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"...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)

Starbucks, Saving Babies, and Calvinism

In today's broadcast, the folks at Apologia Radio speak out from a Christian perspective on some vital current cultural issues in a no-nonsense, hard hitting, but I believe, loving way.

I commend the Apologia radio ministry for both your prayers and support. I am interviewed in the final half of the show. The program can be found here. - JS

March 30, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Foreknowledge and the Grace of God

Here's the 5th video in the series of talks I conducted as a supplement to the "Twelve What Abouts" book. Here the focus is on a biblical understanding of foreknowledge and the grace of God - (JS):

Twelve What Abouts - Session Five from Runway Productions on Vimeo.

March 29, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Everyone Believes the Atonement is Limited

Since all are not redeemed in the end, even Arminians believe the atonement is limited. Both Reformed and non-Reformed believe that only some of the ill-deserving persons on earth will partake of the benefits of Christ's redemption. Both Reformed and non-Reformed declare that the benefits of Christ's atonement are available to all who believe. The difference is that particular redemption is saying that the redemptive benefits of the atonement will only be applied to that portion which is God's choosing from the mass of ill-deserving persons on the earth. Arminians, on the other hand, believe that the atonement will be applied only to those ill-deserving persons of man's own choosing. But again, what benefit is the atonement to those who are not saved? None which are redemptive. Christ knew before the world existed who would never benefit so it would be contradictory to say he died for all with some kind of hope that the future would be otherwise.

March 27, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Parable of the Four Soils?

Visitor: The Scripture is excessively clear that apostasy from authentic salvation is real. The texts are far too many to express here. However, I will mention one that I wrote my masters thesis on (my masters degree is in New Testament with an emphasis in Greek - I went to both a reformed and baptist seminary). In the parable of the soils, a parable that is the first of Jesus' parables in each of the synoptics and explained by Jesus, he says satan comes to take the seed from the first heart SO THAT the person will not have faith (pistos) and be saved (sozo) - obviously faith would have resulted in salvation. The second soil, Jesus uses the exact words to describe a person who believed (pistos = which equals salvation) ...who believed for a while, but the apostatizes (aphistemi). This is a person who was saved for a time, but CHOSE to apostatize when trials came. Similar language is used for the next soil. Only the fourth soil is indicative of someone who is saved, and the onus is clearly on the one being saved to persevere. Obviously, so much more could be said...but not now. Peace friends. Than

Response: First of all there is PLENTLY of spurious faith out there among so-called Christians. I have an essay here on the visible vs. invisible church which discusses this topic.

I wish to also say this with respect but the interpretation of the four soils offered above is appalling. What it appears you are in fact teaching is salvation by works. Some people just happened to be born good (or have made their own "soil" good) while others are not. Is this really what makes people to differ? Those with naturally good hearts (good soil) believe and are fruitful and persevere; those who are wicked are unfruitful and fall away. But who do you think makes the soil good to begin with? The Farmer! He plows up the fallow ground that it would be good a receive the seed and be fruitful. Anyone from an agrarian society would have known this. The bad soil is the soil which the Farmer left to ITSELF. This parable is not about showing that some people have natively good soil, as you contend. Or that the soil somehow magically made itself "good". No one has good "soil" apart from God granting it (John 6:65). Did someone simply will themselves to be "good soil" and so bore fruit? Such teaching is, in fact, rank heresy and honestly has no place in the Christian faith. Where is Christ in all this? The emphasis on the parable is not where you are placing it.

Next, if one can lose his salvation, as you contend, then you implicitly believe there are some of your sins for which Christ did not die. That your faithfulness somehow makes up for where Jesus' work falls short. So do we maintain our own just standing before God then. Thank the Lord for Jesus who provides EVERYTHING we need for salvation including a new heart to believe (1 Pet 1:3) and persevere. Left to myself (even partly) I would fail to persevere. Thank the Lord that He preserves us as well, or we would have no hope to do so. Our right standing before God is based on HIS FAITHFULNESS, not ours.

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 Thess 5:23, 24

March 24, 2013  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Should Christians Support the New Pope?

The folk at Apologia Radio write:

Recently, the Roman Catholic communion installed their newest pope: Pope Francis. There have been a lot of recent positive statements of support for the Pope by popular evangelicals like Rick Warren, Luis Palau, and more. But, has Rome changed her position on the gospel? Has Rome lifted and repented of its condemnation of the gospel taught by Christians? Has Rome lifted the numerous anathemas it pronounced upon every Christian who believes in justification by faith alone in Christ alone? The answer is a resounding: No!

How should Christians relate to Rome? Should we kiss the ring and return to Papa? Should Christians abandon the Gospel clearly communicated in Scripture in the light of the new age of religious tolerance? Should we submit to the Pope in Rome considering that the communion has taught that their is no salvation outside of the Roman Catholic church and submission to the Pontiff?

Our position can be summarized by Dr. R.C. Sproul: “We must remember that it is not we who anathematized Rome, but Rome that anathematized the gospel and thereby anathematized itself. The issue is not even really the condemnation of Protestants (those wounds are easy to heal) but the anathema against the gospel. The evangelicals who remain authentic witnesses to the gospel of grace alone through faith alone, therefore, are carrying on the Catholic faith.”

Today's radio program where I was interviewed on this theme is now posted here. - JS

March 22, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Evangelical Inconsistencies

You cannot consistently say that man has a free will but cannot lose his salvation.

On the other hand, those who believe they can lose salvation by some action of their own, are essentially saying that they must maintain their own just standing before God...that Jesus is not sufficient to save. Not far from Roman Catholicism. Trusting in themselves (partly) to get in and trusting in themselves (partly) to stay in. Thus they believe in the NECESSITY of Jesus grace but not the SUFFICIENCY of His grace.

JWH

March 21, 2013  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Luther and Preaching

Carl Trueman’s inaugural lecture as the Paul Woolley Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary (March 20, 2013) is available in audio or by video below.

From his introduction:

I am convinced that good preaching depends on at least two things. First, a good grasp of the technical skills necessary: ability to handle the biblical text, to communicate well and to speak with conviction on things that count. But it also depends upon a second, equally important but often neglected point: the need to understand preaching as a theological act. Only when this is done, when the preacher accurately understands what he is doing will he really do so well and with the confidence necessary.

And what better way to reflect upon preaching in Protestant context than to spend a few moments thinking about how Luther, the founder of the Protestant preaching feast, understood preaching as a theological act?

Paul Woolley Chair of Church History from March 21, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Six What Abouts

Answering Objections to the Biblical Doctrine of Election - What about God's foreknowledge?, 1 Tim 4:10?, John 12:32?, reprobation? lost loved ones?, prayer and evangelism? Part 2 of my podcast interview at reformedcast.com - found here. - JS

March 18, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Apologia Radio

I want to commend to you a ministry here in the Phoenix area that I had no knowledge of until the last week or so. It is truly exciting to see God raising up young inspiring leaders with such a heart for the Lord and for sound theology, who are seeking to raise up young people who love God with their minds as well as their hearts. Please pray for Pastor Jeff and Pastor Luke and all those at the Apologia Radio ministry. It was my joy and privilege to meet them this week and be interviewed here at this link about the biblical doctrine of election. - John Samson

March 15, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

God's Role in Regeneration

The new birth is necessary and in fact vital before a sinner can enter God's kingdom. Unless he is first born again he can in no way enter the kingdom of God. However, in making this very clear, Jesus does not then provide a "hot to" list for Nicodemus to become born again. This new birth is impossible to achieve, humanly speaking, and requires an act of God without any human merit, will or cooperation. Yet most of the Church in our day, though very familar with the John chapter 3 passage, has missed this essential point completely, and even devise entire evangelistic strategies and outreaches instructing people to "pray a prayer" so that they might be "born again."

Dr. John Macarthur, in a teaching series on the Gospel of John, exposes popular falsehoods and informs us as to the true teaching of Jesus in John chapter 3, verses 1-10:

March 06, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Calvin on John 6:44

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." - John 6:44

[Commenting on the phrase - "unless the Father who sent me draws him."] - "The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore, that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, as if man made himself obedient to God by his own efforts; for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him."

- John Calvin

March 06, 2013  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink