Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quote of the Day

"[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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Easy Believism and Semi-Pelagianism - By John Hendryx

J. I. Packer once rightly said, "sinners cannot obey the gospel, any more than the law, without renewal of heart."

So with that in mind the "easy believism" (no-lordship) folks have completely misunderstood the biblical concept of grace. They scoff at Lordship because they think it is regeneration by faith and works, all the while touting their self-generated faith. Fact is, if God has done a work of
grace in us, then faith and works (both equally impossible for man) will exist because it is God who is the author of both. Jesus is the "author and finisher of our faith."

"easy believism" is a doctrine that is pretty much a debate that came from certain groups of Dispensationalists who think that you could have prayed a prayer to accept Jesus 10 years ago and now have become a Buddhist monk ... but since you prayed that prayer, you are "once saved always saved" no matter what you are doing now. Reformed persons have ALWAYS believed in the biblical doctrine of the preservation of the saints, that is, that God will preserve his people and make them persevere to the end.

Second of all easy believism people embrace the false doctrine that faith is not a gift of God .. i.e. they reject the biblical teaching that faith springs from a renewed heart (John 6:63-65, 37). So easy believism actually ends up being a form of semi-pelagianism because they attribute their faith and repentance to their own wisdom, humility, sound judgment and good sense.

Also as John MacArthur has noted, "grace is not merely God's response to the sinner's initiative. Quite the opposite. Because He is gracious, God takes the initiative, drawing the sinner (John 6:44, 65), granting repentance (Acts 3:26; 5:31; 11:18), and awakening the heart to faith (Acts 13:48; 16:14). Every aspect of the believer's response--conviction, repentance, and faith--is the result of God's gracious work in the heart. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

The easy believism folks reject the above idea of "grace-wrought faith" outright ... so it could not be further from what the Reformed tradition believes. Easy believism is a self-generated faith, apart form the grace of God, which makes it semi-pelagian at best.

The Bible declares that Belief (or faith) is not difficult but IMPOSSIBLE for the natural man. So the opposite of easy faith is not "difficult", but much more; an act that the natural man is utterly morally impotent to carry out. So those who think faith is "easy" or "difficult" are both wrong, according to the Bible. If someone thinks faith is "easy" or even possible, apart from grace, then they do not understand our condition as human beings or our real need of grace.

Those who think faith is something easy are making the same mistake as those who think good works save. Both are trusting in some self-generated meritorious act, rather than Christ alone who provides everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe and obey.

Courtesy of Reformation Theology

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Life Lesson from America’s Pastime by Harry Reeder

One blessing of participating in sports is that it provides an amazing training ground for life. Last year “America’s Pastime” provided a near perfect example of grace in action.

Armando Galarraga, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was having a tough season. In fact, he was on the verge of being sent back to the Minor Leagues. Given one more starting assignment, he pitched 8 flawless innings and stood only three outs away from the rare and coveted “perfect game.” With only two outs to go, the next batter hit a groundball fielded by the first baseman who tossed it to Galarraga as he covered first base. This play, like the entire game up to that point, was worked to perfection – except the umpire called the runner safe, who was obviously out. Galarraga simply smiled. It was a smile which conveyed, as one sports writer said, “a hope that the umpire was right because it sure seemed as if he was wrong.” The instant replay showed the runner was out and the umpire, Jim Joyce, was wrong. The obligatory and expected anger of the manager, team and crowd descended upon the arbiter, the Umpire Jim Joyce, except for one person – Galarraga. After the game while the media attempted to bait him into an angry response of condemning the umpire who made the bad call, Galarraga again simply smiled and softly said, “we all make mistakes.”

When Jim Joyce saw the replay he immediately and sincerely declared, “I cost that kid a perfect game.” Joyce personally went to Galarraga and asked for forgiveness. Galarraga not only forgave Joyce but attempted to console the visibly distraught umpire. Whether the two men are believers are not, they both exhibited the grace of confession and forgiveness.

Only, this story was not yet over. Joyce, being the first base umpire in rotation, would be the home plate umpire the next day and of course expected nothing but abuse, anger and jeers from the crowd. To start a game, the manager normally brings the starting lineup card to the home plate umpire but this time, the Tiger’s Manager sent Galarraga. When the two men met at home plate, Joyce wept and Galarraga again smiled, put his arm around him and consoled him. The private reconciliation of the day before became public. The crowd erupted spontaneous cheers and applause.

What would happen if Christ-followers intentionally acted this way toward each other? Did not Christ call us to “forgive others as we have been forgiven?” Would the world then react the same way those baseball fans did if we responded to the challenges of life graciously for Christ’s sake? They might not cheer, but they might be amazed and might even ask us what enables us to patiently forgive and encourage another.

That day baseball did its job of teaching lessons of life but tantalizingly manifested what Paul calls “the abundant life.” We live in a broken world therefore constantly have to deal with disappointments. We are not allowed to respond with vengeance. We are called to overcome evil with good. Here was a young man who had in his hands “the perfect game.” It was taken from him by an error, but he rose above the circumstance, realizing that even though he was denied a “perfect game” he lived in an “imperfect world.”

I hope and pray that Galarraga knows the Redeemer. I also pray that those who are redeemed will be challenged by this event to live redemptively by grace because of God’s saving grace. Because of his response, I was curious to know what or who was in Galarraga’s life that caused him to exhibit such courage and grace.

Read conclusion HERE

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Effectual Calling and Regeneration by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

As we now proceed to consider in detail what exactly it is the Holy Spirit does to us in the application of redemption, I would remind you that I am not insisting that the order which I shall follow is of necessity the right one, and certainly not of necessity the chronological one.

‘So how do you arrive at your order?’ asks someone. My answer is that I mainly try to conceive of this work going on within us from the standpoint of God in eternity looking down upon men and women in sin. That is the way that appeals to me most of all; it is the way that I find most helpful. That is not to detract in any way from experience or the experiential standpoint. Some would emphasise that and would have their order according to experience, but I happen to be one of those people who is not content merely with experience. I want to know something about that experience; I want to know what I am experiencing and I want to know why I am experiencing it and how it has come about. It is the child who is content merely with enjoying the experience. If we are to grow in grace and to go forward and exercise our senses, as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews puts it ( Heb. 5:14 ), then we must of necessity ask certain questions and be anxious to know how the things that have happened to us really have come to take place.

My approach therefore is this: there is the truth of the gospel, and we have seen already that it is a part of the work of the Holy Spirit to see that that truth is proclaimed to all and sundry. That is what we called the general call — a kind of universal offer of the gospel. Then we saw that though the external or general call comes to all, to those who will remain unsaved as well as to those who are saved, obviously some new distinction comes in, because some are saved by it. So the question we must now consider is: What is it that establishes the difference between the two groups?

And the way to answer that question, it seems to me, is to say that the call of the gospel, which has been given to all, is effectual only in some.

Read rest of article from Monergism HERE

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Adversity by Terry Johnson


Background Reading:
Romans 8:26-39; Genesis 50:15-21

In 1858, a gifted young Presbyterian missionary named John G. Paton sailed with his wife and infant son to the New Hebrides in the South Pacific to begin missionary work among the islanders. Within a few months of arrival, both his infant son and his wife had died, leaving him to labor alone.

In August 1876, a gifted young theologian names Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and his bride were honeymooning in Germany. While sightseeing in the Black Forest region, they were suddenly caught in a severe storm, and something that was never quite explained happened to his bride, rendering her an invalid for the rest of their lives together.

In the 1950s the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah congregation called a young preacher to take the reigns of a very divided church. He came with his wife and their five children, the youngest only three years old. Within a year and a half, Anton Van Puffelen developed a brain tumor, and in just over two years after he started his work in Savannah the Rev. Van Puffelen was dead.

How do you explain these things? Perhaps just as baffling, how do you explain the responses of these individuals? John G. Patton stayed on the field and reaped a great harvest, later saying:

I built the grave round and round with coral blocks, and covered the top with beautiful white coral, broken small gravel; and that spot became my sacred and much frequented shrine, during all the following months and years when I labored on for the salvation of these savage Islanders amidst difficulties, dangers and deaths. Whensoever Tanna turns to the Lord, and is won for Christ, man in after-days will find the memory of that spot still green – where with ceaseless prayers and tears I claimed that the land for God in which I hand ‘buried my dead’ with faith and hope.

Warfield cared for his wife the remaining forty years of their adult life together, humbly, submissively, without complaint, without self-pity, without justifying a need for his own fulfillment, fulfilling his marital vows, doing his duty toward his wife.

‘Mrs. Van,’ as she was known in Savannah, gentle and meek on the surface, touch as nails underneath, began to teach in the Independent Presbyterian Day School and reared her five children at tremendous self-sacrifice, again without complaint.

What was the key in each of these situations? The key is that each believed in the sovereignty of God. Each understood God’s justice, His mercy, His absolute rule, and each received their circumstances as from his hand for their good and submitted to it.

Still, how do you explain adversity? How do you deal with the suffering that is in the world? Granted that it takes time for our emotions to catch up with our minds, that there are no ‘easy’ answers, and that when we answer the ‘why’ question we must do so not simplistically or matter of factly; yet we do have an explanation for suffering that works and makes room for comfort in the world of pain.

The Problem of Pleasure

From our point of view, much of the discussion of the ‘problem of pain’ and suffering gets started on the wrong foot. As we saw in our consideration of predestination, there is a tendency to begin with the assumption of human innocence. Adversity then is viewed as an unfair or unjust intrusion into the life of one who is undeserving. This is implicit in almost all of the popular discussions of the subject. Thus we regularly question, ‘Why would God have allowed this to happen to such a fine (and undeserving) family?’

Read rest of article HERE

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Imputed Righteousness: The Evangelical Doctrine by R.C. Sproul

From Monergism 
  At the heart of the controversy between Roman Catholic and Reformation theology is the nature of justification itself. It is a debate not merely about how or when or by what means a person is justified, but about the very meaning of justification itself.
Reformed theology insists that the biblical doctrine of justification is forensic in nature. What does this mean? In the popular jargon of religion, the word forensic is used infrequently. The word is not foreign, however, to ordinary language. It appears daily in the news media, particularly with reference to criminal investigations and trials. We hear of "forensic evidence" and "forensic medicine" as we listen to the reports of criminologists, coroners, and pathologists. Here the term forensic refers to the judicial system and judicial proceedings.
The term forensic is also used to describe events connected with public speaking. Schools hold forensic contests or events that feature formal debates or the delivery of speeches.
The link between these ordinary usages of forensic and its theological use is that justification has to do with a legal or judicial matter involving some type of declaration. We can reduce its meaning to the concept of legal declaration.
The doctrine of justification involves a legal matter of the highest order. Indeed it is the legal issue on which the sinner stands or falls: his status before the supreme tribunal of God.
When we are summoned to appear before the bar of God's judgment, we face a judgment based on perfect justice. The presiding Judge is himself perfectly just. He is also omniscient, fully aware of our every deed, thought, inclination, and word. Measured by the standard of his canon of righteousness, we face the psalmist's rhetorical question that hints at despair: "If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, ...who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3 NKJV).
The obvious answer to this query is supplied by the Apostle Paul: "There is none righteous, no, not one...." (Romans 3:10).
God commands us to be holy. Our moral obligation coram Deo (before the face of God) is to live perfect lives. One sin mars that obligation and leaves us naked, exposed before divine justice. Once a person sins at all, a perfect record is impossible.

Even if we could live perfectly after that one sin, we would still fail to achieve perfection.

Read rest of post HERE

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Limited Atonement, Double Jeopardy, and the Bible’s Answers - By Chris Roberts

From SBC Focus

There are two basic views of the atonement: limited and unlimited.

Unlimited atonement is held largely by people who do not consider themselves Calvinists. They say that Jesus died for all the sins and sinners of the world. He paid the price for all people so that all might have life. His work is not automatically applied to everyone, but is rather made available, possible, for all. We receive his work when we trust in him by faith. A common analogy is that Jesus’ blood can be said to be in a bank. It is there, it is provided, it is available for us. He has paid the price. What is lacking is our receipt of what he paid. When we trust him by faith we are in essence
withdrawing from the bank what he deposited, taking from him the price he paid for our sins. If we never trust him, we never receive the price he paid and we must therefore pay for our own sins. 1

One of my criticisms of this view is that it presents God as accepting double payment for sins. In this view, Jesus really has paid the price for all sins. The debt is paid in full. If Jesus’ death is the same for all people, then he has satisfied the Father’s wrath for each and every person. That satisfaction may be held in escrow, so to speak, but it is nonetheless a real satisfaction. If God then condemns an unrepentant sinner to Hell, he is demanding from that sinner payment already satisfied by the Son. Going back to our banking analogy, it would be akin to me owing a great debt and Bill Gates paying off the debt on my behalf. He writes a check to the creditor, completely satisfying what I owe. Nonetheless, I choose not to acknowledge what Gates has done and as a result I am hauled before the creditor to make restitution. Unable to pay, I am thrown in prison. If a situation of this sort were to happen in real life, we would let out a cry of corruption. We would quickly recognize the creditor has demanded a payment already paid. Whether or not the debtor acknowledges the payment is irrelevant: the one owed a debt has been satisfied, and he knows it.

Turning tables, the view of limited atonement says that Jesus died specifically for the elect. His atoning (saving) work was not carried out for all people but specifically for those the Father had appointed for salvation. The debt is paid only for those who would actually be saved.

Critics respond that this makes God into an unfair and capricious tyrant, that it makes God out to be the cause of sin and disbelief since he chooses to extend saving mercy only to some while withholding it from others. They would say that it seems to undermine God’s love to say that Jesus did not do the same thing for all people or pay the same price for all souls.

Read rest of article HERE

Thursday, November 15, 2012

President Obama and Persecution Complexes

From The American Vision

Since President Obama won re-election as our nation’s president, the chatter on Facebook has been somewhat amusing. In response to that chatter, I posted the following status update:

“All of this talk about Christian persecution coming under four more years of Obama is amusing. The only Christians who get persecuted are those who: (1) share the gospel when the government says not to (check the book of Acts) or (2) stand against evil when the majority are toeing the line (see the book of Daniel). If you haven’t already been doing these things when you had the freedom to do it, what in the world makes you think you will do it when you don’t have those freedoms? The government WILL NOT CARE if you keep the gospel inside your church walls and only vote against evil. Every oppressive government has allowed churches to meet just as long as they keep their mouths shut (Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, China even has State-controlled churches). If persecution is coming, don’t worry, you won’t see any of it so long as your Christianity is limited to your church attendance.”[1]
I’ve been somewhat pleased to see this get reposted on Facebook. I hope it goes fully viral and people think seriously about these statements because they reflect a reality that few in church leadership are willing to admit. What we do in the church building is not impacting society because the church membership is not taking what they know outside the four walls. If they do, it is thickly masked under the guise of friendship evangelism which involves no real gospel proclamation in most cases (not all).

As long as this is the case, we cannot expect any persecution.

Read rest of post HERE

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Calvinist Evangelist?

From Ligonier Ministries

If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “A Calvinist evangelist? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Calvinism undermines evangelism.”

This accusation has been repeated so many times that few make the effort to argue it. Instead, it is simply assumed. Never mind that some of the church’s greatest evangelists have been Calvinists. One need only be reminded of men such as George Whitefield, David Brainerd, or “the father of modern missions,” William Carey. “Yes,” we are told, “these men were great evangelists and Calvinists, but that is because they were inconsistent.”

But is this true?

The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods. It is inconsistent, for example, with the emotionally manipulative methods created by revivalists such as Charles Finney. But these manipulative methods are themselves inconsistent with Scripture, so it is no fault to reject them. In order for evangelism to be pleasing to God, it must be consistent with the whole system of biblical teaching. But what does such evangelism look like?

A classic answer to that question is found in R.B. Kuiper’s little book God-Centred Evangelism. This book surveys the entire biblical scope of teaching on the subject of evangelism. Kuiper defines evangelism quite simply as “the promulgation of the evangel.” It is, in other words, the proclamation of the gospel. Kuiper explains that his book “is a plea for God–centered, in contradistinction to man-centered, evangelism.”

The book, then, presents a theology of evangelism.

Read rest of article HERE

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Radical Depravity in the Gospel of John -

The natural depravity of man is so deep that the unregenerate actually hate God
Jesus explained that the unconverted person who hates Him also hates the Father. The world’s rejection of the Father, who is invisible, is rooted in its hatred of Christ, who has been seen:
“Whoever hates me hates my Father also.” —John 15:23
Whatever anyone’s relationship with Christ may be, it is inseparably bound with one’s relationship with the Father. No one can hate Christ and love the Father. Unbelief toward Christ causes the same disdain of the Father. Hendriksen writes, “A person may imagine that he loves the Father while he hates the Son, but he deceives himself. Whoever hates the one necessarily hates the other also. And this holds also with respect to the present day and age. Men who scoff at blood-atonement and reject the vicarious death of Christ do not love God!”
—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 277.
In a tangential note, this passage also disproves the popular notion that people of other religions worship the same God. Whoever rejects Jesus also rejects the Father.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Did the Second Person of the Trinity Die on the Cross or Just Jesus' Humanity?

From The Reformed Apologist

I hear more often than not from knowledgeable Christians that although Jesus is God, God did not die on the cross – Jesus’ humanity did.

When bodies die they remain in the grave until resurrection but the soul will remain conscious in the intermediate state doing what souls can do without a body. With that premise in view, how does the death of the Second Person of the Trinity impinge upon his divinity, authority, abilities or whatever? Was the death of the body sufficient to do away with Jesus’ sovereign rule over the universe?

Was death even sufficient to stop the Rich Man (from Luke 16) from trying to correct God? One would have to ask how the Lord managed prior to the incarnation (when without a body) if we may not say that the Second Person of the Trinity truly died upon the cross.

Read rest of post HERE

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Unconditional Election - James White

From Reformation Theology

Numerous biblical passages can be cited that plainly teach the divine truth that God predestines men unto salvation. John 6:35-45, Romans 9:10-24, and 2 Timothy 1:8-10 all teach this truth. But I shall focus first upon the classicus locus, Ephesians 1:3-11, for my initial exegetical defense of this divine truth.

As space permits, I will then briefly address Romans 9 and John 6. I invite the interested reader to follow along. I shall use as my base text the Nestle-Aland 27th edition of the Greek New Testament.

English translations are my own.

Ephesians 1
Paul begins this tremendous introduction to his letter1 with a word of blessing addressed to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3). All of salvation comes from the Father, its source, and its end. It is the Father who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Immediately we encounter three vital truths: 1) God is the one who has blessed us (we did not bless ourselves); this is seen in recognizing that ho eulogasa refers to the Father specifically; 2) that Paul is not speaking of all mankind here, but specifically of the redeemed, for he uses the personal pronoun hama (us) when speaking of the scope of the blessing of the Father; we will see this is continued throughout the text; and 3) the phrase en Christo (in Christ) or its equivalent in Him, is central to Paul’s thought. All of salvation takes place only “in Christ.”

Verse 4 is central to our subject: “just as He chose us in Him before the creation of the world so that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”2 Again the Father is in view, for He is the one who chose us (hama, accusative, indicating direct object of “to choose”). This choice is exercised only in Christ (there is no salvation outside of the Son). It is vital to recognize the personal aspect of this choice on the part of God the Father.

Read rest of article HERE

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Practical Implications of Soli Deo Gloria - Richard Barcellos

From Reformed Baptist Fellowship
The universe is all about God, not man.

The vastness and mystery of the universe does not point to our importance, but to God’s. The universe is a theater for God’s glory. Living as if you are the center is the problem not the solution. Living for personal happiness is just that–personal. It is temporary. It does not last, nor does it satisfy the soul. It will bring you nothing but trouble when you face God at the great day of judgment. We are all restless and fickle until we find our rest in God and the only way to find your soul’s rest in God is through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. Come to Him for cleansing now, if you haven’t. And if you have, thank Him, praise Him, adore Him. Why? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:36).

When seeking to explain the purpose of the universe, the Christian, or biblical view, is to start with God, not man.
He is first and He gives meaning to all the rest. If we are trying to justify our belief in Christianity before an on-looking and unbelieving world, we should not assume it to be false or put it in a neutral category till proven true. If we believe Christianity has been revealed to man by God via the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, then we will tell others what the Scriptures say. The Bible does not need to be defended or proven by a litmus test outside of itself. As Spurgeon reportedly said, “The Bible is like a lion; just let it out of its cage and it will defend itself.”

Click HERE for the rest of this great post.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Keeping Power of God - John Samson

Jude: 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (ESV)

This small but powerful letter is Jude's only contribution to the New Testament. He was the brother of James (head of the Jerusalem church), and half-brother of Jesus. His full name was Jude Thaddeus.

As He concludes his letter, Jude expresses his total confidence in God's ability in keeping the believer in Christ secure in his salvation. It is certainly interesting to note that Jude both begins and ends his short letter with this same theme about God's keeping power. In verse 1 he describes believers as "kept for Jesus Christ" and here in verse 24, he describes God as the One "who is able to keep you from stumbling..." In starting and finishing his short letter with this theme, it is clear he did not wish for this point to be missed.

Obviously the fact that God keeps His children safe in salvation is something frequently highlighted in the Scripture. Jesus expressed it clearly in many places, perhaps most clearly in John 6:39 where He described the will of the Father for Him as that of losing nothing of all His Father had given to Him.

In John 10: 27, 28, Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." Then in John 17: 11, Christ prayed for this same group (those that the Father had given to Him), "Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:11), and again "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one." (John 17:15)

Read rest of article HERE at Reformation Theology

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Particular Pitfalls of Independent Baptists: Powerless Preaching

From Fundamentally Reformed

 If there is any group of churches which pride themselves on old-fashioned, hell-fire and brimstone preaching, it is independent fundamental Baptists. The patron saint of preaching, Billy Sunday, was unfortunately an ordained Presbyterian. But Baptists love him nonetheless. It is Billy Sunday’s dramatic style that so many fundamentalist preachers seek to emulate. Something about jumping up on top of the pulpit, swinging from the rafters and yelling at the top of one’s lungs appeals to a good many people, I guess.

But for all the bluster and all the bravado, the preaching in many fundamentalist pulpits is quite shallow and powerless. Now this kind of preaching can sure keep the church members in line. It can make people squirmish and even have them stocking up on antacid. But does it really facilitate a meaningful change in their life?

Read rest of post HERE

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Worship: Evangelical or Reformed?

From the Reformed Baptist Fellowship

One of the challenges of being Reformed in America is to figure out the relationship between what is evangelical and what is Reformed. Protestantism in America is dominated by the mainline Protestants, the evangelicals, and the charismatics. After these dominant groups, other major players would include the confessional Lutherans. But where do the Reformed fit in, particularly in relation to the evangelicals, with whom historically we have been most closely linked?

Some observers argue that the confessional Reformed are a subgroup in the broader evangelical movement. Certainly over the centuries in America, the Reformed have often allied themselves with the evangelicals, have shared much in common with the evangelicals, and have often tried to refrain from criticizing the evangelical movement. But are we Reformed really evangelical?

One area in which the differences between evangelical and Reformed can be examined is the matter of worship. At first glance, we may see more similarities than differences. The orders of worship in Reformed and evangelical churches can be almost identical. Certainly, both kinds of churches sing songs, read Scripture, pray, preach, and administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But do these similarities reflect only formal agreement, or do they represent a common understanding of the meaning and function of these liturgical acts in worship?

If we look closely, I believe that we will see the substantive differences between evangelicals and Reformed on worship. That difference is clear on two central issues: first, the understanding of the presence of God in the service; and second, the understanding of the ministerial office in worship.

Read rest of article HERE

Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Pillars of the Reformation - by Michael Horton

In May, 1989, a conference jointly sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was held at the Trinity campus in Illinois. Dubbed a consultation on Evangelical Affirmations, the meeting revealed more than it settled. In the published addresses (Zondervan, 1990), Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of American evangelicalism, sets the tone for book with his opening line: "The term 'evangelical' has taken on conflicting nuances in the twentieth century. Wittingly or unwittingly, evangelical constituencies no less than their critics have contributed to this confusion and misunderstanding." He warned that "evangelical" was being understood, not according to Scriptural teaching and "the theological 'ought,'" but according to the sociological and empirical "is." In other words, Henry was disturbed that evangelicalism is increasingly being defined by its most recent trends rather than by its normative theological identity. Author after author (presumably, speaker after speaker) echoed the same fears that before long "evangelical" will be useless as any meaningful identification.

The term itself derives from the Greek word euangelion, translated "Gospel," and it became a noun when the Protestant reformers began their work of bringing the "one holy, catholic and apostolic church" back to that message by which and for which it was created. People still used other labels, too, like "Lutheran," "Reformed," and later, "Puritans," "Pietists," and "Wesleyans." Nevertheless, the belief was that the same Gospel that had united the "evangelicals" against Rome's errors could also unite them against the creeping naturalism and secularism of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. The so-called "Evangelical Awakening" in Britain coincided with America's own "Great Awakening," as Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, Tennant, and so many others centered their preaching on the atonement. Later, of course, Wesley's zeal for Arminian emphases divided the work in Britain, but the Reformation emphases were clearly and unambiguously articulated in the Great Awakening.

Out of this heritage, those today who call themselves "evangelicals" (or who are in these churches, but might not know that they are in this tradition) are heirs also to the Second Great Awakening. Radically altering the "evangel" from a concern with the object of faith, the Second Great Awakening and the revivalism that emerged from it focused on the act and experience of faith, in dependence on the proper "excitements", as Finney and others expressed it, to trigger the right response.

Read rest of post HERE

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Is Your Church a Safe Place for Sinners?

From The reforming Baptist

I was watching a video of a local seeker sensitive church who started out the service with their band playing and a cool-dude worship leader welcoming everybody casually... Same ol' same ol' vanilla flavored contemporary church. Yada yada yada....But he said something that caught my attention:

"We want to welcome you to ____________ Church where we are a safe place for you if you're exploring what you believe or who Jesus is...."

I immediately asked myself: "What does he mean by safe place?"

Did he mean that their church is a place that is a safe place from persecution? If you're wanting to figure out how to be a Christian, did he mean that you need not worry about losing your head for it because this church is off the grid of those seeking to harass Christians?

No, that can't be it. (although it's probably more true than they realize)

Did he mean that their church was in a safe neighborhood where they can walk from the parking lot to the sanctuary without getting shot by a drive by shooting?

No, probably not even though the church is located in one of the nicer cities in the Bay Area.

Did he mean that their church is a safe place from those who would try to confuse them with false doctrine and that they would be safe from any kind of confusion and interference from their path way to learning about the truth?

No, I really doubt that too.

Did he mean that their church is a safe place where people can hide their sin and never worry about the dangers of Christ shining His annoying and glaring light of holiness on their disobedient lifestyles? Did he mean that their church is a safe place where you can blend in and nobody will really know who you are because you don't have to make any commitments? Did he mean that their church was a safe place from the shackles of accountability to one another?

Yes, I think that's more along the lines of what he meant. Why do I think so?

Rest rest of article HERE

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Charles Spurgeon on Free Will

I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free will; I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace! Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His Grace what a great sinner I would have been! I would have run to the utmost lengths of sin, and dived into the very depths of evil! Nor would I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me; I feel that I would have been a very king of sinners if God had let me alone.

I cannot understand the reason why I am saved except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine Grace. If I am at this moment with Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His Glory.

I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty Grace has saved me from going down into the pit of Hell!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Here is Love

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

William Rees

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is There any Injustice in Divine Election?

From Reformation Theology

If one person or group receives the grace of God and another group does not, is there any violation of justice in this? If God passes over some, do they receive anything they do not deserve? Fact is, one group receives mercy and the other group receives justice, and no group receives injustice. And Paul demolishes human will as the basis for God's sovereign election in Christ. (Rom 9:15, 16) It is based rather on God's sovereign good pleasure in Christ. This removes all merit from me and puts the attention back on the sovereign and merciful God....

Even the very wisdom to believe is a gift of God's grace. Such that we cannot attribute our repenting and believing to our own wisdom, humility or good sense. 1 Cor 1 says, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” In other words, those who ascribe their believing to their own wisdom, and not to Christ alone, are boasting.

Two for Tuesday

J.C. Ryle Quotes -

"Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us; only the righteousness of Christ’s can clothe us; Only the sacrifice of Christ can give us a title to heaven. Jews and Gentiles, educated and uneducated, rich and poor—everyone, no matter what their position or standing in life must either be saved by Jesus Christ or lost forever. And the Apostle emphatically adds, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” There is no other person commissioned, sealed, and appointed by God the Father to be the Savior of sinners, except Christ. The keys of life and death are only found in His hand, and all who want to be saved must go to Him."

"There can be no true repentance without faith. You may cast away your old habits, as the serpent casts off his skin—but if you are not resting all upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and looking to be saved by simple faith in Him, you may be wise in your own eyes—but you are just ignorant of the root and fountain, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, in all true gospel religion. You may tell us you have repented—but if you have not at the same time laid hold on Christ, you have up to this time, received the grace of God in vain."

Monday, July 23, 2012

God’s Omnipresence

From the Westminster Seminary Blog

Those within the Reformed church love to study doctrine. We often gather together in one setting or another, open the Bible, and explore the wealth of wisdom that we find. We open some crusty old tome written long ago and let the breeze of ages past blow through our minds.

Whether we study Scripture or learn more about theology, we love to hone and tune our orthodoxy. What is a problem, however, is that we can make good discussion when it comes to doctrinal issues. But all too often we demonstrate that we do not understand our doctrine as well as we might think in our every day life. In other words, we talk the walk but do not walk the walk.

Consider for a moment the doctrine of God’s Omnipresence.

We understand the doctrinal truth that God is in all places at all times. We read passages of Scripture like Psalm 139.7-8 that speak to this doctrinal truth: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.”

We intellectually assent to this truth and speak about it with conviction. Yet a person demonstrates that he does not truly understand this doctrine when he sins behind closed doors when others are not around.

Wilhelmus à Brakel, a 17th century Dutch theologian, writes that when “the presence of people serves as a restraint against the commission of many sins, and if the presence of God does not accomplish the same, one reveals himself as having more respect for people than for the majestic and holy God.”

 If we wait until the doors are closed and then sin because no one is watching, we only reveal that we do not understand the doctrine of God’s omnipresence at all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mission Accomplished by Shai Linne

Here’s a controversial subject that tends to divide
For years it’s had Christians lining up on both sides
By God’s grace, I’ll address this without pride
The question concerns those for whom Christ died
Was He trying to save everybody worldwide?
Was He trying to make the entire world His Bride?
Does man’s unbelief keep the Savior’s hands tied?
Biblically, each of these must be denied
It’s true, Jesus gave up His life for His Bride
But His Bride is the elect, to whom His death is applied
If on judgment day, you see that you can’t hide
And because of your sin, God’s wrath on you abides
And hell is the place you eternally reside
That means your wrath from God hasn’t been satisfied
But we believe His mission was accomplished when He died
But how the cross relates to those in hell?
Well, they be saying:

Lord knows He tried

Father, Son and Spirit: three and yet one
Working as a unit to get things done
Our salvation began in eternity past
God certainly has to bring all His purpose to pass
A triune, eternal bond no one could ever sever
When it comes to the church, peep how they work together
The Father foreknew first, the Son came to earth
To die- the Holy Spirit gives the new birth
The Father elects them, the Son pays their debt and protects them
The Spirit is the One who resurrects them
The Father chooses them, the Son gets bruised for them
The Spirit renews them and produces fruit in them
Everybody’s not elect, the Father decides
And it’s only the elect in whom the Spirit resides
The Father and the Spirit- completely unified
But when it comes to Christ and those in hell?
Well, they be saying:

Lord knows He tried

My third and final verse- here’s the situation
Just a couple more things for your consideration
If saving everybody was why Christ came in history
With so many in hell, we’d have to say He failed miserably
So many think He only came to make it possible
Let’s follow this solution to a conclusion that’s logical
What about those who were already in the grave?
The Old Testament wicked- condemned as depraved
Did He die for them? C’mon, behave
But worst of all, you’re saying the cross by itself doesn’t save
That we must do something to give the cross its power
That means, at the end of the day, the glory’s ours
That man-centered thinking is not recommended
The cross will save all for whom it was intended
Because for the elect, God’s wrath was satisfied
But still, when it comes to those in hell
Well, they be saying:

Lord knows He tried

Monday, July 16, 2012

Basics of the Reformed Faith: The Sacraments by Kim Riddlebarger

From the Westminster Seminary Blog

Although any discussion of the role of the sacraments in the Christian life seems too “catholic” for many evangelical Christians, the sacraments do play a very important role throughout the New Testament. Summarizing the teaching of Scripture on this topic, the Heidelberg Catechism (Q 65) defines the two New Testament sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as “holy signs and seals for us to see. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and might put his seal on that promise.” And what is the promise of the gospel? “To forgive our sins and give us eternal life by grace alone because of Christ’s one sacrifice finished on the cross.”

The sacraments are visible signs and seals of God’s invisible grace promised to his people in the gospel (Romans 4:9-12). Because we are weak and struggling sinners, these sacraments are given to us by God to confirm that faith already given us through the preaching of the gospel (cf. Romans 6:3-4;1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This is why the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments are intimately connected.

Read rest of post here

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Law and Gospel

"He who would have a fruitful ministry must have clear shining after the rain, by which I mean, first, law, and then, gospel. We must preach plainly against sin.

In our ministry there must be rain, we must have the clouds and darkness, and divine justice bearing heavily upon the sinner's conscience. Then comes in Christ crucified, full atonement, simple faith, and clear shining of comfort to the believing sinner. But there must be the rain first.

He who preaches all sweetness and all love, and has nothing to do with warning men of the consequences of sin, may be thought to be very loving; but, in truth, he is altogether unfaithful to the souls of men. I do not suppose that any of you women can sew without needles. Yet your object is not simply to get the needle into the stuff, is it? No; you want to get in a bit of cotton, or thread, or silk. Well, now, try whether you can sew with a piece of silk alone. You cannot do so.

You must put in the needle first, must you not? And he who would do any work for God, must have a sharp needle, as he deals plainly with the sin of man, and he must then draw after it the silken thread of the gospel of Christ. There must be rain first, and clear shining afterwards."
--Charles H. Spurgeon

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What Should I Think of the church?

From Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Many people in our day have an indifferent, negative, or even hostile attitude towards the church, while claiming to be Christians – that is, followers of Christ.

Are such attitudes compatible with being a Christian? As disciples of Jesus Christ, we must have the same attitude towards the church, and commitment to it, that He has. Therefore, we must ask the question: What does Christ think of His church? Three passages make the answer to that question clear:

1. Christ Loves His Church. Eph 5:25 says “… Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

2. Christ Is Building His Church. In Matt 16:18, Jesus says “… I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

3. Christ Indwells His Church. In Matt 18:20, Jesus says of His church “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Therefore, if we believe that Christ loves His church, is building His church, and indwells His church, then that will define our attitude toward the church as well: we will love Christ’s church, we will seek to build up Christ’s church, and we will be in the midst of Christ’s church whenever it gathers for its stated meetings.

Christ’s work and mission is centered on His church. Therefore, as disciples of Christ, we must center our lives on that which Christ centered His life on. A Christ centered Christian is a church centered Christian, because that is where Christ centers His love, His work, and His presence.

It says of the Lord Jesus in John 2:17, “…The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” May we too be consumed with zeal for “…the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Pastor Max Doner
Sovereign Grace Bible Church
Lebanon, Oregon

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mixing Law and Gospel

Oh", when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas, but even a grain of law is enough to spoil the whole thing.

It must be gospel, and gospel only. "If it be of grace, it is not of works, otherwise grace is no more grace; and if it be of works, then it is not of grace, otherwise work is no more work.""

~ Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Playing religion

"Do you realize that most men play at religion as they play at games? Religion itself being of all games the one most universally played.

The Church has its "fields" and its "rules" and its equipment for playing the game of pious words. It has its devotees, both laymen and professionals, who support the game with their money and encourage it with their presence, but who are no different in life or character from many who take no interest in religion at all.

As an athlete uses a ball so do many of us use words: words spoken and words sung, words written and words uttered in prayer. We throw them swiftly across the field; we learn to handle them with dexterity and grace-and gain as our reward the applause of those who have enjoyed the game.

In the games men play there are no moral roots. It is a pleasant activity which changes nothing and settles nothing, at last. Sadly, in the religious game of pious words, after the pleasant meeting no one is basically any different from what he had been before!"

- A.W. Tozer -

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Pelagian Captivity of the Church - R.C. Sproul

Shortly after the Reformation began, in the first few years after Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, he issued some short booklets on a variety of subjects. One of the most provocative was titled The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. In this book Luther was looking back to that period of Old Testament history when Jerusalem was destroyed by the invading armies of Babylon and the elite of the people were carried off into captivity. Luther in the sixteenth century took the image of the historic Babylonian captivity and reapplied it to his era and talked about the new Babylonian captivity of the Church. He was speaking of Rome as the modern Babylon that held the Gospel hostage with its rejection of the biblical understanding of justification.

You can understand how fierce the controversy was, how polemical this title would be in that period by saying that the Church had not simply erred or strayed, but had fallen — that it’s actually now Babylonian; it is now in pagan captivity.

I’ve often wondered if Luther were alive today and came to our culture and looked, not at the liberal church community, but at evangelical churches, what would he have to say?

Of course I can’t answer that question with any kind of definitive authority, but my guess is this: If Martin Luther lived today and picked up his pen to write, the book he would write in our time would be entitled The Pelagian Captivity of the Evangelical Church. Luther saw the doctrine of justification as fueled by a deeper theological problem.

Read the rest of this great article HERE

Friday, June 8, 2012

John Piper:

"Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”"

"We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.

In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.

If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)

Call it what you will, this is my life. I believe it because I see it in the Bible. And because I have experienced it. Everlasting praise to the greatness of the glory of the grace of God!"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Saw this over at Corky's place (Calvinistic Cartoons) and thought it was spot on!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

1 Timothy 2:4

Does 1 Timothy 2:4 Teach That God Wants Everyone Saved?

Ripped out of it's context, it appears that this passage is teaching us that God wants everyone to be saved. In response to Calvinists appealing to the context of this passage however, our friend Houston John declared: "God provided the means for the gift of salvation for all (and I do mean 'all' instead of the redefinition of the word to 'all kinds' by Calvinists)". Is it true that Reformed Theology actually changes the meaning of words such as 'all'? Let's take a look.

This topic came up in a recent debate here on Old Truth with a non-Calvinist who goes by Houston John (we'll call him HJ for short). That's a pretty strong accusation to make, that Calvinists are deliberately changing word meanings to fit their system. So I challenged HJ to provide explanations for these other passages which use the word 'all' in a way that means something less than everyone:

1) Mark 1:5 says "all the country of Judea went out to [be] the Jordan". Who does that all mean? Absolutely everyone in Judea, or was it a less encompassing 'all'?

2) John 8:2 - "All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them" Is that true? Every single person came to Him?

3) 2 Cor 3:2 - "our letter of be known and read by all [men]." Does that include the emperor of China?

4) Luk 16:16 - "the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone [same greek word Pas] forces his way into it". Really? Did Pilate force his way into it?

5) 1 Cor 9:22 - "I am made all things to all, that I might by all means save some". Is that true? Was he made a clown so that, for the leader of Japan whom he used all means to save?

6) 1 Cor 10:23 - "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient". Wow, adultery and murder are lawful for him under HJ's translation of 'all'! What kind of theology are you teaching HJ?!?!?!?

7) Eph 6:21 - "Tychicus,... shall make known to you all things". He's going to teach them AstroPhysics!!!!!!

8) Acts 4:21 - "all men glorified God for that which was done". Really? Did the Pharisees glorify God for what was being done?

9) Luke 21:17 - "Jesus told his disciples that they would be 'hated of all men'". Imagine that, people in remote tribes of Africa hating the disciples.

10) Acts 21:28 - "Paul was accused of teaching all men everywhere against [the law]". How did Paul get to every place on earth and teach them things?

I followed that up with an excerpt from James White's book The Potter's Freedom, which had this to say about 1 Timothy 2 (see the passage in question):

[Paul] states that such prayers for all kinds of men is good and acceptable "in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." If we are consistent with the preceding context we will see "all men" here in the same manner as "all men" of the preceding verses: all kinds of men, whether rulers or kings. But there is much more reason to understand Paul's statement in this way.
Almost invariably, proponents of Arminianism isolate this passage from the two verses that follow.

This must happen of necessity for the questions that can be asked of the non-Reformed position based upon verses 5 and 6 are weighty indeed. Verse 5 begins with the word "for," indicating the connection between the statement made in 3-4 and the explanation in 5-6.

Why should Christians pray that all men, including kings and rulers, be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth? Because there is only one way of salvation, and without a knowledge of that truth, no man can be saved. Paul says, "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all."

This immediately takes us into the meat of the discussion of the atonement, but for now just a few points should be made.

Read rest of post HERE

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sin is cosmic treason -

“Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.

Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point?

We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.”

 ― R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God

Monday, May 28, 2012

Choice - Peter Eldersveld

The predicament in which we sinners find ourselves is so utterly hopeless that divine redemption is our only way out. The Bible says, what we know to be true from our own honest introspection, that we are “dead in trespasses and sins.” And such dead men cannot begin their own resurrection. They must be raised by another— by God. You cannot expect sinners who are depraved by nature to initiate the work of their own redemption. It will have to be initiated by God.

Now the Word of God proves beyond all doubt that He has indeed taken the initiative, that He is our point of beginning. The classic passage on that is Eph. 1:4-12. Among other things, it says: “He hath chosen us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world . . . having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will . . . in whom (Christ) also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”

Now that doctrine of divine election is mentioned no less than forty-eight times in the New Testament alone. And no wonder, for it is one of the grandest things we know about God. His plan of redemption is not an afterthought, something He had to devise when man fell into sin; it was not occasioned by the contingencies of history, nor does it depend upon the will of man. From eternity God chose sinners to he saved, and He did so according to the good pleasure of His will without qualifying conditions of any kind. It was His doing. Its point-of-beginning is with Him in eternity, where also its end will be. This means that our salvation has its origin as well as its destiny in the everlasting God!

However, oddly enough, this glorious truth, which is one of the fundamentals of our faith, is also one of the most controversial teachings in the Bible. It makes some people stiffen with resistance and even wince with pain every time they hear it. This is particularly true among certain Christians who have a more humanistic theology. And, of course, the reason for their antagonism is quite natural. For the other side of this glorious truth is that if God chose to save some, He necessarily chose not to save others. So, He is not only a God of election but also of reprobation. And that’s the part men don’t like.

They seem to feel under obligation to defend the character of God against the stigma and responsibility of election and reprobation. The fact that God very plainly assumes this responsibility does not seem to impress them at all. They believe it is better to have men choose God than to have God choose men. And so they take the ultimate decision, as to who will be saved, out of the hands of God and place it in the hands of men, who must then make the choice themselves. And thereby they make man the point-of-beginning—and ending, the Alpha and Omega of his own salvation. He can frustrate God if he wants to.

Now, personally, I am deeply grateful that the Bible presents a God who chooses the sinner, rather than a God who must wait to be chosen. I know that teaching confronts us with some very real and difficult questions which we shall never be able to answer, but I would rather live with those questions than try to escape them by adopting humanistic notions that conflict with God’s own revelation of Himself. The fact that we cannot comprehend the mystery of His mercy does not disprove it.               Read entire article HERE

Hat Tip to The Highway

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Where is Christ in the sermon?

A Welsh minister who was preaching last Sabbath at the chapel of my dear brother, Jonathan George, was saying, that Christ was the sum and substance of the gospel, and he broke out into this story:

—A young man had been preaching in the presence of a venerable divine, and after he had done he went to the old minister, and said, "What do you think of my sermon?"

"A very poor sermon indeed," said he.

"A poor sermon?" said the young man, "it took me a long time to study it."

"Ay, no doubt of it." "Why, did you not think my explanation of the text a very good one?"

"Oh, yes," said the old preacher, "very good indeed."

"Well, then, why do you say it is a poor sermon? Didn't you think the metaphors were appropriate and the arguments conclusive?"

"Yes, they were very good as far as that goes, but still it was a very poor sermon." "Will you tell me why you think it a poor sermon?"

"Because," said he, "there was no Christ in it."

"Well," said the young man, "Christ was not in the text; we are not to be preaching Christ always, we must preach what is in the text."

So the old man said, "Don't you know young man that from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London?"

"Yes," said the young man.

"Ah!" said the old divine "and so form every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ. And my dear brother, your business in when you get to a text, to say, 'Now what is the road to Christ?' and then preach a sermon, running along the road towards the great metropolis—Christ.

And," said he, "I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it."

Charles Spurgeon (From "Christ Precious to Believers" March 13th, 1859)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Trinity

"Since God is the Creator, Preserver and final Disposer of all things, the One in whom we live and move and have our being, our knowledge of Him must be basic and fundamental to all our knowledge. In answer to the question, "What is God?", the Scriptures reveal Him to us, in the first place, as a rational and righteous Spirit, infinite in His attributes of wisdom, being, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth; and in the second place they reveal Him to us as One who exists eternally as three "Persons", these three Persons, however, being one in substance and existing in the most perfect unity of thought and purpose.

It is evident, moreover, that if God does thus exist in three Persons, each of whom has His distinctive part in the works of creation, providence, redemption and grace, that fact governs His activity in all spheres of His work and, consequently, the doctrine which treats of the nature of His Person must seriously affect all true theology and philosophy. Doctrines vital to the Christian system, such as those of the Deity and Person of Christ, the Incarnation, the Atonement, etc., are so inextricably interwoven with that of the Tri-unity of God that they cannot be properly understood apart from it."

Loraine Boettner -

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lawless Gospel

A must read from Berean Wife -

The gospel message is, in itself, simple.

Paul explains the gospel in two verses in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Jesus Christ died on the cross on Calvary to pay the debt which we owe for our sins. He was buried and lay dead in a borrowed tomb for three days. But, on the morning of the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead. After 40 days, Jesus ascended back into heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus Christ was crucified in order to pay a debt that you and I could never pay for ourselves – the sin in our lives which has separated us from the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (NIV)

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a call to follow Him in obedience. It is not just a plea to make a “decision for Christ” or to pray the “sinner’s prayer.” The gospel of Jesus Christ frees people from their sins. But it also confronts and condemns the hypocrisy of those who are only outwardly religious. The gospel of Jesus Christ is an offer for forgiveness and eternal life to those who would repent of their sins. But it is a rebuke to those who do not live a life in pursuit of righteousness and holiness.

Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (NIV)

We all know of people who have made a “decision” for Jesus Christ at some point in their life, and who may have even attended church for some period of time, but then have fallen away from the faith.

Where is the evidence of the pursuit of holiness....Continue reading here

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two for Tuesday - Two Pinks

"There are but two states, and all men are included therein: the one a state of spiritual life, the other a state of spiritual death; the one a state of righteousness, the other a state of sin: the one saving. the other damning; the one a state of enmity, wherein men have their inclinations contrary to God, the other a state of friendship and fellowship, wherein men walk obediently unto God, and would not willingly have an inward notion opposed to His will. The one state is called darkness, the other light: "For ye were (in your unregenerate days, not only in the dark, but) darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord" (Eph. 5:6). There is no medium between these conditions; all are in one of them. Each man and woman now on earth is either an object of God’s delight or of His abomination. The most benevolent and imposing works of the flesh cannot please Him. but the faintest sparks proceeding from that which grace hath kindled are acceptable in His sight."

"Jesus Christ came into this world to glorify God and to glorify Himself by redeeming a people unto Himself. But what glory can we conceive that God has, and what glory would accrue to Christ, if there be not a vital and fundamental difference between His people and the world? And what difference can there be between those two companies but in a change of heart, out of which are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23): a change of nature or disposition, as the fountain from which all other differences must proceed—sheep and goats differ in nature. The whole mediatorial work of Christ has this one end in view. His priestly office is to reconcile and bring His people unto God; His prophetic, to teach them the way; His kingly, to work in them those qualifications and bestow upon them that comeliness which is necessary to fit them for the holy converse and communion with the thrice holy God. Thus does He "purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14).

A.W. Pink