A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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Category Archives: Doctrine

An Easter thought on Christmas!

IMG_5006.JPGAt Christmas the time of the year when most people are setting up nativity scenes not many set up a bloodied cross or an empty tomb to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ yet his birth goes hand in hand with his death. Only true Christians know the immense and infinite significance of Christ’s death…He came as a lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He came to die!
Imagine Christ, the sin bearer, approaching that hour…the hour of his appointed death. Is that a “Christmasy” thought? You bet! It gets better when you understand the reason why his death was was necessary.
Horatius Bonar puts it this way…

The feelings of the trembling sinner, when awakened under the terrors of the divine law, and made alive to the hell of sin within him, may help to give us some faint idea of the way in which the burden of our sins pressed upon Christ. It is true He had no sin—not the shadow of sin upon Him, for He was the Holy One; yet He speaks always of our sins as if they were His own, as if He had committed them. He felt under them just as if they were His own. He was perfectly holy, yet so closely were our sins bound upon Him by God, that He felt the pressure just as if they were His own.

Being our substitute, God dealt with Him as such—as if the sins He bore had really been His, not ours. Being thus in the eye of the law identified with those whose sins He bore, He was made to feel what they would have been doomed to feel, had God left them to reap themselves the fruit of their own transgressions. This awful burden He bore alone. He had none to aid Him; none to relieve Him of any part of its overwhelming pressure. There was none that could assist Him. There was none to divide the burden with Him; nor to uphold Him under it. “My lovers and my friends stand aloof…and my kinsmen stand afar off.” They all forsook Him and fled. And, as He bare it alone, so He bare it fully. …Read More!

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Is the ‘Word of Faith’ movement biblical?

I think this will come in handy for any one trying to find out more on Word of Faith movement. I just met some one who is attending a church where the pastor teaches and believes in the movement. This excerpt and the bible verses can be a good primer:

wordsWord of Faith teaching is decidedly unbiblical. It is not a denomination and does not have a formal organization or hierarchy. Instead, it is a movement that is heavily influenced by a number of high-profile pastors and teachers such as Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Fred Price.

The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin, in turn, studied under E. W. Kenyon and made the Word of Faith movement what it is today. Although individual teachings range from completely heretical to completely ridiculous, what follows is the basic theology most Word of Faith teachers align themselves with.

At the heart of the Word of Faith movement is the belief in the “force of faith.” It is believed words can be used to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth). Laws supposedly governing the faith-force are said to operate independently of God’s sovereign will and that God Himself is subject to these laws. This is nothing short of idolatry, turning our faith—and by extension ourselves—into god. …Read More!

Public school system: Why are Humanists so hopeful about a shockingly godless future generation?

public schoolLong gone are the days when families sat together around a Bible and fathers diligently taught their children truths that they had learnt about the only one true God. Most of these duties have been deferred to half committed Sunday school teachers who are more interested in planning pizza parties plus fun and games programmes. The most of the ‘formal education’ is then left for school teachers when the week begins – and it seems the Humanists have noticed this loop hole and pounced hard and fast at the opportunity.

The public school system especially in the West has already been taken over (curriculum and  all) and re-designed to eliminate God. The next generation is being moulded to completely have no regard for Christianity or the things of God. How then did this general shift occur in the West? Wasn’t God ascribed to as their Father in their barns and houses, anthems, Court houses, public buildings and monuments a hundred years ago? Well my dear sleeper welcome to the “brave new world”.

By the looks of things the battle for the future generation is almost lost in the education system and the ramifications will then spill out in re defining morals and traditional value systems on and on. Here are some but a few chilling “triumphs” and strategies as reported in recent Humanist archives and popular magazines:

  • “I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classrooms by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the new proselytizers of a new faith, a religion of humanity. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preacher. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new―the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith (humanism), resplendent in its promise.”
John Dunphy, “A Religion for the New Age,” Humanist Magazine

….Read More!

Monergism opens free Reformed Christian ebook store!

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!

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Modern day preaching and it’s “slick schtick”

To summarise a lot of modern day preaching ….
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Excerpt from “The Kind of Preaching God Blesses” by Steve Lawson

Why warn the wicked, wont they call us trouble makers?

Quoting A.W Pink:

200px-ArthurPink“It is the duty of God’s servants to warn men of their danger…It is their duty to rebuke wickedness wherever it be found. . . . This will not make for their popularity, for it will condemn and irritate the wicked, and such plain speaking will seriously annoy them. Those who expose hypocrites, resist tyrants, oppose the wicked, are ever viewed by them as troublemakers. But as Christ declared, ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you…” (Matthew 5:11,12).~ Arthur Pink

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God? (Ezek 18:23)

regretsGod wants all people to obey his summons to repent and believe the gospel, and so be saved (Acts 17:30; Ezek. 18:23).  In light of this, the church is called to preach the gospel indiscriminately to all people … to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18). But sadly, all men without exception have a heart of stone, and in their willful blindness, turn a deaf ear and refuse to believe and follow Christ (Rom 3:11, 8:7; 1 Cor 2:14). He has no pleasure in seeing a humanity so unyielding and inflexible in their rebellion against Him.This saddens God and indeed angers Him. But even though all natural men reject this call to faith in Christ, God is yet still merciful. Instead of giving all of us what we justly deserve (His wrath), He still gives life and pardons more ill-deserving sinners than any man can count (Eph. 2:5; Rev. 7:9). …Read More!

Why is Good Friday, umm…Good?

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When looking for a church beware of churches who…

5 marks of the Holy Spirit in a Believer

1. The Spirit awakens a person’s heart.

2. The Spirit leads to the Word.

3. The Spirit convinces of sin.

4. The Spirit makes a person love the brethren.

5. The Spirit teaches a person to pray.                      ~ J.C Ryle

HT J.C Ryle Archive

God’s design in the gospel…

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Remembering Augustus Toplady…

topladyNothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.  – Augustus Toplady (Rock of Ages)

9 signs your church is growing in the right direction

church growthMark Dever in his book, What Is a Healthy Church? writes, “When you peer into the life of a church, the growth of its members can show up in all sorts of ways.”   Here are just a few good examples – though of course this is not an exhaustive list :

  1. Growing numbers being called to missions—“I’ve enjoyed sharing the gospel with my neighbors from South America. I wonder if God is calling me to …”
  2. Older members getting a fresh sense of their responsibility in evangelism and in discipling younger members—“Why don’t you come over for dinner?”
  3. Younger members attending the funerals of older members out of love—“As a single man in my twenties, it was so good to be taken in by Mr. and Mrs.…”
  4. Increased praying in the church and more prayers centered on evangelism and ministry opportunities—“I’m starting an evangelistic Bible study at work and I’m a little nervous. Would the church pray that …”
  5. More members sharing the gospel with outsiders. …Read More!

Dear Lord, I neglected my soul (and lost it) but as for my body…Look at me, WHOOP WHOOP!!

20121116-182726.jpgTwo 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

Why should a church practice church discipline?

church disciplineWhat 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!

When you see a missionary coming home broken in body….

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…

william careyRemember, 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.

Anonymous Missionary

 

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.

David Sitton, President of To Every Tribe Read more of this post

R.C Sproul: I have some regrets…

I found this excerpt quite interesting…

regrets“Do you have any regrets? I have some regrets…I’m ashamed…all the junk I know…all the theme songs of all the TV shows, all the pop songs, all the garbage in my head…because of all the time I wasted. What if I had been studying the bible instead of watching TV, what if I would have been reading great theology instead of listening to all the rock stars of the day?”- RC Sproul on Believing God

HT Friends on FB

Missions: Praying for Africa’s Unreached

This week the focus goes to praying for missionaries all over the world. In particular we will pray that Jacob Lee a church planter and missionary with Reaching Africa’s Unreached who is battling malaria some where between Moyo and Yumbe (in Northern Uganda) will have a steady recovery. Remember him plus many more nameless missionaries who toil day and night to reach the unreached with the gospel and spend some more countless hours teaching them how to read and study the Bible for themselves.

Jacob Lee in Ugandan Village...

Jacob Lee in Ugandan Village…

I have now been fighting malaria the last 4 days with last 2 days being the worse. My definition of malaria is “flu to the 10th power”. I am starting to feel a bit better now. I am so grateful for my dear friends Kevin and Ron with SWI (Strategic World Impact) who have pushing on without me preaching the glorious gospel. …Read More!

Hudson Taylor on Missions

“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”
Hudson Taylor

 

False doctrine…worse than Division.

Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion. They weaken the cause of true Christianity.- But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved. False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism. If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved. In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin.
The old saying must never be forgotten, “He is the schismatic who causes the schism”… Controversy in religion is a hateful thing… But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation. …~Iain Murray

Why do I pray for prosperity and get afflictions?

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:


Dear Madam,
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!

Why do Today’s trendy sermons have a wide road to Salvation (but lack repentance)?

Martin Lloyd Jones once said:

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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.

Read more of this post

No Hard Trial to Bear as a Sense of Sin…

On confession and petition…

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.

I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering ‘no’ to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.

No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, [God], for helping me to be upright.-Puritan Prayers

PCUSA rejects Hymn “In Christ Alone” because it contains “The wrath of God”

If Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) had it’s own way it would write it’s own bible. A bible written in pencil -so that you can erase the bits you don’t like. Speaking of which….

Recently, the wrath of God became a point of controversy in the decision of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to exclude from its new hymnal the much-loved song “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. The Committee wanted to include this song because it is being sung in many churches, Presbyterian and otherwise, but they could not abide this line from the third stanza: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.” For this they wanted to substitute: “…as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” The authors of the hymn insisted on the original wording, and the Committee voted nine to six that “In Christ Alone” would not be among the eight hundred or so items in their new hymnal. …Read More!

Why Do Christians Still Die If Jesus Died For Them?

An interesting look at a question that the Heidelberg Catechism addresses…

Heidelberg Catechism #42

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…

Todd Bentley gets 34,000 people ‘saved’ in one week without the gospel!

Todd Bentley is eccentric in his practice. He loves being the charismatic preacher he is and will draw a crowd and will definitely continue to do so. I have watched and listened to his ‘revivals’ all the way from Lakeland to South Korea and now in Uganda. Most of these trail blazing show men draw crowds because they preach a message that most of the people they attract want to hear. He promises sensations, manifestations and signs and wonders and indeed he does get to mesmerise hundreds with his showmanship. But at what cost? It is at the cost of the gospel.

This is what Todd reports in his news letter:

One time in my life, a curse was broken that I didn’t even know was on me. It doesn’t mean that there was a witch doctor or a warlock practicing magic or sorcery like we see in the movies that was specifically cursing me. That’s happened, too. I’m not just talking about someone out there with a voodoo doll and putting pins in it. These things happen. I believe in that (sic)….

[So Todd tells of going to a Ugandan town called Jinja where “a curse came over the city for many years-nobody was getting saved, nobody was getting healed, and nobody was getting delivered” till he made an appearance]

I got up on the platform [in Jinja] and I started to break the power of witchcraft, and 1,835 people at the same time started manifesting demons and fell to the ground writhing like snakes. We counted 1,835 people vomiting, rolling in the mud, writhing and hissing on the ground like snakes. …Read More!

John Calvin on the duplicity of ‘human heart’

How very true…

John_Calvin_2“The human heart has so many crannies where vanity hides, so many holes where falsehood works, is so decked out with deceiving hypocrisy, that it often dupes itself.” – John Calvin

The heart of man is very deceptive; who can understand it?

5 Distinctives of the ‘Reformed’ Faith…

5836-reformation-wall-geneva-four-genevan-reformersA 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.

…Read More!

Why did you become a ‘Reformed’ Christian?

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This question has been adapted from a post written by Jim Bublitz in 2007 titled Why has Jim become a ‘Reformed’ Christian?

As opposed to a “normal” Christian. . .
What exactly does it mean that I have become “Reformed”.

First off, “Reformed” simply means that I attend a church that holds to the beliefs of the protestant Reformation of the 16th century, when Luther and Calvin and others were instrumental in splitting the true church away from the abuses of the Roman Catholic system that evolved through the medieval centuries…

Like the majority of the churches during the post-Reformation era (and the Puritan era that followed), I have come to believe that Salvation begins with an unfailing work of God in the hearts of all those who will believe. While most churches in our current day believe that you “believe to be born again”, like the Reformers and Puritans I have come to believe the opposite about that; my belief is that you are “born again to believe” (see the change in order?).

Here’s a simple quiz for bible believing Christians who may not be convinced of this. Click the link below and see whether you truly believe that God is sovereign over the salvation of souls. …Read More!

The Masculine Mandate (Free Father’s Day E-book)

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Guess what….

With Father’s Day just around the corner, Reformation Trust is giving away the eBook edition of Richard Phillips’ The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men. This book issues a call to reformation in the evangelical church’s attitude toward the role of men in the family, the church, and society.

Free Kindle Here.
Free EPub Here.
(Offer is for a limited time)

Strange Fire Conference gets Rodney Horward Browne hot under the collar

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Somebody isn’t laughing now

Rodney Howard-Browne, self-styled “Holy Ghost Bartender,” has taken notice of the Strange Fire conference sponsored by Grace to You (October 16-18, 2013). He seems unnerved by the prospect that twenty-first-century charismatic phenomena are going to be examined in light of Scripture. …Read More!

Why do only some become believers when the gospel is preached?

praying_manOn the effectual call to salvation:

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.

G. I. Williamson. Westminster Shorter Catechism

The Biggest Question!

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Free Ebook: “Systematic Theology” by Louis Berkhof

Thanks to BiblicalTraining.org, Berkhof’s classic theology text is now freely (and legally) available here.

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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.”

HT Justin Taylor.

Pope Gets Corrected on “Atheists who will stroll into Heaven”

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In today’s world it’s common to hear one thing and then before you blink find the statement has been amended. Well we men are fallible are we? A few Atheists were left irked when given a free Papal pass to Heaven by the only “infallible man” on earth the Roman Catholic Pope Francis himself and only to have a mere mortal who called himself a spokesman for the Vatican revoke their free pass the next second:

It’s sort of problematic to contradict someone who’s supposed to be the infallible voice of your religion, but that’s apparently what’s happened here. Refuting Pope Francis’ statements last week that those who “do good” will go to heaven, regardless of faith or lack thereof, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, has corrected his boss, saying those who know about the Catholic Church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.” So that’s pretty clear, we guess. There’s only one way to settle this: Thunderdome. Two high-ranking church officials enter; one high-ranking church official leaves.

We don’t need a fist fight or Thunderdome styled wrestling match (though that would be entertaining for our pagan and Atheist friends). The question on who will go to Heaven is the big question that every one of us must ask ourselves during our pilgrimage on this earth.

…Read More!

Quote of the Week: Alistair Begg

alistair_begg“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

Puritan Quote of the Week

“Impress the young convert from the very beginning with the conviction that God has called him into His kingdom to struggle with the corruptions of his heart.” -WILLIAM B. SPRAGUE

The 2013 Heidelberg Conference on Reformed Theology (Europe)

The Heidelberg Conference kicks off in Heidelberg (Germany) on July 18-21st 2013 celebrating 450 years of The Heidelberg catechism….

heidelberg conference 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]

Spurgeon’s sermon on Paul – His Cloak and Books

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:

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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!

How do I know I am part of God’s Elect?

Robert Murray McCheyne answers:

mcheyner‘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.”

 

New to Calvinism and already wielding a FIVE pronged pitch fork?

[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.

  1. Realize there is more to Reformed theology then just TULIP. – Reformed theology covers the gamut of theological concepts from soteriology (the understanding of how salvation occurs) to eschatology (the end times.) Don’t be so focused on TULIP that you miss the foundations for it. …Read More!

Marriage, Polygamy and Unions: Who Defines Morality And The Limits?

If we define morality…no, if man re-defines morality then the boundaries become elastic and nebulous . Speaking of which the recent agenda in many countries to redefine marriage seems have gone off on a tangent….

marriageThe politician who masterminded the gay marriage campaign in Holland says that ‘group marriage’ is now being discussed in the country.  Boris Dittrich, a former Dutch politician, gave a video interview about how he successfully introduced gay marriage.

He said, “there is now a discussion in the Netherlands that sometimes people want to marry with three people and maybe even more.

Beginning

“But that’s the beginning of something completely new and that will take a lot of years I guess.”

He was speaking to a French gay news agency, and he revealed that he softened public opinion to gay marriage by first introducing registered partnerships. He said, “we thought it might be psychologically better to first introduce registered partnerships”.

Logical

It was a good decision, he said, because people got used to legally recognised gay unions and called them gay marriages. The next logical step was to introduce full gay marriage by law, he said. Now he admits there are discussions about marriage for more than two people.

Three-way relationships have already been recognised in Holland, under a “cohabitation agreement”. …Read More!

Obstacle(s) to coming to Christ…

Of man’s spiritual condition out side of Christ and obstacles he faces …

Under this head it will be our endeavour to show why it is that the natural man is unable to “come to Christ.” As a starting point let us again quote John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him.” The reason why this is such a “hard saying,” even unto thousands who profess to be Christians, is because they utterly fail to realize the terrible havoc which the Fall has wrought; and, it is greatly to be feared, because they are themselves strangers to “the plague” of their own hearts (1 Kings 8:38). Surely if the Spirit had ever awakened them from the sleep of spiritual death, and given them to see something of the dreadful state they were in by nature, and they had been brought to feel that the carnal mind in them was “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7), then they would no longer cavil against this solemn word of Christ’s. But the spiritually dead can neither see nor feel spiritually.

Excerpt from Studies on Saving Faith by A.W Pink

 

The death of innocence in Culture’s sexualisation of Children.

It makes for disturbing reading what is going on among pre-teens and teenagers these days. The tainted fabric of culture has infused the minds of these innocent children with a lot of sexualised content and I fear with ‘the agenda’ to re-define marriage things will only get worse. A recent news paper article reported…

puritan-art“Never before has girlhood been under such a sustained assault – from ads, alcohol marketing, girls’ magazines, sexually explicit TV programmes and the hard pornography that is regularly accessed in so many teenager’s bedrooms,” says the psychologist Steve Biddulph, currently touring the country to promote a book called Raising Girls.

It is a follow-up to his best-seller Raising Boys – and they are under pressure too, being led to believe that girls will look and behave like porn stars. Our children are becoming victims of pornification. …Read More!

The Story of Victor: Learning the Sovereignty of God from a 14 year old boy.

Victor Manuel Watter’s Testimony:[This story was first posted on this blog in January 2012] I was born in a non-Christian family. I don’t think we ever went to church. And I didn’t ever think about where I would go if I died. God changed me probably a little differently from most people. He changed me through cancer. I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in December of 2006. They found out I had cancer because I had a seizure. The tumor in my hip got so big that it had shut down some of my organs…

I was moved into foster care because both of my parents were making bad decisions.

Read more of this post

I’ve heard that before: “Don’t give us Doctrine, we just want to follow Jesus!”

You have heard this countless times haven’t you? “Don’t give me doctrine, I just want to follow Jesus”, what they are really saying is “give me law, not gospel. They are asking for more imperatives and less indicatives. They just want something practical.” But how is this any different than Mormons or theological liberals? Fact is, we need a Savior, not just a moral example. The truth is …

follow jesusYou could not have believed the gospel of Jesus Christ without knowing its contents. You did not just follow a generic Jesus. To be saved you understood that you had no self righteousness of your own and you trusted in Christ’s finished work… which included His living the life you should have lived and dying the death you deserved. This is doctrine. The idea of simply “following Jesus” is requiring more demands of the law because you are looking for Jesus to tell you something you can do. But you need the gospel, not merely law, to be saved or to grow in grace. Indeed following Jesus springs out of a renewed heart. As Christians we only follow Jesus when we know Who we are following and as such we need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. …Read More!

“Well, that’s your opinion…”

Mark Kielar breaks it down…Opinions and facts and Post Modernism.

…Read More!

Chinese student in Italy tells of conversion from Atheism to Reformed Christian

This excerpt is from a story recounted to Andrea Ferrari an Italian Reformed pastor. It’s the testimony of a Chinese student Yi Wang  in Italy. Born in an atheist family he had never met a Christian until he left his motherland China and travelled to Europe. Yi says…

Italy

Italy

Being a Christian was never part of my life plan. I used to have many plans, from big ones of studying abroad and establishing the career to the small ones of dawdling with girls in clubs. But I never planned to be a Christian, not even in my dreams. After moving to Italy, I came in touch with Christianity for the first time. I didn’t reject everything about it, but looked down on it as something inferior. My belief was pretty much like Immanuel Kant: Christianity, like other religions, has a positive effect indeed to the personal morality and social mood, but unfortunately it cannot be tested by the science and human rationality. So I respected religious people, but, as an evolved human being, I disdained to believe any religion. The Bible says: “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” What I thought was just the opposite: “the heavens and earth mock and deny God.” When I recall it today, it was such a transgression. I used to resist him, thinking that I had no faults and he has no right to judge me. But he let me realize that I was always sinning against him and that there are much more terrible faults than the lack of secular ethics and morality. I cannot understand how God has such mercy to send his only Son to die for me, a son of disobedience. …Read More!

The Sovereignty of God in Salvation

Quoting A. W Pink:

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“To say that Christ died for all alike, to say that He became the Substitute and Surety of the whole human race, to say that He suffered on behalf of and in the stead of all mankind, is to say that He ‘bore the curse for many who are now bearing the curse for themselves; that He suffered punishment for many who are now lifting up their own eyes in Hell, being in torments; that He paid the redemption price for many who shall yet pay in their own eternal anguish ‘the wages of sin, which is death’” (quote from GS
Bishop) p.59

“To say that He made an atonement which fully atones is to say that He paid a price which actually ransoms” (59)

“Will Christ ever force anyone to receive Him as Savior? In one sense this is true, but in another sense it is positively untrue. The salvation of any sinner is a matter of Divine power. By nature the sinner is at enmity with God, and naught but Divine power operating within him, can overcome this enmity; hence it is written, “no man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him (John 6:44). It is the Divine power overcoming the sinner’s innate enmity which makes him willing to come to Christ that he might have life” (p.61).

“The new birth is due to the sovereign will of the Spirit” (69).

“The new birth is solely the work of God the Spirit and man has NO part or lot in causing it . . . birth altogether excludes the idea of any effort or work on the part of the one who is born” (69).

Excerpt from The Sovereignty of God HT Vassal of the King

Deborah no longer 13 years: Still Servant of God by God’s Grace.

A couple of years ago (in 2009) the BBC featured  an interesting documentary about a 13-year-old Christian girl. Deborah Drapper, who, unlike other British teens had never heard of and wasn’t interested in Britney Spears or Victoria Beckham (gasp!). She had been brought up in a deeply Christian home schooling  family and her parents had tried to make sure she and her ten brothers and sisters grew up with a Biblical world view. For those who didn’t watch the original video here it is: 

I was glad to read an update from Deborah the other day. She is still a servant of God by the grace of God. In her own words …Read More!