Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is Jesus Christ in forefront? Is He in the centre? - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“A very good way in which we can test our own profession of the Christian faith is just to apply this test to ourselves. Is Jesus Christ in forefront?

Is He in the centre? 

You will find that in this introduction the Apostle mentions Him at least five times (Romans 1:1-7). I had occasion to note recently that in the first fourteen verses of the Epistle to the Ephesians he mentions Him fifteen times.

He cannot get away from Him, as it were; he must keep on mentioning the Name. He uses the terms ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’, ‘Christ Jesus our Lord’, and so on. 

Watch him in his epistles, he is always using the Name, and it evidently gives him great pleasure to do so, And the question, I repeat, is, ‘Is this true of us? Is Jesus Christ in the forefront of our minds, and our hearts, and our conversations? 

I mean - and here I am talking to Christian people, to believers – when we talk to one another, are we always talking about some experience or some blessing we have had, or are we talking about the Lord Jesus Christ? 

I have no hesitation in asserting that as we grow in grace, we talk much less about ourselves and our experiences, and much more about Him.”

- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans (Volume 1): Exposition of Chapter 1 - The Gospel of God

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Calvinism & Evangelism

From Fundamentally Reformed

Perhaps you are familiar with this parable concerning the difficulties of affirming both man’s free will and God’s all-encompassing sovereignty.

A sign above the door to Heaven boldly proclaims “Whosoever will may come!” However, once through Heaven’s gates, an astute observer will notice that the flip side of the sign says, “Only those predestined before the foundation of the world may enter.”

There is more than a little truth to this parable. The first sign deals with salvation from man’s perspective. To the awakened sinner, the first sign gives hope that if he will but look, he will live. Calvinism pulls the curtain back on the awakened sinner’s soul and sees God’s Spirit at work in regenerating the sinner, and granting him repentance and faith, due to the second sign.

As I see it, Calvinism deals mostly with what goes on behind the scenes, so to speak, in respect to salvation. But let me stress that Calvinism is not prying into secret areas of God’s will. No, Calvinism responds to numerous Scripture texts. While they don’t claim to understand everything, Calvinists are bound to believe the five points due to their regard for Scripture. This is not something they enjoy “making up from thin air” so to speak.

A proper understanding of man’s part and God’s part in salvation will do much to help us sort through the sticky issues surrounding Calvinism and evangelism. Historically, some Calvinists (hyper Calvinists, actually) have claimed that we have no responsibility to evangelize since God will irresistibly draw His elect with or without our help. Furthermore, they have claimed that we cannot confidently tell anyone necessarily that if they will but believe and come, that they will be saved. Such hyper Calvinists, then, denied the first sign.

So it is due to extremists from   (Read rest of post here)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Short Response to the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace - by John Hendryx


The term “prevenient grace” – a distinctly Arminian doctrine – refers to a universal grace which precedes and enables the first stirrings of a good will or inclination toward God and it explains the extent or degree to which the Holy Spirit influences a person prior to their coming to faith in Christ.

The Arminian, together with the Calvinist, affirms total human moral inability and utter helplessness of the natural man in spiritual matters and the absolute necessity for supernatural prevenient grace if there is to be any right response to the gospel.

Like Calvinists, Arminians agree that, apart from an act of grace on God's part, no one would willingly come to Christ. This point is important to distinguish so as to not confuse Classical Arminianism with either Finneyism or Semi-Pelagianism, which both reject the need for prevenient grace.

So Christ's redemption is universal in a provisional sense but conditional as to its application to any individual, i.e. those who do not resist the grace offered to them through the cross and the gospel. Prevenient grace, according to Arminians, convicts, calls (outwardly), enlightens and enables before conversion and makes conversion and faith possible.

While Calvinists believe the inward call to the elect is irrevocable and effectually brings sinners to faith in Christ, the Arminian, on the other hand understand God's grace as ultimately resistible. In short, they affirm that prevenient grace, which is given to all men at some point in their life, temporarily brings the sinner out of his/her condition of total depravity and puts them in a neutral state of free will wherein the natural man can either accept or reject Christ.

Prevenient grace defined as follows by "Wesley's Order of Salvation":

"Human beings are totally incapable of responding to God without God first empowering them to have faith. This empowerment is known as "Prevenient Grace." Prevenient Grace doesn't save us but, rather, comes before anything that we do, drawing us to God, making us WANT to come to God, and enabling us to have faith in God. Prevenient Grace is Universal, in as much as all humans receive it, regardless of their having heard of Jesus. It is manifested in the deep-seated desire of most humans to know God."

Furthermore, in reply to the orthodox assertion that the sinners' generation of faith itself implies merit the Arminian will often respond by affirming that the human will, aided by prevenient grace, is free, even in accepting pardoning grace; that though this acceptance is no more meritorious than a beggar’s acceptance of an offered fortune, yet it is accepted freely, and with the full power of rejection, and is none the less grace for that. In other words, every sinner determines for himself, whether or not he will be saved, and thus determines his own election based on whether or not he responds positively to the gospel offered to him by God while under the influence of prevenient grace. The Arminian contends or reasons that anything else would be unfair of God.


While the example of the beggar may sound reasonable at first glance, I propose we look more closely at these concepts. What are the similarities and differences of Arminian theology with orthodoxy on the concept of saving grace?

Read rest of post HERE

Monday, October 24, 2011

By Grace Alone!

By Grace Alone author unknown

Thou art our God, and we thy race
Elected by thy sovereign grace.
Not by the works which we have done
But by the cross our vict'ry's won,
Oh keep this truth within my heart,
That from it I may ne'er depart.

By nature we depraved did dwell
Under thy curse--deserving hell--
Sinful, corrupt in every part,
Not one pure motive in our heart.
Hadst thou not looked on us in grace,
We would remain a perished race.

In love eternal thou did chose
To save thy sheep; their bonds to loose,
No good did we within us have
To claim thy gracious plan to save.
Elected by thy grace alone;
Holy to stand before thy throne.

Incarnate did thy Son appear--
A sacrifice--a Lamb most pure;
To make atonement for his sheep
And perfectly thy will to keep.
Now cleansed from sin and righteous, we
Are sons and heirs eternally!

The blood of Christ by grace supplied
Was by thy Spirit's pow'r applied.
Thy Spirit we could not resist,
Who breathed new life into our breast.
Our souls alive, which once were dead,
Sing praise to Christ, the Lord, our Head!

With all thy saints we are preserved
To enter heav'n--a place reserved.
Secure we're kept within thy care,
Lest we be lost to Satan's snare.
Oh Sovereign God, all praise to thee
For our salvation, full and free!

This hymn of thanks, Oh Lord we bring;
For by thy grace alone we sing.
Employ our lives in every sphere,
Thy law to keep; thy Name to fear,
"By grace alone"--this doctrine pure--
Our only comfort doth secure.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 21st has come and gone.

Not content with three strikes and you're out, Harold Camping wanted a fourth try.

Well, October 22nd came after his fourth failed attempt to predict the end of the world; just like September 7th, 1994 came after his September 6th end of the world prediction...and May 22nd, 1988 came after his May 21st end of the world prediction...and May 22nd, 2011 came after his May 21st end of the world prediction.

To those who are still following Harold Camping:

Thus says the LORD of hosts:

“ Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless;
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the LORD.
Jer 23:16

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does it Make God a Moral Monster if He Ordains All that Comes to Pass?


One of the major premises of Roger Olson's new book "Against Calvinism" is his declaration that classic Reformed doctrine of meticulous providence makes God into a moral monster, or worse, indistinguishable from the devil. He asserts that the Calvinist cannot consistently affirm that God ordains all that comes to pass, including the wicked acts of men, without also making God the author of sin.

Does it follow? Not in the least. The charge that it makes God a moral monster if the God of Scripture ordains all things, even the wicked acts of men, rests ultimately on the assumption that unless we can explain his actions then we may sit in judgment upon Him. In other words, the charge rests purely upon rationalism and extra-biblical logic. We acknowledge that we cannot explain all of God's secret acts since God has chosen not to reveal many things about Himself. But one very prominent feature of the Bible is that it frequently declares that God meticulously ordains all that comes to pass (Eph 1:11) AND that men are responsible for their actions. One major example sticks out: the greatest sin ever committed by men in history -- the crucifixion of Jesus ---when the Apostle Peter, preaching at Pentecost declares:

"...this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." (Acts 2:23)

and two chapters later in Acts it again says:

"...both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:27-28)

The Bible itself testifies, in plain language, that God ordained evil men to crucify Jesus. Yet "lawless men" are 100% responsible for carrying it out. So those who embrace the Bible as authoritative need to be able to develop a theology which fits that into their view. While you may not understand it, you must yield to what the Scripture teaches regarding God's meticulous hand of providence in all things, and His blamelessness in doing them.

The fatal flaw in Olson's argument flows mostly from his insistence that Calvinists must somehow explain this philosophically or else we are being inconsistent, or worse, make God into a monster.

Read rest here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two for Tuesday

Spotlight on two great Puritans

John Flavel

John Flavel (or Flavell) was born in 1628 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. He was the son of Richard Flavel, a minister who died of the plague in 1665 while in prison for nonconformity. John Flavel was educated by his father in the ways of religion, then “plied his studies hard” as a commoner at University College, Oxford. In 1650, he was ordained by the presbytery at Salisbury. He settled in Diptford, where he honed his numerous gifts.

He married Joan Randall, a godly woman, who died while giving birth to their first child in 1655. The baby died as well. After a year of mourning, Flavel married Elizabeth Stapell and was again blessed with a close, God-fearing marriage, as well as children.

In 1656, Flavel accepted a call to be minister in the thriving seaport of Dartmouth. He earned a smaller income there, but his work was more profitable; many were converted. One of his parishioners wrote of Flavel, “I could say much, though not enough of the excellency of his preaching; of his seasonable, suitable, and spiritual matter; of his plain expositions of Scripture; his talking method, his genuine and natural deductions, his convincing arguments, his clear and powerful demonstrations, his heart-searching applications, and his comfortable supports to those that were afflicted in conscience. In short, that person must have a very soft head, or a very hard heart, or both, that could sit under his ministry unaffected”

Read more here

John Bunyan

John Owen said of John Bunyan, a powerful preacher and the best-known of all the Puritan writers, that he would gladly exchange all his learning for Bunyan’s power of touching men’s hearts. John Bunyan was born in 1628 at Elstow, near Bedford, to Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bentley. Thomas Bunyan, a brazier or tinker, was poor but not destitute. Still, for the most part, John Bunyan was not educated well. He became rebellious, frequently indulging in cursing. He later wrote, “It was my delight to be taken captive by the devil at his will: being filled with all unrighteousness; that from a child I had but few equals, both for cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God” (Works of Bunyan, ed. George Offor, 1:6). Sporadic periods of convictions of sin helped restrain some of that rebellion, however.

When Bunyan was sixteen years old, his mother and sister died a month apart. His father remarried a month later. Young Bunyan joined Cromwell’s New Model Army, where he continued his rebellious ways. Fighting in the Civil War sobered him considerably, however. On one occasion, his life was wonderfully spared. “When I was a soldier, I with others, was drawn out to go to such a place to besiege it. But when I was just ready to go, one of the company desired to go in my room; to which when I consented, he took my place, and coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel he was shot in the head with a musket bullet and died”

Read more here

Biographies courtesy of Monergism

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reformed reading and a little amusement from around the Web -

Fortress for Truth: Martin Luther (Ligonier Ministries)

Martin Luther was a giant of history. Some believe he was the most significant European figure of the second millennium. He was the pioneer Reformer, the one God first used to spark a transformation of Christianity and the Western world. He was the undisputed leader of the German Reformation. In a day of ecclesiastical corruptions and apostasies, he was a valiant champion of the truth; his powerful preaching and pen helped to restore the pure gospel. More books have been written about him than any other man of history except Jesus Christ and possibly..............Continue reading here

The Perfect Christian (5-Point Salt)

A Christian is one who recognizes Jesus as the Christ, Son of the living God, as God manifested in the flesh, loving us and dying for our redemption; and who is.....Continue reading here

Secret of the High Five (Calvinistic Cartoons)

Did John Calvin invent the High Five? Find out here

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Reformed Faith

The term "Reformed" refers to the great revival that swept through Europe five hundred years ago that is known as the Protestant Reformation. This movement was a protest against the abuses of the Roman Catholic church, abuses which arose from two principle tap roots. The first was Rome's denial of the sole Headship of Jesus Christ over His church. The second was the leaven of the false gospel of Roman Catholicism, a "gospel" which taught (and still teaches) that men are justified before God by their own merits, and not by the free and Sovereign grace of God in Christ alone.

The Protestant recovery of the gospel of Christ and His Apostles finds its best summation in the five "sola" statements of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria.

I. Sola Scriptura ("Scripture Alone").

The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the unrivaled Head of His church, and He shares His throne with no man; even if that man is a pastor, priest, or pope. King Jesus exercises His rule over His church by His Holy Spirit through His Holy Word. Therefore the Protestant Reformers insisted upon the sole authority of Holy Scripture to bind the consciences of men. Although God does empower a plurality of men known as "elders" to shepherd each local church, their authority must always be exercised under the authority of Christ and His Word, to which nothing may be added or taken away.

II. Sola Gratia ("Grace Alone").

With the recovery of the sufficiency of Holy Scripture came the recovery of Scripture's message: the gospel of Christ and Him crucified. The Reformers believed and then preached that the only hope anyone has of being saved from his sin and from the wrath that is to come is in the free grace (the unmerited favor) of God alone. The Triune God alone saves sinners, and He is absolutely Sovereign over when and to whom He dispenses His effectual saving grace. Fallen man is powerless and helpless to save himself or to contribute anything to his own salvation.

III. Sola Fide ("Faith Alone").

The saving grace of Almighty God is received by sinners as they exercise faith in the Living Christ alone for their salvation. Yet even this faith is a gift of God's grace to sinful men, so that they have no room to boast. By affirming this truth the Reformers were denying that men are justified before God by their own merits or by an infusion of Christ's righteousness that enabled them to keep God's Law unto salvation. Instead, the Protestants taught that whenever a lost sinner ceases from his works and simply believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted to him for righteousness. From the moment a lost sinner truly believes the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself is imputed to him because his sin was imputed to Christ upon the cross. Therefore, from that time onward, the believing sinner is eternally justified before God on the basis of Christ's perfect righteousness and finished work on the cross.

IV. Solus Christus ("Christ Alone").

The Reformers affirmed that the only object of saving faith has always been and evermore shall be the Lord Jesus Christ alone. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life; no man can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). The saints of the Old Testament were saved by faith in the Messiah who was to come, and the saints of the New Testament are saved by faith in the Messiah who has come and who is soon coming again. There is no other Mediator between God and men, and there is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved, than the man whose name is the Lord Jesus Christ.

V. Soli Deo Gloria ("To God Alone Be the Glory").

Because the Triune God alone is the Creator of all things, and because the salvation of sinners is a loving work of His free grace alone; all honor, praise, and glory is His alone. "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God-and righteousness and sanctification and redemption-that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'" (I Corinthians 1:30-31)

So, what is the Reformed faith? It is the acknowledgement of the sole Headship of King Jesus over His church which He exercises by His Holy Spirit through the sixty-six books of His Holy Word. It is also the unashamed belief and proclamation of the message of those sixty-six books, the gospel of Christ crucified. This gospel teaches all men that sinners are saved by God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone to the glory of God alone. To the One True and Living God be all glory, honor, and praise in Christ Jesus our Lord both now and forever. Amen.

Courtesy of Berean Baptist Church