Happy Reformation Day
Post Tenebras Lux - After Darkness, Light
The entrance of His word gives light.
Dr. John Piper evaluates John Calvin's life, ministry and legacy in Geneva, Switzerland.
Love for God and for each other
If we truly love God it will show itself in our genuine love for one another. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
It did my heart much good to listen to my friend, Pastor Bruce Brock teach on this vital theme. Along the way, Pastor Bruce deals with a number of false concepts about God's love, and by means of the Scripture, points us to the real thing found in Christ. Pastor Bruce leads a Reformed congregation in Tucson, Arizona called Faith Community Church. - JS
The Poor in Spirit by Thomas Watson
He that is poor in spirit is lowly in heart. Rich men are commonly proud and scornful, but the poor are submissive. The poor in spirit roll themselves in the dust in the sense of their unworthiness. 'I abhor myself in dust' (Job 42:6). He that is poor in spirit looks at another's excellencies and his own infirmities. He denies not only his sins but his duties. The more grace he has, the more humble he is, because he now sees himself a greater debtor to God. If he can do any duty, he acknowledges it is Christ's strength more than his own. As the ship gets to the haven more by the benefit of the wind than the sail, so when a Christian makes swift progress, it is more by wind of God's Spirit than the sail of his own endeavour. The poor in spirit, when he acts most like a saint, confesses himself to be 'the chief of sinners'. He blushes more at the defect of his graces than others do at the excess of their sins. He dares not say he has prayed or wept. He lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him. He labours, yet not he, but the grace of God. - Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes
"Faith" according to Martin Luther
"Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.” They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, “I believe.” That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this `faith,’ either.
Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.
Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do."
An excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith from DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]
The real issue with Mormonism
The real issue with Mormonism: “God is an exalted man” - by Dr. James White (Source here)
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man. . . . That is the great secret. . . . We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea. . . . [H]e was once a man like us.” ~Joseph Smith
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:1‒2).
“God is not a man” (Num. 23:19; Cf. 1 Sam. 15:29).
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Is. 43:10; Cf. 44:6, 8).
The following words are the most often quoted non-Scriptural teaching of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)—most often quoted, that is, in LDS Church literature itself:
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.
In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.
These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.
These words come from the infamous “King Follett Funeral Discourse,” delivered by Smith on April 7, 1844. They represent the final, developed form of Smith’s theology of God, a theology that underwent massive change between the founding of the Church almost exactly fourteen years earlier. In fact, it is quite plain that Smith did not hold to this radical denial of historic Christian doctrine when he founded the LDS Church in 1830. But sometime in the mid 1830s his views became more and more radical until they reached this final stage shortly before his murder in the Carthage City jail June 27th, 1844. These words, though never canonized, obtained quasi-canonical status by their constant repetition in the teachings of the LDS leadership over the next decades. A quick review of the writings of the LDS leaders all the way up to the modern period will find these words repeated more often than any other teaching of Joseph Smith.
In postmodern times, where fuzziness of thinking and inaccuracy of thought has become the hallmark of so much dialogue, and in particular, in the realm of religion, clear delineation of belief and doctrine has become outdated and unpopular. There is an automatic suspicion of anyone who seeks clarity in confession and doctrine. Such persons must be insecure or, even worse, may be on the road to some kind of fundamentalism—closed-minded individuals holding old-fashioned ideas of universal or objective truths. So with the recent resurgence of Mormonism in the United States, spurred partly by an aggressive, if less-than-doctrinally-oriented advertising campaign on billboards and the Internet, partly by the rise to national prominence of Mormon bishop and returned missionary Willard Mitt Romney, the public discourse on the nature of Mormonism and its teachings has been anything but focused upon accuracy of definition. In fact, the idea that the LDS faith is simply a somewhat odd variant of Christianity has been accepted widely without much fuss or bother. Only those most radically out-of-step with the modern world would actually ask, “But, what is the core of the LDS faith and its teachings? Is it really an expression of Christian faith, or a radical departure from it?”
Until recent times, dialogues with Mormons did not focus upon establishing that Mormonism had a radically different doctrine of God than Christianity: that was a given. But over the past thirty years a definite move toward ecumenism and “mainstreaming” has been present, and Mormonism now seeks to redefine “Christian” so that it can be stretched to encompass the complete negation of its own most central assertion: that there is one true and eternal God, unchanging, without beginning and without end, unique, without dependence upon prior forces or powers.
The deity of Mormonism is, in fact, an exalted man, one who comes in a long line of previously exalted beings, each dependent upon the one before. In fact, as we will see, in Mormonism, God and man are of the same species, with God simply being further advanced in exaltation. In fact, in orthodox Mormon belief, God is not eternal. Matter is eternal; the Mormon God is one god amongst an infinite pantheon of gods existing in unlimited universes. In fact, Mormonism may well be the most polytheistic religion ever devised by man, for while it teaches an increasing number of deities (any worthy Mormon man who is married in the LDS temple and who remains faithful to the end of his life can be exalted as a god, hence increasing the number of gods) it likewise asserts that no number can be placed upon the already existing gods. Modern proponents of this embodiment of Smith’s idea have adopted it primarily out of a recognition that if the number of gods is finite, then we should be able to tract the line back in time to the first god and then ask if he was a man before he became a god, and if so, how did creation come into existence? To avoid this, many Mormons assert an infinite number of deities, just avoiding the “first god” conundrum.
Misunderstanding Vatican II by R.C. Sproul
Misunderstanding Vatican II was originally published on the Ligonier Ministries Blog.
I think Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) and similar efforts to make common cause with Roman Catholics are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of where the Roman Catholic Church is theologically and what it actually teaches. There is no question that the Roman Catholic Church has changed since the sixteenth century. But the changes have not closed the gap between Rome and Protestantism. Indeed, the differences are greater now. For instance, the formally defined proclamation of the infallibility of the pope and all of the Mariology statements have come since the Reformation. Neither has Rome backed down from any of the positions it took in the sixteenth-century debate. In the updated Catechism of the Catholic Church, released in the mid-1990s, the treasury of merit, purgatory, indulgences, justification through the sacraments, and other doctrines were reaffirmed.
I think this misunderstanding has been driven primarily by confusion over the significance of Vatican Council II (1962–65). It was only the second ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church since Trent, the other being Vatican Council I (1869–70). So, these councils are rare events, and the church and the world were surprised when Pope John XXIII convened Vatican II.
The statements produced by Vatican I referred to Protestants as schismatics and heretics. In marked contrast, the rhetoric of Vatican II was kind, warm, and appeasing. Protestants were called “separated brethren.” John’s passion, which he set forth in a pastoral letter, was that the Lord’s sheepfold would be one. There should be unity under one shepherd, he said, with all Christians returning to Holy Mother Church under the Roman pontiff. John was seen as kind, avuncular, and warm, so people jumped to the conclusion that Rome had changed its theology. However, many overlooked the fact that John ruled out any debate about justification at Vatican II.
The New Theology?
In the same era as Vatican II, there was a major split within the Roman Catholic Church between the Western and Latin wings of the church. Much of the Western wing adopted what was called the nouvelle théologie, “the new theology,” which was much more compatible with historical Protestantism than the classical orthodox Latin Roman theology.
Incidentally, this rupture shows that the contemporary Roman Catholic communion is not as monolithic as it traditionally has been. Some see this rupture as almost as serious as the Reformation. We can find priests and even bishops who sound Protestant in their views. But it is important to remember that when we analyze the Roman Catholic Church, we are not talking about the American church, the Dutch church, the German church, or the Swiss church. We are talking about the Roman Catholic Church. The supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church is not the bishop of New York or Los Angeles. He is not the bishop of Berlin, Heidelberg, or Vienna. He is the bishop of Rome. He is the one who, along with church councils, defines the belief system of the Roman Catholic Church.
If you are in the Phoenix, AZ area...
POST TENEBRAS LUX - AFTER DARKNESS, LIGHT
REFORMATION POT LUCK
If you are anywhere near Phoenix, Arizona this Sunday (October 28) you are more than welcome to join us for a special pot luck event in celebration of Reformation Sunday.
The last Sunday in October is traditionally the time when evangelicals remember how God brought the clarity of the Gospel back to the Church when Martin Luther (on October 31, 1517) nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Church in Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation.
Start time is 11:00 am. We will join together in singing praises to our God and then start watching an excellent 6 part DVD series called "Reformation Profiles" by Dr. Stephen Nichols. People new to Reformed theology may wonder just what it was about a five-hundred-year-old historical movement that affects our thinking so much today. So join Dr. Nichols for an inviting, approachable take on “Reformation 101.” More than a history lesson, each session highlights one of the main personalities of the Reformation (including Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Lady Jane Grey) and is just 23 minutes in length. These men and women affirmed the fact that on the sure foundation of God's word alone, justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone.
Each character is seen in their historical context and then tied to one of the solas, making these vital doctrines come alive, as we come to understand how standing for these truths was a matter of life and death. Dr. Nichols helps believers understand why the Reformation mattered then and matters now.
Why the Reformation Matters
Sola Scriptura: Martin Luther & The Rediscovery of the Authority of Scripture
Sola Gratia: Ulrich Zwingli & the Rediscovery of Grace
Sola Fide: Lady Jane Grey & the Rediscovery of Justification by Faith
Solus Christus: John Calvin & the Blessing of Christ Alone
Soli Deo Gloria: Glorifying God in Everything
In between the teaching sessions there will be lots of great fellowship and great food.
ALL ARE WELCOME. If you share a passion for the Gospel and enjoy meeting like minded people, we'd love for you to join us. We aim to finish our time together by mid afternoon.
Further details here. - John S
Meet the man behind the website
Pastor Batzig interviews John Hendryx, the man behind both this blog and the larger theological website of www.monergism.com
PB: John, I’m sure our readers would like to know something about the man behind Monergism. Would you mind sharing a brief testimony and tell us how you came to embrace and love Reformed Theology?
JH: Thank you Pastor Batzig. I am honored that you would take the time out of your busy schedule.
Since I have basically been in a cave without much outside contact for the past 10 months, I have not had much opportunity to interact with people as I usually would. Those months were spent hunkered down developing our most recent project: a best-of–the-web MP3 by Scripture Library. So it is a pleasure to speak with you. But you asked that my testimony be brief, so let’s get right to it.
You first asked about the man behind Monergism … Well, “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” Much more interesting is the Person he and his website are pointing to. I really want to talk about the LORD, about what He has done, and what He is now doing. My conversion and my life in Christ is a demonstration of the sheer grace of God … how the LORD can take a hopelessly lost and darkened sinner and, without an ounce that sinners’ help, translate him from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light and life.
Interesting you should ask about my testimony and my embrace of Reformed Theology in the same breath, because they are actually one and the same.
I was a 19-year old sophomore at the University of Colorado, Boulder deeply entrenched in New Age Occultism, which was essentially to a mixture of Hinduism, Tantric Buddhism, Occult practices, pseudo-Christianity and solipsism or the worship of the Self. It was partly drug induced and partly arrived at through deep periods of meditation and lots of metaphysical literature … Then one day while reading the Bible I came across Deuteronomy 18 which reads:
“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, 14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.”
This passage struck me right between the eyes. It instantly put the fear of the Lord in me because it revealed to me the inconsistency in my understanding of God. The weight of the text immediately drove me to my knees to pray to the Lord. I remember my prayer: “Lord, if everything I believe is wrong I want to know. Please just show me what is truth is. Nothing else matters” Well, it was the Lord who put that prayer into my heart and the Lord who answered that prayer. It led to a series of events (which for brevity sake I will spare you) that led me to read another verse …a verse that the Lord actually used to save me: Romans 9:15-16:
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
It was with these words that the Lord opened my eyes to the Gospel. The scales fell from my eyes and I recognized for the first time that He is God, and I am not. I despaired of all hope in myself and was given a new vision accompanied by a renewed will to take hold of the grace of God in Christ. The previous false understanding I had of Jesus and his mission were, at once, swept away by the Hand of the Lord and I now, by the grace of God, understood that there was no hope in me or anything else, save in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. … He implanted in me a new heart, a new understanding and a new life which I could not have possibly come up with on my own. So from this reading of the Scripture together with this life-changing experience, you can see why your two questions are actually one. The Lord was gracious by revealing to me, at the moment of my conversion, that Jesus deserved the glory for all of it. It was simple and profound and even though I did not know what Reformed Theology was, (and would not read about it till much later), I was born in Christ knowing, from His own words, that salvation is of the Lord ….all a work of God. It was the most radical paradigm shift possible. My understanding went from “I am God” to “I am not God” … from “I can save myself” to “only Jesus can save me”.
Full interview here.
Ephesians 1; Romans 9; John 6
by Dr. James White
Numerous biblical passages can be cited that plainly teach the divine truth that God predestines men unto salvation. John 6:35-45, Romans 9:10-24, and 2 Timothy 1:8-10 all teach this truth. But I shall focus first upon the classicus locus, Ephesians 1:3-11, for my initial exegetical defense of this divine truth. As space permits, I will then briefly address Romans 9 and John 6. I invite the interested reader to follow along. I shall use as my base text the Nestle-Aland 27th edition of the Greek New Testament. English translations are my own.
Paul begins this tremendous introduction to his letter1 with a word of blessing addressed to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3). All of salvation comes from the Father, its source, and its end. It is the Father who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Immediately we encounter three vital truths: 1) God is the one who has blessed us (we did not bless ourselves); this is seen in recognizing that ho eulogasa refers to the Father specifically; 2) that Paul is not speaking of all mankind here, but specifically of the redeemed, for he uses the personal pronoun hama (us) when speaking of the scope of the blessing of the Father; we will see this is continued throughout the text; and 3) the phrase en Christo (in Christ) or its equivalent in Him, is central to Paul’s thought. All of salvation takes place only “in Christ.”
Verse 4 is central to our subject: “just as He chose us in Him before the creation of the world so that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”2 Again the Father is in view, for He is the one who chose us (hama, accusative, indicating direct object of “to choose”). This choice is exercised only in Christ (there is no salvation outside of the Son). It is vital to recognize the personal aspect of this choice on the part of God the Father. The passage says that we were chosen by God the Father, not that a mere “plan” was chosen, or a “process” put in place. The choice is personal both in its context (in the Son) and in its object (the elect). Next, the time of this choice by the Father is likewise important: before the creation of the world. This is a choice that is timeless. It was made before we were created, and therefore cannot possibly be based upon anything that we ourselves do or “choose.”3 This is sovereignty-free and unlimited.
God does nothing without a purpose. Both the means, and end, are in view. God chooses the elect to the end that they should be “holy and blameless before Him.” God is redeeming for Himself a people, and no power in heaven or earth can stop Him from accomplishing His intention.
Paul continues to expand upon the nature of the Father’s choice: “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (v. 5). This is the first appearance of the word “predestined” in the text. The exact same term (proopizo) is used in verse 11 as well. The meaning of the term is not ambiguous, no matter how hard some might try to avoid its impact. It means “to choose beforehand” or “to predestine.”4 In this context, it is unquestionably personal in its object, for again we find hama as the direct object of the action of predestination. This is truly the key element of this [issue], for grammatically there is no escape from the plain assertion here made: God the Father predestined us. He did not predestine a plan, He did not merely predestine a general conclusion to all things, but He chose us and predestined us. The “us” of Ephesians 1:5 is the “we” of Ephesians 1:11 and the “elect” of Romans 8:33 and those who are “given” by the Father to the Son in John 6:37.
The Meaning in Greek
“If someone claims that the Greek says something that none of the translations say, dismiss their idea and walk away. Perhaps if they are commentary writers or scholars, their argument might have some validity; but I am always suspect of someone who bases their interpretation on any basis that you are not able to check... Beware of people who claim authoritative knowledge based on something you can’t check. If they can cite a well-known translation or commentary writer, or if they make a sensible contextual argument, that is one thing. But to dismiss interpretations to the contrary that are held by all translations, be suspicious.” - Bill Mounce
The Rich Young Ruler and Me
Ask R.C. Sproul, Jr: Jesus told the rich young fool that he must sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and follow him. Is this true for all who would follow Jesus?
Yes. This, of course, is not what we typically hear about this text. We are told, for instance, that Jesus was tapping into the first use of the law rather than the third here, that rather than telling the young man what he must do to inherit eternal life He was demonstrating that despite the man’s claims, he had not in fact kept the ten commandments. Jesus here is saying, “Well, let’s look at commandment one. Do you have any gods before me? Money perhaps?” This is all true and good exegesis of the text.
Trouble is that we then go on to comfort ourselves by thinking, “Since I am not like this rich young fool, since I would be willing to sell all that I have and give it to the poor if Jesus asked, I pass this test.” We think that he failed an actual test because he was no good, while we pass a hypothetical test because we are good. It is, however, a very different thing to give up all your actual wealth than to merely hypothetically give it all up.
Now it may be that money is not actually an idol in your life. It may be that were Jesus to give you this command you would get right to work selling off assets. All of us, however, have idols, things we hold back from giving to the Lord. I discovered an idol in my own life several years ago when God in His providence didn’t ask me to give it away, but simply took it from me. I had at that time something of a reputation as a rather bold and prophetic fellow, someone who bravely didn’t much give a thought to his reputation. That reputation quickly morphed into a reputation as a bully and a cheat. And I learned rather quickly that I did indeed give a thought to my reputation, that I craved, longed for a reputation as one who didn’t care about his reputation. My deceitful heart had deceived me again.
When we sign on with Jesus we give up our wealth. We give up our reputations. We give up every gift that He had already given us, and every gift He will give us from that moment forward. When we become a part of the bride of Christ our pre-nuptial agreement reads, “All that I am and all that I have is yours O Lord, from this day forth and evermore.” When, therefore, He asks for anything, whether our wealth, our reputation, even our spouse or our child, we confess, “Yes, Lord.” The rich fool went away from Jesus sad for he had great wealth. We, however, walk toward Jesus, joyful, for we already had nothing. My Denise, and my Shannon, these are the golden crowns that I joyfully cast before His glassy sea. For they were always His, and because I am His always.
Do you have to give up your wealth? Of course. Even if the Master allows you to continue to steward it for Him. Do you have to give up your reputation? Of course, even if He allows you live in peace and quietness with all men. Will you have to give up your loved ones? Of course, even if they are with you until your home going. You have to give up everything, just like He did. And, like Him all you will receive in return, is everything.
Stewards of the Gospel
"As stewards of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we do no service to men by making light of sin, skirting around the issue, or avoiding it altogether. Men have only one problem: they are under the wrath of God because of their sin. To deny this is to deny one of the most foundational doctrines of Christianity. It is not unloving to tell men that they are sinners, but it is the grossest form of immorality not to tell them! In fact, God declares that their blood will be on our hands if we do not warn them of their sin and the coming judgment. To seek to preach the gospel without making sin an issue is like trying to heal the brokenness of people superficially, saying, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace." - Paul Washer, http://bit.ly/RmC3g2
Excerpt The Gospel’s Power and Message by Paul Washer
Law & Gospel
Law - "...Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? ... If you would enter life, keep the commandments." (Matt 19:15-17)
Gospel: "When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible...” (Matt 19:25-26)
"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) …and “the soul that sins shall die” (Ez 18:20). But "…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).
Notice in the above Scriptures that 1) there is a righteousness based on the law, 2) the commandment promises life, 3) if we were to keep it perfectly but 4) because we fail to do so, 5) Jesus mercifully keeps the law for sinners that its requirement might be met in us. There are two operative principles in the Bible: 1) “Do this and live” (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:13; 10:5) and 2) “Trust in the Mediator to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:6; Galatians 3:11). The first principle is often called “the covenant of works” and the second “the covenant of grace”. The second is possible because the mediator fulfilled the first. John Calvin once said, "The person who wants to be justified by works must do more than produce just a few good deeds. He must bring with him perfect obedience to the Law. And those who have outstripped all others and have progressed the most in the Law of the Lord are still very far from this perfect obedience."
The Newly Published Nestle Aland 28th Edition Greek New Testament
From wikipedia: The first edition published by Eberhard Nestle in 1898 combined the readings of the editions of Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort and Weymouth, placing the majority reading of these in the text and the third reading in the apparatus. In 1901, he replaced the Weymouth New Testament with Bernhard Weiss's text. In later editions, Nestle began noting the attestation of certain important manuscripts in his apparatus.
Eberhard's son Erwin Nestle took over after his father's death and issued the 13th edition in 1927. This edition introduced a separate critical apparatus and began to abandon the majority reading principle.
Kurt Aland became the associate editor of the 21st edition in 1952. At Erwin Nestle's request, he reviewed and expanded the critical apparatus, adding many more manuscripts. This eventually led to the 25th edition of 1963. The great manuscript discoveries of the 20th century had also made a revision of the text necessary and, with Nestle's permission, Aland set out to revise the text of Novum Testamentum Graece. Aland submitted his work on NA to the editorial committee of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (of which he was also a member) and it became the basic text of their third edition (UBS3) in 1975, four years before it was published as the 26th edition of Nestle-Aland.
The NA27 edition was published in 1993, and now Dr. James White explains why the newly published edition of the Greek New Testament (the Nestle Aland 28th Edition) is a VERY good thing:
Semi-Pelagianism and Faith as the Instrument of Existential-Mystical Union with Christ (5-Part Series) by R. Scott Clark
Preaching when unbelievers are present
When it comes to how we preach when unbelievers are present to hear us (which I assume is any time we preach), there is a big difference between the approach of Ken Ham (of Answers in Genesis) and that of well known pastor, Andy Stanley (son of Charles Stanley). For the record, I am 100% with Ken Ham on this. - JS
Last week as I was giving a presentation I said, 'In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul said....". Then I stopped myself and said I wanted to reword this because of shocking trend I see in the church. I see more and more people looking on the Bible as just the word of humans--but it is not! As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 "...you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe."
So I reworded my statement to make the point this way--"God, through Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3 instructed us that..."
I had a few people comment to me about this because they are also noticing that increasing numbers of Christian academics/church leaders treat the Bible as if it is just the fallible words of men the somehow contain some 'truth' about God!
When I read this Christian Post article I've linked to, this reinforced for me that this is a problem in the church. I always warn that news articles don't always give accurate accounts--though the Christian Post in the past has given quite accurate accounts of interviews with me etc.
We are waiting on the videos to become available so we can watch this particularly presentation by Andy Stanley for ourselves. But the way it is written here makes me very concerned indeed.
I am reminded of God's Word in Luke 16:31--“But he said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”
And God's Word in Luke 24:27 concerning Jesus: "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
We also need to remember : “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
And also: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
I do give a talk that a Christian cannot give up our starting point of God's Word when witnessing to non-Christians. There are only two starting points--God's Word or Man's Word. (Light or Darkness; For or Against Christ). There is no neutral position. When one gives up God's Word as the starting point, then one has already lost the argument.
And we also need to remember that the ONLY INFALLIBLE RELIABLE WITNESS WE CAN TRUST IS GOD! And yes--He was a witness to the creation of Adam and Eve!
It is because increasing generations do not believe the history in Genesis concerning a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Fall that they do not understand what sin is, that they are sinners (as we are all descendants of Adam) and that is why God's Son stepped into history to become our relative to pay the penalty for our sin. The gospel message comes from God's Word and is rooted in the history concerning a literal first Adam and a literal "last Adam."
Here's the newspaper account of Andy Stanley's message to pastors where he outlines his approach.
Meditating on God's Mercy Toward Us
"If I think I am better than my neighbor, or more moral, and therefore, by extension, somehow more deserving, then I have forgotten that it was mercy alone which saved me and mercy alone which keeps me there. Thus the more grounded we are in the knowledge of God's mercy toward us, the easier it is for us to maintain humility among our neighbors, regardless of how depraved we may be tempted to think they are...."
Please Pray for the Sproul family
Dr. R. C. Sproul, Jr, wrote this today, "My precious girl Shannon's mute tongue is now loosed, though once lame she now leaps for joy. She and her mom are held by our Lord."
May God bring His comfort and peace to all the Sproul household.
Back in June, R. C. Jr wrote the following at the Ligonier website:
It had been my plan to be in Virginia this week, teaching what we call Couples Camp, a small group gathering where we talk for a few days about the sovereignty of God, the family, and the kingdom of God. I looked forward to the trip, my old stomping grounds, visiting dear old friends, talking about issues that matter to me. In God’s providence I am not in Virginia. I am not teaching, but am learning. I am not talking so much as listening. And worst of all, I am in some old stomping grounds, roughly 100 yards from the hospital room where my beloved spent much of the last months of her life.
Five days ago, concerned over a radical increase in seizure activity, and a frightening lethargy I called Shannon’s neurologist. Shannon is my 14 year old daughter. Her brain did not develop properly, and she has the mental capacity of a toddler. She also suffers from seizures. The nurse with whom I spoke had no uncertainty with her advice- call 911 and get her to the emergency room. She has been wonderfully cared for. Sundry experts have run their tests. Nurses have loved on her. Visitors have come to cheer her. And, by God’s grace it looks likely she will get over this, and in a day or two we will go home. Why then is my heart so heavy?
Because I don’t trust my Father as I ought. I know that the fear that raced through me for those long hours when I didn’t know if she would make it, that fear was medicine for my soul. That is, I know that the immediate hardship I have been through this week is strong plant food for spiritual fruit. I trust Him to break my heart for the sake of making me more like Him. I trust in turn that He loves my little girl with a perfect love, that she, because she is my spiritual better, feels His loving arms holding her every day, in sickness and in health.
It’s my other children I weep for. When their mother was dying, they had, by and large, their father with them. When she passed, I was there. The children have their physical needs cared for. The older children are amazing- giving, loving, and diligent. Meals are being brought in. We have help for this need and that. But my children, who love their sister as tenderly as their dad does, worry without me there. They have no mother to comfort them. I am not there to remind them how to trust, to model faith before them. That this breaks my heart, however, reveals my awful lack of faith.
I am here and not there because He has brought this to pass. I am here for Shannon’s sake, for her good. I am here for my own sake, for my good. And I am here for the sake of Darby, Campbell, Delaney, Erin Claire, Maili, Reilly and Donovan. My Father knows what each of my children need. He knows how to grow the fruit of the Spirit in each of them. He knows precisely what they each need to become more like Jesus. And He has the power to bring this to pass. What they need right now if for me to be here.
Loss of a mother, worry for a sister are not emotional meteorites hurtling haphazardly toward the psyches of my children. They are the plans He has for them, plans to prosper them and not to harm them, plans to give them hope, and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Which, by His grace, are the same plans He has for me. By His grace I will hope in Him and praise Him, for the help of His countenance (Psalm 42:5).
But to all who did receive him
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." - John 1:12-13
"But who receive Him thus? Not all by any means. Only a few. And is this left to chance? Far from it. As the following verse goes on to state, 'which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' (John 1:13). This explains to us why the few 'receive' Christ. It is because they are born of God. Just as verse 12 gives us the human side, so verse 13 gives us the Divine.
The Divine side is the new birth: and the taking place of the new birth is 'not of blood,' that is to say, it is not a matter of heredity, for regeneration does not run in the veins; 'nor of the will of the flesh,' the will of the natural man is opposed to God, and he has no will Godward until he has been born again; 'nor of the will of man,' that is to say, the new birth is not brought about by the well-meant efforts of friends, nor by the persuasive powers of the preacher; 'but of God.'
The new birth is a Divine work. It is accomplished by the Holy Spirit applying the Word in living power to the heart. The reception Christ met during the days of His earthly ministry is the same still: the world 'knows him not;' Israel 'receives him not;' but a little company do receive him, and who these are, Acts 13:48 tells us — 'as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.'"
- A.W. Pink
C. H. Spurgeon brings out another truth from the same verses:
“Believe the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God to His people. Abhor the doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God, for it is a lie and a deep deception.
It stabs at the heart, first, of the doctrine of adoption, which is taught in Scripture, for how can God adopt men if they are all His children already?
In the second place, it stabs at the heart of the doctrine of regeneration, which is certainly taught in the Word of God. Now it is by regeneration and faith that we become the children of God, but how can that be if we are the children of God already? ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:12-13). How can God give to men the power to become His sons if they have it already?
Believe not that lie of the devil, but believe this truth of God, that Christ and all who are by living faith in Christ may rejoice in the Fatherhood of God.”
- C. H. Spurgeon, ‘Our Lord’s Last Cry from the Cross.’
Gentry-Wellum (KTC) vs. Carson-Schreiner
“Kingdom through Covenant” is a book which spends a great deal of its effort in critiquing traditional Covenant Theology and offering its alternative whole Bible system. As as been demonstrated in the previous article, it’s case against CT is largely a straw man. It builds its whole argument with the understanding that CT is “replacement” theology and that CT rejects any idea that there is a “qualitative progression in the manifestation of grace through redemptive history”. Since both of these ideas can easily be demonstrated to be false and make up the bulk of their argument against CT, then the entire thesis may be on shaky ground. If their whole argument has gone wrong at such a fundamental level of misrepresentation of the theological system they critique, then the most significant arguments of the book perhaps need to be re-thought through. It is reasonable to assume that to be really qualified to critique someones theology, you cannot misunderstand and/or misrepresent what that theology teaches. In this case, those who erroneously teach that Covenant Theology is "replacement" theology have not really understood it at its most basic level, and therefore their qualifications in critiquing it may be called into question, however educated they may otherwise be.
That does not mean we disagree with Gentry and Wellum entirely. We have posted their articles for years on various topics and we are very happy to agree with KTC in vital areas such as the active obedience of Christ, the covenant of creation (or works) which many other branches of NCT do not embrace. And we agree on many other crucial areas of christology and soteriology. So KTC is a vast improvement upon other forms of NCT. Nonetheless, we cannot actively promote a book which so misrepresents our view.
So why do we carry so many articles and books by folks within the Progressive Covenantal camp? Isn't this inconsistent? We have read and benefited by authors such as D.A. Carson and Tom Schreiner and they have seemingly been great deal more careful, as far as I could read. Instead of spending so much time making a negative case against CT with the obvious misrepresentations, they seem to spend a lot more time building a positive case for their understanding, a great deal of which we happen to agree with. So even if we disagree with a theological point or chapter, we still think there is much that one can benefit. Now, if anyone can find anything which resembles the same egregious errors and misrepresentations of traditional Covenant Theology that are found in KTC, then we will reconsider our promotion of them. But I have yet to encounter them. Until then, there is more positive to glean, than negative to withhold. And we are pretty sure that if a book misrepresented your system to that degree you would withhold and warn people against it as well.
Two Ways in Which Kingdom through Covenant Misrepresents Traditional Covenant Theology by J. W. Hendryx
Covenant Theology is Not Replacement Theology by R. Scott Clark
Progressive Covenantalism by Steve Hays
Progressive Covenantalism's View of the Visible/Invisible Church Distinction: A Biblical/Theological Problem by J,. W. Hendryx