John Newton, Memoirs of the Life of the Late Rev. William Grimshaw (London: 1799), pages 86–87:
They who avow the doctrines distinguished by the name of Calvinism, ought, if consistent with their own principles, to be the most gentle and forbearing of all men, in meekness instructing them that oppose. With us, it is a fundamental maxim, that a man can receive nothing but what is given him from heaven (John 3:27). If, therefore, it has pleased God to give us the knowledge of some truths, which are hidden from others, who have the same outward means of information; it is a just reason for thankfulness to him, but will not justify our being angry with them; for we are no better or wiser than they in ourselves, and might have opposed the truths which we now prize, with the same eagerness and obstinacy, if his grace had not made us to differ. If the man, mentioned in John 9, who was born blind, on whom our Lord graciously bestowed the blessing of sight, had taken a cudgel and beat all the blind men he met, because they would not see, his conduct would have greatly resembled that of an angry Calvinist.
He once described himself as “English by birth, Canadian by choice, Christian by conversion, and Calvinist by conviction, I speak as an evangelical who finds his home in the worldwide Anglican church family.”
Note in particular Dr. Packer’s moving closing words, when asked how he would like to be remembered: …Read More!
On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as The 95 Theses. So what else was enshrined in the Theses? Here we go:
1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one’s heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.
4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward repentance) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law. …Read More!
Scripture invariably treats us as morally responsible agents. It lays upon us the necessity of choice… Why is it that people do not come to Christ. Is it that they cannot, or is it that they will not? Jesus taught both. And in this ‘cannot’ and ‘will not’ lies the ultimate antinomy between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. But however we state it, we must not eliminate either part. Our responsibility before God is an inalienable aspect of our human dignity. Its final expression will be on the day of judgment.~John R. W. Stott & Timothy Dudley-Smith (Authentic Christianity)
This interesting post has been reblogged from Monergism:
Almost a decade ago I was involved in a titanic spiritual battle between two opposing theological views. I could feel the once rock solid doctrines of free will slipping through my fingers like fine sand. I begged and beseeched the Lord to deliver me from the relentless reasonings and scriptural bombshells ripping the house I had built on the shifting dunes of man-centered doctrines. My pride and self-respect were on the line.
See, for the first decade of my born-again life I embraced a form of Arminianism that many call Semi-Pelagianism. Simply put, I believed that man’s free will is the deciding factor in salvation. Calvinism, which is the belief that God is sovereign over all things, including man’s salvation, had recently started making sense to me and I was drawn to it. (While at the same time being repulsed by it).
Calvinism was a dirty word in my old church. I considered it to be on equal footing with cultic beliefs.
I used to say such things as:
“Calvinism is a doctrine of demons!”
Or worse yet:
“If God is like how the Calvinists describe him, I would never serve such a cruel, heartless dictator who arbitrarily chooses who will and will not be saved!”
For some this may not be new but I just want to repost this bit of information. The website Monergism is a good site to get free ebooks of invaluable wealth especially if you would like books on evangelism, basic Christianity, biographies and Reformed Theology. Check the link Here!
The smiling world is meeting and embracing some. It is casting into their lap plentifully, and still they have prospect of more. But O! take heed to the dangerous embraces, lest it hug you to death, as surely it will, if you do not shake yourselves loose of it, “For the turning away of the simple, shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” ~Thomas Boston
Scripture is superior to all human wisdom. Unless this certainty, higher and stronger than any human judgment, be present, it will be vain to fortify the authority of Scripture by arguments, to establish it by common agreement of the church, or to confirm it with other helps. For unless this foundation is laid, its authority will always remain in doubt. Conversely, once we have embraced it devoutly as its dignity deserves, and have recognized it to be above the common sort of things, those arguments—not strong enough before to engraft and fix the certainty of Scripture in our minds—become very useful aids. What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed; the completely heavenly character of its doctrine, savoring of nothing earthly; the beautiful agreement of all the parts with one another—as well as such other qualities as can gain majesty for the writings. ~John Calvin
Is your church following the Word and ways of the Lord and abhorring all that is otherwise? Is the fear of God, the love for truth and for God’s glory, and the desire to walk according to all God’s commandments prospering among the believers? When a church begins to slip it loses track of that which it must hold to firmly, it gradually and steadily drifts. Here are a few signs your church could be backsliding….
1.When [a] church begins to backslide, the first visible sign is usually an increase in worldliness. In everyday lives, in conversation, and even in dress and fashion, the spirit of the world begins to infest church circles. What crept ashamedly into the church before begins to walk in freely, often covered or overlooked instead of exposed and admonished. The black and white line separating godliness and worldliness becomes increasingly grayer.
Instead of walking in opposite directions, the world and the church begin to have more in common with each other, much to the church’s detriment…
…is this not what Hosea warned against when the Spirit directed him to write, “Ephraim hath mixed himself among the people” (Hos 7:8)? The sin of increasing worldliness is the church’s first downward and tragic step in the spiral of backsliding.
2.Worldliness bends the church towards further backsliding and into a hardening condition of unbelief. Jesus Himself complained of His generation, “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented” (Mat 11:16-17). …Read More!
“The trouble with all false evangelism is that it does not start with doctrine, it does not start by realising man’s condition… If you and I realised that every man who is yet a sinner is absolutely dominated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, if we only understood that he is really a child of wrath and dead in trespasses and sins, we would realise that only one power can deal with such an individual, and that is the power of God, the power of the Holy Ghost. …Read More!
Two things a master commits to his servant’s care–the child and the child’s clothes. It will be a poor excuse for the servant to say, at his master’s return, “Sir, here are all the child’s clothes, neat and clean, but the child is lost.” Much so of the account that many will give to God of their souls and bodies at the great day. “Lord, here is my body; I am very grateful for it; I neglected nothing that belonged to its contents and welfare; but as for my soul, that is lost and cast away forever. I took little care and thought about it.” ~ John Flavel
“A young ungrounded Christian, when he sees all the fundamental truths, and sees good evidence and reasons of them, perhaps may be yet ignorant of the right order and place of every truth. It is a rare thing to have young professors to understand the necessary truths methodically: and this is a very great defect: for a great part of the usefulness and excellency of particular truths consisteth in the respect they have to one another. This therefore will be a very considerable part of your confirmation, and growth in your understandings, to see the body of the Christian doctrine, as it were, at one view, as the several parts of it are united in one perfect frame; and to know what aspect one point has upon another, and which are their due places. …Read More!
What would you think of a coach who instructs his players but never drills them? Or a math teacher who explains the lesson but never corrects her students’ mistakes? Or a doctor who talks about health but ignores cancer?
What is corrective church discipline? Church discipline is the process of correcting sin in the life of the congregation and its members. This can mean correcting sin through a private word of admonition. And it can mean correcting sin by formally removing an individual from membership. Church discipline can be done in any number of ways, but the goal is always to correct transgressions of God’s law among God’s people…
As a church moves toward practicing church discipline, it will often find itself facing real-life situations that are complex and have no exact “case-study” in Scripture to help it sift through the various layers of circumstances. It will not always be clear whether formal church discipline is required, or how long the processes should take, or whether the guilty party is truly repentant, and so on.
As a congregation and its leaders work through these complex issues, they must remember that the church is called, above all else, to guard the name and glory of Christ. Fundamentally, church discipline is about the reputation of Christ and whether or not the church can continue to affirm the verbal profession of someone whose life egregiously mischaracterizes Christ. The sins and circumstances of sin will vary tremendously, but this one question always needs to be in the forefront of our churches’ thoughts: “How will this sinner’s sin and our response to it reflect the holy love of Christ?” …Read More!
These are just a few interesting quotes I came across from To Every Tribe. Hop over there and take a peek at what God is doing in previously unreached lands…
Remember, when you see a missionary coming home broken in body and weary in soul, it isn’t the privations or dangers or things he’s done that leave a deep hurt; it’s the things he couldn’t do that break his heart.
I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages – Villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.
Robert Moffat, 1795-1883 Pioneer Missionary to South Africa
We do not truly understand the gospel if we spend all of our time preaching it to Christians. The gospel is a missionary gospel. It is a communication of Good News to people and in places where the name of Christ is unknown.
“How dangerous and dishonourable a thing is it, to pin any thing of our own, to the righteousness of Christ, in point of Justification before God. Jesus Christ will never endure this. It reflects upon his work dishonourably…Not I, and my God. I, and my Christ did this: He will be all, or none in your Justification. If he have finished the work, what need of our additions? And if not, to what purpose are they? Can we finish that which Christ himself could not? But we would fain be sharing with him in this honour, which he will never endure. Did he finish the work by himself, and will he ever divide the glory and praise of it with us? No, no, Christ is no half Saviour. O it’s an hard thing to bring these proud hearts to live upon Christ for righteousness. We would fain add our penny to make up Christ’s sum. But if you will have it so, or have nothing to do with Christ, you and your penny must perish together. God gives us the Righteousness of Christ, as he gave Manna to the Israelites in the Wilderness. It’s said, Deut. 8:16, that he fed them with Manna in the wilderness, that he might humble them. The quality of the Food was not humbling, for it was Angels Food; but the manner of giving it was so. They must live by faith upon God for it, from day to day. This was not like other Food, produced by their own labour. Certainly God takes the right way to humble proud Nature, in calling sinners wholly off from their own Righteousness, to Christ for their Justification.” – John Flavel (1628 -1691)
“If you neglect to instruct (your children) in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No; if you will not teach them to pray, he will to curse, swear, and lie; if ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.” – John Flavel
I used to believe in Word of faith and prosperity gospel. I feel quite relieved that I have come a long way and now understand some things a lot better like God’s sovereign control of events and circumstances around me and the world. I am also grateful for His providence and looking back I am more rested now knowing that He is in complete control of everything. How puny my thoughts were when I thought that if I sowed a bigger seed or made a positive confession or regularly said prayers breaking generational curses then these would keep me from ‘afflictions of the devil’. John Berrige has an interesting letter to a Christian friend under severe affliction. I hope it helps some one struggling to understand afflictions:
I grant that your circumstances are very severe and difficult—but let me beg of you not to construe your afflictions as a token of God’s displeasure, or a sign of your not belonging to Him. This is an old temptation of Satan’s, with which he often assaults the afflicted Christian; but take the shield of faith—that you may quench the fiery darts of Satan.
Alas! Crosses and afflictions are the common lot of the people of God in this present world. Our Lord has told us, that in this world—we shall have troubles! Every saint has his own particular difficulties, temptations and conflicts to grapple with. …Read More!
Ever watched a mime perform and wished that he would clearly articulate the message he is dying to bring across? The audience a mime has will interprete his gesticulations with a degree of error because most of it is shrouded. But if he speaks and articulates his message, then the listeners are illumined. They are then not in any doubt of the original intention of the message bearer. A good message bearer delivers what he is entrusted with, without subtracting or altering it and leaves his audience with the intended message so that they are without any excuse. This is probably why miming (though is truly entertaining) falls short in many ways in delivering the Gospel message (which requires the hearers to know the name and person of Jesus Christ). Speaking of incomplete messages there’s one other thing….(ha ha look what I just did there!)
There are many conferences going on around us that supposedly are ‘bringing hope’ to the world or ‘happiness’ to the community. These in themselves are not bad but if it comes in the name of ‘Jesus’ then it has got to be clear in it’s intended message. Hope – why does the world need hope? …Read More!
The preaching and teaching of a false prophet does not emphasize repentance in any real sense. It has a very wide gate leading to salvation and a very broad way leading to heaven. You need not feel much of your own sinfulness; you need not be aware of the blackness of your own heart. You just “decide for Christ” and you rush in with the crowd, and your name is put down, and is one of the large number of ‘decisions’ reported by the press. It is entirely unlike the evangelism of the Puritans and of John Wesley, George Whitefield and others, which led men to be terrified of the judgment of God, and to have an agony of soul sometimes for days and weeks and months. John Bunyan tells us in his book Grace Abounding that he endured an agony of repentance for eighteen months. There does not seem to be much room for that today.
Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing but You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think of nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You, and ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
That I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself.
Let me fear You, and let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
And let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You, and for ever enjoy You. ~Augustine of Hippo
Q. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?
A. Our death does not pay the debt of our sins. Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.
Theological: For the believer in Jesus Christ, death is transformed. What used to be a just penalty for sin has become a portal into a fuller version of eternal life. O death, where thy sting? O grave, where thy victory? This, like so much Christian verity, must be approached in faith. The death of the righteous (from a biological point of view) looks the same as the death of the wicked. Having recently sat by the bed of my dying father, however, I can tell you that death for the Christian is a bitter wonder, a nasty joy. There’s More…
Today’s “successful gospel preacher” is measured by how much health, wealth and prosperity he pronounces upon or promises the congregation. But what would the Christian’s life be like without any challenges and trials? Did God promise a walk of blissful exsistence? How about the Apostle Paul and the church fathers or the Reformers for instance-did they have health, wealth and prosperity as we are promised by most televangelists? [In stark contrast] despite the incredible amount of work he produced, let alone sermons he prepared, its almost unthinkable to figure out how and when preachers like John Calvin had time to fall ill. But hold onto your socks! Calvin suffered from poor digestion, migraines, kidney stones, gout, tuberculosis, and lung hemorrhages, possibly brought on by too much preaching and teaching-oh and not to forget some good haemorrhoids too. In a letter to his friend Heinrich Bullinger he described an occasion of his health as thus:
spiked crystal kidney stone
At present, I am relieved from very acute suffering, having been delivered of a calculus [i.e a stone] about the size of the kernel of a filbert [i.e hazelnut]. As the retention of urine was very painful to me, by the advice of my physician, I got upon my horseback that the jolting might assist me in discharging the calculus. On my return home I was surprised to find that I emitted discolored blood instead of urine. The following day the calculus had forced its way from the bladder into the urethra. Hence still more excruciating tortures.
[This post was first published in November 2011] Many of you probably do not remember this day because it was a long while ago. In this clip Kirk Cameron (Way of the Master) asks Pastor John MacArthur what the heart of the gospel is. MacArthur then explains (Justification by Faith Alone/Sola Fide) to Actor Kirk Cameron (The Way of the Master) from 2 Corinthians 5:21. Listen to this:
Does TBN still feature questions on the gospel any more?
One good question when you read the account of Pharaoh and the Israelites is the question who hardened his heart? Did he harden his heart towards God or did God harden his heart?
Exodus 7:3-4 says, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my people the Israelites.” It seems unjust for God to harden Pharaoh’s heart and then to punish Pharaoh and Egypt for what Pharaoh decided when his heart was hardened. Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart just so He could judge Egypt more severely with additional plagues?
First, Pharaoh was not an innocent or godly man. He was a brutal dictator overseeing the terrible abuse and oppression of the Israelites, who likely numbered over 1.5 million people at that time. The Egyptian pharaohs had enslaved the Israelites for 400 years. A previous pharaoh—possibly even the pharaoh in question—ordered that male Israelite babies be killed at birth (Exodus 1:16). The pharaoh God hardened was an evil man, and the nation he ruled agreed with, or at least did not oppose, his evil actions.
Second, before the first few plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart against letting the Israelites go.
A series of five messages by Tom Chantry on the definition of ‘Reformed’. The subjects are neither the Five Points nor the Five Solas. Rather, they define the word ‘Reformed’ in five distinct but complementary ways. We examine the Reformed Perspective on the Bible, on History, on Salvation, on the church, and on the Christian life.
1) Scripturally Reformed– A Reformed perspective of Scripture: Reformed Christians stand with other Evangelicals in affirming the inspiration, infallibility and inerancy of the Bible. We go further, though, in defending both the clarity and the sufficiency of Scripture. These convictions determine our approach to the Bible – the manner in which we study, interpret, and teach its truths. A church which believes in the sufficiency of Scripture will emphasize the ministry of preaching, and the Bible will be central to everything it does. [Download Here]
2) Confessionally Reformed – A Reformed perspective of History: Scripture teaches us certain things about the history of mankind which should impact the manner in which we look at all of history, including the history of the church. Being convinced that sinful men have not changed, we understand that the problems of each age are not really new.
Jim Bublitz (who went to be with the Lord last year) had a blog The Old Truth from which I learnt alot in my early days as I came to understand Calvinism/Reformed Theology. Here is an interesting snippet from 2007 of a Q&A post with a reader called Joshua from Malaysia.
Joshua: “Here is a common phrase…..Ask Jesus to come into your heart or life…..is that how calvinists do it? … From a calvinist point of view….. When a sinner is convicted by the Holy Spirit, is there any “sinner’s prayer” to recite? If not…what would be the normal reformed way of doing this? Does “accepting Jesus into our heart” in line with reformed teachings? If not…how would you explain the steps of salvation? I know that it is GOD who chose and justified the sinner…how do you explain to the sinner that he needs to accept Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior? At this point of conversion, from my old arminian school, I am confused that we ‘invite’ Jesus into our hearts….and later was told it was the Holy Spirit… Could you explain this part? As I am now leaning strongly to reformed doctrine, I do not know how to explain this part from the reformed view…“
Jim Bublitz: Joshua, as you may know, some of the most noteworthy soul winners in church history have been Calvinists, and you can look through the writings of many of them including George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon to see the kinds of things they said. The emphasis is much the same as the Apostles as they preached that people should obey the Lord’s command to repent and believe. …Read More!
When it comes to gospel preachers, Lemuel Haynes stands out in the African-American Christian tradition as a powerful gospel preacher in the 19th century. As the first black in America to serve as pastor of a white congregation, Haynes ministered to Rutland’s West Parish for thirty years starting in 1783.
He was the illegitimate child of a black African man and the daughter of a socially prominent white family in Hartford, Connecticut, the five-month-old baby Lemuel was abandoned by his parents and indentured to a white family (Deacon Rose’s family) in Massachusetts. He was adopted as a very young child by solid Calvinist Congregationalists in Massachusetts. He was schooled a bit and self-taught for the most part. He served in the Continental Army until he became quite ill in 1776.
He is said to have began to teach the Scriptures to his friends and family where they realized he had a gift of preaching the gospel. At the family home, Haynes benefited from the devout religious practice and instruction. One biographer described Haynes as “a determined, self-taught student who poured over Scripture until he could repeat from memory most of the texts dealing with the doctrines of grace….” Read More…
But why is it that when the gospel is preached only some believe? The answer is that the gospel itself has no power to quicken the dead. Just as light has no power to give sight to the blind, so the gospel has no power to restore understanding to spiritually blind people. “It is the spirit that quickeneth,” said Jesus (John 6:63). Without a direct work of the Spirit in the heart, men may hear what the preacher says, and may even enjoy it; but they will never he convinced and converted. It was so with some who heard Ezekiel preach! “Lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that bath a pleasant voice,” said the Lord, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not” (Ezek. 33:32). This is What the Bible means when it speaks of having ears and not being able to hear. It means that people can hear the words (sounds) without appropriating them (the meaning). But when the Holy Spirit regenerates the heart the word has its effect.
Thanks to BiblicalTraining.org, Berkhof’s classic theology text is now freely (and legally) available here.
Berkhof (1873-1957) was born in the Netherlands, and his family moved to Grand Rapids when he was 9.
After graduating from Calvin Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, he returned to Calvin and joined the faculty. For the first two decades he taught biblical studies, and then for almost two decades after that he taught systematic theology. He also became president of the seminary in 1931 and continued so until his retirement in 1944.
His Systematic Theology was published in 1932 and revised in 1938.
Wayne Grudem has said Berkhof’s Systematic Theology is “a great treasure-house of information and analysis . . . probably the most useful . . . systematic theology available from any theological perspective.” Richard Muller calls it “the best modern English-language introduction to doctrinal theology of the Reformed tradition.”
“At best we are but clay, animated dust; but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a miracle that the Lord Jesus should set His heart’s love upon people like us.”― Alistair Begg
The Heidelberg Conference kicks off in Heidelberg (Germany) on July 18-21st 2013 celebrating 450 years of The Heidelberg catechism….
The Heidelberg Conference on Reformed Theology seeks to bring together Reformed believers from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and elsewhere. Come, be a part of this event and enjoy the rich fellowship with brothers and sisters from around the globe. Don’t miss it!
The HCRT wants to help you know what you believe and why you believe it! In a time where everything seems to be about personal taste and preference, we are called to confess our faith clearly and without compromise.
This annual conference seeks to foster the robust faith of the Reformed confessions. A faith for which Christians have been persecuted. A faith for which Christians have died.
It is our hope that this Reformed faith would once again become the confession of many Christians and of many churches, here in Germany, in Europe and in the world.
We cordially invite all Christians who treasure the heritage of the Reformation and the faith it bequeathed us to come and participate in this conference.
For discount prices and further information go to the official site here! [If you are new to the Heidelerg Catechism click here to read more]
“Don’t tell me of your happiness if it daily depends on the uncertainties of the earth. Your home may be rich in comforts; your family may be all you could desire; your income may be amply sufficient to meet all your wants. But oh, remember, if you have nothing more than this to look to, that you are standing on the edge of a cliff! Your joy may be deep and earnest, but it is fearfully short-lived. It has no root. It is not true happiness.” ~ J.C. Ryle
A couple of years ago when I was a ‘card carrying Charismatic’ I tended to shun reading books with doctrinal and theological content. My excuse seemed to be ‘Ah well I’ve got the Holy Ghost…Why bother?’. Little did I know that the cure for my spiritual obstinacy and immaturity would come from much discipleship and instruction that comes from humbly unravelling the depth of the riches of God’s glory through reading and studying the Word. We must not slacken in pursuing to know God more in our worship and daily living. We stand on the shoulders of others when we listen and read their instruction and admonition as they exposit the text through their writings. I recently came across this insightful excerpt:
The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. ~ 2 Timothy 4:13
A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains—that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books. He has been preaching for at least thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! …Read More!
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the Easter message was well summed by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon:
He suffered all the horror of hell; in one pelting shower of iron wrath it fell upon him, with hail-stones bigger than a talent; and he stood until the black cloud had emptied itself completely. There was our debt, huge and immense; he paid the utmost farthing of whatever his people owed; and now there is not so much as a doit or a
farthing due to the justice of God in the way of punishment from any believer; and though we owe God gratitude, though we owe much to his love, we owe nothing to his justice; for Christ in that hour took all our sins, past, present, and to come, and was punished for them all there and then, that we might never be punished, because he suffered in our stead. ~ Charles Spurgeon
‘If I knew I were one of God’s elect, I would come to Christ; but I fear I am not.’ To you I answer: nobody ever came to Christ because he knew himself to be one of the elect. It is quite true that God has of His mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it until they believed in Christ. Christ nowhere commands the elect to come to him. He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. The question for you is not, ‘Am I one of the elect?’ but ‘Am I a sinner?’ Christ came to save sinners.”
Many times we hear some one say, “God loves you unconditionally” or “God loves you no matter what you do”. This usually may reflect a relative theological naievity in the speaker. It most times shows that the person doesn’t know what the lifeless bloodied body of God on the cross signified. It also makes the hearers take home a false notion that God doesn’t really care much about sin and you can live your reckless life without any care. But then….
If there ever was an obscenity that violates contemporary community standards, it was Jesus on the cross. After he became the scapegoat and the Father had imputed to him every sin of every one of his people, the most intense, dense concentration of evil ever experienced on this planet was exhibited. Jesus was the ultimate obscenity.
So what happened? God is too holy to look at sin. He could not bear to look at that concentrated monumental condensation of evil, so he averted …Read More!
[This post was first published in April 2012] It’s a common thing to see believers come across the Doctrines of Grace and then with their new mantle and a banner screaming in the air go out in search of “Arminians” of any stripe and kind.The elixir of grace does feel intoxicating but should not be an excuse to become lawless. We should always remember that our own salvation was not because of any thing we did or deserved but it was despite our wretchedness that Christ opened our eyes through the inner working of the Holy Spirit. Micah Burke recalls in a post written to encourage those new to Reformed theology or Calvinism:
There was a time, over a decade ago, when someone introduced me to the Doctrines of Grace. For a few years after that moment, the amazing truth of God’s exhaustive sovereignty was all I sought to talk about. When the church I was attending made it clear that Calvinism was unwelcome, I left and found a church where the pastor was Calvinistic, soon he was out and the Purpose Driven movement took root, I fought what I saw was (and truly is) an affront to God’s Word and sovereignty and eventually was pushed to the periphery of the church. My wife and I sought a new church and found one that was confessional, and true to the Word of God.
Given these experiences, I have a few suggestions for those folks who find themselves newly exposed to the concepts of Calvinism, the Reformed understanding of the faith and the Doctrines of Grace in general.
One caveat… most of these points refer to where you are NOW. The intention is to get you solid food, grow you in the faith, and prepare you for your purpose in the economy of God.