Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2011

Properties of the divine decrees. They are:

  1. Eternal – To suppose any of [God’s decrees] to be made in time, is to suppose that some new occasion has occurred, some unforeseen event or combination of circumstances has arisen, which has induced the Most High to form a new resolution.
  2. Wise – Wisdom is shown in the selection of the best possible ends and of the fittest means of accomplishing them. That this character belongs to the decrees of God is evident from what we know of them. They are disclosed to us by their execution, and every proof of wisdom in the works of God is a proof of the wisdom of the plan, in conformity to which they are performed.
  3. Free – God was alone when He made His decrees, and His determinations were influenced by no external cause. He was free to decree or not to decree, and to decree one thing and not another. This liberty we must ascribe to Him who is supreme, independent, and sovereign in all His doings
  4. Unconditional – The execution of them is not suspended upon any condition which may, or may not be, performed. In every instance where God has decreed an end, He has also decreed every means to that end.

 

Source: A.W. Pink
Excerpted from: The Attributes of God.

Read Full Post »

If there was one that might know something about the grace of God, somebody that could maybe shed some light to a most difficult topic, I encourage you to consider the following as you sing in your services this week and in the future. Something to keep in mind and I hope it rings in your ear as you pour out your heart onto God in worship. Pastor and theologian John Newton, the author of one of the most popular songs of all-time “Amazing Grace” was reformed in his soteriology and he poured it out through his music. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see”

 

The Doctrines of Election and Final Perseverance – Excerpts from a letter – John Newton

…Permit me to remind you in the first place, of that important aphorism, John 3:27 (which by the by seems to speak strongly in favor of the doctrines in question) ” A man can receive nothing, unless it be given him from heaven.” If you should accede to my opinions upon my persuasion only, you would be little benefited by the exchange. The Lord alone can give us the true, vital, comfortable, and useful knowledge of his own truths…It is not therefore by noisy disputation, but by humble waiting upon God in prayer, and a careful perusal of his holy word, that we are to expect satisfactory, experimental, and efficacious knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. I am persuaded that you are seeking in this way; If so, I am confident you shall not seek in vain. The Lord teaches effectually, though for the most part gradually. The path of the just is compared to the light , which is very faint at the early dawn, but shineth more and more to the perfect day.

If you sincerely seek the Lord’s direction by prayer, you will of course make use of his appointed means of information, and search the Scriptures. Give me leave to offer you the following advices, while you are reading and comparing spiritual things with spiritual. First, not to lay too great stress upon a few detached texts, but seek for that sense which is most agreeable to the general strain of the Scripture. The infallible word of God must, doubtless be consistent with itself. If it does not appear to us, the obscurity and seeming inconsistency must be charged to the remaining darkness and ignorance of our minds. As many locks whose wards differ, are opened with equal ease by one master key; so there is a certain comprehensive view of Scriptural truth, which opens hard places, solves objections, and happily reconciles , illustrates, and harmonizes many texts, which to those who have not this master-key,…appear little less than contradictory to each other. When you obtain this key, you will be sure you will have the right sense.

…Further when you are led (as I think you will be, if you are not already) to view the Calvinist doctrines in a favorable light, be not afraid of embracing them, because there may be perhaps some objections which, for want of the full possession of the key I mentioned, you are not able to clear up; but consider if there are not as strong or stronger objections against the other side. We are poor weak creatures; and the clearing up of every difficulty is not what we are immediately called to, but rather to seek that light which may strengthen and feed our souls.

…Whatever is from God has a sure tendency to ascribe glory to him, to exclude boasting from the creature, to promote the love and practice of holiness, and increase our dependence upon his grace and faithfulness. The Calvinists have no reason to be afraid of resting the merits of their cause upon this issue; not withstanding the unjust misrepresentations which have often been made of their principles, and the ungenerous treatment of those who would charge the miscarriage of a few individuals, as the necessary consequence of embracing those principles.

…You have objections to the doctrine of election. You will however, agree with me, that the Scripture does speak of it, and that in very strong and express terms; particularly St. Paul. I have met with some sincere people, as I believe, who have told me they could not bear to read his 9th chapter to the Romans, but always passed it over: so that their prejudices to election prejudiced them to part of the Scripture, likewise. But why so? Unless because the dreaded doctrine is maintained too plainly to be evaded? But you will say some writers and preachers attempt to put an easier sense upon the apostle’s words. Let us judge then, as lately as I have proposed, from experience. Admitting, as I am sure you will admit, the total depravity of human nature, how can we account for the conversion of a soul to God, unless we likewise admit to an election of grace? The work must begin somewhere. Either the sinner first seeks the Lord, or the Lord first seeks the sinner. The former is impossible, if by nature we are dead in trespasses and sins (1); if the god of this world has blinded our eyes, and maintains the possessions of our hearts (2); and if our carnal minds, so far from being disposed to seek God, are enmity against him (3). Let me appeal to yourself….In your own case you acknowledge he began with you; and it must be the case universally to all that are called, if the whole race of mankind are by nature enemies to God (4). Then, further, there must be an election, unless ALL are called. But we are assured that the broad road which is thronged with the greatest multitudes, leads to destruction (5). Were not you and I in this road? Were we better then those who continue in it still? What has made us differ from our former selves? Grace. What has made us differ from those who are as we once were? Grace.Then this grace, by the very terms must be differencing, or distinguishing grace; that is, in other words, electing grace. And to suppose that God made this election or choice only at the time of our calling, is not only unscriptural, but contrary to the dictates of reason, and the ideas we have of the divine perfections, particularly to those of omniscience and immutability. They who believe there is any power in man by nature, whereby he can turn to God, may contend for a conditional election, upon the foresight of faith and obedience: but while others dispute, let you and me admire, for we know that the Lord foresaw us (as we were) in a state utterly incapable of either believing or obeying, unless he was pleased to work in us to will and to do according to his good pleasure (6).

(1)Ephesians 2:2 . (2)Ephesians 2:2-3 . (3)Romans 8:7, 3:11 .(4) Romans 5:10, Colo.1:21 . (5)Matthew 7:13 (6)Phil. 2:13

As to final perseverance…it is not to be wondered at that this doctrine, which gives to the Lord, the glory due his name, and provides so effectually to the comfort of his people, should be opposed and traduced by men of corrupt hearts. But it may well seem strange, that they who feel their need of it, and cannot be comfortable without it, should be afraid or unwilling to receive it. Yet many a child of light is walking in darkness upon this account. Either they are staggered by the sentiments of those they think wiser then themselves, are stumbled by the falls of professors who were once advocates for this doctrine, or perplexed because they cannot rightly understand those passages of Scripture which seem to speak a different language. But as light and knowledge increase these difficulties are lessened. The Lord claims the honor and He engages for the accomplishment of a complete salvation, that no power shall pluck his people out of his hand, or separate them from his love (7). Their perseverance in grace…may be proved with the fullest evidence from the unchangeableness of God, the intercession of Christ, the union which subsists between him and his people, and from the principle of spiritual life he has implanted in their hearts, which in its own nature is connected with everlasting life, for grace is the seed of glory. I have not room for the particulars but refer you to the following texts…Luke 14:28-30 compared with Phil. 1:6; Hebrews 7:25 compared to Rom. 8:34-39; John 14:19 compared with John 15:1-2; John 4:14. Upon these grounds, my friend, why may not you who have fled for refuge to the hope set before you, and committed your soul to Jesus, rejoice in his salvation; and say, “While Christ is the foundation, root, head and husband of his people, while the word of God is Yea and Amen, while the councils of God are unchangeable, while we have a Mediator and High Priest before the throne, while the Holy Spirit is willing and able to bear witness to the truths of the Gospel, while God is wiser then men, and stronger than Satan, so long the believer in Jesus is and shall be safe? Heaven and earth may pass away but the promise, the oath, the blood on which my soul relies, affords me a security which can never fail.”

(7John 10:28-29, Romans 8:38-39

As the doctrines of election and perseverance are comfortable, so they cut off all pretense of boasting and self-dependence, when they are truly received in the heart, and therefore tend to exalt the Savior. Of course they tend to stain the pride of all human glory, and leave us nothing to glory in but the Lord. The more we are utterly convinced of our depravity first to last, the more excellent will Jesus appear. The whole may give the physician a good word but the sick know how to prize him. And here I cannot but remark a difference between those who have nothing to trust to but free grace and those who ascribe at least a little to some good disposition and ability of man. …Their experience seems to lead them to talk of themselves, of the change that is wrought in them, and the much that depends upon their own watchfulness and striving. We likewise would be thankful if we could perceive a change wrought in us by the power of grace: we desire to be found watching likewise. But when our hopes are most alive, it is less from a view of the imperfect beginnings of grace in our hearts, than from an apprehension of him who is our all in all. His person, his love, his sufferings, his intercessions, compassion, fullness and faithfulness,_ these are our delightful themes, which leave us little leisure to speak of ourselves. …If any persons have contributed a mite to their own salvation, it was more than we could do. If any were obedient and faithful to the first calls and impressions of his Spirit, it was not our case. If any were prepared to receive him beforehand, we know that we were in a state of alienation from him. We needed sovereign irresistible grace to save us, or we had been lost forever. If there are any who have a power of their own, we confess ourselves poorer than they are. We cannot watch, unless he watches with us; we cannot strive unless he strives with us; we cannot stand one moment unless he holds us up; And we believe we must perish after all unless his faithfulness is engaged to keep us. But this we trust he will do; not for our righteousness, but for his own name’s sake, and because having loved us with an everlasting love, he has been pleased in loving kindness to draw us to himself, and to be found of us, when we sought him not.

…We confess that we fall sadly short in everything, and have reason to be ashamed and amazed that we are so faintly influenced by such animating principles; yet, upon the whole, our consciences bear us witness, and we hope we can declare it both to the church and to the world without just fear of contradiction, that the doctrines of grace are according to godliness.

Read Full Post »

“A Washington Post article, titled “Save Jesus, Ignore Easter,” says Christians focus too much on the death and resurrection of Jesus and that we need to focus more on his ethical teachings.”

 

This couldn’t be further from the truth! If we take Jesus solely as a good example with some wise teachings, then we will be left with arrogance and pride or despair and hopelessness. We can never attain to the sinless example of Christ or his teachings: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Good luck living up to that impossible ethical teaching.

We should by all means want to be like Jesus, but without the cross and resurrection, we have no way, hope, or means. This is death by law. Praise God, we aren’t left to our own devices or efforts to imitate him. Thank God for the gospel!

 

First Importance

There is a reason Christians focus on the death and resurrection. If it happened, then it is the most important miracle ever with huge implications for everyone. This is why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

 

Jesus Died

Jesus was really dead. He was beaten and scourged. Many people died just from the scourging. And then he was nailed to a cross with three spikes that were 7–9 inches long and a half-inch thick. And to make sure he was dead, they speared him in the side to pierce both his lung and heart. He died the death we should have died. He died in our place for our sin.

 

Jesus Was Buried

Jesus was also buried and everyone involved knew where. The tomb was sealed with a Roman seal and guarded so nobody would mess with it. The chief priests, disciples, and followers of Jesus all knew where it as. It was under Roman guard. His body wasn’t misplaced; it was in a tomb for three days.

 

Jesus Rose from the Dead

Jesus rose from the dead. He showed up to his disciples and followers and then to over 500 people who saw him (1 Cor. 15:6). His disciples didn’t steal his body and promote a hoax they claimed to be true and for which they would all later be killed violently. He didn’t pass out on the cross, resuscitate later in the tomb, tear off the 75 pounds of linen burial cloths, push back an enormous stone by himself, and then overpower armed guards. His resurrection proved his victory over sin and death and ensures believers’ regeneration (1 Pet 1:3-5), justification (Rom 4:25), and future resurrection (1 Cor 6:14).

 

“Praise God, we aren’t left to our own devices or efforts to imitate him. Thank God for the gospel!”

 

What Billions of Christians Have Always Believed

The Apostles’ Creed, the oldest and most popular creed of the church, summarizes 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 and states, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried…On the third day He arose again from the dead.”

This is what billions of Christian have always believed and what over 1 billion Christians will celebrate this Easter. There are good reasons for believing it and no good reasons not to believe it.

 

The evidence confirms that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is unique in all of history and worthy of all to be believed. It was a literal, bodily resurrection. That’s why we do not “save Jesus” and preach law without gospel. He saves us. That’s why we cannot “ignore Easter.

 

Source: Justin Holcomb (www.theresurgence.com)

Read Full Post »

  1. Jesus himself testified to his coming resurrection from the dead (Mk. 8:31; cf. Mt. 17:22, Lk. 9:22).
  2. The tomb was empty on Easter (Luke 24:3).
  3. The disciples were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Lk. 24:21; Jn. 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the resurrection (Ac. 2:24; 3:15; 4:2).
  4. Paul claimed that, not only had he seen the risen Christ, but that 500 others had seen him also, and many were still alive when he made this public claim (1 Cor. 15:6).
  5. The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian church supports the truth of the resurrection claim.
  6. The Apostle Paul’s conversion supports the truth of the resurrection (Ac. 9).
  7. The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers.
  8. There is a self-authenticating glory in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection as narrated by the biblical witnesses (Jn. 16:13).

 

John Piper

Eight Reasons Why I Believe That Jesus Rose from the Dead, February 28, 2007, www.DesiringGod.org,

Read Full Post »

 

 

Worship. It’s one of those words in Christianity that we hear all the time. We hear it in prayers, we sing it in songs, and it seems to find its way into almost every spiritual conversation we have. But, do we really know what worship is?

 If you ask the typical church-goer, “How was service at your church this morning?”, the response you get will typically be a reference to the “worship”. We commonly hear people say things like: “The worship was great. The Spirit of God really showed up today”, “People were up shouting, and the altars were lined”, or “I could just feel the presence of the Lord this morning.” In reality, it seems that the word “worship” has evolved into this feelings-oriented term designated specifically for a time of music.

So, what about the music? When the music includes one of our favorites, we say: “The worship was great!”. When the music isn’t to our liking, we get bored and wonder why the worship wasn’t very good. What we find is that there is a hunger, an intense hunger, for the “worship experience” in churches all over the world. There is a movement sweeping through our nation right now, and it’s commonly referred to as “Praise and Worship” (P+W). As a style of music that has the potential to honor God, this phenomena is taking the church world by storm. So, what’s the problem?

Well, have you ever wondered if we’re more concerned with what worship does for us, and less concerned with the Object of our worship? I have. It seems to me that “worship”, in the minds of many, has turned into what we get and not what we give. It seems as though professing Christians have begun to measure and base their entire “relationshionship” with God upon this feeling. People of all ages flock to Christian concerts and buy CD’s, yet it seems as though these actions are predominately based upon a very shallow motivation.

You see, worship is not about the feelings we get when we sing. To worship our Creator is to praise Him with our lives. It’s not about trying to get blessed. It’s not about the lighting, or the sound, or being entertained. In fact, it’s not about us at all. It’s about Him.

Psalm 29:2 says: “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”

Psalm 86:9: “All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before
Thee, O Lord, and shall glorify Thy name.”

And probably the most appropriate passage of Scripture pertaining to our subject comes from the mouth of Jesus Himself in John 4:23-24. In fact, He actually defines what true worship really is. He says: “But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

Therefore, to truly worship God is to kneel before the cross and see Jesus Christ for who He truly is…the Savior. Our Savior. He deserves our praise and He’s worthy of our worship. Let us continually gaze at Christ in all His glory and splendor. And as we look upon His beauty, allow our response to be…worship!

 

By: Kevin Hay

 

* Some ideas used by Sermoncentral.com: “The Gift of Worship”

Read Full Post »

J. I. Packer lists “five basic truths, five foundational principles” that will form the foundation of his study of God.

1. God has spoken to man, and the Bible is his Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.
2. God is Lord and King over this world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him.
3. God is Saviour, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly.
4. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it.
5. Godliness means responding to God’s revelation in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s Word. This, and nothing else, is true religion.

—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarstity Press, 1993), 20.

Read Full Post »

 

“If Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was Published in Christianity Today”

 

Letters to the Editor

 

Dear Christianity Today:

In response to Paul D. Apostle’s article about the Galatian church in your January issue, I have to say how appalled I am by the unchristian tone of this hit piece.  Why the negativity?  Has he been to the Galatian church recently?  I happen to know some of the people at that church, and they are the most loving, caring people I’ve ever met.

Phyllis Snodgrass; Ann Arbor, MI

————————————————————————

Dear Editor:

How arrogant of Mr. Apostle to think he has the right to judge these people and label them accursed. Isn’t that God’s job?  Regardless of this circumcision issue, these Galatians believe in Jesus just as much as he does, and it is very Pharisaical to condemn them just because they differ on such a secondary issue.  Personally, I don’t want a sharp instrument anywhere near my zipper, but that doesn’t give me the right to judge how someone else follows Christ.  Can’t we just focus on our common commitment to Christ and furthering His kingdom, instead of tearing down fellow believers over petty doctrinal matters?

Ed Bilgeway; Tonganoxie, KS

————————————————————————–

Dear CT:

I’ve seen other dubious articles by Paul Apostle in the past, and frankly I’m surprised you felt that his recurrent criticisms of the Church deserved to be printed in your magazine.  Mr. Apostle for many years now has had a penchant for thinking he has a right to “mark” certain Christian teachers who don’t agree with his biblical position.  Certainly I commend him for desiring to stay faithful to God’s word, but I think he errs in being so dogmatic about his views to the point where he feels free to openly attack his brethren. His attitude makes it difficult to fully unify the Church, and gives credence to the opposition’s view that Christians are judgmental, arrogant people who never show God’s love.

Ken Groener; San Diego, CA

—————————————————————————-

To the Editors:

Paul Apostle says that he hopes the Galatian teachers will do that?  What kind of Christian attitude is that?  Shame on him!

Martha Bobbitt; Boulder, CO

—————————————————————————-

Dear Christianity Today:

The fact that Paul Apostle brags about his public run-in with Peter Cephas, a well-respected leader and brother in Christ, exposes Mr. Apostle for the divisive figure that he has become in the Church today.  His diatribe against the Galatian church is just more of the same misguided focus on an antiquated reliance on doctrine instead of love and tolerance.  Just look how his hypercritical attitude has cast aspersions on homosexual believers and women elders!  The real problem within the Church today is not the lack of doctrinal devotion, as Apostle seems to believe, but in our inability to be transformed by our individual journeys in the Spirit. Evidently, Apostle has failed to detach himself from his legalistic background as a Pharisee, and is unable to let go and experience the genuine love for Christ that is coming from the Galatians who strive to worship God in their own special way.

William Zenby; Richmond, VA

——————————————————————————

Kind Editors:

I happen to be a member of First Christian Church of Galatia, and I take issue with Mr. Apostle’s article. How can he criticize a ministry that has been so blessed by God?  Our church has baptized many new members and has made huge in-roads in the Jewish community with our pragmatic view on circumcision. Such a “seeker-sensitive” approach has given the Jews the respect they deserve for being God’s chosen people for thousands of years.  In addition, every Gentile in our midst has felt honored to engage in the many edifying rituals of the Hebrew heritage, including circumcision, without losing their passion for Jesus.  My advice to Mr. Apostle is to stick to spreading the gospel message of Christ’s unconditional love, and quit criticizing what God is clearly blessing in other churches.

Miriam “Betty” Ben-Hur; Galatia, Turkey

——————————————————————————-

EDITOR’S NOTE: Christianity Today apologizes for our rash decision in publishing Paul Apostle’s exposé of the Galatian church. Had we known the extent in which our readership and advertisers would withdraw their financial support, we never would have printed such unpopular biblical truth. We regret any damage we may have caused in propagating the doctrines of Christ.

 

www.sacredsandwich.com

 

Please take a few minutes and read the book of Galatians!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »