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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)

The Way of God More Accurately

Acts 18:18-28 - Apollos, eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, had limited knowledge on matters vital to the Gospel. He was taken aside and given a more precise understanding of Jesus - His Person, and His Work.

How accurate is your understanding of the Biblical Gospel?

May 31, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Calvinism and Missions

In this lecture, D.r Jim Adams demonstrates the compatibility between a commitment to the doctrines of grace and to the church's mission to the world. Calvin's Geneva equipped ministers to spread the good news of the gospel to the ends of the earth.


Lecture 3: Calvinism and Missions from Reformed Baptist Seminary on Vimeo.

May 27, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What About Reprobation?

Chapter 14 of my book "Twelve What Abouts - Answering Common Objections Concerning God's Sovereignty in Election" - John Samson.

The 16th Century was famous for at least two monumental events: The Protestant Reformation and the Copernican Revolution. No doubt, you have heard of the Reformation when men such as Martin Luther were raised up by God to bring the one true biblical gospel back to the Church. With the Protestant Reformers of old and with Scripture alone as our sure foundation, we affirm that justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.

In 1543, Nicolas Copernicus published his treatise De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (The Revolution of Celestial Spheres) where a new view of the world was presented: the heliocentric (sun central) model. Before Copernicus, people believed that the earth was the very center of the Universe. But Copernicus was able to prove otherwise - that it is the sun (not the earth) that is central in the solar system. This discovery shook both the religious and the scientific world. The ramifications were extremely dramatic. Our view of the world was forever changed!

Copernicus' theory was not at all popular initially. Even though the new treatise was dedicated to the Pope, it was considered heretical both by the standards of religion and science. Such was the outrage at such a thought (that the world was not the center of the Universe) that many scientists, and sadly, even many a theologian, would not even look through Copernicus' telescope! The traditions of men, both in the realms of science and religion, were that strong.

Yet Copernicus was right and his revolutionary idea was needed if forward progress was to be made. In the Church today, I believe a similar revolution is needed.

What was recognized by former generations, has, by and large, been lost to the modern day Church. The biblical Gospel is rarely heralded. Oh, there are some elements still there. But the facts of the Gospel are presented in man-centered rather than God-centered packaging. One of the most pressing needs in this hour is for the Church to actually be re-evangelized! We, the Church, need to hear a Biblically-based, God-centered, Christ-centered Gospel. We need to hear of God as He really is, of man as he really is, and the Gospel of God's grace found in Jesus Christ as it really is. And all of this starts by understanding that God is at the center and not us.

The natural man is so hostile towards God that if he could kill God, he would, even if it meant the end of his own existence. He also hates the fact that God is Sovereign. When I speak of God's Sovereignty, I mean that God does what He wants, when He wants, the way He wants, without asking anyone's permission.

Continue reading "What About Reprobation?" »

May 26, 2015  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

John Newton By Tony Reinke

A savage ocean storm awoke the crew of the Greyhound, a cargo ship crammed with merchandise collected from the west coast of Africa. From port to port, the ship had been slowly filled with African gold, ivory, bees-wax, and camwood (lumber). But now, late in the dark night of March 21, 1748, a twenty-two-year-old sailor named John was awakened by gale-force winds battering the ship. Waves slammed into her and ripped away the upper timbers on one side, sending water through a gaping hole into John’s room.

Awakened by the chaos, he jumped half naked from his bed to furiously hand pump water back into the swaying ocean. With the cold saltwater pouring into the aging and broken vessel, crewmates grabbed buckets and began tossing the water back into the dark sea. Newton cranked for his life while waves broke over his head. Desperation overwhelmed the doomed crew, and John’s heart pounded furiously with adrenaline-charged fears of being dumped overboard in the middle of a dark sea, weeks away from the nearest coastline. Like many sailors of his time, he couldn’t swim.

As John Newton later reflected, he was unfit to live and unfit to die. The fear of death strained his energies at the water pump, but it was a battle he could not win. Saltwater waves continued crashing against the ship, and the endless ocean of water rushed over the deck faster than the men could spit it back out. The ship creaked and groaned under the assault as the crew frantically battled the angry forces of the sea.

Newton’s moral life had already sunk. He was a wicked and insubordinate young man with a profane tongue, flesh-driven appetites, and stone-cold heart. He had gambled his way into debt and dabbled in witchcraft. And as a young man in foreign lands, he had become sexually promiscuous. Later, as a young captain of a slave-trading ship, he may have indulged his lusts further by raping captive African women in the “sexual free-for-alls on board ship that most captains in the trade regarded as theirs by right.” 2 He didn’t particularly enjoy alcohol, but he drank to prompt drunkenness in others and to entertain himself by the follies the liquor encouraged in them. What is clear: Newton was immune from no sin. He delighted to lead others into temptation, later calling himself “a ringleader in blasphemy and wickedness.”

Not content with running the broad way myself, I was indefatigable in enticing others; and, had my influence been equal to my wishes, I would have carried all the human race with me. I had the ambition of a Caesar or an Alexander, and wanted to rank in wickedness among the foremost of the human race.

Life on the sea only amplified Newton’s wretched tendencies. 5 He sailed for months in a bubble of unchecked sin, estranged from godly examples, cut off from the gospel, hardened by the dangers of sea life, and entrenched among a group of men who incited one another to sin. Life on an eighteenth-century merchant ship was the spiritually deadening climate his soul least needed.

The Wretch

If any man was unworthy of deliverance from the raging sea, it was the twenty-two-year-old sailor John Newton. In this moment Newton was focused on survival and frightened by the nearness of death that knocked on the door with each crashing wave. Desperate and fully expecting to die, Newton finally blurted aloud, “If this will not do, the Lord have mercy on us.” The Lord’s name from his mouth—that word he only spouted in vain—now struck his heart like an arrow, humbling and breaking him. “I was instantly struck by my own words. This was the first desire I had breathed for mercy for many years.”

As with the thief on the cross facing death, the Lord ignited a marvelous work in John Newton’s heart here in this “great day of turning.” Although the precise time of his conversion is unknown, 7 his plea for mercy on the sea was immediately answered. And Newton’s heart, which once spewed wickedness and blasphemy, would soon become a heart gushing beloved hymns of praise to God. The same tongue that spit curses at the name of God and made sailors blush would become the tongue that steered the corporate worship of God’s people in honoring God’s holy name.

This drowning wretch of a sailor would pen a hymn that endures in the minds and hearts of people to this day, a hymn so popular that its lyrics are as recognizable throughout the English-speaking world as any national anthem. On top of this, the lucrative African slave trade that he participated in would be ended, in part because of his abolitionist work. Newton would become a pastor, no longer leading sinners into sin but now enticing sinners away from it. In time, hundreds of souls would gather weekly on Sundays to listen to his sermons. Only God himself could have imagined what was in store for John Newton. Like Jonah running away from God, Newton was delivered from death at sea in order to preach the good news. Though never formally trained, Newton would become a prominent pastor in two churches in England for forty-three years. He would befriend George Whitefield and John Wesley. As Newton frantically churned the water pump on March 21, 1748, he could not have imagined his life physically continuing; still less could he have imagined his life spiritually thriving under the incredible plans foreordained by God.

May 26, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

If God Wills

Providence: God rules over nations and empires as well as each sparrow that falls to the ground. In the good and the hard things of life, God is working out His eternal purposes, for the good of His people and His glory.

Acts 18:12-28

May 24, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

I Have Many In This City

Acts 18:1-11

On leaving Athens, Paul comes to Corinth and finds a place to live, a place to work, and a place to preach. Perhaps discouraged at the thought of what awaited him, the Lord intervened by means of a vision.


May 17, 2015  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung

I am the worst possible person to write this book.And maybe the best. My life is crazy busy. I don’t say that as a boast or a brag. I’m not trying to win any contest. I’m just stating the facts. Or at least describing the way my life feels almost every single day. I often made the quip, “I’m supposed to write a book on busyness, if only I could find the time.” And I wasn’t joking. How did I get this way? How did you get this way? How did we all get this way? I’ve yet to meet anyone in America who responds to the question “How are you?” with the reply, “Well for starters, I’m not very busy.”

I suppose there must be a six year- old somewhere out there who doesn’t “have anything to do” and some dear folks at the nursing home who could use a few more interruptions, but for almost everyone in between there is a pervasive sense of being unrelentingly filled up and stressed out. I do not write this book as one who has reached the summit and now bends over to throw the rope down to everyone else. More like the guy with a toehold three feet to the ground, looking for my next grip. I’m writing this book not because I know more than others but because I want to know more than I do. I want to know why life feels the way it does, why our world is the way it is, why I am the way I am. And I want to change.


Same Kind of Busy as You

As long as I can remember—which takes us back eons and eons, all the way to the 90s—I have been busy. In high school I ran track and cross-country, played intramural basketball, did National Honor Society, tried the Spanish club, took multiple AP courses, played in our insanely time-consuming marching band, sang in a musical, and did church twice on Sunday, Sunday school, youth group, and a Friday morning Bible study. No one made me like this. My parents didn’t force me (though church was not up for discussion). I wanted to do all these things. In college I did even more. I ran a season of track, played intramural sports, worked part-time for various professors, organized one of the country’s largest Model UN programs (yes, it’s true), signed up to be a DJ at the campus radio station, led our Fellowship of Christian Students group, went to voluntary chapel three times a week, sang in a church choir, sang in the college chapel choir, participated in my church’s college ministry, helped with Boys’ Brigade on Wednesday nights, went to church on Sunday morning, then Sunday school, then evening church, then chapel back on campus late into the night. Same story in seminary.


In addition to normal course work and wading through my denomination’s labyrinthine ordination process, I interned at my church, preached regularly, sang in up to three different choirs at the same time, went to an accountability group every week, did the usual with church twice on Sunday, plus Sunday school, plus a midweek catechism class I taught for little kids, plus leading the seminary’s missions committee and attending chapels and frequent prayer meetings. I could go on and on. And this is before I was really busy. The only people busier than single grad students are people who aren’t single and aren’t grad students. All those years in school, except for one semester, I wasn’t married. I wasn’t in full-time pastoral ministry.

I wasn’t blogging or writing books. I wasn’t leading elders’ meetings. I wasn’t speaking anywhere. I wasn’t a slave to technology. I didn’t have a mortgage to figure out or a lawn to mow or a furnace to fix or a dead raccoon in my fireplace (long story) or weekly sermons to prepare. I didn’t have to travel. I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter. Hardly anyone e-mailed me. And I wasn’t parenting a child, let alone five. On most days, my responsibilities, requirements, and ambitions add up to much more than I can handle. It has since I was a teenager, and only seems to be getting worse.

When someone asks me how I’m doing, my response almost always includes the word “busy.” I can think of several moments in just the past couple of months when I’ve muttered to myself, “What am I doing? How did I get myself into this mess? When will I ever get my life under control? How long can I keep this up? Why can’t I manage my time? Why did I say yes to this? How did I get so busy?” I’ve bemoaned my poor planning and poor decision making. I’ve complained about my schedule. I’ve put in slipshod work because there wasn’t time for any other kind. I’ve missed too many quiet times and been too impatient with my kids. I’ve taken my wife for granted and fed important relationships with leftovers. I’ve been too busy to pursue God with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.In other words, I’ve likely been just like you.

May 15, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Romans 9 - Look at the Book

Look at the Book is Dr. John Piper’s latest effort to help teach you to read the Bible for yourself. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. As part of this new initiative, Desiring God is catalyzing regional events focused on certain passages of Scripture. Below, you can find all four sessions from our Look at the Book weekend on Romans 9.

Session 1: Has the Word of God Failed? (Romans 9:1–5)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 1 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Session 2: God’s Good Purpose in Election (Romans 9:6–13)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 2 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Session 3: God Has Mercy on Whomever He Wills (Romans 9:14–18)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 3 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Session 4: My Heart’s Prayer to God for You (Romans 9:19–10:4)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 4 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

May 13, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Inflexible Schoolmaster

The Protestant Reformers were so certain of the importance of this doctrine (of Law and Gospel) that they declared that without it no one would be able to make sense out of Scripture. Martin Luther even declared of the person ignorant of this distinction that "you cannot be altogether sure whether he is a Christian or a Jew or a pagan, for it depends on this distinction." - Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand: Nature and Character of the Lutheran Faith, trans. by Theodore G. Tappert, (New York: Harper & Bros., 1938). p. 114.

Elsewhere Luther wrote, “Whoever knows well this art of distinguishing between the Law and the gospel, him place at the head and call him a doctor of Holy Scripture.”

“The true knowledge of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book.” - C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.

Theodore Beza said that “confusion of law and gospel is one of the principal sources of the corruptions in the church.” Ursinus, primary author of the Heidelberg Catechism, said the same.

The Bible will be an impenetrable mystery as long as we are confused about this.

May 10, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Name Above all Names by Alistair Begg

Sometimes—especially in the United States—people will unintentionally invade our private space just a little by asking, “Do you have a life verse?” We understand what they mean: “Is there a text in Scripture that has been a guide to you throughout the whole of your Christian life?” Some people seem so bold in asking us this question that in whimsical moments we imagine them breaking through the crowds going straight up to the apostle Paul and asking, “So, Paul, do you have a life verse? ”Would he say, do you think, “Haven’t you read my letters?” Perhaps the verse that comes nearest to Paul’s “life verse” is Philippians 3:8: I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.


In simple terms he says, “I want to know Christ.” That was not merely a personal testimony, for Paul assumes this should be the life testimony of every Christian. He goes on to say: Every one of you who thinks about himself as a mature Christian should think this way. And if you think otherwise, then God will lead you back to this by his grace


This is the conviction that drives each of these chapters. So, having seen what is involved in Christ being prophet, we now turn to reflect on what it means to have him as our priest. “Priest” is the only title given to Jesus that has virtually an entire book of the New Testament devoted to explaining it—the letter to the Hebrews. Hebrews is an anonymous letter. Its author describes it as a brief word of encouragement or exhortation.2 Central to this encouragement is his exhortation to “Consider Jesus,” to be “looking to Jesus”—and especially to see him as our high priest. Why was that important to these Hebrews? They had experienced the same trials as Paul did when he became a Christian. First, they would have been disinherited. They “suffered the loss of all things.” That must have been the fate of many Jews who had come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Still today when a member of a strict orthodox Jewish family becomes a Christian, he or she may be literally disinherited. So, clearly, many of these young Christians had suffered great material privation as the result of their faith in Christ. Not only were they personally disinherited, but they were both socially and spiritually excommunicated. Put yourself in their shoes. You are a solid, law-abiding citizen of Memphis, or Columbia, or Cleveland, or Edinburgh, or London—or wherever. But because of your commitment to Jesus Christ, you are disinherited. What automatically follows? You become persona non grata in all the societies, clubs, networks, and social friendships (and children’s schools!) that have made up the
fabric of your life.

All that is now closed to you. You are excommunicated from family and society. In addition there is the place of worship you attended from childhood. Its people, services, ceremonies, songs, liturgy, and all its activities were deeply ingrained in your life. Only now, when you are no longer there, do you realize the extent to which these things defined your identity. But now you are no longer welcome there. That church—still standing there as a reminder of the community that reared you and the identity you once had as part of it—is one you are no longer a part of. Instead you now meet with a number of others in the sitting room of a friend. All the things you used to enjoy—once so “meaningful” to you—rituals, officiating ministers, liturgies, music, worship ensembles, large crowds, special days of celebration—they are all gone.

Now you meet in someone’s house, and they don’t even have a piano! That was the situation of the first readers of Hebrews. No longer was their worship marked by the grandeur of the temple, the mass choir, the special moments. No longer did they catch sight of the high priest—the only man who, once a year, on the Day of Atonement, was allowed to enter the sacred room to seek God’s forgiveness

for the people. No longer do they wait for him to reappear and raise his hands in the historic words of the Aaronic blessing, assuring them of the Lord’s benediction and his peace because “there is forgiveness with him.” That visible sense that their sins had once again been covered and that the face of God was smiling upon them as his covenant people—it is all gone, never to return unless . . .
Unless what?

Unless they go back. Some of them were tempted to go back. Perhaps you are in a church that the whole congregation loves deeply, where the worship is God-centered, the preaching biblical, the fellowship caring, the vision for world missions strong, and the spiritual needs of the flock met. You have had dear friends whose company moved them to another location. They look for a new church home. But whenever you speak on the phone with them and ask how they are doing, they say, “Fine, except . . . oh, if only we could be back again in our old church; we just can’t find anything like it here!” That was the situation for the first readers of Hebrews. In former days they could see and touch and even smell the worship services—the great company of people, the music, all of the glorious aspects of Old Testament worship that God had given. Now it was all gone. Was it all gone—for nothing? What was the answer? How could the author of Hebrews write anything to encourage them in this situation? His response is to say:

Don’t turn back. If you are tempted to it, then you have been looking in the wrong direction. You have been seeing things from the wrong perspective! You are not looking far enough! You’re not seeing clearly enough! Don’t you see what is really important? Get your eyes o" buildings and liturgies and crowds and
music. Fix your eyes on Jesus!


Listen to some of the things he says about Jesus to encourage
them:

1) They have a great high priest:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

2) They have a real salvation:

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

3) They have a perfect high priest:

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

4) They have a better high priest:

They [the high priests of Israel] serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. . . . But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises

May 08, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

'De-Greecing' the Greeks!

Acts 17:16-34

The Greeks in Anthens had no Biblical foundation upon which Paul could build. His sermon masterfully illustrates how to reach a culture that embraces every new philosophy as truth. A message for our times.

May 03, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Italian Translation

twelvewhatabouts-italy

Big News Today:

A brother in Christ, Paulo Castellina, has just finished translating my book "Twelve What Abouts - Answering Objections Concerning God's Sovereignty in Election" into the Italian language. It is available to read free of charge online. May God be pleased to use it widely in the Italian speaking world and serve the cause of reformation within the Church in Italy.

Here's the link to the Italian version of the book.

May 02, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Benefits of Essentially Literal Bible Translation

Dr. Wayne Grudem - The Benefits of Essentially Literal Bible Translation with Special Reference to the ESV.

Dr. Wayne Grudem - Benefits of Essential Literal Bible Translation from The Gospel Coalition AZ on Vimeo.

Resource: If watch at the 1 minute 45 second mark (for less than 90 seconds), you will see Dr. Wayne Grudem highly recommend a legal resource that could be immensely helpful in protecting our churches from lawsuits regarding sexual orientation and gender identity – something that could well be an issue in every state after June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Here’s the link to the resource mentioned in an online form:
http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/content/campaign/2014/church/SOGI-Handbook.pdf

May 01, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink