"...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)

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If I could only have one verse...

Genesis 15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram…

Transcript from a teaching entitled “Narrative Preaching” by Dr. R.C. Sproul at the 2004 Ligonier Pastors' Conference:

I’ve always said, if I was in jail, solitary confinement, and could only have one book, the book I would want would be the Bible. If I could have only one book of the Bible with me in prison, the book I would choose is Hebrews. People are usually surprised to hear me say that. They assume I am going to say ‘Romans,’ but I say ‘I already got that. I don’t need to have a copy of it.’ But there’s so much in Hebrews that develops both the Old and the New Testament and brings it together that that’s what I would like to have in my cell.

But if I could only have one verse, I would have the verse – the smoking torch and burning furnace moving through the pieces. Why? Because in this drama, the ultimate theophany of God as He manifests Himself is fire, the pillar of smoke, the burning bush, the consuming flame, this is God moving through the pieces… this is God entering into a covenant with His creature, and as the author of Hebrews said, ‘Because God could swear by nothing higher, He swore by Himself’ because graphically, dramatically, symbolically, what God is doing for Abraham when Abraham says ‘how can I know for sure You're going to do it?’ God runs the gauntlet. God goes between these pieces and He’s saying to Abraham, ‘Abraham, if I ever break My word to you, may I be torn asunder, just as you have torn asunder the parts of these animals. May the immortal become mortal, the immutable have a mutation, may the eternal stop living! Abraham, I can’t swear on my mother’s grave, I can’t swear by the stars or the moons.. these are all part of the created order. The highest promise I can give to you is ‘I swear by Myself, by My own deity, by My very Being… that before I would lie to you, I would give up My own Divine essence.’

You wonder why I would have that (verse)… is that relevant today? Does that have 21st century application? It does to me. Because every time I worry and I am doubting and struggling because people break promises, I break promises, and I live in a world filled with covenant breakers… that I am brought back to the God who swore by Himself, who has never broken His word.

September 10, 2019  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Normal Christian Life

Having experienced the new birth, what does life as a Christian look like? A vital message for every believer!

September 09, 2018  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Word To The One Depressed Over Sin

Article by John Samson

Where do you run to?

So you are a Christian and you messed up. You know it. No one can excuse what you did, least of all you. Your conscience (while not always a 100% reliable source as it has to be trained by the word of God) accuses you. You sinned! You did it – and you know you should not have done it. Nothing can change this reality.

The hard facts mean that you are now disillusioned about your Christian life. You can feel the dark and dismal clouds of depression forming overhead. You feel like you will never see the warmth and comfort of the sunlight again.

You have confessed your sin to God (and perhaps even to those you sinned against) but you just don’t feel like you are forgiven.

So, the question is “what are you going to do now this has happened?”

You don’t want logic or reason right now – you want to lay down in the stench of your sin and mull it over for a while.. an hour or two, a day or two.. a month or two… why? Because this is just too much this time. You went too far – you did it once again - when you swore you would not – and now, not even God wants anything to do with you… you think.

If that is how you feel, allow me to lay out your options.

You can stay in your depression and beat yourself up over and over for the sin you committed. You can listen to the accusations of the enemy that are being whispered, no, more like, shouted in your ear. You can do that. Not legitimately of course. But no one can stop you, if that is your choice.

You can think about divine election and wonder if you are among the elect. Your thoughts gravitate to the very unpleasant consideration that you might not be truly one of His. You can dwell on this and by doing so, make your pit that little bit deeper moment by moment, minute by minute. You can set up a bed in the pit, and live the rest of your life there, never to surface again.

Yes, you can do that too.

OR, you can recognize your sin was every bit as bad as the devil and your conscience says it is and you can do something about it.

Confess it to God (if you haven’t already done so) and believe the promises of God.

These promises are not about the greatness of the Christian – that you will be better from now on – or that by certain works, you can earn God’s favor again.

Listen, you never gained God’s favor for even a second by means of something you did. Even the repentance and faith you once expressed were gifts from an all gracious and loving God.

No, the promises of God concern the wonder and worth of the perfect sacrifice of Christ who died in the place of the most guilt filled sinner on earth.

And that – my friend – is your only way out of this pit that has been dug for you.

So – let me spell this out. Boiling it down to two - here are the available options before you.

Option 1: Doubt God’s promises

Option 2: Believe God’s promises

It is really that simple, and that hard!

We could talk for hours and analyze the pit.. in fact, we could have a survey team come in and get accurate measurements of the pit, noting the slime on the sides of the walls and the particular stench of the pit. It is not nice - we get it!

We could note the irritating feeling of abandonment you feel…

Yes, we could do that.

Continue reading "A Word To The One Depressed Over Sin" »

August 15, 2018  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Saints Preserved!

"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." - 1 Thess. 5:23-24

These verses are regularly quoted and yet their meaning and ramifications are often times overlooked.

Here's what the text teaches: The process of the complete sanctification of the elect is God’s work from start to finish and it will happen.

There is no doubt that Paul’s desire for God to preserve them (“kept blameless” ESV, “preserved complete” NASB, “kept sound and blameless" CSB) in sanctification at the coming of our Lord Jesus, speaks of the sanctification process resulting in the full glorification of the saint, which is the very end goal of salvation. The very opposite of this, in contrast, would be for this process to stop somewhere along the way somehow and a person to be ultimately lost forever.

Notice that Paul anchors this hope and desire, not in an appeal to the will and action of the saint but in the will and action of God Himself.

Then notice further that Paul is not merely hopeful of this end result, but he is certain of it. He grounds this future certainty not in the activity and performance of the saint, but in God’s faithfulness. The sure foundation of this hope is God's commitment to fulfill His promises and to do all that is necessary for this to happen. The One who calls is faithful to complete the work. The saints persevere because God preserves and keeps His own.

He is faithful, and He will do it.

- JS

August 20, 2017  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Concerning Chapter and Verse Divisions


by John Samson

Where did the chapter and verse divisions in our Bibles come from?

When Scripture was originally written, there were no chapter and verse divisions. These man made additions to our Bibles came a whole lot later.

Actually, it was Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury in England who added chapter divisions into the Latin Vulgate around 1227 A.D.

A Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan divided the Hebrew Bible (what we as Christians call the Old Testament) into verses in 1448 AD.

Then, Robert Estienne (also known as Stephanus) divided the chapters into verses in his Greek New Testament in 1551. The first English translation to make use of his verse divisions was the Geneva Bible of 1560.

That is something of the history behind the chapter and verse divisions. The question becomes “was this development a good thing?”

My answer would be “yes” and “no.” It is fair to say that there are both pros and cons in this matter.

The designations are helpful in that it allows us to easily find a verse of passage in a short time. We can find a verse easily without the need to read an entire book of the Bible. The numbering system allows us to go straight to a verse or passage we wish to locate. This is a wonderful, practical benefit. Imagine if there were no chapter/verse divisions and a preacher asked the congregation to find the section of Isaiah dealing with the Suffering Servant of the Lord. How many people would find the passage? Not many, and certainly, not very many in swift manner. However, if the preacher says, “Lets turn to Isaiah chapter 53,” anyone in the audience with a Bible in hand can find the passage in just a few seconds. In this way then, chapter and verse divisions are very helpful and convenient when it comes to finding references and quotations.

But there is a downside; actually, a major downside. These divisions make it especially easy for us to look at a verse in complete isolation, with no reference to its context. Many pages could be filled with examples. Just one is Philippians chapter 4, verse 13, where we read, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” This verse, in isolation, could be interpreted (falsely) to mean that Christ strengthens us to achieve any human endeavor; the “all things” referring to any conceivable task. An athlete might apply this by thinking the verse means that Christ will strengthen him to win every race he enters – that this in fact, is God’s promise to him. An author might use the verse as a promise that whatever he writes will be a best seller; and the Christian salesman might believe that he will be number 1 in company sales because of his relationship with Christ. Christ strengthens us to accomplish anything we set out to do.

But here’s the problem. The verse teaches nothing of the kind. The “all things” Christ DOES strengthen us to do refers to the things Paul referred to in the previous sentences (verses 10 – 12).

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Verse 13 has a context, which if ignored, leads to a false interpretation. The correct one is this: Whatever the situation; whatever the circumstance; whether in hardship or in much provision and abundance; whether there is plenty or whether we experience hunger and great need, God’s grace is more than abundant for us in Christ. He will strengthen us to endure whatever it is we have to face. That is true for Paul and it is also true for all who trust in Christ. We can go through any event in life, whether it be a very good or a very hard thing, because the Lord Jesus Christ will strengthen us to do so. That is the meaning of Philippians 4:13.

The word “arbitrary” refers to something based on a random choice or personal whim, rather than reason or a sound logical system. Some of the chapter divisions in our Bibles are especially arbitrary. And this is another downside.

Continue reading "Concerning Chapter and Verse Divisions" »

September 08, 2016  |  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:

May 01, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Taking God at His Word By Kevin DeYoung

pg. 22

The goal of this book is to get us believing what we should about the Bible, feeling what we should about the Bible, and to get us doing what we ought to do with the Bible. Give all that we’ve seen about the psalmist's faith in the word and passion for the word, it’s no surprise that Psalm 119 is filled with action verbs illustrating the Spirit-prompted uses for the word:

• We sing the word (v.172)
• Speak the word (vv. 13,46,79)
• Study the word (vv. 15,48,97,148)
• Store up the word (vv. 11,93,141)
• Obey the word (vv. 8,44,57,129,145,146,167,168)
• Praise God for the word (vv.7, 62, 164, 171)
• And pray that God would act according to his word (vv.58, 121-13,147,149-152,153-160)

These actions are no substitutes for proper faith and affection, but they are the best indications of what we really believe and feel about the word. Sing, speak, study, store up, obey, praise, and pray—this is how men and women of God handle the scriptures. Now don’t panic if you seem to fall short in believing, feeling, and doing. Remember, Psalm 119 is a love poem, not a checklist. The reason for starting with Psalm 119 is that this is where we want to end. This is the spiritual reaction the Spirit should produce in us when we fully grasp all that the Bible teaches about itself. My hope and prayer is that in some small way the rest of this book will help you say “Yes!” to what the psalmist believes, “Yes!” to what he feels, and “Yes!” to everything he does with God’s holy and precious word.

March 10, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Few thoughts on Acts and Philippians By Marco Gonzalez


Paul in Acts 16 and Philippians faces great troubles, stressors, and difficulties, but is also given a tremendous amount of opportunities and triumphs for the gospel. In his first visit to Macedonia, he was beaten with rods, imprisoned, dragged to the market place, and condemned before the rulers. Treated as a Jew, and savagely beaten, though he possesses Roman citizenship, Paul is thrown in jail. Disgraced, severely crushed, stripped of all clothing, and struck by many blows and rods from the crowds and magistrates, Paul is shackled in prison with little hope of escape. The whole community, in Philippi, influenced by the rulers, set themselves against Paul.

As Paul writes the epistle to the Philippians he is imprisoned in Rome. Joy becomes the main theme of his letter, and he uses his experiences in prison, ministry, and circumstances to reorient their gaze back to the gospel. The Philippians are under grave circumstances, the church is experiencing rivalry and disunity, Paul is in jail, and new teachings of flesh over grace are tearing them apart.

In Acts, however, the gospel and the supremacy of God to save sinners are displayed. On Sabbath day, a reference to the creation ordinance, we anticipate the special presence of God with his people. To observe the Sabbath is to share in God’s rest, primarily and not redemptively, and to enjoy the blessing of eternity in the presence of God. We enjoy this foretaste every Sabbath, and not merely a celebration of redemption. Since God is present, when Lydia meets with him, her stance was worship. So the words “On Sabbath day” and the salvation of Lydia become a rich foretaste of the messianic banquet (Rev 19:9). God is the active agent, using Paul, awakening Lydia’s heart to heed what was spoken.

There are many destructive, sinful reactions that Paul warns the Philippians about. Greed, Selfishness, self-righteous judgment, envy, anger, bitterness, rivalry, and fear are what Paul tells the church to avoid. But, while in prison, Paul demonstrates and models the opposite of those behaviors. Paul, knowing the circumstances, is aware of the grave dangers that lurk in the shadows of the Philippian church. The persecution faced before them, the near death experience of a key church leader, the fear of Judaizers who mutilate the flesh and confuse the gospel, and the overwhelming disunity, greed, and selfish ambitions of the church. The Philippians, on the one hand, are presented with dire circumstances that can bring forth sinful reactions, and, on the other hand, the good the church had done by donating money to Paul can just as easily lead to sinful reactions. So in both the difficult and good, the opportunity for sinful reactions is present.

In Acts, we find the liberating power of the gospel to transform heavy laden people. Lydia and the fortune-teller are prime examples of Gods transformative power. God met them in their context, their world, and their circumstances. But, in Philippians we find the God of hope who promises to change us. In the midst of trouble and disaster God’s character is never called into question, but only enlarges by reorienting our vision to Christ. Though the gospel is being defamed by false teachers, the apostle is in prison, and the church is disillusioned, there is still great hope in God’s truth.

First, we are so unified with Jesus Christ that we partake in his suffering, his life, and his death. Christ has overcome all obstacles, including the sting of death, and believers have no fear of it. Second, the humility of Christ was the basis for his exaltation as Lord and Judge of all. Though he was the exact representation of God he denied himself all his divine rights, as creator. Not that he divested himself of his being, but Christ refused his divine rights and privileges. Third, Christ took the form of a servant, refusing all his rights as God, even to the point of death.

So what actually changes people? God is always the active agent, through the Holy Spirit, bringing radical change to our hearts. But this is too broad an idea, what actually occurs in the human heart? The root issue was clear—the creature wants to be the creator. So we must reorient our hearts to acknowledge that two realties exist: God and Man. The model Paul presents us with is to humble ourselves before God. I must acknowledge that God is king and I serve only him, self-interest leads to destruction. With God on the throne I take his agenda and prerogatives before my own, and this creates my service to others. Like Christ, it means emptying my heart of all inordinate desires and ungodly motives. And since Christ is one with the Father, we are one with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If this isn’t enough, God promises to will and to work his good pleasure in us. The grace to do what I could never achieve is given to me.

February 23, 2015  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

pg. 59-61

Through our union with Christ in his death we are delivered from the dominion of sin. But we still find sin struggling to gain mastery over us, as Paul depicted so vividly, “When I Want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21). We may not like the fact that we have this lifelong struggle with sin, but the more we realize and accept it, the better equipped we will be able to deal with it. The more we discover about the strength of indwelling sin, the less we feel its effects. To the extent that we discover this law of sin within ourselves, we will abhor and fight against it.

But though believers still have this indwelling propensity to sin, the Holy Spirit maintains within us a prevailing desire for holiness (1 John 3:9). The believer struggles with the sin God enables him to see in himself. This is the picture we see in Romans 7:21, and it distinguishes believers from unbelievers who lie serenely content in their darkness.

Interpretations of Romans 7:14-25 fall into three basic groups. It is not the purpose of this book to discuss those interpretations or to decide in favor of one of them. Whatever our interpretation of Romans 7, all Christians acknowledge the universal application of Paul’s statement “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me”. As indicated in the previous chapter, indwelling sin remains in us even though it has been dethroned. And through it has been overthrown and weakened, its nature has not changed. Sin is still hostile to God and cannot submit to His law (Rm 8:7). Thus we have an implacable enemy of righteousness right in our own hearts. What diligence and watchfulness is required of us when this enemy in our souls is ready to oppose every effort to do good?

If we are to wage a successful war against this enemy within, it is important that we know something of its nature and tactics. Fir of all, the Scripture indicates that the seat of indwelling sin is the heart, “for from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual desires, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man “unclean” (Luke 6:45; See also Gen 6:5 and Mark 7:21-23).

The word heart in Scripture is used in various ways. Sometimes it means our reason or understanding, sometimes our affections and emotions, and sometimes our will. Generally it denotes the whole soul of man and all its faculties, not individually, but as they all work together in doing good or evil. The mind as it reasons, discerns, and judges; the emotions at they like or dislike. The conscience as it determines and warns; and the will as it chooses or refuses are all together called the heart

December 30, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

War of Words Part 2- Paul Tripp

Pg. 126

Discover your roots- Luke 6:45 records one of the important things that Christ said about your communication.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

When I was growing up, my parents would take us to family reunions on my mom’s side of the family. My mother’s brothers and sisters were all unbelievers. Whenever we went to one of these reunions, my parents would stay for the meal and then whisk us away before the drinking began.

At one reunion my mom was engaged in conversation and did not realize that my uncle had gotten drunk in another room, where he saying sexually provocative things about the women present in front of me and my brother Mark. When Mom realized what was happening, she ran in, grabbed our hands, and stuffed us in the car. On the way home she said, “There is nothing that comes out of a drunk that wasn’t there in the first place.” I will never forget those words.

We must begin by admitting that people and situations do not cause use to speak as we do. Our hearts control our words. People and situations simply provide the occasion for the heart to express itself. Humbly confessing this opens to you the floodgates of God’s forgiveness and power. “He is faith and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

September 08, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Blame it on the Brain? By Ed Welch

Pg. 35-36

The questions now become a little more difficult. Having briefly reviewed the assumption that we are unity of two substances, and having determined that the church is on solid ground with this doctrine, the next questions is to define, describe, and name our immaterial substance.

A popular name for the immaterial stuff of the person is the spirit, but that is certainly not the only biblical name. Since the Bible has so much to say about our spiritual nature, it provides a rich and diverse vocabulary for it. In the Bible, “spirit” (pneuma) shares its field of meaning with a number of words. Included are terms such as “heart” (kardia), “mind” (dianoia, phrenes, and nous), “soul” (Greek: psuche. Hebrew:nephes), “conscience” (sunedesis), “inner self” (1Peter 3:4), and “inner man” (2 Cor 4:16). Even though these words have different emphases, they can be used almost interchangeably—and I will use them that way. The basic idea behind all these terms is that every human being lives a morally responsible creature before the face of God. We have a pervasive Godward orientation. Everything we do is related to the living God.

The heart in the Scripture is variously used; sometimes for the mind and understanding, sometimes for the will, sometimes for the affections, sometimes for the conscience, sometimes for the whole soul. Generally, it denotes the whole soul of man and all the faculties of it, not absolutely, but as they are all one principal of moral operations, as they occur in our doing good or evil… the seat and subject of the law of sin is the heart of man. –John Owen

August 19, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Uprooting Anger by Robert D. Jones

Pg. 103-104

How can you uncover your concealed anger and replace it with godly fruit? Can people really change? What directives can we offer Jill and other anger concealers like her?

1. See the sinfulness and ugly consequences of your bitter heart and concealing behavior.

As we saw in chapter 3, you must identify and expose the idols in your heart, those entrenched desires and demands. While the desires themselves are not necessarily evil, they become evil when they rule your heart. Good desires easily become bad masters. Journaling helps you detect such idols and learn from anger episodes what changes are required

One useful homework assignment is to list specific negative consequences-in relation to God, others, and yourself- of harboring anger. What will result if you continue to conceal your anger? Consider inviting your spouse and friends to add to your list.

2. Turn to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, and believe that he fully forgives you.

Having seen the sinfulness of your anger-concealing, believe in God’s provision of abundant grade in Jesus Christ. He died and rose not only for hot heads (flagrant sinners) but also for clammers (silent sinners who hide their anger). In light of his gracious promises, confess your sinful heart idols and clamming actions and receive his forgiveness. Furthermore, believe that there is help and hope in Christ. God’s grace not only forgives but also changes sinners. One reason why many Christians make little progress overcoming concealed anger is that they doubt God’s transforming grace. He can melt your bitterness and make you a forgiver.

July 18, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott

Pg. 97-98

What we worship is our passion. When we are passionate about something other than Christ, we will have the wrong desires and expectations. When we are passionate about Christ alone, we will have the right desires and expectations. In turn those desires will have a profound effect on our decisions, our actions, and our joy.

Some wrong desires and expectations in our marriages:

That my wife will please me with her physical looks and dress, her talents, abilities and accomplishment outside the home.

That I could do what I really like to do with my time.

That my wife wont be late or keep me waiting.

That my wife will be the sexual initiator, or be ready sexually when I desire her. That she would be the perfect sexual partner, no matter what is asked of her.

That she would treat me with respect

That I would know/find total love on a human level

That there would be peace and harmony around me always.

Some right desires and expectations:

That I may know Christ and delight to walk with him (Phi 3:10-14)

That I may know God’s word and obey it (Ps 119:18)

That I may seek Christ with my whole heart and become like him (Ps 119:2)

That I may used of God to witness for him (Mt 28:19-20)

That I may be pleasing to Christ regardless of my circumstance (2 cor 5:9)

July 11, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Pg. 68-69

The Heart of the Gospel

Sadly, this doctrine of substitution is probably the one part of the Christian gospel that the world hates most. People are simply disgusted at an idea of Jesus being punished for someone else’s sin. More than one author has called it “divine child abuse”. And yet to toss substitutionary atonement aside is to cut out the heart of the gospel. To be sure, there are many pictures in Scripture of what Christ accomplished with his death: example, reconciliation, and victory, to name three. But underneath them all is the reality to which all the other images point—penal substitution. You simply cannot leave it out, or even downplay it in favor of other images, or else you litter the landscape of Scripture with unanswered questions.

Why the sacrifices? What did the shedding of blood accomplish? How can God have mercy on sinner without destroying justice? What can it mean that God forgives iniquity and transgression and sin, and yet by no means clears the guilty (Ex. 34.7)? How can a righteous and holy God justify the ungodly (Rom 4:5)?

The answer to all these questions is found at the cross of Calvary, Jesus’ subsititionary death for his people. A righteous and holy God can justify the ungodly because in Jesus’ death, mercy and justice were perfectly reconciled. The curse was righteously executed, and we were mercifully saved.

July 04, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson

Pg. 111-112

Truth Grounded in Revelation:

The revelation has come to us in the natural world, in great events of miraculous power attested by witnesses, in the personal work of the spirit of God, in the enormously rich variety of writings that make up the Bible, and supremely in the person of Jesus Christ. These are not mutually exclusive channels. For instance, most of what we know propositionally about Jesus is found in the Bible, including those parts that preserve the testimony of witnesses – so here we have Jesus himself, witnesses who have left words about him, and the Bible that preserves them and conveys them.

First, the content can be indeed, has been- put into propositions, creeds, catechisms, statements of faith. It has substance. Of course there is an interpretive element in all our confessions, for finite beings cannot know anything without interpreting it. Only omniscience can escape the limitations of perspectivalism- of looking at things form a limited perspective. But that does not mean that all perspectives are equally valid, or that there is no truth in any particular interpretation.

As Christians band together to study the Bible, they come to convictions about what the Bible is saying- and that leads, rightly, to shared creeds that are modifiable only by more light from the Bible itself. Our confession of such truth cannot participate in the perfection of omniscience, but it is nonetheless valid and appropriate to the limitations of our finitude and our fallenness. Better yet, it is made possible by a gracious god who condescends to disclose himself in human words, and by the Spirit who convicts rebels of sin and illumines darkened minds.

June 24, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

God’s Sovereignty Part 3 by Marco Gonzalez

In my previous articles, we discussed God’s control over everything and compatibilism between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We learned that Libertarian Freedom, in itself, inadequately relieves this tension. Libertarians, however, are well aware of this and have adapted their views to what has been called: “Middle Knowledge”. In this view, supporters still claim the Libertarian freedom of man, but they integrate Middle Knowledge into their construct. Like most things in theology Middle Knowledge is not new. William Lane Craig, apologist and philosopher, is one of the foremost contemporary theologians who hold this view. As we will see, middle knowledge is simply another venue to human autonomy, the indeterminate view of God, and Libertarian freedom.

I have shown how God decrees all events, brings them about, and his absolute sovereign control over all things. We also know that God’s omniscience presupposes comprehensive knowledge. But what about passages that appear conditional? For example, If David leaves or stays in Keilah. Remember Saul is seeking his life and David has remained in Keilah. David prays to the Lord, seeking his guidance, as to whether he should remain there. The Lord responds:

[12] Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.”
(1 Samuel 23:12 ESV)

Two options have now been presented to David. First, if he remains, the Keilahites will betray him. Second, if he leaves, he will free himself of their betrayal. God, therefore, knows both the possibilities and actualities of any circumstance. God’s comprehensive knowledge not only includes what will actually happen in the past, present, and future, but possibilities that never occur.

In Matthew 11:20-24, we have a similar circumstance. In this passage, Jesus says that if Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom had seen his miracles they would have repented. Jesus knows what would have happened given another state of circumstances. It is noteworthy to mention Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum after seeing his miracles still rejected him.

"[20] Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. [21] “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. [22] But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. [23] And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. [24] But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

(Matthew 11:20-24 ESV)

I am hoping my more observant readers, will make the connection to Libertarian Freedom. God’s knowledge of these possibilities, given another state of circumstances, and the ability to “choose contrary” create the need for Libertarian Freedom. But if God knows all the possibilities of any circumstance, doesn’t this contradict his eternal plans? No, it is abundantly clear from scripture that God knows all the possibilities of any event. Of course, there are many possibilities that God can bring about, but has sovereignly determined not to. God’s knowledge of what is possible is called:

Necessary Knowledge or Natural Knowledge- God’s knowledge of possibilities is grounded in himself.

God knows all the possibilities because he knows himself and his nature. Since God knows himself, this knowledge cannot be imparted or influenced by his creatures. His knowledge is above and beyond man, because he knows himself. When God, however, brings about an actual event, meaning a possibility becomes an actuality, it is called:

Free Knowledge- God’s knowledge of actualities are the things he has decided to bring about.

Free knowledge refers to God’s eternal decree. It is a free act because God has determined, independently of any influence, to create and bring about his purposes. These acts are free and are not necessary, since it is based in himself. His purpose in these free acts is to display and magnify his worth. These two categories clearly and thoroughly explain God’s knowledge.

Subsequently, the idea of Middle Knowledge was created by Spanish Jesuit Luis Molina (1535-1600). His ideas have been adopted by Jesuits, Lutherans, and Arminians. Middle Knowledge, introduced a third category to God’s knowledge. William Lane Craig, in his book The Only Wise God, has explained the three categories, as follows:

1. Natural Knowledge: God’s knowledge of all possible worlds. The content of this knowledge is essential to God.

2. Middle Knowledge: God’s knowledge of what every possible free creatures would do under any possible set of circumstances and, hence, knowledge of those possible worlds which God can make actual. The content of this knowledge is not essential to God.

3. Free Knowledge: God’s knowledge of the actual world. The content of this knowledge is not essential to God.

Craig is attempting to reconcile the conditional passages of human responsibility and divine sovereignty. Even Israel, the chosen people of God, was given conditions of blessings and cursing based on their obedience. If the idea of Middle Knowledge was simply to explain the conditional connection between future events, with the connection determined by God, I would have no objection. But this connection is not what Craig has in mind or is trying to reconcile. Origen, an early church father once said, “Things do not occur because God knows them, but God foreknows them because they are going to occur.” This is exactly what Craig has in mind and his sequence of God’s knowledge allows it. God begins with Natural Knowledge, then consider the possibilities of Middle Knowledge, and creates with Free knowledge. With this sequence, God does not derive his knowledge of the free actions of men from himself, his eternal decree, but from creatures.

Take a look at definitions 1 and 2. Why separate “possible worlds” and “knowledge of what every possible free creatures would do under any possible set of circumstances” under distinct categories, when God knows both. God knows all possible words, assuming he is omniscient, and therefore he knows all creatures and their possible actions. God’s knowledge of contingencies belongs in his necessary knowledge and a third category is not needed. In my definition of necessary knowledge, I have included both.

This is why each category also states-“The content of this knowledge is not essential to God.” God’s knowledge does not originate with himself, or his nature, or his decree. At the root, when Middle Knowledge refers to “free creatures”, it means Libertarian freedom. I would refer the reader to see my post on Libertarian freedom here. Remember Libertarian freedom allows for the influence of an event, but the agent can always choose contrary, given any set of conditions. When God knows all the possible worlds, and makes one possible, that actual world must come to pass and will infringe upon human freedom. God has determined that all the events of that actual world must come to pass. If God is to have middle knowledge than he can’t know what choices humans will make. If God knows all the possibilities, given a set of circumstances, he cannot possible know human decisions because the circumstances or conditions never determine human choices. This is where Open Theist’s are absolutely correct, as they are well aware that if God chooses a possibility he is still determining all events. The act of an actual word is God foreordaining all events of that world. This is why I have excluded middle knowledge as a separate category.

It is interesting to note that both definitions of God’s knowledge and man’s choice are corresponding. God’s knows all possibilities, given a state of circumstances, and actualizes the world we choose. Yet man’s ability to choose is “the ability to choose contrary” given a state of circumstances. This is what Craig means when he says “free creatures” in definition 2. The need for Libertarian freedom is at the heart of middle knowledge. But we learned already about the inadequacy of Libertarian freedom. In our final analysis, we can’t agree with a middle knowledge that advocates Libertarian freedom.

June 02, 2014  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Providence of God by Paul Helm

Pg. 53-58

In Calvin’s eyes the movement of direction is from God to mankind, and not vice versa. Furthermore, because such language is an act of accommodation it is also an act of grace. Divine revelation is evangelical in motive and manner, as well as in content.

But does this not reduce much of language of scripture to a mere teaching tool, a concession to those who of weak capacity (as thinkers as different as Philo and John Locke have maintained)? While this may be our initial reaction, behind what may seem psychological or epistemological economy on God’s part, there lies a logical point of some importance.

What then lies behind Calvin’s view? He recognizes that it is because God whishes people to respond to him that he must represent himself to them as one to whom response is possible, and as one who is responsive, who acts in space and time in reaction to human actions in space and time. Only such an understanding is possible to provide for that divine human interaction which at the heart of biblical religion.

God is portrayed in scripture as separate from his creation, as self-sufficient, and as bringing into being a creation which is distinct from himself. On the other hand, God is also shown anthropomorphic ways, and his actions and character are also likened to non-human animals and to animate things. The reason for such portrayals is both pragmatic and logical: the need to represent God to human beings in ways which do not pander to the natural, sinful torpor and sluggishness of the human mind.

May 27, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Inerrancy and Precision

Taken from John Frame's, Systematic Theology (Pg. 598-600)

The word inerrancy does have a certain disadvantage, however, suggested by Orr's rather extreme distortion of its lexical meaning. The word has come to suggest to many the idea of precision, rather than its lexical meaning of mere truth.

Now, precision and truth are not synonyms, though they do overlap in meaning. A certain amount of precision is often required for truth, but that amount varies from one context to another. In mathematics and science, truth often requires considerable precision.

Similarly when I stand before a class and a student asks me how large a textbook is. Say I reply, "400 pages", but the actual length is 398. Have I committed an error, or told the truth? I think the later, for the following reasons: (1) In context, no body expects more precision than I gave in my answer. I met all the legitimate demands of the questioner. (2) "400", in this example, actually conveyed more truth than "398" would have. "398" most likely would have left the student with the impression of some number around 300, but "400" presented the size of the book more accurately.

We should always remember that scripture is, for the most part, ordinary language rather than a technical language. Certainly it is not of the modern scientific genre. In scripture, God intends to speak to everybody. To do that most efficiently, he (through human writers) engages in all the shortcuts that we commonly use among ourselves to facilitate conversation: imprecisions, metaphors, hyperbole, and parables, to name a few.

Inerrancy, therefore, means that the Bible is true, not that is maximally precise. To the extent that precision is necessary for truth, the Bible is sufficiently precision. But it does not always have the amount o precision that some readers demand of it. It has a level of precision sufficient for its own purposes for which some readers might employ it.

May 13, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

God's Works of Providence

The Christian View of Man by J. Machen (Pg. 90-101)

The truth lies in the biblical doctrine of providence. That doctrine is summed up in the following answer of the Shorter Catechism:

"God's works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing of all his creatures, and their action."

The theologians speaking of those forces truly operating in the world as "secondary causes". God is the first cause, but the forces of nature and free actions of personal beings whom God has created are second causes; and it is extremely important, if we would be true to the bible, that the existence of secondary causes should not be denied.

Only, it is important to observe that the two causes are not on the same plane. They are not coordinate, but one is completely subordinate to another. In every event in the natural world God has completely accomplished what he willed to accomplish. He is not limited in any way by the forces of nature or by the free actions of his creatures. They act truly; but they truly act only as he has determined they shall act. The correct way, therefore, expressing the relation between secondary causes and God, the great First Cause, is to say that God makes use of second causes to accomplish what is accordance with his eternal purpose.

Second causes are not independent forces whose cooperation He needs, but they are means that He employs exactly as He will.

May 09, 2014  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

God’s Sovereignty Part 2 by Marco Gonzalez


In my last post, I discussed the extent, degree, and magnitude of God’s sovereignty. I understand, however, it may have raised questions and concerns. Naturally, if I am claiming God’s sovereignty and absolute control, how can humans still be responsible? Better yet—how then, can we be responsible for our actions? Is God a master puppeteer, while human beings are strung and maneuvered by his hand? If all of human history is sovereignly orchestrated by God and upheld by his independent governing will, how can we make choices? These questions I will address; specifically, how are divine sovereignty and human responsibility compatible?

Let me begin by stating—Man is accountable for all his choices and decisions. It is a mistake to believe that man may sit idle, while God is governing all affairs. Human beings are responsible and accountable for all their choices. The scriptures continuously call for man to respond to God. In fact, Reformed Theology has always believed it to be an integral part of God’s sovereignty. Man is responsible to respond to the gospel. He is responsible to make upright and righteous decisions. He is responsible to love and care for his family. He is responsible even without sufficient saving knowledge of God. He is responsible to preach the gospel among the nations. God’s sovereignty does not negate human responsibility, but grants it, while also maintaining freedom and meaning to human decisions. Yet is an equal emphasis between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility even possible? The biblical writers, throughout the whole, find no problem coinciding God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.

In Romans 9, Paul anticipates objectors who question God:

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”. (Romans 9:14)

Paul responds with:

20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump done vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (Romans 9:20-21)

Similarly, scripture condemns those who crucified Christ, but this event was also decreed by God (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:22; 4:27-28). The main point of Romans 9 is to explain why the Jews, God’s chosen people, have not believed. Paul points their unbelief to God’s sovereign hand. Yet in Romans 10, he attributes it to their unbelief in the gospel. Jesus identified Judas, who would inevitably betray him, while the scriptures indicated it was decreed by God. Judas, however, was fully responsible. The Assyrians were also decreed, by God, to plunder and punish the Israelites. However, they were a fully responsible, wicked people, before God (Is 10:5-10). Finally Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery, being wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife, imprisoned and falsely accused, rebukes his siblings for their wicked intent. But at the same time, affirms God’s sovereign and good purposes (Gen 50:20). So how then, do our actions correspond to God’s sovereignty? Jesus, in Matthew 7, explains the nature of our ability to choose.

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).

Our choices are determined by desire. We act and speak, according to our character. This has commonly been referred to as “compatibilist freedom.” What we most desire, is what we will choose. If Bill decides to eat leftovers, it is not arbitrary, but based on an inward desire to eat. Our choices, then, are completely free in the sense that they come from what we most desire. It is called compatibilism, because it is compatible with determinism. Determinism means that every event, including human decisions, has a cause other than itself. Therefore, we are free, because we still act according to our desires. If a natural disaster occurs, let’s say a storm caused by God, we are free to respond according to our character and desire. Naturally, this would look for different for all people. Some would ensure the survival of others, while many would protect themselves. Everyone in this scenario, is freely choosing what they most desire. However, the most common view that objects to compatiblism is called “Libertarian Freedom”.

Libertarians emphasize that our choices are not determined in advanced, but that we are the ultimate causes of our choices. They do affirm that God is the first cause, but not in regard to human decisions.

R.K. McGregor Wright states:

“The belief that human will has an inherent power to choose with equal ease between alternatives. This is commonly called “the power of contrary choice” or “the liberty of indifference.” This belief does not claim that there are no influences that might affect the will, but it does insist that normally the will can overcome these factors and choose in spite of them. Ultimately, the will is free from any necessary causation. In other words, it is autonomous from outside determination.”

Notice from the start that Libertarians are very concerned with their autonomy. Human freedom, the power to choose contrary, is defined as the ability to choose A or A- given the same state of circumstances. If Bill chooses to eat ice cream, given the same state of circumstances as when he had chosen ice cream, he could have just as easily chosen fruit. Our desires, character, and longings may influence our decisions, but we always have the freedom to choose contrary. Libertarians believe without “the power of contrary choice” we are not responsible for our actions. In reality, this makes human decisions arbitrary, and in some sense, our decisions are independent from our own nature! Since we ultimately have the power to choose contrary. The human will, then, becomes an independent faculty that can’t be moved by anyone or anything; if it is, we are not responsible. In other words, we must be “able to do otherwise” at any given moment. This type of freedom has many problems and inconsistencies. In fact, I believe it actually eliminates human responsibility, instead of protecting it.

The scriptures in no way claim that we are responsible in the Libertarian sense. Libertarian freedom is not a biblical idea, or even exegetical, but is completely deduced. Unless we are going to begin inferring that every text that says “will” or “choose,” means “able to do otherwise.” Clearly, they don’t. Even in our judicial system, responsibility is based on motives. We are judged on character, motive of the crime, intent of our desires, all according to our character. A courts delineation of crimes is grounded upon causes, motives, and desires. In our example of Bill, he would therefore not be held responsible for his actions because he can act separately outside of his motives, greatest desires, and his character. As a result, Bill would be labeled as “criminally insane.” Libertarians want to preserve freedom and responsibility, but they in fact decimate it. Consequently, Libertarian freedom doesn't adequately answer God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Compabatlism freedom is supported by numerous texts and answers the dilemma of sovereignty and responsibility.

Wayne Grudem, in his highly acclaimed Systematic Theology, uses an analogy of an author writing a play. He uses the analogy of Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. Shakespeare is the author of the story, dictating the events, mapping the progression, and naturally is the first cause of all events. In this magnificent play Macbeth kills King Duncan. But who killed King Duncan? Did Shakespeare commit the crime or did Macbeth? Within the storyline, Macbeth carried out the murder of King Duncan. Macbeth killed King Duncan using all the means that were accessible to him. However, outside of the storyline, Shakespeare set the story in motion, determined and causes all events, created all the characters, and was involved in every detail. The author and characters, therefore, have different sets of causes within their levels. The characters are within their level of the storyline, while the author is outside. Using this analogy, God fully causes all things within his rights, as creator and sustainer, and we fully cause things in another way, as creatures.

April 28, 2014  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

God’s Sovereignty Part 1 by Marco Gonzalez


Over the past few months, I have been studying God’s absolute, complete, authoritative sovereignty. This is a glorious truth that we don’t want to miss in our lives. A truth like this, sustains our devotion, faith, and affections toward God. I know of no greater truth that withstands the tragedies of life, than the precious truth of God’s sovereignty. In creation, fall, and redemption God is in complete control.

William Cowper, author of “God Moves in Mysterious Ways,” was upheld and gravitated to this truth. Cowper struggled severely with depression, anxiety, and fears his whole life. He had attempted suicide several times. One night, in the midst of severe depression, he planned to drown himself in a river. On that particular evening, fog covered the city and the cab driver was unable to see. He believed that he had driven Cowper to his destination, the river. But when Cowper stepped out, he was at the front door of his home. There is no doubt in my mind, and hopefully in Cowper’s as well, that God caused the fog. The fog engulfed the night sky and left the cab driver unaware of his direction.

You see, God’s omnipotence and omniscience controls everything. His power and knowledge are infallible. Who can say to him, “What have you done?” God is the creator, we are the creature. Job, like all of us, realized that no purpose of God can be thwarted. The sovereignty of God is not always an easy doctrine to accept; however, it is a firm foundation which we place our faith on. God does not merely foreknow events that will take place based on human volition; he ordains them.

If God simply foreknows every event, according to human volition, then his power is limited by events, people, and actions. How can God who is above all, transcends above all, and surpasses above all be subject to human determination? Yet, this can’t logically and biblically be a coherent case for God’s sovereignty. When an event or action comes to pass, including human decisions, God must provide the means. This is, both meticulous and enormous. For example, if God knows that Peter will betray and deny him three times, it must come to pass. Even if God foreknows Peter’s future choice, he must still bring to pass all small and large events leading into Peter’s denial. Once Peter is created his denial is inevitable. In fact, before Peter was even born, his betrayal was determined. If God could prevent sin and chooses not to, then did he not ordain it to happen? I do not see how anyone, including my readers who disagree can object to this argument. God must orchestrate his will upon individuals, interactions with people, and small details. In other words, by limiting Peter’s choice, God accomplishes his will. If God did not ordain these things, then there is the possibility Peter would not deny him and God will be fallible.

Consider redemption history throughout scripture. How many events, leaders, nations, and prophecies did God have to bring to pass, which would ultimately lead to Christ? My purpose, however, is not to explain divine sovereignty and human responsibility, which I will at a later time. Of first importance, is to observe God’s control of all things.

1. Control over Nature

From natural calamities to the falling of a sparrow God exercises his complete authority.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (Matt 10:29)

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Prov 16:33)

Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? (Amos 3:6)

These are just a few texts that point to God’s absolute control of nature. Or consider Jesus, who stopped a storm by three words (Mark 4:39). There are no storms, earthquakes, massive destruction, or even death, which is outside of God’s command.

2. Human Actions

God’s sovereignty even extends to the affairs of men. Cyrus, who allowed the temple to be rebuilt, was under the complete control and will of God. Joseph’s preservation of Israel, along with his rise in power, was all determined by God. All ordained by God, in spite of, human affairs. This also includes the sinful actions of men. Again, if God’s foreknowledge is based on human volition, and yet he still permits sinful actions to occur, how can we not say he has ordained them? Simply put, human volition does not answer the question of God’s sovereignty, but raises more questions.

For example:

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)

In all of redemptive history, the most heinous, monstrous, scandalous sinful act of man was the death of Christ. Yet, the scriptures attest, God’s authoritative, sovereign right, and efficacious purposes.

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:27-28)

Every OT and NT writer affirmed the sovereign hand of God and exhorted believers to do the same. In all things God is preeminent.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13-15)

There are many more passages, vindicating God’s sovereign hand, but for our purposes I believe these suffice. It is undeniable, considering scripture as authoritative, to avoid God’s absolute control of history and nature. God ordains the whole course of history and nature is grounded in his wise immutable will. His knowledge, naturally, is grounded in his omniscience, which presupposes universal knowledge. Consider, for example, God as the author of a story. As author, he determines all chapters, knows the beginning to end, and dictates the progression of the story line.

As his collective people-- the church, we take part in this story. God has written the narrative of our lives, which come to fruition through obedience and faith. We have a God whose knowledge is exhaustive. What a wonderful truth! Of course, there are many more issues that arise from what has been stated. I will address these apparent inconsistencies or concerns in subsequent posts. For now, let us praise God, as controller, as sustainer, as Lord!

April 15, 2014  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink


The doctrine of the saints final perseverance in grace to glory, being a doctrine so fully expressed in the sacred scriptures, so clearly wrote there as with a sun-beam, having so large a compass of proof; as scarce any other doctrine has; ,a doctrine so agreeable to the perfections of God, and the contrary so manifestly reflecting dishonor upon them, particularly the immutability of God, his wisdom, power, goodness, justice, truth, and faithfulness; a doctrine so well established upon his purposes and decrees, his counsel and covenant, and which so well accords with all his acts of grace towards, and upon his people; a doctrine so well calculated for their spiritual peace and comfort, and to promote holiness of life and conversation; a doctrine one would think, that every good man must wish at least to be true; it may seem strange, that any man believing divine revelation, and professing godliness, should set himself to oppose it, and call such an Opposition Serious Thoughts upon it, as a late writer has done; who has published a pamphlet under such a title, and which now lies before me, and which I have undertook to answer, and shall attempt to do it in the following manner. And, it is to be hoped, he will think again, and more seriously, and that his latter thoughts will be better than his former.

I shall not dispute his account of saints, and the characters of them, though there are some things which require distinction and explanation. He has rightly observed, that the question about the saints falling away, is not meant of barely falling into sin, but so as to perish everlastingly and therefore he has not produced the instances of David, Solomon, Peter, and others; which, with great impertinence and impropriety are usually brought into this controversy. He has put what he has to say upon this subject into Eight propositions, which he endeavors to confirm by scripture authorities. And,

The First is, "That one who is holy or righteous in the judgment of God himself, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly;" in support of which he produces Ezekiel 18:24, but when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity—In his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Which he understands of eternal death, as he thinks is evident from verse 26 (Serious Thoughts, hereafter S. T., pp.4, 5). But 1. such a sense of the words is contrary to the scope and design of the whole chapter, which not at all concerns the perseverance or apostasy of saints, and neither their salvation nor damnation; but the sole view of it is to vindicate the justice of God, from a charge of punishing the Jews, not for their own sins, but the sins of their fathers, and of injustice and inequality in his providential dealings with them, and has nothing to do with the spiritual and eternal affairs of men.—

2. The whole context wholly and solely regards the house of Israel, and the land of Israel, and the conduct of the people of Israel in it, according to which they held or lost their tenure of it, and were either continued in it, or removed from it: so that it is quite impertinent to the case before us and this writer is guilty of what he calls a fallacy in others, in applying that to the saints in particular, which relates to the Jewish church and nation only, as distinguishable from all other people (S. T., p. 7), and so stands self-condemned.—

3. The righteous man here spoken of, is indeed called and allowed by the Lord himself to be so; yet that righteousness by which he is denominated, only regards him as an inhabitant of the land of Israel, and as giving him a title and claim to the possession and enjoyment of it; but not as justifying him before God, and giving him a title to eternal life and happiness. For this righteousness is called his, his own, and not another's, which he himself had done, and not what Christ had done for him, his own in which he trusted; it was a righteousness of works, as appears from verses 5-9, and not the righteousness of faith; there is not a word of faith in the account, nor of the obedience of Christ, nor of the sanctifying grace of the Spirit; this man does not appear to be either a righteous man or a holy man in an evangelical sense; wherefore the instance is quite impertinent. Millions of instances of this kind will never enervate the doctrine of the saints perseverance; let it be proved if it can, that any one that has been made righteous by the obedience of Christ, and has been truly and inwardly sanctified by the Spirit and grace of God, ever so fell away, as everlastingly to perish; let this be proved and we have done: As for a man's own righteousness and outward acts of holiness, we allow a man may turn from them and he lost, but not from the righteousness of Christ, which is everlasting, nor from an inward principle of grace and holiness, which ever abides.—

4.Besides, admitting that a righteous man in an evangelical sense is here meant., though it cannot be allowed; yet what is here said is only a supposition, which puts nothing in being, and is no proof or instance of matter of fact.—

And, 5. the death here spoken of, is not eternal death, or the death of soul and body in hell; for this death was now upon them, what they were complaining of as wrongfully punished with; it being, as they supposed, on account of their fathers sins, and not their own; and from which death also they might be delivered by repentance and reformation, see verses 23, 32. All which cannot be said of eternal death; but it is to be understood of some temporal affliction and calamity, which in Scripture is often called a death, as in Exodus 10:17; 2 Corinthians 1:10 and 11:23,such as captivity in which the Jews now were on account of their sins, and was the subject of their complaint. Dying in his iniquity, is the same as dying for his iniquity, and both in verse 26 (Ezekiel) signify the same thing, and are not two different deaths; which is repeated to shew the certainty of it; and is also what is meant by the death of the soul, not of the soul only, or of the body only, but of the person of the sinner, punished with a temporal affliction for his sins; and so falls short of proving that a truly righteous and holy man may perish everlastingly.

Continue here

April 14, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson


To discover what true repentance is, I shall first show what it is not. There are several deceits of repentance which might occasion that saying of Augustine that `repentance damns many'. He meant a false repentance; a person may delude himself with counterfeit repentance.

1. The first deceit of repentance is legal terror
A man has gone on long in sin. At last God arrests him, shows him what desperate hazard he has run, and he is filled with anguish. Within a while the tempest of conscience is blown over, and he is quiet. Then he concludes that he is a true penitent because he has felt some bitterness in sin. Do not be deceived: this is not repentance. Ahab and Judas had some trouble of mind. It is one thing to be a terrified sinner and another to be a repenting sinner. Sense of guilt is enough to breed terror. Infusion of grace breeds repentance. If pain and trouble were sufficient to repentance, then the damned in hell should be most penitent, for they are most in anguish. Repentance depends upon a change of heart. There may be terror, yet with no change of heart.

2. Another deceit about repentance is resolution against sin
A person may purpose and make vows, yet be no penitent. `Thou saidst, I will not transgress' (Jer. 2.20). Here was a resolution; but see what follows: `under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot'. Notwithstanding her solemn engagements, she played fast and loose with God and ran after her idols. We see by experience what protestations a person will make when he is on his sick-bed, if God should recover him again; yet he is as bad as ever. He shows his old heart in a new temptation.

Resolutions against sin may arise:
(1) From present extremity; not because sin is sinful, but because it is painful. This resolution will vanish.
(2) From fear of future evil, an apprehension of death and hell: `I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him' (Rev. 6.8). What will not a sinner do, what vows will he not make, when he knows he must die and stand before the judgment-seat? Self-love raises a sick-bed vow, and love of sin will prevail against it. Trust not to a passionate resolution; it is raised in a storm and will die in a calm.
3. The third deceit about repentance is the leaving of many sinful ways It is a great matter, I confess, to leave sin. So dear is sin to a man that he will rather part with a child than with a lust: `Shall I give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?' (Mic. 6.7). Sin may be parted with, yet without repentance.
(1) A man may part with some sins and keep others, as Herod reformed many things that were amiss but could not leave his incest.
(2) An old sin may be left in order to entertain a new, as you put off an old servant to take another. This is to exchange a sin. Sin may be exchanged and the heart remained unchanged. He who was a prodigal in his youth turns usurer in his old age. A slave is sold to a Jew; the Jew sells him to a Turk. Here the master is changed, but he is a slave still. So a man moves from one vice to another but remains a sinner still.
(3) A sin may be left not so much from strength of grace as from reasons of prudence. A man sees that though such a sin be for his pleasure, yet it is not for his interest. It will eclipse his credit, prejudice his health, impair his estate. Therefore, for prudential reasons, he dismisses it. True leaving of sin is when the acts of sin cease from the infusion of a principle of grace, as the air ceases to be dark from the infusion of light.

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March 24, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

How to Spend the Day With God By Richard Baxter

adapted and updated from
RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691)
by Matthew Vogan

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.


Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts

Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.

Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.


Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship

Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose

Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling

Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.
(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt

Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.

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March 21, 2014  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Help for the Weak By Richard Sibbes

By meditation on these rules and signs, much comfort may be brought to the souls of the weakest. That it may be in greater abundance, let me add something to help them over some few ordinary objections and secret thoughts against themselves which, getting within the heart, oftentimes keep them low.


1. Some think they have no faith at all because they have no full assurance, whereas the fairest fire that can be will have some smoke. The best actions will smell of the smoke. The mortar wherein garlic has been stamped will always smell of it; so all our actions will savor something of the old man.

2. In weakness of body some think grace dies, because their performances are feeble, their spirits, which are the instruments of their souls' actions, being weakened. But they do not consider that God regards the hidden sighs of those that lack abilities to express them outwardly. He that pronounces those blessed that consider the poor will have a merciful consideration of such himself.

3. Some again are haunted with hideous representations to their imaginations, and with vile and unworthy thoughts of God, of Christ, of the Word, which, as busy flies, disquiet and molest their peace. These are cast in like wildfire by Satan, as may be discerned by the strangeness, the strength and violence, and the horribleness of them even to corrupt nature. A pious soul is no more guilty of them than Benjamin was when Joseph's cup was put into his sack. Among other helps recommended by godly writers, such as detestation of them and diversion from them to other things, let this be one, to complain to Christ against them, and to fly under the wings of his protection, and to desire him to take our part against his and our enemy. Shall every sin and blasphemy of man be forgiven, and not these blasphemous thoughts, which have the devil for their father, when Christ himself was molested in this way so that he might succor all poor souls in this condition?

But there is a difference between Christ and us in this case. Because Satan had nothing of his own in Christ his suggestions left no impression at all in his holy nature, but, as sparks falling into the sea, were presently quenched. Satan's temptations of Christ were only suggestions on Satan's part, and apprehensions of the vileness of them on Christ's part. To apprehend ill suggested by another is not ill. It was Christ's grievance, but Satan's sin. But thus he yielded himself to be tempted, that he might both pity us in our conflicts, and train us up to manage our spiritual weapons as he did. Christ could have overcome him by power, but he did it by argument. But when Satan comes to us, he finds something of his own in us, which holds correspondence and has intelligence with him. There is the same enmity in our nature to God and goodness, in some degree, that is in Satan himself. Therefore his temptations fasten, for the most part, some taint upon us. And if there were no devil to suggest, yet sinful thoughts would arise from within us, though none were cast in from without. We have a mint of them within. These thoughts, if the soul dwell on them so long as to suck or draw from and by them any sinful delight, then they leave a more heavy guilt upon the soul, hinder our sweet communion with God, interrupt our peace, and put a contrary relish into the soul, disposing it to greater sins. All scandalous actions are only thoughts at the first. Ill thoughts are as little thieves, which, creeping in at the window, open the door to greater. Thoughts are seeds of actions. These, especially when they are helped forward by Satan, make the life of many good Christians almost a martyrdom. In this case it is an unsound comfort that some minister, that ill thoughts arise from nature, and what is natural is excusable. We must know that nature, as it came out of God's hands in the beginning, had no such risings out of it. The soul, as inspired of God, had no such unsavoury breathings. But since it betrayed itself by sin it is, in some sort, natural to it to forge sinful imaginations, and to be a furnace of such sparks. And this is an aggravation of the sinfulness of natural corruption, that it is so deeply rooted and so generally spread in our nature.

It promotes humiliation to know the whole breadth and depth of sin. But the fact that our nature now, so far as it is unrenewed, is so unhappily fruitful in ill thoughts, ministers this comfort, that it is not our case alone, as if our condition in this were different from others, as some have been tempted to think, even almost to despair. None, say they, have such a loathsome nature as I have. This springs from ignorance of the spreading of original sin, for what can come from an unclean thing but that which is unclean? 'As in water face answereth to face, so the [polluted] heart of man to man' (Prov. 27:19), where grace has not made some difference. As in annoyances from Satan, so here, the best way is to lay open our complaints to Christ, and cry with Paul, '0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' (Rom. 7:24). On giving vent to his distress, he presently found comfort, for he breaks into thanksgiving, 'I thank God.' And it is good to profit from this, to hate this offensive body of death more, and to draw nearer to God, as that holy man did after his 'foolish' and 'beastly' thoughts (Psa. 73:22 and 28), and so to keep our hearts closer to God, seasoning them with heavenly meditations in the morning, storing up good matter, so that our heart may be a good treasury, while we beg of Christ his Holy Spirit to stop that cursed issue and to be a living spring of better thoughts in us. Nothing more abases the spirits of holy men that desire to delight in God after they have escaped the common defilements of the world than these unclean issues of spirit, as being most contrary to God, who is a pure Spirit. But the very irksomeness of them yields matter of comfort against them. They force the soul to all spiritual exercises, to watchfulness and a more near walking with God, and to raise itself to thoughts of a higher nature, such as those which the truth of God, the works of God, the communion of saints, the mystery of godliness, the terror of the Lord, and the excellency of the state of a Christian and a conversation suitable to it, do abundantly minister. They discover to us a necessity of daily purging and pardoning grace, and of seeking to be found in Christ, and so bring the best often upon their knees.

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March 17, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Treatise Concerning Meditation by Thomas Watson

"His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:2

Having led you through the Chamber of Delight in my previous discourse, I will now bring you into the Withdrawing Room of Meditation. "In his law does he meditate day and night."

I. The opening of the Words, and the Proposition asserted.

Grace breeds delight in God, and delight breeds meditation. Meditation is a duty wherein consists the essentials of religion, and which nourishes the very life-blood of it. That the Psalmist may show how much the godly man is habituated to this blessed work of meditation, he subjoins, "In his law does he meditate day and night;" not but that there may be sometimes intermission: God allows time for our calling, he grants some relaxation; but when it is said, the godly man meditates day and night, the meaning is, frequently—he is much conversant in the duty.

It is a command of God to pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. 5:17. The meaning is—not that we should be always praying—but that we should every day set some time apart for prayer. We read in the Old law it was called the continual sacrifice, Numb. 28:24, not that the people of Israel did nothing else but sacrifice—but because they had their stated hours, every morning and evening they offered, therefore it was called the continual sacrifice. Thus the godly man is said to meditate day and night, that is, he is often at this work, he is no stranger to meditation.

Doctrine. The proposition that results out of the text is this—that a godly Christian is a meditating Christian, Psalm 119:15. "I will meditate in your precepts." 1 Tim. 4:15, "Meditate upon these things." Meditation is the chewing upon the truths we have heard. The beasts in the old law which did not chew the cud, were unclean; the professor who does not by meditation chew the cud, is to be accounted unclean. Meditation is like the watering of the seed, it makes the fruits of grace to flourish.

II. Showing the NATURE of Meditation.

If it be inquired what meditation is, I answer—Meditation is the soul's retiring of itself, that by a serious and solemn thinking upon God, the heart may be raised up to heavenly affections. This description has three branches.

1. Meditation is the soul's retiring of itself. A Christian, when he goes to meditate, must lock up himself from the world. The world spoils meditation; Christ went by himself into the mountainside to pray, Matt. 14:23, so, go into a solitary place when you are to meditate. "Isaac went out to meditate in the field," Gen. 24:63; he sequestered and retired himself that he might take a walk with God by meditation. Zaccheus had a mind to see Christ, and he got out of the crowd, "He ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him," Luke 19:3, 4. So, when we would see God, we must get out of the crowd of worldly business; we must climb up into the tree by retiredness of meditation, and there we shall have the best prospect of heaven.

The world's music will either play us asleep, or distract us in our meditations. When a mote has gotten into the eye—it hinders the sight. Just so, when worldly thoughts, as motes, are gotten into the mind, which is the eye of the soul—it cannot look up so steadfastly to heaven by contemplation. Therefore, as when Abraham went to sacrifice, "he left his servant and the donkey at the bottom of the hill," Gen. 22:5, so, when a Christian is going up the hill of meditation, he should leave all secular cares at the bottom of the hill, that he may be alone, and take a turn in heaven. If the wings of the bird are full of slime, she cannot fly. Meditation is the wing of the soul; when a Christian is beslimed with earth, he cannot fly to God upon this wing. Bernard when he came to the church-door, used to say, "Stay here all my worldly thoughts, that I may converse with God in the temple." So say to yourself, "I am going now to meditate, O all you vain thoughts stay behind, come not near!" When you are going up the mount of meditation, take heed that the world does not follow you, and throw you down from the top of this pinnacle. This is the first thing, the soul's retiring of itself—lock and bolt the door against the world.

2. The second thing in meditation, is, a serious and solemn thinking upon God. The Hebrew word to meditate, signifies with intenseness to recollect and gather together the thoughts. Meditation is not a cursory work, to have a few transient thoughts of religion; like the dogs of Nilus that lap and then run away; but there must be in meditation a fixing the heart upon the object, a steeping the thoughts. Carnal professors have their thoughts roving up and down, and will not fix on God; like the bird that hops from one branch to another, and stays in no one place. David was a man fit to meditate, "O God, my heart is fixed," Psalm 108:1.

In meditation there must be a staying of the thoughts upon the object; a man who rides quickly through a town or village—he minds nothing. But an artist who is looking on a curious piece, views the whole portraiture of it, he observes the symmetry and proportion, he minds every shadow and color. A carnal, flitting professor, is like the traveler, his thoughts ride hastily—he minds nothing of God. A wise Christian is like the artist, he views with seriousness, and ponders the things of religion, Luke 2:19. "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."

3. The third thing in meditation, is, the raising of the heart to holy affections. A Christian enters into meditation, as a man enters into the hospital—that he may be healed. Meditation heals the soul of its deadness and earthliness; but more of this afterwards.

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March 14, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Free Will and Moral Responsibility by John Frame

About ten years ago I interviewed John Frame. I was just starting to become familiar with his work and I am so glad I was introduced to him. John Frame is one of the clearest, precise, and critical thinkers of our time. John Frame is so committed to the authority of scripture he will uphold this over any confession written by man. I truly appreciate this about John Frame. He is not simply a man who try's to uphold a confession, but scripture. The following is an article he wrote about Free Will and Moral responsibility.

I highly recommend his Systematic Theology which is the magnum opus of his life work.

There are two theories of free will that are often discussed in relation to ethical responsibility. The first is usually called “libertarianism,” and it is typical of Arminian theology. Many philosophers have also argued for it, from Epicurus in ancient times to C. A. Campbell, H. D. Lewis, Alvin Plantinga and many others recently. Indeed, it seems to be something of a consensus among Christian philosophers today that one cannot do justice to moral responsibility without presupposing a libertarian view of freedom.

The libertarian view states that some human decisions and actions, particularly moral and religious decisions, are strictly uncaused. In the most sophisticated forms of libertarianism, these decisions are not even caused by our desires or character. They are very insistent on this: a truly free act is not an act which carries out our strongest desire; it rather, typically, goes against our strongest desire. The libertarian is aware, of course, that our desires are largely a function of our heredity, environment, past decisions and so on. If free decisions are based on desires, he thinks, they are not fully free. They are not in this case wholly uncaused.

The libertarian argues that such a view is essential to moral responsibility. For no one is responsible for an act unless he “could have done otherwise.” If I am strapped to a robotic machine which, using my arms, robs a bank, I am not to blame for robbing the bank. I “could not have done otherwise.” Such is the libertarian argument.

I have always felt that this position lacked cogency. For one thing, it denies the rule of God’s sovereignty over the hearts and decisions of human beings, a rule which I find abundantly attested in Scripture (see my lectures on the Doctrine of God). Indeed, in saying that human actions can be “uncaused,” it attributes to man ultimate causality; but in Christianity, only God is the first cause.

For another thing, libertarianism seems to me to be unintelligible on its own terms, for it makes our moral choices accidental. R. E. Hobart, in a famous article from the 1930s, wrote to the effect that on the libertarian basis, a moral choice is like my feet popping out of my bed without my desiring them to, and carrying me where I don’t want to go. The attempt to separate decisions from desires is psychologically perverse.

Further, libertarianism, rather than guaranteeing moral responsibility, actually destroys it. How can we be held responsible for decisions, if those decisions are “psychological accidents,” unconnected with any of our desires? Indeed, such a situation would, precisely, negate all responsibility. Certainly it is difficult to imagine being held responsible for something we really didn’t want to do.

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March 05, 2014  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Regeneration by Charles Hodge

The following excerpts are from an essay written by Charles Hodge entitled "Regeneration and The New Divinity Trend" taken from the Princeton Review: First Series, published in New York by Wiley and Putnam in 1846. It was written in review of "Regeneration and the Manner of Its Occurrence, A Sermon from John 5:24". Preached at the Opening of the Synod of New York, in the Rutgers Street Church, on Oct 20 1829, by Samuel H. Cox, D.D., Pastor of the Laight Street Presbyterian Church. Hodge takes on some common philosophic arguments against the doctrine of monergistic regeneration. He successfully refutes the synergistic teaching that the natural man's decision to trust Christ must come from an indifferent moral disposition, as often claimed. Hodge shows that the only reasonable explanation for holy decisions is that they must spring from holy first causes and inclinations. The ideas in the following excerpts of Hodge's fine essay must be mastered by anyone who intends on teaching a gospel that is faithful to the Scripture. The essay is not a biblical exposition (that is done elsewhere), but rather, a response to philosophical opposition to the truth of the Spirit's monergistic work of grace in the soul of the elect.

...[Jonathan] Edwards not only admits that moral principles and habits may and must exist in the soul prior (in the order of nature) to moral action, but his whole system of practical theology, as it seems to us, rests on this foundation. The great fundamental principle of his work on the affections is this: All gracious or spiritual affections presuppose and arise from spiritual views of divine truth. These views the natural man neither has, nor can have, while he remains such. Hence arises the necessity of such a change of being wrought in the state of the soul that it can perceive the beauty and excellence of divine things. This change consists in imparting to the soul what he calls 'a new sense' or a new taste, or relish, or principle, adapted to the perception and love of spiritual excellence.

...After having stated that the exercises of the true Christian are specifically different from those of unsanctified men, he infers that if the exercises are different, the principle whence they proceed must be different, or there must be, 'as it were, a new spiritual sense, or a principle of a new kind of perception of spiritual sensation.' And he hence explains why it is that 'the work of the Spirit of God in regeneration is often in Scripture compared to giving a new sense, giving eyes to see and ears to hear, unstopping the ears of the deaf and opening the eyes of them that were born blind, and turning them from darkness to light....'

...[The question is] why does one man see and feel a beauty in certain objects when others do not? Is there is no difference between the clown and the most refined votary in the arts, but in their acts? Is any man satisfied by being told that one loves them, and the other does not; that it is in vain to ask why; the fact is enough, and the fact is all; there is no difference in the state of their minds antecedent to their acts; there can be no such thing as a principle of taste of sense of beauty, distinct from the actual love of beauty?

We are disposed to think that no man can believe this: that the constitution of our nature forces us to admit that if one man, under all circumstances and at all times, manifests its quick sensibility to natural beauty, and another does not, there is some difference between the two besides their acts; that there is some reason why, when standing before the same picture, one is filled with pleasure and the other is utterly insensible. We cannot help believing that one has taste (a quality, principle, 'or inward sense') which the other does not possess. It matters not what it may be called. It is the ground or reason of the diversity of their exercises which lies back of the exercises themselves, and must be assumed to account for the difference of their nature.

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March 04, 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

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.


February 07, 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.



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:

February 04, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Are We Saved by Free Grace or Free Will?

There are many persons in the visible church who declare that we must meet a condition before God will extend His grace to us. But if there is a condition we must meet, then how can it still be considered grace? Grace is unmerited favor granted to sinners, not based on any condition the sinner must first meet, but based on God's unconditional love for those he came to save (Eph 1:4. 5). Indeed God does make us responsible to meet His condition(s), but thanks be to God, His love for His people is not based on meeting those condition(s). In fact the bible teaches us that His love is so great that God loved us while we were still sinners and showed this love to us by meeting the condition(s) for us in the Person of Jesus (Rom. 5:8). In Him God does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves ... living the life we should have lived and dying the death we justly deserved ... giving us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe (Deut 29:4, 30:6; Ezek 36:26; John 6:63, 65, 37). Grace is not a reward for those who obey God's summons to believe, but the cause of our obedience to the summons (John 17:9, 12, 17, 20, 24).

November 25, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Meeting the Condition for Salvation

There is a condition we must meet for salvation. But, thank God for his great mercy, Jesus meets the condition FOR US. Part of his glorious work on our behalf is to give us everything we need for our salvation, including his Holy Spirit to believe. Indeed, we do the believing, but it is the Spirit quickens, who opens our eyes and heart that we might do so.(1)

"The Spirit gives life [quickens], the flesh counts for nothing...No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me grants it."(John 6:63,65)

"All that the Father gives to me will come to me." (John 6:37)

Both statements from the same discussion in John 6 and leave no room for the view that we can come to faith in Jesus on our own or even by cooperation... we come only if we are granted it .. and ALL to whom it is granted will come to faith in Jesus, my Bible declares.

(1) Note: In a similar way God gives us physical eyes, but we do the seeing. What is impossible for man (making himself new eyes) is possible with God.

November 04, 2013  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The "Unbelieving Christian"

The Carnal Christian doctrine of "eternal security" is a vastly different doctrine than the biblical doctrine of the "preservation of the saints." The Carnal Christian theory teaches that a Christian can lose his faith and yet still be a Christian so they actually use the term "unbelieving Christian". On the contrary, the Biblical doctrine of preservation declares that while we MUST persevere to the end (Colossians 1:21-23, 1 John 1:5-10; 3:3-6 Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 12:1) but it also teaches that GOD WILL preserve us to the end (Colossians 1:21-23, 1 John 1:5-10; 3:3-6, Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 12:1)

Here is what the carnal Christian doctrine comes to. Below is a list of quotes from Dr. Charles Stanley’s book Eternal Security:

1. ”Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy” (Chapter 10, p. 93).
”And last, believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation, for God remains faithful” (p. 94).
”Christ will not deny an unbelieving Christian his or her salvation because to do so would be to deny Himself” (p. 94).
In regards to the parable Jesus taught in Matthew 25:14-30, Stanley writes:

The final verse of this parable is so severe that many commentators assume it is a description of hell. It is not. (p. 124) Where is this place represented by the “outer darkness” in Jesus’ parable? To be in the “outer darkness” is to be in the kingdom of God but outside the circle of men and women whose faithfulness on this earth earned them a special rank or position of authority. (p. 126)

Additionally, below is a list of quotes from Dr. Stanley’s book Handbook for Christian Living:

You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our Lord (p. 190).

Discipleship has nothing to do with whether you will go to heaven or not (p. 505).

It is possible to be a child of God and never a disciple of Christ. We can live the Christian life with the assurance of heaven as our ultimate destiny but miss the process of maturing as a disciple (p. 505).

October 29, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Obedience Not in Order to Be Saved, But Because we are Saved

We believe, follow, love and obey Christ, not in order to be regenerate/justified (a completed action by Christ), but BECAUSE we are regenerate/justified. These add nothing to Christ's redemptive work but are overflow from a regenerate/redeemed heart. They are FRUITS of our salvation, not the root. While indeed the Bible teaches that we must come to Christ in faith to be JUSTIFIED but it also teaches that "everyone who BELIEVES that Jesus is the Christ HAS BEEN (past tense continuing action) born of God [REGENERATED]." (1 John 5:1) Therefore, from regeneration springs faith and a new desire to follow and love Christ. (see 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:4 for scriptural proof)

October 28, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Reason for Unbelief

In Deuteronomy 29:2–4 Moses summons all of Israel and says, "You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear."

i.e. Left to themselves (to their own native resources) they are blind, deaf and hard-hearted. This is the condition of ALL MEN unless God grants eyes, ears and a new heart.

October 25, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Regeneration (excerpt) by Matthew Barrett

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit to unite the elect sinner to Christ by breathing new life into that dead and depraved sinner so as to raise him from spiritual death to spiritual life, removing his heart of stone and giving him a heart of flesh, so that he is washed, born from above and now able to repent and trust in Christ as a new creation. Moreover, regeneration is the act of God alone and therefore it is monergistic in nature, accomplished by the sovereign act of the Spirit apart from and unconditioned upon man’s will to believe. In short, man’s faith does not cause regeneration but regeneration causes man’s faith.

In Deuteronomy 30:6 we read, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” If the circumcision of the heart refers to regeneration (cf. Rom. 2:25–27), then to what purpose does God promise to circumcise the heart? He circumcises the heart “so that” his people will love the Lord. The Lord does not circumcise their hearts “because” they acted in repentance and faith by loving the Lord. Rather, it is God’s sovereign act of circumcising the heart that causes the sinner to love him. Nowhere in Deuteronomy 30:6 do we see any indication that God’s sovereign act of circumcising the heart is conditioned on the will of man to believe. Rather, it is quite the opposite. The Lord must first circumcise the heart so that the sinner can exercise a will that believes.

- Matthew Barrett, from his booklet, What is Regeneration? by P&R Publishing

October 25, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

But what about "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved?

Indeed. We all affirm wholeheartedly that "whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." and that is what we declare to all men; but therein lies the difficulty. Are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? "Whosoever will" it is a conditional statement asserts nothing indicatively. Statements like "believe the gospel", "whosoever will", "if thou art willing", "if thou hear", "if thou do" declare, not man's ability, but his duty. By failing to see this It appears you are confusing imperatives (commands) with indicatives (what God does for us). By doing so you end up ignoring half of the Bible which gives you the content to read this in.... the Bible which declares "whosoever will" also asserts that no man will come to Christ unless God grants it (John 6:65). And all those He grants will come (John 6:37) We indiscriminately call all men to believe the gospel but the Bible also teaches that no one will come apart from grace.

Synergists teach that 'salvation depends on human will', but the Bible teaches that (and I quote) 'it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom 9:16)

Synergists teach '... and as many as believed were ordained to eternal life.' but The Bible teaches (and I quote) 'AND AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED.' (Acts 13:48)

Synergists teach that 'you are not Christ's sheep because you do not believe', but Jesus teaches that 'you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.' (John 10:26)

Many seem to invert this clear biblical order. Grace is not a reward for faith, but the cause of it. To invert this is to confuse imperatives and indicatives. By doing so you end up ascribing your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, humility, sound judgment and good sense and not to Christ alone. Then it becomes, not a gospel of grace, but of meeting conditions in order to win God's grace. That is nothing less than salvation by merit.

October 19, 2013  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

God Regularly Interferes with Human Wills by Robert Bernecker

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Who's Your Father: Returning to the Love of the Biblical God by Robert Bernecker (posted with permission)

From Genesis to Revelation, God freely interferes with human will to accomplish his own eternal purpose. Even the great sinful rebellion seen in Revelation 17 is said “to carry out God’s purpose” (v. 17). In regards to the choices and actions of the ten sinful, rebellious kings described in this passage, we are told explicitly that “God put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose” (v. 17), which in this case will be his inevitable conquering of these rebellious kings and people (v. 14).

The collective preponderance of these many Scriptures thoroughly dispels the notion that God is somehow a “gentleman” that is either unable or unwilling to turn the hearts and wills of humans (and thereby their choices) to accomplish his own purpose. In fact, Psalm 33:10 (NASB) teaches us the exact opposite: “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” We do not read that the Lord honors the counsel of the nations and carefully respects the plans of the people. Instead, we are told, “The Lord reigns, let the people tremble!” (Psalm 99:1). We should learn from Jeremiah, who declared his awareness of this glorious truth in Jeremiah 10:23: “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”

Contrary to much popular teaching of our day, our Father clearly can and regularly does interfere with human free will. To our great loss, we have drifted far from the historic confession of God’s sovereign involvement in every facet of his creation. In fact, Augustine made no effort to conceal his disdain for any such suggestions that would artificially limit God’s ascendancy, and he wrote bluntly that it was “blasphemous” and “foolish” to assert that God does not change the wills of men whenever and however he chooses.4 We must repent of such foolishness, and we should instead praise our God that he does change our will! Many who profess that “God is a gentleman” have probably never considered the consequences of a world where God, for whatever reason they may assert, did not actually influence, change, and interfere with humanity’s fallen will. How horrible indeed that would be!

Read the entire essay here: The Illusion of a Gentleman God by by Robert Bernecker

October 01, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

From A Flying Eagle's Perspective

Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Location : Chamonix, Mer De Glace area

September 19, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Good and Hard


The writer of Hebrews outlines what many have called “the Hall of Faith” in Chapter 11. Here we see the actions of those who have faith, and we also see the results. For some, the outcome was very GOOD; for others it was extremely HARD. Any yet in either case, they are commended for their faith.

Hebrews 11:32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms (GOOD), enforced justice (GOOD), obtained promises (GOOD), stopped the mouths of lions (GOOD), 34 quenched the power of fire (GOOD), escaped the edge of the sword (GOOD), were made strong out of weakness (GOOD), became mighty in war (GOOD), put foreign armies to flight (GOOD). 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection (GOOD). Some were tortured (HARD), refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking (HARD) and flogging (HARD), and even chains and imprisonment (HARD). 37 They were stoned (HARD), they were sawn in two (HARD), they were killed with the sword (HARD). They went about in skins of sheep and goats (HARD), destitute (HARD), afflicted (HARD), mistreated (HARD)— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains (HARD), and in dens and caves of the earth (HARD).

Once again - whether the people enjoyed seeing God’s miraculous power or whether they endured terrible hardships, they were commended for their faith.

August 19, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Physical Birth - Spiritual Birth


Physical birth: What role did your will have in your physical birth? Answer: nothing!

Were you consulted about the matter? Did you give your approval so that you might have life? Did you choose your parents, your situation, your sex or your country?

No, you did not. Your parents (by their activity alone) made the choice to cause your birth.

Spiritual birth: What was it that triggered the new birth?

The Apostle John lists three things that were non factors:

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

1. It was NOT because of blood (not because of human ancestry).
2. It was NOT because of the will of the flesh.
3. It was NOT because of human will.

Question: So what caused the new birth?

Answer: GOD!

God did it! The new birth is the work of God alone, all of grace.

- JS

August 08, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Jn 14:15

Don't verses like these (and they are numerous) demonstrate that as Christians we still have to obey God's commands?

As you know, we affirm with the Bible that salvation is not by law but by Christ alone, but you should not automatically conclude from this that we are against God's law. Christians are not against the law but against trusting in my ability to keep it in order to attain a righteousness standing before a holy God, something which only Christ, the sinless one, can do for us. The law was given to reflect God's holy standard which reveals our sin and moral inability to fulfill it (Rom 3:19-20) ... It shows that we could never attain righteousness on our own. The more we see the majesty and perfection of God, the more we will see how out of reach and unobtainable God is. it would require holy perfection on our part to please God which makes our covenant responsibility as human beings so great that it should make us buckle under the weight of it.

But we should not, as Christians, be threatened by the law. It is good and comes from the mouth of God Himself. It is only wrong when we somehow erroneously think that we are capable to live by it ourselves and do not need grace.

The view of the Bible that seems to most accurately reflect its Author's intent is the most Christocentric one. It is the view which sees Christ and His work as sufficient ....sufficient to provide EVERYTHING we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe (Ezek 36:26; John 6:37, 63-65). Other views tend to see the Bible, at least partly, as a self-help book ... that Christ is indeed necessary, but not actually sufficient to provide EVERYTHING... that we must do our part to EITHER attain or maintain our just standing before God. Such a view believes that God only helps those who first help themselves. But the Bible teaches, rather, that God only helps those who are unable to help themselves ... those that are spiritually bankrupt and come to Christ with empty hands.

The Biblical view is that we do indeed work ... but we work out of our salvation. We work and do because of the grace of God in us, not in order to attain the grace of God. Grace is not a reward for faith but the cause of it. Keeping Jesus’ commandments is an effect of the love He has ignited in our heart ...We love God and keeps his command because He first loved us and Kept the commands for us.

August 07, 2013  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Man's Natural Inability


John 3:

Nicodemus:2 'We know that you are a teacher having come from God. For no one is able [dunatai] to do these signs that you do unless God is with him.'

Jesus:3 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot [dunatai] see the kingdom of God.'

Nicodemus:4 'How can [dunatai] a man be born when he is old old? Can [dunatai] he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?'

Jesus:5 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot [dunatai] enter the kingdom of God. . . . The wind blows where it wishes...'

Nicodemus:9 'How can [dunatai] these things be?”

* * * * *

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

65 Jesus: And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can [dunatai] come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

* * * * *

Romans 8:
Paul: 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot [dunatai]. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot [dunatai] please God.

* * * * *

1 Cor 2:
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able [dunatai] to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

* * * * *

In contrast:

1 John 5:1: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God."

Comment: In the original Greek, the verb tenses in this verse are very revealing. A literal translation reads as follows: "All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action) that Jesus is the Christ has been born (gennesanta, perfect tense - an action already complete with abiding effects) of God."

The fact that someone is presently going on believing in Christ shows that they have first been born again. Faith is the evidence of regeneration, not the cause of it. Since both repentance and faith are possible only because of the work of God (regeneration), both are called the gift of God in Scripture (Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim 2:24-26).

August 05, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  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 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

How Did God Save During the Old Testament Period?

The New Testament declares that the gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand (Galatians 3:8). And Jesus said of this ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.’ (John 8:56) How were the people of the OT saved? By works? By Animal sacrifice? (Heb 10:4) No. They were saved by Christ and Christ alone (see Heb 9:15). The gospel they knew was a shadow but they were still saved by the blood of Christ. There is no other way of salvation except by "the lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:8)

Submission to the Levitical sacrifice under the old administration was a yielding of God's way of salvation in the OT. The regenerate Jews realized that these were but types of the reality that was to come. The fact that the Jews apprehension of this was incomplete is irrelevant. As for people such as Cornelius and Lydia who are said to be God fearing, worshipers of God, why was the gospel preached to them if they were already saved? The good news was preached to those in the transition period (the book of Acts) so that those who already knew Christ in shadows would now know the fulness of revelation. (See Romans 4:17–24 & Galatians 3:6–29) The only alternative would be to keep the fulness of the good news from them, which would be problematic. Enlightened saints in the transition period were waiting for the Christ and wanted to behold him (Luke 2:26).

June 27, 2013  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink



“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…” Ephesians 1:13 (ESV)

(an extended paraphrase) “When you believed God’s truthful message, the gospel that saved you, you were placed into Christ and stamped with a seal that cannot be broken, erased, deleted or tampered with. This unbreakable seal is the Holy Spirit Himself and signifies God’s total approval of you! When He looked over all that He had done in you, He saw nothing flawed or inferior whatsoever, but all was as it should be. That seal tells everyone that you belong to God and no one can ever interfere with the package! Even more, this Holy Spirit-stamp means the postage is pre-paid to get you all the way to your ultimate destination! So you can be sure that once your journey with the Lord began, you will make it all the way to the final destination – safe forever, home at last.”

June 26, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Fallen Man Has No Hope If Left to Himself

Fallen man is fully responsible to repent, submit, believe, love, obey, and persevere in holiness. But He won't. Rebellious fallen man will never lift a finger to do so ... so he has no hope if left to himself ... No hope, that is, UNLESS Christ gives him ears to hear and eyes to see and mercifully circumcises his heart, turning his heart of stone to a heart of flesh that he might believe and obey (Deut 30: 6; Ezek 36:26; John 6:63, 65, 37). But remember, due to man's willful hatred of God, the Lord is under no obligation to save anyone. If would be perfectly just if he left all men to themselves and their own desires. Yet God still has mercy on many sinners (which is amazing) in spite of themselves ... but He has justice on the others due to their willful sin. so humans either get mercy or justice in this world, but no one gets injustice.

June 03, 2013  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

What is a Christian?

What is a Christian? One who, by the grace of God, can declare that he justly deserves the wrath of God, save for the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. He casts aside all hope in his self-righteousness and puts away all pride in his own goodness. One who is glad to be regarded as spiritually bankrupt, a poor sinner, saved by the free grace and righteousness of Christ and, with a grateful heart, yields in allegiance to Him alone as LORD and sovereign. In a word, one who "glories in Christ Jesus and has no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3)


Related Resources
The Bible's Answer To The Question: What Is A Christian? by Wayne Mack
What is a Christian? (MP3 Series) Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson and Dr. Derek Thomas
What is it to be a Christian? (MP3 Series) by William Still
What Is a Christian? (MP3) by Al Martin
What is a Christian? -Matthew 5:1-12 (MP3) Daniel Hyde | Studies in Matthew

May 29, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Parable of the Soils is Clear Evidence Against Libertarian Free Will

casting.jpgThe parable of the soils (Matt 13) is direct evidence against the unbiblical doctrine of "libertarian free will" since it is the quality of the soil that determines whether or not it bears fruit. Libertarian free will proponents teach that the choices people make are not determined in any sense by the character or inclinations of the people who make them, which would render this parable meaningless. Fact is, the soil can not choose its nature, therefore it can not choose its fruit. Therefore, the soil must not only be prepared by God (Rom 9:23) the seed will not grow unless the Lord causes it to grow (1 Cor. 3:6).

We all agree that faith is not a work since it points away from self to Christ for salvation, but many make it into a work when they declare that it has its source in a good heart and so turns our eyes back from Christ to a self-generated faith apart from grace alone.

It is "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.” (1 Cor 1:30-31)

April 23, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Parable of the Four Soils?

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

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

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

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

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

March 24, 2013  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Evangelical Inconsistencies

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

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


March 21, 2013  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Precious one...

Have you ever been deeply hurt, totally ignored by somone you thought was a friend; or worse, even betrayed by them? Just remember, not only does God come very close at such times, but He is also preparing you to help others.

Think about it - who is the best person to help an alcoholic? A former alcoholic, right? Who is the best person to help a widow in their grief? Someone who has read a few books, or someone who has been through the incredible trauma of watching someone they love, slowly ebb away? We all know the answer.

Pour out your heart to the Lord. Let Him come near. Let Him touch you and heal your obvious wounds. Open your heart to the One who works all things, yes, even this, for your good. Allow His word to be your comfort, your strength, your sure guide in the midst of the storm. Let His word be the foundation under your feet when nothing else makes sense. Read the Psalms. See how men of God poured out their soul to the One who cannot be fully fathomed by human minds. And yet, each found Him to be the rock - the sure thing - perhaps the only sure thing in their lives. They found Him to be a shield, a fortress, a strong tower of hope. May I encourage you to do the same? As you do, you will know the Author of the word in a dimension unknown to you before. You will know how great a comfort God is; that is is ever faithful and true. Then see what doors He opens up for you to help other hurting people around you.

Precious child of God - just remember, God is a loving Father. I know you know that already. You have heard it thousands of times before, but right now, I believe as the hours slowly drag into days, and those long days roll into weeks, it will not be long before you will know this truth far more deeply than you do right now. He will get you through this.. you really will come out the other side... and when you do, He will have people cross your path who will want to know what got you through the darkest night of the soul. Its called Christian ministry.

Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

- JS

February 14, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Instrument Flight Rules

Any would-be pilot engages in intense, rigorous training and testing before he is ever allowed to fly a commercial airplane, and rightly so. People’s lives depend on a wise and safe operator of the plane in all weather conditions.

Early on in the training, a pilot learns the difference between visual flight rules (VFR) and instrument flight rules (IFR). As the words might suggest, one refers to the rules of flight when visibility is good, the other, when visibility is hampered in some way. I am told that a licensed pilot can fly when there are good visibility conditions but only IFR certified pilots can fly when there is cloud cover of any kind.

The instrument panel in the cockpit is a highly expensive part of the plane, if not the most expensive. It is absolutely vital that the gage readings are accurate, allowing the pilot to determine the pitch, altitude and speed of the aircraft. The pilot learns to trust the instruments more than his own feelings and perceptions.

The instruments are right, even when he might feel that they are wrong. He may feel he is not flying so fast, but if his instruments indicate otherwise, he must slow down before landing. He may feel a whole number of things in fact, and many times, what he feels might indeed be true, but his training reaffirms to him, over and over again, and then over and over again… that feelings are not safe; they cannot be trusted; the instruments alone are the final guide in all things.

I think it is fairly easy to see how pilot training illustrates the Christian life. Our senses are not dependable guides when it comes to knowing our standing before God. Like the instruments of the cockpit, the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith for the people of God. By it, we determine our doctrine of God, and of His gospel. The Bible is right when our feelings might well suggest other conclusions. God has spoken with clarity in His word. In fact, it is more accurate than any instrument that man can build. The Bible alone is the infallible, inerrant word of God, because God Himself is its author.

In the storms of life, what a safe refuge the word of God is. The Scripture says "for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7) We walk by the instrument of God's word rather than by our senses.

When condemnation tries to raise its ugly head, how wonderful it is to know that “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 5:1; 8:1). When we feel we just can’t take anything more that the world might throw at us, how great it is to know that "nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” On and on we can go, checking our instrument (so to speak), to know with total assurance, the word of God is the sure guide for all of life and ministry – not merely necessary, but totally sufficient.

Make your own application... (JS)

February 05, 2013  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

When I read my Bible through

Yes I thought I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit or miss
Now a part of John or Matthew
Then a bit of Genesis

Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain psalms, the twenty-third.
First of Proverbs, twelfth of Romans
Yes, I thought I knew the Word

But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read my Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible
Dip and dabble here and there
Just before you kneel all weary
Yawning through a hurried prayer.

You who treat this crown of writings
As you treat no other book
Just a paragraph disjointed
Just a crude impatient look.

Try a worthier proceedure
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in awesome wonder
When you read the Bible through.

Author unknown

January 05, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Foreknowledge of God - Events or People?

To know someone in the Bible is to have intimate personal knowledge of. This is a consistent way of expression all through the text of the OT and NT. So God is speaking of foreknowing a PERSON or PEOPLE, not foreknowing EVENTS. THOSE he foreknew. So its meaning in Rom 8 is pointing to those persons He first set his affection on ... "in love, he predestined them" as it also declares in Eph 1:4,5. In Romans 8 it also says "those he called, he justified." How many of those that he called did he justify, according to this text? ALL those he called, he it follows that all those he foreknew were justified.

Second, the Scripture also uses this language to describe Jesus. "He was foreknown before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). Does this passage allude to the idea that God knew beforehand what Jesus would do? It is much more personal than this. In the case of Christ, God’s foreknowledge was more than merely a prediction of what he will do. It would be rather strange and awkward to say the Father merely foreknew the coming of Christ. The Bible declares that Jesus was appointed to the office of Christ. And all circumstances relating to His coming were arranged in advance. History was made for Christ, not Christ for history. So it obviously does not have the same meaning synergists seem to think it does.

Lastly, the meaning of foreknowledge used as "foreknow free decisions" only begs the question .. if God only foreknows people's acts and then chooses them based on them, and since his foreknowledge of future events is exhaustive even before they take place, then their decision could not be otherwise. It is set in stone. If God knows with certainty who will come and who won't before creating them, then why did he create them that way? This is a kind of impersonal fatalism rather than the personal determinism or a loving God. It must be true that all Christians recognize (1) that God foreknows the future exhaustively, and (2) that He has created the world knowing what the future will bring. For example, before the foundation of the world, God knew that Amy would make a free decision to become a Christian. Somehow, then, before Amy was born, God knew of his free decision. So even at that time, Amy's free decision must have been inevitable. Why was it inevitable? Not because of Amy's free will, for Amy was not yet born. Not because of God's predestination, because the synergist denies that possibility as a matter of theological conviction.. It would seem that the inevitability in question had some source other than either Amy or God. Something impersonal or worse.

December 19, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Rich Young Ruler and Me

Ask R.C. Sproul, Jr: Jesus told the rich young fool that he must sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and follow him. Is this true for all who would follow Jesus?

Yes. This, of course, is not what we typically hear about this text. We are told, for instance, that Jesus was tapping into the first use of the law rather than the third here, that rather than telling the young man what he must do to inherit eternal life He was demonstrating that despite the man’s claims, he had not in fact kept the ten commandments. Jesus here is saying, “Well, let’s look at commandment one. Do you have any gods before me? Money perhaps?” This is all true and good exegesis of the text.

Trouble is that we then go on to comfort ourselves by thinking, “Since I am not like this rich young fool, since I would be willing to sell all that I have and give it to the poor if Jesus asked, I pass this test.” We think that he failed an actual test because he was no good, while we pass a hypothetical test because we are good. It is, however, a very different thing to give up all your actual wealth than to merely hypothetically give it all up.

Now it may be that money is not actually an idol in your life. It may be that were Jesus to give you this command you would get right to work selling off assets. All of us, however, have idols, things we hold back from giving to the Lord. I discovered an idol in my own life several years ago when God in His providence didn’t ask me to give it away, but simply took it from me. I had at that time something of a reputation as a rather bold and prophetic fellow, someone who bravely didn’t much give a thought to his reputation. That reputation quickly morphed into a reputation as a bully and a cheat. And I learned rather quickly that I did indeed give a thought to my reputation, that I craved, longed for a reputation as one who didn’t care about his reputation. My deceitful heart had deceived me again.

When we sign on with Jesus we give up our wealth. We give up our reputations. We give up every gift that He had already given us, and every gift He will give us from that moment forward. When we become a part of the bride of Christ our pre-nuptial agreement reads, “All that I am and all that I have is yours O Lord, from this day forth and evermore.” When, therefore, He asks for anything, whether our wealth, our reputation, even our spouse or our child, we confess, “Yes, Lord.” The rich fool went away from Jesus sad for he had great wealth. We, however, walk toward Jesus, joyful, for we already had nothing. My Denise, and my Shannon, these are the golden crowns that I joyfully cast before His glassy sea. For they were always His, and because I am His always.

Do you have to give up your wealth? Of course. Even if the Master allows you to continue to steward it for Him. Do you have to give up your reputation? Of course, even if He allows you live in peace and quietness with all men. Will you have to give up your loved ones? Of course, even if they are with you until your home going. You have to give up everything, just like He did. And, like Him all you will receive in return, is everything.

October 15, 2012  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Law & Gospel

Law - "...Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? ... If you would enter life, keep the commandments." (Matt 19:15-17)

Gospel: "When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible...” (Matt 19:25-26)

"For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them (Ro 10:5). [but] The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me (Ro 7:10). "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (Jas 2:10) …and “the soul that sins shall die” (Ez 18:20). But "…God [sent] his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh ... in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Ro 8:3-4).

Notice in the above Scriptures that 1) there is a righteousness based on the law, 2) the commandment promises life, 3) if we were to keep it perfectly but 4) because we fail to do so, 5) Jesus mercifully keeps the law for sinners that its requirement might be met in us. There are two operative principles in the Bible: 1) “Do this and live” (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:13; 10:5) and 2) “Trust in the Mediator to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:6; Galatians 3:11). The first principle is often called “the covenant of works” and the second “the covenant of grace”. The second is possible because the mediator fulfilled the first. John Calvin once said, ‎"The person who wants to be justified by works must do more than produce just a few good deeds. He must bring with him perfect obedience to the Law. And those who have outstripped all others and have progressed the most in the Law of the Lord are still very far from this perfect obedience."

October 13, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

But to all who did receive him

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." - John 1:12-13

"But who receive Him thus? Not all by any means. Only a few. And is this left to chance? Far from it. As the following verse goes on to state, 'which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' (John 1:13). This explains to us why the few 'receive' Christ. It is because they are born of God. Just as verse 12 gives us the human side, so verse 13 gives us the Divine.

The Divine side is the new birth: and the taking place of the new birth is 'not of blood,' that is to say, it is not a matter of heredity, for regeneration does not run in the veins; 'nor of the will of the flesh,' the will of the natural man is opposed to God, and he has no will Godward until he has been born again; 'nor of the will of man,' that is to say, the new birth is not brought about by the well-meant efforts of friends, nor by the persuasive powers of the preacher; 'but of God.'

The new birth is a Divine work. It is accomplished by the Holy Spirit applying the Word in living power to the heart. The reception Christ met during the days of His earthly ministry is the same still: the world 'knows him not;' Israel 'receives him not;' but a little company do receive him, and who these are, Acts 13:48 tells us — 'as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.'"

- A.W. Pink

C. H. Spurgeon brings out another truth from the same verses:

“Believe the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God to His people. Abhor the doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God, for it is a lie and a deep deception.

It stabs at the heart, first, of the doctrine of adoption, which is taught in Scripture, for how can God adopt men if they are all His children already?

In the second place, it stabs at the heart of the doctrine of regeneration, which is certainly taught in the Word of God. Now it is by regeneration and faith that we become the children of God, but how can that be if we are the children of God already? ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:12-13). How can God give to men the power to become His sons if they have it already?

Believe not that lie of the devil, but believe this truth of God, that Christ and all who are by living faith in Christ may rejoice in the Fatherhood of God.”

- C. H. Spurgeon, ‘Our Lord’s Last Cry from the Cross.’

October 02, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Give us this day our daily bread

When we read this plea in the prayer our Lord has given us, it reminds us of our utter dependence on Him for everything we have, including our spiritual gifts and the grace to persevere to the end. When we were unregenerate and without God in the world, our conversion only took place when God opened our eyes to despair of any help from ourselves that we might look to Christ for His mercy. So also as Christians we live by the same principle since only by losing of all confidence in ourselves do we grow in grace; Christians do not become more mature in such a way as to gain more confidence in our spiritual abilities. On the contrary, the mature Christian, becomes even more conscious of his own frailty, and will turn unto the Lord for all his/her daily graces. It is only when we are weak, that we are strong (2Co 12:10). In other words, if we are to be effective at all, there must first be a consciousness of our weakness and innate spiritual bankruptcy.

In the Lord's marketplace, He only does trade with the poor, the sick and the blind. If you attempt to trade with Him with the meat you have earned, your merit or your gifts( that He has given you), He will not trade with you. The straight way is entirely too narrow to bring your goods through the door. You must leave them outside and come with empty hands if you would fit through that low and narrow space. Then you are ready and the Lord will fill you with abundance. The Lord says He did not come to call the righteous but sinners; and likewise affirms that those who are blind will not be guilty of sin, but those who claim to see, their sin remains. A man naturally wishes to establish his self-sufficiency. But if a person does recognize his inadequacy and need of help it is apparent that the Lord has done a work of grace in his heart, for where we end is where His grace begins.

Christian, you are dependent on God for the continuance of your strength and comfort to get through the day. You cannot rely on the blessings and good cheer you had yesterday. No, today we must approach the Lord anew in a posture of dependence, for self-sufficiency will never do for a Christian. You can no more rely on past blessings than you can rely on yesterday's meal for today. It is well beyond your own ability, and skill to maintain the Spirits' joy and comfort ... God's favor is necessary to your success. The farmer can sow his seed and labor hard, but without God's blessing of rain, his labor will be in vain. Only Christ can provide this and our labor is in vain if not in the Lord. If you would like to see spiritual fruit, depend on God each day for spiritual sustenance as Israel depended each day on Manna. We cannot simply get a supply of joy or blessing from what we have stored away somewhere in ourselves. God does what He will with His supply and He wishes that His children would call His blessings down daily. The Text affirms that God gave manna to humble the Israelites (Deut 8). The humbling comes because it is the Lord who dispensed the food, just as he dispenses our daily grace (bread). He keeps the key to our heavenly blessings that we might pray in His will and be instruments of advancing His kingdom here below. 'Lord, give us this day our daily bread.'

June 16, 2012  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Seven Questions

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. 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.

The Context of Romans 9

Two things are clearly evident. Firstly, Paul is a Jew and it grieves him tremendously that his fellow Jews (as a whole) failed to recognize Messiah when He came.

Secondly, the theme of God’s righteousness is central to Paul (see Romans 1:16, 17; 3:21-27; 5:17-21; 8:4) and so he understands that God’s very integrity is on the line if in fact there are all the many promises given to Israel, yet in the end, none of them are fulfilled.

“What is at stake ultimately in these chapters is not the fate of Israel; that is penultimate. Ultimately God’s own trustworthiness is at stake. And if God’s word of promise cannot be trusted to stand forever, then all our faith is vain.” – Dr. John Piper

After the crescendo of revelation in Romans 8, Paul now attempts to deal with an objection that he knows would be mounted against all he has communicated so far, namely, “If it is impossible for the people of God to be separated from God’s love (the point being made in the preceeding verses), why is it that most of the Jews now stand in just such a condition?”

Most of Israel did not embrace Jesus as Messiah. As such, there is no salvation for them. Paul desires this with a fervent passion (Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.) But it still needs to be explained why a nation who are His special chosen ones, with so many unique privileges (v. 4, 5), failed to recognize their long awaited Messiah.

How can this be possible? It seems outrageous that such a scenario could happen. Therefore, the Apostle Paul is doing what he knows must be done – defend the integrity of God and His promise.

That’s why all the opening verses of Romans 9 which show God's special relationship with Israel and the unique privileges they enjoyed are merely a prelude to address this central issue in the sixth verse, namely how could it be possible that Israel failed to embrace Messiah. The logical question to be asked is "Did God's promises to Israel fail in any way?"

Paul wants to answer that question with a resounding "no!" and he wants to explain WHY this is the case and does so, starting with verse 6.

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

God's word has not failed. Yet on what basis can Paul declare such a thing?

The answer is that when God made His promises to Israel, God defined Israel as not merely those of a certain physical descent, but a chosen group of people amongst that rank. This is the Israel to whom the promises were made. Therefore, understanding this, God's word to "Israel" has not failed in any way at all - all the true Israel will inherit the promise.

Lets read verse 6 again to make sure we grasp this:

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

It has always been this way!

Having made this declaration, Paul then seeks to show that this is not some new doctrine he has come up with out of nowhere. This is not new in any way at all. In fact, this concept lies at the very heart of Israel's history and identity.

To prove this, he gives two Biblical examples. These are particularly striking in that Paul does not reference something obscure and unfamiliar in Israelite history but cites the very patriarchal fathers themselves. In other words, this concept can be traced all the way back to the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to deny it, would be to run roughshod over Israel's very identity in the purposes of God.

Firstly, though both Ishmael and Isaac were the physical children of Abraham, only Isaac was chosen to be the heir of the promise:

7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”

The second example given is Isaac's twin sons, Jacob and Esau. We could not be given a clearer illustration to demonstrate the fact that physical descent is not the basis for God's choice. Here we have two brothers who shared the same womb, and yet one was chosen and the other was not.

10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

For the sake of time, let me focus on verse 13 and its context and ask seven questions:

Continue reading "Seven Questions" »

May 24, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Witchcraft Exposed (and Defeated)

Galatians 3:1 "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (literally, who has put the evil eye on you or brought you under their spell) It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified."

Witchcraft is a dark, forboding, demonic force. It is easy to recognize in its various outward forms. However, there is a subtle form of witchcraft that this verse in Galatians exposes. Witchcraft, in its overt and visible manifestations seeks to do its damage to the people of God. Yet by stealth and through the means of false teaching, witchcraft also seeks to obscure the message of the cross in the Church.

Paul rebukes the Galatians, saying in so many words, “What’s wrong with you people? Who has brought you under their spell? You saw the cross. It was so very clear to you. What? Can’t you see it anymore?”

Let me state it once again, witchcraft seeks to obscure the message of the cross in the Church.

What Paul writes is intriguing. How could he make this comment, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified”? How could Paul suggest such a thing?

Did Paul forget who it was he was writing to? Did he have some mental aberration and think he was writing to the Christians at Jerusalem and not in Galatia? The Galatian Christians were not at Golgotha to see the Lord crucified.

Ahhh yes, but years later, the Holy Spirit had erected the cross in Galatia through the preaching of the apostle Paul. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul could write that they had seen the cross.

Either Paul was misguided or else there is a truth here that is breathtaking. Obviously, it is the latter. Because Paul had preached the cross, the people had indeed “seen” it. When the cross is rightfully preached, the Holy Spirit goes to work to make it visible to the hearers. That is why the Apostle Paul could scold the Galatian Christians for allowing the enemy, and specifically the power of witchcraft, to obscure the truth of the cross from their eyes.

This is always the tactic of the devil. He seeks to make that amazingly clear portrayal of the cross become cloudy and fuzzy in the hearts and minds of Christians.

When a room is in darkness, we don’t use a vacuum cleaner to get the darkness out. We simply turn on the light.

How do we break the power of witchcraft? Certainly not by performing some elaborate or intricate religious ceremony, or incantation. Certainly not by engaging in speculation or superstition. So when witchcraft has invaded the Church, what do we do? How do we break its grip? How do we remove the darkness? What do we do when a Church has been “bewitched”?

We break the power of witchcraft by the clear preaching and proclamation of the cross and being reminded of all that was achieved and its implications. That’s how! And this is exactly what the Apostle Paul does in his letter to the Galatians.

When the cross is preached, Jesus is publicly portrayed among us as crucified.

- John Samson

April 22, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Sacrificial Lamb

"For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." - 1 Corinthians 5:7

Here is a very interesting video (introduced by Todd Bolen) on the significance of the sacrificial lamb in Jewish thought, pointing us to the atonement of Christ.

The Sacrificial Lamb from on Vimeo.

April 06, 2012  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

History of Salvation In The Old Testament (ESV Study Bible)

There are a huge number of informative resources in the new ESV Study Bible. Here's an excerpt from an article called Preparing the Way for Christ; which traces the references to salvation in Christ throughout the books of the Old Testament.

The article gives a brief redemptive historical approach to salvation history for each book of the Old Testament and then lists specific references from almost every chapter of each book (along with related New Testament passages) which anticipate our redemption through Jesus Christ, what God has accomplished for us:

History of Salvation in the Old Testament:

Preparing the Way for Christ


After God creates a world of fruitfulness and blessing, Adam’s fall disrupts the harmony. God purposes to renew fruitfulness and blessing through the offspring of the woman (3:15). Christ is the ultimate offspring (Gal. 3:16) who brings climactic victory (Heb. 2:14-15). Genesis traces the beginning of a line of godly offspring, through Seth, Enoch, Noah, and then God’s choice of Abraham and his offspring (Gen. 12:2-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:4-5; 17:1-14; 18:18; 22:16-18; 26:2-5; 28:13-15).


Through Moses God redeems his people from slavery in Egypt, prefiguring Christ’s eternal redemption of his people from slavery to sin.


The requirement of holiness points to the holiness of Christ (Heb. 7:26-28). The sacrifices prefigure the sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:1-10).


The journey through the wilderness prefigures the Christian journey through this world to the new world (1 Cor. 10:1-11; Heb. 4:3-10).


The righteousness and wisdom of the law of God prefigure the righteousness of Christ, which is given to his people. The anticipation of entering the Promised Land prefigures Christians’ hope for the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21:1-22:5).


The conquest through Joshua prefigures Christ conquering his enemies, both Satan (Heb. 2:14-15) and rebellious human beings. The conquest takes place both through the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20) and in the destruction at the second coming (Rev. 19:11-21).


The judges save Israel, thus prefiguring Christ. But the judges have flaws and failures, and Israel repeatedly slips back into idolatry (2:19), spiraling downward to chaos. They need a king (21:25), and not only a king but a perfect king, the Messiah (Isa. 9:6-7).


The line of offspring leading to Christ goes through Judah to Boaz to David (4:18-22; Matt. 1:5-6). Boaz the redeemer (Ruth 2:20), prefiguring Christ, enables Naomi’s disgrace to be removed and Ruth, a foreigner, to be included in God’s people (prefiguring the inclusion of the Gentiles, Gal. 3:7-9, 14-18, 29).

1 Samuel

David, the king after God’s heart (16:7; Acts 13:22), prefigures Christ, in contrast to Saul, who is the kind of king that the people want (1 Sam. 8:5, 19-20). Saul’s persecution of David prefigures worldly people’s persecution of Christ and of Christ’s people.

2 Samuel

David as a model king brings blessing to the nation until he falls into sin with Bathsheba (ch. 11). Though he repents, the remainder of his reign is flawed, pointing to the need for the coming of Christ the perfect messianic king.

1 Kings

The reign of Solomon fulfills the first stage of God’s promise to David to establish the kingdom of his offspring (2 Sam. 7:12). Solomon in some ways is a model king, prefiguring Christ. But his decline into sin (1 Kings 11), the sins of his offspring, the division and strife between Israel and Judah, and the continual problems with false worship indicate the need for a perfect king and an everlasting kingdom (Isa. 9:6-7) surpassing the entire period of the monarchy. Many passages in 1 Kings have parallels in 2 Chronicles.

2 Kings

Following the history in 1 Kings, Israel and Judah continue to decline through their false worship and disobedience, leading to exile (2 Kings 17; 25). Some good kings (notably Hezekiah and Josiah, chs. 18-20; 22:1-23:30) prefigure the need for Christ the perfect king, while Elisha prefigures the need for Christ the final prophet (Heb. 1:1-3). Many passages in 2 Kings have parallels in 2 Chronicles.

1 Chronicles

David as the righteous leader and king prefigures Christ the king, not only in his rule over the people of God but in his role in preparing to build the temple. First Chronicles looks back on the faithfulness of God to his people in the entire period from Adam (1:1) to David (3:1) and even beyond (3:10-24; 9:1-34), indicating the steadfastness of God’s purpose in preparing for the coming of the Messiah as the offspring of Adam (1:1; Gen. 3:15; Luke 3:38), offspring of Abraham (1 Chron. 1:28; Gal. 3:16), and offspring of David (1 Chron. 3:1; 17:11, 14; Luke 3:23-38; Acts 13:23).

2 Chronicles

Solomon as a wise king and temple builder prefigures Christ the king and temple builder. After Solomon the line of Davidic kings continues, leading forward to Christ the great descendant of David (Matt. 1:6-16). But many of the later kings go astray from God, and they and the people suffer for it, showing the need for Christ as the perfect king. Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29-32) and Josiah (chs. 34-35) as righteous kings prefigure Christ. Second Chronicles has parallels in 1-2 Kings but focuses on the southern kingdom (Judah) and the line of David, and it shows focused concern for the temple and its worship, anticipating the fulfillment of temple and worship with the coming of Christ (John 2:19-21; 4:20-26; Eph. 2:20-22; Rev. 21:22-22:5).


The restoration and rebuilding after the exile, in fulfillment of prophecy (1:1), prefigure Christ’s salvation (Col. 1:13) and the building of the church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:20-22). They also look forward to the consummation of salvation in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1).


The restoration and rebuilding after the exile prefigure Christ’s salvation (Col. 1:13) and the building of the church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:20-22).


God providentially brings deliverance to his people through Esther, prefiguring final deliverance through Christ.


Job’s suffering and relief prefigure the suffering and glory of Christ.


By expressing the emotional heights and depths in human response to God, the Psalms provide a permanent treasure for God’s people to use to express their needs and their praises, both corporately and individually. Christ as representative man experienced our human condition, yet without sin, and so the Psalms become his prayers to God (see esp. Heb. 2:12; cf. Matt. 27:46 with Ps. 22:1). The Psalms are thus to be seen as his words, and through our union with him they become ours.


Wisdom ultimately comes from God and his instruction, which anticipates the fact that Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:3) and that in him and his instruction we find the way of life and righteousness (John 14:6, 23-24). Through the Spirit we may walk in the right way (Gal. 5:16-26).


The meaninglessness, frustrations, and injustices of life “under the sun” call out for a solution from God. Christ through his suffering and resurrection provides the first installment (1 Cor. 15:22-23) of meaning, fulfillment, and new life (John 10:10), to be enjoyed fully in the consummation (Rev. 21:1-4).

Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon depicts marital love. But after the fall merely human love is always short of God’s ideal, and so we look for God’s remedy in the perfect love of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). The connection with Solomon (Song 1:1; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11) invites us to think especially of the marriage of the king in the line of David (Ps. 45:10-15), and the kings point forward to Christ the great king, who has the church as his bride (Rev. 19:7-9, 21:9).


Isaiah prophesies exile because of Israel’s unfaithfulness. But then God will bring Israel back from exile; this restoration prefigures the climactic salvation in Christ. Christ as Messiah and “servant” of the Lord will cleanse his people from sin, fill them with glory, and extend blessing to the nations. Christ fulfills prophecy in both his first coming and his second coming.


Jeremiah’s prophetic indictment of Israel is largely rejected, prefiguring the rejection of Christ’s prophetic message to Israel (Luke 11:49-51). God’s judgment on Israel for apostasy prefigures the judgment that Christ bears as substitute for the apostasy of mankind (1 John 2:2). It also prefigures final judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Restoration from exile prefigures final restoration to God through Christ (Heb. 10:19-22).


The lament over Jerusalem anticipates Christ’s lamenting over the future fall of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). In both cases, Jerusalem suffers for her own sins. But suffering for sin finds a remedy when Christ suffers as a substitute for the sins of his people (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22-24).


God judges Israel’s apostasy through the exile. Israel suffers for her own sin, and in so doing anticipates God’s final judgment against sin (Rev. 20:11-15). But the suffering also anticipates the suffering of Christ for the sins of others. The subsequent blessing in restoration prefigures the blessings of eternal salvation in Christ (Eph. 1:3-14).


Daniel and his friends exemplify the conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, a conflict that will come to its climax in Christ, in both his first coming and his second coming.


The unfaithfulness of Israel calls for a permanent remedy, which will come in the faithfulness of Christ to the Father and the faithfulness that Christ then works through the Spirit in his people. God’s love for Israel foreshadows Christ’s love for the church (Eph. 5:25-27).


The day of the Lord, the day of God’s coming (see note on Isa. 13:6), brings judgment on sin but also may include blessing. Both aspects are fulfilled in both the first coming and the second coming of Christ.


God comes to Israel with both judgment for sin and promises of restoration. The judgment and restoration anticipate the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, as well as the final judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). The demand for righteousness is fulfilled in the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 8:1-4).


The judgment against Edom, a traditional enemy of Israel, contributes to the blessing of God’s people. The judgment and vindication prefigure the vindication of Christ and the judgments against his enemies, both in his first coming and in his second coming.


Jonah’s rescue from death prefigures the resurrection of Christ (Matt. 12:39-40). The repentance of the Ninevites prefigures the repentance of Gentiles who respond to the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47).


God pronounces judgment on Israel, prefiguring final judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) and the judgment that fell on Christ (Gal. 3:13). He promises blessing through the Messiah, anticipating the blessings of salvation in Christ (Eph. 1:3-14).


Judgment on Nineveh, a traditional enemy of God’s people, prefigures final judgment and final release from oppression (Rev. 20:11-21:8).


God’s use of a wicked nation to accomplish his righteousness foreshadows the use of wicked opponents to accomplish his purpose in the crucifixion of Christ.


Judgments on evil people anticipate the final judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) and indicate the necessity of Christ’s work and sin-bearing in order to save us from judgment (see note on Isa. 13:9).


The rebuilding of the temple prefigures the building of NT temples: the church (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:20-22) and the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-22:5).


The rebuilding in the time of the restoration from exile prefigures the eternal salvation that comes in Christ.


Disobedience and compromise are eliminated with the coming of Christ and his purification.

Perhaps one of the most helpful ways to use this article is the online version of the ESV Study Bible which comes free with your purchase of the hard copy.

March 30, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Saved by Grace Alone or Saved by Grace Plus Free Will?

You cannot consistently assert that we are saved by "grace alone" and then in the same breath declare that the natural man has a free will to come to Christ (John 6:65). Man needs salvation precisely because his will is in bondage to sin. And that which is in bondage is not free. For the need for grace does away with free will altogether. Its not Christ plus our good will that saves us but Christ alone who grants us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe.

Visitor: What is salvation?

Response: The short answer is salvation is deliverance from God's wrath and salvation from sin....Saved from the just consequences of our rebellion against God, it was accomplished when God took those consequences upon Himself when Jesus was nailed to the cross.The wrath of God abides on all men apart from the grace of Jesus Christ, who alone lived the life we should have lived and died the death we justly deserve.

Visitor: Okay, what is free will?

Response: Free will is something that exists only in people's imagination. Fallen man does not have a free will. He is NOT able NOT to sin. All people except Jesus Christ have broken God's law and have sinned. Therefore none can save themselves or lift a finger toward their own salvation. God must intervene if man is to have any hope at all. And He has done it in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Visitor: How does a person know if they are saved then?

Response: By grace you look to Christ's Righteousness and not your own. The Scriptures indicate that we are saved if the Word of God has come in divine power into our soul such that our self-complacency is shattered and our self-righteousness is renounced. Second, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our woeful, guilty, and lost condition. Third, God reveals to us the sufficiency of Jesus Christ alone to meet our desperate case and by a divinely given faith causes us to lay hold of and rest upon Him as our only hope. Fourth, when the Spirit changes our heart He gives us a love for God, a love for His word and an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. This does not mean that you are sinless, but that you desire to obey Christ and feel anguish when you disobey Him. (A.W. Pink)

Visitor: What if I've felt this my whole life?

Response: Then it is likely that the Holy Spirit opened your heart to the gospel at an early age.


"...he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free-will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that he gives both; that he is "Alpha and Omega" in the salvation of men. - C. H. Spurgeon (Free Will, a Slave)

"In vain people busy themselves with finding any good of man's own in his will. For any mixture of the power of free will that men strive to mingle with God's grace is nothing but a corruption of grace. It is just as if one were to dilute wine with muddy, bitter water. But even if there is something good in the will, it comes from the pure prompting of the Spirit." -John Calvin, Institutes

March 19, 2012  |  Comments (26)   |  Permalink

Paul's Reason for Enduring

The following is a short meditation by Dr. James White.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of the elect, so that they also might experience the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, and with it, eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10 - translation by Dr. James White)

The context is important. 2 Timothy is Paul's farewell letter to Timothy. You don't waste words when writing your farewell to a dearly beloved son in the faith. He is encouraging Timothy to be strong. He calls Timothy to "share in suffering" with him (2:3), to compete, work hard, and remember Jesus Christ. Then, in verse 9, he mentions his own suffering as a criminal for the gospel. This is the context lying behind Paul's statement that he "endures."

Endures what?

Everything. All the opposition and attacks and beatings and imprisonment and long days of toil and labor--he endured it all for what reason?

Oh, surely, we could say "the glory of God," but that isn't Paul's answer here. Instead, he says he endures all of this "for the sake of the elect."

Many may wish this term did not appear in Scripture, but it is right there - "the elect," "the chosen ones." Paul uses the same term in Romans 8:33 "Who will bring a charge against God's elect?", and significantly in Colossians 3:12: "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Notice that Paul refers to the professing believers in Colossae as "those who have been chosen of God." Not those who chose God (they did that, but they did so as a result of being chosen by Him: the Christian gospel is God-centered, not man-centered!). It is important to see the source of the "choosing" in election here: "chosen of God." God chooses. God disposes. God is sovereign in this matter.

And so back in 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul endures the sufferings of his apostleship "for the sake of the elect," but the reason he does so should not be missed, "so that they also might experience the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, and with it, eternal glory." Paul sees his sufferings, his ministry, his tireless work, as means God has used to bring His elect to salvation. As I have said many times, God ordains the ends as well as the means. Preaching, teaching, ministering, defending the faith--all are means used by God to bring His elect to salvation. Just a few more quick notes:

1) Why preach if the identity and number of elect was fixed in eternity? Arminians ask this all the time. Because it is our glorious privilege to be used of God in His service as the means by which He brings His elect unto Himself! We who have heard the Master's call and been raised from spiritual death should long to be used of God to bring others into His kingdom, just as He used those in the faith before us to bring us the life-giving message of the gospel.

2) The interface of the divine decree ("the elect" here clearly refers to a specific people, chosen by God, not merely "foreseen down the corridors of time") with its outworking in time (seen in Paul's activity and suffering) is seen. Is God dependent upon Paul? Surely not in the eternal perspective of His decree. But we cannot "see" that decree. We have God's prescriptive will plainly revealed to us: preach the gospel to every person! Fight the good fight! Endure persecution as a slave of Jesus Christ! We know God will save His elect, and we know those who truly respond to our message do so only by grace. This gives us boldness to proclaim God's command to repent to all men everywhere.

3) The elect come to Christ. Almost every passage that speaks of the gospel's specificity in the New Testament likewise denies the concept of inclusivism or pluralism. The salvation the elect obtain is "in Christ Jesus" and in Him alone. It is simply ridiculous to think that Paul includes in this the idea of some kind of "secret, ignorant disciple who clings to falsehood but is really in Christ anyway." Such is purely wishful thinking on the part of modern neo-evangelicals who are ashamed of the exclusivity of the claims of Christ.

December 14, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm 22

Psalm 22 is what theologians refer to as a Messianic Psalm. Though written by David it refers to events that transcend his own life and were fulfilled in the life, and especially the death (crucifixion) of Messiah. This is possible because as 2 Peter 1:21 tells us, "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

When Jesus cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me" two things were taking place, neither of which was contradictory. Firstly Jesus was feeling the full force of being forsaken by His Father, as sin was placed upon Him and He bore the Father's just wrath for it in our place.

Secondly, just as in our culture, if someone were to say "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound" we know that these words are not being said at random, but we are being reminded of a familiar hymn. The Book of Psalms was the inspired song book of the Jews and for Jesus to quote the first line of Psalm 22 it was a thunderously loud message to all who heard it that He Himself was fulfilling the words of the entire Psalm as he hung there in agony on the cross.

Speaking of the Gentiles, David wrote in verse 16, "For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet." There is nothing to suggest any of this happened in the life of David, but were fulfilled around a thousand years later by Christ at the crucifixion. What is more than interesting is that when David penned these words, crucifixion was not even invented as a form of torture and death. Sceptics grope for an answer as to why David could write of such things but the believer's confidence is that only God could have been the source of these words, which is itself a wonderful testimony to the Divine inspiration of Scripture. David was "carried along by the Holy Spirit."

The same can be said about verse 18, when David wrote, "they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." There's nothing to suggest this happened to David, but it did happen to Messiah and Jesus is once again alerting us to that by quoting the opening words of the Psalm. The crucifixion of Christ was not an accidental, haphazard occurence. As the early Church prayed to God in Acts 4, "for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."

Jesus was never more in the will of God than when He hung on the cross as our sinless sin bearing Substitute. By raising Him from the dead God testified that He was indeed His Son and validified all His claims as to what His death had accomplished. Paul tells us, He "was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.." (Romans 1:3, 4)

Watch now as Ryan Ferguson delivers a memorized dramatic recitation of Psalm 22 from the ESV Bible. - JS

November 29, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

So You Fell? So What? Run Christian, Run!

Phil 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith...

After training for this event for months and months, Heather Dorniden faced the unexpected when another racer cut her off - she fell very hard. But when you see what happens next, you'll be amazed and inspired. - JS

November 22, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Reminding God

Just as the covenant sign of the rainbow "reminds" God to never flood the whole earth to destroy all flesh (Gen 9:13-17), so the new covenant in Christ's blood "reminds" God not to treat our sins as they justly deserve. I would encourage you to reflect on this the next time you partake of the Lord's supper.

November 02, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What He does for us

One can stand in a Swiss Alpine valley and be mesmerized by looking upwards at the rugged majesty of a single mountain peak on display.

One can also take a plane ride over the entire Alpine range and from the plane's window see that what was intriguing and totally captivating from the ground, is but one stunning enchantment amongst a thousand others of equal splendor. To gaze upwards from the ground as well as downwards from above, is to see the Alps as they should be seen. I have had the joy of doing both.

I love the Alpine mountains of Switzerland. I also love Romans chapter eight.

It is easy to run out of superlatives when describing the amazing insights contained in the passage. Sometimes though, perhaps even because each word and each sentence is so poignant and pregnant with meaning, we can fail to see the grandeur of the larger picture. As we scrutinize each word, we see intricate and stunning beauty; but when we take a step back, so to speak, and view the passage as a whole, a breath taking truth emerges.

The big picture from verses 26 to 38 is the unfolding revelation of God's love for His people. These are the ones He chose to draw to Himself even before the world was ever made. God's plan would never be thwarted, despite all the opposition hell could fashion against it. Though these same elect ones endure famine, nakedness or sword; and though they face everything life, death and all that satanic principalties might throw their way, these loved ones remain super conquerors through the One who loved them. Nothing can separate them from the love of God.

As the text is outlined before us now, allow me just to highlight in bold capitals the phrases that show just what God is doing for His elect:

Continue reading "What He does for us" »

October 01, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Dealing with Disappointment

"During the period when lotteries were unhappily allowed to flourish in this country, a gentleman, looking into the window of a lottery office in St. Paul's Churchyard, discovered to his joy that his ticket had turned up a 10,000 pound prize. Intoxicated with this sudden accession of wealth, he walked round the churchyard, to consider calmly how he should dispose of his fortune. On again, in his circuit, passing the lottery office, he resolved to take another glance at the charming announcement in the window, when, to his dismay, he saw that a new number had been substituted. On inquiry, he found that a wrong number had at first been posted by mistake, and that after all he was not the holder of the prize. His chagrin was now as great as his previous pleasure had been." — W. Haig Miller's "Life's Pleasure Garden"

When you and I experience a disappointment far more grievious than the failure to win the lottery, what is our anchor? When the sea billows roll, what keeps us from drifting far from the safe refuge of His presence?

The answer is found in what we choose to think about. What we choose to believe.

The Psalmist David wrote, "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Psalm 27:13, 14)

Hebrews 6:19 tells us that hope is "a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul." It is a certain expectation of future blessing and favor.

When you have lost something precious, perhaps even someone precious, even the most precious relationship you have ever had in this world, just remember, the same Sovereign One who has ordered your events in time is the all wise and Omniscient One too.

As much as a finite mind ever could ever be given access to even a measure of His thoughts and to know what He knows about you and the situation that greatly troubles your heart - if you could look beyond your present disappointment and see things as He does, you would have ordained the events of your life just as He did - you would have chosen what He has chosen for you. This indeed is the supreme comfort of the saints in their trials. God in His providence has ordered all the events of time and though the One who gave might have chosen to taken away, we should always say, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord."

Continue reading "Dealing with Disappointment" »

September 29, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

No one Can Believe in Jesus Unless God Grants It

Synergists teach that that we are born as God's children by the will of man but the Bible teaches that we "were born, not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)

In context verse 13 says,

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 (King James Version)

The literary structure of these two verses points out that the antecedent efficient cause of "those who received Him" (in faith) is that they were born of God. So, in short, those who receive Christ must, necessarily, be born of God first. Regeneration "unto" faith. verse 13 modifies verse 12.. No one receives him unless God first opens his heart in regeneration. John continues this theme throughout his book in chapter 3 and again in chapter 6. No one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65) and ALL to whom God grants it will believe (John 6:37) The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63). A syllogism which leaves no room for synergism.

Back to verse 12 & 13: To all who received him... God gave them the power to become sons of God, and they did so not by the will of the flesh or of the will of man but because they were born of God. If you don't read it that way, verse 13 has no meaning. You cannot receive Christ apart from the use of your will and unless the will is renewed, there is no hope of receiving Him.

September 21, 2011  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

There is No God Seeker (Romans 3:11)

By Pastor John Samson

"I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." - Romans 10:20

Here in this verse, God declares that He revealed Himself to those who were not even seeking or asking for Him. That is something to really think about.

Who was this group that God revealed Himself to?

Well, we might think it is some distant African tribe or all of the many atheists who at one time professed that there was no God at all. However, the startling biblical answer to the question is that its all of those who have come to have faith in Christ.

Romans 3:11 says "no one seeks for God." Literally the text reads, "there is no God seeker."

We tend to be blind to this truth, especially when we might have heard numerous testimonies of (now) Christian people who say they were seeking for God all their lives - seeking Him in many different spiritual experiences, even through searching out many different religions.

While it is certainly true that these people sought many different experiences and were involved in other religions, what the Bible teaches is that none of us by nature wish to know the God of the Bible. We are born DOA (dead on arrival) spiritually speaking, yet we walk a course mapped out for us by the Prince of darkness. We are by nature children of wrath rather than children of God and unless God intervenes, we will never seek to know the one true God. That is the clear teaching of the opening verses of Ephesians chapter 2. All our religious "searchings" are really attempts to run and hide from Him. Like Adam in the garden of Eden after he had sinned, He hid from the presence of the Lord. That is our inner disposition towards God until God moves upon the heart and draws us to Himself. Before that we might want all the trappings of what a relationship with God brings - forgiveness, freedom from a guilty conscience, feelings of happiness and assurance, peace within; but we just dont want to go to God to get these things. We often mistake a desire for these things as a desire for God. Hear again the word of the Lord, "there is no God seeker." (Romans 3:11).

Though the Bible commands us, "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near," (Isa. 55:6) none of us by nature will actually ever do that. We have the responsibility, just not the interest.

We fail to seek Him, not because we have no physical ability to seek. We seek many things. We are insatiably curious at heart. We want to know things. We want to know how things work. We want to know the truth, or so we think. Yet while still in an unregenerate state, the one thing we will never seek is to know God; not the real God; not the God of the Bible. By nature we are not God seekers; but are actually hostile to God at heart. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. We are searching, not for God, but for ways to live independently from God, often through the means of religion.

The Scripture verse above reads, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." Every true child of God, trained and taught by the Scripture, knows that we now seek and love Him, because He first sought and loved us.

Continue reading "There is No God Seeker (Romans 3:11)" »

September 20, 2011  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

2 Peter 3:9 & John 12:30


Lets start with 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Now if I just took that verse by itself I would run to the Universal Redemption side. It certainly shows that it is not God's intention for any of his creatures to suffer an eternity apart from him.

Then there is John 12:30 Jesus said, “This voice has not come for my benefit but for yours. 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ...all people to myself.” 12:33 (Now he said this to indicate clearly what kind of death he was going to die.)

So if God does not want any to perish and it is his intention to draw all men to himself, but somehow this doesn't seem to be enough for some, the answer "the free will of man" to choose not to believe. We all get to make the choice because... God draws us to him and gives us all that we need in order to freely make the choice. This for the free will side is where the mystery stuff happens. How is it that God is able to enlighten man's soul to the brink of knowledge and faith, it leaves only one thing left to do, believe or not, the work is already done, all the effort spent, all the issues set aside, only one thing remains between God and man.

Now if I take that verse well, it sounds like all men will be saved. But there are other verses that say different.


I can understand how you may have drawn the conclusions you have...but lets look at each in context.

The desire for "all to come to repentance" is an imperative. The Bible says "God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel" (Acts 17:30) i.e. the repentance of man is an imperative (command), not an indicative (fact). A command does not show what we can do, but what we OUGHT to do. it is a conditional statement that asserts nothing indicatively. It would be a contradiction to say that God commands something that he does not want us to do. Likewise statements such as "be perfect", "if you are willing", "if you hear", "if you do" declare, not man's ability, but his duty. To infer "free will" from this, therefore, is simply importing a meaning in the text that is not there and confusing indicatives (facts) with imperatives (commands). Of course we agree that God wants all men to obey the command to repent. This is his preceptive will about what he wants man to do. Is says nothing about what God has done, or will do, or about man's ability. The command to believe does not imply ability. For instance, if I borrowed $100 million to establish a new company and instead squandered it in Vegas, my inability to repay the loan does not alleviate me of responsibility to do so. Likewise before God we owe a debt we cannot repay. Faith and good works are equally difficult without renewal of heart (Ezek 36:26).

Consider this ..."Does it follow from God's command: 'turn' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord thy God with all your heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love Him with all your heart? Does this mean you believe 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power? It does not follow from this that man is converted by his own power, nor does it say so in the Text; they simply says: "if you will turn, telling man what he ought to do.

Synergists,teach that 'salvation depends on human will', but the Bible teaches that (and I quote) 'it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom 9:16) God commands repentance and belief but no do so ... only by his mercy do they come.

As for for the Text "drawing all men to himself" (John 12:33) I believe you should take a closer look at the context. Jesus is speaking to Greeks, not Jews and it is clear from the context that he is referring to all nations. So when he says "when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself", he simply means that he will draw not only Jews but the Gentile nations as well, fulfilling the promise to Abraham that through him all the families of the earth will be blessed. In other words, Jesus does not say he will draw all men on earth without exception, but rather, he will draw all men without distinction. So because the context and use of words differs, it is inappropriate to interpret John 6 in light of John 12 ... (different conversations).

Actually, in case you think I made this "without distinction" thing up, the apostle John often speaks this same way of nations and groups; consider John 11:49-52"

"But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

In other words, Caiaphas is referring to all people without distinction from every nation, not all people without exception on the earth. Not Jews only, but Jews and Gentiles who are scattered on the whole earth from every nation.

Also, the text in John 6 which says ALL the Father gives to Jesus will come to him (6:37) makes your interpretation from John 12 an impossible supposition. Look carefully at John 6:65 -- No one can believe unless God grants it (universal negative) (John 6:37) All that the Father gives to me WILL come to me (universal positive). In other words, together it plainly states that no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it and all whom he grants in Christ will believe. Jesus is careful to say that the Father first gives people to the son prior to their believing in him (V. 37). These versus dismantle any possibility that it means he will draw all without exception. John 6:44 must, therefore, be read in light of John 6:37 (in context), not John 12.

We must thank God for all that we have, including the new heart to believe. We must not think that it was due to our own wisdom or prudence, or good will that God then responded to us. Grace is not a reward for faith, it is the cause of it.

Note: I recognize another way of understanding 2 Peter 3:9 as speaking in context of the elect. I do not discount this interpretation. Many Reformed theologians point this out. But it is also true that God wants all to obey his command to repent - speaking of man's duty, not God's will of decree.

September 17, 2011  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Kings and Priests of the Whole World

The land that God had promised to Abraham pointed to a much greater reality, the claim of the Creator upon the whole creation. The land promise to Abraham and to his descendants, was that he should inherit, not just one small strip of territory between the Jordan and the Mediterranean sea, but the whole world (Rom 4:13; Matt 5:5; Rev 5:10; Psalm 2:8)

‎" is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring."(Rom 9:8)

"And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (Gal 3:29)

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (2 Cor 1:20)

September 04, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Buses and Ambulances

"till we all come to the unity of the faith" Ephesians 4:13

"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity." - Augustine

The high amount of injury and bloodshed amongst the people hurled under proverbial buses has caused great concern to me recently.

I would just make the point that the reformation slogan of “Semper Reformanda” or “Always Reforming” is a very good one. The Reformation was never just a snap shot in time, but a desire for all Christians and the Church at large to be mastered by the God-breathed word of God until all thought and doctrine was bibline.

I for one, am so glad that succeeding generations have weighed up some of the things the Magesterial reformers have said and written and decided that they were wrong – plain wrong – on some things. For example, some of the worst things ever said about the Jews, come from the lips and pen of Luther. That indeed is a terrible tragedy.

Luther was a father to German hearts the way Lincoln was and is to the people of the United States. It could be argued that Germany’s history with anti-semitism could be traced back directly to Luther’s writings. It gives me no joy at all to say so, but that is a fact. As much as we love these heroes of the faith, only Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith for the people of God. Yet we embrace these men even though we may strongly disagree with them on some things. Believe me, for a Jew, Luther’s rhetoric is very problematic, and I have had many a conversation with Jewish people where when the name of “Luther” came up, the conversation was basically over. Yet centuries on, I am happy to embrace Luther as my brother in Christ and fellow laborer in reformation and am thankful to God for his ministry.

I say all this because many seem to want to claim the title of “reformed” only for themselves. Some Presbytereans seek to outlaw Baptists as not being reformed, and so on. Cessationists want to do that with the likes of Piper, Grudem, Storms, D. A. Carson and so on. Without trying to be funny, I just think cessationists should just “stop it!” None of these men individually or not even all of them collectively are infallible (just like Luther or Calvin) but I think we are a sad, sad bunch of people if we do not allow these men (and others like them) to be included under the umbrella of “reformed,” because of our differences concerning spiritual gifts.

The issues are indeed important, but lets keep talking to one another, and not divide over these things, when what we share in common FAR outweighs our differences. If you can look at a D. A. Carson and say “I dont want you in our circles because you wrote a book about spiritual gifts and exegeted 1 Cor 12-14 in a way I dont agree with” – be my guest – go ahead.. but you wont find me cheering you on.

I thank God very much for my reformed cessationist friends and am happy to embrace them as co-laborers in reformation. I hope others on the other side of the aisle in this debate can do likewise in reciprocity.

Semper Reformanda,

John Samson

August 26, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Comfort Ye My People

" Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." Heb 9:28.

Comforting news. When Jesus returns He has no intention of dredging up your old sin but to embrace his child with open arms. So our hope is NOT based on the whole life lived, as the New Perspective believes but rather your complete acceptance by God based on the life and death of Christ alone.

August 23, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Bible Verses Usually Not Displayed on the Refrigerator

From Matthew 11:25-30

(1) God hides some things from some and reveals them to others (election)

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

(2) Come to me all…. (the evangelistic call)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

From Luke 24:16-31

(3) God veiling:

v. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

(4) Human responsibility and culpability:

v. 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”

(5) God Revealing:

v. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.

From Romans 11:7-10

(6) God making eyes blind and ears deaf to His truth:

7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” 9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”

(7) Jesus' explanation as to why He told Parables

Matthew 13:10-17

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”

11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Also, in the parallel account in Mark:

Mark 4:10-12
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

And in Luke:

Luke 8:9-10
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’

According to Jesus, the reason that He spoke in parables was so that God would leave certain people in their blindness, while at the same time, using them to reveal His truth to others (to whom these things had been “given”.)

“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” – Matt 13:11

August 13, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Matthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

There are many things that could and should be said about this parable. I just want to focus on one aspect in this short post – the wedding garment.

Because it is not explicitly stated by the text and because most of us who read this parable are not aware of first century Jewish culture (the context in which this parable was given), we miss something that would have needed no explanation to those who heard Jesus. In the ancient world it was expected that when a king invited guests to a wedding, he (the king) would provide the wedding garments. For anyone to show up to the wedding in something else, it means that he REJECTED what the king had provided. It wasn’t just that he did not have enough righteousness to enter the wedding; it was an act of defiance and the ultimate insult to the king. Until I understood this, I thought that in all honesty, the king’s actions were more than a little over the top; an over-reaction, if you will. Yet such is certainly not the case when we understand what was really going on here. The man was in absolute defiance of the king when he came wearing something of his own choosing.

What a parallel this is to the righteousness of Christ. All we bring to the wedding is our tattered and polluted, sin stained garments, yet in accepting the invitation to come, we are given the gift of the most ultimate wedding attire imaginable. In biblical terms this is a righteousness that is perfect, that has never known sin, the very righteousness of Christ.

Paul wrote, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith..” (Phil 3:8, 9)

The fate of the man in this parable is indeed haunting as he is thrown out into outer darkness (the picture of hell). Yet what else could be the fate of One who rejects the perfect righteousness of the Savior?

In contrast, those at the wedding can say with Isaiah, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

Who clothed me?

God did!!!

Soli Deo Gloria

- JS

August 08, 2011  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Shepherd's Responsibilities

One of the many reasons God calls each individual Christian to be part of a local Church is so that they are properly shepherded. God has ordained that each of His sheep is cared for and nourished and although outside ministries can supplement a believer's spiritual intake, the scriptural responsibility lies with a group of local male elders to properly care for the flock.

Paul, speaking to elders from the city of Ephesus said, "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)

It is interesting that the Greek word ποιμαίνω (poimaino) is here translated as "care for" in the ESV while other translations use the word "feed." A better translation would be "shepherd."

Local Church elders are given the task of shepherding the sheep which means taking responsibility for the total well being and welfare of each sheep under their care. "Shepherd the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."

There are four main tasks for a shepherd.

(1) Feeding - Providing a safe place for sheep to eat healthy food

"The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures." - Psalm 23

(2) Shearing

Shearing is generally carried out in the spring, so sheep don't become overheated in the summer. A long fleece is likely to become dirty and drag along the ground, increasing the possibility of flystrike.

A bulky fleece decreases the mobility of sheep.

In hot weather, sheep with too much wool are extremely susceptible to heat stress!!

Shearing keeps stained wool and mud-contaminated wool separate from new fleece growth.

Shearing can be stressful for sheep and it therefore requires skill to shorn efficiently and quickly, without causing harm to sheep or shearer.

Continue reading "The Shepherd's Responsibilities" »

July 12, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

...and raised us up with Him

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins... 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

July 08, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Shepherd's love and care for the sheep

From John’s Gospel, we can make the following scriptural statements:

All that the Father has chosen to be His from eternity, He has given to the Son (John 6:37); and all whom He has given to the Son, the Son knows (John 10:3); and calls (John 10:3-5); and all whom He calls, know Him (John 10:14) and recognize His voice (John 10:4-5) and they come to Him (John 6:37) and follow Him (John 10:4, 27); and the Son lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11); and He gives them eternal life (John 10:28) and keeps them in the Father’s word (John 17:6), so that not even one of them is lost (John 6:39), to glorify the Son forever (John 17:10). This is the indestructible foundation for an infallible salvation that rebounds in the end to the glory of both the Father and the Son.

None of Christ’s sheep finally reject His word. Though He allows some of His sheep to resist the word for a long time, never do they reject it finally. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” (John 6:37). What a promise! And what a privilege we have in sharing the Gospel with people, as we witness the Good Shepherd rounding up His sheep. - JS

June 30, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

My Commands Are Not Too Hard For You

Synergists often cite Deut 30:11-14 to show that man can turn to God of his own natural capacities.

"For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

But as is the case in most error, they have not carefully read the passage for context. A few verses earlier the Lord says that our hearts first need to be circumcised by God's own hand for us to love him, which is what makes obedience possible. (Deut 30:6)

"And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live."
June 18, 2011  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (15 – The Darkness before the Dawn)

In those days, there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes. – Judges 21:25

I have lately gone through a period of sluggish affections, dullness of heart, and spiritual sight much dimmed by a morbid preoccupation with the affairs of this passing world, which have drawn my gaze away from the light-shedding Sun of Righteousness, whose first advent was the Dawn of the year of God's favor, and whose hastening second coming will be the eternal noon of Glory. I cannot enumerate all the causes of this decay, although I am certain that they all spring from the depths of my desperately wicked and deceitful heart; but I do know that even in this, God's sovereign mercy still leads unerringly through the night, working out eternal purposes of good which he has planned for me, and will not relent until he has accomplished them all.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (15 – The Darkness before the Dawn)" »

June 02, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Concerning Differing Degrees of Reward in Heaven

Luke 19:16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’

18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

Jonathan Edwards was a wonderful and precious gift of the ascended Christ to His Body, the Church (Eph 4:7-14). Through his writings, he remains so.

Some years ago, John Piper recorded a section of Jonathan Edwards' sermon preached in December, 1740, on Romans 2:10. Dr. Piper regards this section as the best thing he has ever read on the issue of varying degrees of reward, glory, happiness and holiness in heaven. I would agree.

I believe Jonathan Edwards provides satisfying answers to questions such as "how is it possible that there are varying rewards in heaven and yet it also be the place of supreme happiness for the saints?"

It is vintage Edwards. He has obviously given this a great deal of thought as he has pondered and meditated deeply on the biblical texts.

It comes from page 902 of the second volume of The Works of Jonathan Edwards. It last about 7 minutes and can be found here. - JS

May 09, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Apostles Today?

What are we to do with ministers in our day who say they are apostles? Many are simply self professed men seeking to draw disciples after themselves and whose doctrine is highly problematic at best, or at worst, completely heretical. These men are not merely false apostles, but perhaps even false disciples of Christ.

But what of the people who seem to be, from all outward appearances anyway, “sane” individuals – Christian ministers who have excellent and sound theology but still insist that there are apostles today and.. wait for it.. actually believe they are apostles themselves?

I am thinking of men like C.J. Mahaney (of Sovereign Grace Ministries) in the USA and of Terry Virgo (of New Frontiers Ministries) in the United Kingdom. These are highly respected men who have served the cause of Christ faithfully for decades and have established a huge network of pastors and churches under them who look to them for leadership and guidance, both locally in their home nation and overseas.

What do we do with these men? I have to admit that my initial impulse was to reject completely the idea of apostles being alive today. However, I have enough respect for these men to at least allow them to define what they mean when they use the term. Therefore, I think the first thing we need to do is take a deep breath and allow them to explain themselves. More here. - JS

March 24, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Few Hellish Thoughts

A very good friend of mine, Pastor Graeme Adams, from Dundee, Scotland writes, "“Are you orthodox on the issue of hell? Good! Does it cause you to pray and weep for the lost and actively seek ways to reach them with the good news of Jesus, or be smug or worse because you know something Rob Bell doesn’t? It’s incredibly sad and harmful when high profile leaders propagate heresy, AND when millions of Christians profess faith, historical biblical faith, and yet don’t live it. Heresy and Cold lifeless heartless Orthodoxy are partners in crime against humanity and God. May God use this issue to break our hearts.”

I've put further thoughts together here. - JS

March 16, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Faithful are the wounds of a friend

On Sunday evening, God used a friend to speak directly into my life. I hope you have such a friend. See here.

March 15, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus and Tsunamis

When it comes to God and His Sovereign right to do all He pleases in heaven and on earth (Psalm 115:3) such is the depravity of mankind that we take our seat in the court of human opinion as both the jury and Judge, putting God Himself in the dock, demanding He answer the charges of injustice. We want answers! We feel we have that right! And we are ready to find Him guilty as charged for violating some moral law.

When devastation occurs, many wish to point their cannons Godward demanding that He explain Himself to us. Jesus words in Luke 13 shows us that in all reality, God's guns are rightfully aimed in our direction and it is we who must repent, not God. Short article here.

March 13, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Solomon's Song (2)

After reading my brief overview posted last week concerning what the Song of Solomon is all about, someone wrote to me with this question:

Interesting… so if Song of Songs is “not a book about Christ” why is it in the Bible? The way I understand the Old Testament and, it seems, the way Christ understood it, is that it is ALL about Christ. The book of Hebrews rather liberally applies the temple, sacrificial system, and priesthood to Christ… why not the Song?

My Response: It is a huge oversimplification to say that ALL the Old Testament is about Christ. Of course, much of it does point to Christ. Jesus was able to reveal much of this to the two who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:44 – “Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

“Everything written about me” is not the same thing as saying “everything written is about me.”

Continue reading "Solomon's Song (2)" »

March 07, 2011  |  Comments (23)   |  Permalink

The Law Promised Life

"For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them (Ro 10:5). [but] The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me (Ro 7:10) "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (Jas 2:10) "For God [sent] his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh ... in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Ro 8:3-4)

Perfect law-keeping is required to merit eternal life. But the law, rather, brings death because we all have failed to keep it, save for Jesus Christ who was "born under the law" and fulfilled its righteous requirements on our behalf. Praise be to God.

March 06, 2011  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Solomon's Song

Question: I am trying to make sense of the Song of Solomon. I recently went to a Bible study where the teacher was saying that it is a book about Christ and His Bride (the Church) but as I read it, I am not sure about that and this interpretation seems to raise more questions than it answers in my mind. Any thoughts?

Answer: Thanks for your question. I believe you are right to question the interpretation you heard for the simple reason that the Song of Solomon is not a book about Christ and His Church. What you heard is not a new idea, but though quite widespread, actually has no basis in Scripture.

The concept stems from what theologians call the “allegorical” method of interpretation, which ignores the historical background and the actual subject matter on display to instead look for a “deeper” or “hidden” meaning, spiritualizing every word and detail to seek to make application to Christ. Though the method has noble motivation, the fact remains that Christ and His Church are never mentioned in the book.

Actually the book is about romance and love, even erotic love between Solomon and his bride. I am told that in Hebrew society, young boys are not permitted to read the book until their “bar mitzvah” when they “come of age” so to speak, and are considered fully adult men by their community. That is because the Jews understood the book to be something of a handbook for marriage. More here. - JS

March 04, 2011  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Paul, to the Galatians

When Paul wrote to the Galatian Church to warn of the Judaizing heresy, he did not mention the fact that the Judaizers embraced Christ as Messiah and were probably in all other ways fully orthodox.

I am sure they believed all the Old Testament. Perhaps they would even affirm the true humanity and full deity of Christ. Perhaps even Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners on the cross, and even His resurrection from the grave… on and on we could go.

Yet the Apostle Paul never mentioned any of this in his letter to the Galatians. Why not? For the simple reason that there was no need to do so. That was because in spite of all the many vital doctrines the Judaizers would affirm, they added one thing to the biblical gospel (it happened to be circumcision in this case) and the gospel is not something anyone can mess with. Jesus + circumcision is not the gospel.

Paul’s reaction, and I might say, his Holy Spirit inspired reaction, was to warn of the false doctrine in no uncertain terms calling it for what it was, “a different gospel.”

Galatians 1: 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant (slave) of Christ.

Imagine what the reaction would have been when Paul’s letter to the congregation was read out loud to the people. Certainly, there would have been Judaizers present in the services when the words were heard in the various Christian meeting places in Galatia. Its no real stretch of the imagination to say that we can be sure that Paul would have been hated by many.

The Apostle Paul could not have been more clear. He pronounced the eternal curse of God on anyone preaching another gospel, even if the one preaching it was Paul himself or even a heavenly angel.

I can imagine people saying, “Where is the love Paul? Do you not recognize the wonderful things the Judaizers have brought to our congregation? They can teach us so much about God’s law. They can show us how Christ fulfills all the types and shadows and even the Feasts of Israel. We have been so enriched by all they have taught us. What’s wrong with you for being so short sighted Paul? If you had heard ALL these men have been teaching you would not write in this way….”

But what Paul wrote – every word of it – was inspired by the Holy Spirit, even when he called the perpetrators of the false doctrine “false brothers.” (Gal 2:4)

Continue reading "Paul, to the Galatians" »

March 04, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Satanic Power of a Question

Cosmic treason, a brutal attack, yet subtle in the extreme, the serpent asked the first ever question in the Universe, and this world has never been the same since. Article here. - JS

March 02, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Is God's love unconditional?

I am not entirely sure I used the phrase "God loves you unconditionally" when preaching the gospel to people, but many years ago I made a conscious determination never to do so. Here's why. - JS

February 17, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Does Romans 2:13 Prove We Can Be Declared Righteous by Obedience to the Law and Self-Effort?

In my recent post entitled "Grace Does Away with Free Will Altogether" I had a visitor quote me Romans 2:13 to demonstrate that through self-will we can obey the law and be declared righteous. Lets look at it:

"It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13

My Response: Yes read in isolation that text would appear to be teaching that someone could be saved by obeying the law, apart from grace. And indeed it is true that we would save ourselves if we never committed sin. But such an interpretation completely misses the context of the verse since you conclude we have the moral capacity to obey the law and live. Jesus alone has this honor. Paul is teaching the contrary to fallen humanity.... He (in Rom 2:13) is middle of building his case that Jews and Gentiles alike are both under sin and have thus forfeited their claims to life by means of obeying the law. And he ends the section by saying just this: "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:19, 20). In other words, the purpose of the law is not to show our ability but our inability. And this then shows that Paul means exactly the opposite of what you are trying to make the verse say. Romans 2:13 is not declaring what we can do, but what we ought to do -- and ultimately, as we see later, do in Christ. I fear this is what happens when we read a text in isolation. Rather, in context, it becomes clear that Paul is saying IF you obeyed the law you would be declared righteous. But then goes on for the next chapter and a half to prove that you fail the test.

Here are two articles on the subject of Rom 2 that may help further illumine.

Romans 2:13 and the Covenant of Works

Do Believers "Receive Eternal Life According to Their Works"?

February 16, 2011  |  Comments (10)   |  Permalink

Law and Gospel

The Law is good. The Law is perfect and holy. There is no defect in the Law of God. The problem is not the Law itself but that man is a sinner by nature and cannot keep the Law. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin. Rather than curb sin, the law brings sin out into the open, revealing to us the depths of our human, sinful depravity.

Imagine a large plane glass window. You can break it by driving a tank through it, or you can simply fire the smallest pellet from a gun through the glass, but in both cases, the glass is broken and needs to be replaced. In the same way, to break even one of God’s commandments makes a person guilty of breaking it all. As James 2:10 reminds us, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

Man as a sinner cannot keep the Law and to fail to keep it in one part makes us guilty of breaking it all. That’s because the law is a complete set of requirements and we have broken it. We have all commited high treason deliberately.

The Law was given not to make people righteous but in fact to forever shut men’s mouths regarding any attempt at self justification before God. The Law reveals sin, and knowing the holiness and righteousness of God, it shows us our desperate condition before Him. When the Law does it work, it reveals sin to the point that we understand the justice we deserve and cry out for intervention from a Savior. That is why even in the Old Covenant Law system, there were sacrifices of atonement for sin, pointing us to One who would come and remove sin by His perfect sacrifice as the Lamb of God.

The Law reveals the holiness of God, the exceeding sinfulness of our sin, and its remedy in the sin bearing substitute lamb. More on this here. - JS

February 09, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Practice Makes...

"What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." - Phil 4:9

Ever heard the phrase "practice makes perfect." Sure, we all have. But is it true?

It is true, only if you are doing the right thing in the right way.

If you want to be a better cyclist, make sure you are not using square wheels. That's an obvious one. Most of our issues are far less obvious, at least to us. We all have our blind spots.

Want to improve your financial state? Are you willing to have someone assess what you are doing daily, weekly or monthly that might be hurting you? Are you really willing for change?

Take your golf swing - you could be holding the club wrong, and standing with your feet in the wrong place and the problem is this - the more you practice, the more you will simply reinforce your problem swing. What you need is the insight of a golfing coach who can tell you what you might be doing wrong. He can see what you cannot see by yourself. He can tell you what you can do to dramatically improve your current results. Once you get his sound advice, adjust accordingly and then, once you know you are doing the right thing in the right way, practice, practice, practice.

Here's the principle: Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

What are you practicing? Some things are not worth practicing. Some people are not worth following.

Think about each aspect of your life - your spiritual, physical, mental, social and financial life. What is the dream you have? Writing a book? Restoring a broken or stale relationship? Getting in physical shape? Growing spiritually? Being the spiritual leader in the home? Getting out of debt? Financial freedom so that you can live in such a way that you can be a great channel of supply for God's kingdom? What is it that thrills your heart? What is your dream?

What is your goal in each area? Do you have one?

Then think about this. If you keep doing what you are currently doing, over and over again, will you eventually reach your goal?

Is there anything you can make a part of your daily schedule and routine that would, over time, transform your dream into reality?

Is there anything you need to change? Is there anything you can do today and make a part of your life?

Would you pray about this, asking God for His insight and wisdom? And will you be a doer of the word and not a hearer only?

God bless! - JS

February 08, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (14 - Samson)

And Samson said, “Let my soul die with the Philistines.” And he bowed with strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it; and the dead whom he slew by his death were more than they whom he had slain in his life. – Judges 16:30

We have finally come to the last and quintessential judge of them all, Samson; and in his life, we will find definite confirmation of both those related truths which we have been at some pains to demonstrate – first, that, as the incorrigible hard-heartedness of the people becomes ever clearer, and their distress becomes ever more hopeless, the judges display ever more poignant a gospel-picture of what the coming promised Messiah would do to save his people from all their enemies and free them from their evil ways; but second, that even in so doing, they prove by their many failures and faults that they themselves are insufficient for so great an accomplishment as they point ahead to by their lives and ministries. This Samson is undoubtedly the greatest judge of all, and in terms of the sheer power he has been granted from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he is unrivaled. So, too, are the multitudinous types which adorn his ministry unparalleled. But at the same time, his faults are more glaring than those of all who went before him, so much so that, at the end of his life, they plunge him to his own ruin, which is a thing we have not yet seen in any judge before him. But now, let us turn to the history.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (14 - Samson)" »

January 31, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (13 - Jephthah)

And the Spirit of Yahweh was upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead and Manasseh, and he passed over to Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over to the children of Ammon. And Jephthah vowed a vow to Yahweh, and he said, “If you will certainly give the children of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that the one who comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, he shall be Yahweh's, and I will offer him up as a burnt offering”. And Jephthah crossed over to the children of Ammon, to fight against them; and Yahweh gave them into his hand. And he smote them from Aroer even unto when you come to Minnith, twenty cities, and unto Abel-Keramim, a very great slaughter. And the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. – Judges 11:29-33

It is in keeping with the central burden of the book of the Judges that, immediately after one of the most gospel-instructive events of all, in Gideon's surprising victory over the hosts of Midian, there should come one of the most devastating times imaginable, and there should rise to the throne one whose wickedness seems, in a figure, to look ahead to that Man of Sin of whom the apostle would later speak (2 Thes. 2:1-12). Consider the ways in which this Abimelech is cast, in the account, as the quintessential son of perdition, who in shameless trickery and hypocrisy should set his hand to the destruction of those whom he purports to save; thus does the downward spiral of the people plunge them into an era even more desperate than any they had known before, thereby demonstrating yet again how great was their need of a true Messiah and King, who could save them once and for all.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (13 - Jephthah)" »

January 10, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Limited Atonement. Why Even Talk About It?

Why even talk about it? Are we simply wanting to spark theological controversy? Are we seeking to divide what God has joined together (in the body of Christ)? Do we like fighting people with words? No, not at all. A thousand times "no."

The whole point of talking, sharing, blogging, preaching and getting our understanding precise as to the intention of God in sending His Son to the cross is not so that our heads would be enlarged by theological speculation, but that our hearts would be broken, crushed; forever amazed and astounded at the love of God for us. I write more about this here. - JS

January 05, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Prof. Horner’s Bible-Reading System

Prof. Horner’s Bible-Reading System
This is the Bible reading plan that I personally use because by reading multiple chapters of Scripture each day you are continually covering the whole counsel of Scripture thus allowing the Bible to interpret itself. I have already been using this for a couple of years and can vouch for its helpfulness.

January 02, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Max McLean Performs The Gospel of Mark

For many years I have been something of a fan of Max McLean. He is widely recognized for his outstanding voice recordings of the Bible, both in the NIV and ESV, but that is by no means the end of his talent. For years he has thrilled audiences with his public performances of Genesis and of Mark’s Gospel, requiring both an amazing memory and remarkable acting skills.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Max a couple of times while at Ligonier Ministries Pastors’ Conferences and consider him to be a super talented and yet humble man of God with a close relationship with the Lord.

This morning I was thrilled to learn that his performance of Mark’s Gospel is now available on DVD. More than that, it is available to watch free of charge through youtube. As just a sample, here is Max “performing” Mark chapter 4 where Jesus teaches on the Parable of the Sower:

Justin Taylor has taken the time to post each of the 16 chapters of Mark at his site here. Enjoy! - JS

December 30, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Star Size Comparisons

Getting something of a mental grasp of the size of the objects in space is difficult, but a short 2 minute 34 second video helps, found here. - JS

December 29, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (12 - Gideon's Victory over Midian)

And Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch; and they blew on the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. And the three companies blew on the trumpets and broke the jars; and they held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow on; and they cried out, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”. And they stood each man in his place around the camp; and all the army ran and cried out and fled. And they blew the three hundred trumpets, and Yahweh set the sword of each man against his neighbor, and against all the army; and the army fled until Beth-Shittah, toward Tserera, until the border of Abel-Meholah, by Tabbath. – Judges 7:19-22

If the call of Gideon was an affair attended with many shadowy signs of the final exile of the people of Israel and the gospel era which should afterward ensue, as we discovered last time, then it may be reasonable to suppose that the actual victory which Gideon then wrought against Israel's oppressors should also be full of instructive gospel types. This is a supposition which we will not at all be disappointed in, as we look into the following account; for there, we will find marvelous dreams, suggestive names, amazing events, strange coincidences – but chiefly, one of the most enigmatical victories in the whole history of Israel, which displays God's unique power to save in an extraordinary and evocative way, and points clearly ahead to that greatest victory of all the ages, when God reached down from heaven with an outstretched arm and saved his people from all their oppressors, once and for all. Let us now recount a few respects in which these assertions are certainly true.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (12 - Gideon's Victory over Midian)" »

December 27, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Christmas letter to my 14 year old son

I wrote a letter to each of my children this year to explain some of the things they were receiving as gifts. Here's the one I wrote for my eldest son, age 14. - JS

December 26, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus "the Christ"

The angel told Joseph (and earlier Mary): "[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

The angel declared to the shepherds: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Jesus "the Christ" is the righteousness of God that God requires- -and amazingly provides for sinners to receive by faith.

Jesus simply means "YHWH is Salvation"; his name is JESUS because he will save his people from their sins.

Continue reading "Jesus "the Christ"" »

December 23, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (11 - Gideon's Call)

And the Angel of Yahweh came and sat under the oak which is in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite; and Gideon his son was threshing wheat in the winepress, to hide it from Midian. And the Angel of Yahweh appeared unto him and said unto him, “Yahweh is with you, O mighty man of valor”. – Judges 6:11-12

As we arrive at the history of that enigmatical judge, Gideon, we must be struck with amazement at the manifold ways in which the gospel is foreshadowed, and the marvelous valor and salvation which comes by God's grace through a naturally weak and cowardly man, given to many foibles, and even susceptible to gross idolatry – and that at the end of his life, after he had already seen the display of such gospel power in his surprising victory over the Midianites. Let us walk through the many types and shadows and appearances of Christ the Savior that we may encounter in these passages, for here there is much fine gospel-gold to be had for just a little labor, which even the weakest of saints might be able to dig up without too much trouble.

Continue reading "Images of the Savior (11 - Gideon's Call)" »

December 20, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Growing in Humility and Grace in 2011

How to Grow in Humility and Love for Christ

Here is the great Puritan Thomas Brooks on growing in humility and grace. Take time to read this with your family. I believe if we believe and heed this biblical wisdom as Christians, 2011 will be our best year yet as we seek to grow in the grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Note: If you only have a moment to give this a glance, jump down and read the main points on growing in humility and grace below).

The Puritans never cease to amaze me. God in His great providence and kind mercies gave us many godly men throughout the 1500-1700s who can still focus our attention on the riches of Christ’s grace and how to grow in our faith and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. As God gave Martin Luther to the Church to instruct us properly in the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, so God gave us the Church the Puritans so that we might grow in grace.

One of my favorite Puritans is Thomas Brooks (1608-1662) (I also regularly read and encourage others to read Richard Baxter, Richard Sibbes, John Flavel, and Thomas Watson to grow more in Christ’s grace and in biblical understanding). Thomas Brooks’ ‘Works’ are still in print by the Banner of Truth Trust (HERE), and we should be grateful to God.

Continue reading...(CRB)

Continue reading "Growing in Humility and Grace in 2011" »

December 17, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Thirty: Weeping May Endure for a Night, But Joy Comes in the Morning

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Thirty: Weeping May Endure for a Night, But Joy Comes in the Morning

There is no psalm that better sums up the very essence of the Christian life than this song of David, written for the dedication of the Temple. Here we have the truth most poignantly expressed that they who suffer and mourn now will be supremely blessed hereafter. Christ did not come to bring healing to the healthy, peace to the complacent, or joy to the mirthful. He came to bind up the brokenhearted, to heal the sick, to open blinded eyes, to forgive the guilt-laden conscience and flood the distressed and burdened soul with peace. “Your enemies will rejoice,” he told his disciples when he was about to save their souls, “but their joy will turn to despair. But you, though you sorrow for a moment, your sorrow will turn into joy that no one can ever take away” (see John 16:19-24). “Blessed are those who mourn,” he declared elsewhere, “for they shall be comforted” (Mat. 5:4).

Continue reading "Psalm Thirty: Weeping May Endure for a Night, But Joy Comes in the Morning" »

December 13, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"Immanuel, Our God is with Us- -and For Us!"

ESV Isaiah 9:6-7: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Jesus is our Immanuel, very God of very God, "with us"! (Matt. 1:18-23).

Jesus is Immanuel, "God with us" and "God for us" and "God in us" and "God born of a woman for us" and "God born under Law for us" and "God born to die for us" and "God born to live for us in our nature" and "God dead and raised to resurrected Glory for us" and 'GOD IN HEAVEN FOR US"!

What greater hope could we have??!!

The hope of every believer is that Jesus was born for us, lived for us, died for us, and was exalted for us into the Highest Heaven (Read on...CRB)

Continue reading ""Immanuel, Our God is with Us- -and For Us!"" »

December 10, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Is Time On Your Side?

There was a popular song in the 60s that boasted: “Time is on my side- -yes, it is!” (We should ask the aging singer now if this is still true).

But is time really on our side? Every generation wastes a lot of time. The Book of Ecclesiastes is an inspired book on the waste of time contrasted with knowing God and getting wisdom.

Wasting time is nothing new under the sun.

In our culture, how easy it is for us to waste time, yet we are called as the dearly loved children of God to walk wisely making sure to use your time wisely.

ESV Ephesians 5:15-16: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

We live in a time where time is greatly wasted. Perhaps technology and our ability to be “everywhere” in so many places at once- -mobile networks, handheld devices, iPads, iPods, iPhones, “i-need another one!” etc.

We live in a world where time is not measured by age as much as by the next edition, the next operating system, the next generation of network, or iPod, or Play station, or whatever.

We await the “next, best thing!” The “next version”- -we long to be “upgraded” “rebooted” and “reconfigured”- -but time is ticking…

Not THE END as our goal- -but the “next best thing”.

The chief end of man is not to glorify God and enjoy Him forever- -but to enjoy as God the next best thing! (Read on...CRB)

Time is tick, tick, ticking away...tick tock, tick tock....

Continue reading "Is Time On Your Side? " »

December 09, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Sins Many, Much Forgiveness! Much Forgiveness, Much Love!

ESV Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."

What is your estimation of yourself? I’m not speaking in terms of estimating your financial worth or estimating your value to others in this world. What is your estimation of yourself before God? Do you consider yourself “pretty good” or “a decent person” or “righteous compared with others”? Or are you sinful? Are you one who has been greatly forgiven?

We must remember that the Bible teaches us that all fall short of the glory of God. We are born and conceived in sin, and therefore we have no righteousness before God from our very conception (Psa. 51). Not only that, but we have no interest or desire for God in our sinful condition, and so we sin against God in our words, thoughts and deeds (Gen. 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Eph. 2:1-3).

The Bible tells us that our predicament is so sinful that even our best works of righteousness, our best prayers, our best goodness before God is as filthy rags worthy only of rejection before God’s holy face (Isa. 64:6).

If we are conceived in sin, and we constantly commit actual sins throughout our lives because we resist God and selfishly want to live for ourselves, and our best religious efforts are tainted by sin, and are never acceptable before God, what are we to do?

How can we ever love God and others, if we find ourselves in this sinful predicament?! (Read on...CRB)

Continue reading "Sins Many, Much Forgiveness! Much Forgiveness, Much Love!" »

December 08, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Perfect Love for Imperfect People

How are you doing in your faith today? How are doing in believing God's promises to you in Jesus?

Now don’t merely measure your faith, seeking to find out whether it is strong or weak. Rather, ponder the greatness of Christ’s strength, beauty and love for you! Faith fixes its eyes on JESUS the Author and Perfector of your faith (Heb. 12:1ff). Faith seeks more of Christ. Even the weakest faith can take hold of a STRONG CHRIST.

How are you doing in accepting, receiving and resting upon Christ’s completed work for you?

How are you doing in believing Christ is All-Sufficient and All-Powerful for whatever he calls you to today?

Here is a Scripture from John's first letter that may encourage and strengthen your faith in Jesus:

ESV 1 John 4:18-19: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Our faith is strengthened as we realize God's love for us in Jesus Christ!

Continue reading "Perfect Love for Imperfect People" »

December 07, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

God's Decisive Action

In an article entitled, "One of the Most Important Principles in Reading the Bible," Dr. John Piper writes:

Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us. That is not right.

There are indeed real conditions that God often commands. We must meet them for the promised blessing to come. But that does not mean that we are left to ourselves to meet the conditions or that our action is first and decisive.

Here is one example to show what I mean. In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." So there is a condition: When you seek me with all your heart, then you will find me. So we must seek the Lord. That is the condition of finding him.


But does that mean that we are left to ourselves to seek the Lord? Does it mean that our action of seeking him is first and decisive? Does it mean that God only acts after our seeking?


Continue reading "God's Decisive Action" »

December 06, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Are You Humble?

I’m certainly not.

But I have been meditating on a forefather in our most holy faith that was! I wanted to share some of Thomas Brooks’ wisdom with you (he’s the guy who wrote ‘Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices’ that classic spiritual warfare book).

James 4:7 says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Only Christ was perfectly humble; we can only learn true humility in Christ as we draw nearer and nearer to God, trusting less in ourselves and more in Him!

Humility is both a character and a command. In the Bible, we are commanded to be humble; this may seem strange to you. ESV 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” How is a person to “humble themselves”? Essentially, when the Scriptures teach us to draw near to God, or submit ourselves to God, or to depend upon God, etc. these are admonitions and/or commands to be humble. We are to have a right estimation of ourselves under God before God.

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December 02, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Nine: Ascribe to Yahweh the Glory of His Name

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Nine: Ascribe to Yahweh the Glory of His Name

The all-encompassing and self-sustaining glory of God is most clearly displayed in this respect, that the only fitting praise for him is to ascribe to him the glory of his Name. In our most fervent worship, we are not extravagant or flattering; we are simply recounting truthfully the immense glory that belongs by essential right to his most reverent name. This is the only fitting occupation of the sons of God, under which designation we may consider either the elect angels or the elect among mankind, who have been adopted as the children of God (Rom. 8:14-17); or probably (and most appropriately), both. When we worship together with the angels of heaven (Heb. 12:22-24), we are to tell forth the truth that in him alone is glory and strength and the splendor of holiness, and that he has revealed that glory to his creatures; he has deigned to provide them with a Name upon which they might call, a Name which mysteriously wraps up all his glory and holy might.

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November 22, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Eight: He Has Heard the Voice of My Supplications

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Eight: He Has Heard the Voice of My Supplications

Who has never lifted up his voice and cried out to the Lord, secretly wondering all the while if his ear was deaf to his pleas, and if, on that day of judgment, he would finally be dragged off with the wicked (vss. 1-2), who in pretense of piety make long their prayers (Mat. 6:5-7)? These religious hypocrites speak peace to their neighbor, but their heart is full of wickedness (vs. 3); and so, too, do they pray in ostensible humility, but their heart is full of pride.

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November 16, 2010  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (10 - Deborah and Barak)

And Barak said unto her, “If you go with me then I will go, but if you do not go with me I will not go”. And she said, “I will surely go with you; only your glory will not be on the way where you are going, because Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman”. And Deborah arose and went with Barak unto Kadesh. – Judges 4:8-9

Of the accounts of the judges we have examined so far, the sum is this: that while the judges themselves become progressively less worthy of emulation, and show themselves inadequate to be the King that God's people so desperately need; and while the people themselves are therefore plunged into greater depravity and bondage; the circumstances and histories of the judges nevertheless become ever clearer in their import and typology, as they look ahead to the gospel era of Christ the Savior. In both these respects, we may see a clear proof in our present account of Deborah and Barak. For in this history, Barak the judge displays a timid and cowardly spirit, which proves more certainly than any judge before him that the judges would not be sufficient to save the people forever; but at the same time, the surprising nature of the gospel, that the weak and lowly would triumph over the strong and arrogant, receives a very unexpected testimony. But let us now consider these things a little more fully.

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November 11, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Seven: Yahweh is My Light and My Salvation

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Seven: Yahweh is My Light and My Salvation

When David said that Yahweh was his light and his salvation, he was including in those precious epithets all spiritual blessings that could ever be devised or given to mankind. Whom, indeed, should he fear? Yahweh is his light: how could he ever finally be deceived or led astray, and thus prevented from entering that blessed abode, toward which his heart ever yearned, even the very house of the Lord, where he might gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (vss. 4-5)? Here is every good thing imaginable! What pleasure or delight or good might we possibly experience that does not have its illimitable source in the author of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)? This Lord is David's light, and he will teach him his ways and lead him in straight paths (vs. 11); and so after his heart has said, “Your face, O Yahweh, will I seek” (vs. 8), he can never thence be led astray and fail to find that divine countenance which he is seeking.

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November 08, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (9 - Ehud and Shamgar)

And Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool upper chamber; and Ehud said, “I have a word from God for you”; and he arose from his seat. And Ehud reached with his left hand, and took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. – Judges 3:20-21

If the book of Judges, as we have seen, serves both to show the downward spiral of Israel into ever-increasing sin and apostasy, and thus display her desperate need for a savior; and also, to foreshadow the one great Savior who would finally save her from her sins in the raising up of judges, who grow consistently more brilliant as types of the Christ while showing themselves consistently more inadequate to be the Christ indeed by their own flaws and foibles; then the case of the next two judges, viz., Ehud and Shamgar, is very notable. For in them, we see a more desperately wicked Israel; a more flawed deliverer; and a much more suggestive typology, as we shall see in due course.

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November 05, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

It is God who opens hearts

For someone to be converted, the heart must be opened to God and to His gospel. But who actually does this - God or man? - see here. - JS

November 03, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Six: Judge Me, O Yahweh, Because I Have Walked in My Integrity

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Six: Judge Me, O Yahweh, Because I Have Walked in My Integrity

In this psalm, as in so many others, we find ourselves swept away beyond the time of David, and hear its blessed words on the lips of the Son of David, as he walks about the Temple proclaiming the true doctrine of God. For as we have often noted before, many things which were said well and truly by David, and which may be repeated earnestly and confidently by us, when through the strength that God provides we are walking steadfastly in his example, were finally and perfectly fulfilled only in the life of Christ, into whose pattern we are being conformed by the Holy Spirit, even that same Spirit who spoke by David (2 Sam. 23:2), and prefigured his Son in his psalms. Let us, then, read this psalm with an eye to see it most perfectly displayed in the public ministry of our Lord.

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November 01, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Divine Healing Has Not Passed Away

James 5: 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I was just reading Tim Challies blog where he was quoting a commentary on the book of James by Daniel Dorian on the subject of Divine healing. As I understand it, there are extremes on both sides of the cessationist v. continuationist issue. There seems to be just as much error on the part of the extreme cessationist as there is in the extreme continualist camp. Whatever our stance, I trust we can all agree that it is entirely biblical to continue to expect great things from a great God. He still answers prayer. I could add to the testimony below having seen countless answers to prayer as God has graciously intervened to heal. - JS

Here is the quote: During the autumn when I first studied James in earnest, a friend suffered a viral infection of the heart. While it was not a heart attack, it mimicked many of the symptoms of one. My friend felt listless; he looked gray and lifeless. One day at church, I told him that James 5 instructs elders to lay hands on the sick and to pray for their healing; I suggested that he call the elders for that very purpose. Two weeks later, he told me he wanted to proceed. No one in our church had done this before, so we did something very Presbyterian: we studied the matter another six weeks and hoped he didn’t die in the meantime.

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October 25, 2010  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Five: Redeem Israel, O God, Out of All His Troubles

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Five: Redeem Israel, O God, Out of All His Troubles

Psalm Twenty-Five is a little unusual in that it is one of several acrostic poems in the psalter – that is, each verse begins with the twenty-two respective letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order, and thus proceeds, as it were, from “A” to “Z”. This arrangement seems to underscore the nature of the psalm's content, which contains a little bit of every facet of the life of faith – it gives the qualities and characteristics of the saint's walk and manner of life from “A” to “Z”. Thus, the arrangement of the psalm answers well to the material of which it consists.

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October 25, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Christian - Where did your faith come from?

You placed your trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. You came to Him in repentance and faith. You were the one taking those actions. God did not exercise faith for you. On this point the monergist (reformed) person and the syngergist (arminian) agrees. However, we then need to ask the deeper question which is "where did this faith come from?" Was it found in the natural ability of the unregenerate heart or was it something God gave as a gift?

Does Scripture address this issue? The answer is a resounding "yes."

Do all people have faith? The answer is no. "Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith." 2 Thess 3:1, 2

So where did the faith come from? Clearly it is God's gift to His elect people.

Phil 1:29 says, "It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake..."

Our minds tend to focus on the suffering part of the verse, but notice that the faith (believe) part is also something GRANTED to God's people.

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October 20, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Four: Lift Up Your Heads, O You Gates!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Four: Lift Up Your Heads, O You Gates!

In this Psalm, we may see the boundless greatness of the infinite God brought down nearer and nearer to mankind, until the climax of all time and history explodes upon the scene in a brilliant crescendo of triumph, and the unthinkable becomes reality, as the uncontainable God of the universe steps through the gates of Zion to dwell among his people. This, then, is the drama of all redemptive history, played out before the eyes of our heart in three terse scenes, which wrap up infinite import in little swaddling bands of words, just as the infinite Christ child, the eternal Word of God, was later swaddled and laid in a manger – the boundless bound in mean strips of cloth, the uncontainable contained in a feeding trough. Mystery of mysteries! For what deeper mystery could there be than that which is contained in these words, “God with us”?

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October 18, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

An Illustration - Two Federal Heads - Adam and Christ

A few days ago I posted an article here about Adam being our federal head representing us in the garden of Eden. Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15 were quoted to show how Adam's sin affected us all with severe and dire consequences.

Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned..." Verses 15 through 19 say, "But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

I know that many people struggle with this concept of Adam as our representative, but there's no doubt as to its biblical reality - so perhaps it may be of help to suggest the following as an illustration of the situation. I hope it helps. Here goes:

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October 18, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Two Federal Heads - Adam and Christ

We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. Like Humpty Dumpty, we all had a great fall, but not by accident, but by deliberate choice. The human race had a Federal Head in the Garden of Eden, namely Adam, who represented the entire human race. When he sinned, he sinned "for us" - we all sinned in him - He acted on our behalf. Because he was our Federal Head, this had huge and drastic consequences for us. Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned..."

Did you catch that? We all sinned in Adam. When he disobeyed, he was disobeying on our behalf. His act brought death to us. We died in him. Just as Adam was cut off from the life of God (spiritually) as a result of his sin, all those born after him were born spiritually "dead on arrival" on planet earth.

The Bible teaches us clearly that there are two Federal Heads for the human race, Adam and Christ. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor 15:22). If we remain only represented by Adam, there is no hope for us whatsoever. Adam failed us all. He offers no redemption. God takes the sin of Adam and imputes it to all the human race. When Adam sinned, we sinned in him. That is the bad news - we were born sinners.

Before we say it is not fair that we are credited with Adam's sin when we were not there in the garden, thousands of miles away, thousands of years ago, we need to remember, that the other side of the coin in imputation (crediting) is that Christ's righteousness is credited to all those who place their trust in Him.

This is the really good news! Let me explain.

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October 15, 2010  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (8 - Othniel)

And the children of Israel cried out to Yahweh, and Yahweh raised up a savior for the children of Israel, Othniel, the son of Kenaz, the younger brother of Caleb; and he saved them. – Judges 3:9

The period of history in which Joshua was still alive was a time of great victory and success for the children of Israel. Joshua, the savior of the people, was strong in the Lord to do what Moses had failed to do, that is, to bring the people into the promised land, give them victory over all their enemies, and confirm to them all the promises made to the patriarchs. In this, he was a very notable type of the Savior, showing in a figure how a greater One than Moses should one day arise to confirm to the people all the promises that Moses had announced, and of which we may read in great detail in the five books that he wrote.

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October 14, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Three: The LORD is My Shepherd

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Three: The LORD is My Shepherd

It is not without reason that Psalm Twenty-Three is one of the best known and best loved psalms in the bible. How many saints have taken courage and comfort from these blessed lines, when passing through some dark valley of despair? How many overwhelmed and fearful christians have clung to the promise that God's goodness and mercy would pursue them and bring them home to the Lord, no matter where they should find themselves in this cruel life? What a tender and comforting image: the almighty God of the universe, come down to be a pitiful Shepherd, to gather up his lambs in his bosom and gently lead those who are with young (Isaiah 40:10-12). When the cup that we should have drunk down was filled with the foaming wrath of God, he gave us instead a cup of mercy and salvation, full to the brim, and spread out a feast for us in the presence of all our enemies. What amazing love!

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October 11, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

What a Waste of Space... Unless

What a waste of space... unless the whole purpose of the vast size of the Universe is something other than you and me, but to put on display the glory and majesty of God.

Psalm 19: 1 - "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."

October 08, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (7 - The End of Joshua's Life)

And Yahweh gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it, and dwelt in it. And Yahweh gave rest to them on every side, according to all that he had sworn to their fathers. And not a man stood before their face, of all their enemies; Yahweh gave all their enemies into their hand. There did not fail a word of all the good words that Yahweh had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass – Joshua 21:43-45

As we come to the second half of the book of Joshua, we will soar high above it, as a bird on the wing, in order to gain a sense of the coherence and significance of the whole, rather than walking through it piece by piece, as we have largely done heretofore. For although there are many wonderful things to be discovered in each passage and every event, yet the sum of the whole is this: that Joshua, in his great victories and apportionings of the land at large, was acting, true to his name, as a type of the coming Savior; and so, although we might profitably discover rich lessons in each individual occurrence, which it would be very advantageous for us to do at another time, yet seeing the character of the whole sum of Joshua's actions, and how he served as a foreshadow of the coming Christ in the entire scope of what he did, provides us with the necessary broad principles that will be of great assistance for seeking Christ in all the minutia of the text; and that is really the burden of this whole series of reflections – not, that is, to bring out every particular of the text in detail, which is an undertaking far too great for the narrow confines of this book, but rather to show in a general fashion how the whole of scriptures is centered in every way on the person and work of Christ, so that more detailed studies might thence become much more fruitful.

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October 06, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-Two: My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-Two: My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Never has there been a more violent and shocking contrast than that which we encounter between what we just read in the previous psalm, of the great glory and majesty and eternal life with which God in his delight has crowned the Messianic King, and the unutterable cry of horror which is this psalm's first line. “My God,” he cries out in anguish, as it were in disbelief. “My God!” – And can you not feel in that tortured shriek but a whisper of the pain of divine abandonment, undeserved dereliction, the very rupture, as it were, of the most holy and blessed Trinity? “My God, in whom has ever been my delight, my joy, my infinite and divine love – My God, in whose fellowship from eternity past I have ever rejoiced – My God, when I have done this, when I have stooped to do your will, when in that Garden of terrors, weeping out my heart all in a sweat of agony, I nevertheless set my brow to do what you had commanded – My God, when never I had shown my obedience so perfectly, no, nor my love for you, no, nor my regard for your honor, no, nor my tender compassion for your chosen people – Ah, my God, when this is what I have offered up to you, a most perfect and holy sacrifice, why is it that even now, in the extremity of my need, you have forsaken your holy and beloved Son? Ah, my God, my God!”

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October 04, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Story of the Bible

From a recent conference of 9Marks at Southeastern Seminary, Dr. Mark Dever gives an excellent overview (or big picture) concerning the contents of the Bible.

9Marks at Southeastern - Biblical Theology: Session 1 from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

September 28, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty-One: You Have Not Withheld the Request of His Lips

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty-One: You Have Not Withheld the Request of His Lips

How rich and wonderful beyond expression was the substance of the prayer offered up for the Anointed King in the last psalm! And as we move beyond those sacred vistas into new and equally holy prospects of the most blessed psalter, how our heart thrills within us to hear that exuberant affirmation of the king, that the Lord has held back nothing of the request of his lips. Is our own salvation not thereby guaranteed by this testimony? Can we restrain our own hearts from rejoicing with the king in the strength of the Lord, and from exulting in his salvation, seeing that God has given him all his heart's desire? Not so, O Christian, if we truly belong to the Christ; for in his success and glory is our own eternal joy and salvation.

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September 27, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

If Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was Published in Christianity Today

The following is a parody from the archives of the Sacred Sandwich website. . . but is it really just a parody? Though dripping with obvious satire, it provides much food for thought.

If the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church in Galatia had been published in Christianity Today how would it be received by those who read that magazine? Well, what follows are the letters from readers in response to Paul’s inspired Epistle.



Dear Christianity Today:

In response to Paul D. Apostle’s article about the Galatian church in your January issue, I have to say how appalled I am by the unchristian tone of this hit piece. Why the negativity? Has he been to the Galatian church recently? I happen to know some of the people at that church, and they are the most loving, caring people I’ve ever met.

Phyllis Snodgrass; Ann Arbor, MI


Dear Editor:

How arrogant of Mr. Apostle to think he has the right to judge these people and label them accursed. Isn’t that God’s job? Regardless of this circumcision issue, these Galatians believe in Jesus just as much as he does, and it is very Pharisaical to condemn them just because they differ on such a secondary issue. Personally, I don’t want a sharp instrument anywhere near my zipper, but that doesn’t give me the right to judge how someone else follows Christ. Can’t we just focus on our common commitment to Christ and furthering His kingdom, instead of tearing down fellow believers over petty doctrinal matters?

Ed Bilgeway; Tonganoxie, KS


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September 25, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (6 - Joshua's Victory Over Many Enemies)

And Joshua said to them, 'Do not fear and do not be dismayed; be strong and take courage, for thus will Yahweh do to all your enemies against whom you fight'. And Joshua struck them afterward, and put them to death; and he hanged them upon five trees, and they hung upon the trees until evening. And it came to pass, at the time when the sun goes down, that Joshua gave the command, and they took them down and threw them in the cave where they had hidden, and they placed great stones against the mouth of the cave, unto this very day. – Joshua 10:25-27

After the fierce anger of the Lord against that which was accursed among the people had been turned away by the utter destruction of Achan and his family, Joshua and the people of Israel enjoyed great success in their warfare against all the nations surrounding them; but the enemies of the people did not just lie down and die, but the more clearly they saw their advancing doom, the more they raged and schemed and strove against the certain victory of Israel's captain, and sought by any means possible to subvert them. First of all, one hostile nation tried to infiltrate the people by deception, and had some measure of success; and then, a great king arose in Jerusalem, and gathered other kings unto himself, and waged a last great assault against Israel, hoping utterly to defeat them once and for all; but instead, they were put to a terrible end, for the Lord fought for Israel, and did great and wonderful things that had never been seen before. How this all happened, and what it foreshadowed, will be the subject of our enquiry.

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September 23, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twenty: O Yahweh, Save the King!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twenty: O Yahweh, Save the King!

Everywhere one may turn, the psalms are full of the prayers of the Davidic King, who intercedes for his people and pleads God's eternal blessing and favor upon them; but in this psalm, we find the roles reversed, as it were, and the people of God all lifting up their voice in one accord on behalf of their King. “May the Lord save you!”, they cry out to him; “May his Name protect you, may he send you aid from his sanctuary, may he remember your sacrifices and burnt offerings, may he fulfill your plans, may we rejoice in your salvation” – these and other such requests they offer up for him.

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September 20, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement

Saturday, September 18 is Yom Kippur on the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement. Here is a very interesting video (introduced by Todd Bolen) on the significance of the sacrificial lamb in Jewish thought, pointing us to the atonement of Christ.

The Sacrificial Lamb from SourceFlix on Vimeo.

September 18, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (5 – Achan's Curse)

And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Yahweh will trouble you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones, and they burned them with fire, and they stoned them with stones. And they raised a great heap of stones over him until this day; then Yahweh turned back from the fierceness of his anger. Therefore the name of that place is called the Valley of Trouble until this day. – Joshua 7:25-26

We may learn something very important from the account of Achan, and the trouble he brought upon Israel; and that is, that even when God has entered into covenant with his people, he still cannot tolerate that which is accursed, and will not permit it to enter his presence, but will pour out his fierce anger upon it, until it is utterly consumed. The people of Israel, under Joshua, that great type of the Savior, had just won a mighty victory over Jericho, and were confident that the Lord would fulfill to them his promise, and give them all the land that he had covenanted to give them. And so, when they came upon the next city, a little place named Ai, they sent only a few men against it, and were very certain of its soon downfall; but those men were dealt a resounding defeat, and they were all perplexed, and cried out to the Lord.

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September 17, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Nineteen: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Nineteen: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Who is glorious like our God? And what tells forth his glory, but the Word of God? In the beginning, God gave forth his voice, he spoke the worlds into existence, and by his Word all creation was made (Gen. 1; John 1:1-3); and now, from one day to another, the glories of the sun and sky and stars above all give an unceasing testimony to the greatness of this God. There is no part of the world where divine glory does not overwhelm our myopic, sin-stained eyes with a dazzling brilliance. All creation shouts forth the majesty of the Creator with a voice loud enough to wake the deaf and shake the earth's foundations. And these are but a whisper of his ways! The staggering beauty of the heavens are but the echoes of that voice that first thundered “Let there be Light”! And the whole universe is awash with these echoes of the Word – so that they are rendered utterly without excuse, who exchange the glory that can be known from Creation, even the divine majesty and Godhead of the Creator, for a lesser glory to worship (Rom. 1:18-32).

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September 13, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Eighteen: He Shows Steadfast Love to His Anointed, to David and His Seed Forever

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Eighteen: He Shows Steadfast Love to His Anointed, to David and His Seed Forever

He is either blind or a fool who can look upon a powerful thunderstorm without reflecting in trembling awe upon the might and majesty of the Lord. Immense reserves of strength beyond imagination break forth in the winds and hail and lightnings that sweep so suddenly over the resting world, and the stentorian voice of the thunder testifies to the solemn import of the display – and all this is but the breath of the nostrils of him who rides on the wings of the wind, as David here observes. What utter lunacy could permit a man to see so fearful a nostril-blast without ever trembling at the power of the God who so breathes, and pouring his whole being into answering the question of whether that perfect puissance will prove to be for him or against him?

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September 06, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Firstborn of all Creation

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. - Colossians 1:15-17

There is much that could be said about the title "firstborn". It is a title of honor and refers to Christ being given all "the rights and privileges of a firstborn son, especially the son of a monarch who would inherit ruling sovereignty. This is how the expression is used of David: “I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Ps. 89:27)." (ESV Study Bible notes)

The phrase "firstborn" does not mean that Christ is a created being. We can establish that by reading the words that immediately follow in the text. Jesus is presented as the Creator of all things and He is before all things! This passage is in fact one of many that presents a clear affirmation of the Deity of Christ.

Here, and elsewhere, the "Bible" of the Jehovah's Witnesses (New World Translation published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) deliberately changes the scripture to obscure this truth. Rather than repeating the phrase "all things" over and over again, as Paul did, the Watchtower translation inserts another word, "other," into the text, making it read, "because by means of him all [other] things were created... All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist."

The reason for the translation change is easy to understand: Their theology says that God the Father created Jesus and then Jesus created all other things and therefore, since Watchtower theology insists Jesus is merely a created being, this passage must be rendered this way.

Is there a legitimate reason in the text itself for this insertion? No, not at all - it is merely the blatant attempt to hide the truth.

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September 06, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Psalm Seventeen: Keep Me as the Apple of Your Eye

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Seventeen: Keep Me as the Apple of Your Eye

When King David published this psalm, his people must have derived immense comfort from it: how confident was their leader that God would hear his pleas for salvation, and deliver him from all his enemies! His life was pure, his faith was great, and he knew by long experience the wondrous steadfast love that would preserve all those who sought refuge in God the Savior, as the very apple of his eye. But this further consideration must have been particularly pleasing to all the people, that of old God was accustomed to deal with a nation in large part upon the basis of its king. Whenever a king walked uprightly and found favor with God, the whole nation would prosper; but “when a wicked one rules, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2). How the nation must have rejoiced, knowing that God loved their king, and their king represented them to God.

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August 30, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Concerning Division in the Church by Pastor John Samson

"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name." - 1 Cor 1:10-15 (ESV)

As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church there were many issues that were of concern to him, one of which he outlines in this passage, namely division in the Church. He wished to see harmony and unity and was alarmed to hear reports that there were four factions amongst the Church members. The King James Bible states the problem this way, “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” In considering the four groups a few things come to mind.

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August 25, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Psalm Sixteen: You Will Not Leave My Soul in Sheol!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Sixteen: You Will Not Leave My Soul in Sheol!

Everywhere in the Psalms, as we have often seen before, David speaks not primarily with regard to himself alone, as a mere individual; but rather, being the anointed King and representative of the people, he comes before God in their behalf as a type of Christ, the true King and Messiah and Mediator of the people, and pleads blessings for them from God. But in a few places, David's office as a type and shadow of Christ is overwhelmed, as it were, by the brightness of the glory of the One prefigured, so that his own voice is all but lost, and the radiance of the glory of God is seen so clearly that it is as if the very Son of God were speaking alone and unmediated.

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August 23, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Fifteen: Who May Dwell On Your Holy Hill?

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Fifteen: Who May Dwell On Your Holy Hill?

The answer to the question here posed by the Psalmist contains in itself all that is necessary for eternal life and happiness; and everything that can be desired, and that can never fade away or grow dull or tiresome, hangs in the balance. The tents of the wicked may be filled with all sorts of fleeting, carnal delights, but the end of those things is shame and misery; but the Holy Hill of Yahweh is filled with such an abundant store of unfading riches as all eternity could never suffice to uncover. This is because Zion, the Lord's Holy Hill, is where the Lord himself dwells; and he who has been chosen to dwell before the Lord in peace, he, that is, to whom the Lord is his portion, seeing that the Lord is his Lord, possesses all that belongs to the God of the universe. Every good thing created by God for man's pleasure is his, and eternal life, which is the knowledge of the Lord (John 17:3), and every wondrous attribute and precious quality of the Lord's own nature is for him, and he may draw upon it in any trial whatever, because God is his God, and God cannot be divided against himself or against those who belong to him.

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August 16, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Fourteen: There is None Who Does Good, No, Not One

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Fourteen: There is None Who Does Good, No, Not One

There is perhaps no worse news ever given, nor any grimmer verdict ever uttered under heaven, than that stinging indictment of the psalmist against the human race, “There is none who does good, no, not one!”. Consider how certainly this truth is established, and by what unassailable testimonies it has been sealed: Yahweh himself has looked down from heaven, he has searched out all the world and examined every child of man, to see if there is anyone who understands, anyone who seeks God – but, no, the answer comes back when the universal search is ended: they have all gone astray without exception, they are all corrupt, they all do abominable things, they have all despised and scoffed at God, and in their inmost hearts refused even to acknowledge the existence of him who created them, the evidence of which is borne out by their lives lived with no fear of God before their eyes.

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August 10, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Christian's Reasonable Service

The Christian's Reasonable Service by Wilhelmus à Brakel (1635-1711)

The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 1 (,pdf)
The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 2 (.pdf)
The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 3 (.pdf)
The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 4 (.pdf)

The entire printed four-volume set of The Christian’s Reasonable Service can be purchased for a discount price at Monergism Books

August 05, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Thirteen: Lighten My Eyes, Lest I Sleep in Death!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Thirteen: Lighten My Eyes, Lest I Sleep in Death!

Through all the course of his life, David was very often opposed by many enemies who were stronger than he: whether it was King Saul, who without a cause so many times sought his life; or Achish, the king of the Philistines, before whom he was forced to feign madness; or those raiders who stole away his wives and goods in Ziklag; or even his own son Absalom, who raised up a mighty host against him, and drove him out of Jerusalem; by all these enemies and more, he was constantly opposed, afflicted, and oppressed – and yet, in the face of such enmity, he constantly evinced a calm and steady assurance of God's favor and salvation, because of which he could laugh at all his foes, and sleep in peace even when they were surrounding him on every side.

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July 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Twelve: Save, O Yahweh, Because the Godly One Has Come to an End!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Twelve: Save, O Yahweh, Because the Godly One Has Come to an End!

There have been times in Church history, and also, no doubt, times in the personal history of many of the saints, when it seems as if all the righteous have vanished away. So Elijah cried out in an agony of despair, “I, only I am left, and they seek my life!” (1 Kings 19:10); and the echoes of that sharp complaint have since reverberated in many souls populating the Kingdom after him. In those times, the only bedrock of hope is the unshakeable truth that “the words of Yahweh are pure words, silver refined in a furnace in the earth, purified seven times” (vs. 6); and those words include many strong promises of deliverance from every enemy, which the righteous always seize upon and plead back to the Father (vss. 7-8).

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July 12, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Winning the Private War in the Mind

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Over the years there have been extremely dubious or downright ridiculous teachings about spiritual warfare in the Church at large. Much of it was borne out of ignorance, speculation, superstition or religious tradition. Yet there is a reality to spiritual warfare and it is something God certainly wants us to know about, or else He would not have revealed it to us in His Word. If we just stay with the Scripture, we will be on safe and sure ground. God wants us to understand the warfare, know our enemy and live a life free from his clutches.

In Ephesians 6:12 the Apostle outlines the arena of warfare in which all Christians are engaged. One scholar translated the original words as follows: “For our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies, but against rulers with various areas and descending orders of authority, against the world-dominators of this present darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.” The picture here is of a very highly structured and well organized kingdom with descending orders of authority and different rulers and sub rulers responsible for different areas of their territory.

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July 11, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Eleven: If the Foundations Be Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Eleven: If the Foundations Be Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?

It is no uncommon experience for the saint to be tempted by many strong and appealing arguments to abandon his hope in the Lord, when waves of fierce opposition arise. So was David often tempted, and so also are all who trust in Christ thus tempted at times. “What has your religion done for you?”, the sneering voices of the fickle crowds inquire; and joining in the insidious plot, the devil whispers into the ear of your heart the same deceptive question, and your own weak flesh rises up to confirm the lie. “Yes, I have trusted in God, I have sought to serve him in all that I do, I have denied myself the opportunity for greater riches and power and security, because I have not been willing to break his Law and build myself up by treating the weak unfairly, or being deceitful and unethical in my practices; and I have ever kept myself from relying on the strong-seeming hills of prominent position and well-supplied bank accounts, those mountains which never fail to bear up the wicked – and here I am on the brink of destruction, and they still prosper! Should I not flee to those same mountains as a bird?”

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July 06, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off

In my devotions this morning, I was reading from Deuteronomy 30, and was startled by words in verses 11 and 14 that sounded almost like a Pelagian declaration of human ability:

"This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off...."The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it."
Can you comment on a proper understanding of that passage?

Those who are regenerate have been set free by the Spirit of Christ to the bondage of "total depravity" (John 8:36, Romans 6:18). Bondage to sin is a characteristic of those not yet born from above. Now that you have been born from above and the Spirit indwells you, "God's commands are not too difficult for you, for everyone born of God overcomes the world." (1 John 5:4). This parallel passage to the one you have quoted in Deuteronomy reveals a new affection granted to the regenerate.

Isolated, the Deuteronomy Text has every appearance of a Pelagian declaration, but in the context of the passage you quoted it actually reveals the exact opposite. What does it say? The promise of God to them was "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:5-7). Don't know if you noticed this but this text is in the same passage you quoted. It is the indicative (grace) that the imperative (commandment) was grounded in. Their obedience springs from God's prior action in them. The Word is near to them and where you find the Word, the Spirit is also working in the children of promise. The Israelites had been set free and were in covenant with God. The promises of grace, mind you, were just as valid for Old Testament believers as New Testament believers, otherwise, like us, none of them would have had hope.

In the New Testament other parallel passages might be found in 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18.

June 28, 2010  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Psalm Ten: Arise, O Yahweh! O God, Lift Up Your Hand!

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Ten: Arise, O Yahweh! O God, Lift Up Your Hand!

Religion that begins and ends with the mind alone is in fact no religion, but an empty mockery; for true religion comes to full flower in the trials and temptations that beset a man, and gives him victory over them all. This much we may certainly learn from our psalm today, which is very closely connected with the preceding, and bears this relationship to it, that it takes up the same precious themes and truths, and most heartily employs them in the midst of a terrible trial, which threatens to overwhelm the faith and hope of the godly.

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June 28, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Nine: Yahweh Sits Enthroned Forever

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Nine: Yahweh Sits Enthroned Forever

The reader who is continuing in order through the book of the Psalms will remember that the last psalm marveled at the deeply paradoxical truth of man's frail and insignificant nature, which is nevertheless of immense importance to God, by whom all creation is destined to be brought into subjection to a man who will reign forever in righteousness, even the God-Man Jesus Christ, who tasted death for every man and is now crowned with glory and honor. It may capture the reader's attention, therefore, that immediately after speaking of how all kingly dominion will be given to man, the psalms go on to speak of the eternal, kingly dominion of the Lord Yahweh himself, who sits enthroned forever, and judges the world in righteousness (vss. 7-8). Yes, man will reign over all things; but above and behind man, and constantly supplying him with his kingly authority and royal glory, is the Lord who created him. He has reigned from all eternity past, and into all eternity future he will reign in righteousness. There is no word or thought or breath of man that does not obey his divine decree and follow his every bidding. No, in all their mad ragings and evil schemes, the men of this world will accomplish nothing but what God's hand and purpose had predestined to take place (Acts 4:28).

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June 21, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Eight: What Is Man, That You Are Mindful of Him?

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Eight: What Is Man, That You Are Mindful of Him?

What a paradox is man! The Name of the Lord is majestic in all the earth, and the heavens above, ah, how much glory do they declare! Wherever one should turn his eye, there is all around him the stuff of awe-struck wonder, and the more deeply he probes, the greater the marvel becomes. In the depths of the deepest ocean, what brilliant flowers and beautiful creatures may be found hidden away from all prying eyes. In the vast expanse of the universe, what mind-boggling distances and unthinkable substances, what expansive galaxies and innumerable stars, what gasses and solids and plasmas and dark matters beyond the wildest surmisings of man. And here on this earth, such noble creatures may be found, the soaring eagle and massive elephant and untamable lion – it staggers the mind to try to conceive of it all, and after the attempt, the only reasonable verdict that one may come to is this, “O Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your Name!”

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June 14, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Atonement in Hebrews

I have written a brief article and then include a 12 minute video by Dr. James White on the theme of the atonement here. It covers such issues as particular redemption and how Christ's sacrifice and intercession are intimately related. I trust it will be a blessing. - Rev. John Samson

June 09, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Seven: Judge Me, O Yahweh, According to My Righteousness

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Seven: Judge Me, O Yahweh, According to My Righteousness

Already had David found comfort from his sorrow over sin, and had assured himself that the Lord had seen his tears of penitence and would not rebuke him in his wrath (Psalm 6); and yet, as blessed as that forgiveness of sins and free absolution from guilt had been, a fuller confidence in his sure salvation from all his enemies required even more yet: for if his faith should remain strong in the promises of God, when all the world seemed set against him, he needed not just to know that he was forgiven, but also that he was positively righteous – not just that the Lord had nothing against him, but also that the Lord had seen everything good in him, and was well-disposed to help him for the beautiful and commendable things which adorned his heart, not just disinclined to rebuke him for the ugly and contemptible things over which he had mourned so deeply before.

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June 07, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Psalm Six: Rebuke Me Not in Your Anger

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Six: Rebuke Me Not in Your Anger

In all of David's battles against his enemies (and they were many and mighty!), he took courage in the Lord, and assured himself of victory, and was able even to lie down and sleep when his foes were pressing him hard on every side; for he knew that he was righteous and they were wicked, and that the Lord would therefore deliver him. This we have seen, and it has given us much courage to face any kind of opposition that we might encounter for righteousness' sake. But what if the next enemy David had to face should come not from without but from within, what if he could no longer trust in his righteousness because his enemy is sinfulness – his own deep-seated and innate depravity? How would he assure himself of the Lord's favor then?

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May 31, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Five: In the Morning You Will Hear My Voice

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Five: In the Morning You Will Hear My Voice

In peace had David lain down and slept the night before (Psalm 4:8); but when the morning came, his problems were not gone, and so with great and sorrowful groanings he poured out his soul to the Lord in supplications, and watched for his coming salvation.

But as he wrestled with his thoughts, that morning on his bed, he could not make sense of all his woes: he knew that God did not delight in wickedness, that the boastful would not stand before him, that he would certainly destroy all who speak lies, and that he abhors in righteous contempt those bloodthirsty and deceitful men who surrounded him. How grim a picture does he paint of fallen, rebellious man, whose inmost being is destruction and who will let no truth touch even once upon his lying lips! So why, then, will God not judge them at once?

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May 24, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Four: In Peace I Will Lie Down and Sleep

The Lord of life lay down and slept; but God raised him up to a new and glorious day, and brought salvation to his people! This we saw last time, in Psalm Three; but what happens when, after the dawn of that new day of life, the shadows lengthen, the evening approaches, further troubles arise, and the time again is near to lying down?

Such a time came again for David, after God had given him relief in his distress; and although he was angry, with just cause, yet he did not sin, but searched instead his own heart, and commended himself to God, and was silent. And then, instead of his anger over the blasphemies of the wicked, God gave him joy surpassing their own, even in the times when their grain and wine abound – for he realized that the day of their triumph would certainly pass, but his eternal victory was hastening on the way. And so, with this meditation ringing in his heart, he lay down and slept once again, saying, “Only you, O Yahweh, make me dwell in safety”.

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May 18, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (4 - The Downfall of Jericho)

And it came to pass, on the seventh time the priests blew their trumpets, that Joshua said unto the people, “Shout, because Yahweh has given the city to you; and the city shall be devoted to Yahweh for destruction, and all that is in it; only Rahab the prostitute shall live, she and all who are in the house with her, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.” – Joshua 6:16-17

In the blessed visions of Isaiah the prophet, we may meet with a coming Messiah more meek and gentle than all men, who will suffer willingly for the redemption of his people (e.g. Isaiah 50:6; 52:13-53:12); but at the same time, we are given glimpses of this same Messiah as a warrior returning from a great slaughter, his robes stained red with the blood of all the enemies upon whom he had been trampling in his fury (Isaiah 63:1-6). From this portrait of the Christ, we may gather that he is uniquely diverse in his altogether excellent attributes, being both humble and approachable to his people, and yet most terrible in the fierceness of his wrath, which he will pour out against all who are not his own; and as we continue in the histories of Joshua, that great type of the Savior, we may see this latter excellency displayed as well in his own biography: for after he had brought his people into the promised land, meekly and humbly passing before them into the waters which flowed from Adam and symbolized the wrath of God, as a type of the Messiah suffering on the cross; then, he showed what terrible things he had in store for all their enemies, when he brought down the walls of mighty Jericho, and spared no one except Rahab the prostitute, but devoted every man, woman, and child beside to utter destruction by the mouth of his terrible sword.

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May 15, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm Three: I Lay Down and Slept; I Woke Again

When King David was forced to flee from his own son Absalom, who had raised up such a rebellion against him that the great majority of the people thought his salvation was impossible, he cried out to the Lord, and then lay down and slept. Many thought this a sleep from which he would never arise, for thousands of people had set themselves around him, and were bent on his destruction; but he woke again, for God sustained him; and thenceforth, his Lord rose up to destroy his enemies, and crush them beneath his feet.

How was it, you may ask, that under such troubling circumstances the king was able to sleep at all? How did he have such peace and faith in the sure salvation of his God, when all hope seemed lost? To answer that question, dear, troubled Christian, I must tell you the story again, but this time, tell it of the greater David, whom the first David foreshadowed.

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May 10, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (3 - The Crossing of the Jordan)

And it came to pass, when the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, and the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant before the people; and when those who bore the Ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the Ark were dipped into the edge of the water (now, the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of the harvest); that the waters which were coming down from above stood still: they rose in a heap very far off, in Adam, the city which is beside Zarethan, and those which were coming down to the Sea of the desert, the Salt Sea, were entirely cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. And the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was crossing over on dry ground, even until the whole nation had finished crossing over the Jordan. – Joshua 3:14-17

If, as we have seen, Joshua was a notable type of the Savior primarily because he rose up after Moses, and accomplished what even that great leader of the people had been unable to do; and if the one great act which Moses had been insufficient for was to bring the people of Israel across the Jordan and into the land which God had promised to their fathers to give to them; then we may expect to see very many wonderful and instructive signs and types of the Messiah surrounding the time when the typical savior Joshua actually brought the people of Israel into the promised land of Canaan; and in this expectation, we will not at all be disappointed, when we examine the account before us today with the eyes of faith, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and hoping by the Spirit to see the great redemption of our Lord and Savior most poignantly displayed before our eyes.

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May 07, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Conversion - Impossible with man - Possible with God

Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Lk 18:25-27)

Just as a leopard CANNOT change its spots and a camel CANNOT go through the eye of a needle (both are impossible) MAN cannot change the human heart - BUT GOD CAN. That is our only hope as we pray for and reach out with the gospel to lost souls. - JS

May 07, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm Two: Today I Have Begotten You

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm Two: Today I Have Begotten You

The first two psalms, as we have observed, function together as a foundation and introduction to the glorious mysteries of the entire psalter; and if the first psalm demonstrates the centrality of Christ, holding him forth at once as the great representative of his people, then how much more may we learn of him from the second psalm, in which we are ushered into the inter-triune council, before the world or time began, to hear the decree whereby the eternal Son of God first solemnly undertook to save us from all our enemies? Oh, sacred mystery! Oh, unutterable grace! Before we intrude any further into this wonder of wonders, let us put off the shoes from our feet, for we have entered upon holy ground.

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May 03, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (2 – The Salvation of Rahab)

Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this cord of scarlet on the window through which you let us down, and your father and your mother and your brothers and all the household of your father you shall gather unto yourself in the house. And it shall come to pass that, anyone who goes out from the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we shall be guiltless; and anyone who shall be with you in the house, his blood shall be upon our head if a hand is laid upon him. – Joshua 2:18-19

It is implied by the very term “savior” that there is an enemy from which the people need to be delivered: if there were no enemy before whom the children of Israel were unable to stand, then they would have no need of a deliverer, or savior. But furthermore, in order to save a people who are in bondage to an enemy stronger than themselves, it is also necessary that the savior be stronger than this enemy, and able to overcome him. So then, it is manifest that, if one is truly a savior to one people, then he must also be a conqueror and destroyer of another, stronger people, to whom the people of his salvation are in subjection. We have already seen that Joshua, the successor to Moses, was a mighty savior of the people, and that he prefigured thereby the great and coming Savior, Jesus Christ; but now, as we continue through the history of Joshua, we will see that, just as he embarked upon his role of saving some, he entered at the same time upon the complementary role of destroying others. In this, as well, he was acting as a type of Jesus, who in saving his people was utterly destroying their fierce enemy, the devil, who was holding them captive to sin and death (Heb. 2:14-15).

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April 28, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Psalm One: Blessed is the Man

Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Psalm One: Blessed is the Man

“'Blessed is the man that hath not gone away in the counsel of the ungodly' (ver. 1). This is to be understood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Man.” So begins the great church father, Augustine of Hippo, in his landmark exposition of the Psalms. The great Genevan reformer, John Calvin, on the other hand, expresses his opinion that the psalmist here “inculcates upon all the godly the duty of meditating on the Law of God”. While I am inclined to agree with Augustine, I cannot bring myself to disagree with Calvin. Augustine is certainly right; and because he is right, Calvin must necessarily be right also. Because Jesus Christ, whose meditation was always upon the Law of God, and who never walked in the counsel of the ungodly, was supremely blessed, therefore all the godly, who have been united to him, will also be blessed and glorified with him; but the ungodly will be blown away like chaff.

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April 26, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (I – Joshua's Succession of Moses)

And it came to pass, after the death of Moses, the Servant of Yahweh, that Yahweh spoke unto Joshua, the Son of Nun, the minister of Moses, saying, “Moses my servant is dead; and now, arise, pass over this Jordan, you and all this people, unto the land which I am giving to them, to the children of Israel”. – Joshua 1:1-2

If we were forced to choose one word to sum up the significance of the five books of Moses, we could scarcely find a better than the term “foundational”: first of all, because the Pentateuch is of such vital importance to all biblical revelation that should follow; and second, because it is manifestly incomplete and expectant in its character. Its importance should be obvious: there is nothing in the prophets that may not be found in seminal form somewhere in the Pentateuch, nor may there be found anything absolutely new in all the Old Testament writings beside; and in spite of its common designation as the “New” Testament, there is nothing we may find there, either, that does not hark back to the writings of Moses, and complete and fulfill them all. This is why the long-awaited Savior, Jesus the Messiah, reminded his disciples before he sent them out on their mission, “These are my words that I spoke unto you when I was still with you, that all the things written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me must be fulfilled;” and then he went on to explain, “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance unto the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all the nations.”

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April 22, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior from the Psalms (Prologue)

He who has entered the treasury of the Psalms has come upon such a storehouse of riches as may not be found in all the world beside. What El Dorado is there that shines with a purer gold than the very words of the Lord, seven times refined (Psalm 12:6)? What stately pleasure dome of what proud Kubla Khan has ever been supplied with more scintillating delights, delicate treasures, unspeakable glories to dazzle the eyes of men and angels alike? The one who has tasted the goodness of the Lord in the banqueting house of the Psalter must thenceforth be forever spoiled for the pleasures of the world – the sweetest treats that he had coveted before must touch upon his palate as ashes and dust, and until he garner more pleasant fares from the same larder house, sweeter than drippings of the honeycomb (Psalm 19:10), he will never again be happy. The fabled nectar of the gods will be bitter as gall and coarse as gravel to him who has once tasted the sweet wine of the true God of gods, which flows to us from the lips of the Psalter's great hero, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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April 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

New Resources at Monergism

J.C. Ryle
Ryle, J.C. - Assurance
Ryle, J.C. - Election
Ryle, J.C. - A Sketch of the Life and Labors of George Whitefield
Ryle, J.C. - Only One Way of Salvation
Ryle, J.C. - Self-Righteousness
Ryle, J.C. - The True Church

April 07, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

New Technology, Wandering Minds and Bible Reading Plans

I can well remember hearing a preacher in the course of his sermon asking a series of questions. His first question was "how many of you believe the Bible is the word of God?"

It was a Christian audience and so all raised their hands.

Then he asked, "how many of you have read it?"

Many raised their hands until he quickly added, "... all of it?"

I could hear audible grumblings around me as many of those with raised hands now slowly lowered them. Some mumbled, "I've read most of it", or "I've read all the New Testament."

One thing became very clear - only about 5% of the audience had actually read the Bible through.

He then asked, "how many of you have read any other book?"

All raised their hands once again.

Then the preacher said, "do you see how inconsistent this is? Here you are, having read other books, but the book you claim to believe is inspired by God Himself, is not something you have read. What does this say about your belief in the Bible?"

The silence that ensued was more than a little uncomfortable.

He went on, "If you sincerely believe the Bible is the word of God, should you not have read it?"

Again, he paused, allowing for the question to make its intended impact.

Finally, he then said, "Here's my challenge - start today and read three chapters a day and four on Sundays and by this time next year you will have read the Bible through."

I am sure there are better methods for reading through the Bible but the preacher's point is a good one. We as Christians need to be "people of the book." If there is one book we should read or should have read, it is the Bible. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and it is unlike any other book out there. Job wrote that he treasured the words of God's mouth more than his portion of daily food (Job 23:12). He would rather go without food than miss time with the word of God. Can the same be said about us?

Justin Taylor wrote the following: "I really believe in the value of not just reading, but hearing, God’s Word... In listening to an old lecture recently by J. I. Packer, he made the comment that it was not until after the 17th century (as far as he could tell) that people started doing silent prayers and reading as opposed to praying and reading out loud. For most evangelicals, silence represents the vast majority of our reading and praying. But I wonder if that’s to our detriment. One of the great enemies to Bible reading and praying is a wandering mind—and one of the great ways to make your mind wander is to do everything in your mind without involving your voice and ears! . . . Here’s something else to consider: the entire Bible on audio is usually about 75 hours (or 4500 minutes). If you commute to work 5 days a week, that’s about 260 days a year. And if it takes you, say, 17 minutes to commute each way to work—and if you listen to the Bible on audio during your drive each way—you’ll get through the entire Bible twice in a year."

There are many good daily Bible reading plans. For those who would like the convenience of an online source there are now many options. New technology allows not only the reading of the Bible, but hearing it too. If you enjoy the ESV here are six different plans to choose from - each of which allow for each daily segment to be sent to your e-mail address or as a podcast here.

Some might like to add to their Bible reading by going through reformed confessions each day. You can do so here. - JS

January 01, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Greatness of the Love of Christ

At the beginning of the third chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul begins to formulate an intercessory prayer for the church in Ephesus, upon the basis of the rich truths of the gospel which he had just been revealing to them in the first two chapters; but before he is able to express his prayer, he is drawn aside again to the greatness of the gospel mystery, and exults in the message which he has been entrusted with bringing to the Gentiles. This message is the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ, which in their depths and expansiveness had been hidden from the previous ages, but were finally being made known to all the world, viz., how all the nations of men, according to God's eternal purpose, were now being brought in to become full heirs of all the promises made to the saints, and how they had even more direct access to God the Father, and boldness to approach him such as even Abraham and Moses and other great men of God had never known. It is Paul's joy and passion to proclaim so great a gospel to every creature under heaven, not just so that many sinful men could come to know the free grace and boundless goodness of God, but so that, through this Church of redeemed sinners, the infinite and manifold wisdom of God might be displayed even before the highest angels and authorities in all creation.

Accordingly, Paul then picks up his prayer in verse fourteen, after he had left it for thirteen verses, and offers up a beautiful intercession for the saints, the pinnacle and capstone of which is the request that these believers might know with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the all-surpassing love of Christ, and that they might be filled with all the fullness of God. In a brilliant gospel paradox, this most impossible of things with men becomes possible with God, whose power to do good for us is above all that we could ask or think; and so we are strengthened to know that which surpasses knowledge, and to be filled with all the divine fullness that far transcends our finite boundaries. In this way, the glory of Christ shines through the Church with an eternal brilliance, thus consummating God's plan of the ages to display his great glory in Christ, by the Church.

Although there is much that could be said from these verses, I will content myself today with this observation: that our coming to an intimate knowledge of the greatness of the love of Christ is both the greatest treasure that we may obtain by the gospel of God's grace; and also the most perfect display of God's glory in the heavenly places. Now, as it is to our eternal profit and joy to know the love of Christ, and to the eternal glory of God that so great a love might be displayed in us, then actively seeking to know the greatness of the love of Christ is one great means by which we may strive to fulfill our created purpose of knowing and enjoying and glorifying God forever. There is no problem we may encounter in our lives that does not make sense and find a fitting place when we consider how the love of Christ employs everything for our good; and so, if we would know how to put every trial and difficulty and blessing and promise, and everything else that we encounter in our lives, to an eternally good use, the best way we may learn how to do so is first of all to trace out the boundaries of the almighty love of Christ. By the grace of God's Spirit I hope to make a start on this joyously everlasting labor by pointing out ten things wherein the greatness of the love of Christ toward us is displayed.

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December 30, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Jesus "the Christ"- Pastor C. R. Biggs

The angel told Joseph (and earlier Mary):

"[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

The angel declared to the shepherds:

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Jesus "the Christ" is the righteousness of God that God requires- -and amazingly provides - - for sinners to receive by faith.

Jesus simply means "YHWH is Salvation"; his name is JESUS because he will save his people from their sins.

"Christ" is not Jesus' last name (it would have likely been "Ben Joseph"). "Christ" is Greek for the Hebrew "Messiah". "Christ" means "Anointed One"; which means that Jesus Christ is our Savior from sins and our Anointed One.

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December 19, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink


'Worldliness' is a new book edited by C. J. Mahaney. The book is a very good read, and helpful on biblically defining worldliness and teaching readers the cure for it in Christ Jesus.

Here is a snapshot of the first chapter on 'Worldliness':

Worldliness is not merely external threats from outside of the Christian; worldliness come from the heart (what the heart loves, 1 John 2:16: cravings, lusting, boasting are three things specifically mentioned that come from the heart).

ESV 1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

An excellent definition of worldliness is defined by Pastor Ian Murray:

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November 13, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Local Church

1Peter 2:5 - you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house...

Solomon’s Temple was perhaps the most expensive building built in human history. Kings and Queens visiting from other nations stood in wonder and awe when seeing it for the first time. Yet in these days, God is now building a spiritual building that far exceeds Solomon's Temple in worth and value. It is made of human souls.

Christ said, "what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world let loses his soul?" The obvious answer is that all the gold and silver, all the wealth of this world and the prestige that goes with it - all would be futile if in the end, the soul was lost. That's because one human soul is worth more than all the riches of this world.

Christ builds individual Christians into a spiritual temple. It's spiritual because it houses the Holy Spirit. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). That's a reference to the local church, not to individuals in this particular context. The word "you" is plural, referring to the corporate gathering rather than individuals. Most people do not esteem the local Church in such high terms, because they see its obvious flaws. But it is good to be reminded that this is indeed how God sees it. The local Church is amazingly precious to God. - JS

October 04, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Love Constrained to Obedience

A hymn-poem by William Cowper (1731-1800) to encourage you and prepare you for worship on the Lord's Day (based on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15:

No strength of nature can suffice
To serve the Lord aright:
And what she has she misapplies,
For want of clearer light.

How long beneath the law I lay
In bondage and distress;
I toll’d the precept to obey,
But toil’d without success.

Then, to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its power within,
I feel I hate it too.

Then all my servile works were done
A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose His ways.

“What shall I do,” was then the word,
“That I may worthier grow?”
“What shall I render to the Lord?”
Is my inquiry now.

To see the law by Christ fulfilled
And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.

William Cooper

ESV 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

September 12, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jonathan Edwards on the Excellency of Christ

Jonathan Edwards on the Excellency of Christ

I wanted to share with you an updated reading of Edwards' 'The Excellency of Christ' for you to ponder and prayerfully consider as pastors and Christians. May this study from the 18th century focus our attention on the wisdom and glory gained in reflection upon the incarnation of Christ.

May the Church of Jesus Christ through weakness, humility, and irrelevance become the Church that Jesus Christ has prayed for us to become by His grace (John 17).

I invite you to ponder the excellency, glory, beauty, wisdom and exceeding condescension of the God-Man in this study! Behold our Glorious Lord and the King of the Church!

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September 06, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"He gave gifts to men" (Eph 4:8)

Its interesting to read two men I have come to admire for their consistency in interpreting the Biblical text wrestle about the same thing and yet bring out different facets of truth. They in no way disagree with each other in these articles, but seeing their words in such close proximity to each other, allows me to marvel at the beauty and depth there is to be found in God's word. I also believe it shows us the value of receiving gift ministries of Christ to His Church (Eph. 4:11ff) in the way God intended. By all means, check everything these men or anyone else for that matter would say, preach or write. Check everything out with Scripture.. and do this ALWAYS.. and yet where you find them to be speaking truths consistent with the biblical text, allow these men and their words to feed and nourish your soul and your walk with Christ. Here's what I mean..

First of all here's a short article by R. C. Sproul on "Seeking After God"

"How many times have you heard Christians say (or heard the words from your own mouth), "So-and-so is not a Christian but he's searching"? It is a common statement among Christians. The idea is that there are people all over the place who are searching for God. Their problem is that they just haven't been able to find Him. He is playing hide-and-seek. He is elusive.

In the Garden of Eden, when sin came into the world, who hid? Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. Jesus wasn't the one who was hiding. God is not a fugitive. We are the ones on the run. Scripture declares that the wicked flee when no man pursues. As Martin Luther remarked: "The pagan trembles at the rustling of a leaf. The uniform teaching of Scripture is that fallen men are fleeing from God."

People do not seek God. They seek after the benefits that only God can give them. The sin of fallen man is this: Man seeks the benefits of God while fleeing from God Himself. We are, by nature, fugitives.

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August 20, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

You Need to Accept the Gift?

Have you ever encountered this particular scenario? A Christian says to his non-Christian friend, “Christ died for you so you need to accept the gift or it does you no good." In this situation faith is seen as something a person (a natural person) conjures up from his unregenerated human nature. This is unbiblical. The Scriptures argue that faith is a gift (John 6:63-65). Regeneration is produced in you by the preaching of the word as the Holy Spirit works 'germination' through it. You were dead in your sins and transgressions and God came to you first by His Spirit and Word to regenerate you and give you faith (Eph 2:5). J.I. Packer said, The saving power of the cross does not depend on faith being added to it; its saving power is such that faith flows from it"

So the gift is not like a piece of candy which we can accept or refuse but the gift can be likened to the gift of eyes or the reception of new life as a baby. We did not receive either of these things by choosing them, but God just granted them to us at our natural birth. Likewise we trust in Christ, not because we came to Jesus apart from the Holy Spirit in our natural state. Rather we trust Jesus because He removed our heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh which loves Christ. A heart without the Spirit is dead to God and needs the Spirit to make it alive so the person may believe. It was not our good will which caused our regeneration but our regeneration which caused our will to desire what is good. We "were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13).

So when we present the gospel we need to herald the new about what Jesus has accomplished and the command for all persons everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. Telling people the command of God is not the same as telling them the unbiblical and impossible supposition that they have the power to believe apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. (See Rom 3:19, 20).

Resources: Canons of Dort, Heads 3 & 4, Articles 14 & 15
Scripture Lesson: Ephesians 2:1-10, John 1:13, 6:63-65

August 07, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Eternal State

At the consummation of all things, Jesus Christ will come for his bride, the church, and will appear in the blazing fire of His glory to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty casting the unbelievers in the lake of fire (Rev. 19:15)

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him and on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. At that time He will resurrect the righteous and the unrighteous (John 5:29) and will create a new heaven and a new earth.The present earth and heaven will be destroyed by fire and the eternal
home of the righteous will be the new earth and new heaven (2 Peter 3:10-13). (See Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22).

In Revelation 21:1-22:6. we get small glimpse of what the future holds for God's covenant people. Much of this in is apocalyptic language so many of these images point to something greater than themselves:

• There will be no pain or death (Revelation 21:4)
• God will dwell together with His covenant people (Revelation 21:3)
• There will be no marriage (Matthew 22:30)
• There will no longer be any sea (Revelation 21:1)
• There will be no night (Revelation 21:23; 22:5)
• God’s glory will bring light (Revelation 21:23)
• God’s throne is in the New Jerusalem (22:4)
• The curse is removed (Revelation 22:3; cf. Gen. 3)
• We will have perfect knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:12)
• We shall be like Christ having an imperishable body just like His (1 John 3:2; 1 Cor 15)
• We will live forever and exist without pain (Revelation 21:4)
• We will all be holy (Revelation 21:27)
• We will reign with Christ for eternity (Revelation 22:5)
• Christ will rule man (Isaiah 9:7; Revelation 11:15)

At that time, the Heavenly city will become one with the earthly one, which will be the dwelling place of the righteous for all eternity. Those who were cursed in Adam will be perfected as death will have been completely eradicated. May it be so. "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).

August 06, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Satisfied Lamb

Matthew 1:21 - you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Isaiah 53:8 - By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Ephesians 5:25 - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...

Rev. 5:9 - for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation

Christ's work on the cross achieved all of the Divine purposes for it. The intent of the design was not merely to try to save all, but when all was said and done, the plan could fail for many because of that stubborn thing called "free will," with the Savior sad for all eternity because many He died for received no benefit for all His labor. No, He died a satisfied Savior, giving Himself for His friends, for His sheep, for His people, for His Church, and fully accomplished the work of redemption for all in this number.

All who are particularists (who believe that not everyone will be saved - that some people will in fact spend eternity in hell) believe in some type of limitation to the atonement of Christ. The Arminian limits its power, for it only becomes effectual through man's cooperation; the Reformed person limits its extent. As C. H. Spurgeon said, "The doctrine of Holy Scripture is this, that inasmuch as man could not keep God's law, having fallen in Adam, Christ came and fulfilled the law on the behalf of his people; and that inasmuch as man had already broken the divine law and incurred the penalty of the wrath of God, Christ came and suffered in the room, place, and stead of his elect ones, that so by his enduring the full vials of wrath, they might be emptied out and not a drop might ever fall upon the heads of his blood-bought people." (Sermon 310 - "Christ our Substitute - New Park Street, Southwark)

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July 17, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Whoever Trusts in His Own Mind is a Fool

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
- Proverbs 28:26

While the above proverb may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, yet it is perhaps the most profoundly helpful admonition or counsel from a friend that you will ever receive. Take the time to consider it. If a young man were to come to your door asking for wisdom, you could do not better than to impart him the counsel to never trust himself, or his own mind. That would not be a wasted word. As I consider my own life, the more than two decades I have been a Christian, I can only lament the times where I trusted my own mind. That ‘idol factory’ I have in my heart is constantly at work, and is so prone to make poor choices, so above all we must “keep our hearts". Thankfully, God does not leave us to ourselves, but has lovingly condescended to us to give us The Way of Wisdom. When Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take us our cross, He does not leave us there to suffer alone … He has promised to be with us so in our self-denial He also calls us to “follow Him” in suffering ... and we can be assured that He knows the way home. And He gives us His word to direct our every step in His wisdom.

But why does the Holy Spirit call those who trust themselves a fool? Because we are but dust, sinful misguided creatures who have but a breath in their nostrils. Because we are a stiffnecked people who do not want God’s yoke on them who think they are free but are slaves to every form of depravity. And because all authority in Heaven and Earth has been given to Jesus who says to them, “…as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me (Luke 19:27). So while the world foolishly thinks that God is long in coming and will not judge them, Jesus, on the contrary, while He is now patient and merciful granting plenty of time for people to repent, there is a day soon when iniquity will finally reach its limits, and on that Day Jesus, with blazing fire in his eyes, will be invading with His armies who will judge the sons of men in the valley of decision:

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev 19:14-16)

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July 13, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

On this Independence Day

May the Lord really bless you and your family this Independence Day.

When the Lord called Elijah to hide from the king's wrath and find water at a time when the land was under the judgment of drought, God directed him to a brook called Cherith. Yet, in what I am sure was a situation that brought great anxiety to Elijah, day by day he watched the water level shrinking further and further. Lets remember that this very drought was the result of the words God had instructed him to proclaim. What a challenge this must have been!

Elijah Predicts a Drought

1 Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” 2 And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.

Yet even in the midst of famine, God had not forgotten his man and had provided means for supplying Elijah's needs, through a very unusual source - a widow who was preparing what she thought was her last ever meal before death. Think about that. This widow, at the very end of herself, was God's appointed means of provision for His prophet. God was surely showing Elijah that He has countless ways of providing, but also showing this widow such amazing love and mercy (though she might not be aware of this when asked to share her last meal with him). How tender He is with His people even as they face great trials and hardships. How great is His love.

God provided the Cherith brook for Elijah, but this means of provision was ending, and so God instructed Elijah to leave that place and go to another.

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July 04, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

An Observation about Israel in Ephesians 2:11-21 & 3:5, 6

The following passage really makes up the heart of Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. Here he reveals a great mystery which was hidden in previous ages:

"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ ... So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord."
Notice in this passage that Paul speaks to Gentiles as having been previously separate and alienated from Israel and the covenants, but in Christ, Gentiles have become citizens of Israel. Being "brought near" was their modern day parlance for Jewish proselytes. Because verse 12 and verse 19 are separated by some text (which speaks of benefits in Christ) many do not pay attention to their close connection. Let’s have a look then: Verse 12 "alienated from the commonwealth of Israel" is joined to (vr. 19) "you are no longer strangers and aliens". No longer aliens to what? No longer aliens to the commonwealth of Israel. That means that Gentiles who are in Christ are now "citizens" (v. 19) of Israel built as a house with Christ as the chief cornerstone. In other words, Jesus Christ is the True Israel of God (its fulfillment and foundation) as are all who are joined in union to Him. To say it another way, both OT and NT saints who are in union with Christ are citizens of Israel according to this passage. Likewise we are partakers of its promises, according to another nearby passage:

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June 30, 2009  |  Comments (20)   |  Permalink

More Thoughts on Christ's Active Obedience and its Relation to The Imputation of Christ's Righteousness

Active obedience: “Christ’s full obedience to all the prescriptions of the divine law…[making] available a perfect righteousness before the law that is imputed or reckoned to those who put their trust in him.

Passive Obedience: “[Christ's] willing obedience in bearing all the sanctions imposed by that law against his people because of their transgression…[being] the ground of God’s justification of sinners (Rom. 5:9), by which divine act they are pardoned…” Dr. Robert L. Reymond

By taking on the covenant obligations of the law as our representative we are made righteous in Him by His obedience. Romans 5:19 states: "For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous."

Something important to consider related to this:

God desires obedience, not sacrifice. God through history is looking for a man who would obey Him. He is not looking for someone who merely makes a perfect score on the test, but a human who is unfailingly devoted to Him as an image bearer - someone who mirrors his love, holiness, justice and truth. This is a constantly repeated theme throughout Scripture. Psalm 40, which Hebrews 10 quotes is one example:

Psalm 40:6-8 (English Standard Version)

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

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May 18, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Athanasius on Scripture's Nature and Sufficiency

(taken from an article by Dr. James White at hear the words of Athanasius (c. 293 – 2 May 373), one of the chief spokesmen for Christ in the first few hundred years after Christ:

We note first and foremost the plain words from his work against the heathen:

For indeed the holy and God-breathed Scriptures are self-sufficient for the preaching of the truth.[1]

In this passage Athanasius begins with a fundamental tenet of his faith: the full sufficiency of Scripture for the proclamation of the truth. He immediately goes on to note that God uses other sources to teach truth as well, including godly men with an insight into Scripture. But he begins where Protestants and Roman Catholics part company: with the sufficiency of Scripture. He had learned such things from those who came before him. He even mentions the words of Antony, "The Scriptures are enough for instruction, but it is a good thing to encourage one another in the faith, and to stir up with words."[2]

When writing to the Egyptian bishops he asserted:

But since holy Scripture is of all things most sufficient for us, therefore recommending to those who desire to know more of these matters, to read the Divine word, I now hasten to set before you that which most claims attention, and for the sake of which principally I have written these things.[3]

The high view of Scripture is continued in this passage from Athanasius work on the Incarnation of the Word of God:

Let this, then, Christ-loving man, be our offering to you, just for a rudimentary sketch and outline, in a short compass, of the faith of Christ and of His Divine appearing usward. But you, taking occasion by this, if you light upon the text of the Scriptures, by genuinely applying your mind to them, will learn from them more completely and clearly the exact detail of what we have said. For they were spoken and written by God, through men who spoke for God.[4]

One will search in vain for a reference wherein this Father describes oral tradition in such a way, and yet Trent did not fear to so speak of tradition. Rather than finding OBrien's idea that Scripture is not a safe guide as to what we are to believe, Athanasius said: ". . . for the tokens of truth are more exact as drawn from Scripture, than from other sources."[5]

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May 18, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Athanasius on Scripture's Nature and Sufficiency

(taken from an article by Dr. James White at hear the words of Athanasius (c. 293 – 2 May 373), one of the chief spokesmen for Christ in the first few hundred years after Christ:

We note first and foremost the plain words from his work against the heathen:

For indeed the holy and God-breathed Scriptures are self-sufficient for the preaching of the truth.[1]

In this passage Athanasius begins with a fundamental tenet of his faith: the full sufficiency of Scripture for the proclamation of the truth. He immediately goes on to note that God uses other sources to teach truth as well, including godly men with an insight into Scripture. But he begins where Protestants and Roman Catholics part company: with the sufficiency of Scripture. He had learned such things from those who came before him. He even mentions the words of Antony, "The Scriptures are enough for instruction, but it is a good thing to encourage one another in the faith, and to stir up with words."[2]

When writing to the Egyptian bishops he asserted:

But since holy Scripture is of all things most sufficient for us, therefore recommending to those who desire to know more of these matters, to read the Divine word, I now hasten to set before you that which most claims attention, and for the sake of which principally I have written these things.[3]

The high view of Scripture is continued in this passage from Athanasius work on the Incarnation of the Word of God:

Let this, then, Christ-loving man, be our offering to you, just for a rudimentary sketch and outline, in a short compass, of the faith of Christ and of His Divine appearing usward. But you, taking occasion by this, if you light upon the text of the Scriptures, by genuinely applying your mind to them, will learn from them more completely and clearly the exact detail of what we have said. For they were spoken and written by God, through men who spoke for God.[4]

One will search in vain for a reference wherein this Father describes oral tradition in such a way, and yet Trent did not fear to so speak of tradition. Rather than finding OBrien's idea that Scripture is not a safe guide as to what we are to believe, Athanasius said: ". . . for the tokens of truth are more exact as drawn from Scripture, than from other sources."[5]

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May 18, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Cast your cares on the LORD - Psalm 55:22

a Kinetic Typography video by Seeds Family Worship Psalm 55:22 "Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." ~ NIV

May 12, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Speaking Boldly Without Compromise

For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive. - Psalm 106:45, 46

God is controlling everything: the smallest molecules, big events, and even the hearts of men (Proverbs 21:1). God has a specific plan for you in redemptive history. And God reveals to us in the Scripture that he wants us to be witnesses in Babylon. God has a specific plan for our lives and, according to Scripture, will move into the heart of those he foreordains to put in our paths.

I believe there is strong scriptural warrant to believe that you will enjoy an unearthly protection when you live for Christ and speak boldly about Him. Many of us worry that if we stick our neck out to speak about Christ people may react negatively. We may worry about such things for a minute, but since God got us into this situation by calling us to be witnesses for him, he can get us out of it. God protects those who make a commitment to Him. And however people may react, the outcome is according to God's perfect plan. He has ultimate control over how the message you bring to people will be received. Remember, you are just the mailman. We do not create the massage, God does, and we must deliver that message intact. He will determine the outcome.

But many times we compromise because we're afraid we'll come in harm's way or be ridiculed when we speak about Christ but the fact is if we do not compromise, God will be our protection in the midst of trouble ... but as soon as you compromise, you forfeit that unearthly protection and, at that point, you're on your own.

Speaking of Israel Psalm 106:46 says, "He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives."Do you realize that God can not only sway a king, God can sway an entire society? This is because, verse 45 says He is a covenant keeping God and He made a covenant with His people. And, friends, we have a covenant with our God in Christ. In it he remembers not to treat us as our sins justly deserve. And further, because he has imputed to us Christ's righteousness, You are now children of God, in a covenant relationship that is indelible and unbreakable. So as you pray, ask God to have you move out into the world and engage with those who will be worthy of your time, and even if you do not see instant results, know that you are just the messenger whom God has assigned to this very encounter.

May 11, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Was Anyone Saved At The Cross?

Dr. James White's article on this theme had a profound effect upon me some years ago when I read it, and on this Good Friday, point people to it again. May we all glory in the cross-work of the Perfect Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ - found here. - JS

April 10, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

A Lamb Slain

With some trepidation I am providing a link here to a shocking video. It portrays the actual slaying of a lamb. Todd Bolem also linked to it and wrote: "This is as graphic as it gets. More and more people today don't realize that meat doesn't originate at a grocery store. They have little concept of an animal being raised and then slaughtered. Furthermore, almost no one in the Western world has ever sacrificed an animal for religious purposes. I think, however, that is precisely why this *graphic* video should be shown. We read about sacrifice in the Bible but we don't really understand what that means. We read passages that talk about the "life being in the blood," but those are just words that we don't really consider. We "know" that the wages of sin are high, but we don't get the life lesson that the ancient Israelites received every year. The point of sacrifice was simply this: you deserve to die because of your sin. This animal is dying in your place. Watching the priest slice his throat and watching the blood drain out drove the point home much better than reading a chapter of Leviticus."

I have to admit, I was shocked and deeply moved as I watched this video, but it is something everyone in Old Testament Israel would have been extremely familiar with. It brings home to us so clearly the weightiness of our sin and the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain for us. On this Good Friday, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. As the link says, don't watch this video while eating, and if you're thinking about showing your children, watch it yourself first here. - JS

April 10, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (48 -- Conclusion)

Do not think that I will condemn you before the Father: there is one who condemns you, Moses, in whom you have hope. For if you believed Moses, then you would have believed me, for he wrote about me; but if you do not believe his letters, how shall you believe my words? – John 5:45-46

Dear ones in Christ, we have now finished our survey of the books of Moses, and we have had many weighty things impressed upon us. Let us now take a few moments to consider what we have heard, in order that we might be very careful not to drift away: “for if the word which was spoken through angels was firm, and every transgression and disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape, having been careless of so great a salvation, which began to be spoken of by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by those who heard, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders and diverse miracles and apportionings of the Holy Spirit according to his will” (Hebrews 2:2-4)? But we trust that it will not be so, but rather, having witnessed the beginning of the gospel of Christ, which Moses testified to, we will run all the more assiduously to the fullness of the gospel in the broad daylight, which God has now spoken to us perfectly through his Son (Hebrews 1:1-4).

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March 13, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (47 -- The Final Song and Blessing of Moses)

Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by Yahweh, the Shield of your help and the Sword of your splendor? Your enemies shall come cringing unto you, and you shall tread upon their high places. – Deuteronomy 33:29

We have now come to the conclusion of Deuteronomy, and with it, the conclusion of the five books of Moses, which are of such foundational importance to the entire bible, that it might be said without exaggeration that the whole divine plan of redemption and the schematic for all of history is here laid out, so that all the prophets who should later arise could speak no new thing, but only apply and exegete what Moses had already said; and even the Christ himself, when he came, set about to do only what God had before promised and signified by the hand of Moses so long before; and in these final chapters, although the superiority of Moses is again signaled (Deuteronomy 34:10-12); yet what is particularly emphasized is his inadequacy and failure, and the need for someone greater than he, to do what he could not. And so, as he admits his incapacity to do in earnest what he had spoken of and seen afar by the Spirit of prophecy, at the same time, he commits the people to God, who he trusts should go before them, and do himself what Moses had not been able to do, through another greater Moses.

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March 06, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (46 -- The Second Confirmation of the Covenant)

For this commandment which I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, and it is not far off: it is not in heaven, that one should say, “Who will go up for us into heaven, and receive it for us, that we may hear it and do it?”; and it is not across the sea, that one should say, “Who will go over for us across the sea and receive it for us, that we may hear it and do it?”; but the word is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you might do it. – Deuteronomy 30:11-14

At the conclusion of the book of Deuteronomy, which has been a book marked by very many repetitions and second affirmations of things, there is also a second confirmation made of the Covenant which was originally confirmed on Mount Sinai, in Horeb (see Deuteronomy 29:1). On the occasion of this confirmation, Moses takes great pains to describe many notable things about this covenant, what benefits and advantages it holds forth, wherein it is essentially inadequate, and so on; and when he is coming to the climactic conclusion of his speech, he is very emphatic to drive home Christ to the people, that they might take comfort in the certain hope of his mercy, and not be overwhelmed by the strict demands of the Law. Let us look to the comforting words quoted above, to see how well they are designed to lead the children of Israel, who were under the Law, to Christ their Savior, who should free them from its demands and enable them to obey it; but first, we must notice a few significant things about the nature of this Covenant of Law that Moses is here confirming; for it may seem to many minds to be in such opposition to the gospel of Christ, that it is enigmatical or even impossible that it should at one and the same time hold him forth so freely to the people. But this is a confusion that we will certainly clear up, by the Spirit's illuminating grace.

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February 27, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (45 -- The Blessings and Curses Upon Mounts Gerizim and Ebal)

And Moses commanded the people that day, saying, “These shall stand to bless the people upon Mount Gerazim when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Joseph and Benjamin; and these shall stand for the curse upon Mount Ebal: Reuben, Gad and Asher; and Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali”. – Deuteronomy 27:11-13

Before the children of Israel had entered the promised land, when Moses was still giving his final instructions to them, he commanded them, when they had once crossed over the Jordan River, to set up an altar of unhewn stones on Mount Ebal; and then, when they were all gathered together, to stand six tribes on Mount Gerazim and six tribes on Mount Ebal, the former to call out the covenant blessings and the latter to call out the covenant curses. In this arrangement, we may see several things which are intended for our instruction: first, that the covenant did not just threaten curses or promise blessings, but that it held forth both to the people; second, that even within the twelve tribes, there were those who, by divine choice, should be made to experience the curses, and those who should inherit the blessings; and we may note here, that all those whom God commanded to stand on Mount Gerazim for blessing were children of the free women of Jacob, that is, of Leah and Rachel, and not of their servants Bilhah and Zilpah; and so we may be instructed by this, that only we who are children of the free woman by faith, and not those who are children of slaves by the works of the flesh, shall know the covenant blessings (cf. Galatians 4:22-31); and third, that those who were chosen for blessing would escape the curses not by their own efforts, but only through the divinely-supplied sacrifice of grace; for the altar of burnt offering was made of unhewn stones, as if to say, God himself will provide a sacrifice not made with hands; and it was placed upon Mount Ebal and not Mount Gerazim, as if to say, “Mount Gerazim with its blessings is for you because Mount Ebal with its curses is for my Sacrifice”; who is, of course, the Christ.

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February 20, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (44 -- The Prophet Like Moses)

Yahweh your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me, from your midst, from among your brethren; unto him you shall hearken. According to all that you asked of Yahweh your God at Horeb, on the day of the assembly, saying, “May I not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, and may I not see this great fire any more, that I might not die!”. And Yahweh said unto me, “They have done well in what they have spoken. A Prophet like you I shall raise up for them from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak all that I command him unto them. And it shall come to pass that, every man which will not hearken unto the words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him”. – Deuteronomy 18:15-19

When the people saw the Lord come down upon Mount Sinai in great power, so that the very mountains shook, and there were thunderings and lightnings, and a very thick darkness, and raging tempests and fires (Exodus 19:16-19; cf. also Hebrews 12:18-21), then the people were terrified, and were not only too afraid to go up the mount into the presence of the Lord, but they even asked of him not to speak to them again in so dreadful a way, and not to show them again this merest glimpse of his terrible glory (Exodus 20:18-21). God then told Moses that they were right to request this of him, thereby acknowledging that it was too much for the people to bear to have any glimpse of him or any word from him, except it should be given through a Mediator. Now, Moses himself was this mediator for a time, and he went up into the holy mount and brought down God's words to the people; but he was inadequate for the task, and could not at all bring the people up to God, nor yet give them sufficient words in order to be a complete and satisfactory self-revelation; and so, God promised to send another Prophet like Moses, who should be greater than he, and reveal God in full, and make the people fit to come to him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). This promise ranks among the greatest in all the Pentateuch, and its fulfillment was ardently hoped for by all Israel until the coming of Jesus, of whom the apostle John said that, “the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), thereby confirming that Jesus was greater than Moses, and was that Prophet of whom Moses had spoken so long before.

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February 13, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (43 The Second Giving of the Law)

Behold, I am placing before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing if you hearken unto the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you this day, and the curse if you will not hearken unto the commandments of Yahweh your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known. – Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Immediately after God first gave his Law to the people whom he had chosen, and established his covenant with them, they showed their unworthiness by transgressing his commandments, and building a golden calf to worship in his stead. But instead of casting off his people, God brought them through forty years of testing in the wilderness, and thereafter, when he was about to bring them into the land that he had covenanted to give them, he gave them the Law a second time, through Moses his servant, and reminded them in many ways of all the blessings he had promised their fathers to give to them, which they had not yet received; and he therefore enjoined the strictest obedience upon them most ardently, in order that they might enter into the joy of the promised blessings. This second giving of the Law, after the failure of Israel to obey it when it was first given, is recorded for us in the final book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy; which is a name that simply means “second law”.

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February 06, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (42 -- The Levitical Cities of Refuge)

And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them 'When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall appoint for yourself cities; cities of refuge they shall be for you, and the manslayer who takes any life unintentionally shall flee there. And the cities shall be to you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer might not die until he stand before the congregation for judgment. – Numbers 35:9-12

As we saw previously, the book of Numbers opened up with an account of the census of Israel, just before they set out from the foot of Mount Sinai, to cross the wilderness and enter the Promised Land; and now, as we have come to the end of the book of Numbers, we shall see that it likewise concludes with a census of the people, after they have wandered for forty years in the wilderness, during which time the entire generation of Israelites who refused to enter the land were destroyed, saving only Joshua and Caleb alone. So the title “Numbers” is very appropriate after all, drawing our attention as it does to the significance of these two censuses: for we may learn, when we reflect upon them, that if God's people are faithless, and rebel, they will not live, nor ever experience the promised blessings of his grace; but this faithlessness of the people does not nullify God's own faithfulness (cf. Romans 3:3-4), for he will not allow his covenant to be broken, but will raise up in their place another generation that will know the grace that he had promised. Thus, even after killing all the Israelites twenty years of age or older, including 603,550 men able to go to war, from the eleven tribes excepting Levi (Numbers 1:46-47), he raised up in just forty years time another multitude, including 601,730 men of war (Numbers 26:51); and this was just a foreshadow of what he would do in later times, casting off the unbelieving nation of Israel, so that he might graft in by faith another generation of Gentiles, in order that his covenant should not be fruitless, but that they should inherit the blessings promised to Abraham (Romans 11). Only, we must learn from this not to be highminded, but to fear (Romans 11:20): for if this generation of Israel which heard the gospel did not enter into God's rest because of unbelief, neither will we, who have been given the same gospel, enter in if we do not persevere in true faith (Hebrews 4:1-2); so that, if we would learn from the example of the Israelites destroyed in the wilderness, we must not be as they, but looking unto Jesus, we must press on through every difficulty, hoping in his sure covenant, and so find his promised rest at last.

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January 30, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (41 -- Balaam's Prophecy)

I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but it is not near; a Star shall come from Jacob and a Scepter shall arise from Israel, and shall crush the corners of Moab and the head of all the sons of Sheth; and Edom shall be a possession and Seir, his enemies, shall be a possession, and Israel shall be doing valiantly. And he shall exercise dominion from Jacob and destroy the survivor of the city. – Numbers 24:17-19

In all the Old Testament scriptures, there are very few prophecies of the coming Messiah that shine with a greater brilliance or more explicit certainty than the testimony of Balaam, the false prophet who sought to destroy Israel, but ended up blessing her and confirming her great victory through the light-bearing, scepter-wielding Christ. How all this came about, that he who sought to frustrate God's redemptive design was constrained to render an indisputable testimony to the final triumph of the Church through Christ, and how God caused Israel to prosper at every turn, and protected her with his might, we shall now observe from the account at hand.

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January 23, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (40 -- The Serpent in the Wilderness)

And the people came unto Moses and said, “We have sinned in that we have spoken against Yahweh and against you; pray to Yahweh that he might take the serpents away from us”; and Moses prayed for the people. And Yahweh said unto Moses, “Make for yourself a serpent, and place it upon an ensign-pole, and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live”. And Moses made the brazen serpent, and placed it upon an ensign-pole; and it came to pass that, if a serpent bit any man, he would look upon the brazen serpent and live. – Numbers 21:7-9

After the instructions concerning the ministry of the tabernacle were given to the sons of Levi in general and the priestly class in particular, which was marked out by divine appointment as comprising the family of Aaron alone, following the rebellion of Korah, and after provision was then made for the fabrication of the water of separation, through the ashes of a red heifer, which things were made necessary by the assault on the divine institution which Korah and those who were with him had waged in their deception, the text then turns once more to a historical account of the final stages of Israel's forty-year journey through the wilderness, before they enter the promised land; and in this account, we may discern several very notable types of the Savior, both in the second striking of the rock, in the opposition of Edom to the children of Israel, and most especially in the matter of the fiery serpents which God sent among the people, and the remedy he provided, through a brazen serpent lifted up as an ensign in the wilderness, upon which, if one even looked, he would be healed of his malady and live.

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January 10, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (39 -- The Red Heifer)

And Yahweh spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, “This is the statute of the law which Yahweh has commanded, saying, 'Speak unto the children of Israel, that they should bring to you a red heifer, perfect, in which there is no blemish, upon which a yoke has never come; and you shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, and one shall bring her outside the camp, and shall slaughter her before him; and Eleazar the priest shall take some of her blood with his finger, and he shall sprinkle some of her blood before the front of the Tent of Meeting seven times. And the heifer shall be burned before him: her skin and her flesh and her blood, with her dung, shall be burned. And the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet thread, and cast them into the midst of the burning heifer.'” – Numbers 19:1-6

In the ninth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, the author proclaims that Christ has made an eternal redemption for his people, by offering himself up, once-for-all, as a perfect sacrifice for their sins; and he goes on to prove his assertion by reflecting that, “if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, being sprinkled on them who were defiled, sanctifies unto the purification of the flesh, how much more does the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself up blameless to God, purify our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14). In this way, he makes clear the typological function of the red heifer, which Israel was commanded of old to sacrifice and burn, and to make of its ashes a water of purification, not as though there were anything especially salubrious in the ashes themselves, but that they were a foreshadow of the sufferings of Christ, which really did cleanse the conscience, and purify those who had been dead in trespasses and sins. As we look to the account in Numbers, in which this ceremonial action is commanded, we must immediately be struck with how many details and instances were perfectly adapted to show forth, in a figure, the perfect redemptive work of Christ, both in its execution and its purifying results, as we shall now observe.

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January 02, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (38 -- Korah's Rebellion)

And it came to pass, when he had finished speaking all these words, that the ground which was beneath them was cloven, and the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed them and their households and all the men who were Korah's and all their possessions. And they and all that was theirs went down to Sheol alive, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all of Israel that was surrounding them fled at their voice, because they said, “Lest the earth should swallow us up!”. And fire came forth from Yahweh, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering incense. – Numbers 16:31-35

Immediately after the account of Israel's failure to enter the land of Canaan, and her being cursed, therefore, to wander about in the wilderness for forty years, until that entire generation which disbelieved God's promises should be utterly consumed, excepting only Caleb and Joshua, who had a different spirit; God then immediately sees fit to set forth in summary the laws that Israel must obey when she had entered into the Promised Land, and the means of the forgiveness of sins committed in ignorance, through an atoning sacrifice. In this way, after so devastating an occurrence, he holds forth both a solemn warning and a certain hope, as we shall now make clear.

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December 26, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (37 -- The Failure to Enter the Promised Land)

And Yahweh said, “I have pardoned according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of Yahweh: because all of the men who saw my glory, and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times, and have not obeyed my voice, shall certainly not see the land which I swore to their fathers; even all who despised me, they shall not see it. But my servant Caleb, because a different spirit is with him, and he has been fully after me, I will bring him into the land whither he went, and his seed shall possess it.” – Numbers 14:20-24

In the events following Israel's first setting out for the Promised Land, from the foot of Mount Sinai, we are instructed in many particulars of the dangers of grumbling and rebellion, the several ways in which the Lord responds to these treacherous dispositions, and the serious and devastating consequences of continuing in such a frame of disbelief; and we see, moreover, the consolatory and beneficial ministry of Moses, who mediates, intercedes for, and guides the people, as a type of the Messiah, together with the favorable effects of this office, but only upon the believing remnant within the largely apostate Church. In the confluence of these two lessons, we are taught to fear, and not to be highminded at all; but also, to hope for and be confident of victory, though all the world should oppose us, if we continue steadfast in the faith. Let us now see how the scriptures holds forth these lessons to us.

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December 19, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (36 -- The Formation of the Kingdom)

And they set out from the Mount of Yahweh, on a journey of three days; and the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh set out before them on a journey of three days, to seek out for them a resting place. And the cloud of Yahweh was over them by day, whenever they set out from the camp. And it came to pass that, whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Arise, O Yahweh, and let your enemies be scattered; and let those that hate you flee from before you”; and whenever it rested, he said, “Return, O Yahweh, to the myriad thousands of Israel”. – Numbers 10:33-36

When we arrive at the book of Numbers, in our journey through the five books of Moses, a very considerable portion of the Pentateuch has passed since Israel first arrived at Mount Sinai, comprising half of Exodus and the entire book of Leviticus. But in spite of this lengthy segment of text, we find the hosts of Israel still gathered together at the foot of Mount Sinai, so that, for the entirety of one and a half of Moses' five books, they have made no progress in their journey whatsoever. This very fact emphasizes the utterly crucial and significant nature of what took place on Mount Sinai; for the Holy Spirit has seen fit to devote a very large part of the foundational books of the Law to detailing the events of that one monumental episode. As we move into a consideration of the book of Numbers, therefore, it would behoove us to give a little reflection to what had in fact transpired at the Holy Mount of Yahweh, and how the thing that had there taken place undergirds and gives meaning to the next event in Israel's history, when she sets out from the mountain to journey across the wilderness. In this reflection, we will learn much of the nature of the Church, and see many glimpses of the Savior, which will serve to encourage and instruct us today, as we move across the wilderness of this world, a united body and kingdom of priests, under the headship of Christ.

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December 11, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (35 -- The Covenant Blessings and Curses)

If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them, then I will give your rains in their season, and the land shall give its produce, and the trees of the field shall give their fruit....But if you will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments, and if you reject my statutes, and if your soul abhors my judgments, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant; then I will do this to you: I will appoint over you a terror, blight, and fever, that consume the eyes and waste away the soul; and you shall sow your seed in vain, and your enemies shall eat it.... – Leviticus 26:3-4; 14-16

Throughout the entire book of Leviticus, we have seen demonstrated in many ways that the peculiar blessedness of God's people consists only in this, that he is their God, and has taken them unto himself to be his own people; and likewise, the land which he had promised to their fathers to give to them, was a blessing ultimately in this respect, that it was the land where God's tabernacle would dwell, the land where his presence would abide in the midst of the people. Accordingly, it is a matter of utmost seriousness, which extends far beyond the mere horrors of physical famine, fruitlessness, and subjugation to enemies, that the covenant curses at the end of the book hold forth to the people, if they disobey his law: for these are but fruits of a much vaster problem, viz., that God himself is displeased with his people, and cannot dwell with them favorably anymore. And likewise, the blessings held forth to the people, as long as they keep his covenant, are far greater than mere physical ease and prosperity, which things even the nations enjoy at some times and to some degree; for they signify that God is not only dwelling in the midst of the people, but that he is pleased to do so, and rejoices to be with them, and is favorably disposed to provide them with any good thing of which they might have need. So that, the essence of the covenant blessing consists most fundamentally in God's favorable presence; and the essence of the covenant curses consists in God's wrathful presence, so that he cannot endure anymore the sight and proximity of those whom in their rebellion he abhors.

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December 05, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (34 -- The Year of Jubilee)

And you shall count for yourself seven weeks of years, seven years seven times; and the days of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years. And you shall sound forth the trumpet blast on the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month; on the Day of Atonement you shall sound forth the trumpet in all your land. And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and you shall proclaim liberty in the land to all its inhabitants: it shall be a jubilee for you, and you shall return each man to his possession, and each man to his family you shall return. – Leviticus 25:8-10

In all the Levitical laws concerning the sabbaths and solemn feasts, the children of Israel were reminded to look backward to the wonderful works of God in the past, by which he had created the world in perfect splendor and made it altogether suitable for man's joyful habitation; and then, after mankind's first rebellion, had made great promises of a better restoration, and taken great steps to that end; but also, they were admonished by these holy times to look forward to the true fulfillment and culmination of the redemption thereby testified to and sealed, and even tasted, as it were, if but for a day. Thus, on the day of the Sabbath, the Israelites remembered God's perfect creation, and how he entered into the joy of resting in what he had accomplished, and likewise brought in his image-bearing creature, man, to enjoy that rest together with him; and they also would remember, a little later, how Joshua had brought them into their promised land of rest (save only that generation that murmured and doubted, and were destroyed in the wilderness); but even after that entrance into Canaan, the Psalmist spoke of another rest that remained for the people (Psalm 95:7-11; Hebrews 4:7-10); by which he meant that rest which Christ would accomplish for those who are his, working so that they might rest in his sufficiency, and so be brought in to the eternal rest in the New Jerusalem. In the same way, as we have just seen, the feasts taught the people to remember God's redemptive works in the past, and to look through them to the anti-typical redemptive works of Christ in the future, which should provide for and ensure the eternal enjoyment of those things the feasts merely symbolized and hinted at.

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November 28, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (33 -- The Holy Feasts of Israel)

And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, 'These are the appointed feasts of Yahweh which you shall proclaim as my holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts'”. – Leviticus 23:1-2

In many ways and at many different places in the book of Leviticus, we have encountered the theme of holiness to the Lord as that one central motif which binds everything together, and gives all the diverse regulations a unity and singularity of purpose: in the tabernacle, the children of Israel had a holy place, where they might meet with their holy God; in the laws of morality and cleanness, they were shown the way to be set apart from sin and the world as a holy people, among whom the holy God might dwell; in the laws concerning the sacrifices and the priesthood, they were given a way to be cleansed and made holy in spite of all their failures to follow God's Law, so that the tabernacle might remain a holy place, and they might continue to be a holy people living in the presence of the holy God. Of course, all this emphasis on holiness led the children of Israel straight to their promised Messiah, who would be the true tabernacle, bringing the very presence of the holy God down to men; and also the true Sacrifice, offered up to make men holy, the true Priest, bringing them out from the world of sin and uncleanness, the true Law-keeper, able always to stand in the thrice-holy presence of God, and so on. In light of this history, it should come as no surprise that the next portion of Leviticus, in which the sacred feasts of Yahweh are detailed, is likewise underscored by the need for holiness, and designed to lead to Christ the Savior: just as the people of Israel were to be a holy nation; just as the tabernacle was to be a holy place; and just as all the worship rituals were to be holy activities; so the appointed feasts were to be holy times. And furthermore, even as all the elements preceding the discussion of these feasts pointed ahead to a better and more lasting fulfillment in the days of the Messiah, so it was with the feasts too: just as, when the Messiah came, he would make his people utterly holy, cleansing their conscience indeed (Hebrews 10:9-14); and just as he would make the whole world their holy place, ensuring its entire recreation as a world where righteousness dwells (John 4:21-24; 2 Peter 3:13); so also would he make all the time of his people holy time, and would ensure an eternity set apart for them to enjoy his holy presence (Hebrews 4:9-11).

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November 21, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

The following is an excerpt of a discussion here on Reformation Theology following in response to John Samson's fine essay on Wrestling with Predestination and Election. If this current post is of interest to you then I would encourage you to go there afterwards to read Pastor John's post and the interesting discussion that follows.

John. Thank you for your reply, which has got me thinking (esp. the part about why some respond to the gospel and others don't). There is one issue I would love to hear your thoughts on. Calvinists always talk of the bondage of the will, etc and how one cannot come to Christ apart from a supernatural work (regeneration). How then does one explain the fact that some men found favour with God in the Old Testament, when they were unregenerate. Eg Joshua and Caleb whom the Lord said had a "different spirit" about them. Where did this believing spirit come from? Or what about Abraham, the father of our faith. The Bible holds him up as the ultimate example of faith, and yet he was unregenerate. Or why did Jesus marvel at the centurion's faith (if this faith was, according to calvinists, from God in the first place). In all these cases, it would seem the person themself found favour with God without being regenerated first (or at all). In fact, the whole Old Testament needs to be explained (with some believing and some not)as no one was regenerated then. I look forward to your thoughts.

Thanks again for your important question which deserves an answer....

you said >>>>>How then does one explain the fact that some men found favour with God in the Old Testament, when they were unregenerate.

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November 20, 2008  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (32 - Holiness to the Lord)

And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, 'You shall be holy because I the Lord your God am holy'”. – Leviticus 19:1-2

Of all the things we have observed so far from the book of Leviticus, the sum is this: God is a pure and holy God, and if he should have any people at all, and should stoop to dwell in their midst, they must be made holy as well, so that he might walk among them, and not consume them altogether in his righteous fury against sin and uncleanness. This shows just how important holiness to the Lord is: for the true substance of every redemptive blessing is only the presence of God, and fellowship with him; and that goal can only come through sanctification, that is, through being made holy, as God is holy. As we shall see presently, this observation must ultimately lead us to Christ, and drive us to cast ourselves upon him alone, who sanctified himself to his redemptive mission, that we too might be sanctified in the truth (John 17:17-19). In order to unfold these principles more minutely, let us touch first upon the greatness of that one redemptive principle, that God should dwell among his people; then, show how necessary a thing holiness is to that end; and finally demonstrate how those two great truths, which form the core of the book of Leviticus, lead us to Jesus Christ.

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November 14, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (31 - The Day of Atonement)

And he shall take the two goats, and he shall set them before Yahweh, at the door of the Tent of Meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for Yahweh and one lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat upon which the lot for Yahweh fell, and he shall offer it as a sin offering. And the goat upon which the lot for Azazel fell shall be presented alive before Yahweh, to make atonement upon it, to send it away to Azazel, into the wilderness. – Leviticus 16:7-10

The Day of Atonement, coming as it does in the middle of the festive cycles, and in the heart of the calendar year, being observed on the tenth day of the seventh month, which is the month having the greatest symbolic and ceremonial significance; and being described most minutely, moreover, in the heart of the most intricate elaboration of the Law, which comprises the book of Leviticus, and which is itself at the center of the Pentateuch; must therefore take on a character of utter centrality and solemn importance from the very outset. With regard to the festive cycles, it is distinct in that it alone is a day of solemn affliction and mourning over sin (Leviticus 16:29-31); and yet, its observance prepares for the celebration of the most joyful of feasts, that of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:26-43); by which we may learn that it constituted the deep and solemn foundation for all the feasts of joy by which Israel's entire year was structured – without its time of sorrow and affliction, there would be no times of joyous fellowship in the presence of God. And then, it is likewise set apart from all the other feasts in the book of Leviticus, where it is described in great detail in chapter sixteen, in the midst of the laws and regulations governing cleanness and holiness; even though it is also described again in chapter twenty-three, where all the feasts of the Lord are discussed. In this way, its distinct character is emphasized, and especially its relationship to the heart of the Law, which existed to show God's people what it was to be clean and holy, so that he might dwell among them. The Law described what it is to be holy in God's sight: and in the midst of the Law, lest its overwhelming and unyielding demands should terrify and discourage the people, God enjoins upon the people this solemn feast, as if to say, “Although you are insufficient to keep my holy statutes, I have prepared a way for you to be made clean and holy again, so that I might continue to dwell among you”.

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November 07, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (30 - The Laws of Clean and Unclean)

And you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, that they might not die in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle, which is in their midst. – Leviticus 15:31

The very heart of the Levitical laws, being summed up in this one phrase, “You shall be holy, as I the Lord your God am holy,” signified the need for God's people, in the midst of whom he had condescended to dwell, to be separate from all that was common, or tainted with the manifold deleterious effects of sin and the curse. And of the many ways in which this basic truth was taught to the children of Israel, one of the most instructive was the elaborate system of laws making a separation between the clean and the unclean, and governing the way in which God's people had to go about their daily lives, if they should continue in his presence without being consumed by his wrath. In this symbolic code, we may learn very poignantly, and in very concrete and exemplary fashion, the truth that, if we should be permitted to enjoy God's fellowship, we must distance ourselves from all that is contrary to his nature: God is a God of order, life, wholesomeness, and consistency; and nothing that is chaotic or commingled in a disorderly fashion, nor anything tainted by death or the curse, nor anything unwholesome or abnormal may be found in his presence. We may also learn, moreover, that these unclean elements which God will not tolerate are all around us, ever barring us from his courts; but that he has provided a way to restore, renew, and cleanse us again, and make us separate from the defiling agents of sin and its loathsome consequences. Of course, this cleansing is to be found only in Jesus Christ, as we shall soon observe.

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October 31, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Humility and the Kingdom of God- Rev. Charles R. Biggs

This week we celebrate the 491st anniversary of the Reformation of the 16th century. As part of my meditation on the Reformation, I wanted to think more about how Reformed truth should bring humility to believers, especially as Reformed Christians seek to make the gospel known and build Christ's Kingdom.

It is so easy to lose our focus on what truly matters as Christians, and oftentimes rather than humility in Christ, we can find ourselves waging war as the world does.

What does this Reformed-Kingdom-Building project look like, and how is it accomplished? I think we have the answer in Philippians 2:1-11. HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!

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October 29, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (29 - The Strange Fire of Nadab and Abihu)

And there came out fire from Yahweh, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat; and all the people saw it, and shouted, and fell on their faces. And the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, took each one his censer, and put fire in it, and placed incense upon it, and offered before Yahweh strange fire, which he had not commanded them. And there came out fire from Yahweh, and consumed them, and they died before Yahweh. – Leviticus 9:24-10:2

Although the book of Leviticus is largely full of very detailed instructions for the priestly class, teaching them how to approach God with acceptable sacrifices, how to make a distinction between clean and unclean, and between holy and unholy, at what time and in what ways the solemn festivals are to be observed, and so on, it contains as well a historical prelude immediately following the first series of regulations concerning the offering up of sacrifices, in which Aaron, having been consecrated for his work, offers up the first acceptable sacrifice to the Lord, for his people Israel; and then his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, offer up unacceptable incense, and are put to death. This account serves to underscore the seriousness of the instructions which are detailed everywhere else throughout the book, emphasizing both the vastly salutary and effective nature of the true sacrifices, and the vastly devastating consequences attendant upon approaching Yahweh in any other way. As we have already observed how particularly the priestly class, ministrations, and vestments speak of Jesus Christ the High Priest; and how the various sacrifices speak most clearly of Christ the spotless Lamb of God; we may learn most importantly, from this historical account, of what immeasurable importance those christological types are: for those priests and sacrifices that are in accordance with God's commands, which everywhere foreshadow Christ, are effective to reconcile his people to himself, and to facilitate his presence and good pleasure among them; but those that do not come from himself he is very displeased with, and instead of being propitiated by them, he responds only in great wrath and fury. So true religion ever begins with God, and comes down by his own initiative, and in his own way, and through his own Christ; every other religious work, which originates in the heart of man, is utterly abominable to him.

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October 24, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (28 -- The Levitical Sacrifices)

And Yahweh called unto Moses and spoke unto him from the Tent of Meeting, saying, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and you shall say unto them, 'Any man of you who will bring an offering unto Yahweh, from the cattle, from the herd or from the flock, you shall bring your offering. If his offering is a burnt sacrifice, a male without blemish from the herd he shall offer it, at the door of the Tent of Meeting he shall offer it, that he may be accepted before Yahweh. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt sacrifice, and it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him.'” – Leviticus 1:1-4

At the end of the book of Exodus, God has just given Moses his servant very careful instructions for the building of the tabernacle, and for the institution of the Levitical priesthood to serve in it, in order to make atonement for the people, and bring them into the presence of the holy God; and in precise accordance with those instructions, Bezaleel, filled with the Spirit of God, has built the tabernacle and prepared the vestments for the priestly class, whom Moses has just finished consecrating for their ministry. Now, in acceptance of their careful adherence to his instructions, God has been pleased to establish his presence in the midst of Israel, filling the newly constructed tabernacle with his glory, and calling out to Moses from the midst of it, with the detailed instructions for its ongoing service and ministry that will take up the entire book of Leviticus. This book, then, has a very definite centrality and culminative nature both in the Pentateuch and the entire Old Testament: it is placed in the center of the Pentateuch, and at the shadowy climax of God's fulfilling his long-awaited promise that he should bring a people back to himself, and be their God, and dwell in their midst; and it is the most intricate and detailed typological intimation of just how he should accomplish that promised reconciliation in the searing daylight of the Gospel, elaborating as it does the sacrificial system for which the tabernacle and the priests existed and served day and night. Let us be very clear about the significance of this book of Leviticus, before we venture into its sacred pages: the very heart of the entire scriptures consists of that utterly crucial principle of substitutionary sacrifice and resulting atonement and reconciliation. This is what God first promised and signified to Adam and Eve after their sin in the Garden, this is what was typified and foreshadowed in countless ways throughout the history of God's people in the Old Testament, and this is precisely what was actually accomplished through that one great work for which all of history was designed, the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Son of God. And there is no more elaborate description of that absolutely central reality of all history than the sacrificial instructions contained within the book of Leviticus. If the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ stands at the pinnacle and climax of redemptive history, the very crux of that tree, casting its shadow backwards through the pre-incarnational history of the people of God, falls precisely upon the first seven chapters of the book of Leviticus. Father, if we cannot see Christ here, then where will we see him? Open our eyes to our spotless sacrificial Lamb!

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October 17, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

John 1:12, Regeneration and Adoption

A visitor named Rey was reading an essay on and sent the following:

You say "Monergism is the biblical doctrine that regeneration (the new birth) both precedes and elicits faith in Christ"

Excuse me, my friend, but have you ever read John 1:12? I don't think you have.

John 1:12 "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,"

It is clear that belief comes first, THEN they receive the right to become children of God. He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe. He did not make those who are already children of God believe. You have reversed the passage. But not only that! He only gave the right to become children of God to those that believe. He did not actually make them children of God yet. He gave them the right, or as the KJV says, "the power." Now, where or when is this "right" or "power" utilized?

Galatians 3:25-27 "But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor, because you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, because all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

The right that he gave to all who believe is uses when they submit to believers baptism. To all who believe he gave the right or power to become sons of God. And this right or power they used in baptism, for which purpose Paul says we are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus (because that's when we received the right to be regenerated or reborn) because we were baptized (because that's when we actually used the right to be reborn and were then born "of water and of the Spirit"). Of water because we were dunked in water in the name of the Trinity, and of the Spirit because we received the Holy Spirit inside believers' baptism, as Peter says in Acts 2:38 "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Hi Rey

Thanks for your email. I actually agree with you that one must believe the gospel to be justified and an adopted child of God. You do well in pointing out the important text John 1:12 which shows this very thing. I fear however that you may be confusing the concepts of regeneration and justification and that this is simply another case of reading a verse in isolation and building a theology around it without looking at the immediate context. The very next verse (V.13) of John chapter one actually qualifies the statement about how be become adopted children of God in verse 12. It does this by asserting that this gift does not come about by the will of man but through the new birth or regeneration.

Lets read the whole thing in context:

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October 16, 2008  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (27 -- The Institution of the Aaronic Priesthood)

And you shall bring before you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from the midst of the children of Israel, to serve as priests to me: Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. And you shall speak unto all who are wise of heart, whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, and they shall make Aaron's garments, to sanctify him to serve as a priest to me. – Exodus 28:1-3

Although the priestly office of Jesus Christ our Savior is most properly to be thought of in the order of Melchizedek (see Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 6:20), who stands as the pre-eminent Old Testament type of Jesus our High Priest, yet the Aaronic priesthood, as well, although not precisely in continuity with Jesus' priestly ministry, is nevertheless full of images and symbols that speak of the later work of the Messiah, and foreshadow his mediatorial, intercessory, and reconciliatory roles. We may obtain an overview of the diverse and numerous ways in which this is so from a cursory examination of the instructions given to Moses on Mount Sinai, pertaining to Aaron his brother, in which regulations concerning the persons, the vestments, and the ministries of the priestly class are enjoined upon him in some detail; and of which we may read in Exodus chapters twenty-eight through thirty.

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October 10, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (26 -- The Tabernacle)

And they shall make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell in their midst. According to all that I am showing you, according to the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, even so you shall make it. – Exodus 25:8-9

When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai, and was given instructions to make a tabernacle where God might dwell among his people, he was strictly enjoined to make it precisely in accordance with the pattern that God had shown him. This is because the tabernacle was symbolic of heavenly realities, and was intended to instruct the people of God concerning his holiness and the way into his presence through Jesus Christ, every part and arrangement answering to the true dwelling place of God and the manner in which his people might come before him (cf. Hebrews 9:23-24). The ways in which the tabernacle symbolized God's presence among his people are many, but every way is united and brought into harmony in the person of Jesus Christ: for the tabernacle was in one sense a microcosmic model of the entire universe, in which God created the earth for the habitation of men, the heavens where they might behold his glory, and the highest heavens in which is his very throne room, and into which they might not at all enter; and in another sense, it is constructed to depict the process of redemption, in which, through the shedding of blood, the washing of water, the fragrant incense of intercessory prayer, and so on, a sinner is brought from profane earth into thrice-holy heaven; and yet again, it depicts the movement of redemptive history as a whole, being reminiscent of the original paradise in Eden, prophetic of the New Covenant Church of Christ, and answerable to the final city of New Jerusalem, in which all history will find its fitting conclusion. But in all these things, there is brought about an admirable unity in Christ, through whom the universe was created, redemptive history is realized, sinners are brought to God, and New Jerusalem becomes the place of God's dwelling among men. But let us reflect on these things a little further.

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October 03, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (25 -- The Intercession of Moses)

And Moses returned unto Yahweh and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin, and they have made for themselves gods of gold; but now, if you will forgive their sin! but if not, blot me out, I ask, from your book which you have written.” – Exodus 32:31-32

Of all the offices and ministries that the Son of God has undertaken to enter into for his people, one of the most precious and comfortable is that of his unceasing intercession for those who belong to him. What troubles may not be vanquished, what doubts may not be dispelled, what fears and misgivings may not be put to flight, when the most desperate criminal but glimpses the Savior standing before the holy Father and pleading with him, “Let this sinner be forgiven! For I was indeed blotted out from the land of the living, that he might not be forever.”? Of this most precious office of Christ Jesus our Savior, the most outstanding type is Moses; and in this typical role, he shines the most brilliantly in his activity immediately following Israel's great sin with the golden calf.

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September 26, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (24 -- The Giving of the Law)

And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out from the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because Yahweh descended upon it in fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain shook exceedingly. – Exodus 19:16-18

The occasion of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, when God went down in terrible glory to meet with his people whom he had redeemed, and to speak with them audibly, and to declare to them all his will and commandments, would forever afterward shape the character of the nation of Israel, and serve as the unalterable foundation upon which she was built, dictating the nature of her relationship with God, showing with manifold precision the way in which she must ever conduct herself, and forecasting with implacable exactness the response that Yahweh would have to any covenant unfaithfulness that should be found in her. It was the Law that should serve as the greatest self-revelation of Yahweh until the coming of his perfect and final self-revelation in the eternal Word; and so it was the Law that should come to the fore again and again in all the poetic writings of David, in the thundering condemnations and announcements of judgment that the prophets brought down against rebellious Israel, and in the sweet glimpses of conquering mercy and steadfast covenant love with which they bound up the remnant of grace. The Law was the very backbone of God's pre-incarnational revelation: and so it is most appropriate that the Law should prefigure and teach of Christ in several diverse ways, which we will now consider.

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September 19, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (23 -- The Church in the Wilderness)

And they came to Elim; and there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees there; and they camped there by the water. – Exodus 14:13-14

After God had redeemed his people from their slavery in Egypt, and destroyed Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, it is very significant that he did not immediately whisk them away to the promised land, but rather brought them first by slow degrees through a barren wilderness, where they sojourned and camped as pilgrims, and by heavenly supply fitted them with all the necessary provisions for their journey until they had finally reached their destination in Canaan. In this arrangement, we see an indication of the state of the Church on earth, which has already been redeemed, and for whom the victory has already been won, but which must nevertheless press on through the wilderness of sin as a company of strangers and pilgrims until she should finally reach her home in the promised land of God's presence. It is most fitting, therefore, that this time of wandering is filled up with so many precious glimpses of the person and various ministries of Christ, who continually sustains his Church in the time of her sojourn. About these diverse types and images, we will now inquire in a little more detail.

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September 12, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (22 -- The Crossing of the Red Sea)

And Moses said unto the people, “Do not fear, stand fast and behold the salvation of Yahweh which he will perform for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never again see any more. Yahweh will fight for you – so you, be still”. – Exodus 14:13-14

The effectuation of God's delivering his people from their bondage in Egypt, as we have often observed before, tended in many particulars to two diverse, yet complementary ends: which are the glory of his just wrath and fury, which is displayed in his fierce judgments against the Egyptian people; and the glory of his free mercy and covenant faithfulness, which is displayed in his redeeming the children of Israel, and bringing them out from the house of slavery. These two facets of God's glory, as different as they are, do not detract from each other, but rather serve to set each other off with a more distinct and brilliant luster, the severity of the judgments underscoring the depth of the calamity that awaits those who have not known mercy, and thereby magnifying the greatness of God's grace, which, when sin and wrath abounded in full measure, still abounded even more (cf. Romans 5:20-21). The stubbornness of Pharaoh, whose heart God had hardened for this purpose, brings out this various glory in greater measure; for the heavy and unyielding hand which he laid upon God's people made necessary a very strong and admirable salvation, if God were to bring them out from his cruel oppression, and at the same time provided cause for the ongoing and ever-increasing displays of God's wrath and punishment upon the land of Egypt. This twofold glory was most poignantly displayed in the first Passover, when the Angel of the Lord, who is Christ, poured out God's final cup of wrath upon his enemies, and put them all to a violent death; and yet, on the day of judgment, he mercifully passed over all those who were covered by the blood of the Passover Lamb, who underwent his bloody judgment in their place. Now, as the great and manifold glory of Christ was admirably displayed in the climax of the redemption from Egypt, that is, in the Passover celebration; so would it also be displayed in the culmination of the redemption from Egypt, in at least two marvelous ways, which are, first, the appearance of the pillar of cloud and fire; and second, the crossing of the Red Sea. And thus, in order that this diverse excellence of Christ might be brought to its final display, God hardened Pharaoh's heart yet again, so that he pursued the children of Israel into the wilderness, after he had once let them go.

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September 05, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (21 -- The Passover)

And I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and I will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from man to beast; and I will perform judgments upon all the gods of Egypt: I am Yahweh. And the blood shall be for a sign to you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall be no plague upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a feast, a feast to Yahweh, throughout your generations, as an everlasting statute you shall observe it. – Exodus 12:12-14

The course of history has been arranged by the minute sovereignty of God to no other end than the accomplishment of the great redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. This is the center of all worlds, that which binds everything together in a unified whole, the heart and life of the great self-revelation of the diversely glorious God which he designed creation and history to be. So it is that the great climax of history was the Son of God's taking on human flesh to display the glory of the godhead in all its brilliance; and the pinnacle of that climactic act was the cross of Calvary, where every various perfection of God was displayed in the full and infinite magnitude of its splendor. Much in the same way, the economy of the Old Testament, during which time God was pleased to prepare for and foreshadow this great pinnacle of history through the typology of his chosen people Israel, was brought to a corresponding climax in the redemption from Egypt; and the pinnacle of that climactic redemption was the passover feast. If we would see the very reason for all existence painted before us in concrete images and splendid colors, if we would look upon the nature of God graphically displayed in all its economical fullness, then we can do no better than to look here. To understand the one message here displayed is to be a true Christian, a scholar in the heavenly wisdom, an immovably grounded divine. To miss this one message is to be a blind and hardened pagan under the eternal and fiery judgment of God. Father of Lights, send us your Spirit that we might look upon our Passover Lamb and find eternal life and joy in him!

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August 29, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (20 -- The Ten Plagues)

And Yahweh said unto Moses, “See, I have made you a god unto Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother will be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and Aaron your brother shall speak unto Pharaoh to send away the children of Israel from his land. And I will harden the heart of Pharaoh, and I will multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt; and Pharaoh will not listen unto you. And I will place my hand upon Egypt, and I will bring my hosts, my people, the children of Israel, out from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. And Egypt shall know that I am Yahweh, when I stretch forth my hand against Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from their midst.” – Exodus 7:1-5

When we look to our God and Savior, with a heart of faith and eyes that have been opened by his Holy Spirit, we must be struck immediately and overwhelmingly with a sense of the diversity and excellence of his character, which joins together every trait that could be desired or admired, no matter how different one might be from another, in a manner that admits of no internal contradiction, but in such a glorious fashion that every delightful property most brilliantly complements and enhances the others around it, so that the peculiar wonder of each lovely quality is displayed in a striking and perfectly proportioned splendor. This we see in all its inexhaustible wealth in the shining face of Jesus Christ, who is at once the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (see Revelation 5:5-6); and of all the Old Testament images of the Christ, there are few that show forth this diverse excellence more abundantly than the operations of Yahweh in his bringing the children of Israel out from their bondage in the land of Egypt. In that event, we see the meek and lowly servant of the Lord, Moses, who had no brilliant oratorical ability or comely form to commend him to the people, taking on the role of God for Pharaoh and for the people of Israel. Thus Christ became a lowly and humble man, despised above all, in order to bring the true nature of the Godhead both to his people, that he might save them, and his enemies, that he might destroy them. But also, in this event, we see the dreadful Angel of the Lord passing through the land with a terrible fury, and judging all the firstborn of the people, save those who are covered with the blood of the Passover Lamb; and this Angel is also Christ, sent by the Father to judge the world (John 5:22-23; Acts 17:31); and so is the Passover Lamb, whose blood saves God's people from his own wrath, an evident type of Christ. And so, in a very diverse manner, we have a picture of a very diverse Christ, who would go about through very diverse methods to redeem his people: he is a lowly man speaking the word of God in the world and confirming his messages with signs and wonders; he is the righteous Judge, exacting vengeance on all who have opposed him; he is the innocent Lamb, giving up his life freely in exchange for the lives of his people; he is the Savior who delivers his own people while destroying their enemies; and his power is ever shown in his lowliness and humility: for his greatest deliverance of all, being a deliverance not just from Pharaoh or from the Serpent he typified, but from his own implacable and boundless wrath, was wrought by his humblest and lowliest act of all, in offering up his body as an atoning sacrifice for his people. Ah, what a Savior this is! Let us now examine the account in more detail.

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August 22, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Great is the Lord...

Let your soul feast and meditate on the greatness of the Lord as you watch this short video put together by Bob Kauflin and featured at his Worship God Conference:

August 22, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (19 -- The Call of Moses)

And God said unto Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”. And he said, thus shall you say to the children of Israel, “I AM sent me unto you”. – Exodus 3:14

The deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt would become the greatest redemptive act of God in all the Old Testament, and so would serve as the great illustration of Israel's peculiar blessedness throughout the rest of her history, and be the act of covenant love which she would remember more ardently than any other, and cling to as an immovable assurance of her future salvation, no matter what trouble she was in (see, for example, Deuteronomy 15:15; Psalm 66:5-6; 74:10-15; 78:13; 105:26-38; 106:7-12; 136:10-15). In fact, it was not until the coming of the Messiah himself that a greater deliverance would be accomplished, which should forevermore eclipse the glory of this one; and so it clearly stands as an unsurpassed type of the final redemptive work of Christ (see Jeremiah 16:14-16). It is therefore most appropriate that the circumstances surrounding this particular event, more especially than almost any other event in the life of Moses, should be filled with glimpses of the coming Savior; and so in fact we find, from the time when Moses was first called out by God to deliver his people from Egypt, that he confirmed and illustrated his calling with many notable and instructive signs, upon which we will now reflect.

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August 15, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (18 -- The Birth of Moses)

And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son; and she called his name Moses, and she said, “Because I drew him out of the water”. – Exodus 2:10

In all the Old Testament scriptures, there is perhaps no more notable and central person than Moses, the giver of the Law, the prophet who spoke with God face-to-face, the author of the Pentateuch, which serves as the foundation of all the bible, and the key figure of all that portion of it which follows Genesis (see Deuteronomy 34:10-12). It is to be expected, then, of so central a character, that his life should especially show forth the coming Messiah, who is in actual fact the central Person, not just of the Pentateuch, but of all the scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments. And indeed we find, that when Moses was about to die, and was giving his final words of exhortation to the Jewish people, just before they crossed over into the land of Canaan, he promised them that God would raise up a prophet like himself, but vastly superior (Deuteronomy 18:15-19); and so he made that very role which most exceptionally marked him as an unsurpassed hero in God's redemptive works to be but a foreshadow of a greater Hero who should come. This prophecy was of course fulfilled in the coming of the Son of God, the eternal Word, who revealed God so much more fully than Moses had, that it could be said of him that he alone brought grace and truth to the people of God (John 1:14-18; see also Hebrews 1:1-4). As we turn to the book of Exodus, therefore, and examine the life of this man Moses, let us be careful to consider what we may learn thereby of the life of Christ, which it anticipates and typologizes.

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August 08, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (17 -- The Life of Joseph)

And his brothers also came and fell down before him, and said, “Behold, we are your servants”. And Joseph said unto them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? Now, you purposed evil against me, but God purposed it for good, in order to make it as it is today, to preserve the life of many people. And now, do not fear, I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke assuringly to them. – Genesis 50:18-21

Although the promise of the coming of the Messiah, in whom Israel and all the world should be blessed, had devolved upon Judah, of the twelve sons of Jacob, who thereby obtained a very prestigious position of ascendancy over his brothers, as we observed in the last lesson (cf. Genesis 49:8-12); yet, at this time, the possessors of the Messianic blessing had already begun to expand, whereas before they had been ever more restricted with each passing generation: for the promise had been made first to Abraham and his offspring; then to Isaac and his offspring alone, of Abraham's children; then to Jacob and his offspring alone, of Isaac's children; but now, the promise would not be to Judah alone, but through Judah would come the Messiah who would belong to all of Jacob's children alike, and all of them would have some role in preparing the way by which he should come into the world, and in signifying and foreshadowing his advent. The next episodes we encounter in our journey through Genesis serve to confirm this point; for hereafter, the entire book is devoted to an account of the life of Joseph, the eleventh and most beloved son of his father Jacob, whose history would foreshadow the entire earthly ministry of the promised Seed far more exactly and minutely than any other history had done up to this point in time, and more exactly indeed than the life of any other person until the coming of David himself.

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August 01, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (16 -- The Birth of Perez)

And it came to pass, at the time of her giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. And it came to pass, as she was giving birth, that one put out a hand; and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, “This one came out first”. But it came to pass, when he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!”. So his name was called Perez. – Genesis 38:27-29

When Jacob had first been driven out of the promised land by the wrath of his brother Esau, the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham seemed in every way to be in jeopardy: for he had received both the birthright and the blessing, and the Abrahamic promises were therefore all bound up in his own future and fruitfulness; and not as yet having any offspring by which the Messianic line could advance, nor any wife by whom he should raise up a seed, nor even any goods and possessions to sustain him in his wanderings, his life was in imminent danger, and the likelihood of his entering again into the land where the fulfillment of the promises was centered seemed very small. It was, therefore, a most gracious and powerful operation of God that some twenty years later, after many trials and dangers had been overcome, he would again enter the land of Canaan with wives, goods, possessions, and twelve sons through whom God had purposed to build a mighty nation, and through one of whom he intended to bring about the One who should fulfill every promised blessing, that is, the Messiah. Until this generation, God had seen fit to pass along the Abrahamic promises to one sole heir of each father, first to Isaac alone instead of Ishmael, and then to Jacob alone instead of Esau. But now, returning to Canaan with twelve sons who should all be possessors of the promise, the question of how the Messianic blessing should be passed on is in some manner changed, and hence becomes, “Which of the twelve brothers shall gain ascendancy over all the rest, and be chosen to bring about the Seed in whom all alike shall be blessed?”. The several histories of this time immediately after Jacob's leaving Laban have all to do with the answer to that one question.

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July 25, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (15 -- Jacob at Peniel)

And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved”.– Genesis 32:30

Everywhere in the Law and the Prophets we see Christ and his gospel-work symbolized, prophesied, and foreshadowed in many marvelous ways: but only a very few times, and at the most critical junctures of redemptive history, do we see our Savior, before his advent in Bethlehem, appear in visible form to his saints. Jacob’s encounter at Peniel, just prior to his return to the land of promise, is one of these occurrences; and in this history, we may learn much of our blessed Redeemer, and of the true religion which alone prevails with him. To this end, we now turn our attention to the account at hand.

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July 18, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (14 -- Jacob and Laban)

“These twenty years I served you in your house, fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times; if the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty. God saw my affliction and the toil of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”– Genesis 31:41-42

As we continue to follow the life of our father Jacob, we see that at every step, God causes him to flourish and increase, no matter what contingencies might face him. So it is that, having been driven out from the promised land by the rage of his brother Esau, God used his sojourn in another land to make him into a great family, which should later issue forth in a mighty nation, and eventually, the Christ himself. And likewise, in every cheat and deception that he endured from Laban his uncle, he always prospered and grew stronger, rather than weaker, due always to God's particular care and governance. The time that Jacob spent with Laban, although necessitated by a brother's persecution and marked throughout by hardship and unjust treatment, was the very time when he sprang up in the faith, and began to put forth those buds which would eventuate in the mighty boughs of the Kingdom of God. We would do well to learn from this, for the same mystery is at work even today, among those who are Jacob's heirs and possessors of the promise.

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July 11, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (13 -- Jacob and Esau)

And Isaac entreated Yahweh in behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and Yahweh was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together inside her; and she said, “If it be so, why is it thus with me?”; and she went to seek Yahweh. And Yahweh said unto her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall be divided from your bowels; and the one shall be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the younger”. – Genesis 25:21-23

In all the accounts of God's dealing with the patriarchs thus far, we have been primarily struck with these two things, first, God's absolute sovereignty in choosing and calling out the subjects of his redemptive blessing; and second, the surprising and unexpected ways in which he does so, which may be seen both in the choice of the vessels which he should prepare for mercy, and the means by which he should bring this mercy to bear in their lives. Thus, God called Abraham alone, when he had many and mighty nations and nobles which he might instead have chosen; he called Isaac and not Ishmael, although Ishmael was Abraham's eldest son, and begotten of natural and expected means, whereas Isaac was younger and begotten in a most surprising way; and he ensured and ratified the blessing which he had sworn should come through Isaac by commanding that he be put to death on Mount Moriah, before he had been able to extend Abraham's line. In these and in many other ways beside, we see those two notable truths everywhere confirmed and illustrated. Now, as we look to the account of the next generation of the patriarchs, and observe the early life of Jacob and Esau, we will see again the same truths most admirably displayed.

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July 04, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (12 -- The Provision of a Wife for Isaac)

Yahweh, the God of heaven, who took me from the house of my father and from the land of my birth, and who spoke unto me, and who swore unto me, saying, “To your seed I will give this land,” he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. – Genesis 24:7

It is altogether fitting that Abraham’s promised Son, Isaac, should be set forth as a type of our Savior in every notable event of his life: for, first of all, his birth was of so miraculous a nature as to reinforce to Abraham the truth that the promised Seed, who would bless all the nations of the earth, could never come naturally, by the efforts of the flesh, as Ishmael came. On the contrary Isaac came by the divine promise, and through the divine power, which is even able to bring life out of death. And so that son in whom was said to be the promised Seed, Christ our Savior, was, even from his birth, a type of the Savior, by virtue of his life which was brought out of death, through the power of God, and in accordance with his covenant promise. And second, in the account of Abraham’s testing, we have as clear a personal type as can be found in all of scriptures, of the substitutionary sacrifice and the rising again of our Savior; by means of which test, Abraham demonstrated his faith in the coming Messiah, whom he knew that God would certainly raise from the dead, and thus received his own promised son, “in a figure,” back from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). And so, if in two marvelous and unsurpassed ways this man Isaac served to foreshadow the life of our Savior, then we may with some reason suppose that the next notable circumstance in his life, the means by which he obtained his wife, may also convey some truth to us about the coming work of the true Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ. In pursuance of which expectation, we will now turn to the account in Genesis, chapter twenty-four.

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June 27, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (11 -- The Offering Up of Isaac on Mount Moriah)

And the Angel of Yahweh called unto Abraham from heaven a second time, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says Yahweh, that because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heaven, and like the sand which is upon the seashore, and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies; and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed by your seed, because you obeyed my voice”. – Genesis 22:15-18

We have already observed how perfectly fitted the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac was to foreshadow the virgin birth of Abraham's true promised Seed, Jesus Christ; and now, as we continue to examine the details of his later history, we come to find as well that God was pleased to arrange circumstances in such a way as to make his life prefigure in an astonishing and unsurpassed manner the substitutionary offering of Christ on the cross. This truth, from the outset, should serve to underscore the illimitable worth and precise centrality of the atoning death of Christ: his virgin birth, as sweet and awe-inspiring as it was, had no other end than the bloody death of Calvary which should follow it some thirty-three years later. The virgin birth was a mighty and necessary step toward a great end; but the end itself was Calvary. We see this relationship hinted at also in the life of Isaac, Abraham's first promised seed, who was given a miraculous birth just to have it taken away from him violently and unseasonably (in a figure) by the very God who had brought him into the world in the first place.

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June 20, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (10 -- The Birth of Isaac)

Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the appointed time I will return unto you, at the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. – Genesis 18:14

Of all the notable things that could be said of the life of Abraham our father, without a doubt the most outstanding is only this: he was promised by the God of heaven, to whom nothing is impossible, that he should be given a Seed who would bless all the nations of the earth, and bring down the very presence of God to mankind. It stands to reason, then, that of all the types that we see displayed in Abraham's calling, wanderings, the covenant ceremonies he went through, and so on, one of the most notable should pertain to his being given a seed, quite apart from natural human means, as a testimony to the life-giving and promise-fulfilling power of the God who first called him out from his land and kindred. And in actual fact, this is precisely what we encounter in the birth of Isaac, Abraham's promised heir, and the most remarkable type of the virgin birth of our Savior in all the Old Testament histories.

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June 13, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (9 -- The Destruction of Sodom)

The sun came out upon the earth, and Lot went to Zoar. And Yahweh rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh, out of heaven. And he overthrew all those cities, and all the surrounding region, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and the growth of the ground. But his wife gazed back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. – Genesis 19:23-26

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven, Lot's gracious deliverance from that judgment, and Abraham's mediation for him, provide a very notable glimpse of the future destruction of the world, and the deliverance of the righteous from the midst of God's burning wrath, through the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (see 1 Timothy 2:5); as we shall see in several particulars noted in the paragraphs below.

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June 06, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (8 -- Abraham's Victory and Melchizedek's Blessing)

And Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out bread and wine (now, he was the priest of the Most High God), and he blessed him, and he said, “Blessed be Abram by the Most High God, the Possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your enemies into your hand”. And he gave to him a tenth of everything. – Genesis 14:18-20

In the next episode of Abraham's life, in which he arises in behalf of Lot, his nephew, who had been taken captive by Chedorlaomer and the other kings with him, and wins a very great victory over this confederation of kings, slaughtering them in the valley of Shaveh, and thereafter, is blessed by Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, we may discern two very notable images of the coming Savior: for first of all, Abraham's slaughter of the kings is a type of the Messiah's later victory, in several specific instances; but even more notable yet is the image of the Savior which we encounter in the person of Melchizedek, who stands out as one of the foremost types of Christ in all the Old Testament. From these two related events, Abraham's victory and Melchizedek's bringing a blessing, we will now see what we may learn of Abraham's Seed, who is our great High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

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May 30, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (7 -- Abraham's Sojourn in Egypt)

And Yahweh smote Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife; and Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not reveal to me that she is your wife? Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her unto me for a wife? So now, behold your wife: take her and go”. – Genesis 12:17-19

Given the unique status of the patriarch Abraham, who was called out to be the first in the line of the people of God, and the father of all those who should later believe, and from whom it was also said that the promised Seed of the woman should come, it is to be expected that his life should prefigure and anticipate the life of the faithful, that is, of the Church as a whole and all her members in particular, and most especially, the life of Christ himself, the Seed through whom he would inherit his eternal blessing. And as we study the life of Abraham, after his first calling, with this principle in mind, we are eminently justified in our supposition; for the first account we are given of his subsequent life, in which he is driven to sojourn in Egypt by a fierce famine, is very much like the later history of God's people, and also foreshadows the life of Christ himself. In what ways this is so, how Abraham's experiences are a type both of the Church's journey to paradise and of the Messiah's work of redemption, we will now make clear.

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May 23, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (6 -- The Promise Made to Abraham)

And Yahweh said to Abram, “Go from your land and from your kindred and from the house of your father, unto the land which I shall show you; and I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you, and all the families of the earth will be blessed in you.” – Genesis 12:1-3

Of all the promises and foreshadows of the coming of Christ and his accomplishing his mighty work of redemption, there is none in all the Old Testament that is more foundational than the promise made to Abraham, when God called him out from the land of his people and brought him into the land of Canaan, and there entered into a solemn covenant with him, promising to be his God and his exceeding great reward. This calling and promise was so monumental as thoroughly to govern the course of redemptive history from that point on, and to shape forever afterward the nature and substance of the blessings which the promised Christ's redemption should provide. Thus it is that, at the conclusion of the history of God's redeeming his people, the final proclamation, sealing up every blessing and fulfilling every promise, will come in these words: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and he shall be God with them, their God” (Revelation 21:3). This is a conclusion that was most explicitly marked out in the calling of Abraham, and serves only as the actual accomplishment of all that was promised at that time; and at the heart of that promise, we see Christ himself, who should become “Immanuel,” that is, “God with us,” and so provide in himself the substance of every good thing which God had covenanted to give to Abraham and his offspring. It would certainly behove us, therefore, to look in more detail at this monumental occasion, in which the promise of a conquering Seed takes on a history-shaping clarity and significance.

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May 16, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (5 -- Noah's Ark)

And behold, I am bringing a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will confirm my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark: you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you; and from every living thing, from all flesh, two of everything you shall bring into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female. – Genesis 6:17-19

The Kingdom of God, composed as we have seen of all those who had placed their faith in God's promise of a coming Seed who should deliver them from sin and the Serpent, began to grow greatly from its small beginnings, when it was represented only by Adam and Eve and the first martyr, Abel. For soon after Abel had given his life for his testimony of faith, God added another seed to Eve, namely Seth, to strengthen her faith, and through whom he should continue the line from which she still hoped the Messiah should come. From Seth, God was in fact pleased to cause his Kingdom to continue, and whenever she began to be in any desperate straits, or on the brink of extermination, he blessed her with whatever grace she needed to survive and persevere. For first of all, we find the first report of a great revival among God's people in the days of Enosh, the son of Seth (Genesis 4:26). We must suppose that at this time the Church had grown very cold and hardhearted, as she has done many times throughout her history; but rather than let her love grow entirely extinct, God sent his Spirit to stir up the hearts of his people to call upon the name of the Lord. This is the first of what would soon become very many times of corporate revival, such as those in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29-31) and Josiah (2 Chronicles 34-35), or much later, those now known as the Reformation of the sixteenth century, and the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century after Christ.

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May 09, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (4 -- The Life of Abel)

And Abel also brought from the firstborn of his flock, and from their fat; and Yahweh had regard for Abel and for his offering. – Genesis 4:4

Very soon after God had made his first promise to mankind that he would send a Deliverer, he began to advance his redemptive design along several different lines, all of which would eventually culminate in the advent and work of the promised Seed, and his gathering together in himself a multitude of people, whom he had undertaken to bring back to God. This era of redemptive history is characterized by a series of highly notable firsts, which would set the stage for the promised coming of salvation by putting in motion those forces which should prepare the way for the coming of the Seed, and ultimately bring about the fullness of time in which God should finally send him; and also, they whisper ahead of time the way in which this Savior, when he had finally come, should go about his work of saving his people. Of these firsts, one of the most significant is the life of Abel, the first man born twice, which we will look into in due time; but for now, let us mention a few other notable circumstances that God had already brought about.

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May 02, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (3 -- The First Gospel)

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. – Genesis 3:15

After our first father Adam had rebelled against the word of God, thereby losing all of the blessings and privileges of the glorious state into which he had been created, and inheriting instead a most fearful curse, the promise of death, and an expectation of the terrible wrath of God; instead of receiving only the judgment which he deserved, he was immediately comforted with a promise so rich in the gospel truths of Christ, that theologians have long referred to it as the “protoevangelium,” which is a designation meaning simply, “the first gospel”. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of this first gospel promise: the rest of the scriptures, both in the old and new testaments, simply unfold the meanings which inhere in this brief statement, and make good upon the promises which it contains.

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April 25, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (2 – The Garden of Eden)

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the East, and there he placed the man whom he had formed. – Genesis 2:8

Immediately after his account of God's creation of the world, Moses goes on to describe the creature in whom would be centered God's design for creation, namely, the man whom he had formed; and likewise he describes the place in which the fulfillment of this design would be possible, namely, the Garden in Eden. In this description, we encounter a very notable and foundational glimpse of the coming Messiah, in at least two basic ways: first of all, in the general design and features of the Garden we have an image of the perfect state which Christ's work of redemption should accomplish for its subjects; and second, we have a foreshadowing of the means which Christ would employ in bringing about this final state of blessedness. Let us now reflect upon several specific things in which this twofold foreshadowing may be observed.

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April 19, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

United to Christ in His Death AND Resurrection

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."—Romans 6:4.

We are united to Christ not only in his death but also in His resurrection. Not only have we been forgiven from the guilt of our sins, but have also been delivered from their power. The fasle notion that the grace of God should lead us to lawlessness should distasteful to every Christian. Our regeneration ... our union in Christ's resurrection ... our new heart and new life in Christ means that, by nature, we now despise doublemindedness and rebellion. We cannot live in it for our union with Christ makes this repelling. The concept or idea that the the grace we have in Christ gives license to sin, does not come from our new resurrected nature, but from the Devil. Though we are, at times, deceived by sin and stil suseptable to it, we detest it more deep than words can express. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live in it any longer."

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April 18, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Meditation on Grace in Psalm 119

“You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.” – Micah 6:15
Among the curses God gave as a warning to Israel for their disobedience was that they would sow, but not reap; they would tread the grapes they had grown but never have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Consider this text carefully, because it means that we can labor for something, and externally do everything necessary to expect a positive result (good crops in this instance), but unless God blesses the effort, our labors will come to naught. We can plow, sow and water, but only God, who either showers blessing or withholds it, can ultimately cause the growth. To extend this farming analogy to another realm, God likewise calls us to labor and pray for the souls of all those around us by indiscriminately casting forth the seed of the gospel to those He places in our life’s path. We know not whether we cast the seed on fallow ground or on ground that the Lord has prepared. Our labor, therefore, is not in vain, for God has called the church to gather up his elect from the ends of the earth in this way. Through the hearing of the gospel are the nations reached, but only the Spirit of God can open or leave hardened the hearts of those to whom we cast seed. It is important to remember that election, of itself, saves no one. Election, rather, is the blueprint of God for what He plans to do on earth in time through the redemptive work of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit ...and this through the preaching of the word (Rom 10). Our work is, therefore, a necessary and an integral part of God's plan. Souls will not come to Christ without the participation of the the church whom God uses to gather His elect. So we should labor as if all depended on us while knowing that the final fruit ulimately rests with God. Our witness and our preaching alone will do nothing, and that is why we pray to the Lord to bless it to His good and perfect ends.

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April 14, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (1 -- The Creation of the World)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth....And God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. – Genesis 1:1,3

When Jesus offered up for all believers his high-priestly prayer in their behalf, he summed up the essence of his request thus: “Father, I desire that those whom you have given me might be with me, where I am, in order that they might behold my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). From which circumstance we may learn that the very essence of what Jesus died to provide us with is nothing less than a rapturous gazing upon his glorious person, as we dwell in his presence forevermore. Heaven is nowhere but where Jesus dwells in his glory, and eternal life is nothing besides the sight of this glory. This is why Jesus had earlier defined eternal life as this: “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). True life is that which fulfills the purpose for which man was created, namely, to know and enjoy fellowship with God; and Jesus Christ is the only One who is able to reveal the nature of God to mankind, as we may learn from John chapter one, verses 14 and 18: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as from the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth....No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.” If we would be eternally satisfied, we must learn to behold the glory of Christ. And if we would be among those who for all eternity will indeed be in the joy of God's presence, we must learn to seek Christ's glory even now, as we live upon the earth.

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April 12, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Its about Him

"Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." Luke 24:27

"Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you — it’s about Him."

(quoted by Tim Keller at a Resurgence 06 seminar entitled "Preaching the Gospel")

April 12, 2008  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (8 -- Giving Away the Gold)

It is a singular characteristic of the wealthy men of this world, that they are almost without exception parsimonious, and cling tightly to the great riches they possess. It would seem a dictate of logic that, according as one could give without jeopardizing his own security and position, he would feel more free to do so with indifference. In reality, it is often those most pressed for necessary finances, and those whose ability to provide for themselves the most basic wants is in question from day to day, who are the most willing to give to others. Thus, the wealthy tend to preserve their wealth through greediness, and the poor tend to discourage any accumulation of wealth through liberality.

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March 28, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (7 -- Wearing the Gold)

Although the labor represented by an intricately-wrought chain of gold is enormous and eminently various, the gold ore having been digged up and refined and painstakingly crafted through many thousands of hours, the final end to which all this diverse toil has been directed may be expressed in this one thing, that the chain be worn about the neck as an ornament of grace and beauty. The woman who delights in fine jewelry is not at all satisfied to rejoice in the beauty of her ornaments as they hang upon the pegs of her jewelry box, but must use them to adorn her own person, so that their own innate loveliness is imparted in some measure to herself. The beauty of the jewelry is never so great as when it enhances the beauty of its owner.

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March 24, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Coming to Christ

Before I saw Christ, oh, how I feared to come to God! He was holy and I was sinful. He was righteous and I was guilty. He was wrathful and I was a child of wrath, deserving of every eternal torment. But then God's merciful Spirit opened my eyes to the King of Glory, and my heart was changed forever. Before, I had seen every reason to flee from God, and was overcome with despair at the realization that I could not escape his presence. Afterwards, I saw every reason to come to God, and found no other delight than that I could never be out of his sight. Jesus changed my perspective entirely, so that what had been my misery and despair became my only joy and unshakeable hope. I found in him every reason to come to God, and no reason to forbear.

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March 16, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (6 -- Admiring the Gold)

In the world of men, there are two basic classes of wealth which are ever sought. The first class is composed of those substances which have an inherent worth and beauty, such as silver, gold, and diamonds. The second class is composed of those substances which, though inherently worthless, may be traded for other things of value, such as the ugly paper dollar which might readily be exchanged for all goods and services under the sun, and which is therefore highly prized. The difference between the two is that the latter class only allows one to delight in something other than itself – a man with dollars may find joy in the fine dining and fancy houses for which he might trade them, but little values the look of the paper itself. But the former class inspires admiration by its own intrinsic properties. A diamond dazzles the eye, and is therefore sought for itself, and not just to be traded for other things.

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March 11, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (5 -- Fashioning the Gold)

The reason for the surpassing value of gold is to be sought in a unique combination of its various qualities, including such things as its limited availability, imperviousness to corruption, usefulness for a wide array of applications, and not least of all, unrivalled beauty. This last quality is an unexceptional characteristic of valuable materials. In terms of sheer functionality, pewter lacks nothing that sterling silver may boast. But the latter is always prized more highly simply because it is more beautiful. Pewter may be used to feed the body of man just as well as silver; but it can never feed his beauty-starved soul. Pewter may be useful to the trader of household wares, but silver is required by the jeweler or artist.

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March 04, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (4 -- Refining the Gold)

As difficult and arduous as are the labors of bringing out the precious minerals from their hiding places in the depths of the earth, any miner will affirm that, once they have been so gathered up, his labor is not at all done. For the gold and silver to gleam with all their beauty and be valued at their full worth, they must first be purified and refined; which is just to say that, any substance which is not true to their nature, must by various means be teased out and discarded. This process of refinement is unexceptionally necessary in the pursuit of earth’s buried treasures, for the desired minerals are never found thoroughly pure, but always mingled with some degree of unwanted substances, the worthless dross, to be rid of which is the design of the refinement. A miner who takes a sack of gold ore into a store might gain some use from his riches, but not nearly so much as he who takes a refined and certified ingot.

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February 25, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (3 -- Finding the Gold: C. A Survey of the Fields in Which it is to be Sought)

In the art of prospecting for gold, it must ever be kept in mind that, according to the various natures of the fields in which one is searching, the nature of the processes employed must be adapted. When gold is sought from the flowing streams, a steady hand and discerning eye must be taken advantage of, and through the patient perseverance of the seeker, many precious nuggets might be panned out from the midst of the worthless bits of sand and rock. But the deep mines want a strong arm and energetic pick, which might extend the tunnels many miles into the bosom of the earth, and find out the deepest veins hidden far away from the surface. So is it with the labor of seeking the gospel-gold from the fields of God’s word: that pursuit which might be successful in the histories will little profit in the psalms. The method most likely to obtain good results in the prophets will advance but little in the proverbs. A thorough knowledge of the diverse fields in which one is working, and the strategies best adapted for those fields, must always be remembered

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February 15, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man / who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, / nor stands in the way of sinners, / nor sits in the seat of scoffers; / but his delight is in the law of the LORD, / and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree / planted by streams of water / that yields its fruit in its season, / and its leaf does not wither. / In all that he does, he prospers. / The wicked are not so, / but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, / nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; / for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, / but the way of the wicked will perish. [Psalm 1]

Many preachers use Psalm 1 to try to get people to read their Bibles. "Be like the prosperous man who delights in the law of the LORD," they say. "Don't be like the wicked who will perish," they say. But this Psalm uses no prescriptive language whatsoever. There are no imperatives, no commands. Psalm 1 is entirely descriptive. That fact alone ought to give us pause when we go to use it like a hammer and chisel to sculpt religious behavior.

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February 14, 2008  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (3 -- Finding the Gold: B. In What Manner it is to be Sought)

It is a necessary quality for our pursuit of spiritual riches, if we would be successful, that we understand what the treasure consists of, so that we might recognize it when we see it; and as we have observed, man’s true spiritual good is to be found only in the knowledge of Christ. He is the gospel-gold, the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field. But merely understanding this will not be sufficient to fill our coffers, for we must likewise be instructed in the manner of searching, when we have once arrived in the fields of God’s Word. Suppose a prospector came to California, ready to distinguish between true gold and fool’s gold, and thinking that he should soon make himself rich, he forthwith began to scrutinize the tree-tops, to see whether he would find the gold in the highest boughs. For all his knowledge, he would not soon be successful. So too, the Christian who has been taught to seek Christ in all the scriptures, but does not know how, may wander over many a page without uncovering the deepest veins of silver; or may even fabricate treasures of dubious value, supported only by tenuous reasonings, far-fetched allegories, or the impulses of his own heart.

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February 06, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (3 -- Finding the Gold: A. Wherein it Consists)

When news of the gold rush of 1849 began to spread from California, passing eastward on the lips of men who had made their fortune and could not contain their joy nor hold back the good news, many countless prospectors were encouraged by tales of great riches to be had for the taking, to leave behind their homes, and set off to California, where they hoped they would strike it rich. But as is often the case, far more of these prospectors ended up rather squandering all their goods than finding their fortune, for the riches were not so great as to satisfy the lusts of every miner, and those few fortunate enough to have discovered the rich veins horded up vast treasures, while the rest starved on a pile of worthless sand. This can never be the case among those who are seeking the riches of wisdom from God’s Word; for as much as is uncovered, there is always more yet, and however many miners make their fortune by their toils, they leave the fields not a whit less rich for those coming behind them. However, notwithstanding the inexhaustible richness of the gospel-field, many prospectors of wisdom have undertaken to dig there, and have returned without a trace of the precious metal. How can this be?

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February 01, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (2 -- Setting Out for the Field)

When a man desires to build a tower, he must first sit down and calculate what he should require to bring the project through to completion, and determine if he is both able and willing to spend so much. How foolish would they consider that man who, having concluding that he had just enough to build, and no more, laid the foundation and then consumed the rest of his stores on riotous living, and was never able to complete what he had begun! But are not very many professors of religion so foolish even today? They want the consolation of the gospel, and would fain be disciples of Christ, and so they set out to follow him, but scarcely give him one day a week, while spending the rest of their passions on worldly and ephemeral amusements. They have not counted the cost, nor considered that, if one would be accounted Christ’s at all, he must belong to him wholly. He must forsake father and mother and goods and kindred, yes, and even his own life, and press hard behind him to the ends of the earth. But those who make a show of seeking him, when they have not counted the cost, will find out in the judgment that they do not have him at all. Oh, how bitter will be those words, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who work iniquity”!

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January 24, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (1 -- Introduction)

At the beginning of the second chapter of the book of Proverbs, King Solomon, instructed by the Holy Spirit, admonishes those who would be his spiritual children how they might find wisdom, what value it should hold forth to them, to what advantages they may put it, and the means by which they should seek it, under the figure of hidden treasure, or a vein of silver buried in a hillside. It is at once manifest, by this colorful mode of expression, that Solomon intends to paint wisdom as that which one might spend all his time and strength in pursuing, to good effect. For just as hidden gold, being so much valued by men that they are willing to exchange for it all necessary goods, services, amusements, etc., well rewards all efforts spent in procuring it, so wisdom, when one once has it, is profitable to any spiritual end, providing strength and joy, blessing and prosperity, and the manner and means of ordering one’s life suitably for his eternal good. For this reason, it is not at all amiss for a man to spend his days searching for hidden gold, if he has a reasonable suspicion that he might find it in such a place as he is digging, for he looks ahead to the value which it shall afford him, which should more than make up for his labors expended in procuring it. But if it be so advantageous to seek gross earthly profit assiduously, of how much more industry ought we to avail ourselves in seeking that which offers us the most divine and inextinguishable pleasures of heaven, seeing that we have clearly been directed to the place where we might find it indeed?

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January 17, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Give Us this Day Our Daily Bread

When we read this plea in the prayer our Lord has given us, it reminds us of our utter dependence on Him for everything we have, including our spiritual gifts and the grace to persevere to the end. When we were unregenerate and without God in the world, our conversion only took place when God opened our eyes to despair of any help from ourselves that we might look to Christ for His mercy. So also as Christians we live by the same principle since only by losing of all confidence in ourselves do we grow in grace; Christians do not become more mature in such a way as to gain more confidence in our spiritual abilities. On the contrary, the mature Christian, becomes even more conscious of his own frailty, and will turn unto the Lord for all his/her daily graces. It is only when we are weak, that we are strong (2Co 12:10). In other words, if we are to be effective at all, there must first be a consciousness of our weakness and innate spiritual bankruptcy.

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December 27, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (Conclusion)

Now then, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that, believing, you might have life in his name. – John 20:30-31

Dear reader, we have spent many hours walking through the gospel accounts of the only Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We have seen him in his divine majesty, whose birth was announced by the most glorious angels, who was worshiped in his manger bed by the kings of the earth, and who appeared in radiant light with Moses and Elijah. We have seen him in his meekness and humility, walking as a despised and rejected man, full of sorrows, often weary and full of the most human emotions. We have seen much of his mercy, and have marveled at his signs of grace and forgiveness, his healing of all, his casting out demons, his calm control over winds and waves. We have seen the foretastes of his coming terrible wrath against arrogant sinners, as he fearlessly denounced the Pharisees and hypocrites, and spoke of his future judgment of the entire world. And we have seen him in the grand and culminative display of these various attributes as he was lifted up on the cross for the sins of the world, at one and the same time showing forth the infinite depths of his obedient humility and accomplishing the mightiest and most resounding victory of the ages, putting all the forces of darkness to open shame, and winning an eternal Kingdom of grace, and the Name which is above all names.

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December 25, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (50 - His Appearances to his Followers)

And he led them out unto Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. And it came to pass while he was blessing them that he was taken from them, and borne up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. – Luke 24:50-52

We have followed our great Savior with tears and trembling to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he poured out his soul in unspeakable sorrow, we have wept in shame at the kiss of the betrayer, melted in horror at the perversion of justice which he encountered in all the courts of the land, cried out against the shame and mockery and cruel stripes that were laid upon him, seen him lifted up in our place as a curse and sin-bearer, and finally taken our stand at the empty tomb where the bitterness and agony give way to the unspeakable joy of everlasting victory in those most blessed of all utterances, “He is risen, just as he said”. What more then can we say? How can further reflection on the earthly life of our Savior and God be anything but an anti-climactic end to a story that has already concluded with the greatest news in history? And yet, upon further consideration, we are convinced that the very earth-shaking, eternity-shaping significance of Jesus' death and resurrection demands a final chapter. These events were too mighty to have an end in first-century Palestine: their monumental effects still reverberate throughout the world, and will continue to create in their beneficiaries the glorious fruit of sincere worship for all eternity. Just what the great effects of this greatest of all events should be has yet to be mentioned, as well as how they should come about. To this end, then, we follow our Redeemer for one last chapter, as he makes his post-resurrection appearances to his followers, and instructs them in light of his superlative accomplishment.

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December 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Eschatological Advent Season- Rev. C. R. Biggs

Dear People of God,

One famous Christmas song gleefully declares: "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" That of course means different things to different people. For the Christian, this "most wonderful time of the year" should be a time of celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the fact that God truly dwelled in human flesh "with us". This time of year should also be lived in eager anticipation and joyful expectation as we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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December 15, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (49 – His Resurrection)

He is not here, for he has risen just as he said: come, see the place where the Lord lay. – Matthew 28:6

When Jesus had poured out his soul as an offering for sin, having accomplished the Father's will and satisfied his wrath, he cried out, “It is finished!”, and laid down his life; and in those words, we have a certain hope that nothing remains for our salvation to be complete. The work has been done, the price has been paid, and we who have looked upon him are free from our sin and guilt forevermore. However, that climactic utterance was only half the story; and if the great event of the following Sunday had not occurred, it would have been stripped of all its power, and we would have remained “of all men most miserable” (I Corinthians 15:17-19), still lost in our sins, with no Hero to look to who could strip the devil and hell and death itself, and bring us out from under their authority. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is his final crown of victory, and the culminating stamp of approval from the Father: his work had been sufficient, his matchless power had been triumphant, he had won the day, and henceforth had but to wait at the Father's right hand, on his throne of glory, until all things were brought under his feet (Ephesians 1:19-23). The resurrection of Christ seals the greatest victory in history, and is the illimitable source of speechless joy, flowing forth in waves of delight and flooding his children with peace and happiness for all eternity. Come to the empty tomb with me, and let us lift up our voices in wonder at the blessed hope of the ages!

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December 08, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (48 – His Crucifixion)

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And the one who saw bore witness, and his witness is true, and he knows that he speaks truth, that you might believe. – John 19:34-35

As we follow our Savior to the hill of Calvary, we have come to the very time and place for which history was designed. This is the only reference point which gives meaning to all time and reality; no verse in all of scriptures and no event in all of history makes sense until it is related to what took place here. Consider for a moment how all the Old Testament scriptures prepare for this event, from the first prophecy of the Messiah given in Genesis 3:15, to the clothing that the gracious God made for Adam and Eve, to the blood sacrifice of Abel and all the rivers of blood that followed from that point on. Consider the tension built up to a mighty paradox, that the essential nature of God is that he has mercy upon thousands of generations, and yet will not at all acquit the wicked (Exodus 34:6-7), those two great attributes of the Lord that cry out for a resolution, a resolution which is pictured and foreshadowed in many countless ways in prescribed Jewish worship, and yet never adequately accomplished. Consider how central this event was to the life of Christ, the God-Man, whose every step he took was self-consciously a step closer to this climactic and dramatic sacrifice. Consider how central it was to the writers of the New Testament, whose gospel consisted only of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15:3-4), how central it is to all the centuries following, in which the full fruits of that mighty work are being gathered from the nations, and how central it will be in all eternity, when the blood-bought multitude sings the praises of the Lamb who was slain in never-ending worship. What is your trouble today? It may be resolved in only one way: looking to the pierced side of our Savior, which flowed with the blood of substitution, for our forgiveness; and the water of purification, for our cleansing. This is all our hope: let us live at the foot of the cross every day of our lives, until our merciful Savior takes us to the home that he prepared for us on Golgotha! Let us now reflect a little further on the centrality of this event.

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December 03, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (47 – His Trials and Scourging)

Then he released unto them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him up to be crucified. – Matthew 27:26

From the days of righteous Abel, unto whose blood sacrifice the Lord had respect, how many millions of sacrificial lambs had been led to the foot of the altar and there slain? And of them all, how many had lifted up their voice in protest, demanding that they who had done the crimes should receive their own just reward? In the same way it was fitting that our true and final sacrificial Lamb, whose blood really did take away sin, should be like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, not opening his mouth before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7). Oh, let us tremble in wonder as we see the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, meek and silent before his oppressors, led away without protest to the bitter scourge and the cruel tree! For it was because of our iniquities, which the Lord had laid upon him, that he was so fiercely reproached and beaten and slain; and the stripes which bloodied his back flowed forth red in healing and peace for us all (Isaiah 53:5-6). Oh, how can our hearts not melt in everlasting worship as we see our Savior condemned against justice so that we who ought to have been condemned might be acquitted indeed? To this account we now turn; and every step we take, from here to the cross, we are treading upon holy ground, and entering into the mysteries of the Godhead; let us do so in fear and with trembling joy!

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November 26, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (46 – His Prayer in Gethsemane)

Then he says unto them, my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; stay here and watch with me”. And going ahead a little, he fell upon his face, praying and saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”. – Matthew 26:38-39

O reader, we have followed our dear Savior many places, and have seen him in many lights, as the divine Son of God speaking with power and authority, as the great Physician tirelessly working his miracles of healing and deliverance, and as a man of deep and perfect human emotions, angry with the hypocrites, compassionate to the helpless, weeping with the bereaved. But never before have we seen the depths of sorrow that Jesus would plummet this night, as abandoned by all his friends, betrayed by him who ate at his table, and assailed by all the forces of darkness he cried out to his Father whom he had always pleased in every way, and received from him only the answer that he must indeed drink to its dregs the bitter cup of wrath. Oh, who will not mourn with him, this fairest among ten thousand, who deserves nothing but the infinite joy of the ever-blessed Godhead, but willingly takes into his bosom instead the greatest suffering that all the accumulated sins of mankind have ever merited? Wonder of wonders, that the God of the universe should become a man of sorrows! And wonder of wonders, ah, how far beyond words, that he should do so for us. Let the hardest heart of stone break into a million pieces, and melt into tears of sorrow and gratitude for all that this man has become, sharing in our infirmities so that we might share in his glory!

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November 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

If the Gospel wasn't clear and we couldn't actually know what it was...

If the Gospel was not clear and we could not know it was... then Paul was so very wrong in writing as he did to the churches of Galatia. If theological precision and accuracy concerning the nature of the Gospel is not particularly important for unity amongst "brothers", then it would follow that the following imaginary letter to Paul would needed to have been written (found at Dr. James White's web site) to correct his extreme narrow mindedness:

Dear Paul:

In reviewing your letter to the churches of Galatia, we, the modern men of the 21st century, have come to the conclusion that you truly missed the point in your very pointed and, may we say, unloving comments regarding the faithful brothers with whom you had but a minor theological difference. We are in particular offended that you would identify men who clearly confess faith in Christ and who have risked their lives for their faith "false brethren." Who are you to make such a harsh judgment, in light of their many evidences of faith? These men are Christians, and to call them false brethren is a serious sin! You are bearing false witness against them! And to dare to read the intentions of their hearts so as to say they were "sneaking" into the fellowship is simply beyond the pale. You should be ashamed of yourself! All you disagree on is a minor point of theology! They believe in Christ! They believe in His resurrection! They simply believe one should be circumcised so as to be a part of the covenant people of God! How narrow of you to exclude them from the fellowship of faith simply on the basis of such a minor thing as this! Why won't you focus upon the areas of agreement you have? Why focus only upon differences, the negatives? Don't you realize you will never win people to your views if you continue to act in this fashion? We seriously request that you apologize to the faithful brothers you anathematized in your ill-advised letter to the churches of Galatia. By this, true peace and unity might be achieved!

Selah (stop, think and meditate) - with Scripture alone as our firm foundation we affirm that justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone. - JS

November 12, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (45 – His High-Priestly Prayer)

These things Jesus spoke, and lifting up his eyes unto heaven, he said, “Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son in order that the Son might glorify you, even as you gave to him authority over all flesh, in order that all which you have given to him, he might give to them eternal life; and this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. – John 17:1-3

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest, having offered a sacrifice for his own sins and the sins of the people, would bring the blood of the sacrifice into the Holy Place, and place it upon the horns of the altar of incense, the smoke of which would ascend before God; and then, he would pass through the veil into the Holy of holies, bringing the blood of the sacrifice to the mercy seat, and thus atoning for the sins of the people (See Leviticus 16). In this circumstance, we see that the sacrifice was not considered effective until it had been joined with the intercession of the High Priest: the smoke from the blood which the priest placed upon the altar of incense rose up before God as a symbol of his prayers in behalf of the people, on the basis of the sacrifice that he had made for them; and only then did God accept his offering. But in the continual observance of this Day of Atonement, year after year, together with the ongoing presence of the veil, we see that no sacrifice and no high-priestly prayer had yet been finally sufficient to atone for the people's sins, and bring them into God's presence. There still remained the need both for a perfect sacrifice and a perfect High Priest, who could join his effective intercession with his sufficient offering, and thus tear down the veil which barred men from entering God's presence forevermore. As we look to our account today, let us rejoice in Jesus our High Priest, who joined his effective pleas with his perfect blood, and so rendered our salvation doubly secure!

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November 09, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (44 – His Last Supper)

And while they were eating, Jesus took bread, and having blessed it, he broke it, and after giving it to the disciples, he said, “Take, eat; this is my body”. And he took the cup, and having blessed it, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the New Covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. And I say unto you, that from now on, I will no longer drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new in the Kingdom of my Father”. – Matthew 26:26-29

Oh, how many a weary sinner, after having been born again through the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), has soon found himself in desperate straits once more, hard-pressed by his besetting sins, dirtied with the filth of the world, hungering and thirsting after the true righteousness which he had tasted of before, and apart from which he can no longer be satisfied! To such a weary pilgrim, as each of us has more than once been, there is no more welcome sight than a table spread in the wilderness with that richest of all feasts, the broken body of Christ, through which comes nourishment, sustenance, forgiveness, and true righteousness; and the wine of his blood, bringing peace, joy, and covenant-life. Let us rejoice at this marvelous dispensation of grace, and make earnest and frequent use of it! A child having just been born has life indeed, but he will not be long sustained without his necessary food; and so a child having been born into the family of God, which birth is symbolized by baptism, in which he is united with Christ in his death and resurrection, still has a daily and pressing need to be sustained with the body and blood of Christ throughout the time of his pilgrimage home. Baptism signifies the impartation of life, and the Lord's table the sustenance and nourishment of that same life; and we cannot do long without this necessary means of grace. Let us then look to the account of our Lord's last supper with great joy, and recognizing those great realities that he holds forth in the bread and the cup, to us as well as those first disciples, let us be diligent to observe the same as often as we gather together with the body of Christ; for in doing so, we will be vivified and strengthened with true righteousness and spiritual life.

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November 02, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (43 – His Unfolding the Events of the Future)

Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom the Lord will set over his household, to give to them provision in season? Blessed is that servant whom, when the Lord comes, he will find him doing thus. – Matthew 24:45-46

Jesus our Savior, when he walked upon the earth, fully recognized the central position that his life had in all of history, and was not at all loathe to indicate that the future times and seasons of the world had all to do with his Kingdom, and his coming again in glory; thus, he indicated to Pilate and the Pharisees, as well as to his own disciples, that the consummation of world history would be the final realization of the Kingdom upon earth, which he had already begun to establish in his lifetime (John 18:36; Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:16-18). The future would be all about the advance of this newly in-broken Kingdom until it had spread throughout the world, and ultimately about the return of the Son of Man in glory to judge the earth, establish his Kingdom fully and finally, and deliver it over to the Father (see I Corinthians 15:23-28). It is a most fitting circumstance that, as the time of his departure drew near, he would take occasion to instruct his disciples of these future events, so that they might be well-prepared for their task of Kingdom-spreading, the final commission with which he left them (see Matthew 28:18-20). The key occasion in which he did this is when, after having foretold the utter destruction of the beautiful Temple, he sat on the Mount of Olives, and answering his disciples' questions, related to them many great and marvelous events of the future, and at the same time drew out many practical applications.

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October 27, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Happy 490th Anniversary of the Reformation


Are you despairing of your own righteousness today, realizing that you are more sinful before God than you had thought before? Are you realizing that when all is said and done you just are not righteous before God? Or perhaps you are thinking more highly of yourself and your good works before God?

If you are doing either of these things, you are looking to yourself and your own righteousness to affirm and assure yourself before God. When you look to yourself you make null and void the work of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:21).

If you have sought your salvation and righteousness in yourself, and you have realized the depth of your sins before God in words, thoughts, and deeds, then you know how Martin Luther felt when he cried out to his friend John Staupitz, saying: “Who can abide the Day of the Lord’s coming? And who shall stand when he appears?!” (Mal. 3:2).

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October 24, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Exposing my traditions

Acts 10:34-35 KJV Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Acts 10:34-35 NASB Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

Acts 10:34-35 NIV Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.

Traditions are very strong and those most blinded by them are those who do not think they have any. When I first began to seriously evaluate what the Bible teaches about divine election, I have to say, certain texts surfaced in my mind which seemed to negate some of the other texts I was reading. When I saw texts that spoke clearly of God sovereignly and unconditionally electing an individual to salvation, texts such as the one above came to mind. If God shows no partiality or favoritism then quite obviously, I thought, God would have to show the same measure of grace to every person on planet earth, and then leave it up to the individual to make the choice of either rejecting or accepting the message of the Gospel. That seemed logical and so very much more acceptable to me than to believe that God just chose one person and not another for salvation (though God does in fact do this - 2 Thess. 2:12, 13), but it was something I have to admit that I believed for more than 20 years as a Christian. However, I kept coming up against the scriptures that quite clearly portray God showing mercy to whom He will and leaving others to encounter His justice (Romans 9 for example).

What did I do then? Well, for many years, I spoke of this being some great mystery (which it certainly is, of course) but yet looking back, I realized that I was embracing a view that was entirely inconsistent and in fact, contradictory.

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October 24, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (42 – His Wise Answers to Questions of Trickery)

And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And he said unto them, “Neither do I say to you by what authority I do these things”....And when they heard, they marveled, and forsaking him they departed....And when the crowds heard, they were astonished at his teaching....And no one was able to answer him a word, neither did anyone dare to question him any longer, from that day. – Matthew 21:27; 22:22, 33, 46

It is a fact as certain as the day that, in this world which is under the power of the devil, whenever anyone comes speaking the truth, he will be fiercely opposed, and often beset with insincere questions that arise not from a heart desiring to learn, but out of trickery, and in an attempt to lay a trap by which he might be tripped up, so that the power and truth of his message may be obscured. That this was so to an eminent degree in the life of him who did not just bring the truth, but is himself very Truth (John 14:6), is everywhere evident throughout his ministry; but the most notable example of all comes just before his final hour, when all the forces of Satan were stirred up in a tremendous rage, and casting forth every snare that subtle sophistry can devise, so as to conjure up in the unblameable One a charge that they might bring before the court of Pilate. How utterly they failed to overcome the Wisdom of God may be seen in the results of their frantic endeavors; to which end we will look, so as to rejoice in him who is made to us wisdom from God (I Corinthians 1:30), and likewise to learn how we ought to respond when we are beset with similar deceitful traps.

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October 20, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (41 – His Cursing the Fig Tree)

And seeing one fig tree along the way, he came up to it, and found nothing on it except leaves alone; and he says unto it, “No longer shall there be any fruit from you forever”. And immediately the fig tree withered. – Matthew 21:19

In Isaiah chapter five, the Lord tells of a vineyard to which he had given every peculiar advantage, preparing for it a very fertile place which he had cleared of all stones and debris, planting in it the best vines, and preparing within it a watchtower and a wine vat, in order to protect it and provide it with the necessary means to put its fruit to the best use; but when the time came for it to produce good grapes, it produced wild and unusable grapes instead. For this cause, the Lord destroyed every advantage of the vineyard, ensuring that, from henceforth, it would produce only thorns and thistles. In verse seven, Isaiah makes the application that, “the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah are that which was planted for his pleasance; and he waited for justice, but behold, bloodshed! for righteousness, but behold, a cry!” As we shall now see, on the occasion of his cursing of the unfruitful fig tree, our Savior was acting in much the same way, and expressing much the same truth. Let us observe what transpired on this occasion, as well as the use to which Jesus put the event, or the lesson which he drew from it.

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October 07, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (40 – His Triumphal Entry)

The writings of the prophets are filled with predictions of a coming glorious king, from the line of David, who would once again take up the scepter, destroy the enemies of the people of God, and reign in righteousness forevermore (e.g. II Samuel 7:12-13, Isaiah 11:1- 16, Jeremiah 23:5-6). These same prophets also speak much of a coming servant of the Lord, who would suffer much, and be despised and rejected by his own people (e.g. Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:6-13; 52:13-53:12). In Jesus, these two distinct prophetic lines converge with admirable precision, his everlasting kingship being loudly proclaimed by the same people who, a few days later, would reject him indeed, and leave him to drink alone the inexpressible cup of the Father's wrath, a man afflicted beyond measure and full to the brim with sorrows surpassing the imagination. But herein lies the wonder: these two remarkably diverse characteristics of the person and ministry of the Son of David do not co-exist in an unnatural and forced juxtaposition, but rather complement and give meaning to each other, in a relationship that bursts all conceptual bounds of true glory and praiseworthiness that had ever before been dreamed up, extending the dominion of the Kingdom of the Christ into realms that no king had ever before conquered. The unique glory of Christ consists in part of his humility and suffering; and through his time of humiliation, he became the king of death and hell, victorious over sin and the devil, even as before he was the king of life and righteousness. The deepest lowliness won the highest glory, and cast across the illimitable regions of the shadow of death the splendor of the noon-day sun, transforming them into a fruitful and fair place, and bringing them forevermore into the eternal Kingdom of peace. Every spite and thorn and cruel stripe that Jesus bore wrought for him in the fires of divine justice and mercy another rare and marvelous jewel for his crown, the likes of which no other king has ever worn, nor indeed could bear, for it is fitted for one brow alone, that which once bled with the chastisement of our peace, and now irradiates the divine majesty, lighting the New Jerusalem toward which we press on in the wonder of hope.

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September 24, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (39 – His Coming in to Zacchaeus' House)

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost. – Luke 19:10

In all the gospel of Luke, we may encounter no more concise and compelling description of the Messianic task than that which we meet with at the end of this account: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). In this declaration we may learn something of the person of Jesus, and his peculiar office: for he is the Son of Man, that is, the divine Messiah whom Daniel saw in his glory (Daniel 7:13-14). We may also learn of the nature of his work, which is to seek and to save. How appropriate it is that both these elements should be so admirably joined together, for we can no more seek for a Savior, than we can save ourselves (see Romans 3:10-11). Jesus did not come to a world that was clamoring for his grace, and then give it to them in response to their pleas. No, he came unto his own, and was despised and rejected (See Isaiah 53:3; John 1:11); he came unto a world that hated and opposed him, and was mocked and derided by all. Therefore, if he would save anyone, he must first seek him out and draw him. An effectual call must be joined to his effective sacrifice, or else the salvation transaction will never be completed. Ah, let us be grateful that Jesus did not merely come to announce a general offer of salvation, but that he came to seek the individual sinner, and to save him indeed! And finally, we may learn of the subjects of this mighty work of mercy: who are none other than the lost. Many there be in this world who do not consider themselves lost, and see no need of a Savior. Let us be certain that these will be lost indeed before they are ever saved. Jesus saves none but lost and hopeless sinners; and so we who are the chief of sinners may all the more fervently rejoice, for no other quality does the Savior require of men, than that they be as we, and unable to help save themselves.

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September 15, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (38 – His Receiving the Little Children)

And Jesus called them unto himself, saying, “Permit the children to come unto me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” – Luke 18:16

Those of us whom our heavenly Father has blessed with children of our own may fully appreciate the immeasurably deep yearnings of parental love, which would have for our offspring nothing less than the eternal joy of knowing Christ our Savior, whom we have found in our own souls to be so satisfying; which is indeed the very compassion by which these who had found the delight of knowing Jesus were driven to bring their infant children to him, so that he might but touch them. Therefore, the Savior's response to these compassionate parents, and the manner in which he received their little children, quite contrary to the expectation of his disciples, is to us who are in the same circumstance a most precious glimpse indeed. And we may likewise be sure that all of us, whether we have children or not, may be most wonderfully instructed by the tender love of Jesus, and his words of wisdom which he takes opportunity to apply to all who would enter his Kingdom. Let us note precisely what it is that Jesus intimated on this blessed occasion, attempt to show how admirably consistent his comfortable doctrine is with the customary dealings of the Father throughout redemptive history, and finally draw a few applications from what we have learned.

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September 02, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (37 – His Raising of Lazarus)

Jesus said unto her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life: the one who believes in me, even if he should die, will live; and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die – do you believe this?” She says unto him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.” – John 11:25-27

Although we have already seen before the divine power of Jesus the Savior displayed in the raising of the dead, this case is the most notable example yet, first, by virtue of the explicit instruction about his own person with which he illuminates its significance, and second, by virtue of the marvelous circumstances surrounding it, through which we may learn much of what sort of man this Jesus truly is. There had never been a more notable resurrection from the dead than this, nor would there be until Jesus himself was raised by the power of God (Romans 1:1-4), the true firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18) inasmuch as he was the first man raised, not to die again, but to the glory of an incorruptible life. Let us rejoice today that the eternal resurrection life which Jesus himself won, having arisen finally victorious over death and the grave, is a life which he won for all of us who partake of his sufferings, and hence are assured as well of a share in his resurrection power (Philippians 3:10-11; I Corinthians 15:20-24)! To all of these truths our text today speaks, and so we will turn there now to learn the source of this amazing sign; its ultimate goal, or purpose; and finally, the instruction which we might derive from its unusual and typical circumstances.

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August 18, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (36 – His Eating with a Pharisee)

And when the Pharisee saw, he marveled that he did not first wash himself before the meal. But the Lord said unto him, “Now you Pharisees wash the outside of the cup and platter, but your inside is filled with plunder and wickedness.” – Luke 11:38-39

Whenever we see our Savior in his dealings with the Pharisees and experts in the law, we must be struck with the immeasurable wisdom and authority that he possesses, as well as the boldness and clarity with which he denounces their wicked teachings and practices. Let us note that they who consider themselves religious leaders, and who bind others with very many rules and regulations that God never commanded, always demand of others unquestioning loyalty and obedience; and if it is not forthwith rendered by anyone under their sway, they threaten him with the terrible curses which are due to anyone who turns aside from God's own commandments, and wresting from their clarifying contexts many verses about the godliness of submitting to those in authority, they demand submission on the basis of God's word, when in fact their doctrines set aside God's word; and it is utterly manifest that no person on earth has the religious authority to command God's children to do other than that which he has prescribed for them in his holy scriptures – although we admit that the civil government has authority from God to demand things which are indifferent with respect to inherent morality, and not in violation of God's positive commands. Now let us be sure that, no matter how loudly such may assert their authority to bind other believers with things that God has not said, it is never godly to submit to such a perversion of true religion; and if we would follow the example of our Savior, we must rather expose and condemn it on the basis of the scriptures, which God has vested with authority beyond that of any man on earth. To see how our wise and fearful Savior thus exposed the folly of these wicked men, and laid out the progression that false religion would ever follow, let us now look to the text.

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August 10, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (35 – His Parable of the Good Shepherd)

I am the Door: if anyone should enter through me, he shall be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy; I have come in order that they might have life, and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. – John 10:9-11

One of the most blessed prophecies ever given to the prophets of old may be found in Ezekiel thirty-four. In that notable passage, the Lord first berates the false leaders of his people Israel, who ought to have been as good shepherds, protecting them from the wild beasts, guiding them lest they wander astray, and leading them to good pastures. But instead, they had destroyed and killed the flock of God. In response, God promises that he himself will come and be a shepherd to his people, guiding, protecting, and nourishing them; but when he comes, he will judge the false shepherds, and distinguish between the true sheep of his flock, who are oppressed and down-trodden, and the fat and cruel sheep, who destroy all the provision and leave no sustenance for the others. These latter will share the same fate of condemnation as the false shepherds; but God's true sheep will be delivered and brought to a place of peace and fruitfulness forevermore, where God will be their God, and dwell among them. At this point in the prophecy, God refers to the Shepherd of the people as David his servant. From which circumstance we may learn that one would arise who is both the offspring of David and indeed God himself; and he will shepherd the true people of God, but judge their oppressive leaders and those sheep who are not truly his.

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August 04, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (34 – His Giving Sight to the Man Born Blind)

And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, in order that those who do not see might see, and those who see might become blind”. – John 9:39

Throughout Israel's history God had done many marvelous works in her behalf, sending to her his prophets and miracle-workers, who brought down bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4), subdued the bitterness of death-bearing poisons (II Kings 2:19-22; 4:38-41), stopped the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:16-23), and even raised the dead (II Kings 4:32-37). But there was one miracle so astounding in its divine potency, and so indicative of the true essence of the Messianic accomplishment, that it had never before been performed in sacred history, but only promised as a sign of the final age of blessing, in which the Christ should bring the very Kingdom of God to earth; and that sign was, the giving of sight to the congenitally blind (Isaiah 35:4-5; 42:6-7). As we look to this next account, therefore, we may encounter as clear a glimpse of the person of Christ in his Messianic office as any of his miracles are able to unveil before our eyes. Spirit of God, do not let us come away unravished from this text! Lead us to the Sun of Righteousness, where we might bathe our dark and sorrowing souls in the glory of the Light divine! As sunflowers that ever turn their faces full to the sun of their love, let us turn now our hearts to the light of glory, which beams from the face of the Son of God. In order to do so, we will consider, first, what it means that Jesus is the Light of the World; second, how it is that he accomplishes his Messianic task of bringing light to the world; and third, the diverse effects that this work of light-bringing has upon various classes of people in the world.

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July 22, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (33 – His Teaching at the Feast of Tabernacles)

And on the last great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink!” – John 7:37
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the Light of the World: he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Of all the gospel-blessings and benefits that were given to Israel in ancient times, so as to distinguish them from all the other nations of the world as the people upon whom God had set his special, elective love, one of the greatest was the joyful feasts and celebrations that it was enjoined upon them to observe, coming up to Jerusalem three times a year for a solemn and joy-filled assembly. These feasts were a bountiful and merciful gift of God both in that they contained within the manner of their observance a rich instruction of things pertaining to the coming of Christ, and the redemptive blessings that he should provide for his people; and also, in that they provided a foretaste, as it were, of these blessings themselves, as all the people of God were enabled therein to cast off the cares of this cursed world, for a time, and rejoice together in unity before the God of their salvation. Will not the consummation of all things be an anti-type of these joyful feasts, in which all God's people from every nation of the world rejoices together in the presence of Christ their Savior, and feasts upon the rich banquet that their heavenly Father has provided for them (see Isaiah 25:6-12)? And it is a further point that the most joyful feast, and one of the most richly instructive in gospel truths, was the last great feast of the year, that of Tabernacles. As we turn to our next account, therefore, we must first labor to understand the symbolism of this feast, and how Christ intimates that it is fulfilled in him; and then to notice in brief the basic heads of the message that he was proclaiming at this feast.

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July 17, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (32 – His Teaching on Life in the Kingdom)

Therefore, whoever should humble himself as this little child, he shall be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. – Matthew 18:4

Among all peoples, they who are considered greatest in a kingdom or government are they who are in the most prominent positions, who command great honor and respect, and who use their authority to exercise dominion over all those beneath them (see Matthew 20:25-27). It was a most natural circumstance, therefore, that the disciples who had heard so much of Jesus' Kingdom would begin to dispute and argue among themselves as to who should hold the highest position in this Kingdom, sitting at the right hand of Jesus when he ascended to the throne of David (Mark 9:33-34; 10:35-37). But Jesus' Kingdom was not to be like the kingdoms of men; for in the wonder of divine wisdom, the greatest glory is gained through the deepest humility, and the most selfless and lowly servant is indeed the highest of all. The King of kings won his throne through the emptying of himself, taking on the form of a servant, and being found obedient unto death, even the shameful death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-11). But if even the all-glorious Son of Man “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), then what sort of men ought his followers to be? Let us take these truths to heart, and be attentive to the richly instructive words of Christ, as he takes the opportunity of this dispute among the disciples to open up to us the mystery of the Kingdom, the way in which it is ever to be entered, and the manner in which life within its borders is to be conducted.

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July 12, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (31 – His Transfiguration)

And after six days, Jesus takes Peter and James and John his brother, and brings them up into a high mountain alone; and he was transformed before them, and his face shone as the sun, and his garments became white as the light. – Matthew 17:1-2

The great mystery of the work of redemption, and the matchless wonder of the Redeemer himself, consists of the diverse excellencies displayed to infinite degrees in the accomplishment of the work. Consider into what depths of humility Christ plummeted, as he followed his Father's will to purchase back a people from their unimaginably deep sin and rebellion: he, the infinitely high and happy God, took on human form, lived a life subject to all human weaknesses and temptations, suffered rejection, despite, shame, and mockery at the hands of his creatures, and bore in his own body the full mass of putrid sin which we had heaped up to heaven, together with the full cup of the Father's holy wrath against this sin. This is humility inexpressible and illimitable! But consider what great glory he has won through such ignoble means: he has won the greatest victory in all the history of the world, against the greatest enemy of all that is good and right who has ever had existence – that old Serpent, the devil. He has fully displayed the infinitely glorious and diverse majesty of the invisible Godhead, whom no man has ever seen, in such a manner that the weakest of men might see God's true form and glorify him. He has won a people for his everlasting inheritance, and wrought the unspeakable work of making them who had been horribly disfigured and marred into the very image of himself, and a spotless and pure bride. And he has done what by all accounts should be impossible for the infinitely glorious God to do; he has gained a glory which did not inhere in the Godhead before, and obtained a name which did not previously belong to him; for the glory of Mediator, Redeemer, Perfect Man, Immanuel, and, in short, Jesus, who saves his people from their sins, did not from eternity belong to the Godhead; but in consequence of the perfect work of the Christ, the new and glorious name Jesus has been added to the eternal and glorious name Yahweh, in the person of the eternal Son of God – for is this not what is expressed in the words of Paul: “Wherefore, God also has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above ever name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on the earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11)? In our next account, that of the transfiguration of Jesus before his disciples, we see the first glimpse of the infinitely high glory which should adhere to Jesus in consequence of the infinitely low position to which he stooped, contrary to all human reason or expectation.

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July 04, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I've Been Reading...": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue 7- C. R. Biggs

Calvin on To Whom we Belong and the Necessity of Prayer

May you be greatly encouraged by some selections on God's love for us and the necessity of prayer today from Calvin's Institutes. We are a privileged people who have so great a Savior and Lord. As Mary says in Luke 1:46ff in what has come to be known as the "Magnificat": "My soul rejoices ("magnifies" or "in enlarged") in the LORD..." Mary's soul is enlarged, she is full of the knowledge and love of God, as she reflects on what God has done for her and for all believers in the Person and Work of Christ.

Let us also be reminded that to reflect upon our Great God is to have our own souls "enlarged" and to rejoice, praying unceasingly as we live as His people! To that end, may the quotations to day be a blessing to you.

Calvin writes:
"We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God's: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God's: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God's: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal [Rom. 14:8; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19]....

Let this therefore be the first step, that a man depart from himself in order that he may apply the whole force of his ability in the service of the Lord. I call 'service' not only what lies in obedience to God's Word but what turns the mind of man, empty of its own carnal sense, wholly to the bidding of God's Spirit." - John Calvin, 'Institutes', III.vii.1

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June 27, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (30 – His Giving the Keys of the Kingdom)

And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father who is in heaven...and I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven... – Matthew 16:16-17,19

During his time on earth, Jesus himself was preaching the gospel of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, opening it to whom he would open it, and shutting it against whom he would shut it. But at the same time, he was also preparing his disciples to carry on this Kingdom-work when he should return to the Father, and begin to reign from God's right hand, sitting on the throne of David. He was then announcing the gospel and opening the Kingdom in his physical body; but he would soon be announcing the gospel and opening the Kingdom in his mystical body, the Church. For this reason, it was necessary that he take the keys of his kingly authority, and bestow them upon some representative (or representatives), to continue his work in his name, and with his authority, until the end of the age. Our account relates the details of this solemn bestowal of authority; and, although it has been much abused and perverted throughout Church history, its true meaning and importance must not therefore be minimized. We trust that the Spirit of God whom the Father has sent to us in the name of Jesus will protect us from all misunderstanding as we pursue the true meaning of his word today.

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June 25, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (29 – His Answering the Syro-Phoenician Woman)

And he answered and said, “It is not good to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, for even the dogs eat from the crumbs which fall from theirs masters' table.” Then Jesus answered and said unto her, “O woman, great is your faith: let it be done unto you as you desire.” And here daughter was healed from that hour. – Matthew 15:26-28

Of the many lessons we may learn about the Savior from this account, the most notable is his utter resignation to the will of the Father, and his firm resolve not to do anything related to the work of redemption except in its own proper time; from which circumstance we may learn that all the acts of mercy and grace from the beginning of the world are indeed planned out by the sovereign counsel of the Father, and minutely executed by the Son. In this account, we may see this truth borne out, first, by Jesus' unswerving commitment to the temporal priority of the children of Israel to the nations, in God's redemptive design; and second, by his manner in responding to the personal request of a woman whose daughter he knew from the beginning that he should heal. In this latter circumstance we may find much that is well-suited to personal application, and so we will spend the greater part of our time on that point. But first, let us note what Jesus intended by his saying, “I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).

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June 20, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (28 – His Dispute with the Pharisees over Ceremonial Uncleanness)

And summoning the crowd again, he said unto them, “All of you hear me and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by entering into him is able to defile him; but the things which proceed out of a man are the things which defile the man”. – Mark 7:14-15

We may observe in this account both the essence of false religion, which the Pharisees displayed in their encounter with the disciples of Jesus, and with Jesus himself; as well as the proper response to this sort of deceptive false teaching. For Jesus, when he had seen their hypocritical indignation over the violation of their man-made regulations, first destroyed the foundations of their religious system, rendering them without an answer or excuse; and second, built in its place the just principles of true religion, on the solid foundation of God's revelation; taking occasion, moreover, to instruct his true followers more thoroughly in these right principles, when they were alone. We ought to learn from this example, first of all, to be certain that our religion is in accordance with God's own will, and not founded upon our own uncertain speculations; and second, how to respond to false doctrine when we or those near us in the Church are confronted with it.

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June 15, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (27 – His Walking on the Water)

And in the fourth watch of the night he came unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking upon the sea they were troubled, and were saying, “It is a ghost!”; and they cried out in fear. And immediately Jesus spoke unto them, saying, “Take courage, it is I: do not fear” – Matthew 14:25-27

As we turn to our next account, we must be aware of its close connection with the account immediately preceding it, in which Jesus presents himself as the true Bread from heaven, given for the life of the world; and hence, the fulfillment of the tabernacle imagery of the table of the bread of the presence. For just as the table signified the provision of the necessary substance of life, which Jesus portrayed as having its ultimate fulfillment in his own body that he would offer up for the life of the world, in illustration of which he provided this bread in the wilderness for the crowds that had gathered around him; so also it signified the ongoing provision and guidance that God offered to his people for their journey, through his own sustaining presence in their midst; which is indeed why the bread was called specifically the bread of the presence. But this element, too, Jesus would portray as having its ultimate fulfillment in himself, when he appeared miraculously to his disciples and brought them along on their journey through the power that his own abiding presence imparted to them. Let us now look at these truths in a little more detail.

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June 09, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (26 – His Feeding the Five Thousand)

Jesus then said unto them, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven; for the bread of God is the One who descends from heaven and gives life to the world”. – John 6:32-33

In this remarkable account, we see our Savior signifying through a gloriously bountiful act of generosity the eternal life and joyful feasting in the presence of God that he would soon provide for those whom the Father had given to him, by the offering up of his own body for their life and sustenance; and in the process, we are confronted with an image of Christ the Savior as the perfect fulfillment of the tabernacle imagery of the table of the bread of the presence (Exodus 25:23-20); as the end and goal of the celebratory feasts of the Jews, and that of Passover in particular (note John 6:4), which looked ahead to the joyful feast of the end times, in the presence of God (see Isaiah 25:6-12); and also, as the true fulfillment of the manna that sustained the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years. Moreover, we have this wondrous sign expounded to us in great wisdom by the very words of Jesus, as he explains to the Jews its true meaning and significance. Let us then be richly instructed in these eternal truths, as we look to the account at hand.

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June 02, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I've Been Reading...": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue 3

Humility from the Perspective of Screwtape and Wormwood- C. S. Lewis

Today's quotation is from a classic C. S. Lewis book entitled 'The Screwtape Letters'. For many of you this is perhaps a favorite book to read and re-read. For those who may be unfamiliar with the book, it is a book written from the perspective of Screwtape, a senior and seasoned devil, writing to his younger devil apprentice named Wormwood. The perspective of the book is from the "devils' point of view" and therefore the "patient" to whom he refers is the Christian and the "enemy" is God himself. Enjoy - -and be humbled by God's grace!

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June 01, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (25 – His Sending Out the Twelve)

Then he says to his disciples, “The harvest is much, but the workers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send out workers into his harvest”. – Matthew 9:37-38

Immediately before Jesus sends his disciples to go throughout Israel from city to city, healing, casting out demons, and preaching the good news of the Kingdom, we are given a glimpse of his deep compassion for the scattered and wayward crowds, a compassion which works mightily in his tireless ministry of healing and evangelizing. This precious glimpse is the foundation and fountainhead for the mission of the twelve, which follows. It is likewise the foundation for our own mission, which trades the cities of the world for the villages of Israel, and substitutes the innumerable band of faithful witnesses for those first twelve disciples. If we would learn anything from this account, let us assure ourselves, above all else, that Jesus' compassionate person, which manifested itself in his mighty works, done according to the will of the Father, is the sole and illimitable source from which the ever-widening streams of gospel-mercies flow, and shall continue to flow through the Church, until the whole world is full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).

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May 30, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I've Been Reading....": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue II

Image and Reality

What is real? What is image? Many people today spend much of their time in 'virtual reality'. It is axiomatic that 'virtual' reality is not true reality. In fact, my dictionary defines 'virtual' (as in virtual reality) as that which is "practically a reality, but not a reality in actuality, only in name." Christians must be discerning of the difference between image and reality. Image is what we seem to be. Reality or our character is who we truly are.

It would be simple to say that image is concerned with the external person, what ideas about oneself one wishes to convey to another. In contrast, character is something developed internally over time (by God's grace) and manifests externally (quite naturally) in our character ("You will know the tree by the fruit it bears" suggests that there is a difference between real fruit and 'virtual fruit').

Here are three quotations submitted to you today that hopefully will help you to reflect on your image and your reality. Our hope in Christ is that our image and our reality will be harmonious. In other words, what we seem to be and who we are will not be in tension. First a quotation from social historian Daniel Boorstin, from his great book 'The Image' (1963) where he defines the expectations of modern man in the real world and how this reality tends toward making images more attractive to us.

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May 29, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (24 – His Raising of Jairus's Daughter)

While he was still speaking, some of the rulers of the synagogue came, saying, “Your daughter has died; why do you still trouble the Teacher?”. But Jesus, having heard the word which was spoken, says to the ruler of the synagogue [i.e. Jairus], “Do not fear, only believe”. – Mark 5:35-36

Within the account of Jesus' marvelous resurrection of the only daughter of Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, we find another marvelous miracle-account embedded, in which he frees a woman from a twelve year discharge of blood, from which she had been able to find relief in no other way. The conjunction of these two accounts teach us of Jesus' great mercy and compassion for all sorts of believers – the greatest as well as the weakest. He responds to great faith by causing it to grow and become greater yet; and he responds to weak faith in the same way, causing it to grow up until it is healthy and flourishing. Let us take heart at this truth! No matter how smoldering the wick of our faith may be, Jesus will not quench it, but will gently blow upon it with the soft breath of his mighty words and works, until it bursts once more into a flame of passionate devotion and steadfast trust in him alone (see Isaiah 42:3). But ah, let us examine ourselves, to see whether we have any faith at all: for the thronging crowds, who followed Jesus out of impure motives, not because they loved him or supposed that they could obtain their spiritual good from him, received no good thing from the Lord. Are we blindly following along with the crowd of professing believers, walking where they walk because they are many? Or is our one desire to reach Jesus, whether the crowds be with us or against us? If our heart truly yearns to touch him in whom is our healing and hope, then no matter how timid our faith may be, he will see us and strengthen us to come to him. But if we have no true longing to receive from him our every good, then throng about him as we may, he will give us no heed. Let us learn this lesson well: there will always be crowds thronging about Jesus, whether to mock or to offer insincere flattery; but few there be whose yearnings reach out to him alone.

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May 23, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I've Been Reading...": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue I

"I've Been Reading..." - Rev. C. R. Biggs, Issue I

For the next few weeks, I would like to post brief quotes I have collected from excellent books that I have read and books that I am presently reading for study as a pastor. These quotations are offered as reflections on the Church and our present culture primarily with hopes that it will stimulate our thought and perhaps even suggest some good books (old and new) that you would like to read.

My first quote is from Alexis de Tocqueville:

In the early 1840s, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote on his observations of American culture, from politics to religion. In the book 'Democracy in America' he claims in the preface that he writes as a "friend" to Americans, from one who has objectively observed the culture as an outsider from France.

He claimed that his main purpose in writing the book was to warn Americans of one issue that he believed would be destructive to a society and culture. The issue was INDIVIDUALISM>. We should reflect on how individualism also negatively can affect Christ's Church in the way we think of our identity as Christ's people, our fellowship together, our corporate worship (especially the hearing of the Word and participation in the Sacraments), and our call to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:1-2, 8-10):

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May 23, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (23 – His Calming of a Storm)

And they feared greatly, and were saying to one another, “Who then is this man, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”. – Mark 4:41

From the account of this notable miracle of the Savior, in which he commanded the winds and the waves to cease with calm authority, and immediately they obeyed him, we may learn much of what manner of man he truly is; in the surrounding circumstances, we may observe many ways in which we are similar to the disciples, loved by Jesus, striving to follow his will, but ah, so weak and filled with doubts, which ever rise to the surface when the storms of life stir the waters of our soul; and finally, in Jesus' reactions and words of response to the disciples, we may be instructed even as they – for he has not changed, and his words still resound with the same authority and wisdom that they possessed some two thousand years ago, when first he uttered them. Let us, then, be diligent to examine in what ways we resemble those first disciples, and then to discern what we may of the fearful and wonderful person, deeds, and words of our Savior; for in so doing, we will find that whatever our needs are, their solution is found in Christ. This the first disciples learned long ago, and this the disciples throughout the world are still learning today.

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May 19, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (22 – His Speaking in Parables)

And his disciples approached and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”. And he answered and said, “Because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.” – Matthew 12:27-28

Many generations before our Savior walked on the earth, it was prophesied of him, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old” (Psalm 78:2); and when he finally arrived upon this earth, we may see how thoroughly he fulfilled this prophecy, uttering parables and sayings which contained all the truth and wisdom of heaven, but which hid their rich wisdom from the understanding of the learned and respected men of Israel, and opened them up to the wondering faith of the simplest child. How true is the praise of the psalmist, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise” (Matthew 21:16; Psalm 8:2)! And nowhere do we see more clearly the wisdom of Christ in his utterance of parables than when he “sat beside the sea; and there gathered together unto him many crowds, so that he entered a boat and sat down, and all the crowd stood upon the shore; and he spoke to them many things in parables” (Matthew 13:2-3). To this account, what Jesus spoke to the people in parables and mysteries, and the reason for his enigmatic method of instruction, we will now turn our attention, as the Spirit of God permits.

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May 12, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (21 – The Accusation of Partnership with Beelzebub)

And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. – Matthew 12:27-28

It is an immutable principle of justice that, the devastation attendant upon the folly of rejecting an offered gift or mercy must be in proportion to the freeness with which it is offered, and the greatness of its substance; and likewise, the guilt which inheres in slanderously accusing any man is in exact proportion to that man's greatness and righteousness. Let us lay this principle to heart – for if we have been offered the freest gift of mercy, a gift so vast that all the heavens raining down blessings for all eternity could never exhaust its riches, then woe, woe, woe to us if we should refuse it! The greatness of our folly would then be unequaled by all the dark and superstitious abominations wrought by all the heathen tribes of the world, throughout all of time – and the destruction which should come upon us in result of our immense folly would be too great and terrible to express. And ah, if we should be confronted with the person of Jesus, who alone possesses all the greatness of God wrapped up in all the meekness of a spotless Lamb – who has all the treasures of the boundless Godhead to give to us, and all the demeanor which should encourage us to come and take them up freely, however unworthy we may be – then what shall our fate be, if we have despised such a One? If he who at all offended that earthly king Ahasuerus found himself trembling in fear of his life (Esther 7:5-6), then how should we fear who have spit in the face of the King of kings? “If he who rejects the Law of Moses dies without mercy at the mouth of two or three witnesses, of how much worse punishment do you suppose he will be considered worthy, who has trampled upon the Son of God, and considered the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified unclean, and reviled the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:28-29)? In the account at hand, we see an unequaled gift of mercy offered by an incomparably great man – and we see the fearful result of despising so great a gift. Let us be careful that we are not among the ranks of those who blaspheme the Spirit of grace, or all the terrors of divine judgment will rain down upon our heads with immense and eternal fury!

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May 08, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (20 – His Forgiving of a Sinful Woman)

And having turned to the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, you gave me no water for my feet; but she has washed my feet with her tears, and with her hair has dried them. You gave me no kiss; but she has not ceased kissing my feet from the time I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil; but she has anointed my feet with myrrh. Therefore, I say unto you, her many sins are forgiven, because she loved much; but the one who has been forgiven little loves little. Luke 7:44-47

Among men, it is universally acknowledged that, in proportion as one has something valuable to offer another, he is likely to be well-received by him; and according to his ability to give more to any person than he must take from him, he is apt to be commended and praised. A rich man who lavishly bestows his goods upon his friends is well-thought of; but a beggar is despised, or at best, pitied with a condescending demeanor. But let us learn well, from this account, that it is not so with our Savior. All those who suppose that they are doing something valuable and praiseworthy for his sake, by means of their sacrificial and generous acts of religion, would do well to consider what the apostle Paul has said, that “God, who made the world and all the things which are in it, being himself Lord over heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made by hands, neither is worshiped by the hands of men, as if he were needing something, when he himself gives to all life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:24-25).

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May 04, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (19 – His Words of Judgment)

Nevertheless I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for you. – Matthew 11:24

During the course of our journey through the gospels, we have meditated much upon the meek and lamb-like qualities of Jesus, as he performed his mighty miracles of healing, forgiveness, and restoration. And it is fitting that we have done so, for he did not come to earth, at that time, to condemn it, but to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Truly has John declared to us, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). However, there is coming a day when the Son of Man will return again in great and terrible glory, with the flaming fire of fearful vengeance, to magnify the power of his wrath against all those who do not know God (II Thessalonians 1:6-10). At that time we will see the fullness of his Lion-like glory, poured out in righteous fury, joining together with the fullness of Lamb-like glory that he demonstrated before, when he stooped to the death of the cross – and woe to all those who have not called upon his name, when we see him thus a second time! In our next gospel account, we hear the slightest whisper of the coming winds of judgment, as our Savior sternly denounces those cities which have seen the gentle and incarnate God, and have despised him. Oh, let us tremble at this fearful presage, and flee for mercy to the only place where God's wrath will not then fall, for it has already fallen there and been assuaged – the bosom of Jesus our Savior. For if we be not found in him, we will drink from the same cup that has been promised to Chorazin and Bethsaida.

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April 28, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (18 – His Raising the Widow's Son)

And having approached, he touched the bier, and those bearing it stood still; and he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And the dead sat up and began to speak, and he gave him to his mother. – Luke 7:14-15

As manifold and diverse as are the wretched effects to which sin has given rise, they may all be brought under this one heading, death. So God spoke to man in the beginning, solemnly testifying that, in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would surely die (Genesis 2:17); and such in fact occurred, that first man and all after him being suddenly and irretrievably plunged into that spiritual death which consists of separation from fellowship with God, who is our life. And ah, how the effects of this death spread throughout the earth, engendering in men the death-thoughts and lusts which may never be found in God's presence, plunging the very world into chaos and confusion, covering the earth's fruitful soil with thorns and thistles, filling the instincts of all the brute beasts with rapine and cruel bloodshed, and finally bringing down the afflicted body of every death-cursed man in sorrow to the grave. And for all this, it is only the beginning, the first death – and oh how fearful will be the second death of eternal torment which awaits fallen man at the final judgment (Revelation 20:14)! Truly may it be said, that when we were in this miserable condition, we were, through fear of death, held in perpetual bondage under our cruel master, the Devil and Deceiver of mankind (Hebrews 2:14-15). Ah, wretched men! Who shall be found to deliver us from so great a calamity? But there is one who fully participated in our flesh and blood, in order that, by tasting death for us, he might destroy the one who possessed the power of death, and so reconcile us to God! To this mighty Conqueror of the grave, let us now turn our attention.

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April 26, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (17 – His Healing of the Centurion's Servant)

And when Jesus heard, he marveled, and said to those who were following, “Truly I say unto you, I have not found such faith from anyone in Israel”. – Matthew 8:10

In all of the scriptures, there is no more precious truth than this: “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all who call upon him; for 'Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved'” (Romans 10:12-13). And in all the gospels, there are few accounts which more poignantly display this truth than the account of the Gentile centurion, who called upon the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and found him rich indeed. How well-adapted this account is to strengthen the faith of all of us who, being alienated from the covenants of God, were grafted against nature into God's good tree (Ephesians 2:11-13; Romans 11:17-24)! Let us then look to this history with a mind to imitate this man's faith, so far as our Savior commended it; for in so doing, we will find the same Savior abounding in mercy to us, even as he did to the centurion in Galilee.

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April 18, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (16 – His Works on the Sabbath)

My Father works until now, and I also work. – John 5:17
For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. – Matthew 12:8

Of all the blessings that God has given to his people throughout the ages, one of the most precious is their Sabbath rest. How wearisome is the toil and labor through which we must pass on our journey through this sin-cursed world! How impossible that our sin-cursed bodies and souls should keep pressing on, apart from the necessary refreshment of regular rest and frequent meditation on the bounty of the Lord! But far greater even than this pleasant shadow-blessing, which God gave to the children of Israel, is the One from whose generous hand this and all other riches flow down to his people. Far greater than this imperfect reminder of the delightful rest which awaits us when the work has been perfectly accomplished, is the One who is, in himself, the fulfillment of the picture. And we see both of these precious realities in Christ Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, and our true Sabbath rest. As the Lord of the Sabbath, he is the One who perfectly accomplished the work of redemption, and so earned the right to dispense a rest which is the reward and culmination of a perfect work completed. And as the fulfillment of the picture, he himself is that reward, that rest, that joyful celebration of culminating victory which awaits those who finish their course.

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April 10, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

For whom did Jesus taste death? by John Piper

Hebrews 2:9 - But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

For Those He Came to Save
Yesterday I marched for Jesus along with thousands of others in the Twin Cities and with millions of others around the world. As I turned from Nicollet Mall onto Sixth Street we were singing the second stanza of "Crown Him With Many Crowns." I am probably the only one who was thinking at that moment of this morning's message. The title of the message this morning is, "For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death?" The second verse of "Crown Him with Many Crowns" goes like this:

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o'er the grave.
Who rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.

His glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high.
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

He triumphed over the grave and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save. "For those he came to save." These words seem to signal that the writer of this hymn believes that Christ had a design to really save a particular group of people by his death. He triumphed over the grave for those he came to save. It sounds like there are some he came to save, and that for these the grave is defeated and eternal life is given.

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April 06, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Question about Forgiveness/Arminianism

Received this important question this morning from a visitor:

Question: Hi, About 2-3 weeks ago my church taught from the pulpit through the Lord's Prayer and when it got to Forgive as you are willing to forgive others, the teaching was if you don't forgive someone and you die, you lose your salvation and go to Hell. I took issue with this teaching, and started researching, and I've been on your web site for all this time since looking for answers, but it's still unclear to me. I'm open to your views. I immediately asked the pastor questions and it's clear even though he didn't tell me the answers to my questions that he's Arminian in his thinking. He thinks all kinds of things that I dont' see. I believe in total depravity and he doesn't teach that. I'm considering leaving my church over this, and I want to make sure I understand before I decide to leave. It's not really something I want to do, but I feel that I need to go somewhere the doctrine is better. I just can't understand why someone can think God could save a person and then toss them to Hell. It makes no sense to me. I know I'm a sinner, I know Christ died for me. Isn't that enough?


Hi ____ Thank you for your email and for your willingness to in explain your current situation. The short answer to your question is no, God will not forgive us if we fail to forgive others, but if we are in Christ, He will forgive us for Jesus' sake. Yes, Christ is enough. This kind of preaching is a classic example of a failure to read a Text in relation to Jesus Christ. If we read a Text in isloation without relation to the whole, and without relation to Christ, we almost always end up with a disconnect to the whole purpose of the passage.

Your concern about your pastors' sermon is right on target because the work of Christ is indeed enough to save you completely. In searching the Scripture, it should become clear that any church that teaches that the sinner can either ATTAIN or MAINTAIN their own justification before God is not teaching the gospel. If someone says that we can lose our salvation, it is the same as teaching that what Jesus did for us on the cross was insufficient. That our sin is somehow greater than His grace. If we can lose our salvation then what Jesus did was not enough, which would mean that WE must pay part of the price of our own redemption. The Bible teaches, rather, that Jesus work is sufficient (Heb 1:3; 4:12-16; 10:11-12). Therefore, anyone who teaches that the crosswork of Christ is not enough to save you completely, and that we must add our own works or moral ability to Christ's merits (like your pastor) I am afraid, is teaching false doctrine. It is a low view of Christ and what He has done for us and a failure to read the Bible with Christ's own Hermeneutic (John 1:43-45, John 5:39, 40, John 20:31; Luke 24:25-27 & 44-46). No one can obey the Law perfectly, only Christ has done so, and He did for us what we were unable to do for ourselves. His blood "reminds" God not to treat us as our sins justly deserve every day. That is the whole point of the gospel ... that we are set free from the fear that our performance is what determines our destiny, Christ does. For if our merit was intermingled with Christ's work then our redmeption is incomplete and we will never know if what we have done is enough. We trust, rather, in Christ and His finished work, not ourselves and our ability to keep the law. He kept the law because we could not. The gospel teaches that we justly deserve the wrath of God save in Christ's mercy alone.

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April 06, 2007  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (15 – His Healing of a Paralytic)

Mark 2:9-11 Which is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your bed, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (he says to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto you, Arise, and take up your bed, and go your way into your house.

The next miracle that our Savior performed is especially notable in that it is coupled with the clearest expression of the ultimate purpose that Jesus had in his many merciful acts of healing. In other accounts, we may certainly suppose that Christ’s mighty works demonstrated his divine power and vindicated his claims to be the Messiah. But in this story alone do we find Christ saying so clearly that such a healing was so that, “You may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.” We will do well to learn from this saying. Christ’s authority over the effect necessitates that he also have authority over the cause. His power in the sign demonstrates his power in the thing signified. His ability to heal the dreadful disease of paralysis ought to have instructed all who saw him, that he was likewise able to heal that terrible ultimate source of paralysis and every other unhappy affliction of mankind: the sinful nature that Adam passed down to all of his descendants. And if it were so mighty and blessed a circumstance to be delivered from the effect, how blessed must it be to be delivered from the ultimate source?

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April 03, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (14 – His Cleansing of a Leper)

Mark 1:41-42 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and says unto him, I will; be clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

Oh, how manifold and wretched is the condition that has been brought upon us by our sin! Not only have we become guilty, by its rebellious exercise; but we have, moreover, become filthy and impure. We are guilty, and thus need forgiveness and clearing, a settling of the account. And we are defiled and unclean, and thus need cleansing and purification. We are guilty, and need justification; and we are impure, and need sanctification. Our sin-induced need is manifold; but in all of our various, desperate needs, we will find the solution in only one place – bowing at the feet of Jesus! Let us consider ourselves spiritual lepers, as we read this account of a leper in the flesh, and apply to Jesus for relief just as he also did. For if we do so, we will certainly meet with the same gracious response.

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March 29, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

When the Perfect Comes (part 2)

Acts 2:14-21

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

After submitting my short comments along with lengthy sermon notes by John Piper on the theme of "when the perfect comes" (see 3/23/07 entry below), I was prompted in the comment section to post the notes on John Piper's second sermon where he would develop his theme more fully. At first I was not able to locate Dr. Piper's second sermon notes but have been able to do so now. You'll find them below. - John Samson

"Last week I tried to show that 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 teaches that the gift of prophecy will pass away when Jesus comes back—the way a dim mirror image will give way to the living face. And I argued that therefore the gift of prophecy is still valid in the church today. I promised that today we would take up the questions: What is the gift of prophecy, and how is it to be exercised?

Let me begin by affirming the finality and sufficiency of Scripture, the sixty-six books of the Bible. Nothing I say about today's prophecies means that they have authority over our lives like Scripture does. Whatever prophecies are given today do not add to Scripture. They are tested by Scripture. Scripture is closed and final; It is a foundation, not a building in process.

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March 27, 2007  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (13– His Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law)

Mark 1:31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

Immediately after he had delivered the man with an unclean spirit, our Savior left the synagogue and journeyed to the house in which Peter and Andrew dwelt with Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29). From the circumstances of this visit, we may learn much of the tender compassion of Jesus, our Savior and Healer. First, we are struck with the unquestioning trust that he has already gained among those who know him best; for as soon as they found Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a high fever, they had no other reaction than to bring her case at once to Jesus, so confident were they that he had both the authority and the compassion to deliver her. How encouraging to us that we have grown to know and love the same compassionate Jesus! Well has the apostle exhorted us to take our sick and feeble loved ones in prayer to him who delights to heal and forgive (James 5:14-15). This the disciples did, and they were not turned away empty. This may we do as well, for Christ loves us even as he loved them. Each one of us, who truly belongs to him, may with confidence think of ourselves in trembling wonder as “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” so deep and personal and specific is his love for everyone whom the Father has given to him. Christ was merciful to Peter; he will be no less merciful to us.

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March 20, 2007  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

"The Long Winter of Our Discontentment"- Pastor Charles R. Biggs


Being content can be so very difficult in our consumeristic culture today. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, magazines, and catalogs reminding us of what we do not have. The main purpose of these catalogs and advertisements is to show us what we do not have and to spark a desire to obtain that which we do not have through our purchasing power. I am told that we are tempted by an average of 1,500 advertisements on a daily basis! How do we as Christians rest content and become satisfied in what God gives and provides for us when advertisers are working overtime to get our attention and make a sell?

As long as we think as Christians that happiness will come with one more product, or one more material wish fulfilled, we will never be truly happy, and more importantly we will not be content! Ultimately, we can only be content and happy by knowing our true identity in Christ Jesus and the incomparable great privileges that we already have and abundantly possess in Christ Jesus!

The Biblical reality is that we have all we need, but if we don't believe it, it will do us no good. The reality will be the same, but if we don't believe it, we will continue to buy, buy, buy, while remaining discontent, dissatisfied, and ultimately disconnected from the needs of others around us each and every day!

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March 07, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (12– His Healing of the Man with an Unclean Spirit)

Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

Before our Savior began his public ministry, during his probation in the wilderness, he utterly overcame the Devil, as we have before observed. It is no doubt at this time that he “beheld Satan fall as lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18); indeed, he then bound him as one binds a strong man, so that he might enter his house and despoil him (see Matthew 12:28-29). From that point, no demon ventured to assault our Lord directly, but always trembled before him, and sought his leniency in servile fear. However, all the hosts of Satan were still mightily attempting to oppose the work of Christ; not by directly attacking him, but by bringing into bondage the sons of men, whom he had come to redeem and deliver. Now, it is certainly clear that Christ had not triumphed over Satan for his own sake; for he had, from eternity past, been sovereignly in control of the Serpent’s actions, telling him what he may or may not do, and using even the Devil’s brazen wickedness, but always for his own good purposes (see Job 1-2). In that he defeated him in the wilderness, then, he defeated him with respect to the control he had usurped over fallen mankind. He had succeeded where Adam had failed; and thus he was free to take the effects of his own great success, and to apply them to those who, without him, were hopelessly in bondage to the “god of this world” (see II Corinthians 4:4). In our account in Mark, we see for the first of what would become innumerable instances, how he is willing to do just that.

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March 05, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (11 -- His Sermon on the Mount)

Matthew 5:1-3 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When God redeemed Israel from Egypt, he was accomplishing in shadow-form what he had determined to do in Christ, who redeems his people from their sin. Hence, just as God called Israel, his Son, from Egypt (Hosea 11:1), just as he baptized him unto Moses in the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:2), and just as he proved him forty years in the wilderness; so he called Christ, his true Son, from Egypt (Matthew 2:15), who was likewise baptized at the commencement of his public ministry as the Son of God, and who successfully passed forty days of testing in the wilderness – all in true fulfillment of Israel’s typical history. This character of Christ’s time on earth, as the substance to which redemptive history pointed, is most instructive when we consider the timing and the nature of his justly famous Sermon on the Mount. For if we consider the first giving of the law on Mount Sinai, which came through the hand of Moses, the typical mediator between God and his people; then we must be struck with the parallels between that and this second giving of the law on the mountain where sat Christ, the only true Mediator between God and man, and the only absolute and final Law-giver. To this sermon as the giving of the fulfilled Law, we must now turn our attention.

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February 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself

One of the most prevalent motifs that runs through the whole Bible is its constant reminder of the insufficiency of man. While this may seem all too obvious, we need constant reminding of this critical truth in our everyday lives. This goes for the non-Christian, because he has no hope apart from Christ's mercy, and for the Christian who has no hope, save in Christ and Christ alone. This is not only clear in those parts of the Scripture which are propositional but also are quite pervasive in the gospel narratives. If you look closely at many of the stories associated with Christ's earthly ministry, it becomes clear that deliverance occurred in individuals only when the they were so desperate that they came to an end of themselves and were reduced to begging, if you will. Grace works salvation in us, not as we are, but first humbles our pride revealing our natural brokenness, spiritual bankruptcy and impotence, which none of us naturally appear ready to admit. For our true condition before God is that we cannot even lift a finger toward our salvation and can bring nothing to God except that which He first gives us.

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February 06, 2007  |  Comments (12)   |  Permalink

Through the Bible in a year (with a difference)

I am sure many can testify that they STARTED a through the Bible in a year reading plan, only to leave the task unfinished somewhere along the way. What was meant to be something that brought them closer to God, actually became a means of guilt that the enemy used to increase the sense of distance between them and the God who has revealed Himself in His holy Word. Well if that sounds like you, hold on, help is on the way! Here are some very practical ideas and encouragement from Noel Piper (John Piper's wife) that may just be all you need to complete the task this time. (from the desiring God web site)...

A year ago I set out to read the whole Bible. That's nothing new; I've begun to read the whole Bible every other year for about 28 years-emphasis on "begun." But with all the best intentions, I was never able to finish my annual program of Scripture-reading-until this year. A few months ago, I closed my Bible with a feeling of immense satisfaction: I had finally read it through, all 66 books, all in a year.

This time I can truthfully say that I never dragged myself dutifully on to the next chapters. I loved it and it pulled me back day after day. What made this attempt different? I'm certain God's Spirit provided the inspiration, because I was the same stumbling Christian I have always been. But I did decide to take a more creative approach to my "walk through the Word."

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January 01, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Advent of Jesus Christ

Dear People of God,

One famous Christmas song gleefully declares: "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" That of course means different things to different people. For the Christian, this "most wonderful time of the year" should be a time of celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the fact that God truly dwelled in human flesh "with us". This time of year should also be lived in eager anticipation and joyful expectation as we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Our English word 'Advent' comes from a Latin word 'Adventus' that means "coming". Advent season has historically had a special place on the calendar because the purpose of this festive season is to remind the people of God of Christ's first advent or coming in a manger in Bethlehem who came to live and die for the sins of his people. The Advent season has historically been the time when we celebrate Christ's first coming.

Something that can be forgotten however is the fact that the Advent Season is not only about the glorious birth of our Savior, but it is also a season of celebration to remind the people of God of a second advent where the resurrected-ascended-glorified Christ will return to fully manifest his rule and dominion over heaven and earth, and to glorify his "Maranatha people"- -those who are eagerly awaiting his return, who cry out: "Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus in this present evil age!

Each day of the year, Christians should live as if it was Advent Season. Christians should day by day live expectantly awaiting Christ's Second Coming (parousia- Gk.), living in light of the gospel of the First Advent of Christ, and hoping each day for gospel of the Second Advent and full revelation of the New Heavens and the New Earth in Christ!

This can be perhaps the most wonderful time of the year because it can cause people to be pregnant with expectation and hope, but if we have the eschatological perspective of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 4 in our minds, we can experience this love, hope and joyful expectation each day of the year!

During this season I have been reflecting on 1 Peter 4:7-11 as an excellent Advent scripture text to keep in the forefront of our minds and imaginations as those united to Christ Jesus (and particularly in light of our recent Galatians series). This scripture has helped me to be reminded of the fact that every day can be like the Advent Season!

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December 16, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

"Semper Gnosticism!"

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10

Carson, Moo, and Morris, in their Introduction to the New Testament, propose that the Apostle John was combating a kind of proto-Gnosticism in his first epistle. Proto, because it was before full-fledged cultic Gnosticism came of age. But it had the characteristics of Gnosticism from the beginning—some sort of deep, special, insider knowledge that advanced beyond "simple Christianity." This "knowledge" denied the reality of sin and the need for reconciliation to God. It said, "we're saved by what we know about the secrets of the universe," which happened to fly in the face of biblical revelation.

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December 09, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (10 - His Rejection as Messiah)

Luke 4:21-22 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?

From the circumstances of the last event in the life of our Savior, his healing of the nobleman’s son, we recognized that Christ’s own people were ready to receive him as a miracle-worker whose ministry held forth many substantial benefits to the seed of Israel; but they stumbled at his person, refusing to acknowledge him as the true Son of God, who contained within himself every spiritual blessing, and through whom was the only hope of acceptance with God. In the account at hand, we find this disposition strengthened, to such a point that his claim to be the long-awaited Messiah aroused in his hearers a murderous rage and unyielding rejection. To this event, what precisely Christ was claiming for himself, his forecast of the effects that his claim would have upon Israel, and the reaction that in reality transpired, we now turn our attention.

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December 06, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Brief Meditation on the Christ-Centeredness of Everything

Christ is not only the hero and central figure of the sacred scriptures, both Old and New Testaments: he is also the very sum and substance of all history and reality. Which is an assertion that demands a little more clarification and substantiation, as follows:

1. Christ is the sum and substance of all history

History is neither a random process of chance occurrences (as the modern secularist would hold), nor a series of Divine responses to exigencies created by man’s free will (as the Arminian believes). On the contrary, it was planned out exactly and minutely before time began. God is a God who ever “works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11); moreover, he is a God unto whom were already “known all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). Which is just to say that, from the beginning of the world, God knew his every work, and had laid out his minutely designed plan; and then he sovereignly and unerringly worked it all out to perfection.

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December 02, 2006  |  Comments (10)   |  Permalink

Be Eager to Remember the Poor

He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD. - Jeremiah 22:16
Deuteronomy 15:7-8 7"If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be...10You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'

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November 13, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (9 - His Healing of the Nobleman's Son)

John 4:49-50 The nobleman says unto him, Sir, come down before my child die. Jesus says unto him, Go your way; your son lives. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

We have already observed, in the account of his discourse with the Samaritan woman, that Christ possesses in himself the living waters from which all true life springs and is sustained. This is true both with respect to his physical creation and with respect to his spiritual creation. All things were created by the almighty power of Christ (John 1:1-3); and to this day, they continue to subsist only in him (Colossians 1:16-17). Likewise, all who are his were given life by the power of his word (I Peter 1:23); and it is only in him that they continue to live day by day (Galatians 2:20). This is indeed a remarkable and comforting truth, and ought to be sufficient to constrain us to seek life in him as long as we remain on this earth. All life flows continually from the Creator and Sustainer of all things; and so, when Christ is ours, life, true and abundant life, is ours as well.

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November 10, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 8 by C. R. Biggs


In chapter 3 of Galatians, we approach Paul’s teaching of Law and Gospel and their biblical relationship one to the other.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of law and grace: “It is only when one submits to the law that one can speak of grace…I don’t think it is Christian to want to get to the New Testament too soon and too directly.” Letters and Papers from Prison, pg. 50.

One theologian remarked: “Satan would have us to prove ourselves holy by the law, which God gave to prove us sinners.” (Andrew Jukes, quoted in Stott’s Commentary on Galatians, pg. 90).

Summary statement of our study today in Galatians 3: “If you are Christ’s (that is, if you belong to Christ by faith and are in union with him), then you are indeed Abraham’s offspring (seed) too! Therefore, you are heirs according to the promises made to Abraham through Christ Jesus whether you are Jew or Gentile, Slave or Free, Male or Female!

By this time in our Galatians study, I hope you can more passionately sing the great hymn ‘Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing’:

“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be,

Let that grace now, like a fetter, bind my wand’ring heart to thee.

Prone to wander- -Lord, I feel it- -prone to leave the God I love:

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

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November 08, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 7 by C. R. Biggs


“Christ will do all for you, or nothing for you.”

–J. Gresham Machen (Gal. 2:21)

In our last study we celebrated the 489th anniversary of the Reformation by considering exegetically and biblically the Apostle Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith alone in Galatians chapter 2.

Today’s study is the second part of a study on justification by faith alone, and why it is vitally and eternally important for us to understand this important doctrine, just because this is the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:5, 14). As a reminder, twice in Galatians, the Apostle Paul calls the doctrine of justification by faith alone “the truth of the gospel”:

ESV Galatians 2:5 …[To the false brothers] we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

ESV Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel…

Throughout Church history there has been a tendency to recover by God’s grace a focus on Christ alone and his righteousness received by faith alone, only to find that within a few years we lose our focus, and the same old problem of false teaching and error with regard to the gospel arises again from within Christ’s Church to turn our attention from Christ and what he has done, to turn to a righteousness found in Christ and man’s cooperation.

Remember as we learned in our first study on Galatians 1, the Galatian Churches were “quickly” turning from the truth of the gospel which was “grace alone in Christ alone” to “another gospel” which was “grace plus Christ,” that was no gospel at all.

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November 02, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Warning Against False Teachers

"But we labour, both by preaching and writing unto you, to uncharm that sorcery wherewith ye are bewitched, and to set at liberty those who were ensnared therewith." - Martin Luther

"...remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions." (1 Timothy 1: 3-7)

I found this passage particularly helpful in its assertion that the goal of Paul's instruction to charge persons not to teach false doctrines is love. His charge to expose unaided speculation and error in the church is done with the motive of love. While we must always teach with gentleness and respect, yet this passage affirms that the purpose of exposing bad doctrine is loving, in fact, the most loving thing a person can do for you. Telling a person that he is a slave to sin and needs the grace of Jesus Christ may indeed hurt, but it hurts like the surgeons knife which cuts out the cancer (for the patient's ultimate good). Many times we worry about speaking up when we hear bad doctrine being taught or spoken of, perhaps because we feel it could cost the friendship. And oftentimes even when we are careful to be patient and respectful of our brothers and sisters in Christ, it always carries the risk of a rift. But truth divides from error and Paul explains that the goal of this is love.

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November 01, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

"Reformed Righteousness"- by Rev. C. R. Biggs

489th Reformation Day Celebration

"Get over it!" "The Reformation is an historical event that took place years ago; it is irrelevant to me and to modern people." "Just give me Jesus and I will be happy. What good could come from visiting the teaching of the Reformation in today's church?"

These are some of the initial comments one is likely to get from other well-meaning Christians unfamiliar, uninformed, or disinterested in the Reformation of the 16th century. Yet, what God did in His goodness during the Reformation was nothing less than the reestablishment of the gospel, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, that had been eclipsed by the supposed good works of men.

The Reformation was a time when God allowed light to shine in the darkness of the failed attempts of feeble and sinful men trying to earn righteousness from good works, and only ending in despair before a holy God. In the Reformation, God allowed his grace to come again into glorious sight, so that one could truly know how to be made right or at peace with the living God.

How IS a sinful person to be made right before a holy God?

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October 27, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

The Gospel in Ecclesiastes

The book of Ecclesiastes has always been vexing to evangelical scholars because of its overt and pervasive negativism. Its canonicity has, in fact, been called into question by reason of perceived heterodoxies, as, for instance, a supposed denial of the resurrection in 3:19-20. Furthermore, even among those expositors who accept the book’s canonicity, most are loath to embark upon a discussion of its theology without first mentioning some such disclaimer as that, having been written from the perspective of one who lived foolishly and had cause to regret the outcome, its purpose is not to give a positive Christian philosophy of life, but rather to show the sad end of an unchristian worldview. Hence, its teachings should not be applied as prescriptive for believers, but rather as prohibitive and cautionary. Similarly, some have suggested that its doctrine is appropriate for an Old Testament level of revelation, but that, were one to write in the same manner today, he would be sinning against the light of greater revelation. Which does at least have an element of truth, but essentially denies the exact agreement of Old and New Testament doctrine, which differs the one from the other only in degree of precision.

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October 25, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

"To The Praise of His Glorious Grace!": A Brief Study on Predestination from Ephesians 1:3-14 by C. R. Biggs

Question: Why are we ultimately saved?

To escape the torments of hell?

To be like Christ?

To be with God eternally and to be His people!

All of these are correct answers! However, Ephesians 1:1-14 fixes the focus of our salvation ultimately on the God who saves us!

The ultimate reason for our salvation is God's Glory!

In our study of Ephesians, and particularly the biblical doctrine of our salvation in Christ, let us always have the correct God-centered perspective as we begin.

If we begin with merely focusing on ourselves, our understanding of our salvation might be blurred and become out of focus for us. In fact, we might completely misunderstand the reason for which we are saved as his people.
We might be tempted to think that the gospel is somehow something we do for God rather than something he graciously does for those who cannot do!

Ephesians 1 teaches the predestination and electing love of Our Sovereign God in our salvation. Our Sovereign God desires to glorify Himself in redeeming a people for himself. God desires to redeem a people who cannot earn, merit, desire or will their salvation, but those who will trust in Christ alone for help (John 1:9-11).

In this study on Ephesians 1:1-14 we will focus on this aspect of God's work in our lives, what it means to us today, and we will glimpse the reality of our Sovereign and Trinitarian God in the salvation of our souls for His glory!

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October 24, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

"I'm Not Like THEM!"

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” Luke 7:36-40a, ESV

"I know of them, but I don't associate with their kind." I don't know if you've said these words, but I know I have (and do). In fact, whether you've said similar words or not, you have probably at least thought or felt this way about someone. The instinct is to retract from the person, like he's dirty or poisonous (even if he's not in the room). You don't want other people to think you're like her, because that would be like getting grease on your sport car finish, it would mess up your shine. If you're a Christian, you would die if others thought he was also a Christian, and you'd have to let them know that you're a different kind of Christian. You're a born-again Christian, a real Christian, and this other fellow can't possibly be (just look at how he dresses!).

It's really too bad that this attitude emanates directly from the core of Pharisaism, because I quite like feeling this way!

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October 21, 2006  |  Comments (25)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (8 - His Discourse with the Woman at the Well)

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

We may only begin to glimpse the surpassing greatness of our Savior when we recognize that every good and satisfying gift bestowed upon us by the Father of Lights (James 1:17) is but a taste and foreshadow of the all-good and all-satisfying gift of Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus came to make all things new, to fulfill every type and promise of the good things stored up for us by the bountiful provision of our heavenly Father, to replace the old shadows with the true Substance of blessing – himself alone, our God come down to take on human flesh and dwell among his people. Christ came to lavish upon us the true wine of wedded bliss. He came to be lifted up as the serpent in the wilderness, thereby providing true absolution from sin and guilt. And in his discourse with the Samaritan woman, we recognize that he came to provide yet more necessary and thirst-quenching blessings for this hopeless world of sinners; he came to pour out upon us in abundant measure the true water which springs up to everlasting life.

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October 19, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 6: Justification by Faith Alone by C. R. Biggs



This month is the 489th anniversary of the Reformation of the Sixteenth century. Has the Church today forgotten the truth of justification by faith alone that God in his grace allowed his people to fully recover and boldly preach in the Reformation? Do Christians today even know what the biblical importance of the Reformation was all about? Do Christians today care?

Beating a Doctrine into Our Heads?
In the next two studies, we want to consider the important doctrine of Justification by faith alone. In part one, we will consider Paul’s doctrine in the context of Galatians 2, and then we will look at the doctrine from more of a theological point of view derived from Scripture, exegesis, and the Church’s historical and faithful reflection on this important doctrine in part two.

Justification by faith alone in Christ alone is the gospel;
it IS the “good news”!

Martin Luther wrote this about justification by faith alone in his Commentary on Galatians: “[Justification] is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into our heads continually.”- pg. 101 (Quoted in Stott).

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October 17, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (7 - His Discourse with Nicodemus)

John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

When Nicodemus sought out Jesus by night, he found him to be more than just a worker of miraculous signs, as he appeared to all the people. He was indeed a worker of signs; but also much more than that, as Nicodemus was about to see. If he were merely what the people thought him to be, he would not have been in any sense unique. He was, by open confession, a worker of miraculous signs – but what of it? The history of Israel is replete with sign-workers: many were the prophets of old who had confirmed their message by miraculous acts which signified the truths they were teaching. But here is the difference: in each case, the signs they performed pointed to something outside themselves, to some other means of grace by which God would redeem the nation, to some other person who would accomplish so great a salvation. Jesus' miracle-working was unique in that all of his signs, not to mention all the miraculous signs given by the prophets before him, pointed to himself alone. Jesus was not just the greatest worker of signs: he was in himself the true essence of the blessed promises those miracles conveyed. He was not just the great Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15); he was also the great Fulfillment of all the prophecies (John 5:39-40). He possessed in himself every gift to which the miraculous signs testified in symbol only; and, although the outward sign was given to all, those bountiful gifts themselves were reserved strictly for those whom the Spirit should choose to regenerate. This precious glimpse of Christ as the true substance of every miraculous sign, for all those who should be born of the Spirit, is the image granted to Nicodemus, who saw his glory so many years ago. God grant that we may encounter the same image as we look at the account today!

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October 10, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Whole Gospel to the Whole of Our Lives

The Whole Gospel to the Whole of our Lives- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones was one of the most faithful and greatest preachers of the 20th century. Here is a quotation from his sermon on Romans 6. He is speaking concerning the failure to understand the fullness of the gospel to our lives.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones: "People are often unhappy in the Christian life because they have thought of Christianity, and the whole message of the gospel, in inadequate terms. Some think that it is merely a message of forgiveness. You ask them to tell you what Christianity is and they will reply: 'If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven', and they stop at that. That is all. They are unhappy about certain things in their past and they hear God in Christ will forgive them. They take their forgiveness and there they stop- - that is all their Christianity.

There are others who conceive of it as morality only. Their view of themselves is that they do not need forgiveness, but they desire an exalted way of life. They want to do good in this world, and Christianity to them is an ethical, moral program. Such people are bound to be unhappy.

....The gospel is not something partial or piecemeal: it takes in the whole life, the whole of history, the whole world. It tells us about the creation and the final judgment and everything in between. It is a complete, whole view of life, and many are unhappy in the Christian life because they have never realized that this way of life caters for the whole of man's life and covers every eventuality in his experience. There is no aspect of life but that the gospel has something to say about it. The whole of life must come under its influence because it is all-inclusive; the gospel is meant to control and govern everything in our lives...

...We must realize the greatness of the gospel, its vast eternal span. We must dwell more on the riches, and in the riches, of these great doctrinal absolutes. We must not always stay in the gospel. We must start there but we must go on; and then as we see it all worked out and put into its great context we shall realize what a mighty thing the gospel is, and how the whole of our life is meant to be governed by it."

October 08, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 4 by C. R. Biggs


Are you enslaved to your sins, seeking ease and comfort, and life without problems? Are you seeking to be honored, and respected for your position, or your accomplishments? Do you want others to like you too much? Are you kidding yourself into thinking that you’re more righteous than you really are before God and man? If you said “Yes” even to one of these questions, you are living as a slave instead of child of the living God.

Don’t kid yourself- -ask yourself honestly before God:

“Am I living my life as a slave to sin and flesh?”
“Am I living my life as one who must constantly strive to be well liked and appreciated by others?”
“Am I living my life so that God might accept me as his own child?”
In other words, are you living to attain a right standing before God and man that is in addition to the right standing one has in Christ alone by faith?

The Apostle Paul writes the Gospel According to the Galatians because he wants Christians to find their ultimate right standing before God and man in Christ alone. In Christ, we are to live as sons, children who are greatly loved by our God and Father! Yet, we so easily exchange the sweet and glorious gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, for “another gospel” that is Christ plus something we add. When we add these things to the gospel of Jesus Christ, even if in reality we be truly sons of God in Christ, we end up living as slaves before God and man.

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October 04, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 3: "Man-Pleasers or God-Pleasers?" by C. R. Biggs

We all want to be liked- -especially servants of Jesus Christ are tempted in this way! Yet we must be faithful to Christ as servants of him who called us!

Whether we are liked or not, we must be faithful! It is not how much we are liked, as much as it is how much we are faithful. At the Judgment Seat of Christ on the Last Day, Christ will not ask his minister-ambassadors how much we were liked; he will ask if we were faithful!

In Galatians 1:6-10 the Apostle Paul is criticized for being a "man-pleaser" because he was telling the Churches of Galatia that the gospel was by faith alone in Jesus 'plus nothing else'! The Judaizers criticized Paul for making the gospel too easy- -but he was telling the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ!

How do we determine whether the "messenger of Christ' is faithful these days?

We determine a true minister-ambassador-messenger of Jesus only by how faithfully he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not the other way around! If a messenger of Christ is truly called and commissioned by Christ, he will tell the truth of the gospel, regardless of what any man says, or whatever persecution or criticism he may receive, just because he is a servant, or bond-slave of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10). This means that the minister-ambassador-messenger's total allegiance is to Jesus Christ and making his gospel known as an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10-21). Let us read Galatians 1:6-10:

ESV Galatians 1:6-10: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Because God’s grace in Christ is so good, wonderful, sweet –and “amazing” as the hymn by John Newton teaches (“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”), the Apostle Paul was amazed, astounded, perplexed by the fact that the Galatian Christians had so quickly deserted the God who had called them in the grace of Jesus (Gal. 1:6-7). Paul says later that the false gospel that they had heard from the Judaizers had mesmerized or bewitched them (Gal. 3:1ff), and that they were falling away from grace (Gal. 5:4) because they were believing in Christ’s work for them, plus their own works of the law added to it!

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September 30, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (6 – His Turning Water to Wine)

John 2:7-11 Jesus says unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he says unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And says unto him, Every man at the beginning sets forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

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September 15, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

NEWS FLASH: God Glorified by Evil Spirit's Victory!

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus, whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Acts 19:11-17

The main point of this little story is probably that one must have a direct relationship with Jesus Christ in order to enjoy the benefits won by the power of his name. In fact, Luke is saying this in a rather scary way—if you claim said benefits without actually having said relationship, you could be in serious trouble.

But what's this about Jesus receiving praise after the success of the demon in resisting exorcism? That seems a bit odd....

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September 06, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (5 – His Temptation in the Wilderness)

Luke 4:1-2 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness forty days, being tempted by the Devil.

When God created our first father, Adam, he placed him at once in the heart of paradise, to enjoy a sweet and pleasant fellowship with his Creator. This fellowship was freely offered for as long as Adam was still innocent; but his innocence had not yet been confirmed, and so God designed a test of obedience to see whether Adam would continue in his state of holy blessedness, or reject the Lord's commandment and bring upon himself misery and banishment from paradise. During this time of probation, God allowed Satan to enter into paradise for the purpose of tempting the man. In this first great struggle between man and Satan, man was utterly defeated and driven out from the presence of the Lord. Adam had failed to abide by the terms of his first covenant with God, and so plunged himself and his entire race into death and corruption. At this time, all might have been lost; but in his mercy, God instead established a new and gracious covenant with our father Adam, promising that he would send a Seed of the woman who would again enter into conflict with Satan. This promised Seed would be triumphant, and would crush the old Tempter, bruising his own heel in the conflict. Thousands of years passed, and all God's people hopefully awaited this coming Messiah who would again take up the struggle with Satan, and who would this time utterly conquer him by rendering a perfect obedience to the word of the Father in the face of his fiercest temptations. When the Spirit led our Savior into the desert, the time had finally arrived for the mighty conflict to be taken up again between the Seed of the woman and the Tempter of mankind. But this time, the outcome would be much different.

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August 29, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The word "all" is defined by its context - always!

Back on February 1st, 2006, I posted an article here describing the use of the word "all" in scripture. The title of the article was "All Always Means All, right?" I've just visited the blog of my friend, Dr. James White at, and in an article there he lists a number of uses of the word "all" that clearly demonstrate that it is context that determines the meaning of the word. "All," quite simply, doesn't always mean "all." Here are the examples he quoted:

Acts 5:34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.

Are we to interpret this as meaning that nobody disrespected Gamaliel...not even one? I don't think so. This is an obvious use of hyperbole.

Acts 7:22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

Does this mean that Moses knew everything the Egyptians knew, completely?... Would that be a true and correct interpretation of these words?

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August 23, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (4 – His Baptism)

Matthew 3:16,17 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Our need as the children and heirs of Adam is desperate. If we would find again the sweet fellowship that we enjoyed with our Creator in the garden, we must not only be free from all guilt; but more than that, we must possess a positive righteousness. How desperate a case this is, when even our best righteousnesses “are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), and not only contribute nothing to our being acceptable with God, but actually distance us further from him! But ah, how sweet is the comforting truth that our Savior made it his task to fulfill all righteousness for us, and thus to be uniquely fitted with everything we need to come into renewed fellowship with God. This is the lesson we must learn from the account of our Savior’s baptism.

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August 15, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Nature's Supreme Commander

(There's plenty more to be gleaned from this passage than I do, but an interesting thought here or there seems worthwhile.)

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

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August 12, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

A Lasting Faith for the Last Days by C. R. Biggs- Part 4

A Lasting Faith for the Last Days:
Practical Meditations on Eschatology for the People of God- Part 4




Jesus taught his people that as disciples we must learn to put our hands to the plow and not look back (Luke 9:62), but to keep looking forward in our daily walk. What is implicit in this teaching is that when difficult times come into our lives, it will be easy to look back and reconsider our commitment to our Savior. Sometimes, the worries of this life “choke” the growth as in the parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:1-23).

Yet throughout Scripture, we are reminded of the importance of ever looking forward as pilgrims, persevering by his grace, no matter how tough times get! Notice how the Luke records Jesus’ words to his disciples.

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August 12, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Brief Re-Telling of the Book of Revelation

II Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

It is a singular circumstance that the man who walked the isle of Patmos in the Spirit of the Lord, that epoch-defining Lord’s Day, was not a broken man. Well, he was in fact broken and humble – just not in the sense that one may have expected. He was broken before Christ, his only Master; but the threats and persecution, even the strenuous exile that had been brought upon him by the fearful sway of the Roman Emperor, had left him as serenely confident in the ultimate victory of Christ, and of those who were in Christ, as if all the might of Rome had no power to touch him, or to cause him any harm. He was, perhaps, broken in body; and yet he remained untouched in spirit. He was confident that he was an overcomer, in the final analysis; and this unreasonable confidence, in place of the brokenness and servile fear that must have been expected, could not have been other than a source of amazement to all who knew him.

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August 10, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Objection and Reply to "Images of the Savior"

I recently came across an objection to my series on the “Images of the Savior”, because they evinced, in the objector’s opinion, a Christology which was not sufficiently high. The seriousness of this charge induced me to write a reply in which I defend my original statements. The further consideration that, if this objector reads a low view of Christology into my articles, then others may be inclined to as well, led me to post this reply, lest my work should in any way fall out to the propagation of an unorthodox Christology. The following is, therefore, a reproduction of the objector’s critique, and my subsequent response.

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August 08, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

A Lasting Faith for the Last Days by Rev. C. R. Biggs- Part 3

A Lasting Faith for the Last Days:
Practical Meditations on Eschatology for the People of God- Part 3



As we have been studying, the question that should be asked by Christians today is not whether we are living in the Last Days (we are! according to Acts 2:16ff), but rather, “Knowing we are living in the Last Days, how should we then live?” As we have learned, the study of eschatology in scripture is not primarily about 'when Jesus will return', in fact that is exactly what Jesus does not want to teach us (cf. Matt. 24). Rather, eschatology (or, literally "the study of last things") in Scripture is about what Jesus did when he came the first time in inaugurating his Kingdom here on earth.

Further, eschatology in Scripture is about the grace that was revealed in Jesus' preaching of the Kingdom and the Kingdom manifesting itself here on earth; eschatology is also about the grace, as well as judgment that will be revealed when his Kingdom is fully realized when he returns!

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August 06, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Lasting Faith for the Last Days by Rev. C. R. Biggs- Part 3

A Lasting Faith for the Last Days:
Practical Meditations on Eschatology for the People of God- Part 3



As we have been studying, the question that should be asked by Christians today is not whether we are living in the Last Days (we are! according to Acts 2:16ff), but rather, “Knowing we are living in the Last Days, how should we then live?” As we have learned, the study of eschatology in scripture is not primarily about 'when Jesus will return', in fact that is exactly what Jesus does not want to teach us (cf. Matt. 24). Rather, eschatology (or, literally "the study of last things") in Scripture is about what Jesus did when he came the first time in inaugurating his Kingdom here on earth.

Further, eschatology in Scripture is about the grace that was revealed in Jesus' preaching of the Kingdom and the Kingdom manifesting itself here on earth; eschatology is also about the grace, as well as judgment that will be revealed when his Kingdom is fully realized when he returns!

Continue reading "A Lasting Faith for the Last Days by Rev. C. R. Biggs- Part 3" »

August 06, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Lasting Faith for the Last Days by Rev. C. R. Biggs


As a pastor I often get the intriguing question from those within as well as outside the church: “Are we living in the last days?” I emphatically answer “yes!” but then I wonder to myself what kind of understanding the term “last days” or "end times" has with the person who just asked the question!

The New Testament Scriptures we are about to consider also say emphatically “Yes! We are living in the last days” and for that we can rejoice as the people of God. But what exactly does the term “last days” mean in the scriptures, and how should we as Christians live knowing we do live in the last days?

Let us begin with Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Notice in the following Scriptures we are going to study how the term “last days” is considered as the historical context in which Jesus’ Person and Work takes on a heightened, special, climatic saving significance for his people. According to Scripture, the last days is the time period in which all of the Old Testament promises and expectations find their fulfillment in the fullness of the times in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

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August 02, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (3 – His First Attendance at the Passover)

Luke 2:46-47 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

We are an ignorant and foolish race, always groping for that which is eternally satisfying, and never able to come to the knowledge of what is truly good and pleasing. This blindness is the effect of our sinfulness: well may we be brought under the indictment of those who “[have] the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18). This blindness is also a terrible judgment upon our sinfulness, and a cause of increased sinfulness, as the apostle describes for us the terrible condition of our race, viz, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever” (Romans 1:22-25). In this way, evil begets evil, and all mankind, blinded to the Glory that alone can satisfy, rushes impetuously after that which can only end in eternal misery and destruction.

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August 02, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Thematic Analysis of Philippians

Of all of Paul’s letters to the various churches of his day, there is perhaps none that is more intimately personal, while touching upon a greater variety of practical concerns, than his letter to the Philippians. For these reasons there is probably not a more comforting, and at the same time a more practically helpful, book to study. However, there are also few, if any, of Paul’s epistles that have a less obvious and systematically-laid out organization and theme than Philippians – which can make a thematic study, which explores the development and inter-relationship of the different emphasized principles, quite difficult. Most of Paul’s writings begin with fundamental truths and move to derived principles which have a direct causal relationship with the initial truths – and hence the whole work arises from bottom to top like a meticulously planned building, brick by brick. Philippians, on the other hand, is a composite collection of autobiography, exhortation, encouragement, general news and information, and so on. It does not move definitively from doctrine to practice, as so many of his other letters. It is more occasional, and develops themes somewhat more randomly, as specific occasions give rise to doctrinal and practical observations.

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July 28, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

A Thematic Analysis of Philippians

Of all of Paul’s letters to the various churches of his day, there is perhaps none that is more intimately personal, while touching upon a greater variety of practical concerns, than his letter to the Philippians. For these reasons there is probably not a more comforting, and at the same time a more practically helpful, book to study. However, there are also few, if any, of Paul’s epistles that have a less obvious and systematically-laid out organization and theme than Philippians – which can make a thematic study, which explores the development and inter-relationship of the different emphasized principles, quite difficult. Most of Paul’s writings begin with fundamental truths and move to derived principles which have a direct causal relationship with the initial truths – and hence the whole work arises from bottom to top like a meticulously planned building, brick by brick. Philippians, on the other hand, is a composite collection of autobiography, exhortation, encouragement, general news and information, and so on. It does not move definitively from doctrine to practice, as so many of his other letters. It is more occasional, and develops themes somewhat more randomly, as specific occasions give rise to doctrinal and practical observations.

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July 28, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (2 – His Presentation in the Temple)

Luke 2:28-31 Then he took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace, according to your word: For mine eyes have seen your salvation, Which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.

The next glimpse we have of our Savior in the gospel accounts is that of his formal presentation in the temple, forty days after his birth, in accordance with the law of Moses. On this occasion, a dear and faithful servant of the Lord, Simeon the priest, takes up Jesus in his arms and pours out a sincere and fervent blessing for having finally seen the Savior. In this sacred history we may learn, among other notable things, that Christ Jesus our Savior is the central Person of all history. Let us look first at the occasion for this prophecy of Simeon, and second at how central must be the One of whom it is made.

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July 19, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (2 – His Presentation in the Temple)

Luke 2:28-31 Then he took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace, according to your word: For mine eyes have seen your salvation, Which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.

The next glimpse we have of our Savior in the gospel accounts is that of his formal presentation in the temple, forty days after his birth, in accordance with the law of Moses. On this occasion, a dear and faithful servant of the Lord, Simeon the priest, takes up Jesus in his arms and pours out a sincere and fervent blessing for having finally seen the Savior. In this sacred history we may learn, among other notable things, that Christ Jesus our Savior is the central Person of all history. Let us look first at the occasion for this prophecy of Simeon, and second at how central must be the One of whom it is made.

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July 19, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Is Faith the Gift of God? What Does Jesus Say?

This question has always been a controversial one, yet this is puzzling considering how plainly the answer to this question is granted to us in the Holy Scriptures. Some modern Evangelicals seem to think that faith is something that arises out of the fallen natures of some persons but not others ... and that this difference in response is not due to grace (for all had grace), but rather, some inherent difference in the persons themselves. But Jesus puts this kind of speculation to rest:

Jesus declares "no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65) In the same passage Jesus declares: " all that the Father gives to Me will come to Me." (John 6:37) In both verses the phrase "come to Me" simply means "believe in Me" and so taken together Jesus is stating that no one can believe in Him unless God grants it, and all to whom God grants it will believe". According to this passage, then, God grants faith, a faith that will infallibly arise in the heart of those He has given His Son...

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July 19, 2006  |  Comments (38)   |  Permalink

"The Long Winter of Our Discontent"- Rev. Charles R. Biggs

As American Christians we tend to seek out happiness and healthiness as the main goals in our lives just as much as anyone else. There is nothing wrong with having creaturely comforts, or of being happy and healthy, but we want to learn to be satisfied and truly happy in what God provides for us. God provides for different people in a variety of ways. As Philippians 4 teaches, we want to learn by his grace to rest content in what God provides for us, and to be thankful.

Being content can be so very difficult in our consumeristic culture today. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, magazines, and catalogs reminding us of what we do not have. The main purpose of these catalogs and advertisements is to show us what we do not have and to spark a desire to obtain that which we do not have. I am told that we are tempted by an average of 3,000 advertisements on a daily basis! How do we as Christians rest content and become satisfied in what God gives and provides for us when advertisers are working overtime to get our attention and make a sell?

As long as we think as Christians that happiness will come with one more product, or one more material wish fulfilled, we will never be truly happy. We can only be content and happy by knowing who we are in Christ Jesus and the incomparable great privileges that we already have and abundantly possess in Christ Jesus! The reality is that we have all we need, but if we don't believe it, it will do us no good. The reality will be the same, but if we don't believe it, we will continue to buy, buy, buy, while remaining discontent, dissatisfied, and ultimately disconnected from the needs of others around us each and every day!

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July 18, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Conversation that Never Was

The following is an encounter between Jesus and Paul when Paul was converted on the Damascus Road. Acts 26:9-18 are the actual historic words of Christ and Paul that were recorded for us. But then, in order to make a point, we take some liberties and create a hypothetic conversation that goes in a most unlikely direction, for your amusement and edification:

Acts 26:9-18

"I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

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July 17, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (1 – His Birth)

Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Men have always been in search of El Dorado. As long as men have walked the face of the earth, there have been whispered stories of fabulous treasures, cities of gold, fool-proof schemes to win big in the stock market. Men will always dream of finding great riches. They will always be looking for that next golden opportunity, that next El Dorado. There are only two problems with this: most of these fabled treasures don't exist; and if they did exist, they wouldn't satisfy. A man can starve to death on a pile of gold or on a pile of sand. A millionaire can be as empty as a beggar on the street. Gold doesn't satisfy the innate hunger for riches that we all have. We were designed for something greater. We were designed to be satisfied with nothing less than the treasure of knowing God.

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July 06, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Pt. 4 by Rev. C. R. Biggs


Jesus is the Speaking King who speaks through His Holy, Inerrant and Infallible Word so that His people might grow in the grace and knowledge of the LORD. Today's study is from Revelation 1:9-18, entitled Jesus the Speaking King. This will be a two-part study of how Christ speaks to His people.

You will remember that in the Old Testament God fed His people with manna and water so that they would be filled and their thirst would be quenched. The purpose of this provision was so that His people would be sustained, strengthened and fit to finish their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Jesus is the Manna and the Water who feeds us and quenches our thirst through His Word.

The Book of Revelation reveals Jesus Christ as the Speaking King who reminds us that if we are to live a holy life before the face of God we need to know that it must be by every word that proceeds from His mouth. If we are to grow in Christ-likeness, it will not be by might, nor by power, but by God's Spirit and Word working in and through us! Today, the Speaking King gives to His people His Word so that we might be sustained, strengthened and fit to finish our pilgrimage to the New Heavens and the New Earth.

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June 15, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Understanding John 3:16 by Pastor John Samson

The most famous verse in the entire Bible is John 3:16. Here Jesus says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

When hearing the biblical teaching on the subject of Divine election, some seek immediate refuge in a traditional and may I say, unbiblical understanding of this verse. They say this: "God can't elect certain ones to salvation because John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that gave His Son so that WHOEVER believes in Christ would have eternal life. Therefore, God has done His part in offering the gift of salvation in His Son and just leaves it up to us to receive the gift through faith. Amen. Case closed!" (emphasis theirs)

Or so it might seem... Though this is a very common tradition, and one I held to myself for many a year, it needs to be pointed out that in spite of the emphasis made by many people here on the word "whoever", the text does not actually discuss who does or who does not have the ability to believe. Someone might just as well be quoting John 3:16 to suggest that all churches need to have red carpets in their sanctuaries! Why? Because that also is not a topic addressed in the text. The verse is often quoted, but actually it has no relevance to the subject.

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June 11, 2006  |  Comments (29)   |  Permalink

Judge Not! by Mike Ratliff

Judge Not!
This is Mike Ratliff's study on Jesus' command to His disciples to not judge others hypocritically. Enjoy and be blessed.

Judge Not Part 1 - The Mind of Christ

Judge Not Part 2 - The Source of Judging Others

Judge Not Part 3 - The Consequences of Judging Others

Judge Not Part 4 - The Necessity of Contentment

Judge Not Part 5 - The Curse of Self-Righteousness

Judge Not Part 6 - The Blessedness of Assurance

Judge Not Part 7 - The Balm of Hope

Judge Not Part 8 - The Invaluable Treasure of a Clear Conscience

Judge Not Part 9 - Doing all for the Glory of God

Judge Not Part 10 - Drinking from Christ's Cup of Suffering

Judge Not Part 11 - Wrestling the Correct Opponent

Jusge Not Part 12 - Loving your Enemies

Judge Not Part 13 - Behaving like a Christian

Judge Not Part 14 - Being a Living Sacrifice

Judge Not Part 15 - Letting the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly

Judge Not Part 16 - Conclusion

June 10, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Part 3 by Rev. C. R. Biggs


In the last study we considered the way the Book of Revelation reveals Jesus as the resurrected and Living King and the hope for all of God's people. We begin this study by considering how the Book of Revelation begins by revealing Jesus as Coming Judge and King in Revelation 1:5b-8:

Revelation 1:5b-8: ...To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

One of the reasons why God inspires the Apostle John to write the Book of Revelation is to reveal Christ as coming Judge and King. The people of God are a missionary outpost of heaven (Phil. 3:20-21), who are called to bear witness to Christ as Judge and Lord over heaven and earth (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). Christians live in this world, but at the same time are seated positionally with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).

As a sinful people we have been redeemed from the way of life we used to live in the flesh and now we live unto God here as witnesses before this dying world (Eph. 4:21ff). As John writes in Revelation 1:5b, Jesus is the One who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. Jesus came on his mission to save a people (Heb. 2:10ff), to lay down his life for his people, his church by shedding his blood for their sins. Jesus shed his blood and paid the penalty of death that was required of our sins. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, "the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

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June 08, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Inter-Trinitarian Counsel (John 17)

"...glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life...6"I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. ...9"I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; ..."While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. (excerpts from John 17)
(also see John 6:37, 39, 44, 63-65)

What do these texts mean? In His great condescension, infinite mercy and affectionate love... God, in Christ, from all eternity has chosen, set apart and marked a people for Himself. This is foundational to the Bible and we must not neglect to consider our salvation from this God's-eye view that He has so graciously given us in the pages of Holy Scripture. His elect have been set apart for sonship, privilege and honor as they are united to Christ by His Holy Spirit. "...they were Yours and You gave them to Me." (vs, 6)

We should never avoid passages such as these, though for various reason we often do so. But God has given these texts to us for a reason. Jesus wanted His people to read this conversation, this inter-Trinitarian prayer. This is high doctrine but it is most beautiful and glorious. We should fall on our face in wonder as we absorb and consider that He has, in this holy conversation, given this glimpse of truth to us. We all need to listen ... too much of contemporary spirituality is a horizontal conversation, but we need to be silent and let God speak to us here vertically. Jesus lets us in on his communications with the eternal Father. Is there anything so glorious that He has let his children in on such a conversation and that He is even speaking of us. He is telling us what He has decided about us as individuals before the foundation of the world. The Son and the Father speak of previously decided upon covenants before the world was made. Incredible! Behold, before you were created, before the world and matter and time and space was created you were affectionately in the mind of God and He gave the surety of your redemption into the hands of the Eternal Son who would leave His infinite glory and become as nothing, taking on flesh to make certain that you would not be lost. If God gave you to the Son, then your salvation is sure because He infallibly accomplishes that which He sets out to do. "His word does not return unto Him void".

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June 06, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Paul's Epistle to the Romans by Tom Browning

The following is a brand new 43 part series of MP3 lectures and PDF manuscripts studying through the entire book of Romans led by Tom Browning, Pastor of Arlington Presbyterian Church (PCA). This excellent study material was generously made available to us at We hope you find it meaningful. Enter download page, then right-click lesson and save to your hard drive.

43 Free MP3 dowloads --- 43 Sermon Manuscripts in Pdf format

May 31, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Humble and the Proud

Last evening before going to sleep I was reading to my wife the following excerpt (of chapter 5) out of Thomas Boston's classic The Crook in the Lot: Or the Sovereignty and Wisdom of God Displayed in the Afflictions of Men. My wife and I found it to be so edifying that we thought I should share it with you. While the ol style English is a little antiquated, if you can get past that, it will bring light to your soul in a way contemporary authors simply fail to do. Meditate on this and let it change your perspective for it gives us a view of God's providence that us moderns have often let slip from our consciousness. If you dont have it, this is a book that deserves a permanent place on your bookshelf. - JW Hendryx

"Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud "—Prov. 16:19.

Could men once be brought to believe that it is better to have their minds bend to the crook in their lot, than to force the crook to their mind, they would be in a fair way to bring their matters to a good account. Hear then the Divine decision in that case: "Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. " In which words

First, There is a comparison instituted and that between two parties, and two points in which they vastly differ.

1st. The parties are the lowly and the proud, who differ like heaven and earth. The proud are climbing up and soaring aloft; the lowly are content to creep on the ground, if that is the will of God. Let us view them more particularly as the text represents them.

Continue reading "The Humble and the Proud" »

May 29, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Visible Vs. The Invisible Church

What do we mean when we make the distinction between the visible and invisible church? And what is the reason for this distinction? Starting around the 4th century - the expression "Visible Church" was refered to by theologians, not to a building, but to the members on the rolls of a local church. In other words, all persons who are members of a local church are considered to be a part of the visible church.

On the other hand, the invisible church refers to those persons who have actually been regenerated or quickened by the Holy Sprit, God's elect or true believers. Augustine referred to the church as a mixed body, a visible people, but this people has both tares and wheat, as described by Jesus. In other words, there is no such thing as a perfect church, and there will always people in the church there with bad motives or are there for the wrong reason. There will always be people who claim to love Christ but whose heart is far from Him. Many, Jesus says, will say on that day, did we not do this and that in your name? Jesus wil then say, "I never knew you". These are descriptions of some people now sitting in your local church and Jesus says of them that he "never knew them!!!" Some persons are in church for show, to be seen by men as pious, others perhaps for a social club or to show of their ability to wax eloquent when discussing theology. These persons hearts are completely invisible to us, but of course, they are not invisible to God and only He can know who is truly regenerate, so we must be generous in our judgements.

The following is a detailed description of the orthodox doctrine of the visible and invisible church as explained by Pastor Brian Schwertley. It is well worth reading and quite helpful:

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May 24, 2006  |  Comments (17)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

The Story of the Bible (Part 3)

Last week I posted (here) the first two sermon notes in a six sermon series by Pastor Steve Weaver made avilable on his blog. I am thoroughly enjoying the series. I thought many of our readers would be blessed by this too, so here's part three. - Pastor John Samson

The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise (Message 3 of 6)

If I were to ask everyone here this morning, “What is your favorite text of Scripture?”, what would you say? Would anyone say, “Matthew 1:1-17"? Probably not. Instead, we ask: "Why would Matthew begin his account of the life of Christ with a boring genealogy?" What would you say if I were to tell you that this text is one of the most important passages in the whole Bible?

Matthew 1:1-17 is one of the most important passages in the Bible! It is the thread that binds together the Old and New Testaments. In fact, this text is vitally important if you ever want to properly understand the meaning of the Old Testament. Matthew very carefully links the first part of the Bible with the second by citing 53 direct quotes, and 76 allusions from the Old Testament. Matthew uses the phrase, “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet” eleven times in his book. This gospel writer clearly identifies Jesus as the promised and long awaited Messiah. Without a doubt, the evidence is overwhelming. Jesus is clearly presented to be the fulfillment of all that the prophets of old were longing for.

But before you can understand how this text ties together the two testaments, you must first understand the huge promise which Matthew’s gospel shows that Jesus Christ has fulfilled. It is a cord of at least three distinct strands. Each strand strengthens the whole. The three strands of this promise is that One who is the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham and the seed of David will crush the head of the Serpent, bless all the nations of the earth and rule as King forever.

Continue reading "The Story of the Bible (Part 3)" »

May 22, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Folly of Speculations and Counsel Against the Lord

"There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the Lord" - Prov 22:30

The wicked go about the earth in defiance of God, raising up speculations against the truth of His Person, but no human exertion or "wisdom" can bring down the knowledge of God, or stand before Him. It is all folly in light of His infinite wisdom and omniscience. The sovereignty of God over the king's heart, his armies and all the affairs and plans of men is established. The Lord turns the kings heart wherever He wishes, like channels of water (Prov 21:1). The Horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord (v. 31).

Even the most wise and upright man cannot complete his plans independent of the sovereign Lord and his invincible Word. God always, and without exception, has the final say. If one has victory (or loss) it is ultimately by the hand of the Lord, and thus we should rest in his most wise and sovereign counsel and plan. Give God glory and the full majesty and weight due His name. There is no other. The best of human wisdom and ingenuity is as nothing, and we are but grasshoppers before Him. Nonetheless, the foolishness of man takes up his battle array against Him, seeking out all wisdom, counsel and strategy at his disposal to take down the knowledge of God. Human wisdom is useful only when put into proper perspective, that is, when it arouses fear and trembling at His Word. In light of the infinite wisdom of God, man's autonomous wisdom is but folly. The greatest skill of man used against the Lord will ironically, in the end, only be used to bring down human autonomy.

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May 20, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Enoch and Elijah Sinless?

Question: I'm trying to find anything on Enoch and Elijah relating to inherited sin. Some say we cannot have inherited sin because of these two. Or whatever. I hope you understand the many opportunities available to use them as theological footballs.

Response: Thanks for the email. This is perhaps the first time I have ever heard the argument that these prophets had, through self-effort, pleased God to such an extent that they had no need for a Savior and thus ascended to God. This is the kind of thinking we might expect from the arch-heretic himself: Pelagius, who believed that we did not inherit Adam's sin and could, by nature, reach up to God through our good choices (See Rom 5). In other words, in the view of those who argue we did not inherit Adam's sin, as far as Enoch and Elijah are concerned, neither prophet had any need whatsoever of a sinless Savior who fulfilled the law on their behalf, that it was not by the regenerating grace of God the Holy Spirit, but by their own natural choices (apart from the Holy Spirit) which led to God's favor on them. Is this not a trusting in their own merit, disposition and works? Such a view cannot even be considered Christian.

If such were the case, these prophets would then be completely outside and even above the covenants of God since they would have no need for God's covenants or promises. They would be self-sufficient, autonomous, holy in and of themeselves, and that, apart from God. Not only is this contrary to all of Scripture, which declares all persons, apart from Christ, to be under the wrath of God, but is itself a form of unbelief, for it denies the need for Jesus Christ, and affirms that some persons can save themselves by reaching down into their own natural resources. Those who hold to this view would seem to have no concept at all of God's holiness (read Isaiah 6) and man's incapacity to live apart from his bondage to sin even for one minute. Those who affirm that a person can live sinlessly, I would argue, have no idea what sin is. A Christian is someone who completely despairs of himself and only glories in Christ for their salvation.

Can anyone naturally love God and their neighbor perfectly for even a day? 1 John says that such persons who claim to have no sin are still in darkness and are calling God a liar. It would appear that the apostle is saying that persons holding to such a view are, perhaps, apostate, and have no true knowledge of the Savior.

We are all redemed by grace and grace alone. Christ alone fulfilled the law. Neither Elijah nor Enoch are shown to be sinless, having fulfilled the covenant themselves, apart from grace. No other man, apart from Jesus, has done so even for an hour. Such a low view of sin is, unfortunately, rampant in our day and indeed a sign of the church of our times, but it is a complete misapprehension of the gospel. OT saints and NT saints are all born with the same fallen condition and need Christ. The word "unspiritual" is used of men without Christ. "Unspiritual" means that they are without the Holy Spirit. We are not born into this world with the Holy Spirit and then sometime later lose Him. No, we are born into the corruption of our natures and need the Spirit to quicken us if we are to have any hope at all. Any belief that salvation can be found outside of Christ through self-produced merit is promoting a patently unChristian belief.

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May 18, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Story of the Bible by Steve Weaver

Got a few minutes free? Would you like a feast for your soul? I would like to highly recommend Pastor Steve Weaver's blog here. He is currently preaching a six week series in his church on "The Story of the Bible," and has kindly made his sermon notes available on the internet to be viewed by a wider audience. I was so thrilled with what I read, I just had to write about it here. The God centered, Christ centered, Gospel centered message is something I believe everyone needs to hear. Are you ready for a feast? Here it is then... enjoy! - Pastor John Samson

Pastor Steve Weaver

Everyone loves a good story! There is something about the words, “Once upon a time . . .” that capture the attention and the imagination of both the young and the old. We never outgrow our love for a story. This is clearly evident by American’s seemingly insatiable appetite for books, television and movies.

The Bible is often treated as merely a collection of many different stories with a moral lesson. A Christian version of Aesop’s Fables. While it is true that the Bible does contain many different stories and that most of them have a moral lesson, the Bible is much more than what it is often treated as. The Bible is one story, with one overarching message. That story is the most compelling story ever written. Literally, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It “is the story of a God who makes a special promise about a special Person who creates a special people to live in a special place with Him forever.”

This message is the first in a series of six which seeks to tell the story of the Bible and show the unity thereof. These six messages will seek to unpack the following sentence:

The Bible is the story of a God who makes a special promise about a special Person who creates a special people to live in a special place with Him forever.

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May 16, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"Let Me Tell You A Story": Finding Yourself in God's Story, Pt. II

"Let Me Tell You A Story" by Rev. Charles R. Biggs

Introduction: "The Story of My Life!"

What do we mean when we say: "That's the story of my life!" Usually it is a reactionary phrase of response that means that a certain event, or certain happening or occurrence is a consistent or recurring reality in our lives. We may not think about, or unpack this phrase much when we say it, but what we are really revealing about ourselves is that whether we acknowledge it or not, we are "actors" or "players" in a narrative world, or narrative universe.

Allow me to introduce my thinking on the importance of story, or a storied context in which we all live. I would like to focus on this "narrative world" in which God the Father wants all of us to imagine ourselves in the Bible as Christians. The Bible teaches us the true story of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. We are to see ourselves as people in this Grand Story that God has communicated in his holy inerrant and infallible Word.

[Note: I do not use the word "imagine" in this 'WOE' to imply that it is an "imaginary world" in which God calls us, in the sense of "not real", but a place of truth where are imaginations are actively engaged with and by God's truth (a "narratable world"- Robert Jenson, 'How the World Lost It's Story', First Things, 36 (Oct. 1993): 19-24).

Continue reading ""Let Me Tell You A Story": Finding Yourself in God's Story, Pt. II" »

May 09, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Five Themes of the Prophets

The prophetic portions of our bible, while they contain some of the loftiest and most beautiful descriptions of God and his redemptive plan to be found anywhere in the scriptures, are yet among the most difficult portions to understand and interpret. They are gold mines that require a great deal of labor to extract and possess the vast riches hidden deep beneath the surface. Without a little guidance and reflection, one might wander aimlessly here and there, without making heads or tails of the bulk of what has been written. Even Martin Luther, whose exegetical abilities are beyond question, has said of the writing prophets, "They have a queer way of talking, like people who, instead of proceeding in an orderly manner, ramble off from one thing to the next, so that you cannot make head or tail of them or see what they are getting at." This observation is strikingly true. So how does one begin to find a structure that would aid in understanding writings that are so obviously structured differently from the logical, point-by-point, western way of proceeding? I have come to the conviction that the following five themes are central to the message of every writing prophet; and that, like so many threads, they are interwoven throughout the prophetic corpus, binding them together in a unified whole that fills a very specific place in the unfolding of redemptive history and revelation. One might view them as so many pegs upon which to hang the variously intermingled prophecies, and so have a basis for the comparison and conflation of the whole. Or else as so many facets, many of which inhere in each individual prophecy, relative to the angle at which one views it. I am indebted for many of the following observations to O. Palmer Robertson, whose book, The Christ of the Prophets, has been invaluable in helping me to think through these issues.

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May 04, 2006  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

Faith: The Result of the New Birth by C.H. Spurgeon

The following are some excerpts from the Sermon "Faith and Regeneration" by C.H. Spurgeon

Inasmuch as the gospel command, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," is addressed by divine authority to every creature, it is the duty of every man so to do. What saith John: "This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ," and our Lord himself assures us, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." I know there are some who will deny this, and deny it upon the ground that man has not the spiritual ability to believe in Jesus, to which I reply that it is altogether an error to imagine that the measure of the sinners moral ability is the measure of his duty. There are many things which men ought to do which they have now lost the moral and spiritual, though not the physical, power to do. A man ought to be chaste, but if he has been so long immoral that he cannot restrain his passions, he is not thereby free from the obligation. It is the duty of a debtor to pay his debts, but if he has been such a spendthrift that he has brought himself into hopeless poverty, he is not exonerated from his debts thereby. Every man ought to believe that which is true, but if his mind has become so depraved that he loves a lie and will not receive the truth, is he thereby excused? If the law of God is to be lowered according to the moral condition of sinners, you would have a law graduated upon a sliding- scale to suit the degrees of human sinfulness; in fact, the worst man would be under the least law, and become consequently the least guilty. God's requirements would be a variable quantity, and, in truth, we should be under no rule at all. The command of Christ stands good however bad men may be, and when he commands all men everywhere to repent, they are bound to repent, whether their sinfulness renders it impossible for them to be willing to so or not. In every case it is man's duty to do what God bids him.

Continue reading "Faith: The Result of the New Birth by C.H. Spurgeon" »

May 01, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"Let Me Tell You A Story": Finding Yourself in God's Story, Pt. 1

Introduction: "The Story of My Life!"

What do we mean when we say: "That's the story of my life!" Usually it is a reactionary phrase of response that means that a certain event, or certain happening or occurrence is a consistent or recurring reality in our lives. We may not think about, or unpack this phrase much when we say it, but what we are really revealing about ourselves is that whether we acknowledge it or not, we are "actors" or "players" in a narrative world, or narrative universe.

Allow me to introduce my thinking on the importance of story, or a storied context in which we all live. I would like to focus on this "narrative world" in which God the Father wants all of us to imagine ourselves in the Bible as Christians. The Bible teaches us the true story of creation, fall, redemption and new creation. We are to see ourselves as people in this Grand Story that God has communicated in his holy inerrant and infallible Word.

[Note: I do not use the word "imagine" in this post to imply that it is an "imaginary world" in which God calls us, in the sense of "not real", but a place of truth where are imaginations are actively engaged with and by God's truth (a "narratable world"- Robert Jenson, 'How the World Lost It's Story', First Things, 36 (Oct. 1993): 19-24).

This is a two-part study that will be concluded later this week on finding ourselves in God's Truth, or His Story!

Continue reading ""Let Me Tell You A Story": Finding Yourself in God's Story, Pt. 1" »

April 26, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Understanding Mark 11:23

Mark 11:23 "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him."

The faith movement is alive and well on planet earth. As Christian television continues to expand around the world, much of its content comes from these so called faith preachers. With Bibles in hand they preach a message of hope.. no, much better than that... certainty. There's nothing inherently wrong with that; for the promises of the Bible are certain of fulfillment. Unbelief is a sin and we should pursue true faith in God with all our hearts. In fact, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). But these preachers often go way too far... perhaps not because of a lack of sincerity (though I can't read their hearts as God does), but because of the lack of sound exegesis. Here's the problem in a nutshell: DECEIVED PEOPLE DECEIVE PEOPLE.

We would be horrified to hear of a surgeon who had just 2 weeks of training operating on someone's brain. As vital as brain surgery is (in terms of salary, society pays brain surgeons many times what the average preacher receives), I believe the job of the preacher is far more important. Paul told Timothy, "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Tim. 4:16). Eternal souls hang in the balance, and great care and attention is needed to ensure that a teaching is sound, healthy and accurate. Unbiblical tradition and poor theology have severe consequences.

One of the key texts used by the faith preachers is Mark 11:23. For those caught up in this movement, and for those who simply want to understand what the verse really teaches, I commend to you the following short section from a longer series of articles by Vincent Cheung called "Faith to move mountains." I trust it will be a blessing. - Pastor John Samson

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April 21, 2006  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink

The Centrality of the Cross

If there is one theme that runs the entire course of scripture, binding everything together in a united whole, it is the fundamental truth of all reality that, what God does, he does for his own glory. All that God created, he created for his glory (Revelation 4:11, Isaiah 43:7); and all that God does with his creation, he does, ultimately, so that he may be glorified (Isaiah 46:9-13). Every rivulet of history is so planned out by the sovereign God of the universe that, when its course is ended, it will issue forth with all of creation in a mighty tide that testifies to nothing other than the glory of God. This is true of the final outcome of the wicked, who will glorify God’s wrath and justice (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 9:22); and especially of the final outcome of the people of Christ, who for all eternity will glorify the greatness of God’s faithfulness, love, mercy, and grace (Romans 9:23-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2:7).

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April 14, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Resurrection and the New Creation: An Easter Sermon - Rev. C. R. Biggs


The tomb was sealed. A huge stone rock covered the opening to the tomb. No one could come in and no one could come out. As Jesus was laid in the tomb, and the sky grew darker, the bright hopes of all the disciples dimmed with each passing moment. Bleak. Despair. Mournful. Blackest darkness. This described the failed hopes and dashed dreams of the disciples of Jesus as he was laid into the tomb.

Three days had been spent with great sorrow as the disciples mourned the loss of their friend and Master. Yet what the disciples did not understand, nor remember because of the dullness of their hearts and their slowness to believe was that Jesus had told them that this night of his atrocious death must come, in order for the dawn of joyous life to begin. Jesus had told his disciples clearly:

"The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

..."Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men." But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying. (Luke 9:22, 45-46)

This present world characterized by sin, misery and the rule of the deceiver must end in the death of God's Son, in order that the new world to come characterized by holiness and the awesome presence of God could be fully realized. The third day of the old world would begin the first day of the new world! The old creation began to come to an end, as the new creation dawned on the third day!

The resurrection of Jesus didn't merely occur on the first day of the week (Luke 24:1), but it was literally the first day of the new creation characterized by resurrection life!

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April 13, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Why Do You Speak to Them in Parables?

Matt 13:9-16

He who has ears, let him hear.

And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"

Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted."

"For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

"Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

"In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear." (Matt 13:9-16)

Matt 11:27
27"All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

The words of Jesus Christ in all their glory and solemnity.

April 11, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"Hosannas!" and High Expectations

This Palm Sunday, let your cry of "Hosanna!" become your joyful shout of "Maranatha!"

Expectations. How many times have your high expectations of others gotten you into big trouble and disappointment?! You had high expectations of another, yet when that person did not live up to your expectations you grumbled, felt anger, were discouraged, and decided that you would think twice about expecting anything from someone again. We all become disillusioned (and oftentimes demanding!) when we have expectations of others and they do not come through.

This is even true of our expectations of God. Sometimes, in God's mysterious providence, he does what he knows to be best for us, yet we do not understand (Romans 8:28). We have expectations that we think God should live up to, but we have yet to begin to understand that God's ways are so much higher than our ways!

God works all things out for our good, for our best, yet we fail to trust his thoughts and ways and remember that even our highest expectations that we have of God, if different from his will, are never high enough!

Isaiah 55:8-9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Remember, as the Apostle Paul teaches, that

"No eye has seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him."

We should be cautious of placing high expectations on others, but when it comes to God, I think we need to be reminded that our so-called "high expectations" are never high enough!

Today, we shall look at the high expectations of the crowd when Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem in John 12:12-23, and how these high expectations were simply not high enough.

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April 11, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Spiritual Discernment is for the Spiritual

"the things of the Spirit of God ... are spiritually discerned" ( 1Cor 2:14)

"he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24"45)

I would like to challenge each one of you to take a friend from work out to lunch; someone that you know is not a Christian. This person preferably is a someone with whom you developed some degree of a good relationship with. During the course of your meal, when it seem appropriate, you can lead the conversation toward the Gospel. Tell him or her that God Himself has truly entered into human history from the time of Israel through the time of Christ, and not only has made himself known to us in the Person of Jesus Christ but has redeemed us from our sin and rebellion against the Creator. He Himself fully endured the wrath we justly deserve for sin by His death on the cross. Living the life we should have lived and dying the death we deserve. Then, vindicating the truth of what He accomplished God raised him physically from the dead on the third day. There were over 500 witness to this historic event and different witness to the same event wrote down their testimony which now makes up the Holy Scripture.

Then when you are done explaining the unfolding drama of redemption in history ask him or her whether they acknowledge the truth of these factual claims. If he responds that these events are something less than historical, just a myth or a fairy tale, I challenge you to consider the question of why he rejects something that should be as plain as day. it is true is it not. It is not that he lacks sufficent data so one thing you can be assured of is that he/she is spiritually blind in some way and cannot see the plain truth as put before them. Their eyes are closed to the gospel, but why? If you have also shown them great love and patience and presented these facts with warmth and a genuine spirit with great eloquence and done so till you are blue in the face, your effort, while it may leave a seed, does not convince and will be of no avail if the Holy Spirit does not remove his blindness and give him new spiritual eyes to see the truths you presented him/her. All your exegesis, proclamation and logical persuasion will have no effect unless the Spirit remove the veil of darkness, clearing the way for them to believe the truth of the message you put before Him (John 6:63-65). This means if the Lord is to use us to win souls to Christ we must pray that the Holy Spirit disarm their innate hostility, overcome their lack of faith (heal their faithlessness), remove the barricades erected in their heart and enlighten the truths we herald from the Scripture. The reason they reject is, not simply because the evidence you provide is not strong enough, but because their affection remains set on the darkness (John 3:20).

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April 10, 2006  |  Comments (18)   |  Permalink

Bottom Up Vs. Top Down Theology

"In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor 5:19).

Does not that one text of Scripture pretty much sum up the central truth of our faith? This is the heartbeat of the Christian religion for it speaks of the Divine act that takes place at the decisive climax in the unfolding drama of redemptive history. Good theology is about what God has done for us in Christ. We can only do theology at all because God, out of sheer grace, has chosen to unveil Himself (to make Himself known) through His acts and speech on the stage of the world. He does this through a series of acts and verbal communications, which He freely initiates, specifically in the events of the history of Israel and ultimately in the Person of Jesus Christ. The acts of God are all redemptive and they all ultimately point to Christ. After the series of redemptive events recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus Himself enters the drama as one of us in the culminating and decisive act of the Play so to speak. This covenantal focus of the Bible helps us to rightly understand that true religion consists in what God has done for us in Christ.

The Gospel is about God acting on and speaking to us onto the stage of world history. A truly orthodox evangelical theology affirms the priority of the Word and Acts of God in Christ (ultimate) over our response of faith, obedience and spiritual experiences (penultimate). The Divine Word revealed in Christ is supreme over all man-made religions which would speculatively formulate a 'bottom-up' theology of fallen human actions over Divine actions. What is most distressing is, although the most urgent task and function of the church is to make known the gospel to men and women in the world, there is still utter confusion in the world as to what the Gospel is. I am not someone who likes controversy and I have a burden for souls. But unfortunately the confusion about the gospel is not confined to people outside the church, but rather, has itself been produced by those within its walls. This means that the Word of the Gospel must be proclaimed as clearly to those in and outside the church. The re-evangelization of the church is, therefore, itself one of our greatest tasks, if not the greatest. Many Christians evangelize with a four-point presentation gospel, thinking the job is done when someone prays a prayer, but fail in the arena of continued discipleship to those who believe. It is little wonder why this has been so ineffective for creating long-term zealous Christians who are used of God to themselves reproduce.

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April 04, 2006  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink

A Meditation on 2 Tim. 2:10

The following is a short meditation on 2 Timothy 2:10 by Dr. James White.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of the elect, so that they also might experience the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, and with it, eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10 - translation by Dr. James White)

The context is important. 2 Timothy is Paul's farewell letter to Timothy. You don't waste words when writing your farewell to a dearly beloved son in the faith. He is encouraging Timothy to be strong. He calls Timothy to "share in suffering" with him (2:3), to compete, work hard, and remember Jesus Christ. Then, in verse 9, he mentions his own suffering as a criminal for the gospel. This is the context lying behind Paul's statement that he "endures." Endures what? Everything. All the opposition and attacks and beatings and imprisonment and long days of toil and labor--he endured it all for what reason? Oh, surely, we could say "the glory of God," but that isn't Paul's answer here. Instead, he says he endures all of this "for the sake of the elect." Many may wish this term did not appear in Scripture, but it is right there - "the elect," "the chosen ones." Paul uses the same term in Romans 8:33 "Who will bring a charge against God's elect?", and significantly in Colossians 3:12: "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Notice that Paul refers to the professing believers in Colossae as "those who have been chosen of God." Not those who chose God (they did that, but they did so as a result of being chosen by Him: the Christian gospel is God-centered, not man-centered!). It is important to see the source of the "choosing" in election here: "chosen of God." God chooses. God disposes. God is sovereign in this matter.

And so back in 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul endures the sufferings of his apostleship "for the sake of the elect," but the reason he does so should not be missed, "so that they also might experience the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, and with it, eternal glory." Paul sees his sufferings, his ministry, his tireless work, as means God has used to bring His elect to salvation. As I have said many times, God ordains the ends as well as the means. Preaching, teaching, ministering, defending the faith--all are means used by God to bring His elect to salvation. Just a few more quick notes:

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April 03, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Romans 8:28 - 9:24 (Overview) by Pastor John Samson

In Romans chapter 9, the Apostle Paul is dealing with the issue of God's Sovereign Grace in election. Obviously, Romans 9 follows on from Romans 8, and in the latter part of Romans 8, Paul is stating the fact that nothing and no one can separate the true believer from the love of Christ. But this raises a huge question; namely, why is it that not all Jews, the chosen people, have recognized their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ? How can nothing separate God's people from the love of Christ and many of the Jews be separated from it? That's exactly the question Paul is seeking to answer in Romans 9.

There are no chapter and verse divisions in the original Greek text, and actually, Paul starts talking about predestination and election in Romans 8. So let's start at Romans 8:28 reading through to chapter 9 so we can establish the context for Paul's argument.

Romans 8:
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

In what theologians refer to as "The Golden Chain of Redemption," God is revealing to us an unbreakable chain that starts in eternity past, goes through time, and on into eternity future. This chain is forged by God Himself, and has five unbreakable links: God foreknows, predestinates, calls, justifies and glorifies.

Notice that there is one ambiguity in the text; something that is not actually stated but is definitely implied - that being the word "all." Let's see this clearly by inserting another possible implication by way of contrast, the word "some."

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March 30, 2006  |  Comments (21)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Response to the "Free Grace" Movement

[Recently this important essay was submitted to me for posting. It deals with the 'Lordship' issue and the teaching of Zane Hodges & Joseph Dillow who boldly claim we need not repent of good (and evil) works in order to be saved. The author and lay teacher, Phil Simpson, has a great deal of personal experience with the so-called 'free grace' teaching of the Grace Evangelical Society since he was himself under the teaching of a church which vigorously affirmed it. His essay comes with recommendations from two M.Div's in the OPC and one Calvinistic Baptist. Simpson himself has spent the last eight or nine years wrestling with the 'free grace' teaching (which is more radical than the run-of-the-mill "no-lordship" movement in its reinterpretation of the New Testament, its eschatology {teaching bizarre things such as the division of believers into two camps--the overcoming and the non-overcomining--in a millennial kingdom, with only the overcomers inheriting the kingdom, reigning with Christ, and partaking of the marriage supper of the Lamb}, its view of the validity of faith without works, and the denial that true believers will always continue in the faith -- in fact, they may even become atheists, yet remain saved! I post the essay here because I thought it might be of great interest to some who are familiar with the movement. It is long (about 30-40 typewritten pages) but it is thorough and the author obviously seriously thought through these issues].

A Biblical Response to the Teachings of Zane Hodges,
Joseph Dillow, and the Grace Evangelical Society
(Called the "Free Grace" Movement)

© Copyright by Phillip L. Simpson – 2006

The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical evaluation of what has been termed (by its proponents) the "Free Grace" movement. I should begin by stating at the outset that this is a paper I did not want to write. It is borne out of much sorrow and heaviness of heart. For twenty years, ever since I had become a Christian, I had attended a particular church. When John MacArthur wrote, "The Gospel According to Jesus" in 1988, a line was drawn in the sand regarding the doctrine that came to be known as the "lordship salvation" doctrine (a regrettable term, coined by its critics, but one which is now necessary to identify the doctrine). My church chose to side with the critics of "lordship salvation", with such stalwarts as Zane Hodges, Charles Ryrie, and many from Dallas Theological Seminary leading the way.

Personally, I was torn. On the one hand I had heroes such as Dr. MacArthur and R.C. Sproul defending the lordship position; on the other hand, other heroes, such as my pastor and Dr. Ryrie, were teaching against it.

I launched into a study, reading books and articles by men from both sides, including MacArthur, Sproul, Michael Horton, J. I. Packer, Ryrie, Michael Cocoris, Charles Bing, Earl Radmacher, and Zane Hodges. I did this to make sure I understood fully both positions. Since I felt both sides had convincing arguments, I began to study the Scriptures for myself regarding this matter. My study took nearly eight years. A breakthrough came when I decided to jot down all the relevant Scripture texts which speak to the debate. As I did this, I compiled a list of over 100 Scripture texts. Looking over the list, I realized that what I largely had was a list of verses which seemed to support the lordship viewpoint, which would need to be "explained away" by its critics (or reinterpreted so as to contradict the plain meaning of these texts-- over 100 of them!). It is from this list of Scripture texts that this article was formed.

Read the Entire Essay

March 29, 2006  |  Comments (22)   |  Permalink

Jesus Gives Botany Lessons

Reflection on Agricultural Metaphors by J.W Hendryx

"Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matt 7:16-18)

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. " (Matt 12:33- 35)

Does Jesus tell us these stories in order that we may learn more about plant life? Was He here to teach us about botany? If not, what is Jesus saying here in these stories? Jesus is not teaching us about botany, but is speaking rather plainly about us, about the human condition after the fall.

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March 28, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Better Than I Deserve

A biblical reflection by J.W. Hendryx

"Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23

Just as the rainbow is a sign which "reminds" God of His promise to never again flood the earth, so the blood of Christ is a covenant sign to "remind" Him not to treat our sins as they deserve. It is only because of God's mercy in Christ that we are not utterly consumed. That means, because of Christ, God does not treat us according to our sin. What we deserve, rather, is His fierce wrath. But because the fullness of His wrath has already been poured on Christ, God is completely satisfied and Christ's atoning blood is sufficient for you for all time. You cannot add or take away from it.

We have broken his law, cast aside His love, despised and rejected Him with our sin and we should be utterly consumed. Anything else is better than we deserve. But God has shown great mercy to us in Christ, and that mercy fails not. It is new every morning which means that if you have sinned, then God has fresh supply of mercy, so flee to Christ now. If your conscience accuses you of that one sin you committed, go to Christ. He is compassionate and His mercy never runs out of supply because God is already completely satisfied - Christ has paid for that sin. If you are brokenhearted about sin, if you are brought low because of it and mourn over it then God has done a work of grace in your heart. And since God's covenant in Christ's blood is the foundation of your hope, turn your eyes away from yourself unto Him. God keeps his Word so go to Him now to find mercy and grace in your time of need. Our faithlessness does not change God's faithfulness to us since He has already given us His Son and His work is finished.

March 25, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Why Were the Israelites Ordered to Kill the Inhabitants of Canaan?

Question: Do you know why the Israelites were ordered to kill all the people in the promised land, right off the top of your head, the short answer? I was wondering [about this] after we had the study on Samson. How do you reconcile that with "Thou Shalt Not Kill."?

Response: That is a good question. Considering that God takes lives every day, since all human beings die, the command obviously does not apply to God Himself. Death, we must remember, is God's just judgment against sin and the penalty exacted for Adam's disobedience in the garden. We all must undergo death sooner or later, so whether the inhabitants of Canaan died "naturally" then or a few years later is one and the same and really makes little difference. Specifically God was judging the Canaanites at that time, the Scripture says, for their gross idolatry, divination, witchcraft, sorcery, and mediums, i.e. those who call up the dead. In fact God says these "detestable practices" are the very reason they were driven out, as the following text in Deuteronomy affirms:

"When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in [a] the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you . 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God." (Deut 18:9-13)

But it is critical that we always remind ourselves that God did not select Israel (or us for that matter) because they were better or more numerous then these other peoples (Deut 7:7). He simply set them apart to redeem them because of the covenant he made with their forefathers out of his sheer grace as the Bible confirms:

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March 18, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

The Universal Scope of God's Redemptive Purpose

We can only glory in such a big-hearted Psalm coming from such a small-minded people. The Jews who were, like us, bigoted and narrowly focused on their own small and insignificant tribe, yet God broke into their history and small-mindedness by revealing Himself to them (and to us) as the God of compassion for all nations. YHWH, the covenant God, revealed that His compassion did not merely end with them. He placed before them a vision.. an all encompassing vision, which would eventually see His reign over the world and God's redemptive purpose for all peoples, that they too might delight in Him.

When we speak of the universal scope of God's purpose in redeeming the world to himself, of course, we do not speak of all persons without exception. No, we speak (as the Bible does) of all without distinction. All nations, not merely Jews are encompassed into God's plan of redemption. That is why the twenty-four elders in heaven say of Christ:

"...You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." (Rev. 5:9)

Christ's blood purchased, not all, but people from out of all nations, tribes and tongues. At this we can only marvel and worship. Psalm 67 is a forward looking vision only which was accomplished when Christ fulfilled the covenant, breaking down the dividing wall (Eph 2:14), bringing not only Jews, but persons from all nations, into his redemption. The church in the New Testament was not a parenthesis or a "Plan B" but the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose in Christ, the ultimate end and climax of the covenant. Here, all nations, Jews and Gentiles, are brought into the house of God. Jesus, the remnant of one, the faithful True Israelite deserves all the glory, honor and praise for bringing this plan, which man would never have fathomed, to fruition. Oh that God might bless us that we might make known the riches of His glory to all nations.

March 08, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Do This and Live by John Hendryx

"He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." (Rom 2:6-8)

"If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." (Matt 19:17)

What are we to make of the above statements by Paul and Jesus? Both of these texts plainly state that eternal life will be granted those who obey God's commandments. Since we have been taught that salvation to be by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, how are we to interpret such passages? I take up this important issue because there were one or two questions regarding the legitimacy of the concept of "do this and live" in my essay "There May be More Than One Way to God".

It should be known that these law/gospel (two ways of salvation model) concepts I proposed in the essay are not my peculiar new invention but the classic understanding of salvation in Covenant Theology.

When we preach the law to a person we are, in effect, saying "do this and live". Scripture actually reveals two ways that one might be saved in the Bible. These two antithetical covenants can be filtered down to "Do this and live" (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:13; 10:5), and "The just shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:6; Galatians 3:11). These covenants are both based in the eternal covenant of redemption which was made in the eternal counsels of the Triune God (John 6:37-39). Both will come into play through the historical Christ. This first covenant was revealed in Eden as the original Adamic Covenant (or covenant of Works). In its most basic form it consisted of the command "Do not eat, or you will die." It is easy enough to see that if you restate P for ~P, you get "Do this and live." When Adam failed to live up to the terms of the covenant, he plummeted he and his posterity into the Curse of death. Now all who are "in Adam" are incapable of life through that original covenant. It should be noted that God also mentions, after the fall, that the way to the tree of life is blocked lest man eat and live. So there was a means by which Adam hypothetically could have avoided the fall, that is, by obedience to God for a period or perhaps by eating the tree of life.

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March 01, 2006  |  Comments (19)   |  Permalink

There May be More Than One Way to God

by John Hendryx

Today I wish to propose and explore with you the possibility that belief in Jesus Christ may not be the only way to God. Now before you throw me out as a heretic please hear me through. Lets open the Bible together so we can plainly see that Jesus Himself speaks of another way.

But before we do that I would like for us to take a look at a debate that took place a couple years ago on the Donahue show between Phil Donahue and Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary. The context of the debate is the recent move by the Catholic church to no longer evangelize the Jews since they have stated that God has given them some kind of special plan or dispensation. This debate also typifies many of the debates that occur between Christians and non-Christians these days with regard to our exclusive claim that Christ is the only way to be saved for both Jew and Gentile. In America’s current climate of postmodern, multicultural, political correctness, the claim by Christians that Christ is the only way gives rise to accusations of hate and intolerance as we shall see in the following excerpts of this interesting dialogue between Donahue, Albert Mohler & Rabbi Shmuley Boteach:

DONAHUE: Well, Dr. Mohler, sir, nice to see you again. You’re how many strong these days, the southern Baptists?

REV. ALBERT MOHLER, SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER: About 16 million members, Phil, and about 40,000 churches. It’s good to be with you tonight.

DONAHUE: Thank you. Do these 16 million people believe Jews can go to heaven?

MOHLER: Southern Baptists, with other Christians, believe that all persons can go to heaven who come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is no discrimination on the basis of ethnic or racial or national issues, related to who will go to the Scriptures. It’s those who are in Christ. The defining issue is faith in Christ.

DONAHUE: So a good Jew is not going to heaven.

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February 23, 2006  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink

Things that Irk J.W. Hendryx

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - 1 John 5:1

There are few things that irk me more than bad or inconsistent theology. This is because it amounts to a misrepresentation of God and his message, and, as we know, all wrong thinking about God is a form of idolatry. No doubt we are all guilty of having wrong thoughts about God at some level and thus should humbly acknowledge God's grace for anything we have and not boast in our knowledge or anything else ... but when persons, who should know better, begin presenting God's grace as a cooperative effort of man and God, where unspiritual man is presented as possessing spiritual capacities, then contradictions abound. Unfortunately, this kind of synergism is perhaps the the most pervasive cause of error and confusion in the church today.

Charles Hodge said,""No more soul-destroying doctrine could well be devised than the doctrine that sinners can regenerate themselves, and repent and believe just when they please... As it is a truth both of Scripture and of experience that the unrenewed man can do nothing of himself to secure his salvation, it is essential that he should be brought to practical conviction of that truth. When thus convinced, and not before, he seeks help from the only source whence it can be obtained."

C.H. Spurgeon said, "Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man." (from His sermon Faith and Regeneration)

Just recently Pastor John Samson did a post reflecting on 1 John 5:1 where he briefly exegeted the passage as clearly teaching that faith is the immediate result of regeneration, not the cause of it. However, a reader took exception to this and said the following:

"All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action) that Jesus is the Christ has been born (gennesanta, perfect tense - an action already complete with abiding effects) of God," simply does not prove that we were unable to believe prior regeneration. It only states that after regeneration we have been empowered to continue believing and thus our faith is sustained through the work of God in our lives. So, though this verse is a great verse for preservation, it simply does not support regeneration prior to faith - in fact, nothing in Scripture does. Every occurance of life and faith in any context in Scripture always logically places faith prior to life."

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February 16, 2006  |  Comments (27)   |  Permalink

Look & Live!

I am always blessed whenever I hear the Gospel preached. That was certainly the case today when I read the recent sermon of Pastor Steve Weaver here as he recalled the conversion of C. H. Spurgeon during a winter storm. I trust that you too will be find nourishment for your soul in Pastor Weaver's Gospel presentation. - Pastor John Samson

"Look and Live" Isaiah 45:22

On January 31, 1892, the famous British preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon died at the age of 59. He was buried exactly 114 years ago last Saturday (February 11th). During his lifetime, Spurgeon preached enough sermons to fill 63 volumes. The sermons' 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

But Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s story really began 42 years earlier when on February 6, 1850 (just a little more than 156 years ago) Charles Haddon Spurgeon experienced salvation on a snowy day in England.

The snow was so bad that the young Spurgeon could not make it to the church he had planned to attend that day. So he turned into a small Primitive Methodist chapel. The minister was snowed in and couldn’t make it there, but that day a lay member of the congregation took as his text Isaiah 45:22 and read, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

In this short text three important aspects of the gospel message are evident:
1. The Exclusivity of the Gospel Message;
2. The Simplicity of the Gospel Message; and,
3. The Universality of the Gospel Message

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February 15, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

1 John 5:1 by Pastor John Samson

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - 1 John 5:1

In the original Greek, the verb tenses in this verse are very revealing. A literal translation reads as follows: "All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action) that Jesus is the Christ has been born (gennesanta, perfect tense - an action already complete with abiding effects) of God." The fact that someone is presently going on believing in Christ shows that they have first been born again. Faith is the evidence of regeneration, not the cause of it. Since both repentance and faith are possible only because of the work of God (regeneration), both are called the gift of God in scripture (Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim 2:24-26).

"Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which a person's inherently sinful nature is so radically impacted, his disposition so affected, his mind so illumined, his will so liberated that a person can and will respond to God in saving faith and willingly live in accord with the will of God." - J. I. Packer

February 13, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Understanding 1 Timothy 4:10 by Pastor John Samson

"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10 (NKJ)

1 Tim. 4:10 is a verse that has had many interpretations. Here are the main three:

(1) The Universalist Interpretation - "God is the Savior of all men" means that all who have ever lived will be saved. This of course is contrary to all sound doctrine. If this was true, the rest of the verse would have no meaning whatsoever when it says "especially of those who believe."

(2) The Arminian Interpretation - God wants to save everyone but His desire is many times thwarted by the obsinate free will of man. God is able to save all men, but though all can be saved, only believers actually are. Certainly this is a popular view, but we must be clear that this is not what the text says. It does not say God wants to save, but that He actually saves: He is actually the Savior (in some sense) of all men.

(3) The Reformed Interpretation - God is the Savior of all men (in one sense) and especially of those who believe (in another sense). Let me be quick to say that this is not the only way reformed people have understood this verse, but I do believe this is the correct interpretation.

As we study the terms "salvation" and "Savior" we find many nuances - many different ways - God saves. The most important aspect of salvation is to be "saved" from the wrath of God (Romans 5:6-9; 1 Thess. 1:10), but salvation also includes the idea of rescue from enemy attack (Psalm 18:3); preservation (Matt. 8:25); physical healing (Matt. 9:22; James 5:15), etc. God "saved" not only Paul's life but everyone else on board ship with him in Acts 27:22, 31, 44. There are numerous ways that "salvation" takes place, but that's a complete Bible study all in itself.

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February 08, 2006  |  Comments (33)   |  Permalink

Biblical Reflections on Hebrews 6

There are those who teach that Hebrews chapter six is a clear statement that Christians can fall away from the faith and thereby lose their salvation. The purpose of this short reflection is not only to show this to be a erroneous interpretation, but also that the persons making such assertions are in danger of making the very error which the passage is warning about. Lets take a look at the passage together:

" is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.: - Hebrews 6: 4-8

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February 04, 2006  |  Comments (46)   |  Permalink

All Always Means All, Right? by Pastor John Samson

Question: I understand the following to be a brief summary of Jesus' words regarding God's Sovereign purpose in election from John 6:35-45: Unless it is granted, no one will come to Christ. All to whom it is granted will come to Christ, and all of these will be raised up to eternal life on the last day. So, this being the case, can you please explain to me the meaning of John 12:32, where Jesus said: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."?

Answer: What I will say here may surprize you, but the word "all" has a number of different meanings in the Bible. We tend to assume that when Jesus speaks of drawing "all men" that He is referring to every last person on the planet. Well, that may or may not be true, but it is in the CONTEXT where we find the phrase that tells us if this assumption is correct or misplaced.

Even today we use the words "all" or "every" in many different ways. When a school teacher asks the people in his classroom, "Are we all here?" or "is everyone listening?" we understand he is not talking about every one of the 6.5 billion plus folk on the planet, but all the students who have signed up for the class. Context determines the proper interpretation or meaning of words. When the word "all" is used, it is used within a context.

In this illustration, the "all" had a context of the school classroom, which did not include "all" the hockey players in Iceland, "all" the dentists in Denmark, or "all" the carpet layers in Atlanta, Georgia. To rip the word "all" out of its setting and say that the teacher was refering to all people everywhere, would be to totally misunderstand and misinterpret how the word was being used. Again, it is context that determines correct interpretation.

I believe you are correct in your understanding of what John 6:35-45 teaches. So how do we understand the nature of the drawing in John 12:32? Who is being drawn?

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February 01, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Visitor Questions on the Fall & Evil

A visitor recently wrote to ask the following:

I have to say that I think you made a really good argument against the Amyraldistic point of view. But I have a question about the fall. If Adam and Eve were sinless and had an unstained "free-will" then why would they fall? If they had a "free-will" [i.e. free from bondage to sin] and then fell, it would only go against the Calvinistic teachings of "Perserverance of the Saints."

Not sure what "perseverance of the saints" has to do with this? But consider that Adam, when created, was not originally sealed in righteousness. He was given a trial period which would reveal how he would use his will and he failed as the federal head of us all. Theologians call this biblical concept of Adam's trial period the "covenant of works", which lingers with us to this day. Like Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "obey the commandments and live"...i.e. if anyone could obey the commandments perfectly they would not need a savior, correct?

God created Adam and gave him a time period to fulfil His Law. He did not create him already sealed in righteounsss. Jesus likewise, though in very nature God, as a human being he had to "fulfill all righteousness" and "fulfill the law" from our side in order to save us. His sinless "passive" death alone does not save us (though that is part of it) but we are redeemed also because he positively fulfilled God's covenant obligations toward us. Likewise we believe Adam had to fulfil a positive righteousness if he were to have gained life.

Next the visitor asked the following:

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January 28, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Psychology and Theology by Marco Gonzalez

If there is one thing Christians are in need of it is counseling. You don’t have to look into the NT (New Testament) too long to discover the constant need for counsel. In fact, Paul, in 1 Corinthians uses the word “comfort” over ten times in the first chapter alone. Yet, I believe there is much confusion over the right approach to biblical counseling. I use that term loosely because it has a variety of meanings to people. We live in a society that thrives on discovery, much like Odysseus, in the great novel by Homer “The Odyssey.” We find a man’s constant need for discovery and chance, which, likens to our own society’s need for discovery. With the use of psychological and sociological theories it is believed that we have solved most of the modern-man’s problems. Many Christian colleges and seminaries have integrated these findings from our society into their counseling and pastoral programs. This model of “integrating” theology and psychology together is the predominant form of counseling in Christianity.

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January 24, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Jesus Christ Fount of Every Blessing

"Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17). And again, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven" (John 3:27). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ." (Eph 1:3)

Since every good endowment and perfect gift is from above, Jesus leaves no room for nature to boast. This is no hyperbole but a plain expression of the Holy Spirit affirming that all our our abilities; moral, natural and otherwise are the merciful unconditional gift of our Lord Jesus Christ. These and many other passages use universal positives (All, Every) to describe the all-encompassing nature of Christ as the source of every excellence and spiritual blessing. The word "endowment" used in Jas 1:17 means talent, ability or quality which points to the fact that the grace and illumination we are given in Christ to apprehend His word are a necessary precursor to have the internal moral/spiritual quality that enable us to generate right thoughts about Christ. An unspiritual man cannot naturally generate the affections or faith necessary to appropriate salvation. No stream can rise above its source, so likewise, no good thought can rise to heaven unless its fountain source is in heaven. Redemptive thoughts are not derived from resources found below but must issue forth from the river of life whose fountainhead springs forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb. And it is from this same fountain that we must continually drink lest we dry up in the use our own natural resources.

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January 07, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Jonathan Edwards' 'The Excellency of Christ': Edited and Updated by Charles R. Biggs

Dear Beloved in Christ,

In my reading and study, I am oftentimes reminded of what C. S. Lewis said one time concerning the reading of old books. In essence, Lewis wrote that for every new book we read, we ought to read at least three old ones. What he wanted to communicated wisely to the Church was that the reading of old books takes us out of our culture and religious "present-tense" context and allows us to see a clearer and bigger picture of the teaching of Scripture without being hindered by the biases and narrowness of our present cultural milieu or context.

Recently, as I was studying and praying generally for the future of Christ's Church, and considering more specifically gaining wisdom with regard to how to pastor Christ's people, I came across a discourse, or study written by Jonathan Edwards in the early 18th century. Jonathan Edwards was a great and godly preacher of God's Word, and was perhaps the finest and most able theologian America has ever produced!

The discourse or study is entitled 'The Excellency of Christ'. The study struck me deeply in my heart and mind because it helped me to reflect on the glory of God in the incarnation, but perhaps even more practically, it helped me to think of how Christ builds and matures His Church in a way consistent with the incarnation, yet paradoxical with regards to the ways and methods of the world.

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December 14, 2005  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

A Reminder to the Covenant God by John Hendryx

It is pretty common knowledge that it rains quite a bit here in our city of Portland, Oregon. Most often it is a very light rain such that the city-dwellers do not even use umbrellas when they go about their business. But recently we had quite an unusual phenomenon. My wife and I were in our home early in the evening just before sunset and over the airwaves came the news that a major electrical storm would be passing over our area. It is not very often that thunder and lightning accompanies the rain here, but especially at this magnitude. As we went out on our front porch the sky became dark and gloomy while lightning flashed from one end of the sky to the other. But since the sun was near to setting in the west, its light came through underneath the dark clouds creating a surreal glow among the half-darkness.

Then as we looked out at the beauty of the moment, what appeared to be a transcendent rainbow, one like I had never seen in my life, sprang to life in full color in the midst of the mournful sky. While most rainbows seem to be partial, disappearing into the clouds, this one created a full arc or a half-circle from one end of the heavens to the other. Then another rainbow was revealed creating a double rainbow. We just stood in awe at its dreamlike quality and immediately both my wife and I, who were now sitting on the front porch transfixed at the vision, recalling its biblical significance spoke of it as a sign of a great blessing from God. I also saw several neighbors come out of their houses to view the unusual prism of colors. I approached to see if our next door neighbors had seen it and one of them said they thought was that it was “the end of the world”, but my wife and I recalled that rainbows are not signs of the end but of a new beginning in which God looks at His creation with favor. God uses covenant signs to create and affirm His covenant relationship toward us.

In fact, if we look back into the Old Testament book of Genesis, the rainbow was a sign of the covenant in which God would not again destroy creation with a flood. The Scripture reads:

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December 12, 2005  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Advent Readings 2005

Click here for Printable Version

Eric Costa & John Hendryx

December 03, 2005  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Is Divine Election Fair? by Pastor John Samson

Ephesians 1:4-6 "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."

Perhaps the biggest hurdle people stumble over concerning the Biblical doctrine of Divine Election, is the idea that it just doesn't seem fair. It is the issue I struggled with for many years, as like many others, I had the idea that in order for God to be fair, He has to treat all people equally.

Lets consider this fact though: When a person gives that which he has no obligation to give, he is considered gracious in giving to other people; but he is certainly not considered unjust because he doesn't give to an additional party.

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December 01, 2005  |  Comments (21)   |  Permalink

Jesus Asks His Church: "Who Do You Say That I Am?" -Part 2

Confessing Christ with All the Saints

The Word of God is the foundation, the sole infallible and inerrant authority and source for all we believe and do as Christians. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness in his holy word (2 Peter 1:3). We are to teach the Word of God as Christians, and particularly as Christian ministers we are to seek to teach the Bible as accurately as we can (2 Timothy 2:15).

For any Christian, and particularly ministers of the Bible, one of the first things realized in the study of the Bible is that the Word of God must be interpreted, and because of this need of correct interpretation we as members of Christ’s Church must know how to interpret the only infallible rule of our faith and practice, and know that our interpretation is correct. The Word of God must be taught and preached by the minister called of God, and we must seek to be faithful to our calling for Jesus’ sake.

In seeking to be faithful to Holy Scripture, and especially with regard to interpreting the Bible, we as Christians should seek to interpret the Word of God together in as well as with the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and confess this faith before the world. This is a most important way of striving for unity in the one Church of Christ, and of confessing to the world what we believe, and protesting what we do not believe with regards to what the Bible teaches. Studying creeds and confessions can help in our interpretive faithfulness as well as honor the work of the Holy Spirit as he has providentially taught and watched over Christ’s Church throughout the years.

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November 30, 2005  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus Asks His Church: "Who Do You Say That I Am?" -Part 2

Confessing Christ with All the Saints

The Word of God is the foundation, the sole infallible and inerrant authority and source for all we believe and do as Christians. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness in his holy word (2 Peter 1:3). We are to teach the Word of God as Christians, and particularly as Christian ministers we are to seek to teach the Bible as accurately as we can (2 Timothy 2:15).

For any Christian, and particularly ministers of the Bible, one of the first things realized in the study of the Bible is that the Word of God must be interpreted, and because of this need of correct interpretation we as members of Christ’s Church must know how to interpret the only infallible rule of our faith and practice, and know that our interpretation is correct. The Word of God must be taught and preached by the minister called of God, and we must seek to be faithful to our calling for Jesus’ sake.

In seeking to be faithful to Holy Scripture, and especially with regard to interpreting the Bible, we as Christians should seek to interpret the Word of God together in as well as with the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and confess this faith before the world. This is a most important way of striving for unity in the one Church of Christ, and of confessing to the world what we believe, and protesting what we do not believe with regards to what the Bible teaches. Studying creeds and confessions can help in our interpretive faithfulness as well as honor the work of the Holy Spirit as he has providentially taught and watched over Christ’s Church throughout the years.

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November 30, 2005  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Biblical Reflection on Music & Theology By Marco Gonzalez

On August 20, 2000 It was a scorching summer day in San Jose California. The time was 9:20am. I stepped into a gymnasium, which would be accustomed for chapel. However, every day preceding Monday, Wednesday, and Friday it was a typical run of the mill gym. Nevertheless, as above-mentioned, at 9:20 am this unpretentious gym was revamped into the manifold wisdom of God: his church. Chapel usually commenced with various songs of praise. In view of this, the worship demeanor was unalike. Several would raise their hands, others would stand silently, and furthermore some refused to sing. However, almost all demonstrated tolerance in support of the songs, whether the words were theologically veracious or not.

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November 28, 2005  |  Comments (16)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Thanksgiving ...

The Beatitude
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)

The Reminder
"When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes." (Deuteronomy 8:10-11a)

The Sad Reality
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:20-22)

The Response of a Regenerate Heart
[ David's Song of Thanks ] Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High. (Psalm 7:17)

Today we are thankful for the effectual, invincible, irreversible calling of the Triune God, who disarmed our stiffnecked, autonomous, unwilling hearts and brought us into indelible union with Him

November 24, 2005  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The wind blows where it wishes by Pastor John Samson

In the early verses of John chapter 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus in no uncertain terms, the absolute necessity of being born again (or born from above). Unless a man is first born again (regenerated) he can never enter or even see the kingdom of God. Jesus stresses the fact that this new birth is not merely an optional extra. It is imperative. Jesus said, "You must be born again" (3:7).

Jesus didn't tell Nicodemus what he must do to be born again. Why? Because it was not within Nicodemus' power to perform this miracle. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) Flesh can only reproduce flesh. It takes the Spirit to regenerate the human spirit. This miracle of regeneration cannot be achieved by human effort, or by self performed surgery.

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November 17, 2005  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Jesus Asks His Church: "Who Do You Say That I Am?"

Confessing Christ with All the Saints- Part 1
The Word of God is the foundation, the sole infallible and inerrant authority and source for all we believe and do as Christians. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness in his holy word (2 Peter 1:3). We are to teach the Word of God as Christians, and particularly as Christian ministers we are to seek to teach the Bible as accurately as we can (2 Timothy 2:15).

For any Christian, and particularly ministers of the Bible, one of the first things realized in the study of the Bible is that the Word of God must be interpreted, and because of this need of correct interpretation we as members of Christ’s Church must know how to interpret the only infallible rule of our faith and practice, and know that our interpretation is correct. The Word of God must be taught and preached by the minister called of God, and we must seek to be faithful to our calling for Jesus’ sake.

But how can we do this, knowing especially that the word of God has been misinterpreted throughout church history? The answer lies first of all in considering a healthy and biblical understanding of the Church in our creeds, confessions, and councils. The Word of God must be interpreted by the minister (“carefully handled”, or “rightly divided” as the KJV translates it), and our interpretations should seek to be consistent and line up with other orthodox ministers not only in the present, but in the past as well. This means we should read and interpret the Bible with the Church.

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November 16, 2005  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Pride: An Excerpt from Richard Baxter's 'The Reformed Pastor'

"One of our most heinous and palpable sins is PRIDE. This is a sin that has too much interest in the best of us, but which is more hateful and inexcusable in us than in other men. Yet is it so prevalent in some of us, that it influences our discourses, it chooses our company, it forms our countenances, it puts the accent and emphasis upon our words. It fills some men's minds with aspiring desires, and designs: it possesses them with envious and bitter thoughts against those who stand in their light, or who by any means eclipse their glory, or hinder the progress of their reputation.

Oh what a constant companion, what a tyrannical commander, what a sly and subtle insinuating enemy, is this sin of pride! It goes with men everywhere they go: to buy a home, to buy clothes, etc. It chooses the clothes one wears, their trimming, and fashion. Fewer ministers would ruffle it out in the fashion in hair and habit, if it were not for the command of this tyrannous vice. And I wish that this were all the damage it does to a minister, or the worst. But, alas! How frequently does it go with us to our study, and there sit with us and do our work! How often does it choose our preaching subject, and, more frequently still, our words and manner of preaching!

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November 15, 2005  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Foreknowledge by Pastor John Samson

Question: In Romans 8:29, the text reads "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son..." Does this not therefore suggest that because foreknowledge comes before predestination in the text, then predestination is simply based on God's foreknowledge: because God foreknows or sees in advance (with full and complete knowledge) what a person will do, and who it is that will respond in faith to the Gospel, He simply predestinates those whom He knows ahead of time will believe?

Certainly this is how I understood this passage for many years and it is the way that many deal with the issue of predestination in our day. Previously, I also pointed to 1 Peter 1:1-2 which talks of those who are "chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father..." and assumed that this verse would add weight to the idea that election and predestination is based on God knowing ahead of time what we will do - God merely chooses those whom He sees ahead of time will choose Him.

At first glance, it certainly seems to be a legitimate interpretation, yet the fact that foreknowledge comes before predestination should in no way surprize us. That's because God would need to foreknow a person He is going to predestinate to something. God does not predestinate unknown persons, but specific individuals whom He knows. So this not really an argument for either side in this debate. In both systems, Arminian and Reformed, foreknowing would need to come before predestination. The real question then is "what exactly does it mean for God to foreknow somebody?"

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November 14, 2005  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Person of Christ Driven Life: A Purpose for a Person

A Purpose or a Person?
Stay away from lists! Stay away and flee from Christians who say that if you follow a certain 10-step, 12-step, or even 40-step program that you are guaranteed a "successful", "prosperous" or "victorious" Christian life.

Why? Because Christ has given us himself as our focus. It is Christ himself in his person and his work who needs to be emphasized, not our purpose in life, even the Christian life, or our needs. What needs to be emphasized in order that it might drive our lives toward gratitude in Jesus is the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our only Lord, Savior of sinners and healer of sin! We don't need a "purpose driven life" we need a "Person of Christ" driven life!

When we focus on programs of so-called purpose, however many steps they might have, we focus on ourselves, whether we like to admit it or not!

With lists set for Christians with the goal toward growth, whether it be lists of purpose, or lists of achievement, what happens in a subtle manner is that we Christians begin focusing on ourselves, our success (or failures) with regard to the list or the program, and we can take our eyes off our only Savior.

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November 10, 2005  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Jesus Syllogism

A Biblical Reflection on John 6 by John Hendryx

According to Scripture, all persons have a knowledge of God (Rom 1:21), but not all persons know Him in the same way. Some people know Him as a friend, but others know Him only as an enemy. These are, by nature, hostile in mind toward Christ, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18), because they love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19, 20). The question I want to put before you to contemplate today is why is it that some persons see the beauty and excellence of Christ, knowing Him as a friend, while others find Jesus and his promises of grace so repulsive, remaining His enemy? What is it that makes people to differ in their response to the promises of the gospel?

The purpose of this short essay is to show from Scripture a discussion Jesus had in his time on earth where he unequivocally asserts that it is grace alone that makes persons to differ in our response to the gospel; whether we believe it, or reject it. And to drive this point home we will show how Jesus insists that UNLESS God grants His invincible grace no one would ever believe the gospel ... yet ALL persons to whom he grants this same grace will believe unto eternal life.

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November 02, 2005  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Understanding 2 Peter 3:9 by Pastor John Samson

Without doubt, 2 Peter 3:9 is the single most popular verse used to dismiss the reformed doctrine of election, bar none. Usually the meaning of the verse is assumed without taking any time to study it, which is the very hallmark of tradition. In fact, traditions are so strong that many do not even see the need to study the verse because they believe there is no need to do so. I have to admit that I did this for many years. Those most enslaved to their traditions are those who believe they do not have any. First of all then, let us read the verse in its context.

2 Peter 3:1-9 - This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

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October 30, 2005  |  Comments (75)   |  Permalink

Understanding 1 John 2:2 by Pastor John Samson

Those who have read my interview with John Hendryx (here) will know something of my struggle in coming to understand and appreciate the doctrines of grace. One of the biggest hurdles I encountered was my traditional understanding of 1 John 2:2. It acted much like a roadblock in my thinking, preventing me traveling along the road known as reformation highway for a long period of time. How are we to understand the verse then?

Let me start by affirming that scripture is explicit in saying that Jesus died:

for God's people ("He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of My people" - Isaiah 53:8; "He shall save His people from their sins" - Matt. 1:21);

for His sheep ("I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." - John 10:11 - note that Jesus categorically states that some are not His sheep - "but you do not believe because you are not My sheep." - John 10:26)

for His friends ("Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you." - John 15:13-14;

for the Church ("... the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood." - Acts 20:28; "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her..." - Eph. 5:25, 26).

Indeed, as God allows us to gain a glimpse into the future, Revelation 5:9 reveals the song of the throngs of heaven as they sing to the Lamb upon His throne, "And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Notice that it does not say that He ransomed everybody in every tribe, etc., but that He ransomed people for God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

Yet at least at first glance, 1 John 2:2 seems to strongly deny this idea that Jesus' death was designed for a particular people. The verse states, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

I don't believe that scripture contradicts itself. That is in fact why we are told to study the word of God in order that we might rightly divide it (2 Tim. 2:15) rather than simply throw up our hands saying a particular verse contradicts others on the same subject. "All Scripture is God breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16) and because there is one Divine Author of Scripture who does not contradict Himself, I am convinced that hard work and careful study will eliminate apparent contradictions.

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October 28, 2005  |  Comments (48)   |  Permalink

The Preservation of the Saints by Pastor John Samson

John Chapter 6:
34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread."
35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
39 "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day."

In this passage of scripture, Jesus presents the big picture perspective regarding salvation. His words are altogether clear and unmistakable, as He portrays the complete sovereignty of God in salvation. The crowd that was following Jesus "believed" in Him as a miracle worker and as the Messiah. John 6:14 states, "Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

However, Jesus makes it clear that this crowd did not possess true living faith - a faith that saves. They instead possessed a temporary "belief" or affection for Christ, but as the rest of the chapter shows, when Jesus finished preaching this latest message, most in the crowd were no longer following Him. John 6:66 says, "As a result of this ("this" meaning Jesus' own words) many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. "

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October 27, 2005  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Light at the End of the Tunnel

light_end_tunnel.jpgJames 5:7-12 is a pretty straightforward passage. James is writing to Christians who were most likely experiencing persecution of some sort, and in this passage is exhorting them to patient endurance of their trials.

But there's something implicit in the passage that is hard for many people to swallow. When the prophets and Job are brought up as examples of steadfastness through suffering, and you look at their situations specifically, you see that their trials were brought upon them by God himself, in order to magnify his mercy toward them. This flies in the face of our expectations when we hear so often about an all-loving God who would never wish harm upon anyone, especially not his cherished people.

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October 23, 2005  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Paul’s Definition of a Christian

"No Confidence in the Flesh” a Biblical Reflection by John Hendryx

I often make it a practice to familiarize myself with a book of the Bible by reading and saturating myself in it for 30 days in a row. I find this incredibly helpful. If the book is too long to read in one sitting, then I divide it into sections, reading each for 30 days. Currently I am reading through the Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians and ran across some good material that I wanted to share with anyone who will listen.

In chapter 3 of this book Paul gives us one of the best definitions of a Christian available in the Bible. He also contrasts this with the marks of false teachers.

Paul begins the chapter with the wondrous gift of grace with the hopeless pit of sin. He warns the Philippians against false teachers; those, he says, who have confidence in themselves. That is, anyone who adds conditions for salvation in addition to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul likens to Gentile dogs, those who fail to recognize that salvation is wholly of Jesus.

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October 20, 2005  |  Comments (20)   |  Permalink