Thesis 62

Praise God for 494 years of discovering the truth of this simple proposition, always fresh with each new generation!

Soli Deo Gloria

October 31, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

An Updated Niceno-Protestant Creed

I had the idea of updating the Nicene Creed with the doctrine of justification by faith alone, using wording from standard Reformed documents. What does everyone think? Good or bad idea? If good, what do you think of my chosen additions?

Interested in hearing feedback.


Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It's good to be able to bounce ideas off a diverse sounding board.

I've considered all the comments, and I think it has confirmed that the idea is overall a poor and unnecessary one. The Creed can (and should) stand alone, whether or not it is (and should be) supplemented by Reformation-era documents, from the creed-like five solas to the more detailed confessions and catechisms.

Thanks again, all.


An Updated Niceno-Protestant Creed
in which the full text of the Nicene Creed is affirmed
with additional material consonant with standard Reformed and Lutheran documents

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church, in which alone is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head; who are all justified by an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone; and who are all likewise sanctified by God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, and one table at which we are nourished, two only sacraments which become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

October 29, 2011  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Free Will or Free Grace?

If the natural man has a free will to believe the gospel, then why does he need grace? If his will is naturally free then it would do away with the need for grace altogether.To teach that the natural man has a free will overthrows the gospel ... it is precisely because man is in bondage that he needs Christ to set him free." (John 8:34, 36)

"All the passages in the Holy Scriptures that mention assistance are they that do away with "free-will", and these are countless ... For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because "free-will" can do nothing."
- Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, pg. 270

My online friend Larry Cochran once said, "I don't believe in the free will idea. I believe that God's sovereignty is always at work and that we are free to choose as we are freed from the bondage of sin, but until then we are not free, only under the delusion that we are free. Sin is slavery and Christ is freedom."

October 28, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

No Joel, No!

NO JOEL.. No! Mormonism is not Christian at all - it is not Christian doctrine to deny the Trinity, to proclaim that the god who rules this earth (and who we are to worship) was once a man and who lives now on a planet encircling a star called Kolob; that Jesus was conceived by a sexual union between God and Mary... that the Bible has been superseded by the book of Mormon; that Jesus' death and resurrection merely secured an opportunity to be saved if people will work for it.

Every Mormon needs to hear and embrace the true Gospel, not be affirmed as already being a Christian, especially by someone as prominent as yourself Joel. If you don't know what you are talking about say nothing - admit that you have not studied what Mormonism teaches - but PLEASE don't affirm the Mormon faith as Christian. Mormonism is the most polytheistic faith on the planet.

It is not at all loving to let the wolves roam free amongst the flock Joel and you just did that through your words. You also have undermined all the many ministries out there (many of them former Mormons) whose seek to win LDS people to the Lord.

More explanation here:

October 27, 2011  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

The Unconditional Love of God

God's love is unconditional for those He intends to adopt as His children. He does not make us meet a condition (faith) before He will love us, as the Arminian affirms. Rather, He meets the condition for us in Christ by doing for us what we are unable to do for ourselves, that is, giving us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. (Ezek 36:26).
- John Hendryx

October 25, 2011  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Quotes on Election

“Can controversial teachings nurture our Christlikeness? Before you answer this question, ask another one: Are there any significant biblical teachings that have not been controversial? I cannot think of even one, let alone the number we all need for the daily nurture of faith. If this is true, then we have no choice but to seek our food in the markets of controversy. We need not stay there. We can go home and feast if the day has been well spent. But we must buy there. As much as we would like it, we do not have the luxury of living in a world where the most nourishing truths are unopposed. If we think we can suspend judgment on all that is controversial and feed our souls only on what is left, we are living in a dreamworld. There is nothing left. The reason any of us thinks that we can stand alone on truths that are non-controversial is because we do not know our history or the diversity of the professing church. Besides that, would we really want to give to the devil the right to determine our spiritual menu by refusing to eat any teaching over which he can cause controversy?

The teaching of Scripture on election has been controversial. But I believe with all my heart that it is precious beyond words and a great nourishment for the Christlikeness of faith. If I understand the teaching of the Bible, God has pleasure in election. To know that this is true, and to know why it is, is to see another facet of the glory of God. And that sight is the power to make us holy and happy people.” – John Piper, Chosen: God’s Grace in Election

“He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe; lest we should say that we first chose him.” – Augustine

John MacArthur, Answering the Key Questions About the Doctrine of Election (Interview): “It probably ought to be the first thing you teach a young believer. Now that you’ve come to Christ, this is what I want you to know, you were saved by the sovereign grace of God who stepped into your life in the midst of your death and blindness and gave you life and sight and picked you up and brought you into His Kingdom. Sheer grace has done this for you. That, I think, is the first thing you should say to a new convert. This is, if in fact, you are faithful to the confession you have made, if in fact your love for Christ and desire to honor, to worship and to obey Him continues to grow, this will be an ongoing evidence that God has wrought a miracle in your life. And because of that, you need to know, this is really important, that you should live a life of gratitude for a work has been done in you which you did not deserve and did not earn.”

“At the very announcement of the text some will be ready to say, “Why preach upon so profound a doctrine as election?” I answer, because it is in God’s word, and whatever is in the Word of God is to be preached. “But some truths ought to be kept back from the people,” you will say, “lest they should make an ill use thereof.” That is Popish doctrine, it was upon that very theory that the priests kept back the Bible from the people, they did not give it to them lest they should misuse it. “But are not some doctrines dangerous?” Not if they are true and rightly handled. Truth is never dangerous, it is error and reticence that are fraught with peril. “But do not men abuse the doctrine of grace?” I grant you that they do; but if we destroyed everything that men misuse, we should have nothing left. Are there to be no ropes because some fools will hang themselves? And, must cutlery be discarded and denounced, because there are some who will use dangerous weapons for the destruction of their adversaries? Decidedly not. Besides all this, remember that men do read the Scriptures and think about these doctrines, and therefore often make mistakes about them; who then shall set them right if we, who preach the Word, hold our tongues about the matter?” – C. H. Spurgeon, from sermon entitled, Election: Its Defenses and Evidences

“I know, dear friends, there are some who are so afraid of this doctrine, that the mention of it produces alarm. If they were to meet a lion in their way, they would not be more terrified than they are when they see this doctrine in Scripture or hear it from the pulpit (the doctrine of Election).” – C. H. Spurgeon, from sermon entitled, Election: Its Defenses and Evidences

“God didn’t draw straws; He didn’t look down the corridor of time to see who would choose Him before He decided. Rather, by His sovereign will He chose who would be in the Body of Christ. The construction of the Greek verb for “chose” indicates God chose us for Himself. That means God acted totally independent of any outside influence. He made His choice totally apart from human will and purely on the basis of His sovereignty.” – John MacArthur Jr.

“It is no novelty, then, that I am-preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, which are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian, or a believer in the doctrine of free-will, I should have to walk for centuries all alone. Here and there a heretic of no very honorable character might rise up and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren – I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church.” – C. H. Spurgeon, from sermon entitled, Election

“The Sovereignty of God is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go contending with God about His sovereignty it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God as an absolute sovereign, and the sovereign of our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom He will have mercy and harden whom He will.” – Jonathan Edwards

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37

“Thank God for such an assurance as that! God will not be defeated. His purpose will never fail of accomplishment. All that the Father giveth to Jesus shall come to Him. You do not like that, perhaps. You say you do not believe in election and predestination. Then you will have to tear a number of pages out of your Bible, for there are many of them which magnify God’s sovereign electing grace.” – H. A. Ironside, The Gospel of John

“You know, brethren, that there is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer, I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But, my dear friends, far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none within her walls but Calvinistic Christians, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him, that while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself, I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one of whom the world was not worthy. I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ into their hearts, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist out of heaven.” – C. H. Spurgeon, The Man With the Measuring Line

October 25, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Sovereign Election, Human Responsibility, Evangelism and the Gospel

These two messages by Dr. John MacArthur are exceptional. Taken from the recent "Truth Matters Conference" where the theme was "The Gospel According to Paul", the two sessions I make mention of here seek to provide biblical answers to questions such as "How are we to harmonize divine sovereignty with human responsibility? How can we understand that salvation is a matter of God’s will and God’s choice and God’s purpose, and God’s timing, and at the same time, make man in any sense responsible for what happens? How do we harmonize the issue of divine sovereignty and human responsibility with our evangelistic duty."

I am delighted that these teaching sessions have now been made available in this way and I hope a great many people take the time to watch them. Get ready for deep insights into God's word, the fruit of a lifetime of service from Dr. MacArthur.

As each of us learn and inwardly digest the contents, I am confident that the biblical truths learned here will have deep and profound effects as to how each of us conduct Christian ministry helping us become more informed and effective servants of Christ. I cannot recommend these videos highly enough. - JS

Part 1 - An Introduction to the Sovereign Gospel - found here.

Part 2 - An Explanation of the Sovereign Gospel - found here.

(Full transcripts of the messages are available at the above links also)

October 21, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Eavesdropping on a Holy Conversation

Below is a transcript from a C. H. Spurgeon sermon where he describes the covenant of redemption and wonders what it would have been like to be to have heard this covenant being made.

“Now, in this covenant of grace, we must first of all observe the high contracting parties between whom it was made. The covenant of grace was made before the foundation of the world between God the Father, and God the Son; or to put it in a yet more scriptural light, it was made mutually between the three divine Persons of the adorable Trinity.”

“I cannot tell you it in the glorious celestial tongue in which it was written: I am fain to bring it down to the speech which suiteth to the ear of flesh, and to the heart of the mortal. Thus, I say, run the covenant, in ones like these:

"I, the Most High Jehovah, do hereby give unto My only begotten and well-beloved Son, a people, countless beyond the number of stars, who shall be by Him washed from sin, by Him preserved, and kept, and led, and by Him, at last, presented before My throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. I covenant by oath, and swear by Myself, because I can swear by no greater, that these whom I now give to Christ shall be for ever the objects of My eternal love. Them I will forgive through the merit of the blood. To these will I give a perfect righteousness; these will I adopt and make My sons and daughters, and these shall reign with Me through Christ eternally."

Thus run that glorious side of the covenant. The Holy Spirit also, as one of the high contracting parties on this side of the covenant, gave His declaration, "I hereby covenant," saith He, "that all whom the Father giveth to the Son, I will in due time quicken. I will show them their need of redemption; I will cut off from them all groundless hope, and destroy their refuges of lies. I will bring them to the blood of sprinkling; I will give them faith whereby this blood shall be applied to them, I will work in them every grace; I will keep their faith alive; I will cleanse them and drive out all depravity from them, and they shall be presented at last spotless and faultless."

This was the one side of the covenant, which is at this very day being fulfilled and scrupulously kept. As for the other side of the covenant this was the part of it, engaged and covenanted by Christ. He thus declared, and covenanted with his Father:

"My Father, on my part I covenant that in the fullness of time I will become man. I will take upon myself the form and nature of the fallen race. I will live in their wretched world, and for My people I will keep the law perfectly. I will work out a spotless righteousness, which shall be acceptable to the demands of Thy just and holy law. In due time I will bear the sins of all My people. Thou shalt exact their debts on Me; the chastisement of their peace I will endure, and by My stripes they shall be healed. My Father, I covenant and promise that I will be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. I will magnify Thy law, and make it honourable. I will suffer all they ought to have suffered. I will endure the curse of Thy law, and all the vials of Thy wrath shall be emptied and spent upon My head. I will then rise again; I will ascend into heaven; I will intercede for them at Thy right hand; and I will make Myself responsible for every one of them, that not one of those whom thou hast given me shall ever be lost, but I will bring all my sheep of whom, by My blood, thou hast constituted Me the Shepherd — I will bring every one safe to Thee at last."

October 19, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Free eBook - Of Efficacious Grace by John Gill

eg.jpgThe celebrated writer chiefly attended to, has filled up above twenty pages in stating the question about the grace of God in conversion. The sum of which is, that there are some inward operations of the Spirit vouchsafed in that work; but that these only consist in representing divine truths to our understandings, and bringing them to our remembrance, and thereby raising some ideas in the brain, and making some impressions on it; which he allows to be physical, and irresistible in their production, and in which men are wholly passive; but utterly denies that any supernatural habits are infused, or that any supernatural aid is requisite to the conversion of a sinner besides the aforementioned. He observes that the word grace in scripture, always signifies the favor and goodness of God, but never any supernatural or infused habit: contrary to Rom. 5:20, 21, and 6:14, 2 Cor. 8:7, 9:8, 14, Col. 3:16, 1 Tim. 1:14, and 2 Pet. 3:18, with many others: yet owns, that the foresaid ideas raised in the brain, according to their nature, use, tendency, and effects, may be called either exciting, or restraining, or preventing, or assisting, or the subsequent of God; and may be either sufficient or efficacious, common or special. My business in the following Sections will be to prove, that the work of grace or conversion, is an internal one, wholly owing to the efficacious grace of God, and wrought in the soul by a supernatural, irresistible, and insuperable power, in the production of which man is purely passive; and to vindicate the passages of scripture made use of in proof of this doctrine, which are objected to.

Available in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats

October 18, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Sola Scriptura is not Solo Scriptura

“Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.” – R. C. Sproul

“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.” – Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?”

“Sola Scriptura” is not the same as “Solo Scriptura”. A proper understanding of “Sola Scriptura” will not lead to an individualistic, “me and my Bible in the woods” approach to Bible interpretation. Because of Christ’s gifts to the Church through the centuries, we have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants.

On this theme, I loved reading Phil Johnson’s response (some time back) to a questioner at his Pyromaniacs blog site who asked:

Your identity as a “Baptist”; your endless quotations from Charles Spurgeon; your faithful devotion to John MacArthur; and especially your willingness to call yourself a “Calvinist” are all huge red flags that tell me something is seriously wrong with your theology. Why do you teach a system of doctrine that is named after a mere man? Why are you following human teachers instead of going to the Bible alone? After all, 1 John 2:27 says, “The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you.” We ought to go to Scripture alone to establish our doctrine! The truth is in God’s Holy word, not in any theological system or theology textbook developed by mere men. Isn’t that principle what the Reformation was originally about? Sola Scriptura? Didn’t even Calvin himself go to Scripture for the truth instead of reading other men? I believe that if Calvin himself wrote for this blog, he would point people to the truth in God’s Holy word, not to a theology developed by some other man.

Phil's response can be found here. - JS

October 17, 2011  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

A Dozen Objections to Divine Election

Perhaps you can relate to this – Divine election does indeed seem to be clearly taught in the Bible. Passages such as Romans 8 and 9, Ephesians 1 and 2, John 3, John 6, John 10, John 17, and many others, make a convincing case. However, certain verses, at least at first glance, seem to present a different picture.

Over time I have sought to deal with some of the most frequently cited verses that are raised as objections to God's Sovereignty in election (the “what about?” verses, as I call them) trusting that this can be a helpful resource.


John 3:16

2 Peter 3:9

1 Tim 2:4

Matt 23:37

1 Tim 4:10

1 John 2:2

John 12:32

2 Peter 2:1


How can divine election be true if God is not a respecter of persons?

Does God create people knowing they will end up in hell?

If Divine election is true, why should we even bother to evangelize?

The ten different uses of the word “world” in John’s Gospel

Another question that often arises is “how can God be just in requiring man to do what he is unable to do?”

I hope the answers I have provided can be a useful resource to you (found here). - JS

October 16, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

A True Work of Art

What does art tell us about our culture’s hopes, values, and fears?

That’s the question Dr. David Murray seeks to answer following a visit to the Grand Rapids Artprize Festival, which awards the winner $250,000, making it the world’s largest art prize.

The "Gospel" of Art from HeadHeartHand Media on Vimeo.

October 15, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Q&A Regarding Regeneration

Visitor: You can't randomly redefine Biblical terms. Regeneration is not a supernatural change in a man to enable him to believe. Regeneration occurs when Jesus Christ comes to live in a man's heart to give him the gift of eternal life. When Jesus was telling Nicodemas about the new birth, the discussion goes beyond verse 8. Jesus tells Nicodemas the coming of God's gift of eternal life parallels Moses lifting the serpent in the wilderness, when people were dying from the snake bite, they looked to live. And in the same way the Son of Man had to be lifted up, so that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.

There are not two additional kinds of life to receive after the life given in the flesh. (Men are not given one sort of 'spiritual life' to enable them to believe and then after they believe then they receive eternal life.) There are only two births. There is the life given in the flesh and the life given in the new birth, which is eternal life. That life is given to us when Jesus Christ comes to dwell in our hearts. Only the ones who have the Son have the life (1John 5:11, 12). Jesus tells Nicodemas He came to give men eternal life and salvation (John 3:15-16). Men were not indwelt by the Lord Jesus Christ before His resurrection. At just the right time Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem them from the Law so that they could receive the adoption as sons (Gal 4:4). Men needed to be set free from the Law before they could be joined to Christ (Rom. 7:4). Redemption is through His blood (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Only after men are redeemed and receive the adoption as sons does God send the Spirit of His Son into their heart (Gal. 4:4-6) to give them the gift of eternal life, and the gift of salvation in the new birth. Faith precedes Christ coming to dwell in our hearts, the gift of eternal life, and salvation-- all of which we are given in the new birth. Faith precedes the new birth.

Reformed Theology is built upon an unbiblical definition of regeneration. Additionally, faulty presuppositions require an unbiblical 'new birth' to enable men to believe clear back in Genesis: at least the time of Abel, since Abel was commended for his faith (Heb. 11:4). Reformed Theology is also dependent upon many erroneous interpretations using the redefinition of "regeneration": interpreting many critical verses in the book of John as though men were already being born again. But nobody was "born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" before Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Nobody had been born again in the book of John (except Christ being the firstborn out of the dead). Therefore it can be objectively proven that these verses are erroneously interpreted. In addition, the verses used to establish "total depravity" have also been taken out of their context and given an erroneous interpretation. You can't build a true doctrine upon unbiblical definitions, erroneous interpretations, and faulty presuppositions (i.e. slavery to sin = bondage of the will.... and as we see, no man was set free from slavery to sin until they were united by baptism (given by Jesus Christ, not water) into Christ's crucifixion and death).

How do you place regeneration before the resurrection when Peter tells us clearly that men are born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?

Why do you neglect the entire context of John 3 (vs. 9-18) when you teach about the new birth?


Actually, John 3 demonstrates the necessity of regeneration to enter the kingdom. Read it again. No one can either see or enter the kingdom unless they are first born again.

All men are required to believe the gospel. God commands everyone to repent and believe the gospel. A command (imperative) does NOT tell us what man can do but what he ought to do. John 3:19, 20 puts it all in perspective. Men are required to believe BUT men love darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out (wrought) in God."

Are you going to honestly tell me that a person can obey the command to believe the gospel apart from any grace... apart from the work of the Holy Spirit? Because this is what you are, in fact, doing.

Also as for the timing of regeneration, all people in both old and new Testaments were saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To declare otherwise is to trust in human merit and achievement as if salvation occurred differently in old and new Testaments. One by works and the other by grace. But the Bible declares that the gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand (Galatians 3:8). And God explicitly declares in the book of Deuteronomy the necessity of regeneration by the people of the Old Testament to obey him. "...And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deut 30:6) Notice clearly the order. Circumcision of the heart comes prior to obedience and life.

Lastly, I would challenge you to interact with the clear declarations of Jesus that regeneration precedes faith.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (John 6:37)

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44)

It is the Spirit who gives life (quickens, regenerates); the flesh is no help at all. ..."This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:63, 65)

Simply put, no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it and all to whom He grants it will believe. The Spirit quickens [regenerates], the flesh counts for nothing. See my essay here on these verses in John 6 which demonstrates that regeneration is intimately tied to (and the direct cause of) faith and that salvation is by Christ alone, utterly abolishing any remote possibility of synergism. Christ not only commands us to believe but gives us what He requires of us: a new heart to believe. The reason why one person believes the gospel and not another is not because one person was more prudent or wise but because of the grace of God in Jesus Christ alone.

October 15, 2011  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Discussing Reformed Theology

The following video from our brothers at Lampmode demonstrates how Reformed theology should be discussed among brothers and sisters in Christ. Even though these four men (Json, Stephen the Levite, Hazakim and Shai Linne) would not consider themselves highly trained Christian theologians and by no means are all in 100% agreement, the conversation is rooted in love and humility with the goal to glorify God and edify one another.

HT: Justin Edwards

October 14, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

John 1:1

Question: I am a Christian but have a Jehovah’s Witness friend who does not believe in the Divinity of Christ. He is seeking to convince me that my Bible is incorrectly translated at John 1:1. My Bible renders the final phrase “and the word was God” and his “New World Translation” says “and the word was a god.” He contends that the Greek phrase “kai theos en ho logos” lacks the definite article “ho” in front of the word theos and therefore the indefinite article “a” must be supplied. What do you say about this?

I seek to provide an answer here. - JS

October 11, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The word of God has not failed

by Pastor John Samson

Romans 9: 1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

After the crescendo of revelation in Romans 8, Paul now attempts to deal with an objection that he knows would be mounted against all he has communicated so far, namely, “If it is impossible for the people of God to be separated from God’s love, why is it that most of the Jews now stand in just such a condition?”

Most of Israel did not embrace Jesus as Messiah. As such, there is no salvation for them. Paul desires this with a fervent passion (Romans 10: 1Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.) But it still needs to be explained why a nation who are His special chosen ones failed to come in to the kingdom of God at the very height of Israelite ministry, the time all the prophets had pointed to for generations; the coming of the long awaited Messiah.

Many theologians, in failing to recognize that this is indeed what Paul is seeking to do here, also fail to see the point of the three chapters of Romans 9-11. Some have even gone so far as to say that these chapters are something of an apolostolic digression – that Paul went down a theological rabbit trail – and we should wait for him to emerge back up from the hole at chapter 12, when he comes back to the point of our response to the gospel.

I could not disagree more. Paul is doing what he knows must be done – defend the integrity of God and His promise. Paul is a Jew and it grieves him tremendously that his fellow Jews (as a whole) failed to recognize Messiah when He came.

The theme of God’s righteousness is central to Paul in this epistle (Romans 1:16, 17; 3:21-27; 5:17-21; 8:4) and so he understands that God’s very righteousness is on the line if there are all the many promises made to Israel and in the end, none of them happen. “What is at stake ultimately in these chapters is not the fate of Israel; that is penultimate. Ultimately God’s own trustworthiness is at stake. And if God’s word of promise cannot be trusted to stand forever, then all our faith is vain.” – John Piper

That’s why all the opening verses of Romans 9 are a preamble to talk on this issue in the sixth verse – Paul wants to tell us with apostolic authority that God’s word has not failed at all and he wants to explain why this is the case.

On the way there, he tells us of his apostolic heart for Israel (verses 1-3). Paul was no mere theological brain without a heart. Paul was so consumed with love for Israel that if it were possible (which it isn’t) he would revoke his own election if it might mean the salvation of the Jews.

Continue reading "The word of God has not failed" »

October 09, 2011  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Munus Triplex - The Triple Cure - Christ as Prophet, Priest and King

In the Old Testament, a person could be a prophet, a priest or a King, but it was impossible to be all three. Yet Scripture attributes all three of these offices to Christ. To discover what He does for us as He fulfills these three differing roles is a wonderfully enriching biblical study.

Christ holds these offices eternally. As the ultimate revelation of the Prophet, He speaks the word of God to us; as Priest, He represents us fully to the Father and brings the supreme atoning sacrifice (of Himself) that placates the Father's holy and just wrath against us for our sin; and as the conquering and reigning King, He is forever worthy of our worship and adoration. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Christ's threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King is a central teaching in Reformed Theology, but it is a much neglected theme in much of the modern day Church. The Latin theological term for this is Munus Triplex, also known as "the Triple Cure," referring to these offices of Christ providing the remedy for us in our fallen condition.

As far as we can tell, it was Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (1.3.8) who first described the concept of these three fold offices of Christ. He said that Jesus is “the only high priest of all, and the only king of every creature, and the Father’s only supreme prophet of prophets." Yet as with most things, it was John Calvin who made the concept widely known by his teaching in the Institutes:

Continue reading "Munus Triplex - The Triple Cure - Christ as Prophet, Priest and King" »

October 03, 2011  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

What He does for us

One can stand in a Swiss Alpine valley and be mesmerized by looking upwards at the rugged majesty of a single mountain peak on display.

One can also take a plane ride over the entire Alpine range and from the plane's window see that what was intriguing and totally captivating from the ground, is but one stunning enchantment amongst a thousand others of equal splendor. To gaze upwards from the ground as well as downwards from above, is to see the Alps as they should be seen. I have had the joy of doing both.

I love the Alpine mountains of Switzerland. I also love Romans chapter eight.

It is easy to run out of superlatives when describing the amazing insights contained in the passage. Sometimes though, perhaps even because each word and each sentence is so poignant and pregnant with meaning, we can fail to see the grandeur of the larger picture. As we scrutinize each word, we see intricate and stunning beauty; but when we take a step back, so to speak, and view the passage as a whole, a breath taking truth emerges.

The big picture from verses 26 to 38 is the unfolding revelation of God's love for His people. These are the ones He chose to draw to Himself even before the world was ever made. God's plan would never be thwarted, despite all the opposition hell could fashion against it. Though these same elect ones endure famine, nakedness or sword; and though they face everything life, death and all that satanic principalties might throw their way, these loved ones remain super conquerors through the One who loved them. Nothing can separate them from the love of God.

As the text is outlined before us now, allow me just to highlight in bold capitals the phrases that show just what God is doing for His elect:

Continue reading "What He does for us" »

October 01, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink