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Archive for February, 2011

The following post is verbatim from www.answersingenesis.org:

[Editor’s note: the following letter is an abridgement of a much lengthier response to one of our devotionals based on Psalm 51:5. The letter is abridged because the original brought up numerous denominational issues with which Answers in Genesis does not involve itself since we are a parachurch organization dedicated to biblical authority. These issues are important, and we encourage you to consult your local church for details on denominational positions.]


Dear Sirs,

I’m very alarmed over the teaching you present on your website October 20th 2010 – the idea that man is born in sin by Steve Ham – which would also include babies and which could be used as a license to sin and potentially make people lose their salvation. I notice that you didn’t present any valid verses for this idea, but I’m of course not surprised since I know there are NONE . . .

In 1 Chronicles 2:16 we are told that David and his brothers had two sisters. In 2 Samuel 17:25 we are told that the two women were the daughters of Nahash, not Jesse. So at least paternally it appears that they were not related. That can only mean one thing: they had the same mother. However that would require us to come to the conclusion that Nahash (presumably, the King of the Ammonites, mentioned in 1 Sam 11:1 and 12:12) conceived Zeruiah and Abigail in the womb of the same woman in which Jesse conceived his eight sons. . . . [Steve Ham said,] “Today’s verse tells us a harsh reality: we are all not just born in sin, we are actually conceived in sin.” Nowhere does the Bible teach this. David’s mother conceived David in sin – IF we can accept this literally. . . .

And do study the history behind the council at Carthage and how much the devious Augustine was involved and the fact that Pelagius wasn’t even there to be able to defend himself against the strawmen claims erected against him. Augustine was a former gnostic and very much affected by the gnostic teaching that there is nothing good in our flesh, which is why they had difficulties accepting that Jesus had come in the flesh. But denying that Jesus has come in the flesh is the spirit of the antichrist . . . .

God bless

A. B.


Hello A. B.,

Thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis and sharing your concerns.

Dear Sirs,

I’m very alarmed over the teaching you present on your website October 20, 2010—the idea by Steve Ham that man is born in sin—which would also include babies and which could be used as a license to sin . . . . I notice that you didn’t present any valid verses for this idea, but I’m of course not surprised since I know there are NONE. . . .

I’m sure you are aware that these issues are very controversial in the church and have been for some time. While I cannot take the time to respond to all of your points, allow me to offer a few comments to help clarify what was written in the devotional.

First, consider some related issues. If babies are not sinners, how could they die since death is a punishment for sin? How could two sinful people make a sinless person? Do parents need to teach their children how to be selfish and sinful, or is sin part of their very nature that is exhibited at an early age? As the father of two wonderful blessings from the Lord, I can say with full confidence that they did not need to be taught how to be selfish and rebellious. Their sinful flesh is a part of them, just like it has been a part of me. Praise God that His Spirit gives us the ability to overcome this when we rely on Him.

Second, our Statement of Faith states:

All mankind are sinners, inherently from Adam and individually (by choice), and are therefore subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.

The devotional is consistent with this statement, which we feel is entirely biblical. I believe you jumped to some conclusions based on the idea that man is born in sin, which were not stated in the article.

You mentioned that these ideas come from Augustine and Calvin. However, one does not have to agree with these men to believe that sin is inherited from Adam. For example, Jacob Arminius (namesake of Arminianism) also believed that all inherit Adam’s sin:

The whole of this sin [Adam’s first sin], however is not peculiar to our first parents, but is common to the entire race and to all their posterity, who at the time when this sin was committed, were in their loins, and who have since descended from them by natural mode of propagation, according to the primitive benediction. For in Adam “all have sinned.”1

While Arminius believed we inherit Adam’s sin, he did not necessarily agree with Augustine and Calvin that each person will be judged for that sin:

It may admit of discussion, whether God could be angry on account of original sin which was born with us, since it seemed to be inflicted on us by God as a punishment of the actual sin which had been committed by Adam and by us in him . . . I did not deny that it was sin, but it was not actual sin. . . . We must distinguish between actual sin, and that which was the cause of other sin, and which, on this very account might be denominated [classified] “sin.”2

These quotations should not be seen as an endorsement of either Arminianism or Calvinism. Answers in Genesis does not take a position on this because it is not a “biblical authority issue” (see Where Do We Draw the Line?), but, like both Calvin and Arminius, we do believe the Bible declares that all people inherit Adam’s sin.

In 1 Chronicles 2:16 we are told that David and his brothers had two sisters. In 2 Samuel 17:25 we are told that the two women were the daughters of Nahash, not Jesse. So at least paternally it appears that they were not related. That can only mean one thing: they had the same mother. However that would require us to come to the conclusion that Nahash (presumably, the King of the Ammonites, mentioned in 1 Sam 11:1 and 12:12) conceived Zeruiah and Abigail in the womb of the same woman in which Jesse conceived his eight sons. . . . [Steve Ham said,] “Today’s verse tells us a harsh reality: we are all not just born in sin, we are actually conceived in sin.” Nowhere does the Bible teach this. David’s mother conceived David in sin – IF we can accept this literally.

I agree with you for part of this. From an exegetical standpoint, Psalm 51:5 (by itself) does not say that everyone is sinful from the moment of conception. At most, it only says that David was (if that is the proper interpretation, which I believe it is).

However, this passage naturally leads us to ask, “If David was conceived in sin, are we?” Your response was that David’s mother had children with two men (Jesse and Nahash), so David was of illegitimate birth. We should not be dogmatic about his mother’s relationship(s) since the Bible gives few details about her. There are other possibilities, which would not entail an improper relationship. For example, Nahash could have had children (Abigail and Zeruiah) with David’s mother after David’s birth (maybe even after Jesse’s death), which would mean that David was not conceived in an adulterous woman, as you imply. We do know he was a son of Jesse. If David’s birth was legitimate, then there is no reason to believe we are not also conceived in sin.

Romans 5:12–21 was also cited in Steve Ham’s article. Verse 18 states, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men . . .” If we say that only Adam was condemned for his sin, then it follows that only Christ can be saved (not that He needed to be) from His sacrifice. One can debate whether “all men” means “all” or “some” or “many,” but there is no getting around the fact of Paul saying that because of Adam’s sin, “judgment came . . . resulting in condemnation” to more than just Adam.

Consider also that the Bible states we were “in Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Consequently, we all die. In a similar way, the author of Hebrews points out that the sacrifice of Christ is of much greater value than that of the Levitical priests. To support this, he points out that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (who is compared to Christ in Hebrews), and that Levi “was still in the loins of his father [ultimately Abraham] when Melchizedek met him” (Hebrews 7:10).

And do study the history behind the council at Carthage and how much the devious Augustine was involved and the fact that Pelagius wasn’t even there to be able to defend himself against the strawmen claims erected against him. Augustine was a former gnostic and very much affected by the gnostic teaching that there is nothing good in our flesh, which is why they had difficulties accepting that Jesus had come in the flesh. But denying that Jesus has come in the flesh is the spirit of the antichrist. Augustine also believed in purgatory, promoted worship to Mary, started the false idea of “once saved always saved” and most importantly introduced the idea of infant baptism into church due to his false idea that even babies are sinners. Augustine taught that unbaptised babies go to hell . . . .

We base our Statement of Faith on the Word of God—not Augustine’s beliefs. It is true that, early in his life, Augustine became a Manichean (a specific brand of Gnosticism), and during that time, he had trouble reconciling Christ’s full divinity and full humanity. However, by the time of the Council of Carthage—more than 30 years after his conversion to Christianity—Augustine had a thoroughly orthodox view of Christ.

Evaluating the beliefs of a person like Augustine can be very difficult because so many of his writings are extant, and his views often changed during his lifetime. For example, he attempted several commentaries on Genesis 1: a section of Confessions contains a heavily allegorical interpretation of Genesis 1, On Genesis: A Refutation of the Manicheans, the Unfinished Literal Commentary on Genesis, and The Literal Meaning of Genesis. The first two are heavily allegorical, and the other two so-called “literal” commentaries are not anything like what modern interpreters consider to be literal. He also devoted sections in the City of God to interpreting Genesis 1. Nevertheless, his interpretations are very different throughout these works, so it is not fair to quote one of them and proclaim that was his belief. The latest work should be given greater weight in determining his final view on a matter, but even that may not accurately convey his settled beliefs.

That being said, just because he held an orthodox view of Christ does not mean that Augustine was perfect or that Christians should follow all of his teachings. For example, he endorsed some of the apocryphal books as being inspired and, as explained above, often interpreted the first chapter of Genesis in an allegorical manner, both of which we reject. We strongly encourage our readers to compare Augustine’s writings (and anyone else’s, including our own) with the Word of God.

Also, the article did not mention what you called “once saved always saved,” infant baptism, or Augustine’s idea of non posse non peccare (able only to sin). The word depravity was used, but this should not be seen as an endorsement of the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity (“T” in TULIP). 1 Timothy 6:5 talks about men with “corrupt” or “depraved” minds (see also 2 Timothy 3:8, Romans 1:28, and Philippians 2:15, NIV), so depravity is a biblical term.

Finally, while this particular debate will probably continue until the Lord’s return, we can be thankful that Christians can agree on much. We can only be saved by God’s grace alone, which is received through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. We can agree that believers should not continue in sin or take salvation for granted (Romans 6:1–2), but we should instead allow God to transform us to become more and more like His Son. We can also rejoice that when we are with Him, we will have better understanding and complete unity on this and every issue.

Thank you again for your concern and for taking the time to respond to our devotional. I hope this helps to clear up some things concerning our position(s). May God bless you as you serve Him.

Sincerely,

Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S.

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The murderer was me

“And as I looked upon that corpse [of Jesus], I heard a footstep, and wondered where it was. I listened, and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at hand. It was dark, and I groped about to find him. I found that, somehow or other, wherever I put out my hand, I could not meet with him, for he was nearer to me than my hand would go. At last I put my hand upon my breast. “I have thee now,” said I; for lo! he was in my own heart! The murderer was hiding within my own bosom, dwelling in the recesses of my inmost soul. Ah! Then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered Master, should be harbouring the murderer, and I felt myself most guilty while I bowed over His corpse, and sang that plaintive hymn: “Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were; each of my crimes became a nail, and unbelief the spear.” My sins were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned with thorns those bleeding brows. My sins cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and laid the cross upon his gracious shoulders. His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity; but my having been His murderer is more, infinitely more grief, than one poor fountain of tears can express”

 C.H. Spurgeon

Source: www.thegracetabernacle.org

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Several years ago a Christian friend became incensed when he learned that I hold to the Reformed position on Predestination, as I believe scripture teaches. Later he wrote, asking if I knew why he was so offended by the doctrine of sovereign grace. Hopefully this discussion will be of great use to clarify your own understanding of this important issue, or will at least reveal the Reformed perspective for what it is, rather than as the common caricature made of it.

 

“Thank you, _________. I likewise appreciate your passion to maintain truth, as you understand the Bible to reveal it

I have always supposed you were against the idea for similar reasons as I was (having literally screamed a man off campus for espousing predestination):

Likely, your opposition was (or is) owing to a misunderstanding about what the implications of sovereign grace might mean for God’s character, and the evangelical hopes of mankind. At first contact with these views, people often default to an assumption that in order to believe in predestinating grace, one must embrace a maniacal God and forsake all hopes of being instrumental in the conversion of others. They anticipate spiritual paralysis in the face what they take for stoic fatalism, though this couldn’t be further from the truth.  It is the devil’s way to exhaust us in fighting scarecrows. At the very least, I hope my zeal for prayer and evangelism, and my consistency to marvel at the Lord’s kindness have appeared as a puzzling contradiction to you.

To be clear, I do not believe God prevents anyone from coming to Christ for His freely granted righteousness. Any person who desires to come on Christ’s terms is welcomed to do so. The problem is that I simply do not believe any fallen person naturally desires either to let go of his self-righteous identity under the Law, or to be purged of all sinfulness in the life to come.

The question to me is not whether God prevents some from coming, but if any at all would respond to the gospel with faith apart from overcoming grace. I would say (and I think scripture says) “No.” Of course, this often elicits a knee-jerk disgust at the idea of God intruding on human will. It seems the antithesis of love, at first thought. However, some considerations of what we mutually agree on may be enlightening, at least to show you where I am coming from.

Presently, you and I lament our daily lapses into sin. Often these choices are conscientious, obvious, avoidable, and bold. We grieve our frequent departures from obedience, especially when some of them are so flagrantly intentional. Yet both of us joyfully anticipate that in heaven, God shall overcome our wills in such a way that we never sin again. He does this, not by willing for us, but at a level deeper than will: by transforming and preserving our souls in a state of inherent, impeccable, immutable holiness. So we anticipate that God’s crowning act of love to the saints is to overcome their mortal tendencies to sin; He does for us what we cannot do ourselves: He perfects our love to Him and others, for this is the totality of the Law and holiness.

Likewise, we believe God shall never will to sin. This is more than luck, nor is God’s consistency just a capricious whim to act a certain way forever, as Islam teaches. We agree that God cannot sin simply because His nature unchangeably prefers to do what is right. God does what He does because He is who He is: an immutably holy being. Therefore His will acts in harmony with His nature to fulfill His holy desires.

Even so, human will reflects human nature. In fact, we can say that willing is nothing more than nature in action; nature seeking to realize its desires. Hence Christ says, “Out of the good treasure of his heart, the good person produces good, and out of the evil treasure of his heart  the evil person produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  [Luke 6:45] The heart is definitive of who we are and the source of our desires; the tongue, indicative of the will, is an outward echo of the inward reality.

How do we explain the struggle which we feel between various choices, to sin or not sin? Well, as believers we have a duality of nature, both the “Old Man’s” self-indulgent tendencies of sin and self-righteousness, and the new indwelling Spirit of Christ who desires holiness through us. As these two principles exert motive force, our wills waffle between contending desires. 

“I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” [Romans 7:18-20]

When we look by faith to God to provide greater power in us, Christ acts to overcome our indwelling corruptions. Hence Paul says, “It is not I, but Christ in me,” and, “it is God who works in us both to will and to do according to His pleasure.” [Gal. 2:20, Phil 2:13

Regeneration is the making alive of something which was dead. Scripture refers to God’s indwelt people as regenerate, whereas unbelievers are spiritually dead. [Eph. 2:8] What do we know about unregenerate persons? In the first place, we must agree they do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them. “He who is in you [Christians] is greater than he who is in the world.” Whereas Christ is in believers, unregenerate people “are from the world… [and] the spirit of error” works in them.” [1 John 4:4-6] The moral ability of unregenerate people is more than handicapped. Jesus said, “apart from me, you cannot do any good.” [John 15:5] Paul repeats this fact starkly when he writes, “all have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” [Rom. 3:12]

 For this reason I believe that, prior to regeneration and the indwelling of the Spirit, nothing within the makeup of fallen man has any decisive preference for true holiness and imputed righteousness. While unbelievers are capable of outward conformity to moral laws, they are resistant to doing anything chiefly for God’s sake, which is the first commandment, let alone resting on Christ in the gospel.

Paul goes so far as to call unbelievers, “natural men,” implying that belief is the result of supernatural power:

“The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” [1 Cor. 2:14]

“The carnal mind is at enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” [Rom. 8:12]

While natural men may desire certain benefits of salvation, they do not want the entire God of salvation, nor for salvation to be purely of grace. By nature, fallen man wants either his part in the glory of redemption, or his allowance to continue in sin. As a result, he will not come. “You will not come to me that you might have life,” said Christ. [John 5:40

 It is crucial again to state that none other than his own sinfulness prevents fallen man from resting on Christ, though this is greatly agitated by the enemy. Thus Paul writes, “With gentleness correct those who oppose the gospel, for perhaps God will grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, who have been til now captured by him to do his will.”  [2 Tim. 2:25-27]

 We discover we were by nature those, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded,” so that “they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” [2 Cor. 4:4; Eph 4:18] By the influence of Satan, natural man is more deeply impaired from seeing what he is already opposed to. The effect of the devil upon the unconverted sinner is something like a bartender providing free drinks to a known alcoholic; it is the fault of the drinker that he becomes more and more intoxicated and irrational, but he is getting help from another.

 For all these reasons, I am convinced the effectual power to believe on Christ comes from the undeserved mercy of God in Christ upon a people called purely of grace. The same power which God exercises graciously in heaven to prevent His glorified saints from ever lapsing back into sin, He first exercises in regenerating their hearts on earth to prefer Christ’s righteousness over their own works. God does not will for them; rather, He grants them new hearts which inform their will with new desires.

 Those who come to Christ do so because they are taught inwardly by the Father. [John 6:45] Thus Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” [John 6:44-45]

 He states this again, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” [John 6:37]

 God prophesied of this miraculous work through Ezekiel, saying, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”  [Ezk. 36:26-27]

 This necessity is nowhere more clear than in Christ’s emphatic declaration that man needs a new nature which he cannot himself create: “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” [John 3:3]

 The Apostle confesses humbly that, “when we were dead in our trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ… For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” [Eph 2:5, 8-10]

 “Not by good works which we did, but by His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” [Titus 3:5]

 Why this is done for some is to me understood only in Christ’s having stood in their place to suffer for them. Their salvation is purely of grace and without regard for any foreseen action or response on their part. Nothing could be foreseen, as in themselves there would never have been desire to come.

 At this point many throw their hands up and cry, “injustice,” just as Paul’s opponent does in Romans 9, and as I once did. What they miss is that within God’s system of justice, no one gets off free: Christ literally suffered the extent of hell in the place of His elect. And just because others receive grace, does not entitle other guilty sinners to it. No one can sue for this gift or else it would not be pure grace.

 We need to see that the means by which God has chosen to demonstrate unconditional love is by pardoning a group of death-row villains guilty of perpetrating unspeakable crimes against infinite Holiness, without their having fulfilled any conditions whatsoever. Through this extraordinary grant, God distinguishes law from grace by fulfilling all the conditions of reward. He does in the Elect all things necessary to salvation, assuring  victory on their behalf. “They shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.’ [Matt. 1:21]

 The darker side of the situation is why God chooses to withhold this overcoming grace from others. I believe this answer is only comprehended in the phrase, glory magnified by justice. God is morally bound to exact justice against sinners, and free to punish sin either in indivual culprits, as in the case of Reprobates, or in the person of Christ on behalf of the Elect. God’s reason for choosing particular persons is not revealed exhaustively to us, except by negation: we only know what He doesn’t factor in for salvation: personal merits of individual people. As for the damned, we read that they are fashioned by God’s providence into “vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction.” [Rom. 9:22] With Job and Abraham, we trust that the “God of all the earth shall do right.” [Gen. 18:25 ; Job 34:23]

 Lastly, the reason why this has not hampered my enthusiasm for preaching the gospel is because I believe God has ordained the means of preaching for achieving His predestined ends. He is a master designer; He has both a blue print and contracts workers to build His home. I preach the gospel in full faith that, “all who are heavy laden may come.” [Matt. 11:28] This allows me to tell anyone that, if they are burdened with the guilt of sin, and desire the free gift of salvation by Christ’s imputed righteousness, it is promised and extended to them. There is no place to speculate over one’s election prior to conversion; we are simply told that all who will, may come. The benefit of believing these doctrine of grace is that I preach with confidence that God is very likely working salvation in the hearts of many who hear me; why else would He be graciously sending the gospel to them? And if not, His will be done!

 Above all, I constantly rejoice that God’s love goes beyond foresight and willingness to reward some good intention or repentance springing from myself. He did not respond to me as to a half-dead man; He resurrected me from my death in sin, purely out of love in Christ. If that is attractive to anyone, they are invited to it as well!

 Please pardon me for going on for so long, though you likely anticipated my tendency. Tedium is my besetting sin, if not a winning style.

 I look forward to reading and learning what you have to say about this, and above all I wish you joy in the love of Christ. We agree at least that His mercy is new every morning, and exceeds any impression we can muster. There is nothing God withholds from His saints which He would not give to Christ in their place. We are in His will to achieve purposes we have not begun to conceive, all to His glory and our good.

 Love to you, brother.

 ~ Michael

 

 

 By Michael Spotts:.
Copyright © The Open Life
www.theopenlife.com
Titus 3:3-8

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Some tips that may help you to recognize if you are moving backwards in your Christian walk…

  1. Prayer ceases to be a vital part of your life.
  2. The quest for biblical truth ceases.
  3. Biblical knowledge is not applied inwardly.
  4. Thoughts are predominately earthly and not heavenward.
  5. The church service loses its delight.
  6. Spiritual discussions are a source of embarrassment.
  7. More time is devoted to recreation and entertainment than the Word and prayer.
  8. Sins can be committed without any violation of the conscience.
  9. Aspirations for Christlike holiness cease to dominate your life and thinking.
  10. Your mind is focused on the acquisition of money and goods.
  11. Religious songs can be mouthed without engaging the heart.
  12. When hearing the Lord’s Name taken in vain, you are not moved to indignation.
  13. Watching degrading movies becomes entertaining and acceptable.
  14. Breaches of peace in the church are of no concern.
  15. The slightest excuse keeps you from your spiritual duties.
  16. The lack of spiritual power is met with contentment.
  17. Personal sins are pardoned by a belief that the Lord understands.
  18. An adjustment to the world is made with ease.
  19. Nothing is done to relieve the misery and suffering which exists around you.
  20. There is no concern for the lost or sharing the gospel

Source:  Richard Own Roberts  (Backsliding, 1982.) (www.thegracetabernacle.org)

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In a recent interview with John MacArthur, Tim Challies asked the following question:

You are obviously a busy man. What advice would you give to pastors on loving their wives and children amidst the many demands of the pastoral ministry?

 Pastor MacArthur gives us a challenging, yet biblically accurate answer…

“It is critically important that the pastor give priority to his family. As Paul told Timothy regarding the qualification of an elder, “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” So, this is a priority that comes to us directly from the Scriptures.

The most important things a Christian father can do for his children are to love their mother in a Christ-like way (Ephesians 5) and to train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6). And the most important thing he can do for his wife is to pursue Christ, and then to love and lead her out of the overflow of his devotion for the Savior. Thus, the fundamental key for being both a good husband and father is to be a godly man—one who fervently loves the Lord and is shepherding his own heart and mind with the Word of God. And that is intensely practical. To be an effective parent and a model husband, you must be faithful in your walk with Christ. Everything else in life flows out of that. Then your leadership in the home will be marked by an attitude of humble sacrifice and selfless service. As the Spirit uses His Word to sanctify your heart, you will be able to shepherd and care for your family.

There are other important things that fathers must do, of course—such as praying for their children, correcting them with patience and gentleness, instilling within them a love for the church, spending time with them, encouraging them, befriending them, and helping them make wise friendships of their own. But the heart of Christian parenting is being a faithful Christian.

That kind of genuine Christianity, daily lived out before those who know him best, brings great credibility to the pastor’s preaching and leadership in the church.”

 

Read more here:

(http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/tim-challies/5-more-questions-with-john-macarthur/10150097141212857)

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I’ll lose some of you reading this, perhaps, but if I likened its view of God to something strong, I would say Romans 9 is a stiff-as-possible drink of the God who is sovereign over all men and women.We need it today. We have so domesticated the God of the Bible.

Our blessings are determined by him (vv.1-5).

Our futures are settled by him before we are born (vv. 10-13).

Our reception of mercy is determined by him (vv. 15-16).

Our places in redemptive history are determined by him (vv. 17-18).

Our choices and responses are determined by him (v. 19 by implication from the question asked).

Our nature is determined by him (clay – v. 21).

Our obstinacy is revealed by him (v. 22).

His richness of glory is revealed mostly highly in his mercy with his judgment (and its glory) as its backdrop (v. 23).

Drink in Romans 9. It may even cure you of worshiping your self-made God of free will (v.16), so that you may worship the great, true, sovereign God of the Bible in Jesus Christ.

 

-Article by Pastor Steve Schueren (Pastor of Bigelow Church in Portsmouth, Ohio)

www.clayjarspeaking.wordpress.com

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Understanding Our Standing: A Conversation You Should Have

J. Gresham Machen (pronounced Gres’am  May’chin), author, theologian and possessor of a strange name, gives us the following imaginary dialogue between “The law of God and a sinful man saved by grace” (Machen, the Active Obedience of Christ).   

 

The Law: “Have you obeyed my commands?”

The Sinner: “No. I have disobeyed them, not only in the person of my representative Adam in his first sin, but also in that I myself have sinned in thought, word and deed.”

The Law:  “Well, then, sinner, have you paid the penalty which I pronounced upon disobedience?”

The Sinner:  “No, I have not paid the penalty myself; but Christ has paid it for me. He was my representative when He died there on the cross. Hence, so far as the penalty is concerned, I am clear.”

The Law: ‘Well, then, sinner, how about the conditions which God has pronounced for the attainment of assured blessedness? Have you stood the test? Have you merited eternal life by perfect obedience during the period of probation?”

The Sinner: “No, I have not merited eternal life by my own perfect obedience. God knows and my own conscience knows that even after I became a Christian I have sinned in thought, word and deed. But although I have not merited eternal life by any obedience of my own, Christ has merited it for me by His perfect obedience. He was not for Himself subject to the law. No obedience was required of Him for Himself, since He was Lord of all. That obedience, then, which He rendered to the law when He was on earth was rendered by Him as my representative. I have no righteousness of my own, but clad in Christ’s perfect righteousness, imputed to me and received by faith alone, I can glory in the fact that so far as I am concerned the probation has been kept and as God is true there awaits me the glorious reward which Christ thus earned for me.”

Though Machen’s dialogue is imaginary, the theology he presents is real and vital to our understanding of our standing before God and His law. If you have not already, this is a conversation you should have.

-Rick  Appleton

(http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/note.php?note_id=193260784027074&id=100000953308587)

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