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