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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)

Why are so many Christians hostile towards Reformed Theology?

A Panel at a Ligonier Conference (Dr. Steve Lawson, Dr. R. C. Sproul, and Dr. John MacArthur) answers (slight time delay between audio and video):

Here Dr. R. C. Sproul answers the question, "Why are the vast majority of Western Christians influenced by Arminian theology rather than Reformation theology?"

July 28, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

These are they; No More Night

Revelation 7: 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

These are they:

Revelation 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

No More Night:

July 24, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

10 Basic Facts About the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize

Mike Kruger, author of Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012) has a good series on the New Testament canon, designed to help understand ten basic facts about its origins. Targets a a lay audience.

1. “The New Testament Books are the Earliest Christian Writings We Possess
2. “Apocryphal Writings Are All Written in the Second Century or Later
3.“The New Testament Books Are Unique Because They Are Apostolic Books
4."Some NT Writers Quote Other NT Writers as Scripture
5.“The Four Gospels are Well Established by the End of the Second Century
6.“At the End of the Second Century, the Muratorian Fragment lists 22 of Our 27 NT Books
7.“Early Christians Often Used Non-Canonical Writings
8.“The NT Canon Was Not Decided at Nicea—Nor Any Other Church Council
9. “Christians Did Disagree about the Canonicity of Some NT Books
10. “Early Christians Believed that Canonical Books Were Self-Authenticating

July 22, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Purgatory, Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

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As you may have heard in the news this week, the new Pope (Francis), wishing to make use of the new social media announced that indulgences would be granted not only to those who attend the upcoming Roman Catholic Youth Day celebration in Brazil (a week-long event which starts tomorrow, July 22), but also to those who follow the event online, and especially follow his tweets on twitter. Some people seem very surprised by this announcement and yet the only thing new about it is the twitter component. The doctrine of Indulgences remains a central teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

PURGATORY: (Latin: purgatorium; from purgare, “to purge”) - the condition, process, or place of purification. This is a place of PURGING or temporary punishment in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven.

The doctrine of purgatory is an integral doctrine to the Roman Catholic understanding of redemption. It is the place where the vast majority of even professing Christians go upon their death.

As recently as the Roman Catholic Catechism, the Church declares that if a person dies with any spot or blemish or stain on their soul – any impurity – instead of going directly to heaven they must first go to this place of purging which is this intermediate state between earth and heaven. Rome makes clear that purgatory is not hell. It is not a place of the punitive wrath of God, but it is a place for the corrective wrath of God, as it were, where the sanctifying process is continued through the crucible of fire.

A person may be there for two weeks or they may be there for two hundred million years – as long as it takes for a person to become truly righteous – inherently righteous, and once that process is completed, they can be declared justified by God and released into heaven.

I’d now like to go through all the Bible verses that teach the doctrine of purgatory ________________________.


Ok.. well that did not take long, because there are none! That’s right, we do not find either the word or the concept of “purgatory” in the Bible. It is a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church that developed over a long period of time.

Continue reading "Purgatory, Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ" »

July 21, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

TULIP Summary

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In a series of blog articles at ligonier.org entitled "TULIP and Reformed Theology," Dr. R. C. Sproul provided a brief summary of the five points of Calvinism (also known as the Doctrines of Grace) expressed in the acrostic TULIP:

INTRODUCTION
Just a few years before the Pilgrims landed on the shores of New England in the Mayflower, a controversy erupted in the Netherlands and spread throughout Europe and then around the world. It began within the theological faculty of a Dutch institution that was committed to Calvinistic teaching. Some of the professors there began to have second thoughts about issues relating to the doctrines of election and predestination. As this theological controversy spread across the country, it upset the church and theologians of the day. Finally, a synod was convened. Issues were squared away and the views of certain people were rejected, including those of a man by the name of Jacobus Arminius.

