"...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)


  • Rev. John Samson
  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
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  • « New Book Published | Main | Resources on Apostasy & Hebrews 6 »

    From the Foreword...

    Excerpt from the foreword to John Samson's new book “Twelve What Abouts – Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election,” John Hendryx writes:

    John 3:19-20 states that natural men love darkness and will not come into the light. Left to themselves men will always choose to stay in darkness. Whether or not someone believes or rejects Christ, it depends completely on the disposition of the heart. Apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible says our disposition is, by nature, hostile to God and we cannot understand spiritual truth (Rom 8:7 & 1 Cor 2:14). But thanks be to God, the new birth or regeneration, is where God, the Holy Spirit applies the redemptive blessings of Christ, which give us the spiritual life that empowers us to do what we must do (repent and believe the gospel), but cannot do (while in the flesh), because of our bondage to sin (John 6:63, 65).

    Clear and plain as the words of Christ regarding His identity may now seem to be, it is important to consider that there was a time when even Jesus' disciples (who spent 3 years with him) did not understand them. Seeing they did not see, and hearing they did not hear (Matt 13:13). They could not comprehend that the Messiah was to be "cut off" (Isaiah 53:8). They refused to receive the teaching that their own Rabbi must die. Therefore, when He was finally crucified ... when the Shepherd was finally struck down … they were confounded and His sheep were scattered each to his own way. Although Jesus had often told them of it, they had never internalized it as a fact. They were blinded to it.

    Let us watch and pray to God against such prejudice in our own heart. Let us beware of allowing traditions, preconceived notions and unaided logic to take root in our hearts and blind us to Jesus. There is only one test of truth: what the Scripture says. Before this all the prejudices in our hearts must fall.

    But even the disciples who read the Scripture still did not understand. And when they finally did, what was it that made the difference? How did they finally see Jesus for who He was? In Matthew chapter 16:13-17 Jesus asked His disciples the most important question they were ever asked. Jesus asked, "...who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."

    Notice that the first thing Jesus wants to make certain Peter understands when making his declaration is that this mystery cannot be truly known by human reason, but only by God's revelation through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3; Matt 11:25-27). "Flesh and blood" simply refers to the natural resources of man without the Holy Spirit.

    Left to himself with his natural depravity blinding him, Peter would never have understood the truth, beauty and excellence of Christ and His true identity. Left to himself, Simon wouldn’t have marveled at Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the world. But God Himself had revealed this truth to him by giving him a new heart (Ezek 36:26) in which the Spirit cries ABBA FATHER (Rom 8:14-17), and so his eyes were opened for the first time to recognize who Jesus really is. Apart from the Spirit of God there is no understanding of Spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:10-14) even when it is staring you in the face. You may intellectually understand what the words mean, but the heart is so naturally prejudiced against Christ, that the Spirit must disarm those hostilities if we are to see the truth in them.

    Apart from a new heart, the problem in our natural state is that we are all spiritually blind (not merely short-sighted). 2 Cor 4:3-4 says: “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” So if God does not open our spiritual eyes, we will never be able to recognize Jesus. Unless God intervenes to replace our eyes, we are, like the disciples, incapable of recognizing Christ as He really is.

    In the flesh we can go listen to a preacher, we can read the Bible, yet unless God reveals Himself directly to us, we are dead to spiritual truth (Eph 2:1). While reading the text we will actually fail to recognize Him, just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus, until Jesus opened their eyes. And that is why we need God to intervene, to take away our spiritual blindness, so that we can see clearly what otherwise is beyond our natural resources to comprehend.

    It seems that Jesus believes it is critical to remind Peter of this truth as of first importance in Peter's "follow-up". Many in this day and age are reluctant to speak to a new Christian about God's sovereign grace in salvation for fear it is a hard truth. Yet when Peter makes his first confession of Christ, Jesus puts it first before all other truths.

    The entire eBook is available for $4 at this link.

    Posted by John Samson on January 16, 2012 07:34 PM

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