Visitor to Monergism.com: You are a nasty spirited site to have a topic labeled "bad theology". Who made you God?
Response: Perhaps you fail to see the irony in your email. You yourself are making a distinction yet declare that others cannot make distinctions. You have determined that we are wrong and are promoting something that is bad theology YET you declare that labeling something wrong or bad theology is mean-spirited. Are you not doing the VERY thing you claim to despise? You entire declaration, therefore, rests on an impossible contradiction. Isn't this the very definition of hypocrisy? Lesson I hope you will take from this: It is impossible to live and communicate without making distinctions.
Predestination & Free Will?
Visitor: You can not be dogmatic and say it's all election and predestination when there are specific verses that talk about mans response. I recommend you listen to John MacArthur's sermon on election and free will.
Response: Thank you for sharing your assertion. First, I want to assure you that I believe man is required to respond in faith to the gospel. But that does not mean that the natural man has a free will to believe in Jesus. I think the issue here is about definitions. It is important to define what we are talking about up front. When you say man has a free will, what do you mean? Free from what? Free from sin? Also let me say that if you think Dr. John MacArthur is arguing for free will then, I believe, you may have profoundly misunderstood him. He actually affirms exactly the same thing all other Reformed thinkers do about this issue. With him, we affirm that all men make voluntary choices and no one is coercing anyone against their will to make a choice. We always chose what we desire the most. But that is not the issue of the free will debate...
Problem is that the person without the Holy Spirit (the unregenerate) always desires that which is contrary to God. Nothing he does proceeds from a heart that loves God. The issue of free will (or not) is to ask this: left to themselves (as fallen human creatures who are in bondage to a corruption of nature), does anyone have a free will to believe in Jesus Christ? We all have a will, but we use it wrongly ...we do not have the will to believe in Christ, apart from grace. The need for grace does away with free will altogether because if man's will was naturally free he would not need grace at all. He could come to Christ on his own. But ask yourself, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit will anyone freely come to faith in Christ? If your answer is no, then you reject free will the same way I do. So to teach man has a free will in this sense, i.e. 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)
The discussion about free will has always historically been about the bondage of the will and affections. And that which is in bondage is not free. We are not talking about not being free to choose which toothpaste we are going to use tomorrow morning. We are talking about does a fallen person have the ability to make a good saving choice apart from the work of the Holy Spirit? The Bible seems pretty clear on this. Hope this helps clarify a bit.
John W. Hendryx
Testing Traditions: The Love of God and the Will of Man
Many Christians reject the biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty in election because of traditions associated with the love of God and what amounts to a pagan concept of the human will, as I seek to explain in this 20 minute video teaching - JS:
The Condition of ... and Cure for Fallen Humanity
The Bible declares that sinners are helpless and lost ... not in need of help, but of rescue. While all other religions teach what a man must do to help himself attain salvation, Christianity declares that man is beyond being able to respond to commands or help. We need a Savior, not someone to help us save ourselves. So a Christian is not made first by someone who follows Jesus' life and example. That is an impossible standard for the natural man. No ...There would be no need for rescue unless a person was lost and completely helpless. When someone has swallowed water, is unconscious and floating to the bottom of the ocean drowning, you do not first ask him if he wants rescuing. That would not be helpful and a waste of precious seconds. No, without asking you jump in a rescue them. Spiritually we are helpless and lost, so Jesus does likewise. Before he is our teacher, he is our rescuer, our Savior. That is our primary need.
Ephesians 2:5 but the whole first half of the chapter. Also the entire book of Galatians. Romans 1-3. Titus 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:18; 1 Cor. chapters 1&2. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing..." John 6:63
Romans Chapter 9
Romans 9 stands like Mount Everest - a majestic, spectacular, lofty and immutable testimony to God's supremacy and sovereignty in salvation. Here's a 36 minute video teaching I did on the chapter - JS.
Do People, by Nature, Have a Free Will to Come to Christ?
Does any person, by nature, have a free will to come to faith in Jesus Christ? No. The Bible declares that we were all held captive by our corruptions, Satan and the world. That is why Paul prays for unbelievers, "…if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” Now if we were held captive to do someone else’s will then it is clear that our will was not free, and according to the above passage, freedom comes to an individual only when God grants it. Likewise when Jesus promises freedom to the captives to sin, He says, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) And again, in like manner Paul declares that "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart form the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor 12:3) We would only do ourselves harm if left to our own boasted free will.
Notice the word "perhaps" before praying for God to grant them repentance. This clearly reveals that in Paul's mind, God did not do so for everyone. This granting of repentance was only for those the Father has "given" the Son (John 6 & 17) Likewise Jesus does not say "when the Son sets you free" but rather "IF the Son sets you free..."
Four Helpful Essays by Kevin Stevenson
Rosaria Butterfield Interview
"Conversion put me in a complicated and comprehensive chaos. I sometimes wonder, when I hear other Christians pray for the salvation of the 'lost,' if they realize that this comprehensive chaos is the desired end of such prayers. Often, people asked me to describe the 'lessons' that I learned from this experience. I can’t. It was too traumatic. Sometimes in crisis, we don’t really learn lessons. Sometimes the result is simpler and more profound: sometimes our character is simply transformed." - Rosaria Butterfield
Rosaria's story is a fascinating one, as you will see from this interview below, which took place on January 11, 2013:
Dr. Carl Trueman writes this concerning her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert - An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith, "This autobiography is the launchpad for numerous sophisticated reflections on the nature of life, faith, sexuality, worship, education and other matters. As one would expect from a lover of nineteenth century literature, the book is also beautifully written with many a well-turned sentence; and as one would expect from someone schooled at the highest levels in critical theory, it eschews simplistic pieties for stimulating analyses of both Christian and non-Christian culture. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I do not agree with everything she says; but I did learn from everything she wrote. It deserves the widest possible readership." It is available here.
American Christianity Vs. Biblical Christianity
American Christianity: "God helps those who help themselves."
Biblical Christianity: "God helps the low, despised and spiritually bankrupt ... those who are unable to help themselves. But what is impossible for man (faith and repentance) is possible with God. “Flesh and blood” are never responsible for this insight, we can only give God the credit for that.
Visitor: I often ponder about man's responsibility after God has done what was impossible for man to do. I think the truth of what you said here sometimes mixes with the effort and action that the Bible calls us to in living a life of perseverance and holiness. I firmly believe that it is all God's work but I also see man's laziness (myself included) and struggle with living a spiritually disciplined life. How would you respond?
Response: firstly, the quote is focused in on the work of the Spirit in regeneration for which we play only a passive role. There is nothing we can do to become born again. We ACT ONLY BECAUSE we are born again. But the principle of regeneration or the new heart REMAINS in the renewed soul, from which springs all good things, including faith, good works, obedience and love to God and neighbor. The commands of God to believers should be frequently declared and we should strive to to obey them. We will WANT TO if we have a new heart, but we should always be reminded that we do so because God has been gracious to us, implanting in us a new heart which loves God and has adopted us as sons for Christ's sake. The quote above is to show us the good news that Christ has done for us what we were unable to do for ourselves with regard to salvation. It causes us to always be thankful to God. So we do not obey IN ORDER to gain God's favor. No. We have God's favor, therefore we obey. If we are saved our heart will rejoice when we hear the law of Christ.
Would God be Just if He Saved No One?
God would be just if he saved no one. Do you believe this? of course you do if you are a Christian. So why then do you believe it unjust if God sovereignly determines to have mercy on some and not others? It is a contradiction for you to hold to one and not the other. Doesn't he have the right to do with his coin as he so chooses as the parable says? (Matt 20:15; Matt 11:25-27; Rom 9:15, 16)
Christ did not die for all redemptively. The redemptive benefits of his atonement were intended for the elect only. In John 10 he says he lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:15) ... to the others he says, "but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep."(John 10:26) Only the sheep hear his voice (v27)
To those who reject Christ's particular love for his own we must ask, "so you believe salvation is NOT by Christ alone but partly due to your own natural ability? Can you give thanks to God even for your faith? if not, you are advocating a salvation that is not by Christ ALONE. Do you ascribe your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, humility, sound judgment or good sense? and not to Christ? Where do you think the ability came from to believe? We are commanded to give thanks to Christ for everything we need for salvation, not just some things.
As Tristan Crotinger said, Holy Scripture must always supersede "feelings" and all scriptures together must make sense in a coherent manner. I find John 6, 8 and 10 and Romans 8 & 9 to fit into NO Arminian framework and those who have tried to explain it away had to stray from scripture to do it. This in no sense lessens the responsibility of the hearer of the Gospel to respond in faith and in no sense does it ever take anything from any of the attributes of God (all-loving, all-just, & all-good). It should always be understood that no person that goes to heaven hates Jesus and no person that loves Jesus will be in hell.
At some level all Christians are forced to wrestle with the inspired writings of Paul on the doctrines of grace and through my search of these scriptures I have discovered God to be infinitely more loving, glorious and worthy of praise than I ever could have imagined. Accepting this doctrine has personally increased my ability to trust in God for everything.
I should say that studying grace is not for the faint of heart and many Christians are perfectly content to never deal with these verses in depth. As a teacher of the Word I could not do that.
What is the Philosophy Behind Monergism.com
The nature of this online work requires some explanation. This directory of theology is intended primarily to provide free resources for equipping the saints (as well as informing skeptics) in the historic Christian faith, with an emphasis on the truth, necessity and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. We pray that God would look favorably upon our visitors and that you would find the site useful for pastoral, family or private study, and because its content is completely free, our hope is that it would be liberally used by those who visit the sick, the poor and for missionaries sent abroad by the Lord to the unreached.
We unfortunately live in a day where evangelicalism has become an amorphous mass, abounding in obscurity, vagueness and indistinctness on doctrinal subjects with regard to Christ. The time is now that we come together as a body and publicly advocate a clear, well-defined, Spirit-illuminated, Bible-driven theology, to demonstrate that the historic Reformed orthodox/evangelical view is thoroughly borne out by Scripture. We have endeavored to do so on this site on a multitude of topics and Scripture references.
The theological stand-point which the author(s) of this website holds should be obvious to any reader. Such an one will quickly discover that we belong to the historic evangelical school of theology. He will see that we hold firmly the doctrinal distinctives the Reformers and English Puritans. We are confessing Christians who affirm Covenant Theology and the five solas of the Reformation. We are Presbyterian, and unabashedly hold to the doctrines of grace or the five points of Calvinism ... but you will indeed find a great deal of resources on this website from other traditions such as the Reformed Baptists, Reformed Anglicans and Conservative Lutherans because we believe we are in agreement with them on most vital matters of our faith. And while we totally disapprove of all the loose and broad theology of many modern evangelicals, yet we should add, that in interpreting Scripture or espousing theology, we call no man master or father. We strive, by the grace of God. and your ongoing intercession, to never twist God's Word in order to make it support our own party's views. Throughout this Website we have endeavored honestly and conscientiously to ground every statement (and viewpoint) with the authority of the whole counsel of Scripture behind it. In doing so we seek to evade no difficulty and follow Scripture wherever it leads. We do not hesitate to express our disagreement with the views of others when occasion requires; but when we have done so we strive, by God's grace, to do it with gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3:15).
With this settled purpose of heart let us together seek the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ daily and long after more spiritual knowledge each year we live on earth. Let us deeply search the Scriptures together and pray over them with a growing dependence and zeal. Let us not just scratch the surface of Holy Scripture and thereby know very little of digging down into its hidden treasures. Instead we pray this ministry would be an engaging, vital resource to encourage the reading community to seek the LORD's face on an ongoing basis that His word dwell in you more richly. And to this end we pray that we would all read our Bibles more diligently and the Spirit would open our eyes to its life-giving contents.
Ignorance of the contents of Scripture and the centrality of Jesus Christ as its focal point is the root and foundation of every error. If the Lord would be pleased to allow this work to remove a few granules of ignorance, and to cast a few beams of light on God's precious word, is, for me at least, the greatest honor imaginable.
We now conclude this short introduction to our directory with an earnest prayer, that it may please God to pardon the many deficiencies of this website, and that, in spite of ourselves, He would use it for His own glory and for the the benefit of saving and richly blessing multitudes of souls. It has cost us a large amount of time and labor to put this website together. But if the Holy Spirit should see fit to utilize it to benefit the church, we will be amply repaid.
Election, Evangelism and the Golden Chain of Redemption
Covering Scriptures in Matthew 11 and Romans 8:28-30, here's a 27 minute teaching I did on Divine election and how it relates to evangelism, as well as what is referred to as the Golden Chain of Redemption. - JS
John Chapter 6
A 27 minute video teaching on John Chapter 6:35ff:
When I read my Bible through
Yes I thought I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit or miss
Now a part of John or Matthew
Then a bit of Genesis
Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain psalms, the twenty-third.
First of Proverbs, twelfth of Romans
Yes, I thought I knew the Word
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read my Bible through.
You who like to play at Bible
Dip and dabble here and there
Just before you kneel all weary
Yawning through a hurried prayer.
You who treat this crown of writings
As you treat no other book
Just a paragraph disjointed
Just a crude impatient look.
Try a worthier proceedure
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in awesome wonder
When you read the Bible through.
Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism or Grace Alone
In semi-pelagianism man's will precedes God's grace. In Arminianism God's grace precedes man's will (but still ascribes faith and repentance to each man's personal wisdom, not to Christ ALONE). But in Divine monergism (grace alone) God mercifully gives man a new heart (Ezek. 36:26), renewing his will and affections, which makes his choice certain and effectual (Jn. 6:37).
It should be noted that Arminians are adamant that they teach salvation by "grace alone" and would take offense if someone were to say otherwise. While I acknowledge that this is what they universally declare, but we are countering this assertion by saying that their theology is not consistent with this declaration. What most Arminians really mean by "grace alone is "faith alone" which is a related concept, but not the same. The problem here is that they rightly affirm the biblical doctrine of salvation "through FAITH alone", but they do not differentiate this concept enough from the biblical doctrine of "GRACE alone", at least in any historical way the Bible or the Reformation speak of this issue. The phrase "grace alone" has always historically signified that Jesus or His grace is not merely necessary for our salvation, but sufficient to save us to the uttermost. Jesus provides everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. In Arminian prevenient grace, on the other hand, Jesus provides no such thing, even by their own reckoning. It claims to lift the natural man out of his depravity, but that man remains unregenerate (has no new heart). In other words it places man (against his will) in some kind of semi-regenerate state, (which the Bible, of course, never speaks of). And then makes the sinner himself the ultimate determining factor in his salvation, which means he ascribes his repenting and believing to his own wisdom or humility and not to Christ alone. Consider, If two persons receive prevenient grace, and one person believes while the other rejects Christ, what makes them to differ that one had faith and not the other? Why did one believe and not the other? It was not grace since they both had grace, so obviously something other than grace made them to differ? Jesus declares another way. He said, "...all that the Father gives to me will come to me" (John 6:37). In other words He ensures that all persons the Father has given to Christ will believe the gospel. Jesus is declaring, in no uncertain terms, that salvation from beginning to end, as the author and finisher, is of the LORD alone, not a cooperation between man and God (Rom 9:15, 16, John 1:13)
My Top 5 Books for 2012
The new year has begun and everyone and their brother is posting their "Top..." list of 2012. Therefore, I thought I would venture into the fray and do the same. I would draw your attention to the title of this entry. It is "my" list. There is bound to be some disagreement and some omissions as many titles have come off the presses this year. However, with that being said, these are the top 5 books that were published in 2012 that I have personally read.
5. The Law of Christ by Charles Leiter.
Whether you adhere to "Covenant Theology," "Dispensational Theology," or "New Covenant Theology" this book will cause you to think well on what it means to serve Christ "in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." Leiter does not tow the party line according to any of these systems, but simply and profoundly unpacks the role of Christ's commands to his church in the life of the church and individual believers. Leiter attempts to look at this matter Christologically and biblically.
4. Transformed by God: New Covenant Life and Ministry by David G. Peterson.
Peterson looks at the New Covenant promise given in Jeremiah. He unpacks its significance in its original context and shows its significance for the New Testament as well as the life of the New Testament church. Peterson does a masterful job of looking at the biblical data regarding the New Covenant and makes clear exegetical conclusions for the life of the New Covenant believer.
3. Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored by Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele.
As someone who believes Covenant Theology to be the architecture of God's unfolding of redemption, there are many times I find myself clarifying what adherents to Covenant Theology really believe. Typically, the follow up question I get is whether or not there is a good book that introduces Covenant Theology. Sacred Bond is my new "go to" book for introducing Covenant Theology. If you are looking for such a book, Brown and Keele write clearly and winsomely on the subject showing why Covenant Theology is important and how its central tenants fit together biblically.
2. The Creedal Imperative by Carl R. Trueman.
Trueman's book is, to be quite blunt, necessary. It is necessary because there is a want for understanding the role of creeds and confessions in the life of the church. It is Trueman's belief, and his burden for writing this book, "that creeds and confessions are vital to the present and future well-being of the church" (p. 12). He looks at the common cultural objection against creeds and looks historical at the development of creeds and confessions. He looks at their usefulness and shows how confessions and praise are intertwined. Whether you are part of a confessional church or not, you need to read this book and think well on its content.
1. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J.
I don't think I am overstating my belief that this book is in the "Top 10" of my all-time reads. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I read it over vacation this last summer and could not put it down; much to the chagrin of my family at times. Where canonical studies tend to fall more in the category of historical studies, Kruger has given to the church the theological underpinnings of the New Testament canon along with historical matters. This is essential reading for the church. His burden is to show the church that they have a perfectly biblical rationale for accounting for its knowledge of the canon.
Kruger introduces and evaluates the typical models associated with the formation of the New Testament canon. He introduces his view, which happens to be quite biblical and much more satisfying that the other views. Furthermore, he counters many objections that could be leveled at the view Kruger introduces.
That is, my friends, is my Top 5. As I said, I am sure there are others that could be mentioned and probably should be mentioned. These, however, are from the pile of books that I have read this last year. There appears to be a number of excellent titles to be released this year as well.