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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)

Constraining Love By J. Gresham Machen

This sermon was preached at the communion service that preceded the Second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America (renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1939) on November 12, 1936. It appeared in the Presbyterian Guardian, December 12, 1936. Dr. Machen died on January 1, 1937.


For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

In these great verses Paul speaks of love as a constraining force. Love, he says, hems us in. There are certain things which love prevents us from doing.

Earlier in the passage, he has spoken of another restraining force—namely, fear. "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord," he says, "we persuade men." Since we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, it behooves us to stand in fear of him; and there are many things which, because we shall stand before his judgment seat, we are afraid to do.

That motive of fear is used in many places in the Bible. It is used in the Old Testament. It is used in the New Testament. It is used with particular insistence in the teaching of Jesus. I think it is one of the strangest of modern aberrations when men say that it is a degrading and sub-Christian thing to tell man to stand in fear of God. Many passages in the Bible might be summarized by the words: "The fear of God constraineth us."

"The Love of Christ Constraineth Us"

In our text, however, it is something other than fear that is the thing that is said to constrain us or hem us in. It is love. "The love of Christ," Paul says, "constraineth us."

What then is here meant by the love of Christ? Our first impulse, perhaps, might be to say that it is our love of Christ, the love which we bear to Christ, the love in our hearts for Christ our Savior. The comparison with verse 11 might perhaps suggest that view. As there the fear which is in our hearts when we think of our standing before the judgment seat of Christ constrains us from doing things that we might otherwise do, so here the love which is in our hearts when we think of what Christ has done for us might seem to be the second constraining force of which Paul speaks.

Now if that is the right interpretation, the verse tells us something that is certainly true. It is certainly true, and eminently in accordance with Paul's teaching elsewhere, that the love of Christ which we have in our hearts restrains us from doing things which otherwise we might do. We refrain from doing those things not only because we are afraid to do them, but also because we love Christ too much to do them. Ah, how powerful a restraining force in the Christian's life is the love he bears to Christ, his Savior! That love in the Christian's heart is a restraining force even more powerful than any fear.

As a matter of fact, however, that is not Paul's meaning here. The love of Christ which he here says constrains us is not our love for Christ, but it is Christ's love for us. We are restrained from doing evil things, Paul says, by that unspeakable love which Christ manifested when he died for us on the cross.

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February 28, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

5 Hours on the Dividing Line

JS - As you might already be aware, for the last couple of weeks I have had the distinct honor and privilege of hosting Dr. James White's "Dividing Line" broadcast while he was away on a ministry trip to Europe. For those of you would wish to have all five youtube videos at one internet link, here they are:

Hour 1. "Law and Gospel."

Hour 2. "The Five Solas of the Reformation."


Hour 3. The "T" in the TULIP, "Total Depravity:


Hour 4. The "U" in the TULIP, "Unconditional Election."


Hour 5. The "L" in the TULIP, "Limited Atonement."


February 27, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Limited Atonement on the Dividing Line

This afternoon I once again I had the privilege of hosting Dr. James White's Dividing Line broadcast. Today's topic was the "L" in the TULIP, "Limited Atonement." - JS

February 27, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Unconditional Election on the Dividing Line

Continuing the discussion of the Doctrines of Grace on Dr. James White's "Dividing Line" broadcast, here is the latest study on "Unconditional Election," highlighting Acts 13:48, John chapters 6, 8, 10 and 17, as well as Romans 8:28-38. - JS


February 25, 2014  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The End of the Incarnation By B.B. Warfield

“For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me; and this is the will of Him that sent me, that of all that He hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”—John 6:38–39

In the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand our Lord presented Himself symbolically to man as the food of the soul. For, as Augustine reminds us, though the miracles wrought by our Lord are divine works, intended primarily to raise the mind from visible things to their invisible author, yet their message is not exhausted by this. They are to be interrogated also as to what they tell us about Christ, and they will be found to have a tongue of their own if we have skill to understand it. “For,” he adds, “since Christ is Himself the Word of God, even a deed of the Word is a word to us.” One of His miracles is accordingly not to be treated as a mere picture, which we may be satisfied to look upon and praise; but rather as a writing, which we are not content to praise though we delight in its beauty, but find no satisfaction until we have read and understood it. We may possibly consider somewhat fanciful Augustine’s detailed decipherment of the signs in which this miracle is written. He discovers in it a complete parable of the salvation of man and of men. But we can scarcely refuse, as we read it in the pregnant record of John, to say in Pauline phrase, “these things contain an allegory.”

As such, indeed, John presents it. This is the meaning of his care to tell us, as he introduces his recital, that “the passover was at hand”: not a mere chronological note, we may be sure; nor yet merely an explanation of the presence of the multitude, gathered for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem ; but a premonition of what is to come,—John’s account of the occasion and meaning of the miracle, which itself was the occasion of the great discourse on the bread of life. Christ, the true passover, chose the passover time, when men’s minds were upon the type, to present the anti-type to them in symbol and open speech. It was therefore also that He tested His disciples with searching questions, designed to bring them to the discovery of whether they yet knew Him; and that He taxed the people that “signs” were wasted upon them (verse 26), and that while they were demanding a sign that they might see and believe (verse 30), the sign had been given them, and though they had seen, they did not believe (verse 36). It was therefore above all, that Christ followed up the miracle with the wonderful discourse in which He explains the sign, and declares Himself openly to be “the bread of God that cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world.” This is the tremendous truth which miracle and discourse united to proclaim to the multitudes gathered on the shores of Gennesaret at that passover season; but which, despite type and sign and teaching—each a manifest word from God,—they could neither receive nor understand. And this is the blessed truth which our text,—taken from the center of the discourse and constituting, indeed, its kernel,—presents to our apprehension and belief anew to-day. May the Spirit of truth, who searches all things, even the deep things of God, illuminate our minds and prepare our hearts, that we may understand and believe.

I. Let us begin by observing the testimony borne by our Lord and Master here to His heavenly original and descent: “I am come down from heaven,” He says. And the truth here declared is the foundation of the entire discourse: the whole gist of which is to represent Jesus as the “bread out of heaven,” “the true bread out of heaven,” “the bread of God that cometh down out of heaven,” which the Father hath given for the life of the world. I need not remind you how this representation pervades John’s Gospel,—from the testimony of the Baptist (3:31), that He who was to supplant him “cometh from above,” and is therefore “above all,” to Jesus’ own triumphant declaration at the close of His life, that, His work being finished, He is ready to return to the Father who sent Him, and to the glory that He had with Him before the world was (17:5, 11). Our present asseveration is but a single instance of the constant self-testimony of the Son of Man to His heavenly original and descent.

The older Unitarianism was prodigal of miracle. It was not the supernatural, but the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the God-man that were its scandal. When brought face to face with such passages as these, it was wont, therefore, to explain that Jesus, born miraculously of His virgin mother, but a mere man, was taken up to heaven by the divine power to learn the things of God; whence He again descended to bring divine teaching to men. To the newer Unitarianism, on the other hand, it is precisely the supernatural which is the offence. Its philosophical forms might hospitably receive such mysteries as the Trinity and the God-man, if only they may be permitted to run freely into their moulds. But divine interventions of any kind, and most of all the descent of a personal God from heaven to earth, to be incased in flesh and to herd for a season among men, it cannot allow. It, therefore, attacks our passages with a theory of ideal, not real, preexistence, and teaches that Jesus means only that, in the thought and intention of God, His advent into the world had long been provided for, and that, in that sense, He was with God and came forth from God.


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February 24, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jeremiah's Plaint and Its Answer- Geerhardus Vos


The Princeton Theological Review 26:481-495. [1928]




In the third verse of the 31st chapter of Jeremiah we have a prophet’s report of divine speech heard in a revelation-sleep. The content of what was related after the awakening holds a peculiar place among the prophecies of Jeremiah: “Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn out long lovingkindness unto thee.” Whilst a large part of the discourses of this prophet is given to rebuke of sin and prediction of judgment, the message here is one of promise. It transports us into the final world-order, when the chaos and ruin, the sin and the sorrow shall have been overpast, nay changed into their opposites. No wonder that one, who had had to deliver so many prophecies of woe and destruction, should have delighted in seeing and reproducing this vision of restoration and blessedness, that after having been so long employed in rooting up and plucking out, he should have rejoiced more than ordinarily in this planting of new hopes, a pause of rest and healing also for his own weary and distracted soul.

In taking the comfort of the prophetic promises to our hearts we do not, perhaps, always realize what after the tempests and tumults, in the brief seasons of clear shining which God interposed, such relief must have meant to the prophets themselves. For they had not merely to pass through the distress of the present; besides this they were not allowed to avert their eyes from the terrifying vision of the latter days. In anticipation they drank from the cup “with wine of reeling” filled by Jehovah’s hand. Nor did the prophets see only the turbulent surface, the foaming upper waves of the inrushing flood, their eyes were opened to the religious and moral terrors underneath. The prophetic agony was no less spiritual than physical: it battled with the sin of Israel and the wrath of God, and these were even more dreadful realities than hostile invasion or collapse of the state or captivity for the remnant. In a sense which made them true types of Christ the prophets bore the unfaithfulness of the people on their hearts. As Jesus had a sorrowful acquaintance with the spirit no less than the body of the cross, so they were led to explore the deeper meaning of the judgment, to enter recesses of its pain undreamt of by the sinners in Israel themselves.

In Jeremiah’s ministry these things are illustrated with extraordinary clearness, partly owing to the individual temperament of the prophet, partly also to the critical times in which his lot had been cast. His was a retiring, peace-loving disposition, which from the very beginning protested against the Lord’s call to enter upon this public office: “Ah Lord Jehovah, behold I know not how to speak, for I am a child” (1:6). An almost idyllic, pastoral nature, he would have far preferred to lead the quiet priestly life, a shepherd among tranquil sheep. Why was this timid lad chosen to be a fortified brazen wall to his people, to hammer out words of iron against the flinty evil of their hearts? And though he surrendered to God for the sake of God, there always seems to have remained in his mind a scar of the tragic conflict between the stern things without and the tender things within. His soul sometimes found it difficult to enter self-forgetfully into the message. A strange compulsion directed his thought and forced its utterance. He sat alone because of God’s hand, filled with indignation. In painful experience he learned that the way of man is not in himself to order his steps. When the impulse of his innermost heart led him to intercede for Israel, the answer would sometimes come: “Pray not thou for this people” (7:16; 11:14; 14:11). There is something Job-like in the cry: “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a man of strife and of contention to the whole earth” (15:10). Even to the perilous verge of remonstrance with Jehovah did the prophet go in some of these extreme moments: “O Jehovah, thou hast [over-]persuaded me, and I let myself be persuaded; thou are stronger than I and hast prevailed” (20:7). And when actually out of the urge of such nascent revolt, the idea of future refusal of himself to Jehovah assumed form, threatening, “I will not make mention nor speak any more in his name” (20:9), it turned within him as a burning fire shut up in his bones, which he could not contain. Nor was the inner aversion on such occasions confined to his own role in the sad drama, it sometimes reached the point of taking issue with Jehovah on behalf of the people: “Ah Lord, thou has greatly deceived this people, saying, ye shall have peace, whereas the sword reacheth unto the life” (4:10). And surely, in view of the deep chasm in the prophet’s mind, these expressions, and others like them, were, if not excusable with reference to God, yet understandable from Jeremiah’s human standpoint. It was not sinful pessimism, nor morbid world weariness that made the prophet exclaim: “Oh that I could comfort myself against sorrow; my heart is faint within me; oh that I had in the wilderness some lodging-place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people and go from them!” (8:18; 9:2).

Of course we must not for a moment forget that, mingling with this, there was always much of an opposite character, something that made the prophet put himself in Jehovah’s hand, and, forgetful of all else, approve from the heart whatever it was God’s good-pleasure to do or purpose. At such times his soul was as a weaned child within him. Not away from God, but in God he discovered his wayfarer’s lodge with its profound peace. The bitter words were sometimes found and eaten, and turned, as by a miracle of transmutation, into a joy in the heart. But such seasons seem to have been sporadic, and carried no guarantee that, in close succession to them, the opposite state of mind would not gain control, finding utterance in words like these: “Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable? Wilt thou be indeed unto me as a deceitful brook, waters that fail?” (15:18).

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February 22, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

TULIP on the Dividing Line

2/20/2014

February 20, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

THE SIN OF UNBELIEF by C.H. Spuregon

ONE wise man may deliver a whole city. One good man may be the means of safety to a thousand others. The holy ones are “the salt of the earth,” the means of the preservation of the wicked. Without the godly as a buffer, the race would be utterly destroyed. In the city of Samaria there was one righteous man—Elisha, the servant of the Lord. Piety was altogether extinct in the court. The king was a sinner of the blackest dye, his iniquity was glaring and infamous. Jehoram walked in the ways of his father, Ahab, and made unto himself false gods. The people of Samaria were fallen like their monarch—they had gone astray from Jehovah.

They had forsaken the God of Israel—they remembered not the watchword of Jacob, “The Lord your God is one God.” And in wicked idolatry they bowed before the idols of the Heathens. Therefore the Lord of Hosts suffered their enemies to oppress them until the curse of Ebal was fulfilled in the streets of Samaria, for “the tender and delicate woman who would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness,” had an evil eye to her own children and devoured her offspring by reason of fierce hunger (Deut 28:56-58). In this awful extremity the one holy man was the medium of salvation. The one grain of salt preserved the entire city—the one warrior for God was the means of the deliverance of the whole beleaguered multitude. For Elisha’s sake, the Lord sent the promise that the next day food which could not be obtained at any price, should be had at the cheapest possible rate—at the very gates of Samaria. We may picture the joy of the multitude when first the Seer uttered this prediction. They knew him to be a Prophet of the Lord. He had Divine credentials. All his past prophecies had been fulfilled. They knew that he was a man sent of God and uttering Jehovah’s message. Surely the monarch’s eyes would glisten with delight and the emaciated multitude would leap for joy at the prospects of so speedy a release from famine. “Tomorrow,” would they shout, “tomorrow our hunger shall be over and we shall feast to the full.”

However, the officer on whom the king leaned expressed his disbelief. We hear not that any of the common people, the plebeians, ever did so. But an aristocrat did it. Strange it is that God has seldom chosen the great men of this world. High places and faith in Christ do seldom agree. This great man said, “Impossible!” And, with an insult to the Prophet, he added, “If the Lord should make windows in Heaven, might such a thing be”? His sin lay in the fact that after repeated proofs of Elisha’s ministry, he yet disbelieved the assurances uttered by the Prophet on God’s behalf. He had, doubtless seen the marvelous defeat of Moab—he had been startled at tidings of the resurrection of the Shunamite’s son. He knew that Elisha had revealed Benhadad’s secrets and smitten his marauding hosts with blindness.

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February 19, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Five Solas

Today I once again had the privilege of hosting Dr. James White's "Dividing Line" broadcast while he is away ministering in Eastern Europe. Today's topic: "the Five Solas of the Reformation." - JS

February 18, 2014  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Law and Gospel On The Dividing Line Today...

radiomic

Thursday, February 13, 2014: I had the great privilege of being the first guest host on Dr. James White's Dividing Line broadcast in more than ten years. I gave a one hour presentation on "Law and Gospel." Here is the youtube video. - John Samson

February 13, 2014  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Regeneration by Archibald Alexander

Archibald Alexander was the first professor and principal of Princeton Seminary. He was well respected and labeled "The Physician of the Soul". In fact, Charles Hodge was so influenced by this great man that he named one of his son's after him-"A.A Hodge". His tremendous amount of years as a pastor and professor make him an excellent resource for understanding the soul.

1. Regeneration is the commencement of spiritual life in a soul before dead in sin, by the omnipotent agency of God; and the exercises of this life are specifically different from all the exercises of an unregenerate heart.

2. The strength of the principle of life in the new birth, as in the natural birth, is exceedingly various; for while some are brought into the world of grace in the clear light of day, and are from the first active and vigorous, and enjoy much comfort in their pious exercises; others give very obscure evidence of being in possession of life, and remain long in a state of feebleness. Indeed, some are like children who seem at birth to be dead, but afterwards revive, and by degrees acquire vigor and maturity. But it by no means is a uniform fact that the children who are most healthy and vigorous at birth, continue to be so throughout life. Disease or other disasters may check their growth, and debilitate their constitution; while those who commence life in extreme weakness may acquire strength, and grow prosperously from year to year; so that, in mature age, they may have greatly surpassed many who were much more healthy and vigorous in the earliest stage of existence. Analogous to this are the facts observable in the spiritual life.

3. While some may experience this change so remarkably that they never can doubt of its reality, and can refer to the very day when they emerged from darkness to life, others, who nevertheless are truly regenerated, remain long in doubt about their spiritual state; and even when the evidence of their conversion becomes satisfactory, they are utterly unable to fix the precise time when they began to live. And it is probable that many who speak with confidence of the time and place of their new birth, mistake entirely respecting this point: the time to which they refer the commencement of their spiritual life, is more probably the season of some clear manifestation of the divine favor, when darkness and sorrow were succeeded by joy and peace; and yet the principle of life may have existed long before. There is good reason to think that the exercises of a soul under conviction are often those of the sincere penitent.

4. Spiritual life is progressive in its nature. Habitual growth in grace is the best evidence of its reality. Those affections and joys which are temporary, however high they may arise, are not the exercises of a new creature. Under the influence of a strong love of happiness and dread of misery, and the convictions of an awakened conscience, many are greatly concerned about their salvation, and are induced to attend diligently and earnestly on the means of grace, and often are deeply impressed and shed many tears; and from some latent principle in the human constitution an oppressive burden of misery may suddenly be succeeded by a feeling of pleasure and lightness, accompanied by the persuasion that sin is pardoned and God appeased. This change of feeling may have its origin merely in the animal frame or nervous system, and may be illustrated by the effects produced by physical causes, such as opiates, carminatives, nitrous-oxide, etc. Or these sudden joys may originate in some suggestion to the mind, as that our sins are pardoned, or that God loves us, and the delusion is more complete if this sudden suggestion comes clothed in the language of Scripture, as son or daughter "thy sins are forgiven thee." These false conversions soon die away, and like the seed on stony ground, bring no fruit to maturity. But genuine piety is a growing principle, and proves that it has deep root by its regular advancement towards perfection. This gradual process in piety is beautifully represented by our Lord under the figure of seed vegetating and going on to maturity. "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear." Growth in piety resembles the growth of the human body from childhood to manhood. No progress is visible from one day to another, but in months and years the increase is manifest. And as the body, while rising to maturity, may for a season be retarded or thrown back by disease, so also the health of the soul is sometimes deeply impaired, and the exercises of piety in such a state of declension, become extremely feeble. But from these diseases the Great Physician knows how to recover the souls which he has redeemed.

5. Genuine piety is a permanent and undying principle, and thus it may be distinguished from transient impressions, however powerful; yet we should not suppose that the exercises of the real Christian are uniform, or that all experience equal fluctuations of feeling. We cannot ascertain, much less describe, all the causes which may singly, or in combination, give complexion to the frames and exercises of a child of God; nor can we determine, in many cases, why one believer enjoys so much more tranquillity and cheerful hope than another, who may be equally sincere, and equally fervent in spirit.

A melancholy temperament, or a disposition to anticipate the worse in all matters, and to contemplate the dark side of the picture, has doubtless a great effect in modifying the exercises of many pious people. They are naturally gloomy and desponding, and they bring this temper with them into religion. They are always full of doubts and fears, and though they do really possess the characteristics of piety, they will not be encouraged to hope with confidence. They hang their heads daily like the bulrush, and are of a sorrowful spirit, and refuse to be comforted. On the other hand, persons of a sanguine temperament, as in other things, so in religion, are disposed to view every thing in the most favorable light; and although their evidences may really be no clearer than his who is forever in doubt and distress; yet they cherish a favorable opinion of their spiritual state. That, however, which we wish to inculcate is, that true piety is an abiding principle, which, however the feelings may fluctuate, never becomes extinct.

6. One of the certain effects of divine illumination is an increasing knowledge of the sinfulness of our own hearts. These views of inbred corruption are indeed most appalling and discouraging; they are also unexpected; but they are among the most salutary with which we are favored; and they furnish the best evidence of the genuineness of a work of grace. Hypocrites may talk much of the wickedness of their hearts, and even exceed all bounds in the accusations which they bring against themselves; but their words are like the parrot's, without meaning; they would be offended if any one believed only a small part of their self-accusations. Their object is not to be thought corrupt and sinful, but humble and holy. True humility, however, arises out of this knowledge of our own hearts, and is proportioned to the degree of self-knowledge which we possess. These spiritual views also cut up by the root self-righteousness and self-dependence. The man who knows the corruption of his own heart, and the secret defects of his holiest emotions and best affections, will never be disposed to place the least dependence on his own works. This knowledge also stirs him up to prayer, by showing him his urgent necessities.

February 11, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Nearest to the Sun

As-there-is-the-most.jpg

“Remove far from me vanity and lies.”
— Pro 30:8

“O my God, be not far from me.”
— Psa 38:21

Here we have two great lessons-what to deprecate and what to supplicate. The happiest state of a Christian is the holiest state. As there is the most heat nearest to the sun, so there is the most happiness nearest to Christ. No Christian enjoys comfort when his eyes are fixed on vanity-he finds no satisfaction unless his soul is quickened in the ways of God. The world may win happiness elsewhere, but he cannot. I do not blame ungodly men for rushing to their pleasures. Why should I? Let them have their fill. That is all they have to enjoy. A converted wife who despaired of her husband was always very kind to him, for she said, “I fear that this is the only world in which he will be happy, and therefore I have made up my mind to make him as happy as I can in it.” Christians must seek their delights in a higher sphere than the insipid frivolities or sinful enjoyments of the world. Vain pursuits are dangerous to renewed souls. We have heard of a philosopher who, while he looked up to the stars, fell into a pit; but how deeply do they fall who look down. Their fall is fatal. No Christian is safe when his soul is slothful, and his God is far from him. Every Christian is always safe as to the great matter of his standing in Christ, but he is not safe as regards his experience in holiness, and communion with Jesus in this life. Satan does not often attack a Christian who is living near to God. It is when the Christian departs from his God, becomes spiritually starved, and endeavours to feed on vanities, that the devil discovers his vantage hour. He may sometimes stand foot to foot with the child of God who is active in his Master's service, but the battle is generally short: he who slips as he goes down into the Valley of Humiliation, every time he takes a false step invites Apollyon to assail him. O for grace to walk humbly with our God!

- C. H. Spurgeon

February 09, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Law and Gospel By Ernest Reisinger

If you are not familiar with Ernest Reisinger, you should be! He was one of R.C. Sprouls dearest friends and would stand outside many of the Southern Baptist seminaries handing out- James P Boyce's "Abstract of Theology". During his life, he was calling back Southern Baptists to their roots. Namely, returning back to their heritage of Calvinism.

Importance

Why is the subject of "law and gospel" important? Let me state six reasons: 1.Because there is no point of divine truth upon which ministers and Christians make greater mistakes than upon the proper relationship which exists between the law and the gospel.


2.Because there can be no true evangelical holiness, either in heart or life, except it proceed from faith working by love; and no true faith, either of the law or the gospel, unless the leading distinction between the one and the other are spiritually discerned. The law and the gospel are set before us in the Bible as one undivided system of truth, yet an unchangeable line of distinction is drawn between them. There is also an inseparable connection and relationship. Unfortunately, some see the difference between them but not the relationship; however, the man who knows the relative position of the law and the gospel has the keys of the situation in understanding the Bible and its doctrine.


3.Because a proper understanding between the law and the gospel is the mark of a minister who rightly divides the word of truth. Charles Bridges summed up this mark of a true minister: "The mark of a minister `approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed', is, that he `rightly divides the word of truth.' This implies a full and direct application of the gospel to the mass of his unconverted hearers, combines with a body of spiritual instruction to the several classes of Christians. His system will be marked by Scriptural symmetry and comprehensiveness. It will embrace the whole revelation of God, in its doctrinal instructions, experimental privileges and practical results. This revelation is divided into two parts--the Law and the Gospel--essentially distinct from each other; though so intimately connected, that no accurate knowledge of either can be obtained without the other...." (The Christian Ministry, [London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967], p. 222).

The law, like Christ, has always been crucified between two thieves--Antinomianism on the one side and Legalism on the other side. The antinomian sees no relationship between the law and the gospel except that of being free. The legalist fails to understand that vital distinction between the two.

Some preach the law instead of the gospel. Some modify them and preach neither the law nor the gospel. Some think the law is the gospel, and some think the gospel is the law; those who hold these views are not clear on either.

But others ask, Has not the law been fully abrogated by the coming of Christ into the world? Would you bring us under that heavy yoke of bondage which none has ever been able to bear? Does not the New Testament expressly declare that we are not under the law but under grace? That Christ was made under the law to free His people therefrom? Is not an attempt to over-awe men's conscience by the authority of the Decalogue a legalistic imposition, altogether at variance with that Christian liberty which the Savior has brought in by His obedience unto death? We answer: so far from the law being abolished by the coming of Christ into this world, He Himself emphatically stated "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets [or the enforcers thereof]. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17, 18). True, the Christian is not under the law as a covenant of works nor as a ministration of condemnation, but he is under it as a rule of life and an objective standard of righteousness for all people for all times. This makes it important.

4.Because the power of a holy life needs to be accompanied by instruction in the pattern of it. In what does sanctified behavior consist? It consists in pleasing God. What is it that pleases God? The doing of His will. Where is His will to be discerned? In His holy law. The law, then, is the Christian's rule of life, and the believer finds that he delights in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. 7:22). The Christian is not lawless but "under the law to Christ", a phrase from Paul which would be more accurately rendered "in the law of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21). Sin is lawlessness, and salvation is the bringing of the lawless one into his true relation to God, within the blessedness of His holy law. The law of Moses is not other than the law of Christ; it is an objective standard just as Christ is our pattern.


5.Because the Ten Commandments were uniquely honored by God, founded in love, and are obeyed out of affection for the One who provided redemption. A. W. Pink, writing about the uniqueness of the Ten Commandments, said, "Their uniqueness appears first in that this revelation of God at Sinai--which was to serve for all coming ages as the grand expression of his holiness and the summation of man's duty--was attended with such awe-inspiring phenomena that the very manner of their publication plainly showed that God Himself assigned to the Decalogue peculiar importance. The Ten Commandments were uttered by God in an audible voice, with the fearful adjuncts of clouds and darkness, thunders and lightenings and the sound of a trumpet, and they were the only parts of Divine Revelation so spoken--none of the ceremonial or civil precepts were thus distinguished. Those Ten Words, and they alone, were written by the finger of God upon tables of stone, and they alone were deposited in the holy ark for safe keeping. Thus, in the unique honor conferred upon the Decalogue itself we nay perceive its paramount importance in the Divine government." (The Ten Commandments, ([Swengel Pennsylvania: Reiner Publications 1961], p.5).


6.Because there is a need for a fixed, objective, moral standard. The moral law carries permanent validity since it is an objective standard uniquely sanctioned by God and goes straight to the root of our moral problems. It lays its finger on the church's deepest need in evangelism as well as in the Christian life: sanctification. The Ten Commandments are desperately needed not only in the church but also in society. We live in a lawless age at the end of the twentieth century; lawlessness reigns in the home, in the church, in the school, and in the land. The Scriptures tell us that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." The Ten Commandments are the only true standard of righteousness.

Read more here: http://www.founders.org/journal/fj28/article1.html


You can find the book here: http://www.monergismbooks.com/?which=1&search=The+Law+and+the+Gospel

February 07, 2014  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Bible in about 20 minutes

Jason Derouchie (who teaches Old Testament at Bethlehem College & Seminary and is the editor of the highly praised What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible [Kregel, 2013]) and Andy Naselli (who teaches NT and theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary and is co-author with D. A. Carson and Doug Moo of Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message [Zondervan, 2010]) walk us through the whole Bible in about 20 minutes:

The Old Testament:

The Old Testament in Ten Minutes from Desiring God on Vimeo.

The New Testament:

The New Testament in Ten Minutes from Desiring God on Vimeo.


HT: JT

February 07, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

I'm back....

Almost 10 years ago, I blogged for Reformation Theology and I am happy to say I’m back. This was a period of time that “Challies.com” had just launched and many of us were just getting use to the idea of Reformed blogs. It is amazing to see what God has done, since that time. Reformed Theology has made a tremendous impact in Evangelicalism and Christ is changing lives and churches!

Here are a few thoughts since I’ve left:

1.New Calvinists- Call me an old dog, but I’m honestly not familiar with many of the new faces of reformed theology. The prominent Reformed preachers of our day have expanded. MacArthur, Piper, and Sproul have influenced the next generation of preachers!

2.Reformed Hip-Hop- I believe one of the primary reasons for the interest in Reformed theology has been due to Hip-Hop. Lampmode Recordings- home to Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle, Stephen the Levite, S.O., and God’s Servant have faithfully proclaimed the doctrines of grace for 10 years! I highly recommend any music from Lampmode. I would also like to commend Mark Dever who has graciously trained many of the reformed artists in his Pastoral internship program. Thank you! You have done a great favor to the church.

3.Let’s pray graciously that God continues this movement. At this point, it is best to remain humble and pray that the Lord Jesus increases his church through a consistent and clear gospel. Josh Harris got it right when he named his new book-“Humble Orthodoxy”. This is the type of Christians we want to become, while maintaining a need for sound doctrine.

4. Monergism- Quite frankly, who has not been influenced by Monergism? This is the one stop resource for articles, sermons, and books. I don't believe that this was highlighted in Young, Restless, and Reformed. But, this has been a definite factor for the resurgence in Reformed Theology. Thank you, John for your relentless commitment to the gospel.

February 06, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Hollywood and So-Called "Progressives" Out of Touch With Christian Beliefs

It appears that Hollywood, the media and much of the culture it influences are now so out of touch with Christian holly.jpgbeliefs as to be unable to differentiate wicked people who actually want to harm homosexuals with people who believe they are sinners, like us, who need the redemptive, life-giving, love of Jesus Christ. Everyone has freedom of conscience, of course, and can certainly disbelieve our message, reject Jesus and His call to free them from captivity (something He has done for us all).... and they can even take offense at being called a sinner, but don't confuse Jesus' love as hate or as being "anti-gay". It would only be hate if He discriminated against homosexuals by refusing to have His people bring the good news to them, as if their sin were not worthy of our love, while freely bringing the gospel to all other types of sinners (like me).

February 04, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

James P Boyce - Abstract of Theology

The following is an excerpt from James P Boyce's -"Abstract of Theology". Boyce was the founder and first principal of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He attended Princeton Seminary and had the upmost respect for Charles Hodge.

CHAPTER VII.


THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD.

By the immutability of God is meant that he is incapable of change, either in duration of life, or in nature, character, will or happiness. In none of these, nor in any other respect is there any possibility of change.

1. This is implied in his absolute perfection. Perfection permits neither increase as though he lacks, nor decrease as though he can lose. Change must be for the worse or for the better, but God cannot become worse or better.

2. It arises in like manner from the pure simplicity of his nature. That which is not and cannot be compounded cannot be changed.

3. It is expressly taught by the Scriptures in the following as well as in other particulars. A few passages out of many are referred to in support of each.

(a) They declare him to be unchangeable in duration and life: Gen. 21:33; Deut. 32:39, 40; Ps. 9:7; 55:19; 90:2; 102:12; Hab. 1:12; Rom. 16:26; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16.

(b) They affirm the unchangeableness of his nature: Ps. 104:31; Mal. 3:6; Rom. 1:23; James 1:17.

(c) They also assert that his will is without change: Job 23:13; Ps. 33:11; Prov. 19:21.

(d) His character is also said to be immutable, as for example his justice: Gen. 18:25; Job 8:3; Rom. 2:2; his mercy: Ex. 34:7; Deut. 4:31; Ps. 107:1; Lam. 3:22, 23; Mal. 3:6; his truth: Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mic. 7:20; Rom. 3:3; 11:2, 29; 2 Tim. 2:13; Titus 1:2; his holiness: Job 34:10; Hab. 1:13; James 1:13; and his knowledge: Isa. 40:13, 14, 27, 28.

The immutability thus set forth in the Scriptures and implied in the simplicity and absolute perfection of God is not, however, to be so understood as to deny in him some real ground for the Scripture statements of emotional feeling in the exercise of love, pity, longsuffering and mercy, or of anger, wrath and avenging justice. We could as well deny some real ground for the attributes of love, justice and truth which are at the basis of these emotions. We must never forget that we know but little, if anything, of the mode of operation of the divine mind. We are sure that we have to think and speak of it erroneously when our thoughts or words involve successive emotions in God or such as have beginning or end. And yet the only way in which change in him in such emotional acts could occur would involve both beginning, and end, and succession. Wherefore, we know that whatever possibility of change in God appears is due only to our own imperfection of knowledge and in-capacity to form true conceptions.

It is also true that the unchangeableness of God is not incompatible with such outward activity and relations as exist in connection with Creation, Providence and Redemption. But as this has not been so readily admitted, it may be well to consider more particularly the objections which have been made.

I. It is objected that a change must have taken place in God in the creation of the universe. It is claimed that he must then have formed a new purpose, and must have passed from a state of rest to one of activity.

(a) But this objection is based upon a forgetfulness of the fact, that in him there is no succession, and no change of time from one moment to another. The creation of the universe is no less an outward act than is the time in which it has existence. It appears in time and with time. But with God there is no time and no relation of time, exclusive of time itself. There was not before its creation. There will not be when there shall be no more time in creation. We may not be able to understand how this is, but we know that the fact must be so.

It is on this account that the purpose of God to create was not a new one, formed at one time and not at another. On the contrary, that purpose, and, indeed, his whole will is eternal. Whatever may have given rise to that purpose, does not exclude this fact.

(b) There was nothing outside to influence him. He was moved entirely by his own will. Whether that will was altogether voluntary, or arose from some necessity in his nature, we need not now consider. If it was either the one or the other, in either event it was eternal, for if his nature be eternal, then any necessity of his nature is an eternal necessity, and any purpose he forms, whether of necessity, or voluntarily, must be eternal volition. So much for the objection, based upon a supposed new purpose.

That from a transition from rest to labour is equally baseless. It supposes labour and toil in God. But the Scripture account of creation, as well as the dictates of reason, forbid this. There was no laborious work of God. There never is; there never can be. His infinite power compasses his infinite will, in the mere wishing. Neither in the creation nor in the sustentation of the universe is there in God any of that busy, careful thought, and protracted weary effort by which man maintains government or sustains the lives of those dependent on him.

This view of God's creation accords with reason. It alone is worthy of an all-wise, all-powerful, independent and self-existent God.

It is established by Scripture. Heb. 11:3. "By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear."


Read more here: http://www.founders.org/library/boyce1/ch7.html

February 04, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Ask R. C. Live (January event)

Watch this "Ask R.C. (Sproul)" event hosted by Lee Webb and recorded live on January 21, 2014.

Ask R.C. Live: January 2014 from Ligonier Ministries on Vimeo.

Here are the list of questions (in case you are looking for a specific one) and the time they were asked:

01:03 - When a Christian dies, do they immediately go to heaven?

03:00 - If Jesus was born of the substance of the virgin Mary, how was He born without original sin?

09:10 - If Saul had repented, would God have made the bloodline of Christ go through Saul and Jonathan rather than David?

11:08 - If God is a Spirit, how is Jesus, being God, more than just a Spirit?

19:45 - If no one seeks for God (Rom. 3:11), how do we understand what Paul says in Acts 17?

27:33 - Did God know there would one day be sin in the world when He created it?

30:05 - Should a Christian pursue a philosophy degree?

38:50 - Should fear play a role in our evangelism?

43:43 - Since Jesus took the punishment for us, why did He not have to spend eternity in hell?

47:45 - How concerned should we be for the lack of truth in the local church?

51:00 - When should a person leave a church?

54:37 - If we do not witness and share the gospel will some people not go to heaven?

58:54 - Can you, by prayer, change God’s will? If not, why pray?

1:02:10 - How does one obtain eternal life?

1:08:40 - When the Psalms make promises like in Psalm 91—no harm, no disaster will overtake us—how are we to interpret them?

1:11:30 - How do we distinguish between the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, and His work in the New Testament?

1:17:35 - I’m a believer, but can’t recall a time when I became a Christian. Can you help me understand this?

1:18:30 - How is it just for people to be born with a sin nature when they have never actually sinned?

1:19:42 - Why did God rest after six days of creation?

1:20:42 - Has God created one right person for each to marry?

1:21:25 - What do you think is the greatest need of the modern church?

1:21:37 - What is conveyed to an infant at baptism?

1:22:18 - What role do electronic devices have during the Lord’s Day worship?

1:23:28 - What does the resurrection mean?

1:24:07 - Why does Old Testament prophecy speak of God giving His people a new heart of flesh if Old Testament saints were regenerate to begin with?

1:26:15 - Why do we need a new heaven and a new earth if heaven is perfect?

February 04, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink