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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Regeneration by Archibald Alexander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 11, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

With love for His chosen

"In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long before the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long before the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being --- when the ether was not fanned by an angel's wing, when space itself had not an existence, where there was nothing save God alone --- even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His heart moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved His people before the foundation of the world --- even from eternity! and when He called me by His grace, He said to me, 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee’”

- C. H. Spurgeon (Autobiography, I:167).

September 10, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Universalist, Arminian and Calvinist Views on the Atonement

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"Universalism is the belief that ultimately and finally, all people will be saved. The Church through the ages has soundly condemned this view as heresy for the simple reason that it is a doctrine denied by the Biblical text. Orthodox Christianity, while insisting on the infinite value of the cross of Christ, believes that by itself, Christ's death did not save everybody; that some will indeed experience God's wrath in hell, forever.

In this regard, two main views prevail in the Church today, both of which inevitably limit the atonement in some measure. One (the Arminian view) proclaims a "universal" and "potential" atonement, limiting its power (Christ died to make all men saveable, and that the benefits of His death are effected by man's choice to believe). The other (the Calvinist view) limits its extent. Christ came to fulfill the will of the Father in laying down His life for the sheep, giving Himself for the Church, securing a "real" and "definite" atonement that actually propitiated the Father's wrath, securing redemption for the people of God. Concerning this question, clarity emerges when we ask this vital question: "What was the Father's plan from all eternity in the cross of Christ?" - what did God will for Christ's death to accomplish? Our study of the Scriptures reveals a breathtaking, staggering answer! Christ as the perfect and powerful Savior, perfected forever, all for whom His death was intended. No mere potential atonement is in view. The angel announced that Christ would save His people from their sins. He did exactly that!"

- John Samson

August 23, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What God demands, Christ provides

God demands 100% faultless, perfect obedience. If you can’t do that, you’d better find Someone who can do it for you.

August 23, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Some Quotes to Ponder

"No one who has ever truly understood their own heart, their own guilt, and the holiness of God, could ever trade the finished work of Christ for the never-perfecting charade of the Romanist mass, the medieval myth of purgatory and indulgences, and the legion of alter Christi who daily attempt to sew up the rent veil." - James White

"The demands of following Christ will cost you everything. But you gain far more than you give up. You give up dirt for diamonds." - Steve Lawson

"Ever heard of anyone executed for distributing copies of Grimm’s fairy tales? Imagine people trying to smuggle copies of Hans Christian Andersen’s works into China? The Bible, which has been called a mere collection of myths has suffered all of these fates: even today, copies of the Bible are banned and burned. There’s something about this ancient book that threatens and frightens those in power." - Eric Metaxas

"Just as a jeweler in a store will always use a black velvet background to display the splendor of an exquisite diamond, so the intricate, dazzling beauty of the gospel is only fully seen when we understand what the Bible says about man’s radical condition outside of Christ. Its a bleak and dark picture to be sure. Yet only when we understand the immensity of the problem can we find the right solution – and see the futility of all other man made remedies. We need far more than a moral pep talk; more than some medical first aid for our gaping wounds; and even more than even an oxygen mask to help us breathe more easily. What we need is a miracle! What we need is a resurrection!" - John Samson

"The holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him." - C. H. Spurgeon

"How dare you say 'Oh, so you are just a homemaker' to the hero of my children." - Sinclair Ferguson

"There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God." - Frederick Faber

"There is mercy for a sinner, but there is no mercy for the man who will not own himself a sinner." - C. H. Spurgeon

"It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives and friends. But it is impossible to deceive Christ." - J. C. Ryle

May 29, 2013  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Irresistible Grace (2 Quotes)

The doctrine of "irresistible grace" is easily understood. It is simply the belief that when God chooses to move in the lives of His elect and bring them from spiritual death to spiritual life, no power in heaven or on earth can stop Him from so doing. It is really nothing more than saying that it is God who regenerates sinners, and that freely. The doctrine has nothing to do with the fact that sinners "resist" the common grace of God and the Holy Spirit (they do) or that Christians do not live perfectly in the light of God's grace. It is simply the confession that when God chooses to raise His people to spiritual life, He does so without the fulfillment of any conditions on the part of the sinner. Just as Christ had the power and authority to raise Lazarus to life without obtaining his "permission" to do so, He is able to raise His elect to spiritual life with just as certain a result.

Objections to irresistible grace are, by and large, actually objections to the previously established truths of the doctrines of grace. Obviously, if God is sovereign and freely and unconditionally elects a people unto salvation, and if man is dead in sin and enslaved to its power, God must be able to free those elect people in time and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ, and that by a grace that does not falter or depend upon human cooperation. Those who disbelieve God's right to kingship over His creation or the deadness of man in sin and put forward the tradition of man's autonomous will can hardly confess that God's grace actually saves without the freewill cooperation of man. From their perspective, the autonomous act of human faith must determine God's actions. That act of faith becomes the "foreseen" act that controls God's very decree of predestination, and, of course, that act of faith becomes the "trigger" that results in one being born again.

Neither side in the debate will deny that God is the one who raises men to spiritual life. The question is: Does He do so because men fulfill certain conditions, or does He do so freely, at His own time, and in the lives of those He chooses to bring into relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ? This question is normally framed in the context of the relationship of faith and regeneration. Do we believe to become born again, or must we first be born again before we can exercise true, saving faith? Can the natural man do what is pleasing to God? Can the dead choose to allow themselves to be raised to life? This is the issue at hand. - Dr. James White, Debating Calvinism

Does the Bible Teach Prevenient Grace?

As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that “comes before” something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with and assent to this grace are “elect.” Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost. The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man’s spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God’s grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn’t everyone get the same amount?

Think of it this way, in personal terms. If you are a Christian you are surely aware of other people who are not Christians. Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn’t God give the same gift to everybody?

Perhaps it wasn’t because you were more righteous. Perhaps it was because you are more intelligent. Why are you more intelligent? Because you study more (which really means you are more righteous)? Or are you more intelligent because God gave you a gift of intelligence he withheld from others?

To be sure, most Christians who hold to the prevenient grace view would shrink from such answers. They see the implied arrogance in them. Rather they are more likely to say, “No, I chose Christ because I recognized my desperate need for him.” That certainly sounds more humble. But I must press the question. Why did you recognize your desperate need for Christ while your neighbor didn’t? Was it because you were more righteous than your neighbor, or more intelligent?

The question for advocates of prevenient grace is why some people cooperate with it and others don’t. How we answer that will reveal how gracious we believe our salvation really is. The $64,000 question is, “Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?”

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it. - R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God

February 13, 2013  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Chrysostom Vs. Augustine on Man's WIll

John Chrysostom (347-407), held to this opinion,

“All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost, . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end.” … Salvation is of God and of man!"

Now contrast this view with Augustine (354 – 430):

"God's mercy ... goes before the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing to make his will effectual."
- Augustine, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love.

"The nature of the Divine goodness is not only to open to those who knock. but also to cause them to knock and ask."
- Augustine

"In some places God requires newness of heart [Ezek 18:31]. But elsewhere he testifies that it is given by him [Ezek. 11:19; 36:26]. But what God promises we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace."
- Augustine

'Can we possibly, without utter absurdity, maintain that there first existed in anyone the good virtue of a good will, to entitle him to the removal of his heart of stone? How can we say this, when all the time this heart of stone itself signifies precisely a will of the hardest kind, a will that is absolutely inflexible against God? For if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone.'
- Augustine

December 30, 2012  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Poor in Spirit by Thomas Watson

He that is poor in spirit is lowly in heart. Rich men are commonly proud and scornful, but the poor are submissive. The poor in spirit roll themselves in the dust in the sense of their unworthiness. 'I abhor myself in dust' (Job 42:6). He that is poor in spirit looks at another's excellencies and his own infirmities. He denies not only his sins but his duties. The more grace he has, the more humble he is, because he now sees himself a greater debtor to God. If he can do any duty, he acknowledges it is Christ's strength more than his own. As the ship gets to the haven more by the benefit of the wind than the sail, so when a Christian makes swift progress, it is more by wind of God's Spirit than the sail of his own endeavour. The poor in spirit, when he acts most like a saint, confesses himself to be 'the chief of sinners'. He blushes more at the defect of his graces than others do at the excess of their sins. He dares not say he has prayed or wept. He lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him. He labours, yet not he, but the grace of God. - Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes

October 27, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"Faith" according to Martin Luther

"Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.” They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, “I believe.” That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this `faith,’ either.

Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do."

An excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith from DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]

October 27, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Stewards of the Gospel

gospelspowerandmessage.jpg"As stewards of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we do no service to men by making light of sin, skirting around the issue, or avoiding it altogether. Men have only one problem: they are under the wrath of God because of their sin. To deny this is to deny one of the most foundational doctrines of Christianity. It is not unloving to tell men that they are sinners, but it is the grossest form of immorality not to tell them! In fact, God declares that their blood will be on our hands if we do not warn them of their sin and the coming judgment. To seek to preach the gospel without making sin an issue is like trying to heal the brokenness of people superficially, saying, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace." - Paul Washer, http://bit.ly/RmC3g2

Excerpt The Gospel’s Power and Message by Paul Washer

October 14, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Doctrines of Grace

Dr. D. James Kennedy, was an American pastor, evangelist, and Christian broadcaster. He founded the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was senior pastor from 1960 until his death in 2007. Kennedy also founded Evangelism Explosion International, Coral Ridge Ministries, the Westminster Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, the Knox Theological Seminary, and the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.

Here's a lengthy quote of his from an article “Turning the World Right Side Up” in Tabletalk magazine:

The doctrines of grace are sometimes called “the five points of Calvinism,” and these five points are called the doctrines of grace for this reason: to whatever extent you deviate from one of them, you deviate from grace. But what help are these five points to the evangelist? Why should salvation be by grace alone? In order that it may be of God. Salvation is of God, from alpha to omega, from infinity past to infinity future, beginning and end — it is all of God and for His glory.

This is what the doctrine of total depravity, for example, protects. It means not that man is as bad as he could be, but that every aspect of man’s being has been corrupted and tainted with sin. His mind, his understanding, his heart and affections, his will and volition are all corrupted. From the top of his head to the soles of his feet he is one huge sore and corrupt. Therefore, he is incapable of doing anything good in the sight of God, or even understanding. Not only does he have total sin, he also has total inability to understand or deal with spiritual things: “But the natural man (the unsaved man) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14 KJV). Jesus taught us that the unregenerate man, the natural man, as he is called before conversion, has eyes and sees not spiritual things; he has ears and hears not; his mind is darkened and veiled; his heart is a stone and is at enmity with God.

Therefore, since the will always does what the mind and the heart tell it to do, it will always reject Christ, because basically the unsaved man hates God. He is hostile to God. He will never admit that, but that is the truth. Total depravity and inability describes man’s condition — there is nothing he can do to gain his salvation.

This was the orthodoxy of the church back from the very beginning, exemplified when Augustine labored and fought with Pelagius. The question was: Is natural man born dead in sin? Is he born alive and well, or is he merely sick? If he is dead, he needs God to resurrect him. If he is merely sick, then all he needs is a physician with whom he can cooperate. In that case, Jesus and he will do the saving. Glory be to them both. Always man is trying to gain some part of his salvation. If he is well, all he needs is a little instruction, and he will stay in the way everlasting and will never fall into sin.

Contrarily, the church from the very beginning taught what is now called Augustinianism, namely that man is dead in sins and, therefore, needs Christ to resurrect him. “You hath he quickened who was made alive, which were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1 KJV). How many people today seem to think that unsaved man has some ability to cooperate in his salvation? It is as if Jesus said to Lazarus: “Lazarus, if you will just come out of that tomb, I will make you alive.” And so Lazarus got up and walked out of the tomb as a dead man, and then Jesus made him alive. If you believe that, you will believe a lot of popular Arminian preaching of our time.

But Jesus spoke the word. He said, “Lazarus, come forth.” And that word, combined with the work of the Holy Spirit, made him alive. His mind began to function, his heart began to beat, the blood began to course through his body. His ears began to function, he heard reverberations, and he said to himself: “It is the voice of my Beloved. I will arise and go unto Him.” As the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches: We are made willing by His grace and quickened so that we can come to understand and respond to the Gospel (chap. 10, sect. 1).

God chooses us, not because of some foreseen faith or repentance or merit or goodness or anything in ourselves. Paul says, “For ye see your calling, brethren … how that not many mighty, not many noble are called” (1 Cor. 1:26 KJV). Not many of the great and wise men of this world are called. But who is it God has called? God has chosen the foolish things of the world and the weak things of the world and the base things of the world. I am looking at them and so are you, in order that no one may glory in His presence. So if election is conditional upon some foreseen faith or goodness in us, then grace to that degree is corrupted and destroyed.

Particular redemption, which means that Christ didn’t just pay a penalty and a payment for an indiscriminate mass of people — but that He purchased the salvation of His elect — doesn’t simply make salvation possible. He makes it certain because the debt of sin was paid. Thus the burden of successful evangelism is not our own. Evangelism is founded upon the pure grace of God.

Perhaps the greatest preacher of all time, Charles Spurgeon, a great Baptist in London more than a hundred years ago, when he moved into the great Metropolitan Tabernacle, preached a week-long series of dedicatory messages. And what were they on? They were on the doctrines of grace. I hated to be outdone, so when we moved into our new building I preached for six months on the doctrines of grace found in the Word of God.

This should be taken as an illustration of the commitment to evangelism found in the Reformed tradition. It is a great thing to be able to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to tell people the wonder of His love that took Him to Calvary, to describe the agony of His sufferings as He died in our place as our substitute and purchased for us eternal life. These are marvelous truths. But I want to tell you this: Just preaching it will not change the world. We must not only preach the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must equip Christians to follow the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


August 23, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Not just badness but blindness...

"We need to make plain that total depravity is not just badness, but blindness to beauty and deadness to joy; and unconditional election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before we ever existed; and that limited atonement is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of the covenant; and irresistible grace is the commitment and power of God’s love to make sure we don’t hold on to suicidal pleasures, and to set us free by the sovereign power of superior delights; and that the perseverance of the saints is the almighty work of God to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance of pleasures at God’s right hand forever."

- John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, p. 73.

August 11, 2012  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

What stirs the world's opposition...

“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we've never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. "God loves you" doesn't stir the world's opposition. However, start talking about God's absolute authority, holiness, Christ's substitutionary atonement, justification by faith apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.”

~ Michael Horton

August 06, 2012  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Spurgeon on 1 John 5:1

Charles Spurgeon preaching on 1 John 5:1 makes the point that men believe, not of their own power, but as a result of the work of regeneration in the hearts of men:

We must now pass on to show that wherever it exists it is the proof of regeneration. There never was a grain of such faith as this in the world, except in a regenerate soul, and there never will be while the world standeth. It is so according to the text, and if we had no other testimony this one passage would be quite enough to prove it. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."

"Ah!" I hear thee say, poor soul, "the new birth is a great mystery; I do not understand it; I am afraid I am not a partaker in it."

You are born again if you believe that Jesus is the Christ, if you are relying upon a crucified Saviour you are assuredly begotten again unto a lively hope. Mystery or no mystery, the new birth is yours if you are a believer. Have you never noticed that the greatest mysteries in the world reveal themselves by the simplest indications.

The simplicity and apparent easiness of faith is no reason why I should not regard its existence as an infallible indication of the new birth within. How know we that the new-born child lives except by its cry? Yet a child's cry—what a simple sound it is! how readily could it be imitated! a clever workman could with pipes and strings easily deceive us; yet was there never a child's cry in the world but what it indicated the mysteries of breathing, heart-beating, blood-flowing, and all the other wonders which come with life itself.

Do you see yonder person just drawn out of the river? Does she live? Yes, life is there.

Why?

Because the lungs still heave.

But does it not seem an easy thing to make lungs heave? A pair of billows blown into them, might not that produce the motion?

Ah, yes, the thing is easily imitated after a sort; but no lungs heave except where life is. Take another illustration.

Go into a telegraph office at any time, and you will see certain needles moving right and left with unceasing click. Electricity is a great mystery, and you cannot see or feel it; but the operator tells you that the electric current is moving along the wire.

How does he know?

"I know it by the needle."

How is that?

I could move your needles easily.

"Yes; but do not you see the needle has made two motions to the right, one to the left, and two to the right again? I am reading a message."

"But," say you, "I can see nothing in it; I could imitate the clicking and moving very easily."

Yet he who is taught the art sees before him in those needles, not only electric action, but a deeper mystery still; he perceives that a mind is directing an invisible force, and speaking by means of it.

Not to all, but to the initiated is it given to see the mystery hidden within the simplicity. The believer sees in the faith, which is simple as the movements of the needle, an indication that God is operating on the human mind, and the spiritual man discerns that there is an inner secret intimated thereby, which the carnal eye cannot decipher.

To believe in Jesus is a better indicator of regeneration than anything else, and in no case did it ever mislead. 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.

HT: Mike Porter

June 10, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Manifestation of His Glory

"God’s electing a certain definite number is a manifestation of His glory. It shows the glory of His divine sovereignty. God is declaring His absolute sovereignty over His creation. He is showing us just how far that sovereignty extends. In purposely choosing some and passing on others, He shows that His majesty and power are unparalleled. Those who do not see glory and dominion in election simply do not understand God. They are not aware of His greatness, and do not understand grace. Grace is defined in election. God chose His people to happiness and glory long before they were born. He chose them out of the mass of fallen mankind. He loved them before they knew Him. He chose them when they did not deserve to be chosen. That is grace! The doctrine of election shows that if those who received God’s grace had earnestly sought it, it was God’s grace that caused them to seek it. It shows that even their faith itself is the gift of God, and their persevering in a way of holiness unto glory is also the fruit of electing love. Believer’s love of God is the fruit of and because of God’s love to them. The giving of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, and the appointing of ordinances are all fruits of the grace of election. All the grace that is shown to mankind, either in this world or in the world to come, is comprised of the electing love of God."

- Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, volume 2, page 936: Sermon 13 in occasional sermons on 1 Peter 2


May 02, 2012  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Irresistible Grace (Quotes)

The doctrine of "irresistible grace" is easily understood. It is simply the belief that when God chooses to move in the lives of His elect and bring them from spiritual death to spiritual life, no power in heaven or on earth can stop Him from so doing. It is really nothing more than saying that it is God who regenerates sinners, and that freely. The doctrine has nothing to do with the fact that sinners "resist" the common grace of God and the Holy Spirit (they do) or that Christians do not live perfectly in the light of God's grace. It is simply the confession that when God chooses to raise His people to spiritual life, He does so without the fulfillment of any conditions on the part of the sinner. Just as Christ had the power and authority to raise Lazarus to life without obtaining his "permission" to do so, He is able to raise His elect to spiritual life with just as certain a result.

Objections to irresistible grace are, by and large, actually objections to the previously established truths of the doctrines of grace. Obviously, if God is sovereign and freely and unconditionally elects a people unto salvation, and if man is dead in sin and enslaved to its power, God must be able to free those elect people in time and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ, and that by a grace that does not falter or depend upon human cooperation. Those who disbelieve God's right to kingship over His creation or the deadness of man in sin and put forward the tradition of man's autonomous will can hardly confess that God's grace actually saves without the freewill cooperation of man. From their perspective, the autonomous act of human faith must determine God's actions. That act of faith becomes the "foreseen" act that controls God's very decree of predestination, and, of course, that act of faith becomes the "trigger" that results in one being born again.

Neither side in the debate will deny that God is the one who raises men to spiritual life. The question is: Does He do so because men fulfill certain conditions, or does He do so freely, at His own time, and in the lives of those He chooses to bring into relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ? This question is normally framed in the context of the relationship of faith and regeneration. Do we believe to become born again, or must we first be born again before we can exercise true, saving faith? Can the natural man do what is pleasing to God? Can the dead choose to allow themselves to be raised to life? This is the issue at hand." - Dr. James White, Debating Calvinism

"Does the Bible Teach Prevenient Grace?

As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that “comes before” something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with and assent to this grace are “elect.” Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost. The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man’s spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God’s grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn’t everyone get the same amount?

Think of it this way, in personal terms. If you are a Christian you are surely aware of other people who are not Christians. Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn’t God give the same gift to everybody?

Perhaps it wasn’t because you were more righteous. Perhaps it was because you are more intelligent. Why are you more intelligent? Because you study more (which really means you are more righteous)? Or are you more intelligent because God gave you a gift of intelligence he withheld from others?

To be sure, most Christians who hold to the prevenient grace view would shrink from such answers. They see the implied arrogance in them. Rather they are more likely to say, “No, I chose Christ because I recognized my desperate need for him.” That certainly sounds more humble. But I must press the question. Why did you recognize your desperate need for Christ while your neighbor didn’t? Was it because you were more righteous than your neighbor, or more intelligent?

The question for advocates of prevenient grace is why some people cooperate with it and others don’t. How we answer that will reveal how gracious we believe our salvation really is. The $64,000 question is, “Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?”

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it." - R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God

April 17, 2012  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

From the Foreword...

Excerpt from the foreword to John Samson's new book “Twelve What Abouts – Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election,” John Hendryx writes:

John 3:19-20 states that natural men love darkness and will not come into the light. Left to themselves men will always choose to stay in darkness. Whether or not someone believes or rejects Christ, it depends completely on the disposition of the heart. Apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible says our disposition is, by nature, hostile to God and we cannot understand spiritual truth (Rom 8:7 & 1 Cor 2:14). But thanks be to God, the new birth or regeneration, is where God, the Holy Spirit applies the redemptive blessings of Christ, which give us the spiritual life that empowers us to do what we must do (repent and believe the gospel), but cannot do (while in the flesh), because of our bondage to sin (John 6:63, 65).

Clear and plain as the words of Christ regarding His identity may now seem to be, it is important to consider that there was a time when even Jesus' disciples (who spent 3 years with him) did not understand them. Seeing they did not see, and hearing they did not hear (Matt 13:13). They could not comprehend that the Messiah was to be "cut off" (Isaiah 53:8). They refused to receive the teaching that their own Rabbi must die. Therefore, when He was finally crucified ... when the Shepherd was finally struck down … they were confounded and His sheep were scattered each to his own way. Although Jesus had often told them of it, they had never internalized it as a fact. They were blinded to it.

Let us watch and pray to God against such prejudice in our own heart. Let us beware of allowing traditions, preconceived notions and unaided logic to take root in our hearts and blind us to Jesus. There is only one test of truth: what the Scripture says. Before this all the prejudices in our hearts must fall.

But even the disciples who read the Scripture still did not understand. And when they finally did, what was it that made the difference? How did they finally see Jesus for who He was? In Matthew chapter 16:13-17 Jesus asked His disciples the most important question they were ever asked. Jesus asked, "...who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."

Notice that the first thing Jesus wants to make certain Peter understands when making his declaration is that this mystery cannot be truly known by human reason, but only by God's revelation through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3; Matt 11:25-27). "Flesh and blood" simply refers to the natural resources of man without the Holy Spirit.

Left to himself with his natural depravity blinding him, Peter would never have understood the truth, beauty and excellence of Christ and His true identity. Left to himself, Simon wouldn’t have marveled at Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the world. But God Himself had revealed this truth to him by giving him a new heart (Ezek 36:26) in which the Spirit cries ABBA FATHER (Rom 8:14-17), and so his eyes were opened for the first time to recognize who Jesus really is. Apart from the Spirit of God there is no understanding of Spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:10-14) even when it is staring you in the face. You may intellectually understand what the words mean, but the heart is so naturally prejudiced against Christ, that the Spirit must disarm those hostilities if we are to see the truth in them.

Apart from a new heart, the problem in our natural state is that we are all spiritually blind (not merely short-sighted). 2 Cor 4:3-4 says: “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” So if God does not open our spiritual eyes, we will never be able to recognize Jesus. Unless God intervenes to replace our eyes, we are, like the disciples, incapable of recognizing Christ as He really is.

In the flesh we can go listen to a preacher, we can read the Bible, yet unless God reveals Himself directly to us, we are dead to spiritual truth (Eph 2:1). While reading the text we will actually fail to recognize Him, just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus, until Jesus opened their eyes. And that is why we need God to intervene, to take away our spiritual blindness, so that we can see clearly what otherwise is beyond our natural resources to comprehend.

It seems that Jesus believes it is critical to remind Peter of this truth as of first importance in Peter's "follow-up". Many in this day and age are reluctant to speak to a new Christian about God's sovereign grace in salvation for fear it is a hard truth. Yet when Peter makes his first confession of Christ, Jesus puts it first before all other truths.

The entire eBook is available for $4 at this link.

January 16, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Immanuel is God with us

cover.jpg“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”—Matthew 1:23

Immanuel is God with us. We here ascend infinitely above the human. It is not merely an angel that is with us- a man that is with us; it is Deity who is with us, none less than Jehovah Himself, Israel’s covenant God and Keeper. We cannot do with anything short of Deity. If Deity does not come to our aid, if Deity does not stoop to our low estate, if Deity does not save us, we are lost to all eternity. When we fell in the first Adam, our humanity lost all its original righteousness and strength. If Deity did not interpose on our behalf, if God did not Himself embark in our rescue, the inevitable consequence must have been the shades of endless death. But a plan of deliverance had been conceived from everlasting. God, in the infinite counsels of His own mind, resolved upon the salvation of His eternally chosen and loved people. He saw that there was no eye to pity them, and no arm to save them. He resolved upon our salvation, embarked in it, accomplished it; and eternity, as it rolls upon its axis, will magnify His name, and show forth His praise.

And, O beloved! what an assuring and comforting truth is this- God with us! Now we feel equal to every service, prepared for every trial, armed for every assault. Deity is our shield, Deity is our arm, Deity is our Father and our Friend. We deal with the Divine. Deity has died for us, has atoned for us, has saved us, and will bring us safely to the realms of bliss. “This God is our God, forever and ever, and will be our Father even unto death.” Oh, see, my reader, that your hope is built upon nothing more and upon nothing less than Christ. The “Rock of Ages” must be your only foundation if saved. If you stand not in the “righteousness of God” when you appear in His presence, He will say to you, “How did you get in here, not having on the wedding garment?” Speechless will then be the tongue now so fluent and ingenious in its many and vain excuses, or so loud and earnest in its heartless responses in religious worship. I solemnly repeat that, if you have no better righteousness to appear before God in than your religious duties, or rites, or doings, when summoned to His dread tribunal, it had been better for you never to have been born. Oh, cast from you the leprous garment you so long and so fondly have clutched, as though it were a white and beautiful robe fit to appear in the presence of the holy, holy, holy Lord God; and accept in penitence and faith the “righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all those who believe.” Deadly doings are deadly things, sinking you as a nether millstone down to the shades of the bottomless pit. But one believing look at the crucified Savior is life and immortality, raising you above the curse, above your sins, out of the horrible pit and the miry clay of your present condemnation, into the sun-lit regions of forgiveness, peace, and hope.

Octavius Winslow, Emmanuel, or The TItles of Christ, as published in The Works of Octavius Winslow (Monergism Books, Kindle Edition)

December 03, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

God’s grace works in us sovereignly to produce a godly will - Augustine

"Some might interpret ‘It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy’ (Rom.9:16), in this sense — that salvation comes from both, that is, both from the human will and from the mercy of God. In that case, we must understand the saying, ‘It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy,’ as if it meant that the human will alone is not sufficient, unless the mercy of God goes with it. But then it would follow that the mercy of God alone is not sufficient, unless the human will goes with it! Therefore, if we may rightly say, ‘it is not of man who wills, but of God Who shows mercy,’ because the human will by itself is not enough, why may we not also rightly put it the other way round: ‘It is not of God Who shows mercy, but of man who wills,’ because the mercy of God by itself is not sufficient? Surely, no Christian will dare to say this, ‘It is not of God Who shows mercy, but of man who wills,’ in case he openly contradicts the apostle!

So it follows that the true interpretation of the saying, ‘It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy,’ is that the entire work belongs to God, Who both makes the human will righteous, and prepares it in this way for His assistance, and then assists it when it is prepared. For human righteousness of will precedes many of God’s gifts, but not all of them; and it must itself be included among those gifts which it does not precede. We read in Holy Scripture, both that God’s mercy ‘shall meet me’ (Ps.59:10), and that His mercy ‘shall follow me’ (Ps.23:6). Mercy goes before the unwilling person to make him willing; it follows the willing person to make his will effective. Why are we taught to pray for our enemies, who are plainly unwilling to lead a holy life, unless that God may produce willingness in them? And why are we ourselves taught to ask in order that may receive, unless that He who has created in us the wish, may Himself satisfy the wish? We pray, then, for our enemies, that the mercy of God may go before them, as it has gone before us; and we pray for ourselves that His mercy may follow us.

Augustine, Enchiridion, 32

November 01, 2011  |  Comments (17)   |  Permalink

The Unconditional Love of God

God's love is unconditional for those He intends to adopt as His children. He does not make us meet a condition (faith) before He will love us, as the Arminian affirms. Rather, He meets the condition for us in Christ by doing for us what we are unable to do for ourselves, that is, giving us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. (Ezek 36:26).
- John Hendryx

October 25, 2011  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Quotes on Election

“Can controversial teachings nurture our Christlikeness? Before you answer this question, ask another one: Are there any significant biblical teachings that have not been controversial? I cannot think of even one, let alone the number we all need for the daily nurture of faith. If this is true, then we have no choice but to seek our food in the markets of controversy. We need not stay there. We can go home and feast if the day has been well spent. But we must buy there. As much as we would like it, we do not have the luxury of living in a world where the most nourishing truths are unopposed. If we think we can suspend judgment on all that is controversial and feed our souls only on what is left, we are living in a dreamworld. There is nothing left. The reason any of us thinks that we can stand alone on truths that are non-controversial is because we do not know our history or the diversity of the professing church. Besides that, would we really want to give to the devil the right to determine our spiritual menu by refusing to eat any teaching over which he can cause controversy?

The teaching of Scripture on election has been controversial. But I believe with all my heart that it is precious beyond words and a great nourishment for the Christlikeness of faith. If I understand the teaching of the Bible, God has pleasure in election. To know that this is true, and to know why it is, is to see another facet of the glory of God. And that sight is the power to make us holy and happy people.” – John Piper, Chosen: God’s Grace in Election

“He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe; lest we should say that we first chose him.” – Augustine

John MacArthur, Answering the Key Questions About the Doctrine of Election (Interview): “It probably ought to be the first thing you teach a young believer. Now that you’ve come to Christ, this is what I want you to know, you were saved by the sovereign grace of God who stepped into your life in the midst of your death and blindness and gave you life and sight and picked you up and brought you into His Kingdom. Sheer grace has done this for you. That, I think, is the first thing you should say to a new convert. This is, if in fact, you are faithful to the confession you have made, if in fact your love for Christ and desire to honor, to worship and to obey Him continues to grow, this will be an ongoing evidence that God has wrought a miracle in your life. And because of that, you need to know, this is really important, that you should live a life of gratitude for a work has been done in you which you did not deserve and did not earn.”

“At the very announcement of the text some will be ready to say, “Why preach upon so profound a doctrine as election?” I answer, because it is in God’s word, and whatever is in the Word of God is to be preached. “But some truths ought to be kept back from the people,” you will say, “lest they should make an ill use thereof.” That is Popish doctrine, it was upon that very theory that the priests kept back the Bible from the people, they did not give it to them lest they should misuse it. “But are not some doctrines dangerous?” Not if they are true and rightly handled. Truth is never dangerous, it is error and reticence that are fraught with peril. “But do not men abuse the doctrine of grace?” I grant you that they do; but if we destroyed everything that men misuse, we should have nothing left. Are there to be no ropes because some fools will hang themselves? And, must cutlery be discarded and denounced, because there are some who will use dangerous weapons for the destruction of their adversaries? Decidedly not. Besides all this, remember that men do read the Scriptures and think about these doctrines, and therefore often make mistakes about them; who then shall set them right if we, who preach the Word, hold our tongues about the matter?” – C. H. Spurgeon, from sermon entitled, Election: Its Defenses and Evidences

“I know, dear friends, there are some who are so afraid of this doctrine, that the mention of it produces alarm. If they were to meet a lion in their way, they would not be more terrified than they are when they see this doctrine in Scripture or hear it from the pulpit (the doctrine of Election).” – C. H. Spurgeon, from sermon entitled, Election: Its Defenses and Evidences

“God didn’t draw straws; He didn’t look down the corridor of time to see who would choose Him before He decided. Rather, by His sovereign will He chose who would be in the Body of Christ. The construction of the Greek verb for “chose” indicates God chose us for Himself. That means God acted totally independent of any outside influence. He made His choice totally apart from human will and purely on the basis of His sovereignty.” – John MacArthur Jr.

“It is no novelty, then, that I am-preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, which are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian, or a believer in the doctrine of free-will, I should have to walk for centuries all alone. Here and there a heretic of no very honorable character might rise up and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren – I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church.” – C. H. Spurgeon, from sermon entitled, Election

“The Sovereignty of God is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go contending with God about His sovereignty it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God as an absolute sovereign, and the sovereign of our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom He will have mercy and harden whom He will.” – Jonathan Edwards

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37

“Thank God for such an assurance as that! God will not be defeated. His purpose will never fail of accomplishment. All that the Father giveth to Jesus shall come to Him. You do not like that, perhaps. You say you do not believe in election and predestination. Then you will have to tear a number of pages out of your Bible, for there are many of them which magnify God’s sovereign electing grace.” – H. A. Ironside, The Gospel of John

“You know, brethren, that there is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer, I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But, my dear friends, far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none within her walls but Calvinistic Christians, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him, that while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself, I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one of whom the world was not worthy. I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ into their hearts, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist out of heaven.” – C. H. Spurgeon, The Man With the Measuring Line

October 25, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Three Choice Quotes on Bondage of the Will

"Free will I have often heard of, but I have never seen it. I have always met with will, and plenty of it, but it has either been led captive by sin or held in the blessed bonds of grace."
- C. H. Spurgeon

“I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want ‘free-will’ to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground …; but because even were there no dangers … I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success … But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God”
- Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 313-314.


man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.
- John Calvin, BLW pp 69, 70

September 04, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Semper Reformanda

Dr. John MacArthur writes:

Semper reformanda (“always reforming”) is one of the enduring slogans often associated with the Protestant Reformation. The origins of the phrase are murky and probably date from the late 1600s. But the kernel of the idea is true enough: Until we are glorified—until we are fully, finally, perfectly conformed to the exact likeness of Christ—we as saints individually, and the whole church collectively, must always be reforming.

The idea is not that we should change for the sake of change. You can be sure that whoever first penned that slogan was not urging Christians to stay abreast of every wind of earthly fashion in order to suit someone’s shallow notion of “relevance.” Nor does the principle of semper reformanda require us to rewrite our doctrinal standards every generation in order to keep in step with the constantly-changing dogmas of human philosophy.

On the other hand, real Reformation is not about slavish subscription to one particular set of seventeenth-century confessional standards—as if the magisterial Reformers or their immediate successors reached a level of ecclesiastical and doctrinal perfection beyond which further reform is impossible. According to that view, you’re not truly Reformed if, for example, you reject paedobaptism or you employ musical instruments and hymns in your worship rather than strictly limiting your singing to metrical psalms sung a capella.

John Calvin was under no illusion that the Reformation had reached its goal in his lifetime—or that it would get there in a generation or two. He wrote,

Christ "loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish," (Eph. 5: 25-27.) Nevertheless, it is true, that the Lord is daily smoothing its wrinkles and wiping away its spots. Hence it follows that its holiness is not yet perfect. Such, then, is the holiness of the Church: it makes daily progress, but is not yet perfect; it daily advances, but as yet has not reached the goal. (Institutes, 4.1.17)

Here’s the point: the only true and valid reformation occurs as we align our beliefs, our behavior, and our worship with the Word of God. In fact, the full, unabbreviated version of the Latin slogan is Ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei (“The Church Reformed and always reforming according to the Word of God.”)

God’s Word is the only true standard we have a divine mandate to conform to, and it is the ultimate standard by which we will be judged. Success or failure in ministry therefore cannot be evaluated by numerical statistics, financial figures, popularity polls, public opinion, or any of the other factors the world typically associates with “success.” The only real triumph in ministry is to hear Christ say, “Well done.”

August 29, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Naked and Empty-Handed, We Flee to His Mercy - Quote by John Calvin

"For God has shut up all men in unbelief," not that he may destroy all or suffer all to perish, but "that he may have mercy upon all" [ Romans 11:32]. This means that, dismissing the stupid opinion of their own strength, they come to realize that they stand and are upheld by God's hand alone; that, naked and empty-handed, they flee to his mercy, repose entirely in it, hide deep within it, and seize upon it alone for righteousness and merit. For God's mercy is revealed in Christ to all who seek and wait upon it with true faith. In the precepts of the law, God is but the rewarder of perfect righteousness, which all of us lack, and conversely, the severe judge of evil deeds. But in Christ his face shines, full of grace and gentleness, even upon us poor and unworthy sinners. - John Calvin

August 21, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Grace & Boasting

"Grace frees you from boasting in what isn't your own, including ascribing your repenting and believing to your own sound judgment or good sense. Grace makes us glory in Christ alone, even for these blessings." (Monergism)

May 11, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Lord Commands us to Keep His Precepts

The Lord has indeed "commanded us to keep His precepts." But, alas! where is our power?

When you aim at the perfect standard of holiness, you should, at your best moments, and in your highest attainments, fall so far below it; seeing indeed the way before you, but feeling yourself without ability to walk in it? Then let a sense of your helplessness for the work of the Lord lead you to the throne of grace, to pray, and watch, and wait, for the strengthening and refreshing influences of the Spirit of grace. Here let your faith realize at one and the same view your utter insufficiency, and His complete All-sufficiency....We might as soon create a world, as create in our hearts one pulse of spiritual life. And yet our inability does not cancel our obligation. What then remains for us, but to return the mandate to heaven, accompanied with an earnest prayer, that the Lord would write upon our hearts those statutes, to which He requires obedience in His word?, "You have commanded us to keep Your statutes diligently." We acknowledge, Lord, our obligation; but we feel our impotency. Lord, help us: we look unto You. "Oh that our ways were directed to keep Your statutes!" "Give what You command—and then command what You will." (Augustine.)

"Faith is then the principle of evangelical obedience, and the promises of His grace enables us for duty, at the very time that we are commanded to it. In this view are brought together the supreme authority of the Lawgiver, the total insufficiency of the creature, the full provisions of the Savior, and the all-sufficiency of "the God of grace."

Oh that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! - Ps.119:5

Quote from Exposition on Paslm 119 by Charles Bridges

March 13, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Gospel Proclaimed to All, None Seek it but the Regenerate

calvinbw.jpg"Men are to be taught, indeed, that the Divine benignity is free to all who seek it, without any exception; but since none begin to seek it, but those who have been inspired by heavenly grace, not even this diminutive portion ought to be taken from his praise. This is the privilege of the elect, that being regenerated by the Spirit of God, they are led and governed by his direction. Wherefore Augustine as justly ridicules those who arrogate to themselves any part of a good volition, as he reprehends others, who suppose that to be given promiscuously to all, which is the special evidence of gratuitous election. "Nature," says he, "is common to all men, but not grace." He calls it "a transparent subtlety, which shines merely with vanity, when that is extended generally to all, which God confers on whom he chooses."
John Calvin, Institutes, Book II, Section 10

February 19, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"I Don't Want Free Will" by Martin Luther

luther23.jpg"I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want "free-will" to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground ; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success.¦ But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God." - Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 313-314.

February 18, 2011  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Learning a New Language

"Upon taking their oath of citizenship, immigrants begin to learn the language and customs of their new country. Yet when God claims us as the beneficiaries of his covenant mercies in Christ, we are relocated from the fading empire of sin and death to the kingdom of grace."

"...nobody has to be taught the world's story; we are born with it, as fallen children of Adam. However, we have to be taught out of it by persistent pastors and teachers who know that we prefer by nature to think differently of God and ourselves than the Scriptures require..."

It is the constant renewing of our mind by God's Word that reorients us away from this fading age with its aimless plot, its "empty words" (Eph 5:6) and "philosophy and empty deceit" (Col 2:8), toward the everlasting inheritance in Christ.

- Michael Horton

February 12, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Do We Ever Think About our Souls at All?


"Thousands of ... people, I fear, cannot answer that question satisfactorily. They never give the subject of religion any place in their thoughts. From the beginning of the year to the end they are absorbed in the pursuit of business, pleasure, politics, money, or self-indulgence of some kind or another. Death, and judgment, and eternity, and heaven, and hell, and a world to come, are never calmly looked at and considered. They live on as if they were never going to die, or rise again, or stand at the bar of God, or receive an eternal sentence! They do not openly oppose religion, for they have not sufficient reflection about it to do so; but they eat and drink, and sleep, and get money, and spend money, as if religion was a mere fiction and not a reality. They are neither Romanists, nor Socinians, nor infidels, nor High Church, nor Low Church, nor Broad Church. They are just nothing at all, and do not take the trouble to have opinions. A more senseless and unreasonable way of living cannot be conceived; but they do not pretend to reason about it. They simply never think about God, unless frightened for few minutes by sickness, death in their families, or an accident. Barring such interruptions, they appear to ignore religion altogether, and hold on to their way cool and undisturbed, as if there were nothing worth thinking of except this world.

It is hard to imagine a life more unworthy of an immortal creature than such a life as I have just described, for it reduces a man to the level of a beast...."

Excerpt from SELF-INQUIRY by J. C. Ryle

February 06, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Lessons of Providence by John Newton

Excerpt, The Letters of John Newton (John Newton)

But a Christian is to pursue his lawful calling with an eye to the providence of God, and with submission to his wisdom. Thus, so far as he acts in the exercise of faith, he cannot be disappointed. He casts his care upon his Heavenly Father, who has promised to take care of him. What God gives, he receives with thankfulness, and is careful as a faithful steward to improve it for the furtherance of the cause of God, and the good of mankind. And if he meets with losses and crosses, he is not disconcerted, knowing that all his concerns are under a Divine direction; that the Lord whom he serves, chooses for him better than he could choose for himself; and that his best treasure is safe, out of the reach of the various changes to which all things in the present state are liable.

January 22, 2011  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

New Year's Resolutions

It is a sign we are guilty of this self-confidence when we resolve upon a better life, and do not think how unable we are for it. Great resolutions are always vain, unless joined with the consideration of our own weakness. The people of God have promised much, but always it is with the concurrence of Christ. The apostle saith, Phil. 4:12, 'I can,' or will 'do all things,' but it is 'through Christ.'

David promiseth, Ps. 119:32, 'I will run the ways of thy commandments;' but he addeth, 'when thou shalt enlarge my heart.' There are divers such places in scripture. We walk in the strength of our resolutions when we do not see a need that ...Christ should help us, that we may not walk in the same ways of error and maze of misery again...

You must understand it as accompanied with the Spirit's efficacy: 2 Cor. 10:4, 'The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God;' there lies its force. So 2 Cor. 3:6, 'Who hath made us able ministers of the new testament: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.' He calleth the law the letter, as it showeth what is to be done, but ministereth no abilities. The letter killeth, leaveth us miserable, but the gospel, accompanied with the Spirit, is an efficacious instrument to beget life in us; because all the efficacy thereof depends upon the Spirit, therefore, in opposition to the law, it is called spirit.

From A Practical Exposition of the Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah - Thomas Manton

December 31, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Holy, Holy, Holy by Thomas Brooks

"Who is like You, glorious in holiness?" Exodus 15:11

God is . . .
infinitely holy,
transcendently holy,
superlatively holy,
constantly holy,
unchangeably holy,
exemplary holy,
gloriously holy.

All the holiness that is in the best and choicest
Christians is but a mixed holiness, a weak and
imperfect holiness. Their unholiness is always
more than their holiness.
Ah, what a great deal . . .
of pride is mixed with a little humility,
of unbelief is mixed with a little faith,
of peevishness is mixed with a little meekness,
of earthliness is mixed with a little heavenliness,
of carnality is mixed with a little spirituality,
of harshness is mixed with a little tenderness!

Continue reading "Holy, Holy, Holy by Thomas Brooks" »

December 29, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Quotes from The Letters of John Newton - Indwelling Sin and the Believer

Though sin wars in us — it shall not reign in us. And though it breaks our peace — it cannot separate from his love. Nor is it inconsistent with his holiness, and perfection, to manifest his favor to such poor defiled creatures, or to admit them to communion with himself; for they are not considered as in themselves — but as one with Jesus, to whom they have fled for refuge, and by whom they live a life of faith.

==========

His power is displayed — in maintaining his own work in the midst of so much opposition, like a spark burning in the water, or a bush unconsumed in the flames.

==========

They dare not, they will not ascribe anything to themselves — but are glad to acknowledge, that they must have perished a thousand times over — if Jesus had not been their Savior, their Shepherd, and their Shield!

==========

Whoever is truly humbled — will not be easily angry, nor harsh or critical of others. He will be compassionate and tender to the infirmities of his fellow-sinners, knowing that if there is a difference — it is grace alone which has made it! He knows that he has the seeds of every evil in his own heart. And under all trials and afflictions — he will look to the hand of the Lord, and lay his mouth in the dust, acknowledging that he suffers much less than his iniquities have deserved.

==========

Quotes from The Letters of John Newton - Indwelling Sin and the Believer

December 26, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Some may say...

Some may say “because I am elect, it doesn’t really matter how I live or what I do." Well the one thing I can say for sure about you is that you might be elect, but you are not yet converted. - Dr. Joseph Pipa

November 26, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

John 3:16 (Revisited)

From Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, pg 73-75

It is ironic that in the same chapter, indeed in the same context, in which our Lord teaches the utter necessity of rebirth to even see the kingdom, let alone choose it, non-Reformed views find one of their main proof texts to argue that fallen man retains a small island of ability to choose Christ. It is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

What does this famous verse teach about fallen man’s ability to choose Christ? The answer, simply, is nothing.

The argument used by non-Reformed people is that the text teaches that everybody in the world has it in their power to accept or reject Christ. A careful look at the text reveals, however, that it teaches nothing of the kind. What the text teaches is that everyone who believes in Christ will be saved. Whoever does A (believes) will receive B (everlasting life). The text says nothing, absolutely nothing, about who will ever believe. It says nothing about fallen man’s natural moral ability. Reformed people and non-Reformed people both heartily agree that all who believe will be saved. They heartily disagree about who has the ability to believe.

Some may reply, “All right. The text does not explicitly teach that fallen men have the ability to choose Christ without being reborn first, but it certainly implies that.”

I am not willing to grant that the text even implies such a thing. However, even if it did it would make no difference in the debate. Why not? Our rule of interpreting Scripture is that implications drawn from the Scripture must always be subordinate to the explicit teaching of Scripture. We must never, never, never reverse this to subordinate the explicit teaching of Scripture to possible implications drawn from Scripture. This rule is shared by both Reformed and non-Reformed thinkers.

If John 3:16 implied a universal natural human ability of fallen men to choose Christ, then that implication would be wiped out by Jesus’ explicit teaching to the contrary. We have already shown that Jesus explicitly and unambiguously taught that no man has the ability to come to him without God doing something to give him that ability, namely drawing him.

Fallen man is flesh. In the flesh he can do nothing to please God. Paul declares, “The fleshly mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7, 8).

We ask, then, “Who are those who are ‘in the flesh’?” Paul goes on to declare: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:9). The crucial word here is "if."

What distinguishes those who are in the flesh from those who are not is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. No one who is not reborn is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. People who are in the flesh have not been reborn. Unless they are first reborn, born of the Holy Spirit, they cannot be subject to the law of God. They cannot please God.

God commands us to believe in Christ. He is pleased by those who choose Christ. If unregenerate people could choose Christ, then they could be subject to at least one of God’s commands and they could at least do something that is pleasing to God. If that is so, then the apostle has erred here in insisting that those who are in the flesh can neither be subject to God nor please him.

We conclude that fallen man is still free to choose what he desires, but because his desires are only wicked he lacks the moral ability to come to Christ. As long as he remains in the flesh, unregenerate, he will never choose Christ. He cannot choose Christ precisely because he cannot act against his own will. He has no desire for Christ. He cannot choose what he does not desire. His fall is great. It is so great that only the effectual grace of God working in his heart can bring him to faith.

September 16, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Crowning Grace with More Grace

The Scripture says, "But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:7)

Question: God gives grace to humble people. How is this not grace given for the human merit (or work) of humility, which would be the very opposite of grace (unmerited favor)?

Answer: God works to will and to do of His own good pleasure, graciously bestowing upon His people all that He requires of them, even instilling humility in them, so that the humility He gives is not a work of merit undertaken by the recipient, but God's work of grace in the heart of His elect people, which He then crowns with the reward of more grace. - JS

September 01, 2010  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

God bestows upon His elect all that He requires

"...in the covenant of grace he (man) is enabled to meet them (requirements of the covenant) only by the regenerating and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit. God works in man to will and to do, graciously bestowing upon him all that He requires of him. It is called the covenant of grace, because it is an unparalleled revelation of the grace of God, and because man receives all its blessings as gifts of divine grace."

Berkhof. Found on p. 264 of his Systematic Theology:

September 01, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Old v. The New Gospel

The following is a quote from Dr. J. I. Packer, from his Introduction to John Owen's "The Death of death in the death of Christ":

There is no doubt that Evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor’s dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and of equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel. Without realising it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty. The new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church. Why?

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August 27, 2010  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Cause(s) of Salvation

"First, the originating cause of salvation is the eternal purpose of God, or in other words, the predestinating grace of the Father. Second, the meritorious cause of salvation is the mediation of Christ, this having particular respect to the legal side of things, or, in other words, His fully meeting the demands of the Law on the behalf of and in the stead of those He redeems. Third, the efficient cause of salvation is the regenerating and sanctifying operations of the Holy Spirit, which respect the experimental side of it; or, in other words, the Spirit works in us what Christ purchased for us. Thus, we owe our personal salvation equally to each Person in the Trinity, and not to one (the Son) more than to the others. Fourth, the instrumental cause is our faith, obedience, and perseverance: though we are not saved because of them, equally true is it that we cannot be saved (according to God's appointment) without them."
- Quote from A Fourfold Salvation by A.W. Pink
August 07, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Irreducible Complexity

The progress in our knowledge of the irreducible complexity of life has rendered us truly "without excuse" when it comes to our attributing to the natural order that which God reserves for himself. Any person who can look at the mechanics of the cell, realize the order, the information, the complexity that makes any computer you are using to read this post look like a stick and a rock in comparison, and yet continue in the suppression of the God-instilled knowledge of His own existence is a person remaining in utter rebellion. - Dr. James White

July 21, 2010  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Psalm and Antipsalm by David Powlison

I found this excerpt from notes provided from a counseling class David Powlison was teaching here. It is quite profound and I thought I would pass it on. - JS

The antipsalm tells what life feels like and looks like whenever God vanishes from sight: the "I'm-all-alone-in-the-universe" experience. The antipsalm captures the drivenness and pointlessness of life-purposes that become petty, and thus self-defeating. It expresses the fears and silent despair that cannot find a voice. There’s no one to really talk to, no one who really cares. Something bad gets last say, when whatever I live for is not God, when how I’m living forgets what’s so.

Antipsalm 23
I’m on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I'm always restless. I’m easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It’s a jungle – I feel overwhelmed. It’s a desert – I’m thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can't fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life's confusing. Why don’t things ever really work out?
I'm haunted by emptiness and futility – shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I'd rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.
I'm alone… facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can’t really trust anyone. No one has my back.
No one is really for me – except me.
And I'm so much all about ME, sometimes it's sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough. I’m left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, "Hell is other people."
I have to add, "Hell is also myself."
It’s a living death, and then I die.

But the antipsalm doesn’t tell the final story...

Continue reading "Psalm and Antipsalm by David Powlison" »

July 11, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Augustine’s Story

From the book, "Finally Alive" by John Piper, pages 9-11

For Augustine, the idol that kept him from Christ was sex. He had given way to his passions for the last sixteen years. He had left home at age sixteen, but his mother Monica had never ceased to pray. He was now almost thirty-two. “I began to search for a means of gaining the strength I needed to enjoy you [O Lord], but I could not find this means until I embraced the mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ.”1

Then came one of the most important days in church history. It was late August, 386. Augustine was almost thirty-two years old. With his best friend Alypius, he was talking about the remarkable sacrifice and holiness of Antony, an Egyptian monk. Augustine was stung by his own bestial bondage to lust, when others were free and holy in Christ. There was a small garden attached to the house where we lodged.…I now found myself driven by the tumult in my breast to take refuge in this garden, where no one could interrupt that fierce struggle in which I was my own contestant.…I was beside myself with madness that would bring me sanity. I was dying a death that would bring me life.…I was frantic, overcome by violent anger with myself for not accepting your will and entering into your covenant.…I tore my hair and hammered my forehead with my fists; I locked my fingers and hugged my knees.2 But he began to see more clearly that the gain was far greater than the loss, and by a miracle of grace he began to see the beauty of chastity in the presence of Christ. The battle came down to the beauty of continence in fellowship with Christ versus the “trifles” that plucked at his flesh.

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July 06, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Moralism - Not Just Sub Christian But Anti-Christian

"Choose to be happy, treat people with respect, think and speak positive things, plan your life and execute your plan" and on and on it goes. The message sounds so good as it thunders out from pulpits, business seminars and in facebook comments everywhere. What is so deceptive about the message is that there is nothing inherantly wrong with what is said. It is what's MISSING that is so devilish. Its MORALISM - sub Christian and anti-Christian. What is missing is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. WITHOUT CHRIST AND HIS GOSPEL NO MESSAGE IS A CHRISTIAN MESSAGE. Lets get the gospel right, fully embrace it and then with the Holy Spirit's help, go to work on APPLYING THIS GOSPEL to every area of our lives. We are brought into right standing with God by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. That's the Gospel. To assume it is to deny it... and any message that is not the Gospel is a counterfeit. - JS

July 05, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

On the Shoulders of Giants

Eph 4: 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ..

Throughout the centuries the ascended Christ has given gifts to His Church. These gifts are men - living, walking, breathing, imperfect men - great preachers and teachers of the Church (Eph 4:7-12). Not one of them individually nor even all of them collectively are infallible, but I am a fool if I do not stop to at least consider what insight they have to teach me.

Lord, You gave them as gifts to me in my development to become more like You. Oh, develop humility in me so I may gain insights from those who have gone before me and those You have raised up even in my own day; for in this I will see so much further than I could see by myself alone.

"We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours." - John of Salisbury, 1159.

July 01, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Justification

The following is a quote from John Gerstner's Primer on Roman Catholicism:

Martin Luther, the great reformer, while still a Roman Catholic, had an experience which was the cue to his whole career. It occurred, according to his son, Paul, when, mounting the holy staircase of Rome on his knees in penance, he realized in a sudden flash of understanding the meaning of these words: “The just shall live by faith,” Romans 1:17. Immediately he rose from his knees and walked down the steps. This was the prelude to the Reformation. Was Luther right? Are men justified before God by faith alone? Let us see.

According to the Bible, justification is by faith in Christ; according to Rome, justification is by faith plus works. According to the Bible, justification produces good works; according to Rome, good works produce justification. According to the Bible, justification is by Christ alone; according to Rome, it is by Christ and the sinner. It would appear that the word of Rome and the Word of God are two different things. The following is a formula I have used for over 50 years when explaining this point:

Roman Catholic Teaching:
Faith + Works → Justification

Biblical Doctrine:
Faith → Justification + Works

It can be seen from the diagram that works are necessary for justification in both systems; but in the Roman system they are necessary as a prerequisite; in the biblical system they are necessary as a postrequisite.

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June 24, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Source of Humility

"We are all naturally self-righteous. But it is in the grace applied by the Spirit alone that our hearts are humbled to see the righteousness of Christ. Humility is not drawn from our native resources."
June 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Monergism Particular Redemption T-Shirt

Our new Particular Redemption T-Shirt bears the Text of Revelation 5:9-10. The following short exposition of this Text will show you why we think this text is so critical:

"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,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth."

rev59shirt-model.jpg

The scope of Christ's work of redemption is both universal and particular: universal because it includes people of every ethnicity and nation; particular because Christ redeems a people for Himself from out of these nations, having had an eye for a remnant of mankind from every tribe. Here is the climax of God's redemptive purpose, fulfilling God's covenant to Abraham to bless the children of promise through his seed (Gen 12:2; Rom 9:6-13). This is why God has commanded the church to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18, 19) that He might gather those he has set apart for Himself in every city and town (Acts 18:10; John 17:9, 20)

Continue reading "Monergism Particular Redemption T-Shirt" »

June 01, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Grace and Faith

"We deny that grace is a reward for our faith ...rather, it is the cause of faith. Jesus provides everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe." - Monergism.com
Grace is that which has NOTHING to do with the receiver, and EVERYTHING to do with the Giver. - Tom Mor De Lasa
May 31, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Excerpt from a Synergistic Statement of Faith

"We believe that when an unregenerate person exercises saving faith in Christ, which is illustrated and described as such in the New Testament, he passes immediately out of spiritual death into spiritual life." Stonebriar Community Church, Pastored by Chuck Swindoll, click here for source.

This simply does not stand up next to the Text of Scripture:

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all..."This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." John 6:63, 65

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:25-27

"...it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." - Rom 9:16

Related Quotes:

"How can it be said that the weakness of the human will is aided so as to enable it to aspire effectually to the choice of good, when the fact is, that it must be wholly transformed and renewed?" - John Calvin

"We ought always to beware of making the smallest claim for ourselves." - John Calvin

"The nature of the Divine goodness is not only to open to those who knock. but also to cause them to knock and ask." - Augustine

"You may be quite certain that if you love God it is a fruit, not a root." - C.H. Spurgeon

"We are not born again by repentance or faith or conversion: we repent and believe because we have been born again." - John Murray

"As grace led me to faith in the firstplace, so grace will keep me believing to the end. Faith, both in its origin and continuance, is a gift of grace." - J.I. Packer

"Regeneration, however it is described, is a divine activity in us, in which we are not the actors but the recipients." - Sinclair Ferguson

"Grace alone makes the elect gracious; grace alone keeps them gracious; and the same grace alone will render them everlastingly glorious in the heaven of heavens." - Augustus Toplady

"Without the Holy Spirit there would be no new birth, no illumination, no understanding or affection for the gospel, and thus no faith -- in other words, no Christians." - J.W. Hendryx

“To make human action the cause of divine blessing is to overturn the whole nature of salvation.” - Iain Murray

"...nor of the will of the flesh" (Jn. 1:13). The Bible declares there are only two states of being: flesh and Spirit, and that it is only those who are born of the Spirit (Jn. 3:3, 6:63) who will come to Jesus (Jn. 6:65). The native resources of the flesh are, therefore, morally impotent to meet God's humbling requirement to believe the gospel. (1:13) - J.W.H

"Grace itself teaches humility. The Apostle said, 'What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 cor 4:7) thus, even our ability to understand, to know, to discern, to hear, and to believe God's word, are all gifts we have received, not attainments we may boast in." J.W.H

"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law... Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart." Ps 119:18, 33-34


May 26, 2010  |  Comments (35)   |  Permalink

Consider your calling, brothers

1 Cor 1: 26: “For consider your calling, brothers.”

What is Paul referring to? Their job? Being a carpenter? Homemaker? Teacher? No. He is referring to the work of God in calling them to himself out of darkness into light, out of death into life. You can see the meaning pretty clearly in verses 22-24: For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

So there are three groups in these verses: the Jews, the Gentiles, and “the called.” Or to be more precise: the non-called Jews, the non-called Gentiles, and the called Jews and Gentiles. And what’s the difference? The non-called Jews see Christ-crucified as a stumbling block (verse 23). The non-called Gentiles see Christ-crucified as folly (verse 23). But “the called” Jews and Gentiles see Christ-crucified as “the power of God and the wisdom of God" (verse 24).

Which means that the call is the work of God that opens our eyes to see Christ as true and powerful and wise and beautiful and compelling so that we receive him for salvation. God’s call is his life-giving command: Come! If you are a believer today, that is how you got saved. God called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. This call was effective. It produced in you what it called for. It was like the effectiveness of a command that someone uses to wake you from a deep sleep. You lean over their ear while they are asleep, and you cry out: Wake up! And they bolt upright. They did not hear the command and ponder it and then decide to wake up. The command accomplished what it commanded: Wake up! That is the way God raises us from spiritual death. And only God can do it. And he did it for you. He loved you this way. Ephesians 2:4 says it was because of God’s “great love” that he made us alive when we were dead. You were about to sleep yourself into hell, and God woke you up to the ugliness of sin and the beauty of a great Savior. He loved you with a “great love.” - From the sermon, Consider your calling, John Piper, April 25, 2010

May 26, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Today - God's Gift To You

"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..." - Hebrews 3: 7,8

"The past is gone, the future is not here yet - all we have is TODAY.. and its in the DAILY ROUTINE where success or failure is determined. God does not look at your past to determine your future. Its over. Its gone.. and not even God can change the past. But He can change you NOW and every NOW is an opportunity for you to take hold of His grace and run your race. TODAY is God's gift to you. Make TODAY count."

- Pastor John Samson, King's Church, Phoenix, AZ

May 19, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Mercy - Never Deserved

"The moment we think we deserve mercy a little alarm bell should go off in our head because we are not talking about mercy anymore but justice." - R C Sproul

May 12, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Tower Experience

In the last 1,000 years, what came to be known as "the Tower Experience" of Martin Luther might well be the most significant event in the western world for all the ramifications which ensued. Here are Luther's own words as he describes what happened as he was studying Romans 1:17 (and reading the insights of Augustine on this verse from a fairly obscure article he had written centuries before)- "For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” - Rom 1:17

"I greatly longed to understand Paul's epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression "the righteousness of God," because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust.

My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

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May 04, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Think this through...

A good summary of the main three views regarding perseverance:

1. Classic Arminianism• One must persevere in faith to be saved.
• True believers can lose their faith....
• Those dying without faith in Christ are condemned.
“The believer who loses his faith is damned.”

2. Antinomianism• One need not persevere in faith to be saved.
• True believers can lose their faith.
• Those who lose their faith are saved, since they once believed.
“The believer who loses his faith is saved.”

3. Classic Calvinism• One must persevere in faith to be saved.
• True believers cannot lose their faith, since it’s God’s gift.
• Those dying without faith in Christ are condemned.
• Those who “lose” their faith never had it to begin with.
• God will preserve true believers and they will be saved.

Here's a quote made today from Dan Fisher - "I've heard it said that the most arrogant person on earth is the person who believes that salvation can be lost, but still believes himself to be saved. If you ask an Arminian "who deserves the blame if he loses his salvation?", he will say that he himself does. If you ask him "who should get the credit if he perseveres to the end?", he is therefore required to answer the same. To say otherwise is logically inconsistent. If God truly deserves ALL the glory for our perseverance, we will never ultimately or finally fall away because God CANNOT fail. To be an Arminian, you either have to believe that God does not have the ability to hold onto us (at least not in every instance), or else that we must contribute in some sense to our own salvation (since we might lose it if we don't). As I see it, a denial of the doctrine of perseverance requires one to reject at least 4 of the 5 Solas--salvation would NOT be by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ's work alone, to the glory of God alone. This is serious doctrinal error indeed."

“There is one grace of the Holy Spirit you cannot counterfeit…the grace of perseverance.” - Gardiner Spring

May 03, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

and this was just part of Spurgeon's sermon introduction..

Randy Alcorn writes: On Sunday May 29, 1864, in Cleveland, as the Civil War still raged, delegates began arriving at a convention which would nominate Abraham Lincoln for election to his second term as president. Across the ocean in England, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington, near London, Charles Haddon Spurgeon delivered a message entitled “Laus Deo,” a Latin term meaning “praise be to God.” His text was Romans 11:36, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” This is part of his introduction:

Meditate, dear friends, upon the whole range of God’s works in creation and providence. There was a period when God dwelt alone and creatures were not. In that time before all time, when there was no day but “The Ancient of Days,” when matter and created mind were alike unborn, and even space was not, God, the great I Am, was as perfect, glorious, and blessed as he is now. There was no sun, and yet Jehovah dwelt in light ineffable; there was no earth, and yet his throne stood fast and firm; there were no heavens, and yet his glory was unbounded. God inhabited eternity in the infinite majesty and happiness of his self-contained greatness.

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April 29, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Spiritually Bankrupt

"Salvation is a free gift, but an empty hand must receive it, and not a hand which still tightly grasps the world!" - A.W. Pink, http://bit.ly/drXWnO

Today's reading in "Voices from the Past" devotional read, "many souls do not only perish praying, repenting and believing after a sort, but they perish by their praying and repenting while they carnally trust in these. If we are to be saved, we must come naked to Christ in regard to our duties; we cannot flee to Christ in truth while trusting in them. Some are so locked into them, that they cannot come without them, and so in the day of temptation are trampled under the foot of God's wrath and Satan's fury." - Gurnall, Voices from the Past pg. 115

“The Law is for the proud and the Gospel for the brokenhearted.” - Martin Luther

IN the preaching of the Law, the conviction brought by the Holy Spirit works in you inwardly to make you aware of your woeful state -- that you are utterly without a question undone and all that you need spiritually is beyond yourself, to be found in Christ alone (Gospel).

April 24, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Choice Excerpts on Assurance by A.W. Pink

studiessaving-pink.jpg- Excerpted from A.W. Pink's Studies on Saving Faith

At the commencement of Matthew 5 we find the Lord Jesus pronouncing blessed a certain class of people. They are not named as "believers" or saints," but instead are described by their characters; and it is only by comparing ourselves and others with the description that the Lord Jesus there gave, that we are enabled to identify such. First, He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." To be "poor in spirit" is to have a feeling sense that in me, that is, in my flesh, "there dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). It is the realization that 1 am utterly destitute of anything and everything which could commend me favorably to God’s notice. It is to recognize that I am a spiritual bankrupt. It is the consciousness, even now (not years ago, when I was first awakened), that I am without strength and wisdom, and that I am a helpless creature, completely dependent upon the grace and mercy of God. To be "poor in spirit" is the opposite of Laodiceanism, which consists of self-complacency and self-sufficiency, imagining I am "rich, and in need of nothing."

"Blessed are they that mourn." It is one thing to believe the theory that I am spiritually a poverty-stricken pauper, it is quite another to have an acute sense of it in my soul. Where the latter exists, there are deep exercises of heart, which evoke the bitter cry, "my leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!" (Isa. 24:16). There is deep anguish that there is so little growth in grace, so little fruit to God’s glory, such a wretched return made for His abounding goodness unto me. This is accompanied by an ever-deepening discovery of the depths of corruption which is still within me. The soul finds that when it would do good, evil is present with him (Rom. 7:21). It is grieved by the motions of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the surging of rebellion against God. Instead of peace, there is war within; instead of realizing his holy aspirations, the blessed one is daily defeated; until the stricken heart cries out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24).

"Blessed are the meek." Meekness is yieldedness. It is the opposite of self-will. Meekness is pliability and meltedness of heart, which makes me submissive and responsive to God’s will. Now observe, dear reader, these first three marks of the "blessed" consist not in outward actions, but of inward graces; not in showy deeds, but in states of soul. Note too that they are far from being characteristics which will render their possessor pleasing and popular to the world. He who feels himself to be a spiritual pauper will not be welcomed by the wealthy Laodiceans. He who daily mourns for his leanness, his barrenness, his sinfulness, will not be courted by the self-righteous. He who is truly meek will not be sought after by the self-assertive. No, he will be scorned by the Pharisees and looked upon with contempt by those who boast they are "out of Romans 7 and living in Romans 8." These lovely graces, which are of great price in the sight of God, are despised by the bloated professors of the day...

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April 19, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Quotes from Studies on Saving Faith by A.W. Pink

"Of himself, the fallen sinner can no more repent evangelically, believe in Christ savingly, come to Him effectually, than he can create a world. "With men it is impossible" [Mk 10:27] rules out of court all special pleading for the power of man's will. Nothing but a miracle of grace can lead to the saving of any sinner." - A.W. Pink

Oh, my reader, be not deceived on this vital matter; to mortify the lusts of the flesh, to be crucified unto the world, to overcome the Devil, to die daily unto sin and live unto righteousness, to be meek and lowly in heart, trustful and obedient, pious and patient, faithful and uncompromising, loving and gentle; in a word, to be a Christian, to be Christ-like, is a task far, far beyond the poor resources of fallen human nature." - A.W. Pink,

Studies on Saving Faith by A.W. Pink

April 11, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

How Do I Know I am Elect by A.W. Pink

"How may I know I'm elect? First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced. Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition. Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope. Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it. Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness. Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative."

- A .W. Pink, The Doctrines of Election and Justification [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974], pp. 140-41.

April 08, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Self-Deception

A person may have well balanced theology, and his general views of truth would be considered evangelical and orthodox. And yet, thus far may he proceed in the deepest 'self deception'.

With all this "form of knowledge," this lodgment of the truth in the understanding, this subscription of the intellect to the doctrines of revelation, he is an utter stranger to that 'heart transformation', that inward illumination of the Holy Spirit, without which the soul is spiritually dead, the heart is unrenewed and unholy, and the whole man is unfit for the kingdom of heaven.

In short, we have here the case of one who, while his judgment assents to the truth, his heart entirely rejects it. The Gospel is to him a thing of intellectual subscription, and not of heart experience. Not a single truth of the Bible has become an element of life and holiness in his soul.

(From Octavius Winslow's, "The Coming of the Lord in its Relation to Nominal Christianity")

April 03, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Reading

Generation after generation has read the insights of its writers. This is why fresh statements of old truth are always needed. Without them people will read error.

Daniel Webster once said, "If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will."1

Millions of people are going to read. If they don't read contemporary Christian books, they are going to read contemporary secular books. They will read.

It is amazing to watch people in the airports. At any given moment there must be hundreds of thousands of people reading just in airports. One of the things we Christians need to be committed to, besides reading, is giving away solid books to those who might read them, but would never buy them.

The ripple effect is incalculable. Consider this illustration: A book by Richard Sibbes, one of the choicest of the Puritan writers, was read by Richard Baxter, who was greatly blessed by it. Baxter then wrote his Call to the Unconverted which deeply influenced Philip Doddridge, who in turn wrote The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. This brought the young William Wilberforce, subsequent English statesman and foe of slavery, to serious thoughts of eternity. Wilberforce wrote his Practical Book of Christianity which fired the soul of Leigh Richmond. Richmond, in turn, wrote The Dairyman's Daughter, a book that brought thousands to the Lord, helping Thomas Chalmers the great preacher, among others.2

It seems to me that in a literate culture like ours, where most of us know how to read and where books are available, the Biblical mandate is: keep on reading what will open the Holy Scriptures to you more and more. And keep praying for Bible-saturated writers. There are many great old books to read. But each new generation needs its own writers to make the message fresh. Read and pray. And then obey.

Notes:
[1] Ernest Reisinger, 'Every Christian a Publisher,' Free Grace Broadcaster, Issue 51, Winter, 1995, p. 17.
[2] 'Every Christian a Publisher,' p. 18.

From John Piper’s desiringGod website, February 20, 2002.

March 18, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Hallelujah, What a Savior!

If a judge acts justly, no crime is committed. It is in fact the judge's job to be just. He can actually lose his right to judge if he fails to dispense justice. Yet, here's the amazing Gospel truth - all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Christ were transferred to our Substitute and the justice we deserved fell upon Him instead on the cross. We not only received mercy (Christ bore our punishment) and not justice, but amazingly, He took our justice.. He bore our sins in His body on the tree, He was punished in our place. God's great mercy is shown in not giving us the justice we deserved, but God went even further and then gave us GRACE because of Christ, as the very righteousness of Christ - a life that kept the law of God perfectly for more than 30 years, blameless in thought, word and deed - was credited to our account. This grace is not a heavenly substance of some kind, but is Christ Himself, of whom the Father said, "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!" and what flows to us is totally unmerited favor - the very righteousness of the perfect God-Man, so that we can stand before God, right and clean and pure in His sight. God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Hear the Judge's words to every believer in Christ, "I declare you just in My sight, not guilty, reckoned righteous with the righteousness of My beloved Son, and this is your standing before Me, forever!" Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The perfect Lamb took our place and bore our shame and punishment and His perfect, flawless and beautiful righteousness is now ours by God's grace alone received through faith in Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone. Hallelujah, what a Savior! - John Samson

March 14, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

It must be difficult in America...

An American pastor was visiting the pastor of a Church in a country where Christians are under heavy persecution. The US pastor said, "It must be so very difficult to pastor the church here." The other pastor replied, "Not so, it must be difficult in America. Here we know who the true Christians are."

March 13, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Quote from "Knowing God"

"[God] shows his freedom and lordship by discriminating between sinners, causing some to hear the gospel while others do not hear it, and moving some of those who hear it to repentance while leaving others in their unbelief, thus teaching his saints that he owes mercy to none and that it is entirely of his grace, not at all through their own effort, that they themselves have found life." - J.I. Packer, Knowing God

March 02, 2010  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Grace is not a "Thing"

It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself.

Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. - Sinclair Ferguson

February 17, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Does Baptism Save? (two quotes)

"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.." (1 Peter 3:21 - ESV)

Two helpful quotes on this verse:

"Now Peter sees a comparison between the waters of the flood and the waters of baptism... Now there are some denominations that love this verse because it seems at first to support the view called "baptismal regeneration." That is, baptism does something to the candidate: it saves by bringing about new birth. So, for example, one of the baptismal liturgies for infants says, "Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's Church, let us give thanks."

Now the problem with this is that Peter seems very aware that his words are open to dangerous misuse. This is why, as soon as they are out of his mouth, as it were, he qualifies them lest we take them the wrong way. In verse 21 he does say, "Baptism now saves you" - that sounds like the water has a saving effect in and of itself apart from faith. He knows that is what it sounds like and so he adds immediately, "Not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience - through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (Or your version might have: "the pledge of a good conscience toward God").

But the point seems to be this: When I speak of baptism saving, Peter says, I don't mean that the water, immersing the body and cleansing the flesh, is of any saving effect; what I mean is that, insofar as baptism is "an appeal to God for a good conscience," (or is "a pledge of a good conscience toward God"), it saves. Paul said in Romans 10:13, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord - everyone who appeals to the Lord - will be saved." Paul does not mean that faith alone fails to save. He means that faith calls on God. That's what faith does. Now Peter is saying, "Baptism is the God-ordained, symbolic expression of that call to God. It is an appeal to God - either in the form of repentance or in the form of commitment.

What is Baptism?

Now this is fundamentally important in our understanding of what baptism is in the New Testament. James Dunn is right I think when he says that "1 Peter 3:21 is the nearest approach to a definition of baptism that the New Testament affords" (Baptism in the Holy Spirit, p. 219). What is baptism? Baptism is a symbolic expression of the heart's "appeal to God." Baptism is a calling on God. It is a way of saying to God with our whole body, "I trust you to take me into Christ like Noah was taken into the ark, and to make Jesus the Substitute for my sins and to bring me through these waters of death and judgment into new and everlasting life through the resurrection of Jesus my Lord."

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February 05, 2010  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Spurgeon on John 6:66

John 6:66, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked with Him no more”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, preaching on this passage (on 2/5/1882) said:

"The defection in this case was on account of doctrine... The truth was too hard for them, it was not to be borne with. “It is a hard saying. Who can hear it?” A true disciple sits at the feet of his Master, and believes what he is told even when he cannot quite comprehend the meaning, or see the reasons for what his Master utters; but these men had not the essential spirit of a disciple, and consequently when their Instructor began to unfold the innermost parts of the roll of truth, they would not listen to His reading of it. They would believe as far as they could understand, but when they could not comprehend they turned on their heel and left the school of the Great Teacher. Besides, the Lord Jesus Christ had taught the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and of the need of the Spirit of God, that men should be led to Him, “for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” Here our Lord uttered a bit of old-fashioned free-grace doctrine, such as people nowadays do not like. They call it “Calvinism”, and put it aside among the old exploded tenets which this enlightened age knows nothing of. What right they have to ascribe to the Genevan reformer a doctrine as old as the hills I do not know. But our Lord Jesus never hesitated to fling that truth into the face of His enemies. He told them, “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Here he tells them plainly that they could not come unto Him unless the Father gave them the grace to come. This humbling doctrine they could not receive, and so they went aside." (Sermons, 28, 111-2)

February 02, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

“First Take the Log Out of Your Own Eye” by John Piper (excerpt)

One other saying of Jesus confirms how he designs mercy as a way of governing our experience of anger. One of the ways that anger expresses itself is in judging others. Jesus gave us a demand in this
regard:

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." (Matt. 7:1-5)

The command not to judge sounds as absolute as the command not to be angry. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But what follows the command shows us that there is a kind of judging that is bad and a kind of judging that is necessary and good—just like there is good and bad anger. When Jesus says, First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye,” he shows that it is necessary to make judgments about the speck in a brother’s eye. What turns this kind, caring,healing judgment into the judgmentalism that Jesus forbids is the failure to see the log in our own eye. It is the same as the unforgiving servant failing to live in the awareness of the “log-debt” that he had been forgiven (ten thousand talents), so that he could gladly forgive the “speck-debt” of his brother (one hundred denarii). Jesus assumes that when we see the log in our own eye, we know how to remove it—that is, we know how to find forgiveness and help from Jesus. otherwise the delicate procedure of removing the speck from the eye of our brother would not be possible. You can’t do delicate, loving eye surgery with a log hanging out of your eye.

So the point of Jesus’ words about judging are to show us how the anger of judgmentalism can be broken. It is broken by a broken heart. We live in the consciousness of our own great sinfulness and in the awareness that only the mercy of Jesus can take the log out of our eye with forgiveness and healing. This awareness turns angry judgment into patient and loving forbearance and delicate correction. Legitimate anger may remain because we are displeased that eye-specks bedevil people we love. But that anger is not the anger of judgmentalism. Good anger is governed by the experience of mercy.

Excerpt from What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper

January 09, 2010  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Merry Christmas!

“There’s no direct biblical commandment to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. There’s nothing in the Bible that would even indicate that Jesus was born on December 25. In fact, there’s much in the New Testament narratives that would indicate that it didn’t occur during that time of year. It just so happens that on the twenty-fifth of December in the Roman Empire there was a pagan holiday that was linked to mystery religions; the pagans celebrated their festival on December 25. The Christians didn’t want to participate in that, and so they said, “While everybody else is celebrating this pagan thing, we’re going to have our own celebration. We’re going to celebrate the thing that’s most important in our lives, the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. So this is going to be a time of joyous festivities, of celebration and worship of our God and King.” I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year. Keep in mind that the whole principle of annual festival and celebration is deeply rooted in ancient Jewish tradition. In the Old Testament, for example, there were times when God emphatically commanded the people to remember certain events with annual celebrations. While the New Testament doesn’t require that we celebrate Christmas every year, I certainly see nothing wrong with the church’s entering into this joyous time of celebrating the Incarnation, which is the dividing point of all human history. Originally, it was intended to honor, not Mithras or any of the other mystery religion cults, but the birth of our King. Incidentally, Easter can be traced to Ishtar in the ancient world. But the Christian church coming together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus is hardly something I think would provoke the wrath of God. I wish we had more annual festivals.” - R. C. Sproul

December 24, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Doctrine is Practical

"The word doctrine simply means "teaching." And it's ludicrous to say that Christ is anti-teaching. The central imperative of His Great Commission is the command to teach (Matthew 28:18-20). Yet there's no shortage of church-growth experts, professional pollsters, and even seminary professors nowadays who are cautioning young pastors that doctrine is too divisive, too threatening, too heady and theoretical—and therefore simply impractical. Impractical? I agree that practical application is vital. I don't want to minimize its importance. But if there is a deficiency in preaching today, it is that there's too much relational, pseudo-psychological, and thinly life-related content, and not enough emphasis on sound doctrine. Moreover, the distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is completely artificial; doctrine is practical. In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine, because there's ultimately no basis for godly behavior apart from the truth of God's Word. Practical insights, gimmicks, and illustrations mean little if they are divorced from divine principle. Before the preacher asks anyone to perform a certain duty, he must first deal with doctrine. He must develop his message around theological themes and draw out the principles of the texts. Then the truth can be applied. The New Testament church was founded on a solid base of doctrine. Without that, no practical application matters. True doctrine transforms behavior as it is woven into the fabric of everyday life. But it must be understood if it is to have its impact. The real challenge of the ministry is to dispense the truth clearly and accurately. Practical application comes easily by comparison." - Dr. John MacArthur

December 19, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Gregory Nazianzen on Flippant Theological Banter

Note: This portion is taken from Gregory's first, introductory, "theological oration". I suspect it contains much wisdom for the theological debates so widespread on the internet today. The rest of the "Theological Orations" may be read here.

III. Not to every one, my friends, does it belong to philosophize about God; not to every one; the Subject is not so cheap and low; and I will add, not before every audience, nor at all times, nor on all points; but on certain occasions, and before certain persons, and within certain limits.

Not to all men, because it is permitted only to those who have been examined, and are passed masters in meditation, and who have been previously purified in soul and body, or at the very least are being purified. For the impure to touch the pure is, we may safely say, not safe, just as it is unsafe to fix weak eyes upon the sun's rays. And what is the permitted occasion? It is when we are free from all external defilement or disturbance, and when that which rules within us is not confused with vexatious or erring images; like persons mixing up good writing with bad, or filth with the sweet odours of unguents. For it is necessary to be truly at leisure to know God; and when we can get a convenient season, to discern the straight road of the things divine. And who are the permitted persons? They to whom the subject is of real concern, and not they who make it a matter of pleasant gossip, like any other thing, after the races, or the theatre, or a concert, or a dinner, or still lower employments. To such men as these, idle jests and pretty contradictions about these subjects are a part of their amusement.

Continue reading "Gregory Nazianzen on Flippant Theological Banter" »

December 05, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Outageous Mercy

outrageousmercy.jpg The cross demonstrates the permanent, immutable nature of God’s law. To save us, Jesus did not go around the law. He did not remove it. Rather, he fulfilled it. That is because the law is the eternal standard by which we will all be judged, and God is passionate about it. Every jot and tittle of the law must be fulfilled, promised Jesus (Matt. 5:17-20). The cross says, “There will be no lawbreakers in heaven.” The cross says, “God is fervent about his law.”

Verses such as “Now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law” (Rom. 7:6) have convinced many that law does not apply to Christians, that in some mysterious way it is no longer relevant or important. In one sense they are right. The law no longer enslaves Christians. We could not keep the law, so Jesus kept it for us. God has released all who put their trust in God’s Son from the burden of being perfect law keepers. But the cross reminds us that we will never be released from the law as the standard for judgment.

Jesus did two things on our behalf to fulfill the law. First, he lived a perfect life. He obeyed every jot and tittle of the law so that he could impute that obedience to to unworthy lawbreakers who put their faith in him. Second, on the cross he bore the punishment that lawbreakers deserve. Jesus glorified his Father’s passion for his law by both fulfilling it and atoning for its abuse.

Quote from Outrageous Mercy: Rediscovering the Radical Nature of the Cross by William P. Farley

November 29, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Apart from the Holy Spirit

"He that will maintain that man's free will is able to do or work anything in spiritual cases, be they never so small, denies Christ." - Martin Luther, http://bit.ly/4CMuAD

Martin Luther hits the nail on the head. Apart from the Holy Spirit, man, when left to himself, cannot rise above what he is by nature, and will use his so-called 'free will' to suppress the truth of Christ. Anyone who thinks they can believe the gospel apart from the Spirit, therefore, denies his need for Christ, not only for justification, but also for the grace needed to be willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel.

November 24, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Michael Horton reviews NT Wright's "Justification"

"As in his other books, Wright mistakenly assumes that the Reformation view argues that God’s essential righteousness—in other words, his own attribute of righteousness—is somehow given to believers. But this overlooks the crucial role of Jesus Christ as mediator in the traditional view: It is not God’s attribute of righteousness, but the right-standing that results from a complete fulfillment of God’s law, that is imputed to believers. It is Christ’s obedience, not his." - Michael Horton

read Horton's Full Review of NT Wright's new book here

November 19, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Faith

"Faith is not something that is the product of a fleshly, unregenerate nature that is firmly set in its hostility towards God (Rom 8: 7,8), and is not a meritorious act we perform which then prompts God to act in mercy towards us. The faith that is the mechanism through which we are justified (Rom 5:1) is the very gift of God (Phil 1:29, Eph 2:8). When God thunders forth His effectual word in the life of His chosen ones, spiritual birth takes place - always! (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18) As this word goes forth a heart transplant takes place as the old heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh that beats to know and love the Savior. This Divine creative, powerful word makes the spiritually dead man come to life and a living faith is born. What was never there in the old man is now present in the new - a faith that clings to Christ and that continues to do so through all of life's trials, even as others fall away. This faith endures all the way to the end. That is its nature. That is why God is never worried about the final outcome or of whether His people will make it all the way to heaven. God knows what He put inside us and "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). But let us remember that there is never so much as a trace of human pride associated with this God kind of faith, for being the gift of God, it is not of works lest any man should boast. As B. B. Warfield once remarked, "Justification is through faith, not on account of faith."" - Pastor John Samson

November 14, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Something about Mary?

"Ask many Protestants today why they are not Roman Catholic and they may refer to `something about Mary and the saints.' However, for the Reformers, the heart of the problem was the sufficiency of Scripture and especially the sufficiency of Christ the Mediator for sinners. Are we justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, or by grace and our merits, faith and our works, Christ and the intercession of Mary and the saints."

- Dr. Michael Horton (from his article "The Virgin Mary and ECT: A Response" found here)

November 06, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

If God Left us to Ourselves

The sins of the ungodly are looking-glasses in which we may see our own hearts. Do we see a heinous, impious wretch? Behold a picture of our own hearts! Such would we be--if God left us! What is in wicked men's practice --is in our nature. Sin in the wicked--is like fire which flames and blazes forth. Sin in the godly--is like fire hid in the embers. Christian, though you do not break forth into a flame of scandalous sin--yet you have no cause to boast, for there is as much sin in the embers of your nature! You have the root of all sin in you, and would bear as hellish fruit as any ungodly wretch--if God did not either curb you by His power, or change you by His grace!

Why might not God have left you--to the same excess of wickedness? Think with yourself, O Christian--why should God be more merciful to you, than to another? Why should He snatch you, as brand plucked out of the fire--and not him? How should this make you to adore free grace! What the Pharisee said boastingly, we may say thankfully--"God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers, etc."

If we are not as wicked as others--we should adore the riches of free-grace! Every time we see men hastening on in sin--we are to thank God that we are not such! If we see a crazy person--we thank God that it is not so with us. When we see another infected with the plague--how thankful are we, that God has preserved us from it! Much more when we see others under the power of Satan--how thankful we should be, that this is no longer our condition!

"For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful . . . ." Titus 3:3

- Thomas Watson

October 16, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Why We Should Read the Church Fathers, with an Excerpt from Gregory Nazianzen

In the Reformed world, it sometimes seems as though godly, Christian literature began to be written in the sixteenth century. The most uneducated person who was raised in a Reformed Church will at least be able to tell you who Calvin was, and something of his importance and theological output. But that same person, when asked about the Church fathers, might be apt to say, “Ambrose Who?”

Even among us who know something of the Church Fathers, most of us, I think I may say without presumption, are less at home with them than we would be with the Reformers and Puritans. We can give a fairly detailed description of the Institutes off the tops of our heads, we can produce for any occasion an incisive and brilliantly worded one-liner from Luther, but even if we know who Ambrose was, do we know what his major writings were? And if so, can we give an overview and description of them? Have we read any of them?

Now, there are certain good reasons for this. The theological struggles they dealt with are less commonly encountered today than the doctrinal struggles of the Reformation, which still rise up against us on every side. But even that fact should tell us something about the amazing output of these Spirit-filled giants who struck down such subtle and insidious and at times all-but-ubiquitous heresies with such faith and vigor that only a stray, pitiful remnant of them remains today.

I speak to myself here as much as to anyone else. But of late, I have taken to extended forays into the massive 38 volume series of Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene fathers, edited by Schaff; and although at times I have been a little (or even a lot!) uncomfortable, I have much more frequently been hugely helped in my theological precision and practical devotion. Why let the Catholics have exclusive dibs on these treasures? Although in some points they would side with the modern Catholic Church against us, yet in the most fundamental truths of the gospel, they are on our side. We are their true heirs, we are the true Catholics, holding to the catholic faith once for all delivered to the saints. If you read the Church Fathers extensively, you will be challenged much, you will find yourself sometimes in sharp disagreement, but I think you'll also find in many places a robust Gospel of justification by faith alone, penal substitution and imputation of active obedience, some of the issues for which we still ardently contend today.

And of course, the Trinitarian theology. Why were the Church Fathers sometimes obscure or (we think) even wrong about certain issues which we hold so vital today? Because they were so busy pouring out their lives, giving all their immense labors and wisdom, to preserving and clarifying for us the most precious heritage any people has ever been given – the doctrine of the Trinity. The passion, precision, and skill with which they preserved these foundational truths from the struggles and assaults which were in their day every bit as important as the struggles over soteriology in the Reformers' day are simply stunning.

One of my favorites is the Cappadocian Father Gregory Nazianzen. His orations are brilliant, fervent, and always worth the read, and the best of them, his five “theological orations” (for which he received the nickname, “The Theologian,” an appellation he shared first with the apostle John and now with John Calvin!) are pure gold. In them, he combines an Edwards-like skill of logic and argumentation with a deep reverence and humility characteristic of the best of the Puritans. I give you here an excerpt from the third of these theological orations.

Continue reading "Why We Should Read the Church Fathers, with an Excerpt from Gregory Nazianzen" »

October 12, 2009  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Why the Right Response?

"I have never met an Arminian who would answer the question... “Oh, the reason I’m a believer is because I’m better than my neighbor.” They would be loath to say that. However, though they reject this implication, the logic of semi-Pelagianism requires this conclusion. If indeed in the final analysis the reason I’m a Christian and someone else is not is that I made the proper response to God’s offer of salvation while somebody else rejected it, then by resistless logic I have indeed made the good response, and my neighbor has made the bad response.

What Reformed theology teaches is that it is true the believer makes the right response and the non-believer makes the wrong response. But the reason the believer makes the good response is because God in His sovereign election changes the disposition of the heart of the elect to effect a good response. I can take no credit for the response that I made for Christ. God not only initiated my salvation, He not only sowed the seed, but He made sure that that seed germinated in my heart by regenerating me by the power of the Holy Ghost. That regeneration is a necessary condition for the seed to take root and to flourish. That’s why at at the heart of Reformed theology the axiom resounds, namely, that regeneration precedes faith. It’s that formula, that order of salvation that all semi-Pelagians reject. They hold to the idea that in their fallen condition of spiritual death, they exercise faith, and then are born again. In their view, they respond to the gospel before the Spirit has changed the disposition of their soul to bring them to faith. When that happens, the glory of God is shared. No semi-Pelagian can ever say with authenticity: “To God alone be the glory.” For the semi-Pelagian, God may be gracious, but in addition to God’s grace, my work of response is absolutely essential. Here grace is not effectual, and such grace, in the final analysis, is not really saving grace. In fact, salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end. Yes, I must believe. Yes, I must respond. Yes, I must receive Christ. But for me to say “yes” to any of those things, my heart must first be changed by the sovereign, effectual power of God the Holy Spirit. Soli Deo gloria. " - R. C. Sproul, Grace Alone (article)

August 26, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Primary and Secondary Doctrines

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

Jesus made it clear that what a person believes about His deity is fundamental to eternal life. He said, "Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." John 8:24. As Christians we would affirm that all truth is important, but the question is, are all truths equally important? The following is a quote by Dr. Phil Johnson, from an article "Does Scripture Permit Us to Regard ANY Truth as "Secondary"?" first posted 14, September, 2005, at his Pyromaniacs blog:

"It seems to me that the distinction between primary and secondary doctrines is implicit rather than explicit in Scripture. But I think the distinction is still very clear. Here, briefly, are five biblical arguments in favor of making some kind of distinction between primary and secondary doctrines:

Jesus Himself suggested that some errors are gnats and some are camels (Matt. 23:24-25). And He stated that some matters of the law are "weightier" than others (v. 23). Think about it; such distinctions could not be made if every point of truth were essential.

Paul likewise speaks of truths that are "of first importance" (1 Cor. 15:3)—clearly indicating that there is a hierarchy of doctrinal significance. Certain issues are plainly identified by Scripture as fundamental or essential doctrines. These include:

doctrines that Scripture makes essential to saving faith (e.g., justification by faith—Rom. 4:4-5; knowledge of the true God—Jn. 17:3; the bodily resurrection—1 Cor. 15:4; and several others).

doctrines that Scripture forbids us to deny under threat of condemnation (e.g., 1 Jn. 1:6, 8, 10; 1 Cor. 16:22; 1 Jn. 4:2-3).

Since these doctrines are explicitly said to make a difference between heaven and hell while others (the "gnats" Jesus spoke of) are not assigned that level of importance, a distinction between fundamental and secondary truths is clearly implied.

Paul distinguished between the foundation and that which is built on the foundation (1 Cor. 3:11-13). The foundation is established in Christ, and "no other foundation" may be laid. Paul suggests, however, that the edifice itself will be built with some wood, hay, and stubble. Again, this seems to suggest that while there is no tolerance whatsoever for error in the foundation, some of the individual building-blocks, though important, are not of the same fundamental importance.

The principle Paul sets forth in Roman 14 also has serious implications for this question. There were some differences of opinion in the Roman church which Paul declined to make into hard-and-fast matters of truth vs. heresy. In Romans 14:5, he writes, "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." That clearly allows a measure of tolerance for two differing opinions on what is undeniably a point of doctrine.

As an apostle, Paul could simply have handed down a ruling that would have settled the controversy. In fact, elsewhere he did give clear instructions that speaks to the very doctrine under debate in Romans 14 (cf. Col. 2:16-17). Yet in writing to the Romans, he was more interested in teaching them the principle of tolerance for differing views on matters of less-then-fundamental importance. Surely this is something we should weigh very heavily before we make any point of truth a matter over which we break fellowship."

August 24, 2009  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Distinguishing Between Moral and Natural Inability

"No one can come to Me unless that Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44

"... Edwards distinguished between moral and natural inability. Because man's inability is moral and not natural, according to Edwards, the individual is responsible for the choices he or she makes. Here is a simple illustration: in the natural world there are animals that eat nothing but meat. They are called carnivores, from caro, carnis, which means "meat." There are other animals that eat nothing but grass or plants. They are called herbivores, from herba, which means vegetation. Imagine taking a lion, who is a carnivore, and placing a bundle of hay or a trough of oats before him. He will not eat the hay or oats. Why not? It is not because he is physically or naturally unable to eat them. Physically, he could munch on the oats and swallow them. But he does not and will not, because it is not in his nature to eat this kind of food. Moreover, if we were to ask why he will not eat the herbivore's meal, and if the lion could answer, he would say, "I can't eat this food, because I hate it. I will only eat meat."

Now think of the verse that says, "Taste and see that the LORD is good" (Ps. 34:8), or of Jesus saying, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread, he will live forever" (John 6:51). Why won't a sinful person "taste and see that the Lord is good" or feed upon Jesus as "the living bread"? To use the lion's words, it is because he "hates" such food. The sinner will not come to Christ because he does not want to. Deep in his heart he hates Christ and what he stands for. It is not because he cannot come naturally or physically.

Continue reading "Distinguishing Between Moral and Natural Inability" »

August 21, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Sola Gratia is so un-American...

There is no teaching in Christian theology that offends our contemporaries (especially our Christian friends and family), any more then the teaching of sola gratia. Americans hate to be told "no," that they are helpless. Surprisingly, the greatest opposition to the biblical teaching on this point comes not from a secular culture, but from household-name leaders in the American Church. From contemporary figures such as Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel to Bill Bright and Campus Crusade, to virtually all forms of revivalism and Pentecostalism which spring from the loins of one Charles Grandison Finney ... to Alexander Campbell and the Restorationist movement, to Joseph Smith and what later on became the cult known as Mormonism, to William Miller and the Adventist movement, and we can go on and on; all of these movements are based, at least in part, upon a denial of sola gratia, in direct opposition to Reformation theology, and the biblical teaching on this point. Americans hate to be told that God does not depend upon them and a decision that they make. And it is here, then, that we as Reformation Christians and historic Protestants run smack dab into our culture and to much of American Christianity. This is why our friends and families look at us like we have three heads when we speak of these doctrines. But this is the historic Protestant position, and the wholesale rejection of sola gratia demonstrates how far the "evangelical movement" has departed from the historic and biblical Evangelical faith. - Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, from his article "Grace Alone, an Evangelical Problem" found here.

August 15, 2009  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

The Gospel is a Complete Surprise

"It’s the gospel that’s surprising; it’s the gospel that comes to us and throws us off our horse, because the gospel isn’t wired into us. The gospel only came about because after the Fall—though God could have invoked the judgments that he threatened in the Law—he instead promised a Savior and clothed Adam and Eve, took all their fig leaves, and clothed them with the sacrificial skins of animals pointing forward to Christ. That was a surprise, a complete surprise. God could have wiped them off the face of the earth at that point and that’s why they ran because their law compass said, “we’d better run.” That’s why religions, you know, throw kids into volcanoes; and have things like penance where they’ll go through and make all kinds of satisfaction—crawl on their knees, bloody their knees–do whatever needs to be done; go on suicide missions; do whatever it takes in order to appease this God they know they’ve offended." (quote from Dr. Michael Horton in his Christless Christianity DVD series)

August 11, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Jesus in the Midst of Our Sufferings

“What the Lord expects from us at such seasons is not to abandon ourselves to unreasoning sorrow, but trustingly to look sorrow in the face, to scan its features, to search for the help and hope, which, as surely as God is our Father, must be there. In such trials there can be no comfort for us so long as we stand outside weeping. If only we will take the courage to fix our gaze deliberately upon the stern countenance of grief, and enter unafraid into the darkest recesses of our trouble, we shall find the terror gone, because the Lord has been there before us, and, coming out again, has left the place transfigured, making of it by the grace of his resurrection a house of life, the very gate of heaven.” - Geerhardus Vos

HT: Jolly Blogger

August 10, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection...

"Many Christians are either woefully deficient in their knowledge of Scripture or noticeably devoid of any experience of God's power. The Lord never intended this for His people. We have all seen firsthand the joyless intellectual arrogance the absence of spiritual power can produce, as well as the fanatical emotional excess that comes from the lack of theological integrity." - Sam Storms

August 10, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

A Moral Cannot

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1Co 2.14)

“Take notice that this is a moral ‘cannot,’ not a physical ‘cannot.’ When Paul says, ‘The natural person…is not able to understand them,’ he means that the heart is so resistant to receiving them that the mind justifies the rebellion of the heart by seeing them as foolish. This rebellion is so complete that the heart really cannot receive the things of the Spirit. This is real inability. But it is not a coerced inability. The unregenerate person cannot because he will not. His preferences for sin are so strong that he cannot choose good. It is a real and terrible bondage. But it is not an innocent bondage.” (John Piper, Finally Alive), p. 52

July 27, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

An Important Mark of a Sound Conversion

We turn from our own RIGHTEOUSNESS. Before conversion, man seeks to cover himself with his own fig-leaves, and to make himself acceptable with God, by his own duties. He is apt to trust in himself, and set up his own righteousness, and to reckon his pennies for gold, and not to submit to the righteousness of God. But conversion changes his mind; now he counts his own righteousness as filthy rags. He casts it off, as a man would the verminous tatters of a nasty beggar. Now he is brought to poverty of spirit, complains of and condemns himself; and all his inventory is, 'I am poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked!' [Rev 3:17]. He sees a world of iniquity in his holy things, and calls his once-idolized righteousness but filth and loss; and would not for a thousand worlds be found in it!

Now he begins to set a high price upon Christ's righteousness. He sees the need of Christ in every duty, to justify his person and sanctify his performances; he cannot live without Him; he cannot pray without Him. Christ must go with him, or else he cannot come into the presence of God; he leans upon Christ, and so bows himself in the house of his God. He sets himself down for a lost undone man without Him; his life is hid in Christ, as the root of a tree spreads in the earth for stability and nourishment. Before, the gospel of Christ was a stale and tasteless thing; but now—how sweet is Christ! Augustine could not relish his once-admired Cicero, because he could not find in his writings the name of Christ. How emphatically he cries, 'O most sweet, most loving, most kind, most dear, most precious, most desired, most lovely, most fair!' all in a breath, when he speaks of and to Christ. In a word, the voice of the convert is, with the martyr, 'None but Christ!'

Excerpt from Alarm to the Unconverted by Joseph Alleine, 1671

July 17, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Edwards on Receiving Criticism

"Be advised to consider what others say of you and improve it to this end, to know whether you do not live in some way of sin...And though the imputation may seem to us to be very groundless and we think that they, in charging us so, are influenced by no good spirit; yet if we act prudently, we shall take so much notice of it as to make an occassion of examining ourselves ... it is most imprudent as well as most unchristian, to take it amiss, and resent it, when we are thus told of our faults: we should rather rejoice in it, that we are shown our spots ... we should improve what our enemies say of us. If they from an ill spirit reproach and revile us to our faces, we should consider it, so far as to reflect inward upon ourselves and inquire whether it not be so, as they charge us ... they are likely to fix on real faults, they are likely to fall upon us where we are weakest and most defective."
- JOnathan Edwards, The Necessity of Self Examination.

July 15, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Nature of Conversion by Joseph Alleine

Conversion then, in short, lies in the thorough change both of the heart and life, in which:

1. The AUTHOR of conversion is the Spirit of God. Conversion is a work above man's power. We are 'born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God' (John 1:13). Never think you can convert yourself. If ever you would be savingly converted, you must despair of doing it in your own strength. It is a resurrection from the dead (Eph 2:1), a new creation (Gal 6:15; Eph 2:10), a work of absolute omnipotence (Eph 1:19).

2. The efficient CAUSE of conversion is both free grace, which is internal, and the merit and intercession of the blessed Jesus, which is external.

3. The INSTRUMENT of conversion is the Word and those who minister it.

4. The final END of conversion is man's salvation, and God's glory.

5. The SUBJECT of conversion is the elect sinner, in all his parts and powers, members and mind. Whom God predestinates, them only He calls (Rom 8:30). None are drawn to Christ by their calling, nor come to Him by believing—but His sheep, those whom the Father has given Him (John 6:37, 44). Effectual calling runs parallel with eternal election (2 Pet 1:10). Do not stand still disputing about your election—but set to repenting and believing. Cry to God for converting grace. Revealed things belong to you; busy yourself in these, and not in unrevealed mysteries. Whatever the decrees of heaven may be, I am sure that if I repent and believe, I shall be saved; and that if I do not repent, I shall be damned. Is not this plain ground for you; and will you yet run upon the rocks?

More particularly, this change of conversion extends to the whole man. A carnal person may have some shreds of good morality—but he is never good throughout the whole cloth. Conversion is not a repairing of the old building; but it takes all down, and erects a new structure. It is not the sewing on a patch of holiness; but with the true convert, holiness is woven into all his powers, principles and practice. The sincere Christian is quite a new fabric, from the foundation to the top-stone. He is a new man, a new creature; all things are become new (2 Cor 5:17).

Conversion is a deep work, a heart work. It makes a new man in a new world. It extends to the whole man: to the mind, to the members, and to the motions, or practice of the whole life.

Excerpt from An Alarm to the Unconverted by Joseph Alleine

July 09, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

On Heresy, Creeds, Commentaries, Helps and Study Notes

Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting. The heretic simply selects the parts of the Scripture he wants to emphasize and lets the rest go. This is shown by the etymology of the word heresy and by the practice of the heretic. "Beware," an editorial scribe of the fourteenth century warned his readers in the preface to a book. "Beware thou take not one thing after thy affection and liking, and leave another: for that is the condition of an heretique. But take everything with other." The old scribe knew well how prone we are to take to ourselves those parts of the truth that please us and ignore the other parts. And that is heresy. —A. W. Tozer, We Travel An Appointed Way

Men must interpret to the best of their ability each particular part of Scripture separately, and then combine all that the Scriptures teach upon every subject into a consistent whole, and then adjust their teachings upon different subjects in mutual consistency as parts of a harmonious system. Every student of the Bible must do this, and all make it obvious that they do it by the terms they use in their prayers and religious discourse, whether they admit or deny the propriety of human creeds and confessions. If they refuse the assistance afforded by the statements of doctrine slowly elaborated and defined by the Church, they must make out their own creed by their own unaided wisdom. The real question is not, as often pretended, between the word of God and the creed of man, but between the tried and proved faith of the collective body of God's people, and the private judgment and the unassisted wisdom of the repudiator of creeds. — A. A. Hodge, A Short History of Creeds and Confessions, 1869.

In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. - C.H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries, 1890.

But still ye will say I can not understand it. What marvel? How shouldest thou understand, if thou wilt not read, nor look upon it? Take the books into thine hands, read the whole story, and that thou understandest, keep it well in memory; that thou understandest not, read it again, and again. If thou can neither so come by it, counsel with some other that is better learned. Go to thy curate and preacher; show thyself to be desirous to know and learn, and I doubt not but God - seeing thy diligence and readiness (if no man else teach thee) - will himself vouchsafe with his holy spirit to illuminate thee, and to open unto thee that which was locked from thee. — Thomas Cranmer, Preface to the Great Bible, 1540.

And considering how hard a thing it is to understand the holy Scriptures, and what errors, sects, and heresies grow daily for lack of the true knowledge thereof, and how many are discouraged (as they pretend) because they cannot attain to the true and simple meaning of the same, we have also endeavored both by the diligent reading of the best commentaries, and also by the conference with the godly and learned brethren, to gather brief annotations upon all the hard places, as well for the understanding of such words as are obscure, and for the declaration of the text, as for the application of the same as may most appertain to God's glory and the edification of his Church. — Geneva Bible Preface, 1560.

July 02, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Quotes from Risking the Truth

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"It should be a rule with us to have nothing to do with any man or ministry that errs in regard to the way of salvation in Jesus Christ. Whatever good a man may do along other lines, he has done the greatest conceivable harm if he errs at this point. 'It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea'" (Matt 18:6) - Joel Beeke

What principles should we apply so that we keep ourselves from being deceived?

"I think that the number one principle in seeing through the subtlety of error is learning to handle truth in its biblical context. As someone has said, 'A text without a context is a pretext.'- it is a lie! It is often pretty clear to any discerning mind when a text has been wrested our of its comfortable context in order to say what someone else wants it to say. When I listen to many preachers today and they state something which makes my hair stand on end, I will often wait for them to prove it from the Bible. I often find that all I need to do is dig around the verses they would have quoted and I find that there has been a gross misapplication of Scripture. The Holy Spirit was saying one thing when He inspired the sacred writer, and the preacher is saying something totally different.

When the context is not able to help, the second principle is that obscure passages of the Bible must be interpreted by those passages of the Bible that are more perspicuous. In other words, Scripture does not contradict itself sinice its primary author is the Holy Spirit. So, if a false teacher quotes Scripture to suit his situation but it contradicts the clear teaching of another passage of the Bible, it should send all the warning signals that you are in danger and ought to tread carefully. Is that not how the Lord Jesus handled Satan when he tempted him using the Scriptures in Matthew 4? Jesus simply referred to other Scriptures that were clearly being violated by the meaning that Satan was putting upon the Scriptures he was quoting. We should do the same!" - Conrad Mbewe


Risking the Truth: Handling Error in the Church by Martin Downes Now Available!

June 28, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Reformation Monergism

Luther recovered the gospel, and thereby instituted a truly evangelical revival, when he broke free from the Medieval-Scholastic Nature/Grace metaphysical scheme. In his significant breakthrough insight, faith was no longer understood by him as a natural preparation for grace, as the fulfillment of a condition for receiving supernatural grace by the performance of something that was within man's natural capacity to do. The soteriological scheme of Scholastic theology was synergistic, because Pelagian: God responded to man; man cooperated with God according to his native ability. Against this Pelagian synergism, Luther insisted on total inability: the utter incapacitation and absolute impotence of the natural man in abject bondage to sin. Faith therefore could not be a condition for grace, for it could not be exercised out of inherently human resources as a natural act performed of sinful man's own initiative for the purpose of man's fitting and preparing himself to be a suitable candidate for receiving grace. Faith itself could only be the result of a prevening supernatural act; it was a free gift of divine grace, resulting entirely from God's unconditioned, monergistic action. Justification thus was not obtained because of faith, merely through faith—a faith wrought in us. Rather than a cooperation of Nature and Grace (the synergism of mutual effort by both God and man), God acts unilaterally and exclusively, taking the sole initiative in a free act of sovereign grace—grace that is altogether prior to, and productive of, justifying faith. The sola fide arises out of, and is nothing other than, sola gratia.

- Joseph P. Braswell

June 22, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Explaining Experimental Christianity

Excerpt from Preaching with Spiritual Vigour by Murray A. Capill
HT: Glenn Leatherman

The reason the word "experimental" is used is because experiential has too many overtones of a subjective experience-based faith. That is not what is meant by the word experimental. The word "experiment" has to do with the testing of of reality and truth. In science we deal with the testing of hypotheses, but in theology it refers to the work of testing reality and truth of God's word in the hearts and lives of people. We cannot and should not leave truth at a hypothesis level that is detached from human experience.

Experimental Christianity values genuine spiritual experience. I always tell people that in the act of preaching my goal is not just to pass out information or knowledge but that to desire to experience and feel the truth i am preaching on as well. Yes, we champion sound doctrine and the importance of holiness, but true Experimental Christianity cultivates a burning zeal for the honor of Christ and the fame of his name (see Eph. 1:16-17). This desire is at the heart of Experimental Christianity.

Continue reading "Explaining Experimental Christianity" »

June 20, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Election & Evangelism - C. H. Spurgeon

A controversialist once said, “If I thought God had a chosen people, I should not preach.” That is the very reason why I do preach. What would make him inactive is the mainspring of my earnestness. If the Lord had not a people to be saved, I should have little to cheer me in the ministry.

I believe that God will save his own elect, and I also believe that, if I do not preach the gospel, the blood of men will be laid at my door.

Our Saviour has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature; he has not said, “Preach it only to the elect;” and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet, since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads, or to put any distinctive mark upon them, it would be an impossible task for us to perform; whereas, when we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and follow him.

June 05, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Pressing the Issue

Does the Bible Teach Prevenient Grace? (Quote from R. C. Sproul)

"As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that “comes before” something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with and assent to this grace are “elect.” Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost. The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man’s spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God’s grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn’t everyone get the same amount?

Think of it this way, in personal terms. If you are a Christian you are surely aware of other people who are not Christians. Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn’t God give the same gift to everybody?

Perhaps it wasn’t because you were more righteous. Perhaps it was because you are more intelligent. Why are you more intelligent? Because you study more (which really means you are more righteous)? Or are you more intelligent because God gave you a gift of intelligence he withheld from others? To be sure, most Christians who hold to the prevenient grace view would shrink from such answers. They see the implied arrogance in them. Rather they are more likely to say, “No, I chose Christ because I recognized my desperate need for him.” That certainly sounds more humble. But I must press the question. Why did you recognize your desperate need for Christ while your neighbor didn’t? Was it because you were more righteous than your neighbor, or more intelligent?

The question for advocates of prevenient grace is why some people cooperate with it and others don’t. How we answer that will reveal how gracious we believe our salvation really is. The $64,000 question is, “Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?”

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it." - R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, Ill.]

May 26, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Pressing the Issue

Does the Bible Teach Prevenient Grace? (Quote from R. C. Sproul)

"As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that “comes before” something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with and assent to this grace are “elect.” Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost. The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man’s spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God’s grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn’t everyone get the same amount?

Think of it this way, in personal terms. If you are a Christian you are surely aware of other people who are not Christians. Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn’t God give the same gift to everybody?

Perhaps it wasn’t because you were more righteous. Perhaps it was because you are more intelligent. Why are you more intelligent? Because you study more (which really means you are more righteous)? Or are you more intelligent because God gave you a gift of intelligence he withheld from others? To be sure, most Christians who hold to the prevenient grace view would shrink from such answers. They see the implied arrogance in them. Rather they are more likely to say, “No, I chose Christ because I recognized my desperate need for him.” That certainly sounds more humble. But I must press the question. Why did you recognize your desperate need for Christ while your neighbor didn’t? Was it because you were more righteous than your neighbor, or more intelligent?

The question for advocates of prevenient grace is why some people cooperate with it and others don’t. How we answer that will reveal how gracious we believe our salvation really is. The $64,000 question is, “Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?”

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it." - R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, Ill.]

May 26, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Gospel by John MacArthur

"He [the Father] made him [the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).

Jesus was guilty of nothing. Yet on the cross, the Father treated Him as if He had committed personally every sin ever committed by every individual who would ever believe. Though He was blameless, He faced the full fury of God's wrath, enduring the penalty of sin on behalf of those He came to save. In this way, the sinless Son of God became the perfect substitute for the sinful sons of men. As a result of Christ's sacrifice, the elect become the righteousness of God in Him. In the same way that the Father treated the Son as a sinner, even though the Son was sinless, the Father now treats believers as righteous, even though they were unrighteous. Jesus exchanged His life for sinners in order to fulfill the elective plan of God. And He did it so that, in the end, He might give back to the Father the love gift that the Father gave to Him.

May 12, 2009  |  Comments (20)   |  Permalink

Middle Knowledge, Synergism and Grace

To teach that there is a Middle Knowledge that depends on the liberty of the creature is to support synergism. If God only knows hypotheticals, then our choice becomes essential for salvation. In which case the biblical teaching concerning the utter graciousness of salvation is undermined. - R. Scott Clark

Quoted from Ping-Pong Evangelicals and Middle Knowledge

May 01, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Irresistible Grace

"This is what we mean when we use terms like sovereign grace or irresistible grace. We mean that the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit, and therefore he is omnipotent and sovereign. And therefore, he is irresistible and infallibly effective in his regenerating work. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t resist him. We do. The Bible is plain about that (Acts 7:51). What the sovereignty of grace and the sovereignty of the Spirit mean is that when God chooses, he can overcome the rebellion and resistance of our wills. He can make Christ look so compelling that our resistance is broken and we freely come to him and receive him and believe him." - John Piper

April 29, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Richard Sibbes - Excerpt from Meet the Puritans

Richard Sibbes - Richard Sibbes was born in 1577 at Tostock, Suffolk, in the Puritan county of old England. He was baptized in the parish church in Thurston, and went to school there. As a child, he loved books. His father, Paul Sibbes, a hardworking wheelwright and, according to Zachary Catlin, a contemporary biographer of Sibbes, was “a good, sound-hearted Christian,” but became irritated with his son’s interest in books. He tried to cure his son of book-buying by offering him wheelwright tools, but the boy was not dissuaded. With the support of others, Sibbes was admitted to St. John’s College in Cambridge at the age of eighteen. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1599, a fellowship in 1601, and a Master of Arts degree in 1602. In 1603, he was converted under the preaching of Paul Baynes, whom Sibbes called his “father in the gospel.” Baynes, remembered most for his commentary on Ephesians, succeeded William Perkins at the Church of St. Andrews in Cambridge. More...

Other Puritan Biographies

April 28, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Good Will Comes from God - Augustine

It is not enough simply to have choice of will, which is freely turned in this direction and that, and belongs among those natural gifts which a bad person may use badly. We must also have a good will, which belongs among those gifts which it is impossible to use badly. This impossibility is given to us by God; otherwise I do not know how to defend what Scripture says: ‘What do you have that you did not receive?’ (1 Cor.4:7) For if God gives us a free will, which may still be either good or bad, but a good will comes from ourselves, then what comes from ourselves is better than what comes from God! But it is the height of absurdity to say this. So the Pelagians ought to acknowledge that we obtain from God even a good will.

It would indeed be a strange thing if the will could stand in some no-man’s-land, where it was neither good nor bad. For we either love righteousness, and this is good; and if we love it more, this is better. If we love it less, this is less good; or if we do not love righteousness at all, it is not good. And who can hesitate to affirm that, when the will does not love righteousness in any way at all, it is not only a bad will, but even a totally depraved will? Since therefore the will is either good or bad, and since of course we do not derive the bad will from God, it remains that we derive from God a good will. Otherwise, since our justification proceeds from a good will, I do not know what other gift of God we ought to rejoice in. That, I suppose, is why it is written, ‘The will is prepared by the Lord’ (Prov.8:35, Septuagint). And in the Psalms, ‘The steps of a man will be rightly ordered by the Lord, and His way will be the choice of his will’ (Ps.37:23). And what the apostle says, ‘For it is God Who works in you both to will and to do of His own good pleasure’ (Phil.2:13).

Augustine, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, 2:30

April 27, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Grace Creates a Truly Free Will - Augustine

Do we by grace destroy free will? God forbid! We establish free will. For even as the law is not destroyed but established by faith, so free will is not destroyed but established by grace. The law is fulfilled only by a free will. And yet the law brings the knowledge of sin; faith brings the acquisition of grace against sin; grace brings the healing of the soul from the disease of sin; the health of the soul brings freedom of will; free will brings the love of righteousness; and the love of righteousness fulfils the law. Thus the law is not destroyed but established through faith, since faith obtains grace by which the law is fulfilled. Likewise, free will is not destroyed through grace, but is established, since grace cures the will so that righteousness is freely loved. Now all the stages which I have here connected together in their successive links, are each spoken of individually in the sacred Scriptures. The law says: ‘You shall not covet’ (Ex.20:17). Faith says: ‘Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You’ (Ps.41:4). Grace says: ‘See, you have been made well: sin no more, in case a worse thing comes upon you’ (Jn.5:14). Health says: ‘O Lord my God, I cried to You, and You have healed me’ (Ps.30:2). Free will says: ‘I will freely sacrifice to You’ (Ps.54:6). Love of righteousness says: ‘Transgressors told me pleasant tales, but not according to Your law, O Lord’ (Ps. 119:85).

How is it then that miserable human beings dare to be proud, either of their free will, before they are set free, or of their own strength, if they have been set free? They do not observe that in the very mention of free will they pronounce the name of liberty. But ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Cor.3:17). If, therefore, they are the slaves of sin, why do they boast of free will? For ‘by whatever a person is overcome, to that he is delivered as a slave’ (2 Pet.2:19). But if they have been set free, why do they puff themselves up as if it were by their own doing? Why do they boast, as if their freedom were not a gift? Or are they so free that they will not have Him for their Lord Who says to them, ‘Without Me, you can do nothing’ (Jn.15:5), and, ‘If the Son sets you free, you shall be truly free?’ (Jn.8:36).

Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, 52

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Note: From this quote, we clearly see that Augustine understood "free will" to mean free from the bondage of sin. But to those without the Spirit he asks this rhetorical question shoing he affirms that the unregerate have no true free will: "If, therefore, they are the slaves of sin, why do they boast of free will?"

April 08, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

"The Word did it all..." - Martin Luther

"Take me, for example. I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, wrote God's Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip of Amsdorf the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word did it all. Had I wanted to start trouble.... I could have started such a little game at Worms that even the emperor wouldn't have been safe. But what would it have been? A mug's game. I did nothing: I left it to the Word." (Luther's Works)

March 20, 2009  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Justified - "Just As If I'd Always Obeyed"

"For He has made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor 5:21

Picture a moral ledger sheet with every word, thought, deed and motive of yours entered on that sheet. Most hope the good will outweigh the bad. The problem is that all of our deeds are stained, all are unclean and impure. There is no such thing as a positive ledger sheet - except in the case of Christ. His ledger sheet was perfect. So at the cross, our ledger sheet was charged to Christ, all our sin; and so His ledger sheet is credited to us.

"Justified" is not "Just as if I'd never sinned." That is a great truth. But it is actually better than that: "Just as if I'd always obeyed." God has credited the very righteousness of Jesus Christ to every believer. - Jerry Bridges (from a recent message at PCRT 2009 Sacramento)

March 16, 2009  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

It IS the wrath of God

America follows Europe's lead, and as God has blessed the USA greatly with material blessings, we have become more and more hardenend in our thanklessness. We focus upon ourselves, our needs, and revel in our sins. Yes, of course the church has failed to clearly preach the gospel, clearly call for repentance, choosing a man-friendly version of "preaching" that allows you to avoid the scandal of the gospel. But a healthy, thriving church is a blessing on any nation, and the fact is, a nation in love with itself and at war with God does not deserve the blessing of a sound church. The two are intertwined. I truly believe that what we are seeing today with the perversion of marriage, the exaltation of deviancy, etc., is not what will bring the wrath of God, it is the wrath of God. - Dr. James White

March 12, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

C. H. Spurgeon on Divine Election

My dear friends, after all, the kicking against the doctrine of election is a kicking against the gospel, because this doctrine is a first principle in the divine plan of mercy, and when rightly known, it prepares our minds to receive all the other doctrines. Or on the contrary, misunderstand this, and you are pretty sure to make mistakes about all the rest.

Take for instance final perseverance; some men say, "If we continue in faith, and if we continue in holiness, we shall certainly be saved at last." Do you not see at once that this is legality—that this is hanging our salvation upon our work—that this is making our eternal life to depend on something we do?

Nay, the doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works, lifted up; for he always thinks faith is a work of the creature and a condition of his acceptance. It is as false to say that man is saved by faith as a work, as that he is saved by the deeds of the law. We are saved by faith as the gift of God, and as the first token of his eternal favor to us; but it is not faith as our work that saves, otherwise we are saved by works, and not by grace at all.

If you need any argument upon this point, I refer you to our great apostle Paul, who so constantly combats the idea that works and grace can ever be united together, for he argues, "If it be of grace, then it is no more of works otherwise grace were no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more of grace, otherwise work is no more work."

From "Effects of Sound Doctrine," a sermon delivered Sunday evening, April 22nd, 1860, at New Park Street Chapel.

March 03, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Distinction of Natural and Moral Necessity and Inability

Excerpt from The Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards

That Necessity which has been explained, consisting in an infallible connexion of the things signified by the subject and predicate of a proposition, as intelligent beings are the subjects of it, is distinguished into moral and natural Necessity.

I shall not now stand to inquire whether this distinction be a proper and perfect distinction; but shall only explain how these two sorts of Necessity are understood, as the terms are sometimes used, and as they are used in the following discourse.

The phrase, moral Necessity, is used variously: some- times it is used for a Necessity of moral obligation. So we say, a man is under Necessity, when he is under bonds of duty and conscience, from which he cannot be discharged. Again, the word Necessity is often used for great obligation in point of interest. Sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that apparent connexion of things, which is the ground of moral evidence; and so is distinguished from absolute Necessity, or that sure connexion of things, that is a foundation for infallible certainty. In this sense, moral Necessity signifies much the same as that high degree of probability, which is ordinarily sufficient to satisfy mankind, in their conduct and behavior in the world, as they would consult their own safety and interest, and treat others properly as members of society. And sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that Necessity of connexion and consequence, which arises from such moral causes, as the strength of inclination, or motives, and the connexion which there is in many cases between these and such certain volitions and actions. And it is in this sense, that I use the phrase, moral necessity, in the following discourse.

Continue reading "The Distinction of Natural and Moral Necessity and Inability" »

February 20, 2009  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Divine Foreknowledge -- Quote by R.C. Sproul

God knows both the micro- and macro-dimensions of the entire universe. He numbers the very hairs of our heads. Not only does he know what we will do before we do it, but also he knows all the options we could have chosen at the moment. He knows all contingencies. Yet God’s knowledge of contingencies is not itself contingent. His foreknowledge is perfect and absolute. He is not a Great Chess Player who must wait to see what we will do, but he knows absolutely what we will do before we do it. Before a word is even formed on our lips, he knows it altogether. Thus Luther responds to Erasmus:

It is, then, fundamentally necessary and wholesome for Christians to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that He foresees, purpose, and does all things according to His own immutable, eternal and infallible will. This bombshell knocks “free-will” flat, and utterly shatter it; so that those who want to assert it must either deny my bombshell, or pretend not to notice it, or find some other way of dodging it…

…You insist that we would learn the immutability of God’s will, while forbidding us to know the immutability of His foreknowledge! Do you suppose that He does not will what He foreknows, or that He does not foreknow what He will? If he wills what He foreknows, His will is eternal and changeless, because His nature is so. From which it follows, by resistless logic, that all we do, however it may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, is in reality done necessarily and immutable in respect of God’s will. For the will of God is effective and cannot be impeded, since power belongs to God’s nature; and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived. Since then His will is not impeded, what is done cannot but be done where, when, how, as far as, and by whom, He foresees and wills.


Quote from page 90 of Willing to Believe.by R.C. Sproul

February 11, 2009  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

On Consumerism by David Wells

Consumerism

Page 77

In fact, in America anything and everything can be “commmodified” and sold, from style to sex, from ideas to religion. In towns and cities are churches, mosques, and synagogues; in the Yellow Pages there are choices for worship on Sunday morning ranging from the Episcopalians to the Baptists to the Assemblies of God; at the local bookstore, shelf after shelf is filled with books on New Age, self-help, witchcraft, holism, and Buddhism. This is Western freedom and Western commercialized culture. Here, we have the ability to hope for what we want, shop where we want, buy what we want, study where we want, think what we want, believe what we want, and treat religion as just another commodity, a product to be consumed.
Page 235

In a decentered culture, eclecticism is the coin of the realm. This is what excessive choice has come to us. There is simply too much to choose between, ranging from products, to beliefs, to lifestyles, so choice becomes almost random. And the sheer weight of all of the information – the knowledge of other religions, belief systems, products, and services – blurs everything so that one idea seems no truer than another. In this video-commercial context, and in this personal mindset, everything begins to seem familiar and equal. Judgments become not only offensive but, for so many, virtually impossible.

Related Online Quotes & Essays:
Eros Spirituality Vs. Agape Faith by David F. Wells

We Are Not Peddlers of God's Word by David Wells

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Quotes from Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World by David Wells
In our postmodern world, every view has a place at the table but none has the final say. How should the church confess Christ in today’s cultural context? Above All Earthly Pow’rs, the fourth and final volume of the series that began in 1993 with No Place for Truth, portrays the West in all its complexity, brilliance, and emptiness. As David F. Wells masterfully depicts it, the postmodern ethos of the West is relativistic, individualistic, therapeutic, and yet remarkably spiritual. Wells shows how this postmodern ethos has incorporated into itself the new religious and cultural relativism, the fear and confusion, that began with the last century’s waves of immigration and have continued apace in recent decades.Wells’s book culminates in a critique of contemporary evangelicalism aimed at both unsettling and reinvigorating readers. Churches that market themselves as relevant and palatable to consumption-oriented postmoderns are indeed swelling in size. But they are doing so, Wells contends, at the expense of the truth of the gospel. By placing a premium on marketing rather than truth, the evangelical church is in danger of trading authentic engagement with culture for worldly success.

January 29, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Rome and the Eucharist (Quote by William Webster)

"There are some present day Roman Catholic writers who deny that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the mass is the re-sacrifice of Christ, but the words of the Council of Trent are quite clear in their meaning:

And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross . . . For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. . . If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice. . . and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities: let him be anathema.19

Trent teaches that just as Christ was the divine victim and was offered and immolated on the cross as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin, so in the mass, which is a distinct sacrifice in its own right, he is referred to as the divine victim who is again offered and immolated as a propitiatory sacrifice, just as he was immolated on the cross. The only difference, according to Trent, between the sacrifice of the mass and the sacrifice of the cross is that one is bloody and the other unbloody.

Continue reading "Rome and the Eucharist (Quote by William Webster)" »

January 05, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The help of the very present God

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Concerning this verse, C. H. Spurgeon once wrote:

"A help that is not present when we need it is of small value. The anchor which is left at home is of no use to the seaman in the hour of storm; the money which he used to have is of no worth to the debtor when a writ is out against him. Very few earthly helps could be called "very present": they are usually far in the seeking, far in the using, and farther still when once used. But as for the Lord our God, He is present when we seek Him, present when we need Him, and present when we have already enjoyed His aid.

He is more than "present," He is very present. More present than the nearest friend can be, for He is in us in our trouble; more present than we are to ourselves, for sometimes we lack presence of mind. He is always present, effectually present, sympathetically present, altogether present. He is present now if this is a gloomy season. Let us rest ourselves upon Him. He is our refuge, let us hide in Him; He is our strength, let us array ourselves with Him; He is our help, let us lean upon Him; He is our very present help, let us repose in Him now. We need not have a moment's care or an instant's fear. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.""

December 23, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Redeeming the Time

Time seems to slip away from us so easily, yet we are called upon to focus our energy towards being disciplined and productive with our time - not just in getting things done, but in getting the right things done. We all need reminders about this often, and more than this, practical help and advice as to how to go about the task.

Eph. 4:15-17 tells us, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

The Scottish preacher Alexander MacLaren (1826–1910) once observed: "No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it." How true this is.

There is an excellent article by R. C. Sproul regarding time management I would recommend here (found on C. J. Mahaney's blog site). May we all read, mark, learn and inwardly apply.

December 15, 2008  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

In a Few Days our Walk Will be Over

"...blessed be God, the days of man are now shortened, and in a few days our walk will be over. The Judge is before the door: he that cometh will come, and will not tarry: his reward is with him. And we shall all (if we are zealous for the Lord of hosts) ere long shine as the stars in the firmament, in the kingdom of our heavenly Father, for ever and ever. To Him, the blessed Jesus, and eternal Spirit, be all honor and glory, now, and to all eternity. Amen, and Amen." George Whitefield from his sermon Walking with God
November 17, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Mosaic Covenant: Works or Grace?

A Repetition of the Law of the Covenant of Works: “…in the ministry of Moses, there was a repetition of the doctrine concerning the law of the covenant of works.” The Mosaic Covenant, then, seems to be a sort of republication of the covenant of works. Of course it is not identical to the prelapsarian covenant, but there is that condition “by which formula, the righteousness, which is of the law, is described, Rom. x. 5. And the terror of the covenant of works is increased by repeated comminations; and that voice heard, ‘cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them,’ Deut. xxvii. 26… as the requirement of obedience was rigid under the ministry of Moses, the promises of spiritual and saving grace were more rare and obscure, the measure of the Spirit granted to the Israelites, scanty and short, Deut. xxix. 4. and on the contrary, the denunciation of the curse frequent and express; hence the ministry of Moses is called, ‘the ministration of death and condemnation,’ 2 Cor. iii. 7,9. doubtless because it mentioned the condemnation of the sinner, and obliged the Israelites to subscribe to it.”

Continue reading "The Mosaic Covenant: Works or Grace?" »

November 12, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Carson on Ministering under Grace

It is rare for me to finish a sermon without feeling somewhere between slightly discouraged and moderately depressed that I have not preached with more unction, that I have not articulated these glorious truths more powerfully and with greater insight, and so forth. But I cannot allow that to drive me to despair; rather, it must drive me to a greater grasp of the simple and profound truth that we preach and visit and serve under the gospel of grace, and God accepts us because of his Son. I must learn to accept myself not because of my putative success but because of the merits of God's Son. The ministry is so open-ended that one never feels that all possible work has been done, or done as well as one might like. There are always more people to visit, more studying to be done, more preparation to do. What Christians must do, what Christian leaders must do, is constantly remember that we serve our God and Maker and Redeemer under the gospel of grace. [D. A. Carson. Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008, pp. 92-93]
October 29, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

God Saves Sinners - Dr. J. I. Packer

“The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] in the form of five distinct points (a number due, as we saw, merely to the fact that there were five Arminian points for the Synod of Dort to answer) tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners.

“God – the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing.

“Saves – does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies.

“Sinners – men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners – and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedalling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen.”

J.I. Packer, “Introductory Essay,” in The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by John Owen (London: Banner of Truth, 1959) 4-5.

October 18, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Should we say...?

Should we say, "perhaps you should try Jesus as you savior" ...almost with a consumer market oriented mentality? "There are lots of religious options and if you try this particular religious option you might like it." ... No... rather, Jesus is Lord and he will soon be invading with His armies. He is offering pardon in advance of His invasion and should you receive the pardon and ally yourself with Him now before He invades, when He comes you will be considered His ally and He will raise you to Kingship. The alternative is to be under the wrath of the King. It is not some kind of religious option. It an announcement that a new King is on the throne and He'll be invading. The gospel is not an invitation to an array of a buffet style choices, it is a command. Will you heed the command? Jesus is Lord, repent and believe. - William Wilder

August 12, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Antithesis of Modernity and Postmodernity

"The theogical underpinings of modernity and postmodernity are the autonomy of human persons with respect to all other persons (including God), the universal fatherhood of God and the univeral fraterity of humanity. Calvin's doctrine of predestination contained within it the antithesis of these modernist fundamentals." - R. Scott Clark
July 17, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

It is God Himself...

‘It is God Himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God Himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God Himself who, in the person of His Son, died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took His own loving initiative to appease His own righteous anger by bearing it His own self in His own Son when He took our place and died for us. There is no crudity here to evoke our ridicule, only profundity of holy love to evoke our worship.’ - John Stott, The Cross of Christ

July 12, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Dependence on Our Own Strength or Realization of our Impotence

Helpful Quote from Jonathan Edwards

"My longings after it, put me upon pursuing and pressing after them. It was my continual strife day and night, and constant inquiry, how I should be more holy, and live more holily, and more becoming a child of God, and disciple of Christ. I sought an increase of grace and holiness, and that I might live an holy life, with vastly more earnestness, than ever I sought grace, before I had it. I used to be continually examining myself, and studying and contriving for likely ways and means, how I should live holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness, than ever I pursued anything in my life: but with too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me. My experience had not then taught me, as it has done since, my extreme feebleness and impotence, every manner of way; and the innumerable and bottomless depths of secret corruption and deceit, that there was in my heart."

Source of Edwards quote: (Marsden, Jonathan Edwards, 53). The quote is from his “Personal Narrative” in the Yale Works, 16:797. HT Steve Camp

Related Essay
Notes on Our Ongoing Need of Redemption as Christians

June 30, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Thou Shall Not Steal

Where does you tax money go?

Economist M. Stanton Evans writes: "The principle beneficiaries of the money absorbed and dispensed by government are not poor blacks in ghettos or Appalachian whites or elderly pensioners receiving Social Security checks...The major beneficiaries, instead, are the employess of government itself--people engaged in administering some real or imagined service to the underprivileged or, as the case may be, the overprivileged ...the gross effect of increased government spending is to transfer money away from relatively low income people -- average taxpayers who must pay the bills--to relatively high income people--Federal functionaries who are being paid out of the taxpayer's pocket...the two richest counties in the United States are...Montgomery County Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia--principal bedroom communities for Federal Workers in Washington D.C." Ronald Nash, referring to the statement of the prominent black economist Walter E. Williams, that in 1979 the U.S. was spending $250 billion annually "just to fight poverty," responds: "Had this amount of money been distributed equally to all families below the poverty level, each of them would have received an annual payment of $34,000."
- M Stanton Evans and Walter E. Williams quoted by Ron Nash in Economic Justice and the State

May 15, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Quote from Suprised by Hope

"As genuine human beings, from Genesis 1 onward, we are given the mandate of looking after creation, of bringing order to God's world, of establishing and maintaining communities. To suppose that we are saved, as it were, for our own private benefit, for the restoration of our own relationship with God (vital though that is!), and for our eventual homecoming and peace in heaven (misleading though that is!) is like a boy being given a baseball bat as a present and insisting that since it belongs to him, he must always and only play with it in private. But of course you can only do what you're meant to do with a baseball bat when you're playing with other people. And salvation only does what it's meant to do when those who have been saved, are being saved, and will one day fully be saved realize that they are saved not as souls but as wholes and not for themselves alone but for what God now longs to do through them." - N. T. Wright (Suprised by Hope pg. 199-200)
April 28, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Necessity of Grace

home-quote.jpg
image by All Saints Presbyterian Church, Boise Idaho

April 16, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

John Owen & John Bunyan

John Owen once went to hear John Bunyan preach. Charles II, hearing of it, asked the doctor why someone as thoroughly educated as he would want to hear a mere tinker preach. Owen replied, "May it please your Majesty, if I could possess the tinker's abilities to grip men's hearts, I would gladly give in exchange all my learning."

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What's New


The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World
by David F. Wells
Now in Stock!



Jesus Christ: The Prince of Preachers
by Mike Abendroth.
insightful!



Faith Comes By Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism
Ed by Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson
What about those who have never heard?

April 09, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

A Quote from a Disciple (2nd Century AD)

The quote (below) is from The Epistle to Diognetus 9, translated by Maxwell Staniforth. This text dates from the mid to late 2nd century AD. It is an early indication that the doctrines of substitutionary atonement and double imputation were not first the product of the Protestant Reformation, but were held dear by the earliest generations of Christians. The author is unknown - he refers to himself simply as a mathetes “disciple”.

"He showed how long-suffering He is. He bore with us, and in pity He took our sins upon Himself and gave His own Son as a ransom for us – the Holy for the wicked, the Sinless for sinners, the Just for the unjust, the Incorrupt for the corrupt, the Immortal for the mortal. For was there, indeed, anything except His righteousness that could have availed to cover our sins? In whom could we, in our lawlessness and ungodliness, have been made holy, but in the Son of God alone? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable working! O benefits unhoped for! – that the wickedness of multitudes should thus be hidden in the One holy, and the holiness of One should sanctify the countless wicked!"

March 08, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

In a former generation it was said...

H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962) said this of liberalism, "a God without wrath, brought men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross." It seems that what was once true of liberalism, can now be said of much of modern day evangelicalism.

February 04, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

He who comes to God...

He who comes to God in prayer, comes not in a spirit of self-assertion, but in a spirit of trustful dependence. No one ever addressed God in prayer thus: "O God, thou knowest that I am the architect of my own fortunes and the determiner of my own destiny. Thou mayest indeed do something to help me in the securing of my purposes after I have determined upon them. But my heart is my own, and Thou canst not intrude into it; my will is my own, and Thou canst not bend it. When I wish Thy aid, I will call on Thee for it. Meanwhile, Thou must await my pleasure." Men may reason somewhat like this; but that is not the way they pray. - B. B. Warfield

January 20, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What About Those Who Have Never Heard?

One question frequently stops Christians in their tracks: "If the Gospel alone saves, then what about the heathen in Africa who never heard?" Can God justly convict a man who hasn't heard about Jesus? Some people hear the Gospel and reject it, but most never hear it. How can God condemn them? Christians are ill-equipped to respond because they don't really understand something vital about sin and mercy. Sin brings guilt. Mercy is a gift. Anyone who is a sinner receives punishment he deserves. Anyone who is saved receives mercy he does not deserve and which is not owed him. Think of this question: How could the sheriff send anyone to jail if he didn't offer him a pardon first? The answer is simple. If he's guilty, the sheriff is justified in throwing him in jail. There is no obligation to offer a pardon to a guilty man. The same is true of God. He can justly convict a man who has broken His law even though the sinner has heard nothing about God's pardon in Jesus. God owes no one salvation. He can offer it to whomever He wishes. That's why it's called grace. -Gregory Koukl

January 02, 2008  |  Comments (24)   |  Permalink

Contemplation on Christ

When God initiates his plan of salvation in a person, he will complete it. If he regenerates the heart of a sinner so that he can see the things of God, he will draw him irresistibly to his son, Jesus Christ, who purchased his salvation on the cross, and through the work of the Holy Spirit will escort him through this life to the glory of the Father's presence. And he will be as secure in that process as if he were living in the loving hand of God himself.
- J.D. Wetterling

December 21, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Substitutionary Atonement and Double Imputation - 2nd Century AD

"He showed how long-suffering He is. He bore with us, and in pity He took our sins upon Himself and gave His own Son as a ransom for us – the Holy for the wicked, the Sinless for sinners, the Just for the unjust, the Incorrupt for the corrupt, the Immortal for the mortal. For was there, indeed, anything except His righteousness that could have availed to cover our sins? In whom could we, in our lawlessness and ungodliness, have been made holy, but in the Son of God alone? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable working! O benefits unhoped for! – that the wickedness of multitudes should thus be hidden in the One holy, and the holiness of One should sanctify the countless wicked!"

The quote is from The Epistle to Diognetus 9, translated by Maxwell Staniforth. This text dates from the mid to late 2nd century AD. It is an early indication that the doctrines of substitutionary atonement and double imputation were not first the product of the Protestant Reformation, but were held dear by the earliest generations of Christians. The author is unknown - he refers to himself simply as a mathetes “disciple”.

December 06, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

God's Grace in the Gospel - not just necessary but sufficient

The Reformers of the 16th Century called the Church back to the one true Biblical Gospel: With Scripture alone as the firm foundation they affirmed that justification is by God's grace alone, received through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.

In contrast with the Reformers, Rome believed (then as well as now) that justification is by grace, through faith and because of Christ, and issued an anathema on those who affirmed that faith alone justifies (at the Council of Trent). However, it is the little word "alone" that identifies the one true biblical Gospel and all other pretenders as false gospels. What Rome does not believe is that justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. For Rome, justification is by grace plus merit, through faith plus works; by Christ plus the sinner's contribution of inherent righteousness. Dr. James White addresses this theme in clear terms in a quote taken from his blog at aomin.org, November 14, 2007

How can one say "faith alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone" and then say "propitiatory Mass that never perfects, grace mediated through Mary, temporal punishments, purgatory, and satispassio"? Or to return to the Galatian context, what basis does anyone have to believe that one can say "faith alone in an all sufficient Christ" and "circumcision necessary to have true faith in Christ" at the same time without involving such a contradiction as to render words meaningless? What is it about the Galatian heresy that rendered its proponents anathema that is not present in the pantheon of Roman additions to the gospel? How many times does Rome have to say "no, no, faith alone is not sufficient, you need sacraments, you need the priesthood, you need indulgences, confessions, penances, and a never-perfecting re-presentation of Calvary" before she catches up with the Judaizers in Galatia?... If you can't tell the difference between "faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone to the glory of God alone" and Rome's man-centered, peace-robbing, soul-destroying "gospel," then God has not spoken, He has not even mumbled, and we are of all men most to be pitied.

November 14, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Spurgeon Quote

My dear friends, after all, the kicking against the doctrine of election is a kicking against the gospel, because this doctrine is a first principle in the divine plan of mercy, and when rightly known, it prepares our minds to receive all the other doctrines. Or on the contrary, misunderstand this, and you are pretty sure to make mistakes about all the rest.

Take for instance final perseverance; some men say, "If we continue in faith, and if we continue in holiness, we shall certainly be saved at last." Do you not see at once that this is legality—that this is hanging our salvation upon our work—that this is making our eternal life to depend on something we do?

Nay, the doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works, lifted up; for he always thinks faith is a work of the creature and a condition of his acceptance. It is as false to say that man is saved by faith as a work, as that he is saved by the deeds of the law. We are saved by faith as the gift of God, and as the first token of his eternal favor to us; but it is not faith as our work that saves, otherwise we are saved by works, and not by grace at all.

If you need any argument upon this point, I refer you to our great apostle Paul, who so constantly combats the idea that works and grace can ever be united together, for he argues, "If it be of grace, then it is no more of works otherwise grace were no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more of grace, otherwise work is no more work."

C. H. Spurgeon - from "Effects of Sound Doctrine," a sermon delivered Sunday evening, April 22nd, 1860, at New Park Street Chapel.

November 02, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

C. H. Spurgeon - The Nature of Atonement (Quote)

"Now, you are aware that there are different theories of Redemption. All Christians hold that Christ died to redeem, but all Christians do not teach the same redemption. We differ as to the nature of atonement, and as to the design of redemption. For instance, the Arminian holds that Christ, when He died, did not die with an intent to save any particular person; and they teach that Christ’s death does not in itself secure, beyond doubt, the salvation of any one man living. They believe that Christ died to make the salvation of all men possible, or that by the doing of something else, any man who pleases may attain unto eternal life; consequently, they are obliged to hold that if man’s will would not give way and voluntarily surrender to grace, then Christ’s atonement would be unavailing. They hold that there was no particularity and speciality in the death of Christ. Christ died, according to them, as much for Judas in Hell as for Peter who mounted to Heaven. They believe that for those who are consigned to eternal fire, there was a true and real a redemption made as for those who now stand before the throne of the Most High. Now, we believe no such thing. We hold that Christ, when He died, had an object in view, and that object will most assuredly, and beyond a doubt, be accomplished. We measure the design of Christ’s death by the effect of it. If any one asks us, “What did Christ design to do by His death?” we answer that question by asking him another — “What has Christ done, or what will Christ do by His death?” For we declare that the measure of the effect of Christ’s love, is the measure of the design of it. We cannot so belie our reason as to think that the intention of Almighty God could be frustrated, or that the design of so great a thing as the atonement, can by any way whatever, be missed of. We hold — we are not afraid to say that we believe — that Christ came into this world with the intention of saving “a multitude which no man can number;” and we believe that as the result of this, every person for whom He died must, beyond the shadow of a doubt, be cleansed from sin, and stand, washed in blood, before the Father’s throne. We do not believe that Christ made any effectual atonement for those who are for ever damned; we dare not think that the blood of Christ was ever shed with the intention of saving those whom God foreknew never could be saved, and some of whom were even in Hell when Christ, according to some men’s account, died to save them.

(C. H. Spurgeon, from the sermon, Particular Redemption, Delivered February 28, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens)

August 31, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless...

Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God's face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy -- this pride is innate in all of us -- unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity. Moreover, we are not thus convinced if we look merely to ourselves and not also to the Lord, who is the sole standard by which this judgment must be measured. For, because all of us are inclined by nature to hypocrisy, a kind of empty image of righteousness in place of righteousness itself abundantly satisfies us. And because nothing appears within or around us that has not been contaminated by great immorality, what is a little less vile pleases us as a thing most pure -- so long as we confine our minds within the limits of human corruption. Just so, an eye to which nothing is shown but black objects judges something dirty white or even rather darkly mottled to be whiteness itself. Indeed, we can discern still more clearly from the bodily senses how much we are deluded in estimating the powers of the soul. For if in broad daylight we either look down upon the ground or survey whatever meets our view round about, we seem to ourselves endowed with the strongest and keenest sight; yet when we look up to the sun and gaze straight at it, that power of sight which was particularly strong on earth is at once blunted and confused by a great brilliance, and thus we are compelled to admit that our keenness in looking upon things earthly is sheer dullness when it comes to the sun. So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods. Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power -- the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name of wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God. (John Calvin, Institutes I:I:2)

July 13, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

At the heart of Reformed Theology

"At the heart of Reformed Theology, at the heart of Luther and Calvin's struggle, and in Knox and Jonathan Edwards, were men who were awakened to the greatness, to the majesty, to the holiness, and the sovereignty of God. By contemplating the holiness and sovereignty of God, they were driven to develop their doctrines of the grace of God. Because until you meet a God who is holy and is sovereign, you don't know what grace means. I don't think we are ever going to see a healthy evangelical church until the evangelical church is solidly Reformed, where it takes biblical Christianity seriously with a right concept of a sovereign God.

That's because unreformed Christianity has failed in our culture. It has been pervasively antinomian (no law, no Lordship), and has been pervasively liberal in it's trends and tendencies away from scripture, because there's been no real basis in the sovereignty of God.

Today's evangelicals are never amazed by grace, because they don't understand sovereignty. They don't understand God. The evangelical church today is sick, more sick than it has ever been. We need a style and a variety of Christianity that is not a religion, but is a life and a worldview, where at the heart and foundational structure of it is a sound and deep biblical concept of the character of God."

R. C. Sproul - from his series "A Blueprint for Thinking."

June 22, 2007  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Conversion proceeds from...

"To believe in the power of man in the work of regeneration is the great heresy of Rome, and from that error has come the ruin of the Church. Conversion proceeds from the grace of God alone, and the system which ascribes it partly to man and partly to God is worse than Pelagianism" (The Reformation in England (London, 1962), Vol. 1, p. 98)
June 21, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Theology is a Holy Work, a Service of Worship

Religion, the fear of God, must therefore be the element which inspires and animates all theological investigation. That must be the pulsebeat of the science. A theologian is a person who makes bold to speak about God because he speaks out of God and through God. To profess theology is to do holy work. It is a priestly ministration in the house of the Lord. It is itself a service of worship, a consecration of mind and heart to the honour of His name.

- Herman Bavinck. Quoted from The Good Confression: An Exploration of the Christian Faith by Daniel R. Hyde

May 17, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Never Tire of the Gospel by Martin Luther

People don’t earn God’s approval or receive life and salvation because of anything they’ve done. Rather, the only reason they receive life and salvation is because of God’s kindness through Christ. There is no other way.

Many Christians are tired of hearing this teaching over and over. They think that they learned it all long ago. However, they barely understand how important it really is. If it continues to be taught as truth, the Christian church will remain united and pure – free from decay. This truth alone makes and sustains Christianity. You might hear an immature Christian brag about how well he knows that we receive God’s approval through God’s kindness and not because of anything we do to earn it. But if he goes on to say that this is easy to put into practice, then have no doubt he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he probably never will. We can never learn this truth completely or brag that we understand it fully. Learning this truth is an art. We will always remain students of it, and it will always be our teacher.

The people who truly understand that they receive God’s approval by faith and put this into practice don’t brag that they have fully mastered it. Rather, they think of it as a pleasant taste or aroma that they are always pursuing. These people are astonished that they can’t comprehend it as fully as they would like. They hunger and thirst for it. They yearn for it more and more. They never get tired of hearing about this truth.

-Martin Luther, Quoted in Faith Alone, James C. Galvin

May 02, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Christian Epicurians

"A godly man in his afflictions is, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things, (2 Cor. 6:10) and in his abundance, he hath all things, but possesseth nothing: for he possesses things, as if he did not possess them, as the Apostle's counsel is, (1 Cor. 7:31) He marries as if he married not; he weeps as if he wept not; he rejoices as if he rejoiced not; he buys as if he possessed not; because the fashion of this world passeth away. It was an excellent speech of Luther, concerning worldly things; "I have protested, that I will never be satisfied with the creature, (this is to be a Protestant in deed, as well as in truth)". A godly man is an Epicure in Christ; he would never play the Epicure, but in Christ, and in God: In them, and towards them, he gives his affections their full swing, and as a wicked man is said to enlarge his desires (after the Earth) as Hell, (Hab. 2:5) so he enlarges his desires (after Heaven) as Heaven, and complains his desires are no larger. In the thoughts of Christ he sits down, and would take his fill, he saith, "I am safe in Him, I am quiet and at rest"; he saith to his soul, "soul, doest thou see That Christ, and doest thou take notice of those promises? Thou hast goods laid up in Him, in them for many years, yea for eternity, soul take thine ease, take it fully, thou hast riches, thou hast an estate that can never be spent, soul, eat, drink, and be merry; His blood is drink indeed, and his flesh is meat indeed, joy in Christ is joy indeed, unspeakable joy here, and fullness of joy hereafter; In His presence there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore." Until the soul pitches thus on Christ, it is not in safety, much less in rest or quiet."

From Practical Observations on Job by Joseph Caryl, page 475, Volume 1.

April 30, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Let No Man Flatter Himself

"Let no man flatter himself: of himself he is a devil: his happiness he owes entirely to God. What have you of your own but sin? Take your sin which is your own; for righteousness is of God ... Why presume so much on the capability of nature? It is wounded, maimed, vexed, lost. The thing wanted is genuine confession, not false defense...When any one knows that he is nothing in himself, and has no help from himself, the weapons within himself are broken, and the war is ended. - Augustine, De Natura et Gratia
April 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Christ Died for the Ungodly By Horatius Bonar

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

The divine testimony concerning man is, that he is a sinner. God bears witness against him, not for him; and testifies that “there is none righteous, no, not one”; that there is “none that doeth good”; none “that understandeth”; none that even seeks after God, and, still more, none that loves Him (Psa 14:1-3; Rom 3:10-12). God speaks of man kindly, but severely; as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one who will make no terms with sin, and will “by no means clear the guilty.”

He declares man to be a lost one, a stray one, a rebel, a “hater of God” (Rom 1:30); not a sinner occasionally, but a sinner always; not a sinner in part, with many good things about him; but wholly a sinner, with no compensating goodness; evil in heart as well as life, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1); an evil doer, and therefore under condemnation; an enemy of God, and therefore “under wrath”; a breaker of the righteous law, and therefore under “the curse of the law” (Gal 3:10). The sinner not merely brings forth sin, but he carries it about with him, as his second self; he is a body or mass of sin (Rom 6:6), a “body of death” (Rom 7:24), subject not to the law of God, but to “the law of sin” (Rom 7:23).

There is another and yet worse charge against him. He does not believe on the name of the Son of God, nor love the Christ of God. This is his sin of sins. That his heart is not right with God is the first charge against him. That his heart is not right with the Son of God is the second. And it is this second that is the crowning, crushing sin, carrying with it more terrible damnation than all other sins together.

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April 06, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Justification - Paul and James Easily Reconciled

"In Romans 3:28 Paul says, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." In James 2:24 we read, "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." If the word justify means the same thing in both cases, we have an irreconcilable contradiction between two biblical writers on an issue that concerns our eternal destinies. Luther called "justification by faith" the article upon which the church stands or falls. The meaning of justification and the question of how it takes place is no mere trifle. Yet Paul says it is by faith apart from works, and James says it is by works and not by faith alone. To make matters more difficult, Paul insists in Romans 4 that Abraham is justified when he believes the promise of God before he is circumcised. He has Abraham justified in Genesis 15. James says, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?" (James 2:21). James does not have Abraham justified until Genesis 22.

This question of justification is easily resolved if we examine the possible meanings of the term justify and apply them within the context of the respective passages. The term justify may mean (1) to restore to a state of reconciliation with God those who stand under the judgment of his law or (2) to demonstrate or vindicate.

Jesus says for example, "Wisdom is justified of all her children" (Lk 7:35 KJV). What does he mean? Does he mean that wisdom is restored to fellowship with God and saved from his wrath? Obviously not. The plain meaning of his words is that a wise act produces good fruit. The claim to wisdom is vindicated by the result. A wise decision is shown to be wise by its results. Jesus is speaking in practical terms, not theological terms, when he uses the word justified in this way.

How does Paul use the word in Romans 3? Here, there is no dispute. Paul is clearly speaking about justification in the ultimate theological sense.

What about James? If we examine the context of James, we will see that he is dealing with a different question from Paul. James says in 2:14, "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" James is raising a question of what kind of faith is necessary for salvation. He is saying that true faith brings forth works. A faith without works he calls a dead faith, a faith that is not genuine. The point is that people can say they have faith when in fact they have no faith. The claim to faith is vindicated or justified when it is manifested by the fruit of faith, namely works. Abraham is justified or vindicated in our sight by his fruit. In a sense, Abraham's claim to justification is justified by his works. The Reformers understood that when they stated the formula, "Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.""

R. C. Sproul - Knowing Scripture; InterVasity Press, p. 83, 84

April 02, 2007  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

God's Intention in the Atonement of Christ by C. H. Spurgeon

We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, on the other hand, our opponents limit it; we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question–Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer, “No.” They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, “No, Christ has died that any man may be saved if” –and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.” We say that Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.

(Cited by J. I. Packer, “Introductory Essay,” in John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ [n.p., n.d.; reprint, London: Banner of Truth, 1959], 14.)

March 30, 2007  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

What is the Gift of God? by Sam Storms

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8, 9 - ESV

"What exactly is the "gift" (v. 8) of God?

Arminians have often appealed to a point of Greek grammar that they believe makes it impossible for "faith" to be the gift to which Paul refers. The NASB translation is more explicit at this point, rendering the verse as follows:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

The word faith, Arminians argue, is feminine in gender, whereas the pronoun translated that ("and that not of yourselves") is neuter. Had Paul intended to describe "faith" as the gift, he would have used the feminine form of the pronoun. To what, then, does the word that refer? What is the gift of God?

Some point to the "grace" (v. 8) by which we have been saved. But the word "grace," like "faith," is also feminine in gender. Therefore, if "that" which is not of ourselves cannot refer to "faith," far less can it refer to "grace," which has the added liability of being even farther removed in the sentence from the pronoun "that." So what is Paul saying? What is the antecedent of "that"?

Clearly the "gift" of God is salvation in its totality, a salvation that flows out of God's grace and becomes ours through faith. From beginning to end, from its inception to its consummation, salvation is a gift of God to his elect. Consequently, that faith by which we come into experiential possession of what God in grace has provided is as much a gift as any and every other aspect of salvation. One can no more deny that faith is wrapped up in God's gift to us than he can deny it of God's grace. All is of God! Salvation is of the Lord!"

Sam Storms, Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election (2007, Crossway Books), p. 71

March 20, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Gospel Which Pleases the Natural Man

"Man naturally would be a god to himself, though for clambering so high he got his fall; and whatever doctrine nourisheth a good opinion of man in his own eye, this is acceptable to him; and this hath spawned another fry of dangerous errors -- the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian, which set nature upon its legs, and persuade man he got alone to Christ, or at least with a little external help, of a hand to lead, or argument to excite, without creating any work in the soul. O, we cannot conceive how glib such stuff goes down. If one workman should tell you that your house is rotten, and must be pulled down, and all new materials prepared; and another should say, No such matter; such a beam is good, and such a spar may stand--a little cost will serve the turn; it were no wonder that you should listen to him that would put you to least cost and trouble. The faithful servants of Christ tell sinners from the Word, that man in his natural state is corrupt and rotten, that nothing of the old frame will serve, and there must needs be all new; but in comes an Arminian, and blows up the sinner's pride, and tells him he is not so weak or wicked as the other represents him. If thou wilt, thou mayest repent and believe; or, at least, by exerting thy natural abilities oblige God to superadd that thou hast not. This is the workman that will please proud man best."
- William Gurnall (The Christian in Complete Armour pg. 81)
Available at Monergism Books
March 13, 2007  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Mormonism v. Christianity - a quote from Dr. James White

Mormonism, in its historical self-definition, is the "one true Church on earth." It, and it alone, possesses authority from God in the priesthood. It is the singular restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ after the church ceased to exist on earth shortly after the death of the last apostles. Its founder, Joseph Smith Jr., taught an extreme form of polytheism (LDS prefer the term "plurality of gods") wherein the distinction between God and man is abolished: God and man are of the same "species," and the difference between them is one of degree (exaltation) not one of being. God himself is an exalted man who lived on another planet, and today lives upon a planet that circles a star named Kolob. There were gods before him, there will be many gods after him. In fact, for many Mormons, the number of gods is infinite. God, in Mormonism, cannot create anything, he can only organize pre-existing matter. Jesus Christ has not eternally existed as God in Mormonism, which is hardly surprising in light of the fact that the Father (Elohim) likewise has not existed as God from eternity. Jesus is the first begotten spirit child of Elohim and one of his many heavenly wives (the current LDS hymnal makes reference to our "heavenly mother"). Despite the embarrassment of many LDS scholars, the consistent teaching of the LDS hierarchy over the years has been that God the Father, who possesses a body of flesh and bone (but no blood) sired, fathered, Jesus Christ naturally through a physical relationship with Mary. This is, in fact, why Jesus had the ability to take back his life, for he had, in Mormon theology, an immortal father. Jesus Christ, rather than being the eternal Creator whose all-sufficient death on Calvary redeems God's people perfectly, is but one god amongst many gods, one of our species, who began the work of "atonement" in Gethsemane, and only finished this upon Calvary. Mormonism has no meaningful doctrine of sin, atonement, holiness, justification, and, being a polytheistic religion, has never been able to produce a scholarly commentary on such books as Romans. It subjugates the Bible to Smith's "revelations," some of which, like the Book of Abraham, are so far removed from serious consideration as divine revelation that it is testimony to the power of deception that so many intelligent LDS continue to believe in them.

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February 14, 2007  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Who is the Fool?

"A man that extols himself is a fool and an idiot"
- John Calvin

"If you build upon yourself your edifice will be a mere ruin."
- Augustine

"If you think that your best is good enough for God, you have too high an opinion of yourself and too low and opinion of God."
-John Blanchard

"If we are proud of our talents we betray our lack of gratitude to God."
- John Calvin

"that which is begun in self-confidence will end in shame."
- Richard Sibbes

"The greatest of all disorders is to think we are whole and need no help."
-Thomas Wilson

From The Complete Gathered God: A Treasury of Quotations for Christians

February 09, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Divine Election - Asahel Nettleton

During the revival ministry of Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844) more than 25,000 were converted, principally in the New England area. Nettleton, for one, did not shrink back from proclaiming Divine election. This vignette comes from the book on his life by his friend Bennet Tyler.

A certain individual said to him: "I cannot get along with the doctrine of election."

"Then," said Nettleton, "get along without it. You are at liberty to get to heaven the easiest way you can. Whether the doctrine of election is true or not, it is true that you must repent, and believe, and love God. Now, what we tell you is, that such is the wickedness of your heart, that you never will do these things unless God has determined to renew your heart. If you do not believe that your heart is so wicked, make it manifest by complying with the terms of salvation. Why do you stand cavilling with the doctrine of election? Suppose you should prove it to be false, what have you gained? You must repent and believe in Christ after all. Why do you not immediately comply with these terms of the gospel? When you have done this, without the aids of the divine grace, it will be soon enough to oppose the doctrine of election . Until you shall have done this, we shall still believe that the doctrine of election lies at the foundation of all hope in your case." - Bennet Tyler and Andrew Bonar, The Life and Labours of Asahel Nettleton, p. 405. Reprint, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975.

January 19, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

This is all my Calvinism...

In a sermon on Romans 9:16, Charles Simeon declared, "Many there are who cannot see these truths [the doctrines of God's sovereignty], who yet are in a state truly pleasing to God; yea many, at whose feet the best of us may be glad to be found in heaven. It is a great evil, when these doctrines are made a ground of separation one from another, and when the advocates of different systems anathematize each other. . . . In reference to truths which are involved in so much obscurity as those which relate to the sovereignty of God mutual kindness and concession are far better than vehement argumentation and uncharitable discussion" (Horae Homileticae, Vol. 15, p. 357).

Simeon lived out this counsel is seen in the way he conversed with the elderly John Wesley. He tells the story himself:
"Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

No.

What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (Moule, 79f)

January 12, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Four Strait Gates (A Quote from the Puritan, Thomas Shepard)

"There are four strait gates which everyone must pass through before He can enter into Heaven.

1. There is the strait gate of Humiliation. God saves none, but first He humbles them. Now it is hard to pass through the gates and flames of Hell; hard to mourn not for one sin, but all sins, and not for a season, but for all a man's lifetime...It is easy to drop a tear or two, and be sermon-sick: but to have a heart rent for sin and from sin, this is true humiliation, and this is hard... the Lord if he saves thee, will break thine heart...

2. The strait gate of Faith... It is an easy matter to presume, but hard to believe in Christ. It is easy for a man that was never humbled to believe and say, 'Tis but believing; but it is an hard thing for a man humbled, when he sees all his sins in order before him, and crying out against him, and God frowning upon him, now to call God Father...

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December 15, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

A Work Beyond our Ability

"For a man solemnly to undertake the interpretation of any portion of Scripture without invocation of God, to be taught and instructed by His Spirit, is a high provocation of him; nor shall I expect the discovery of truth from any one who thus proudly engages in a work so much beyond his ability." - John Owen

Cited in The Word Became Fresh:How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts by Dale Ralph Davis

November 20, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Does Jesus save or merely make savable?

The perfection of Christ’s work of salvation—from the reality of God’s eternal decree, the deadness of man in sin, the effectiveness of His substitutionary death in behalf of the elect, to the application in time by the Spirit of God—is the sole and only basis of any consistent doctrine of perseverance or “eternal security.” Every system that reduces the work of Christ to the hypothetical level must abandon the solid rock of assurance that comes only from recognizing His awesome power. Reduce Jesus to the role of making us “savable” and you no longer have the slightest reason to believe that, once a person is in Christ, they will remain there. But strip man of his pretended autonomy, recognize his utter dependence and God’s unparalleled power, and the truth of the eternal nature of Christ’s saving work (and its inability to fail) will find a firm and necessary foundation. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness: He will never fail to do the Father’s will, and that is my hope (John 6:38–39).

(Dr. James White - Debating Calvinism, p. 406)

October 26, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

But How Shall I Get Faith? by Walter Marshall

Question. But how shall I get faith?

Answer. Faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), and by the gospel (Romans 1:15-17). Faith comes by hearing the gospel preached (Romans 10:17), and that comes in working faith, not in word only, but in power (1 Thessalonians 1:5), beyond what can be done by natural or human attainment (John 6:63). Therefore, if you have no beginning of it in you, your only way is to attend to the gospel and to meditate on your sin and misery and Christ's excellency, that so you may be inclined in your heart to believe (Song of Solomon 1:3; Galatians 2:16; Psalm 9:10), for this is the way God uses to beget faith (Isaiah 55:3). But if you have a desire and inclination to fly from yourself to Christ, in the bent of your heart, so that you prefer Christ above all, then the Spirit has begun and will carry on the work, so that now you may pray confidently for faith (Song of Solomon 1:4; Luke 11:13; Mark 9:24).

From his sermon: The Doctrine of Justification Opened and Applied found in the Appendix of:
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification: Growing in Holiness by Living in Union with Christ by Walter Marshall


October 25, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Spirit of Charity Seeks the Good of Fellow Creatures

[Note: Since I was personally edified by this excerpt from Jonathan Edwards, especially the section on our concern for the community to which we belong, I wanted to pass it on to you. It is not too long]

by Jonathan Edwards

...they that have the spirit of charity, or Christian love, have a spirit to seek the good of their fellow creatures. Thus the apostle commands (Phil. 2:4), “Look not every man on his own things; but every man also on the things of others.” We ought to seek the spiritual good of others; and if we have a Christian spirit, we shall desire and seek their spiritual welfare and happiness, their salvation from hell, and that they may glorify and enjoy God forever. And the same spirit will dispose us to desire and seek the temporal prosperity of others, as says the apostle (1 Cor. 10:24), “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” And we should so seek their pleasure, that therein we can, at the same time, seek their profit, as again it is said by the apostle (1 Cor. 10:33), “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved;” and again Rom. 15:2), “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”

But more particularly, under this head, I would remark, that a spirit of charity, or Christian love, as exercised toward our fellow creatures, is opposite to a selfish spirit, as it is a sympathizing and merciful spirit. It disposes persons to consider not only their own difficulties, but also the burdens and afflictions of others, and the difficulties of their circumstances, and to esteem the case of those who are in straits and necessities as their own. A person of selfish spirit is ready to make much of the afflictions that he himself is under, as if his privations or sufferings were greater than those of anybody else; and if he is not in suffering, he is ready to think he is not called to spare what he has in possession, for the sake of helping others. A selfish man is not apt to discern the wants of others, but rather to overlook them, and can hardly be persuaded to see or feel them. But a man of charitable spirit is apt to see the afflictions of others, and to take notice of their aggravation, and to be filled with concern for them, as he would be for himself if under difficulties. And he is ready, also, to help them, and take delight in supplying their necessities, and relieving their difficulties. He rejoices to obey that injunction of the apostle (Col. 3:12), “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness;” and to cherish the spirit of “wisdom (Jam. 3:17) that is from above,” which is “full of mercy;” and, like the good man spoken of by the Psalmist (Psa. 37:26), to be “merciful,” that is, full of mercy.

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October 24, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Exegesis v. Eisegesis

A quote from Dr. James White's forth-coming book "Pulpit Crimes"...

Eisegesis. The reading into a text, in this case, an ancient text of the Bible, of a meaning that is not supported by the grammar, syntax, lexical meanings, and over-all context, of the original. It is the opposite of exegesis, where you read out of the text its original meaning by careful attention to the same things, grammar, syntax, the lexical meanings of the words used by the author (as they were used in his day and in his area), and the over-all context of the document. As common as it is, it should be something the Christian minister finds abhorrent, for when you stop and think about it, eisegesis muffles the voice of God. If the text of Scripture is in fact God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and if God speaks in the entirety of the Bible (Matt. 22:31) then eisegesis would involve silencing that divine voice and replacing it with the thoughts, intents, and most often, traditions, of the one doing the interpretation. In fact, in my experience, eisegetical mishandling of the inspired text is the single most common source of heresy, division, disunity, and a lack of clarity in the proclamation of the gospel. The man of God is commended when he handles Gods truth aright (2 Tim. 2:15), and it should be his highest honor to be privileged to do so. Exegesis, then, apart from being a skill honed over years of practice, is an absolutely necessary means of honoring the Lord a minister claims to serve. For some today, exegesis and all the attendant study that goes into it robs one of the Spirit. The fact is, there is no greater spiritual service the minister can render to the Lord and to the flock entrusted to his care than to allow Gods voice to speak with the clarity that only sound exegetical practice can provide.

October 08, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

A Foundation that cannot fail - Augustus Toplady

Augustus Toplady, was the author of the hymn "Rock of Ages"

"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee!
Foul, I to the fountain fly:
Wash me, Saviour, or I die."

In his farewell sermon at Blagdon he said:

If God were to justify and save only those who are pure and upright, heaven would be empty of inhabitants. I say not this to encourage sin; but to encourage those who are grieved for their sins; who fly to the blood of the Cross for pardon, and whose prayer is that they may henceforward be renewed in the spirit of their mind and bring forth acceptable fruit unto God. Let not such be afraid to meet Him: let not such say, "How shall I stand when He appears?" For such have a Foundation to stand upon, a Foundation that cannot fail, even Jesus, the Mediator and Surety of the covenant, Christ, the Rock of Ages. He died for such. Their sins which lay like an unsurmountable impediment, or stood like a vast partition wall, and blocked up the passage to eternal life; I say He took the sins of His penitent people out of the way, nailing them to His Cross.

October 07, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Dual Nature of Christian Warfare

In my recent moments of spare time, I have been reading Paul: An Outline of His Theology, by Herman Ridderbos. This has been a tremendously helpful and outstandingly thorough introduction to the theology of the Pauline epistles. For the purpose of whetting the potential reader's appetite, I am posting a brief, yet particularly useful sample on the nature of Christian warfare.

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September 08, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Irresistible Grace by Dr. James White

"The doctrine of "irresistible grace" is easily understood. It is simply the belief that when God chooses to move in the lives of His elect and bring them from spiritual death to spiritual life, no power in heaven or on earth can stop Him from so doing. It is really nothing more than saying that it is God who regenerates sinners, and that freely. The doctrine has nothing to do with the fact that sinners "resist" the common grace of God and the Holy Spirit (they do) or that Christians do not live perfectly in the light of God's grace. It is simply the confession that when God chooses to raise His people to spiritual life, He does so without the fulfillment of any conditions on the part of the sinner. Just as Christ had the power and authority to raise Lazarus to life without obtaining his "permission" to do so, He is able to raise His elect to spiritual life with just as certain a result.

Objections to irresistible grace are, by and large, actually objections to the previously established truths of the doctrines of grace. Obviously, if God is sovereign and freely and unconditionally elects a people unto salvation, and if man is dead in sin and enslaved to its power, God must be able to free those elect people in time and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ, and that by a grace that does not falter or depend upon human cooperation. Those who disbelieve God's right to kingship over His creation or the deadness of man in sin and put forward the tradition of man's autonomous will can hardly confess that God's grace actually saves without the freewill cooperation of man. From their perspective, the autonomous act of human faith must determine God's actions. That act of faith becomes the "foreseen" act that controls God's very decree of predestination, and, of course, that act of faith becomes the "trigger" that results in one being born again.

Neither side in the debate will deny that God is the one who raises men to spiritual life. The question is: Does He do so because men fulfill certain conditions, or does He do so freely, at His own time, and in the lives of those He chooses to bring into relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ? This question is normally framed in the context of the relationship of faith and regeneration. Do we believe to become born again, or must we first be born again before we can exercise true, saving faith? Can the natural man do what is pleasing to God? Can the dead choose to allow themselves to be raised to life? This is the issue at hand."

- Dr. James White, Debating Calvinism, p. 197- 198

August 28, 2006  |  Comments (17)   |  Permalink

David Wells on "Churchless Christianity"

"...This attitude which diminishes the significance of being in church and which will not tolerate any inconvenience has had a strange incarnation overseas, if I can use that word. American missiologists like Ralph Winter have been strenuously advocating “churchless Christianity” as a new and exciting strategy. Their thought is that believers in other religious contexts need not separate themselves from those contexts but can remain in them as private believers, thereby preserving themselves from any kind of harm. This, of course, is easier to do in a Hindu context in which one is allowed to choose one’s own god from among the many that are worshipped. Christians, quietly and privately, are simply choosing to worship Jesus and ignoring the other gods and goddesses in the temple. They are never baptized, never make a public declaration of their faith, and never become part of a church. This arrangement is, of course, much harder to carry off in Islam. Nevertheless, Winter and others now estimate that there are millions of these “churchless” believers concealed in other religions. And is this not where American evangelicalism is headed? In fact, there are already millions of believers concealed in their own living rooms whose only “church” experience is what is had from one of the television preachers. Is it really a coincidence, then, that it is American evangelicals who are energetically arguing for the wisdom of a comparable strategy in the mission field in respect to their religious contexts? I think not!

Here we have an unholy alliance between raw pragmatism, a Christianity without doctrinal shape, one that in fact separates between having Christ as savior and Christ as Lord (an option that the N.T. never holds out to us!), and a lost understanding of the necessary role which the local church should have.

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August 15, 2006  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

2,000 Years of Jesus' Catholic Church?

A quote from Dr. James White's blog at www.aomin.org

"We all heard the "2,000 years of Jesus' Catholic Church" mantra last year when John Paul II died, and it was almost never challenged. I would ask our writer to name, please, a single bishop at the Council of Nicea who believed as he believes on each of these topics: Marian dogmas (Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception, Bodily Assumption), Papal Authority (infallibility), Purgatory, transubstantiation. Any semi-serious reader of history knows he would not be able to find such a person, so the claim of "2,000 years" may sound impressive, but it has the truth value any advertising slogan carries: none. It may sound great to those ignorant of history, and to those who wear the glasses Rome provides that filters out all the extraneous problems and issues, but for anyone with an even semi-decent grasp of the past, it is a hollow, shallow claim."

August 08, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

My soul is like a weaned child

I was once conversing with a very excellent aged minister, and while we were talking about our Christian experience, he made the following confession: he said, “When I read that passage in the psalms, ‘My soul is like a weaned child,’ I wish it were true of me, but I think I would have to make an alteration in it, and then it would exactly describe me at times, ‘My soul is like a weaning rather than a weaned child,’ for,” said he, “with the infirmities of old age, I fear I get fretful and irritable, and anxious, and when the day is over I do not feel that I have been as calm, resigned, and trustful as I would desire.” I suppose, dear brethren, that frequently we have to make the same confession. We wish we were like a weaned child, but we find ourselves neglecting to walk by faith, and instead walk by the sight of our eyes, and then we get like the weaning child which is fretting and worrying, and unrestful. We experience this poor frame of mind especially when we want to know all the reasons of divine Providence, — why this affliction was sent, and why that. Why? Why? Why? Ah, when we begin asking “Why? why? why?” what an endless task we have before us. If we become like a weaned child we shall not ask “why?” but just believe that in our heavenly Father’s dispensations there is a wisdom too deep for us to fathom, a goodness veiled but certain. O dear friends, when you have been in sharp trials, when things have gone wrong for you, and, especially, if some beloved object of your heart’s affection is taken from you, then you have had a quarrel with your God! It is a very sad thing that we should ever argue with infinite love, or think that we know better than eternal wisdom, or begin to suspect the grace of the Most High. That lack of submission to God lies at the root of half our suffering. We must submit to him; it would be well for us if we did so at once. One of the highest acts of devotion is to rest in the Lord. God grant it to you now, at his table especially, for his name’s sake! Amen. - C.H. Spurgeon

August 05, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Who Made You to Differ? by C.H. Spurgeon

From Spurgeon's sermon, "The Fruitless Vine"

It is grace, free, sovereign grace, which has made you to differ!

Should any here, supposing themselves to be the children of God, imagine that there is some reason "in them" why they should have been chosen, let them know, that as yet they are in the dark, concerning the first principles of grace, and have not yet learned the gospel.

If ever they had known the gospel, they would, on the other hand, confess that they were less than the least- the offscouring of all things- unworthy, ill-deserving, undeserving, and hell-deserving, and ascribe it all to distinguishing grace, which has made them to differ; and to discriminating love, which has chosen them out from the rest of the world.

Great Christian, you would have been a great sinner if God had not made you to differ! O! you who are valiant for truth, you would have been as valiant for the devil if grace had not laid hold of you!

A seat in heaven shall one day be yours; but a chain in hell would have been yours if grace had not changed you!

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July 25, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Recovery After Sin by Dr. Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)

Extract from "Excellency of the Gospel above the Law" by Richard Sibbes

What is the way, after we have had boldness and sweet familiarity with God, and it hath been interrupted by sin? how shall we recover ourselves?

Surely, to apprehend our sins to be pardonable in Christ, and that God is an everlasting Father, and that the covenant of grace is everlasting, and that there is mercy in Israel for this thing; and the conceit [conception] of mercy must work our hearts to grief and shame. That is certain; for mark in the gospel, ‘Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden,’ Mat. xi. 28. He calls us when we find our consciences afflicted and tormented. ‘He came to save that which was lost,’ Mat. xviii. 11. By the blessed power of the Spirit, the blood of Christ is as a fountain ‘for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in,’ Zech. xiii. 1, and the ‘blood of Christ purgeth us from sin,’ 1 John i. 7; and Christ bids us for daily trespasses ask pardon, Mat. vi. 12. Daily therefore conceive goodness in God still, an everlasting current of mercy; and this must work upon us grief and shame, and recover and strengthen our faith again. For God’s children, after breaches, arise the stronger rather than ever they were before. But this only by the way. We see here how God’s glorious grace is conveyed to us, and what is wrought in us to apprehend it, a spiritual eye to see it, in the glass of the gospel, and ‘with open face we behold it,’ we may go boldly to the throne of grace.

Reference
“The Works of Richard Sibbes,” published by Banner of Truth, 1979. Vol. iv, p. 254.

July 20, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

How may I know I'm elect?

"How may I know I'm elect? First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced. Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition. Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope. Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it. Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness. Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative."

A. W. Pink

July 17, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Theology & Evangelism by J.I. Packer

"Evangelism and theology for the most part go separate ways, and the result is great loss for both. When theology is not held on course by the demands of evangelistic communcation, it grows abstract and speculative, wayward in method, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance. When evangelism is not fertilized, fed and controlled by theology, it becomes a stylized performance seeking its effect through manipulative skills rather than the power of vision and the force of truth. Both theology and evangelism are then, in one important sense, unreal, false to their own God-given nature; for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action." - J.I. Packer
July 13, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Does the Bible teach Prevenient Grace? - R. C. Sproul

As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that “comes before” something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with and assent to this grace are “elect.” Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost. The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man’s spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God’s grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn’t everyone get the same amount?

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July 06, 2006  |  Comments (26)   |  Permalink

Jeremiah Burroughs on Preaching

"It may be a use of a great deal of encouragement to all the ministers of God to preach to people. It may be that sometimes even they are discouraged, and think to themselves, "Lord, how hard are the hearts of men, and how difficult it is to work upon the hearts of men! I have labored with all my might. I have studied and sought to invent all the arguments I possibly could, the most moving arguments that I could possibly imagine. When I have been in my study, I have thought to myself, 'Surely if the Lord is pleased to bless these truths that I am to deliver, they will work upon the hearts of people.'" And when it comes to the preaching of that sermon, perhaps the minister finds that they are not at all stirred one whit. "Why, Lord, what shall I do then? I cannot think ever to speak things that are more powerful than those that I have spoken, and those have done no good. Therefore I am afraid I shall never do good."

"Oh, no, do not say so and do not think so. The Lord is pleased sometimes to show us our vanity this way, and to rebuke us. Many times the Lord will not go along with the ministry of the Word when it comes with the greatest power and the strongest arguments and, yet, at another time, the Lord will be pleased to bless a word that you only speak in passing. It may do more than all the others. There is scarcely any one faithful minister in the world who observes the work of God upon his ministry who does not find this to be true. Yet this is no argument why a minister should not labor with all his might and come with the strongest arguments. He is bound to do his duty. Aye, be not discouraged. He may afterwards prevail, and God, I say, may bless many things that come from him. And therefore, I would exhort those who are to speak to such an audience with the words of Ecclesiastes 11:6: "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be a like good."

"Therefore, let ministers go on and sow their seed and preach still. That which they have spoken (perhaps they have been delivering arguments that they thought would have moved the heart of a devil) has been opening the miserable condition of men and opening the riches of Jesus Christ. Well, there must be no discouragement; go on and sow your seed in the morning, and in the evening withhold not your hand. Go on and preach again and again, and let the Word of God be presented before the hearts of the people. Though it has not wrought at one time, yet it may work at another time. Yea, though you should grow weaker and weaker, yet for all that the Lord may do good to you, even when you are at your weakest. In 2 Timothy 2:25 the apostle says to Timothy, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure will give them repentance." Peradventure this day a truth may be handed from God to a soul - peradventure this text, peradventure that text, and so the soul may be brought in."

from Jeremiah Burrough's "Gospel Fear" (pages 80,81)

July 05, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Augustine on the New Life in Christ

In his book The Triumph of Grace: Augustine's Writings on Salvation, Dr. N.R. Needham has done a great service to the Church in bringing together Augustine's quotes on topics related to salvation. Dr. Needham has given us his generous permission to post chapter five entitled "The New Life in Christ" in which he gives a short introductory essay on the new birth followed by a great number of helpful quotes from Augustine regarding this issue. Please take time to read the short essay and this excellent compilation of quotations. It shows a clear contrast between man-centered false views and the biblical view of grace.

CHAPTER 5.

THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST

‘Can we possibly, without utter absurdity, maintain that there first existed in anyone the good virtue of a good will, to entitle him to the removal of his heart of stone? How can we say this, when all the time this heart of stone itself signifies precisely a will of the hardest kind, a will that is absolutely inflexible against God? For if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone.’

Augustine, On Grace and Free Will, 29


‘For we are now speaking of the desire for goodness. If they want to say that this begins from ourselves and is then perfected by God, let them see how they can answer the apostle when he says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5)’

Augustine, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, 2:18

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June 28, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Quotes to Ponder

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher. He'd be either a lunatic on a level with a man who says he's a poached egg or else he'd be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. - C. S. LEWIS

"What is needed to-day is a Scriptural setting forth of the character of God - His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His Inflexible justice, His unchanging veracity. What is needed today is a scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man - his total depravity, his spiritual insensibility, his inveterate hostility to God, the fact that he is "condemned already" and that the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding upon him - the alarming danger in which sinners are - the indescribably awful doom which awaits them, the fact that if they follow only a little further their present course they shall most certainly suffer the due reward of their iniquities - a setting forth of the nature of that punishment which awaits the lost - the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the un-endurableness of it, the endlessness of it. It is because of these convictions that, by pen as well as by voice, we are seeking to raise the alarm." - A.W. PINK

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June 25, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

A Quote on the Importance of Justification by Phil Johnson

Justification by faith is unique, I believe, precisely because it distills the pure essence of everything else that is fundamental to and distinctive about Christianity.

Here's what I mean: A person can affirm the deity of Christ, give lip service to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, be very sound in all the basic points of Trinitarian doctrine—and still come under the curse of Galatians 1:8-9 because he preaches a different gospel.

Someone could also affirm the virgin birth of Christ, have a solid grasp on the incarnation, believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, and yet be one of those described in Romans 4:4 and Romans 9:32 and Romans 10:3 who—rather than trusting in Christ alone for justification—are seeking to establish a righteousness of their own by works. In other words, you can be basically sound on Christology or theology proper and unsound on the gospel. If so, believing the wrong gospel will damn you without remedy, regardless of how well-tuned your Trinitarianism is.

The converse is pretty hard to imagine. I've never met anyone who had a sound belief about justification by faith but who was unsound on Christology or Trinitarian doctrine. After all, if you affirm the principle of imputed righteousness, then you are almost certainly going to affirm the deity of Christ. Because the imputation of righteousness requires a perfect Substitute, with perfect righteousness—as perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. The only Substitute who qualifies is a Christ who is also God. So the necessity of Christ's deity is practically built right into a sound understanding of justification by faith.

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June 21, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Karlberg on the Mosaic Covenant and the Concept of Works

I've been interacting with Chris Poteet, over at Imperishable Inheritance, on the nature of the Mosaic law; and he directed me to an online book, Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective, by Mark Karlberg. I found his section on the Mosaic Covenant and the Concept of works so helpful, that I decided to post an excerpt here. Enjoy.

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June 20, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Albert Mohler and Paige Patterson's Discussion on Calvinism at the Southern Baptist Convention

"I can say that I was very encouraged by how the session went. Dr. Patterson warned his non-Calvinist friends not to make the charge that Calvinism is inherently anti-evangelism and anti-missions. That was a helpful comment based on an accurate theological assessment. Dr. Mohler warned Calvinists not to be more concerned with debating Calvinism than evangelizing. That also was a helpful comment and should be taken to heart by every lover of God's Word." - Dr. Tom Ascol, Founders

June 14, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

If Sinners Will be Damned

"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for. - C.H. Spurgeon.
June 12, 2006  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

Jesus, The Perfection of Delight

"Christ is the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world, so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet."

-- John Flavel

Trace the sunbeam to the sun;
Trace the river to the sea;
Trace all pleasures to the One
Who is Pleasure perfectly.

May 30, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

We Are Not Peddlers of God's Word

"Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology." - J.I. Packer, "'Keswick' and the Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification."

Churches which preserve their cognitive identity and distinction from the culture will flourish: those who lose them in the interests of seeking success will disappear.

In our churches we may have made a deal with postmodern consumers but the hard reality is that Christianity cannot be bought. Purchase, in the world of consumption, leads to ownership but in the Church this cannot happen. It is never God who is owned. It is we who are owned in Christ. Christianity is not up for sale. Its price has already been fixed and that price is the complete and ongoing surrender to Christ of those who embrace him by faith. It can only be had on his own terms. It can only be had as a whole. It refuses to offer only selections of its teachings. Furthermore, the Church is not its retailing outlet. Its preachers are not its peddlers and those who are Christian are not its consumers. It cannot legitimately be had as a bargain though the marketplace is full of bargainhunters.

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's Word..." II Cor 2:17

No, let us think instead of the Church as its voice of proclamation, not its sales agent, its practitioner, not its marketing firm. And in that proclamation there is inevitable cultural confrontation. More precisely, there is the confrontation between Christ, in and through the biblical Word, and the rebellion of the human heart. This is confrontation of those whose face is that of a particular culture but whose heart is that of the fallen world. We cannot forget that.

David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, pg. 308-309

May 20, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Unassailable Home Base

Justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone does not lead to more sinning. On the contrary, it is the only sure and hopeful base of operations from which the fight against sin can be launched. All the bombers that go out to drop bombs on the strongholds of sin remaining in our lives take off from the runway of justification by faith alone. The missiles that we shoot against the incoming attack of temptation are launched from the base of justification by faith alone. The whole lifelong triumphant offensive called "operation sanctification" – by which we wage war against all the remaining corruption in our lives – is sustained by the supply line of the Spirit that comes from the secure, unassailable home-base of justification by faith alone. And it will be a successful operation – but only because of the unassailable home base. - Dr. John Piper

May 15, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

A New Reformation by Dr. James Montgomery Boice

I would like to see the beginning of a new Reformation in our day, and I hope you would like to see it too and are praying for it. I hope you have become nauseated with the tawdry entertainment that passes for the true worship of God in many of our churches and, like the saints of the past, are longing for more of the deep truths of the inerrant Word of God. We certainly need a reformation.

The most serious issue facing the church today is not the inerrancy of Scripture but its sufficiency. Do we believe that God has given us what we need in this book? Or do we suppose that we have to supplement the Bible with human things? Do we need sociological techniques to do evangelism, pop psychology and pop psychiatry for Christian growth, extra-biblical signs or miracles for guidance, or political tools for achieving social progress and reform? It is possible to believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and yet to neglect it and effectually repudiate it just because we think that it is not sufficient for today’s tasks and that other things need to be brought in to accomplish what is needed. This is exactly what many evangelicals and evangelical churches are doing today.

May 01, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Opposition to the Gospel by A.W. Pink

The love of God which the gospel publishes, and the sufferings of Christ for sinners, ought to melt the hardest heart and cause every hearer fervently to cry, "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." This message of glad tidings proclaims peace. It tells of deliverance from condemnation, and promises eternal life to all who receive it. Yet the fact remains that the great majority of those who hear it are scarcely affected and obtain no lasting advantage to their souls; and that perplexes many Christians. But the total depravity of man fully explains that lamentable state. In a heart that is desperately wicked there is nothing whatever on which the gospel can seize that will evoke any echo of it. Its message is directly opposed to the opinions and inclinations of the fallen creature....a holy gospel does not appeal to them, being foreign to their tastes....If God were to leave men entirely to themselves in their response to the gospel, it would be universally rejected. There is a deeply rooted contrariety to God in men's very nature which makes them turn a deaf ear to His voice, though they are ready enough to listen to the least whisper of Satan. As there are plants which are attractive to the eye but poisonous to the stomach, so even though the gospel is a pleasant sound to the ear it is repulsive to a corrupt heart. The gospel requires men to renounce their own wisdom and become as little children, to repudiate their own righteousness, and accept that of Another, to turn from self-pleasing and submit to the will of God. The gospel is designed to transform the inner man and regulate the outer man, and this is quite unacceptable to the unregenerate. No exhortations will reconcile a wolf and a lamb. No logical arguments will tame a fierce lion. Though man is a rational creature, he follows the promptings of his lusts rather than the dictates of his judgment. One who is wholly in love with sin and Satan does not desire to enter the service of Christ. To turn to God in Christ is altogether contrary to the stream of corrupt nature, and therefore it needs to be overcome by a flood of almighty grace, as the stream of the river is overcome by the tide of the sea.

- A.W. Pink (Our Accountability to God pg 231, 232)
On The Doctrine of Human Depravity & The Doctrine of Man's Impotence

April 29, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Some Quotes from Together for the Gospel

"The most insignificant sin that has ever been committed would ruin the entire cosmos, for it would mar the perfection that God created to reflect His glory. We steal God’s glory by every sin. We do not grasp the weight of our sin. Until we can bring home the ugliness of sin, Satan has another weapon in his locker. " (Duncan)

"Pastors think there must be a light tone throughout the message which makes it impossible to discuss serious matters such as sin." (Dever)

"If the average evangelical pastor would be held captive by terrorists and would need to give an adequate definition of justification to escape alive, well, we’d have a lot of dead pastors." (Mohler)

"Sin and the wrath of God go together; you can’t have a Biblical doctrine of sin without the wrath of God." (Mohler)

"One of the most effective evangelistic series our church has ever done was when I preached through everyone that God executed for sin." (Mahaney)

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April 28, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Should we say...?

“Should we say, "perhaps you should try Jesus as you savior" ...almost with a consumer market oriented mentality"?. "There are lots of religious options and if you try this particular religious option you might like it." No ... rather, Jesus is Lord and He will soon be invading with His armies. He is offering pardon in advance of His invasion and should you receive the pardon and ally yourself with Him now before He invades, when He comes you will be considered His ally and He will raise you to Kingship. The alternative is to be under the wrath of the king. It is not some kind of religious option. It is an announcement that a new king is on the throne and he'll be invading. The gospel is not an invitation to an array of a buffet style choices, it is a command. Will you heed the command? Jesus is Lord, repent and believe.” - William Wilder

April 23, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Reformed Faith (Quote) Loraine Boettner

There are in reality only two types of religious thought. There is the religion of faith, and there is the religion of works. We believe that what has been known in Church History as Calvinism is the purest and most consistent embodiment of the religion of faith, while that which has been known as Arminianism has been diluted to a dangerous degree by the religion of works and that it is therefore an inconsistent and unstable form of Christianity. In other words, we believe that Christianity comes to its fullest and purest expression in the Reformed Faith.

The basic principle of Calvinism is the sovereignty of God. This represents the purpose of the Triune God as absolute and unconditional, independent of the whole finite creation, and originating solely in the eternal counsel of His will. He appoints the course of nature and directs the course of history down to the minutest details. His decrees therefore are eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise and sovereign. They are represented in the Bible as being the basis of the divine foreknowledge of all future events, and not conditioned by that foreknowledge or by anything originating in the events themselves.

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April 22, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

George Whitefield on Effectual Calling

“Come, ye dead, Christless, unconverted sinner, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, locked up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone placed on top of it. View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him, Ah! how he stinketh. Stop there now, pause a while; and whilst thou art gazing upon the corpse of Lazarus, give me leave to tell thee with great plainness, but greater love, that this dead, bound, entombed, stinking carcase, is but a faint representation of thy poor soul in its natural state;...thy spirit which thou bearest about with thee, sepulchered in flesh and blood, is literally dead to God, and as truly dead in trespasses and sins, as the body of Lazarus was in the cave. Was he bound hand and foot with graveclothes? So art thou bound hand and foot with thy corruptions; and as a stone was laid on the sepulchre, so there is a stone of unbelief upon thy stupid heart. Perhaps thou has lain in this estate, not only four days, but many years, stinking in God’s nostrils. And, what is still more effecting, thou art as unable to raise thyself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long. Thou mayest try the power of thy boasted free will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments (which, without doubt, have their proper place in religion); but all thy efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove quite fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said ‘take away the stone” and cried “Lazarus, come forth,” also quicken you. This is grace, graciously offered, and grace graciously applied. Or as the Confession originally puts it, “grace offered and conveyed.”

April 20, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

God as Judge (Quote)

Do you believe in Divine judgment? By which I mean, do you believe in a God who acts as our Judge? Many, it seems, do not. Speak to them of God as a Father, a friend, a helper, one who loves us despite all our weaknesses and folly and sin, and their faces light up; you are on their wavelength at once. But speak to them of God as Judge and they frown and shake their heads. Their minds recoil from such an idea. They find it repellent and unworthy. But there are few things stressed more strongly in the Bible than the reality of God’s work as Judge. Paul refers to the fact that we must all appear before Christ’s judgment seat as “the terror of the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:11), and well he might. Jesus the Lord, like His Father, is holy and pure; we are neither. We live under his eye, He knows our secrets, and on judgment day the whole of our past life will be brought under review. If we know ourselves at all, we know we are not fit to face Him. What then are we to do? The New Testament answer is: Call on the coming Judge to be your Savior. As Judge, He is the law, but as Savior He is the gospel. Run from Him now, and you will meet Him as Judge then – and without hope. Seek Him now, and you will find Him, and you will then discover that you are looking forward to that future meeting with joy, knowing that there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). - Dr. J. I. Packer, Knowing God

April 20, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus Actually Saves by C. H. Spurgeon

Matthew 20:28 "Even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Some preachers and professors affect to believe in a redemption which I must candidly confess I do not understand; it is so indistinct and indefinite — a redemption which does not redeem anybody in particular, though it is alleged to redeem everybody in general; a redemption insufficient to exempt thousands of unhappy souls from hell after they have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus; a redemption, indeed, which does not actually save anybody, because it is dependent for its efficacy upon the will of the creature; a redemption that lacks intrinsic virtue and inherent power to redeem anybody, but is entirely dependent upon an extraneous contingency to render it effectual. With such fickle theories I have no fellowship. That every soul for whom Christ shed his blood as a Substitute, he will claim as his own, and have as his right, I firmly hold. I love to hold and I delight to proclaim this precious truth. Not all the powers of earth or hell; not the obstinacy of the human will, nor the deep depravity of the human mind, can ever prevent Christ seeing of the travail of his soul and being satisfied. To the last jot and tittle of his reward shall he receive it at the Father’s hand. A redemption that does redeem, a redemption that redeems many, seems to me infinitely better than a redemption that does not actually redeem anybody, but is supposed to have some imaginary influence upon all the sons of men. - C. H. Spurgeon ("Christ's Great Mission," Published 10/5/1916, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle)

April 19, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Monergism v. Synergism (Quote) by R. C. Sproul

The doctrine of justification by faith alone was debated during the Reformation on the deeper level of monergistic regeneration. This technical term must be explained. Monergism is derived from a combination of a prefix and a root. The prefix mono is used frequently in English to indicate that which is single or alone. The root comes from the verb “to work.” The erg of monergy comes into our language to indicate a unit of work or energy. When we put the prefix and root together, we get monergy or monergism. Monergism is something that operates by itself or works alone as the sole active party. Monergism is the opposite of synergism. Synergism shares a common root with monergism, but it has a different prefix. The prefix syn comes from a Greek word meaning “with.” Synergism is a cooperative venture, a working together of two or more parties.

When the term monergism is linked with the word regeneration, the phrase describes an action by which God the Holy Spirit works on a human being without this person’s assistance or cooperation. This grace of regeneration may be called operative grace. Cooperative grace, on the other hand, is grace that God offers to sinners and that they may accept or reject, depending on the sinner’s disposition.

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April 13, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

God - the Goal of the Gospel

"... all the saving events and all the saving blessings of the gospel are means of getting obstacles out of the way so that we might know and enjoy God most fully. Propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, imputation, sanctification, liberation, healing, heaven - none of these is good news except for one reason: they bring us to God for our everlasting enjoyment of him.... And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God."

- John Piper, God Is The Gospel

April 02, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Particular Redemption by C. H. Spurgeon

"The doctrine of Redemption is one of the most important doctrines of the system of faith. A mistake on this point will inevitably lead to a mistake through the entire system of our belief.

Now, you are aware that there are different theories of Redemption. All Christians hold that Christ died to redeem, but all Christians do not teach the same redemption. We differ as to the nature of atonement, and as to the design of redemption. For instance, the Arminian holds that Christ, when he died, did not die with an intent to save any particular person; and they teach that Christ’s death does not in itself secure, beyond doubt, the salvation of any one man living. They believe that Christ died to make the salvation of all men possible, or that by the doing of something else, any man who pleases may attain unto eternal life; consequently, they are obliged to hold that if man’s will would not give way and voluntarily surrender to grace, then Christ’s atonement would be unavailing. They hold that there was no particularity and speciality in the death of Christ. Christ died, according to them, as much for Judas in hell as for Peter who mounted to heaven. They believe that for those who are consigned to eternal fire, there was as true and real a redemption made as for those who now stand before the throne of the Most High.

Now, we believe no such thing. We hold that Christ, when he died, had an object in view, and that object will most assuredly, and beyond a doubt, be accomplished. We measure the design of Christ’s death by the effect of it. If any one asks us, “What did Christ design to do by his death?” we answer that question by asking him another — “What has Christ done, or what will Christ do by his death?” For we declare that the measure of the effect of Christ’s love, is the measure of the design of it. We cannot so belie our reason as to think that the intention of Almighty God could be frustrated, or that the design of so great a thing as the atonement, can by any way whatever, be missed of. We hold — we are not afraid to say what we believe — that Christ came into this world with the intention of saving “a multitude which no man can number;” and we believe that as the result of this, every person for whom he died must, beyond the shadow of a doubt, be cleansed from sin, and stand, washed in blood, before the Father’s throne. We do not believe that Christ made any effectual atonement for those who are for ever damned, we dare not think that the blood of Christ was ever shed with the intention of saving those whom God foreknew never could be saved, and some of whom were even in hell when Christ, according to some men’s account, died to save them.

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March 27, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Results of the Atonement Seen

And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
(Rev. 5:9-10)

One of the glorious truths of Scripture is that Jesus is not a hypothetical Savior, a mere wanna-be who fails with regularity. No, we proclaim a powerful Savior who perfectly does the will of the Father. His death did not make the purchase of men from every tribe, tongue, people and nation possible, it actually accomplished that which the Triune Majesty intended. Why so many long for an "atonement" that atones not I will never understand, but when they make reference to the extent of the atonement, point them to this text that defines what it means to speak of the "world" in a New Testament context.
- Dr. James White

March 22, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Regeneration by C. H. Spurgeon

“Of his own will begat he us.” Regeneration and all consequent blessings come to us entirely through the absolute but gracious will of God. He is not bound to give; he may, if he wills, withhold. We have no claim upon God, except the claim of justice; and what would that involve but that he should punish us for our sin? We are felons against the Majesty of heaven. We have forfeited all the rights we ever had under the divine government. The right to punishment is the only right we can now claim upon the footing of justice. Henceforth we are simply in the hands of God awaiting his sentence. He may, if he wills, save the entire human race; if it pleaseth him, he may save none. If so he wills, he may make this man a monument of mercy, and leave his neighbor to reap the due reward of his works. This is what God has a right to do, and he claims his sovereign prerogative. Are not his own words heard through Scripture like peals of thunder, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion; so then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”? There are some who, in their blindness, grow wrathful at this doctrine, as if it were ungracious to mention a fact which it is impossible to disguise; they will almost froth at the mouth when the subject is broached. Well, let them do so, it still standeth firm as a rock and fast as the eternal hills. Jehovah giveth no account of his matters. He doeth as he wills among the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of this lower earth. So,-

“Mortals, be dumb; what creature dares
Dispute his awful will?
Ask no account of his affairs,
But tremble, and be still.”

Brethren, you and I, to whom this sovereignty has looked forth through the lattice of grace, can gladly appreciate it. We bless that wonderful, discriminating love which fixed upon us, whilst others were let to go their downward course and perish. The only motive God had to stir up his mercy, was his own will. To us therefore it is precious.

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March 21, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Our Infinite Obligation to God by Jonathan Edwards

When men are fallen, and become sinful, God by His sovereignty has a right to determine about their redemption as He pleases. He has a right to determine whether He will redeem any or not. He might, if he had pleased, have left all to perish, or might have redeemed all. Or, he may redeem some, and leave others; and if He doth so, He may take whom He pleases, and leave whom He pleases. To suppose that all have forfeited his favor, and deserved to perish, and to suppose that he may not leave any one individual of them to perish, implies a contradiction; because it supposes that such a one has a claim to God's favor, and is not justly liable to perish; which is contrary to the supposition.

It is meet (right) that God should order all these things according to His own pleasure. By reason of His greatness and glory, by which He is infinitely above all, He is worthy to be Sovereign, and that His pleasure should in all things take place. He is worthy that He should make Himself His end, and that He should make nothing but His own wisdom His rule in pursuing that end, without asking leave or counsel of any, and without giving account of any of His matters. It is fit that He who is absolutely perfect, and infinitely wise, and the Fountain of all wisdom, should determine every thing [that He effects] by His own will, even things of the greatest importance. It is meet that He should be thus Sovereign, because He is the first being, the eternal being, whence all other beings are. He is the Creator of all things; and all are absolutely and universally dependent on Him; and therefore it is meet that He should act as the Sovereign possessor of heaven and earth.

Our obligation to love, honor, and obey any being, is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority; for that is the very meaning of the words. When we say any one is very lovely, it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved. Or if we say such a one is more honorable than another, the meaning of the words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honor. If we say any one has great authority over us, it is the same as to say, that he has great right to our subjection and obedience.

But God is a being infinitely lovely, because He has infinite Excellency and beauty. To have infinite Excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore He is infinitely honorable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore He is infinitely more honorable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of His right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for He is infinitely worthy to be obeyed Himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon Him.

Jonathan Edwards from The Justice of God in the damnation of sinners

March 17, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Gospel Is For Christians

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for Christians. The Gospel is not merely something non-Christians desperately need, but something every Christian needs to hear repeatedly. It should be a part of every Christian sermon, book, pamphlet or article. Whether the subject matter concerns growing in godliness, prayer, the life of faith, walking in love, stewardship over finances, marriage and the family, or control of the tongue - name the topic - the Gospel should always be center stage. Many “practical” “Christian” messages actually leave the Gospel out, ridding us of the very power that will make its truths work in our lives. But its not at all practical and not at all Christian without the Gospel. Any sermon can only be successfully applied when we are in vital, living union with Christ on the basis of the Gospel. Therefore, as believers, we should be very eager to be shown how the Gospel applies to the subject at hand. We should read each page of the Scriptures through the lens of the Gospel, and thus avoid legalism on the one hand, or (antinomianism) the idea that God is not at all interested in our obedience, on the other. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday, for it lies at the very center of the Christian life. Applying the Gospel to every area of our lives is the way to experience God’s intended victory and blessing. If we are living below the level of our inheritance in Christ, God asks us, “what is it about the Gospel do you not understand?”

- Pastor John Samson

March 15, 2006  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Talk to Yourself by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’
... This self of ours… has got to be handled. Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him; upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control. The devil takes hold of self and uses it in order to depress us. We must stand up as this man did and say, “Why art thou cast down? Why are thou disquieted within me? Stop being so! Hope though in God, for I shall yet praise Him…” - Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression p. 20, 21

March 04, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

The Cross of Christ by C. H. Spurgeon

"Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18

The Substitute was of complex nature. He was truly man, and yet He was truly God. Christ Jesus who "suffered" in the room, place, and stead of God's chosen people, was man, man of the substance of His mother, most surely man. He partook of all the weakness of humanity, and was in all respects, sin only excepted, tempted as we are; yea, He became "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh." He was the perfect man, the only man in whom there never dwelt sin. There was no sin in His nature. No taint of original depravity ran in His veins. In His human nature He was "without spot or blemish." Conceived in a miraculous manner, He partook not, in any degree, of that transgression which is transmitted to us; for we are born in sin, and shapen in iniquity.

Christ did not receive any of that imputed sin which has fallen upon the race from Adam. Christ never fell in Adam. He was "the seed of the woman", but He never lay in the loins of Adam. As a private person, Christ never fell; by nature, He was not in any sense a participator or partaker in Adam's sin. Though, on the part of His people, Jesus took upon himself Adam's transgression, and bore it right away, He himself was, in His original, without the shadow of a spot, the immaculate, the perfect Lamb of God's passover.

The life of the man Christ Jesus was in every respect blameless. From His eye no fire of unhallowed anger ever flashed. On His lips the word of deceit never rested. His pure mind never knew an imagination of sin. Satan's sparks fell on Christ's soul like fire dropping into the ocean, and were quenched for ever. Hell's quiver of temptations was emptied upon Him, but no single arrow ever stuck in His flesh and blood. He stood invincible and invulnerable. He could not be wounded by temptation. "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me," was His own triumphant declaration. "He knew no sin." He had no acquaintance with sin, He was a stranger to sin, sin had no commerce with Him, He had no dealings with sin personally. His head turned not dizzy when upon the pinnacle of the temple. When down in the depths of humiliation, no grief found expression void of completest resignation. He was ever pure, perfect, spotless, holy, acceptable unto God.

The sufferings of Jesus have power to bless others, seeing they were not necessary for Himself. He had no need to suffer as the result of sin, nor yet that, by the discipline of suffering, He might be purged from its evil. There was no reason in Himself why He should ever know pain, or heave a sigh. His sufferings all had reference to His people. His object in suffering, bleeding, dying, was to secure the salvation of His chosen. Our souls may now trust Jesus, the perfect man, with the utmost confidence.

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March 03, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Cross of Christ by C. H. Spurgeon

"Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18

The Substitute was of complex nature. He was truly man, and yet He was truly God. Christ Jesus who "suffered" in the room, place, and stead of God's chosen people, was man, man of the substance of His mother, most surely man. He partook of all the weakness of humanity, and was in all respects, sin only excepted, tempted as we are; yea, He became "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh." He was the perfect man, the only man in whom there never dwelt sin. There was no sin in His nature. No taint of original depravity ran in His veins. In His human nature He was "without spot or blemish." Conceived in a miraculous manner, He partook not, in any degree, of that transgression which is transmitted to us; for we are born in sin, and shapen in iniquity.

Christ did not receive any of that imputed sin which has fallen upon the race from Adam. Christ never fell in Adam. He was "the seed of the woman", but He never lay in the loins of Adam. As a private person, Christ never fell; by nature, He was not in any sense a participator or partaker in Adam's sin. Though, on the part of His people, Jesus took upon himself Adam's transgression, and bore it right away, He himself was, in His original, without the shadow of a spot, the immaculate, the perfect Lamb of God's passover.

The life of the man Christ Jesus was in every respect blameless. From His eye no fire of unhallowed anger ever flashed. On His lips the word of deceit never rested. His pure mind never knew an imagination of sin. Satan's sparks fell on Christ's soul like fire dropping into the ocean, and were quenched for ever. Hell's quiver of temptations was emptied upon Him, but no single arrow ever stuck in His flesh and blood. He stood invincible and invulnerable. He could not be wounded by temptation. "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me," was His own triumphant declaration. "He knew no sin." He had no acquaintance with sin, He was a stranger to sin, sin had no commerce with Him, He had no dealings with sin personally. His head turned not dizzy when upon the pinnacle of the temple. When down in the depths of humiliation, no grief found expression void of completest resignation. He was ever pure, perfect, spotless, holy, acceptable unto God.

The sufferings of Jesus have power to bless others, seeing they were not necessary for Himself. He had no need to suffer as the result of sin, nor yet that, by the discipline of suffering, He might be purged from its evil. There was no reason in Himself why He should ever know pain, or heave a sigh. His sufferings all had reference to His people. His object in suffering, bleeding, dying, was to secure the salvation of His chosen. Our souls may now trust Jesus, the perfect man, with the utmost confidence.

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March 03, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Quote on Justification by Faith Alone

The doctrine of justification by faith alone does not imply that you are justified before God because you managed to work up enough faith in and by yourself to believe in Christ, which is impossible in the first place. Rather, the doctrine contrasts faith against works, emphasizing that we are justified by God through faith apart from works. This faith is itself not a work — that is, not a work of man, but a work of God in man.

Faith is a gift of God purchased by Christ for all those whom God has chosen for salvation. It is a gift even though it has been purchased by our Mediator because it is God who sovereignly decreed to save us through this Mediator in the first place. It is God who has sovereignly chosen those whom he would save by his grace through Christ, so that all of salvation is a gift of God — it is a sovereign gift of God, unmerited by man, that at the same time fully satisfies divine justice, since it has been merited by Christ. Thus salvation is from the grace of God alone, through the work of Christ alone, and by means of faith alone (that is, in contrast to works).

Therefore, when discussing the doctrine of justification by faith, we must not portray faith as a condition for salvation that God requires from us, as if we could produce faith in and of ourselves prior to regeneration and apart from the Spirit’s power. So, although it is correct to speak of faith as our necessary response to the gospel, this "response" of faith is in fact one of the very things that Christ’s atonement purchased for his elect, and that God bestows upon his chosen ones by his Spirit. In other words, God is the one who produces this response of faith in his elect.

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March 01, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Who is this Jesus? by Melito of Sardis

The quote you are about to read (below) comes from a sermon of Bishop Melito of Sardis from the second century A.D. This one piece of historical evidence alone, utterly refutes Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code claim that Emperor Constantine made up the concept of the Divinity of Christ, so that he might unite the people under his rule in the Roman Empire. I'll let my friend, Dr. James White introduce the quote, as he is the one responsible for its translation. - Pastor John Samson

Dr. White writes: "One of the most eloquent testimonies to the error of Dan Brown and the ridiculous and outrageous claims of The Da Vinci Code regarding the "creation" of the deity of Christ by Constantine is found in the sermon on the Passover preached around twenty years before the end of the second century by Melito, bishop of Sardis. I included my translation of this tremendous section in my book, The Forgotten Trinity, and reproduce it here. Remember, this sermon was preached approximately 145 years prior to Nicea, 130 years prior to Constantine's battle at the Milvian Bridge (where he allegedly saw the sign of the cross in the sky and the phrase, "in this sign, conquer"). As you read these words, rejoice, as I rejoice, at the thought of this ancient believer and the fact that he reveled in the truth about the God-man Jesus Christ just as we do today! Oh that we had more preaching like this in our land today!"

And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!
He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
This One is "the Alpha and the Omega,"
This One is "the beginning and the end"
The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
"To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen."

February 25, 2006  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Calvin on Justification by Faith Alone

The reader now perceives with what fairness the Sophists of the present day cavil at our doctrine, when we say that a man is justified by faith alone (Rom. 4:2). They dare not deny that he is justified by faith, seeing Scripture so often declares it; but as the word alone is nowhere expressly used they will not tolerate its being added. Is it so? What answer, then will they give to the words of Paul, when he contends that righteousness is not of faith unless it be gratuitous? How can it be gratuitous, and yet by works? By what cavils, moreover, will they evade his declaration in another place, that in the Gospel the righteousness of God is manifested? (Rom. 1:17). If righteousness is manifested in the Gospel, it is certainly not a partial or mutilated, but a full and perfect righteousness. The Law, therefore, has no part in its and their objection to the exclusive word alone is not only unfounded, but is obviously absurd. Does he not plainly enough attribute everything to faith alone when he disconnects it with works? What I would ask, is meant by the expressions, "The righteousness of God without the law is manifested;" "Being justified freely by his grace;" "Justified by faith without the deeds of the law?" (Rom. 3:21, 24, 28). Here they have an ingenious subterfuge, one which, though not of their own devising but taken from Origin and some ancient writers, is most childish. They pretend that the works excluded are ceremonial, not moral works. Such profit do they make by their constant wrangling, that they possess not even the first elements of logic. Do they think the Apostle was raving when he produced, in proof of his doctrine, these passages? "The man that does them shall live in them," (Gal. 3:12). "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them," (Gal. 3:10). Unless they are themselves raving, they will not say that life was promised to the observers of ceremonies, and the curse denounced only against the transgressors of them. If these passages are to be understood of the Moral Law, there cannot be a doubt that moral works also are excluded from the power of justifying. To the same effect are the arguments which he employs. "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin," (Rom. 3:20). "The law worketh wrath," (Rom. 4:15), and therefore not righteousness. "The law cannot pacify the conscience," and therefore cannot confer righteousness. "Faith is imputed for righteousness," and therefore righteousness is not the reward of works, but is given without being due. Because "we are justified by faith," boasting is excluded. "Had there been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe," (Gal. 3:21, 22). Let them maintain, if they dare, that these things apply to ceremonies, and not to morals, and the very children will laugh at their effrontery. The true conclusion, therefore, is, that the whole Law is spoken of when the power of justifying is denied to it. - John Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion; 3:11:19

February 23, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

At the Heart of the Christian Gospel

“The gospel tells us that our Creator has become our Redeemer. It announces that the Son of God has become man and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment. The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight. God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.
By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be ‘just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.’
Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel. No version of that message goes deeper than that which declares man’s root problem before God to be his sin, which evokes wrath, and God’s basic provision for man to be propitiation, which out of wrath brings peace. Some versions of the gospel, indeed, are open to blame because they never get down to this level.” - Dr. J. I. Packer

February 22, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

C. H. Spurgeon Quotes on the Doctrines of Grace

I believe nothing merely because Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God. 2584.402

The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism—though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject—are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this—it is possible you may not; but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded, that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven. 12.92

I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart. 277.424

“But,” say others, “God elected them on the foresight of their faith.” Now, God gives faith, therefore he could not have elected them on account of faith, which he foresaw. There shall be twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a shilling; but will any one say that I determined to give that one a shilling, that I elected him to have the shilling, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would be talking nonsense. In like manner to say that God elected men because he foresaw they would have faith, which is salvation in the germ, would be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment. 41,42.317

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February 07, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  Permalink

Whitefield on Election

Whatever men's reasoning may suggest, if the children of God fairly examine their own experiences - if they do God justice, they must acknowledge that they did not choose God, but that God chose them. And if He chose them at all, it must be from eternity, and that too without anything foreseen in them. Unless they acknowledge this, man's salvation must be in part owing to the free-will of man; and if so, . . . Christ Jesus might have died, and never seen the travail of His soul in the salvation of one of His creatures. But I would be tender on this point, and leave persons to be taught it of God. I am of the martyr Bradford's mind. Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance, before he goes to the university of election and predestination." From George Whitefield's Journals (London: Banner of Truth, 1960), p. 491. Quoted in George Whitefield, Vol. 1 by Arnold Dallimore, p. 570.

I hope we shall catch fire from each other, and that there will be a holy emulation amongst us, who shall most debase man and exalt the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the doctines of the Reformation can do this. All others leave freewill in man and make him, in part at least, a Saviour to himself. My soul, come not thou near the secret of those who teach such things . . . I know Christ is all in all. Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to do of His good pleasure (George Whitefield, Works, pp. 89-90).

Oh, the excellency of the doctrine of election and of the saint's final perseverance! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come to himself, but when convinced of these, and assured of their application to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed! . . . Love, not fear, constrains him to obedience (George Whitefield, Works, p. 101).

February 06, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Quote on Election

After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of sovereign grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, 'This is the most awful thing I've ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect.' I answered her in this vein: 'You misunderstand the situation. You're visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, 'Yes, you may come, but not you, and you, but not you, etc.' The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction towards hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams. That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn't it? If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish. - Mark Webb

February 03, 2006  |  Comments (6)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

A Quote on The Doctrines of Grace

"What are the 'doctrines of grace' and why do they matter? Such is like asking, "What does the Bible teach about the very heart of the gospel, and does it matter one way or the other?" The doctrines of grace are the biblical teachings that define the goal and means of God's perfect work of redemption. They tell us that God is the one who saves, for His own glory, and freely. And they tell us that He does so only through Christ, only on the basis of His grace, only with the perfection that marks everything the Father, Son, and Spirit do. The doctrines of grace separate the Christian faith from the works-based religions of men. They direct us away from ourselves and solely to God's grace and mercy. They destroy pride, instill humility, and exalt God. And that's why so many invest so much time in the vain attempt to undermine their truth. The religions of men maintain authority over their followers by 1) limiting God's power, 2) exalting man's abilities, and 3) "channeling" God's power through their own structures. A perfect salvation that is freely bestowed by God for His own glory is not a "system" that can be controlled by a religious body or group. And even more importantly, such a system is destructive of any sense of pride in the creature man, and if there is anything man's religions must safeguard, it is man's "self esteem."" - Dr. James White

January 24, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Quotes on Intimacy with Christ

Some of you have truly been brought by God to believe in Jesus. Yet you have no abiding peace, and very little growth in holiness. Why is this? It is because your eye is fixed anywhere but on Christ. You are so busy looking at books, or looking at men, or looking at the world, that you have no time, no heart, for looking at Christ. No wonder you have little peace and joy in believing. No wonder you live so inconsistent and unholy a life. Change your plan. Consider the greatness and glory of Christ, who has undertaken all in the stead of sinners, and you would find it quite impossible to walk in darkness, or to walk in sin. Oh, what low, despicable thoughts you have of the glorious Immanuel! Lift your eyes from your own bosom, downcast believer - look upon Jesus. It is good to consider your ways, but it is far better to consider Jesus. Oh, believer, consider Jesus. Meditate on these things. Look and look again, until your peace flows like a river. - Robert Murray M’Cheyne

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January 16, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink