Thursday, March 29, 2012

Open Heart Surgery by John Samson

Often times we will hear a preacher tell his audience to “open their heart” to the Lord. What strikes me about this phrase is that the only time I can find the concept of the opening of the heart mentioned in the New Testament, it refers to God being the one who opens hearts, not man.

Acts 16:13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well…”

Knowing this is extremely liberating for preaching and teaching. Obviously, for someone to be converted, the heart must be opened. A new attitude is needed. Hostility towards God and His gospel has to dissipate. There has to be openness to the message.

When we understand that it is Almighty God who acts to open the heart of man, it allows the preacher to preach all the counsel of God, including the so called “rough edges” of the gospel. He can preach anything found in the word of God and do so with boldness, knowing that some will reject the message outright but others will experience this opening of the heart, as God the Holy Spirit does His work under the sound of the gospel. If we really get this, we can preach anything the word of God says – absolutely anything – we can “tell it like it is” and be free to do so.

God will accomplish all He intends to accomplish. His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish everything He intended; either the hardening or the opening of the heart. Continue reading

Friday, March 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

"The doctrine of ‘irresistible grace’... is simply the belief that when God chooses to move in the lives of His elect and bring them from spiritual death to spiritual life, no power in heaven or on earth can stop Him from so doing... It is simply the confession that when God chooses to raise His people to spiritual life, He does so without the fulfillment of any conditions on the part of the sinner. Just as Christ had the power and authority to raise Lazarus to life without obtaining his ‘permission’ to do so, He is able to raise His elect to spiritual life with just as certain a result.

God ordains the ends and the means. The ends is the salvation of God's elect. His decree renders their salvation a certainty... Just as God's grace is irresistible, so the result of that grace (regeneration, the imparting of a heart of flesh after taking out the heart of stone, etc.,) is just as certain. God changes the heart so that my act of faith toward Jesus Christ is the natural result of my changed nature.
I am a new creature, not because the old rebel decided to become something other, but because of the resurrection power of God by the Spirit. 

The very idea of someone kicking and screaming seems a bit ironic, in light of the Reformed insistence upon the deadness of man in sin. Surely the heart of stone contains no desire to be changed, but ignoring the impartation of resurrection life as the means by which a radical change in the will of the elect is effected again presents a fundamentally distorted view of the (Reformed) position..." - Dr. James White

Hat Tip -  Reformation Theology

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Basics of the Reformed Faith -- Marks and Mission of Christ's Church

From Kim Riddlebarger at the Riddleblog

The New Testament has no category for someone who is a believer in Jesus Christ but who is not also a member of a local church. The reason is so obvious that we take it for granted. Since all true believers become members of the body of Christ by virtue of their union with Christ through faith, the New Testament assumes that those who are members of Christ’s body will naturally identify with a local assembly of those who likewise believe in Jesus and confess him as Lord before the unbelieving world. Sadly, many Americans have completely different assumptions.

Given the rugged individualism of American culture and our innate suspicion of authority, many Americans who consider themselves faithful Bible-believing Christians make little connection between their own personal faith in Jesus Christ and membership in a local church. This is one of the most pressing issues of our day and it arises from a general ignorance of the doctrine of the church and the necessity of membership in a local congregation of fellow like-minded believers. In fact, John Calvin writes in his commentary on Isaiah, “We cannot become acceptable to God without being united in one and the same faith, that is, without being members of the church.” These two things, “justification by grace alone through faith alone,” and membership in Christ’s church are inseparable for Calvin, because the Bible clearly indicates that all those whom our Lord justifies through faith, he also gathers together is a visible assembly, a local church.

If it is true that all those who profess faith in Jesus Christ must join with a local congregation of like-minded believers and then submit to the yoke of Christ, then how can we tell which church is like-minded and faithful to the gospel and administers the sacraments according to the word of God?

Read rest HERE

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quitting Church - Michael S. Horton

Some interesting things have happened over the last 18 months to justify my sense that contemporary evangelicalism is literally unchurching the churched. Admittedly, it's an odd conclusion, but it is supported by a number of developments. Not only has there been a decline in the percentage of professions of faith in American churches during the megachurch era; numerous studies over the last few years have documented a massive decline in the knowledge of even the basics of Christian faith and practice among professing believers.

However, I never thought I would see the day when high-profile pastors and church leaders would justify this unfaithfulness. In 2007, the Willow Creek Association published its findings that the most highly committed Christians at Willow Creek Community Church (in the Chicago suburb of South Barrington) were most dissatisfied with their own personal growth and the ministry of their church. Expressing their concern for deeper instruction and richer worship, these respondents were the most likely to be ready to leave Willow Creek.

The obvious conclusion drawn by the church's leadership was that the church becomes less important for personal growth as believers mature and they should be taught to become "self-feeders." Believers grow out of their dependence on the church's ministry the same way children outgrow their parents' supervision, the leadership concluded. Over this same period, church marketing expert George Barna wrote two books urging that we move beyond the organized church altogether and find our "spiritual resources" elsewhere, particularly through Internet "communities." He offered statistics to back up his triumphalistic claim that this is already happening. People need spiritual coaches, he insisted, but not the church.

Read rest of article HERE

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quote of the Day - B. B. Warfield

I believe that God requires of me, under the gospel, first of all, that , out of a true sense of my sin and misery and apprehension of his mercy in Christ, I should turn with grief and hatred away from sin and receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation; that, so being united to him, I may receive pardon for my sins and be accepted as righteous in God’s sight only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received by faith alone; and thus and thus only do I believe I may be received into the number and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

B. B. Warfield

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two for Tuesday - John Cotton

Q. What is the 2d. Commandment?

A. Thou shalt not make to thy self any graven image, &c.

Q. What is the meaning of this Commandment?

A. That we should worship the true God with true worship: such as God hath ordained, not such as man hath invented.

From The Reformed Covenanter

Q. What is the fourth Commandment?

A. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day, &c.

Q. What is the meaning of this Commandment?

A. That we should rest from labour and much more from play on the Lord’s day, that we may draw nigh to God in holy duties.

John Cotton, Milk for babes. Drawn from the breasts of both testaments. Chiefly for the spiritual nourishment of Boston babes in either England: but may be of like use for any children (London, 1646), pp 3-4.

Monday, March 12, 2012


From The White Horse Inn


The manner of life that is centered on God, with special reference to devotion, piety, and reverence toward him. It can be defined as the conjunction of an attitude of devotion to God and of the consequent right conduct.

In the Pastoral Epistles eusebeia denotes a particular manner of life and comes close to the OT idea of "the fear of God." However, it does not focus upon the law, but on the individual believer's faith in Christ (1 Tim. 3:16). The secret of the godly life is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ; godliness is basically following him in this life (Titus 2:12). It is thus presented as a Christian goal, to be earnestly sought after (1 Tim. 2:2; 4:7-8), even if it leads to persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Godliness and sound doctrine are closely related.

True doctrine is described as being "godly teaching" (1 Tim. 6:3) and "truth that leads to godliness" (Titus 1:1), while an appearance of godliness without true Christian content is characteristic of evil men (2 Tim. 3:5). It is important to note that godliness is directly connected to proper respect for the family (1 Tim. 5:4).

Godliness is thus the honoring of God as Creator and Redeemer that is born of faith in Jesus Christ and expresses itself in daily living. As such, it is a criterion ·for soundness of doctrine and should characterize all Christians.

(Adapted from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, s.v. "Godliness")

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What is a Reformed Baptist?

From Reformed Baptist Fellowship

* Reformed Baptists are distinguished by their conviction regarding the sufficiency and authority of the Word of God.

* Reformed Baptists have a conviction that the Bible and the Bible alone defines what a church is. The Bible and the Bible alone defines the offices of the church.

* Reformed Baptists are distinguished by an unshakable conviction that the church exists for the glory of God. Because the church exists for the glory of God, the worship of God and the Word of God are central to its life. The church is God’s house and not man’s. It is the place where He meets with His people in a special way.

* Reformed Baptists are distinguished by their conviction that the local church is central to the purposes of God on the earth.

* Reformed Baptists are distinguished by their conviction that preaching is foundational to the life of the church. How is God most often pleased to save sinners? How is God most often pleased to exhort, challenge, and build up his saints? How is Christ most powerfully displayed to the mind and heart? It is through the preaching of the Word of God! Therefore, Reformed Baptists reject the trends of the day toward shallow teaching, cancelled preaching services, the giving of the services of worship over to testimonies, movies, drama, dance, or singing. The Word of God is to be central in the worship of God.

* Reformed Baptists are distinguished by the conviction that salvation radically alters the life of the convert. It is tragic that such a thing needs to be mentioned. Today is the day of decisionism. The idea is that one prays a certain formula prayer and is therefore declared to be saved. It matters not whether one breaks with sin or pursues holiness.

* Reformed Baptists have a conviction that the Law of God (as expressed in the Ten Commandments) is regulative in the life of the New Covenant believer. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:19 that, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, keeping the commandments of God is what matters.” The present age is an antinomian (lawless) age of Christianity, which makes no demands on its ‘converts,’ but God’s way of holiness has not changed. The law written on the heart in creation (Romans 2:14, 15) is the same law codified in the Ten Commandments on Sinai and the same law written on the hearts of those who enter into the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:33 and 2 Corinthians 3:3). The Apostle John wrote “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

* Reformed Baptists are distinguished by a conviction regarding male leadership in the church. This age has witnessed the feminization of Christianity. God created two sexes and gave to each a different corresponding role. While the sexes are equal in Creation, the Fall and Redemption, God has nonetheless sovereignly ordained that leadership in the home, the state and the church is to be male.

* Reformed Baptists are distinguished by a conviction regarding the serious nature of church membership. Reformed Baptists take seriously the admonition of Hebrews 10:24, 25 to “stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Reformed Baptists take seriously the duties and responsibilities of church membership. In other words, membership actually means something in Reformed Baptist churches.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Pink Moment -

All the race of Adam are guilty before God, and, consequently, none of them can by any works of their own find acceptance with Him. Almost every page of Scripture bears testimony to this truth. The whole scheme of revelation takes it for granted.

The plan of salvation taught in the Word could have no place on any other supposition. The Son of man came here to save that which was lost. Were we not exposed to danger, there could be no salvation. When the Lord Jesus called Paul and sent him forth to preach to men, it was "to open their eyes," and "to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God" (Acts 26:18).

Here we have the character of the whole Gentile world: they are as ignorant of the true character of God and of the way of acceptance with Him, as blind men are ignorant of the real nature of the objects of sight. They walk, "In the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Eph. 4:17,18).

A.W. Pink

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Basics of the Reformed Faith: Sanctification

Kim Riddlebarger
It is not until we understand what it means to be justified, that we are in any position to discuss sanctification, which is that life-long process through which the old habit of sin (what we call “indwelling sin”) is progressively weakened and the new nature (given us by virtue of regeneration) is progressively strengthened.

Why is this the case?

The same act of faith which unites us to Christ so that his merits are imputed to us and thereby provides the basis upon which God pronounces us “not guilty,” also begins the life-long process of sanctification, in which our sinful habits begin to weaken, new Godly affections begin to grow, and we begin to obey (however, feebly), not some, but all of God’s commandments. To put it yet another way, every justified sinner is also being sanctified.

In fact, the moment we place our trust in Jesus Christ, all of our sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven. Through that same act of faith which justifies us, Christ’s righteousness becomes ours so that we now rely on the obedience of Jesus Christ crucified which is ours when we believe in him. Because we are justified by the merits of Jesus Christ which we receive through the means of faith (and not through our own good works), our consciences are freed from fear, terror, and dread. Since we are not paralyzed by the fear that God will punish us when we fail, we find ourselves free to obey the law of God, not to earn greater righteousness, nor to become “holier.” Rather, we obey the law of God and do good works because we have already been reckoned as “righteous” and our eternal standing before God has already been settled by the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ. This is what it means, in part, to be sanctified.

The biblical teaching about sanctification is quite extensive. According to Paul, this struggle with sin is the normal Christian life (Romans 7:14-25). In fact, the holiest among us may be those ........

Read rest here

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Work that Saves

Done is the work that saves
Once and forever done
Finished the righteousness
That clothes the unrighteous one
The love that blesses us below
Is flowing freely to us now.

The sacrifice is o'er
The veil is rent in twain
The mercy seat is red
With blood of victim slain
Why stand we then without in fear
The BLOOD of Christ invites us near.

The gate is open wide
The new and living way
Is clear and free and bright
With love and peace and day
Into the Holies now we come
Our present and eternal home.

Enthroned in majesty
The Great Priest sits within
The precious blood once shed
Has made and keeps us clean
With boldness let us now draw near
That BLOOD has banished every fear.

To Him who has been slain
Be glory, praise and power
He died and lives again
He lives for evermore
He loves us, cleansed us by His BLOOD,
Made us a kingdom, priests to God.

- Horatius Bonar

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Sovereignty of God

"Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one.

Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self ? Those who reject God's sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left."

Loraine Boettner

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live?" - John Hendryx

From Reformation Theology

"Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live?"

 Question: How can you reject free will. Does not Moses say to the Israelites "Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live?" (Deut 30:19)

Response: Yes it is indeed true that God commands the Israelites to "choose life", But when read in the context of the whole chapter, Moses reveals that the power to obey this command comes from regenerating grace:
"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deut 30:6)
In other words, God commands people to obey, but he also supplies all the grace needed to do so. The command to believe does not itself contain the power to do so. God commanding obedience (what we ought to do) does not mean a person can do this apart from grace. God must set them free from innate love of sin and natural hostility to God, if they have any hope of moving toward Him. Left to ourselves we are too proud to let go of our self-complacency and self-righteousness and so we will never rightly understand our woeful, guilty, and lost condition, unless God grants it.
So why did not all Israel believe? Because not all were children of promise. Some God left to their own boasted free will, letting them do what they wanted. In Romans 9: 6-8 it says of Israel:
"For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring."
This means that spiritual circumcision was not given to all physical descendants of Abraham but to the children of promise in their midst. The rest were commanded but refused to obey. Some get mercy but the rest get justice.

In 2 Chronicles 30:6-12 we also are given a glimpse of what takes place behind the scenes of how it is that some people believe the gospel while others do not:
So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. 8 Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” 10 So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. 11 However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
Why did some believe? According to this passage, it is because God had mercy on them and gave them a heart to follow God's command to repent. Notice that the rest scorned and mocked God's word.
May the Lord grant us all eyes to see this truth.