The group that led the movement against orthodox Reformed theology was called the Remonstrants. They were called the Remonstrants because they were remonstrating or protesting against certain doctrines within their own theological heritage. There were basically five doctrines that were the core of the controversy. As a result of this debate, these five core theological issues became known in subsequent generations as the “five points of Calvinism.” They are now known through the very popular acrostic TULIP, which is a clever way to sum up the five articles that were in dispute. The five points, as they are stated in order to form the acrostic TULIP, are: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

I mention this historical event because it would be a serious mistake to understand the essence of Reformed theology simply in light of these five doctrines—the Reformed faith involves many other elements of theological and ecclesiastical confession. However, these are the five controversial points of Reformed theology, and they are the ones that are popularly seen as distinctive to this particular confession. Over the next five posts, we are going to spend some time looking at these five points of Calvinism as they are spelled out in the acrostic TULIP.

TOTAL DEPRAVITY
The doctrine of total depravity reflects the Reformed viewpoint of original sin. That term—original sin—is often misunderstood in the popular arena. Some people assume that the term original sin must refer to the first sin—the original transgression that we’ve all copied in many different ways in our own lives, that is, the first sin of Adam and Eve. But that’s not what original sin has referred to historically in the church. Rather, the doctrine of original sin defines the consequences to the human race because of that first sin.

Continue reading "TULIP Summary" »

July 19, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Numbers Game

J. I. Packer, in his book, "A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah" (Wheaton: Crossway, 1995), 207-209, writes:

“I have found that churches, pastors, seminaries, and parachurch agencies throughout North America are mostly playing the numbers game—that is, defining success in terms of numbers of heads counted or added to those that were there before. Church-growth theorists, evangelists, pastors, missionaries, news reporters, and others all speak as if

(1) numerical increase is what matters most;

(2) numerical increase will surely come if our techniques and procedures are right;

(3) numerical increase validates ministries as nothing else does;

(4) numerical increase must be everyone’s main goal.

I detect four unhappy consequences of this.

First, big and growing churches are viewed as far more significant than others.

Second, parachurch specialists who pull in large numbers are venerated, while hard-working pastors are treated as near-nonentities.

Third, lively laymen and clergy too are constantly being creamed off from the churches to run parachurch ministries, in which, just because they specialize on a relatively narrow front, quicker and more striking results can be expected.

Fourth, many ministers of not-so-bouncy temperament and not-so-flashy gifts return to secular employment in disillusionment and bitterness, concluding that the pastoral life of steady service is a game not worth playing.

In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.

Shrinking spiritual stature and growing moral weakness thence result, and in pastoral leaders, especially those who have become sure they are succeeding, the various forms of abuse and exploitation that follow can be horrific.

Orienting all Christian action to visible success as its goal, a move which to many moderns seems supremely sensible and businesslike, is thus more a weakness in the church than its strength; it is a seedbed both of unspiritual vainglory for the self-rated succeeders and of unspiritual despair for the self-rated failures, and a source of shallowness and superficiality all round.

The way of health and humility is for us to admit to ourselves that in the final analysis we do not and cannot know the measure of our success the way God sees it. Wisdom says: leave success ratings to God, and live your Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.”

July 18, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Slavery & Racism in the Bible

Comment: God allowed Israel to take slaves from other nations. This is immoral and racist. So if Christians were consistent they would also reinstate slavery and institutionalized racism.

Response: We must remember, the removal of the Canaanite peoples was a judicial ruling by God. Consider, in the USA we give people rights. But those rights can be taken away if people commit a crime. Its called prison. Is that hypocrisy to say people have rights (out of one side of our mouth) but then put them into prison (out of the other)?

No, because those persons gave up their rights when they committed a crime. There were no prisons in Canaan. As a judicial ruling, God told Israel to dispossess the people in the land. They were either to kill them or in some cases enslave them. The Canaanites had already lost all of their rights and were under God's just judgment. There was no justification for arbitrary chattel slavery in the Bible -- (the kind which we knew in antebellum times) ... in fact the slavery which kidnapped people and sold them as property was punishable by death (Exodus 21:16) .

No, they were ONLY to kill or enslave under God's direct verbal orders. Remember, He is God so His judicial ruling is more just than any human court has ever been since He knows all of our crimes perfectly. So when Israel killed people they were simply acting as God's hand, speeding up the death sentence we all justly deserve.

You think this racist because it targets foreigners? Think again. God also warned the Israelites that they were not immune from the Canaanites' judgment: "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.' "(Numbers 33:55-56).

So not only were foreigners made slaves ... when the Israelites disobeyed God - REMEMBER - they were carried off in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. So God is not partial or racist.

Again, the Israelites deserved judgment just like the others, whether Egyptian or Canaanite. This should serve to remind us that we may not assume that those who suffer unique or catastrophic calamities in this life are any worse than we ourselves, since it is only the grace of God in Jesus Christ which makes us to differ from anyone (see Luke 13:1-5; 1 Cor. 4:7).

Also Christians, being consistent with the scripture and understanding this, would never enslave people. God has commanded us to set all men free with the gospel. The time between Christ's coming and His return is a time of forbearance. But the time is coming when God's patience will end and justice will be carried out in full measure. So it is important to differentiate what God commands as a way of life for us and his judicial rulings. The confusing of them causes college professors to misrepresent the beliefs of both Jews and Christians, and many atheists, who are ignorant of the fullness of what the Bible says, take this up and make unfortunate misrepresentations of the Bible in public. But at least it gives us an opportunity to bring the truth to light. So for this I thank you.

Lesson: We must learn to distinguish God's judicial pronouncements from his commands about a way of life for us so as not to mix apples and oranges.

July 15, 2013  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

The Key to Resolving All Social Ills

It is self-evident that if humanity, as a unit, decided to obey all of God's laws then almost all social ills would disappear overnight: Greed and hunger, sexual perversion and related disease, adultery, rape, covetousness and theft, murder, racism and all forms of malice etc. These would be replaced with love, unselfishness and honoring the image of God in every person. The problem is, however, that obeying God's law is wholly UNNATURAL to us. Our nature is repulsed at living this way even though we know with certainty that it would help resolve almost all social ills entirely. Being unnatural means not only are we unable to live according to God's laws but also that we do not WANT to live according to His laws. This fact demonstrates that the solution to man's ills are not to be found in himself or better education. In fact, history demonstrates that the better educated just seem to find more crafty ways of doing evil. No the "natural solution" to man's ills is proven to be bankrupt and our only hope is a supernatural one, outside of ourselves. This testifies to the validity of the Bible as the solution to our ills because it so understands human nature as it really is, and points to our only solution: Jesus Christ.

July 14, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Allowing Romans 9 to speak for itself

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As the Apostle Paul transitions into what we now call Romans 9 we should recall that there were no chapter and verse divisions in the original text. He is not starting a new theme but answering the question … if (or rather, since) God has an elect people who can never be separated from the love of God (which is what Romans 8 has just stated), what happened with the Jews? Weren’t they God’s elect people too?

History records that most of the Jews failed to recognize their own Messiah when He came… How can what Paul has written be true if God’s own people failed to receive Messiah when He came (and therefore are unsaved - Romans 10:1)? Hasn’t God’s promise failed to materialize for these people? What about the Jews Paul?

Paul was no ivory tower academician who had merely great intellectual acumen but no heart felt concern for people. Paul had a very real sympathy and compassion for his fellow countrymen and if it were possible (which of course it was not) he would have forfeited his own salvation if it would mean that his own people would be redeemed. He felt the issue very deeply.

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.

The Jews had unique privileges which were enjoyed by no other people on earth. Paul lists eight distinct and unique benefits:

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.

Much time could be spent outlining all the things the people of Israel had going for them. So why is it that we observe such a great many Jews rejecting Messiah? Paul wants to answer that question and does so by stating in very categorical terms that God has not in any way failed to keep His promise.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,

Notice what Paul is doing here in this verse. He tells us that God’s word has not in any way failed and now explains WHY this is the case. The word “for” is used to show the reason why the word of God has not failed.

Why has the word of God not failed?

The answer: because “not all Israel is Israel” or “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.”

That is quite a statement and one we must understand because Paul is about to take the next many verses to illustrate and prove this exact point.

He is about to show us that it in biblical history, it has always been this way.

More at this link.

July 14, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

His Robes For Mine

Grace Community Church Worship Choir singing this great piece with beautiful, Bible-saturates lyrics about the gospel of Jesus Christ:

HIS ROBES FOR MINE (Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger)

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Chorus:
I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!


July 13, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Why Does the Bible Condone Genocide? by John Hendryx

Question: Why does the Bible condone genocide? Was that just the Old Testament "god" who demanded that? It is clear that in the book of Joshua, God commanded the Jews to utterly wipe out people groups that inhabited Canaan. If this is so, why didn't Jesus denounce him? Christians often try to avoid this question, it seems to me.

Response: Actually, I am surprised that it should be avoided as it gives us one of the clearest pictures of one of the most important truths in the Bible: That not only did God take the lives of those he ordered the Israelites to kill (such as the Canaanites) – He also takes the life of everyone on earth. The peoples of Canaan were perhaps dealt out the death penalty earlier than they may have expected; but in essence, their lot was no different than ours. We are all subject to death. Death, as the Bible reveals, is the just penalty exacted for Adam's disobedience in the garden (Genesis 2:16-17; Rom. 5:12-14). So not only may God take life as he sees fit – he does take the life of every last human on earth (see Heb. 9:27). We should not lose the shock of this fearful truth: death is not natural, it is not a normal process of time and chance, it is not a necessary mechanism of evolution. Humans were created to live, and the fact that they do not bespeaks a terrifying truth – we are all born under divine wrath and judgment.

Indeed we must therefore yield to the fact that God is God and we are not. He alone is the Creator, the Giver of Life – and so he, too, is the Taker of Life. He takes life from whomever he will, whenever he will, and however he wants (1 Samuel 2:6; Job 1:21; Deut 9:4-6, 10:14; Isaiah 45:5-7). Even if we take nothing else into consideration, that alone is more than sufficient cause for us to "lay our hands upon our mouths" (see Job 38-42, esp. 40:4). Doesn't the potter have a right to make one vessel for honorable use, and another vessel for dishonorable use, from the same lump of clay (Isaiah 45:9-10; Rom. 9:19-24)? Well then, so does God, who created humans from the dust, have the right to do with all of them however he sees fit?

In Deuteronomy 9:4-6 God himself gives the reason for his command to slaughter the Canaanites; but it is of great importance that we also notice the following passage, where God declares that the Israelites were no less wicked than the Canaanites, and deserved the same fate:

4 "Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, 'It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. 5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob 6"Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.

Deut 7:8

7"The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt."

This latter passage directly relates Israel's mandate to destroy the Canaanites and possess their land to what God had done for Israel in Egypt; therefore, it is vital to understand how God had just redeemed the nation of Israel. The climactic event marking Israel's exodus from slavery was the Passover; and in the Passover, the people all had to paint a lamb's blood on their doors so the angel of death would pass over their home (Exodus 11-15). If they did not apply the blood of the lamb, their firstborn would have been taken just like the rest of the Egyptians – they deserved the same judgment and only escaped it by the blood of the lamb.

In a similar vein, God warned the Israelites that they were not essentially immune from the Canaanites' judgment of slaughter: "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.' "(Numbers 33:55-56). The Israelites deserved judgment just like the others, whether Egyptian of Canaanite. This should serve to remind us that we may not assume that those who suffer unique or catastrophic calamities in this life or any worse than we ourselves, since it is only the grace of God in Jesus Christ which makes us to differ from anyone (see Luke 13:1-5; 1 Cor. 4:7).

A couple more points may be helpful to keep the slaughter of the Canaanites in perspective: first, at that time in the OT, God had given the nation of Israel clear civil authority and responsibilities; and as a lawfully-ordained civil government, functioning directly under his control, He commanded them to carry out His just judgment against the idolaters of Canaan. Although he gave Israel the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" (better, "murder"), it is clear that this is a prohibition against unlawful killing of any kind, or taking vengeance into one's own hands. In the same document in which we find this commandment, we may also find many places where God commanded the Israelites to put their own people to death for certain types of disobedience (like idolatry). When it is a judicial act of a properly instituted civil government, taking a life may sometimes be warranted. Apparently, the slaughter of the Canaanites was one such judicial act, carried out by the magistrates of Israel.

More Q & A Here:

July 12, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Justice Kennedy and DOMA

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy wrote that the only reason Congress had for passing DOMA - which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman - was to "disparage," "injure," "degrade," "demean" and "humiliate" gay and lesbian Americans. Not only does this reveal a profound degree ignorance about the real motives of most who believe in traditional marriage but more importantly slanders (libel) and misrepresents the millions who love the souls of gay Americans and simply wish to promote what we believe to be good for society. You may disagree with what we think is good, but to go a step further and determine this comes from hate is a sad day for the USA. Much evil will come from this statement. Ironic since by so blatantly misrepresenting the motives of his philosophical opponents he himself is doing the very thing he accuses them of doing.

Sadly while there are true haters that exist, this trivializes the real problem. Almost everyone knows in their hearts that many, many people do not have this motive (consider Obama and Clinton before they changed his mind on this) so to make these SWEEPING judgements of motives of everyone who disagrees with you philosophically (and write it into law) is a very dangerous precedent in our society. The implications are far reaching and portend an ominous future for America. Yet this is only to be expected as you and I probably agree so may God grant that we use the opportunity for his glory.

July 12, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Why the Past Matters

Earlier this week, in what is called a "Google hangout," Ligonier’s newest Teaching Fellow and church historian, Dr. Stephen J. Nichols, talked about why the past matters today and tomorrow. From the early church, to the Reformation, and recent centuries, these are necessary discussions to avoid what C.S. Lewis called, “chronological snobbery.”

July 11, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

On Organized Religious Institutions Taking Over the State Mechanism.

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I do not speak of politics much here but here the comments and presuppositions of a secularist I know overlap nicely.

Comment: I want to prevent organized religious institutions from invading and taking over the state mechanism. No Catholic church telling the kings what to do. No Saudi ulamas telling the people what is and is not moral-legal. No theocratic state a la Iran or the Taliban. I dislike the capture of the state mechanism by a competing organization based on appeals to religious authority. Separate authorities for separate spheres. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

Response: I couldn't agree more. The depth of our depravity as human beings should preclude the possibility of giving this much power to any one man or group. However, I noticed a glaring absence from your list. It appears that you have overlooked the inclusion of your own view: postmodern secularism. Convince me that you do not intend to suppress other people's views by also including secularism on this list. By not including it, you exempt yourself from the limitations of the separation of church and state and thereby give yourself and proponents of your view free reign to exert power, while everyone else remains limited. Awfully convenient for you to claim this exemption, don't you think? Our system is one that originally allowed all views to participate in the free market of ideas. No more. You see, by excluding yourself from this list, you appear, from my perspective, to have become the very thing that you wish to avoid. Please explain to me how your viewpoint is any less susceptible to setting up a tyranny than any religion. In a democracy those who persuade more than 50% of the people are bound to institute laws more favorable to themselves while still giving minority parties a voice. But remember, we are a secular country but not a secularist country and there is a world of difference.

July 09, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Spirit Gives Life, the Flesh Counts for Nothing

"… no one can COME TO ME unless it is granted him by the Father." ( Jn. 6:65); “All that the Father gives me will COME TO ME, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” ( Jn. 6:37) IN other words Jesus teaches that no one will trust in or have faith in Him unless God grants it (John 6:65), and ALL those whom God grants will trust or have faith in Him. This universal positive and universal negative spoken by Jesus forces us to conclude that all persons that God grants to Jesus will infallibly come to faith in him. The magnitude of Jesus' words become evident, and it allows for no synergistic interpretation. For "It is the Spirit that quickens [gives life, regenerates]. the flesh counts for nothing." (Jm. 6:63)

July 08, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"there is no objective truth or morality that we should all believe or live by"

Comment: "there is no objective truth or morality that we should all believe or live by."

Response: ...Your declaration that "there is no objective truth or morality that we should all believe or live by" is an absolute statement about the way we should all believe or live.

In other words, you are appealing to an absolute truth in order to prove that relativism is true -- which would indicate that your core presupposition about the nature of reality is self-contradictory. If something is contradictory then it means there is something flawed or missing about the argument itself and, if you are honest, should take you back to the drawing board. Even the statement "if does not matter what people believe" would be a declaration that you know with objective certainty that what people believe does not matter. You could not possibly know the truth of this statement without objective knowledge that this is true. No relativist lives consistently within the framework of his own presuppositions. In other words, objectivity is inescapably part of this world we live in and makes the most sense of it, and relativism is demonstrated to be incoherent.

Note: When relativists inconsistently appeal to such things as universal human rights, as they often do, (i.e. objective morality that all peoples OUGHT to abide by) they bare witness to the reality of the image of God in them even though they may otherwise suppress this idea and/or appear to remain uncommitted about it.

July 06, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Divine Election in the Scriptures

A friend of mine wrote to encourage me to repost the links to the six videos I made as a supplement to the “Twelve What Abouts – Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election” book. They are made available free of charge. I hope they can be a blessing. - John S

(1) The first session is on John chapter 6, verse 35 and following here.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) 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 here.

(5) A biblical study of foreknowledge and the grace of God here.

(6) The three texts most often raised as objections to the Biblical doctrine of Divine election, namely John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9 and Matt 23:37 here.

July 04, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Is Faith Meritorious?

Visitor: The Bible never presents faith as something meritorious, and in fact distinguishes it from works or any trust in oneself (Romans 4:5).

Response: indeed faith is not meritorious UNLESS you make so by declaring that it is not the gift of God that springs from the renewal of our heart ... and in refusing to acknowledge faith as God's gift, by default, you thereby ascribe your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, humility, sound judgement and good sense and not to Christ alone. In other words you affirm the necessity of grace but deny the sufficiency of grace. That is, deny that Christ is sufficient to provide EVERYTHING we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. When people reject faith as a grace, it means they have made faith into a work. The Scripture declares, "And because OF HIM you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

So even the very wisdom we have to believe is by God's grace.

July 02, 2013  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Evangelism is Highly Theological

martynlloydjones

"Why is it that you call people to repent? Why do you call them to believe the Gospel? You cannot deal properly with repentance without dealing with the doctrine of man, the doctrine of the Fall, the doctrine of sin and the wrath of God against sin. Then when you call men to come to Christ and to give themselves to Him, how can you do so without knowing who He is, and on what grounds you invite them to come to Him, and so on. In other words it is all highly theological. Evangelism which is not theological is not evangelism at all in any true sense. It may be a calling for decisions, it may be a calling on people to come to religion, or to live a better life, or the offering of some psychological benefits; but it cannot by any definition be regarded as Christian evangelism, because there is no true reason for what you are doing apart from these great theological principles. I assert therefore that every type of preaching must be theological, including evangelistic preaching."

- Martyn Lloyd Jones, ‘Preaching and Preachers’, pg. 65.

July 01, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink