A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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Category Archives: Reformed Theology

Christ can soften the hearts which seem hard…

“Christ can soften hearts which seem as hard as the millstone. He can bend stubborn wills which have long been set on self-pleasing, sin and the world. He can create, transform, renew, break down, build and quicken with irresistible power. There are no incurable cases with Christ. Let us never despair about the salvation of others for as long as we live. Let us name them before the Lord day and night and cry to Him on their behalf.” J.C. Ryle

Kenyan Lawyer suing Israel for death of Jesus.

International Court of Justice

International Court of Justice

This is simply as ludicrous as it sounds but…

A Kenyan lawyer has filed a petition with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, suggesting that the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ was unlawful, and The State of Israel among others should be held responsible, Kenyan news outlet the Nairobian reported on Friday.

Dola Indidis, a lawyer and former spokesman of the Kenyan Judiciary is reportedly attempting to sue Tiberius (Emperor of Rome 42 BC-37AD), Pontius Pilate, a selection of Jewish elders, King Herod, the Republic of Italy and the State of Israel.

“Evidence today is on record in the bible, and you cannot discredit the bible,” Indidis told Kenyan Citizen News.

Yes, those he suggests should have been convicted during the original trial have not been alive for more than 2000 years, however Indidis insists that the government for whom they acted can and should still be held responsible.

HT via Jim West.

Let angel minds inquire no more…

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It’s a divine mystery and it may well continue as such why the darling of Heaven humbled himself and took on the form of man and took on himself the shame of death (even death on a cursed cross) and endured the wrath of God therein for a worm like me. It begs me to ask who can explore His strange design? Charles Wesley’s Hymn probably captures this notion very well…

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? …Read More!

Health, Yelps… and John Calvin’s Prosperity.

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.

Wince…and Read More!

We have all sinned and fall short…

“No one will be offended if we tell them that they are good people who could be a little better. The offense comes when we tell them that they – and we – are ungodly people who cannot impress God or escape his tribunal. Until our preaching of the law has exposed our hearts and God’s holiness at that profound level, our hearers will never flee to Christ alone for safety even if they come to us for advice.” -Michael Horton

When John MacArthur sat in a TBN studio…

[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?

…Read More!

Who Hardened Pharoah’s Heart?

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?

pharaohs-heartExodus 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.

…Read More!

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!

Basic Christian Doctrine Quiz

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A friend of mine posted these basic doctrine questions on Facebook and I thought they are interesting. Try and see how many you can answer and then scroll to the bottom of the page for the answers:

Questions About God and Christ (Answer True or False)

1. Jesus was God, but only appeared to be human.

2. Jesus was the first of all God’s created beings.

3. Jesus had a human body and divine soul.

4. In the Old Testament, God was known as the Father, in the New Testament, as the Son, and after Pentecost, as the Holy Spirit.

5. Mary is the mother of God.

6. God chooses people because he knows in advance they will choose him. …Read More!

Lemuel Haynes: Calvinism in Afro-American History

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…

The Biggest Question!

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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!

How to spot a false “apostle”.

Found this interesting list compiled by Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

1. He claims to be an apostle (II Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2).
2. He was not present during the Lord’s earthly ministry or he was not directly commissioned by the risen Christ (Acts 1:21-22; Acts 22:10, 21).
3. He is not part of the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20)
4. He has not seen the risen Christ (I Cor. 9:1; 15:8) or he claims to have seen the risen Christ (perhaps in his bedroom or in some other private location) and is therefore a liar, a deceiver or deluded (I Peter 1:8).
5. He does not have supreme authority in all the churches or he claims such supreme authority and is therefore a liar, deceiver or deluded (I Cor. 7:17; I Cor. 14:37; II Cor. 10:8, 11:28).
6. He cannot demand that his letters be read in the churches as inspired writings from God, and if he does, you’ve guessed it, he is a liar, deceiver or deluded (I Thess. 5:27; II Peter 3:15-16).
7. He makes these claims today, that is, long after the death of the last apostle who was John.

HT via FB.

If you lower the Law, you dim the Gospel….

Many times we see and hear people say come to church and God will give you this or that. It is now so common to have people call themselves ‘Christians’ and yet they have never heard of sin and righteousness. So you ask, ‘Is there anything wrong with that?’ Well you see the knowledge of sin comes after you know what the law of God is – for sin is lawlessness toward God. A man who has come to see the weight of his lawlessness toward God knows his immeasurable debt to Christ. Furthermore …

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The Gospel is only “Good News” to those who have heard, and believe, that there is a diagnosis of “Bad News” about themselves to start with. If we simply present the Gospel as a route to a better life, we are deceiving people about their true condition. More importantly, we are mis-representing God’s holiness and His serious view of their sin.

“The true ministers of Christ bring men to the law; now this condemns them, and shows them to be under the curse: He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all (James 2:10). As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Gal 3: 10). (William Tiptaft as recorded in “A Sermon preached on 25th December 1829 at the Great Church, Abingdon (St Helen’s)”)

The acknowledged “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon put it this way:”But more, there is war between you and God’s Law. The Ten Commandments are against you . . . . The First one comes forward and says, ‘Let him be cursed, for he denies me. He has another god besides me; his god is his belly, he yields homage to his lust.’ All the Ten Commandments, like ten great pieces of cannon, are pointed at you today, for you have broken all God’s statutes, and lived in the daily neglect of all His commands. Soul! You will find it a hard thing to go to war with the Law. When the Law came in peace, [Mount] Sinai was altogether on a smoke, and even Moses said, ‘I do exceedingly fear and quake.’ What will you do when the Law comes in terror, when the trumpet of the archangel shall tear you from your grave, when the eyes of God shall burn their way into your guilty soul, when the great books shall be opened, and all your sin and shame shall be published? Can you stand against an angry Law in that day?”

Charles Spurgeon states elsewhere “Lower the law and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt; this is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain; for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [its most powerful weapon] when you have set aside the Law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ.”

Excerpt from What is the Gospel?

Forsaken by God – Jesus became a Curse.

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!

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!

Lydia’s Conversion

First, in LYDIA’S CONVERSION there are many points of interest. Observe that it was brought about by providential circumstances. She was a seller of purple, from the city of Thyatira. That city was famous for its dyeing trade, which had flourished there ever since the days of Homer. The mode of producing a peculiarly delicate and valuable purple seems to have been known to the women of Thyatira. It may be that Lydia had come to Philippi upon a journey, or that while her work was carried on at Thyatira, she resided during a part of the year at Philippi, to sell her goods. The communication between the two places was very easy, and she may have frequently made the journey; at any rate, providence brings her there when the hour of her conversion is come. You will remember that Thyatira was situated in that part of the country into which Paul was forbidden by the Spirit to go and preach; therefore, had Lydia been at home, she could not have heard the truth; and since “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,” she must have remained unconverted. But providence brings her to Philippi at the right time. Here is the first link of the chain.

But how is Paul to be brought there? 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!

William Carey and True Joy.

william careyWilliam Carey, the father of modern world missions, was born into a poor family in Northampton, England in 1761. He had no formal education but taught himself to read and write and mastered Latin by the age of twelve. He began his trade in his early teens as a shoemaker and was born again at eighteen. He soon began to preach in his spare time and quickly became fluent in New Testament Greek, Old Testament Hebrew, Dutch, and French.
He married Dorothy Plackett when he was twenty years old. William and Dorothy could not have been more different. She was six years older than he and illiterate, signing her name with an X. By his late twenties Carey was a Calvinistic Baptist preacher with a growing burden to reach the ‘heathen’. When at a pastoral meeting one day he spoke of his passion, an older minister said, ‘My dear Carey, when God wishes to save the heathen, He will do it without you.’ That, however, could not dampen his earnest desire to take the gospel to the nations. When he wrote a lengthy paper with a lengthy title — An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of Heathen in Which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practical Ability of Further Undertakings Are Considered — those in attendance listened politely and then went on to other business. At the end of the meeting, however, William asked, ‘Is there nothing going to be done again?’ From this a motion was passed to study the matter further. Only after a few months did anyone take up the issue. …Read More!

Mark Dever on Church Growth and Numbers

Interesting clip featuring Pastor Mark Dever answering questions on church growth and numbers: …Read More!

I hope you don’t preach that. It will hurt a lot of beautiful people.

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I am currently reading Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. I only wish I had read such a good book a couple of years earlier. It pulls no punches and zaps like that tonic that the doctor ordered with a wink – and twinkle in his eye. No, it’s not racy and nor does it tickle your ego.

Michael Horton tells of the time when he had an opportunity to interview Dr. Robert Schuller (a self help author and televangelist) who always favoured a ‘human needs approach’ to Christianity insisted that “classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God centered,’ not ‘man centered’.” He defined sin as ‘any act or thought that robs,us or another human being of his or her self esteem…[infact says Schuller] a person is in hell when he has lost his self esteem.’

It is easy to see how Dr Schuller’s Christianized gospel lite became very popular and acceptable even among Muslims, Hindus and Atheists. After all who doesn’t like their ego tickled?
But what does the bible actually say? When asked to interpret the portion of scripture below, Dr Schuller’s response was a classic reply that many popular pastors give:

 

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Tim 3:1-5

 

Schuller immediately responded by saying, ‘I hope you don’t preach that. It will hurt a lot of beautiful people.’

Well, oh yes, Robert! But isn’t that exactly what preaching of the truth should do?

…Read More!

The dangers and concerns in ‘Four Point Calvinism’

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Those whom God elects, He redeems, and those He redeems, He regenerates and sanctifies. All that believers have they owe to the Triune God. The ELECTION of God the Father, the REDEMPTION of God the Son, and the REGENERATING work of God the Spirit, ought never to be separated. They arise from one and the same Will. The Trinity works in harmony to bring about our salvation. So any theology which disconnects unconditional election from particular redemption is not only inconsistent within their own theology, but makes the Trinity out to have a confused, disharmonious will in the purposes of redemption.

So-called four-point Calvinism fails the test of biblical Calvinism because this view tends to see the TULIP as an abstraction rather than seeing it Christocentrically. The TULIP only works when we see Christ at its center. Consider the TULIP as a chiasm with the “L” at the top of the pyramid. It is Jesus Christ which makes sense of all the doctrines of grace. Four-point Calvinists who reject Limited Atonement but embrace irresistible grace must consider this: Irresistible grace is not some abstract doctrine but must be seen in relation to Jesus Christ, specially in relation to the grace purchased by Christ upon the cross. The Spirit of Christ illuminates, regenerates and effectually brings to faith his elect. And this enabling, effectual grace is, from first to last, Christ-centered. It does not come out of a void, nor from some hidden source of grace in God the Father. Therefore Christ must have died for the elect so as to purchase that grace in a way – a redemptive way – that he did not die for the non-elect. That is why we often call it particular redemption. Irresistible grace is one of the redemptive benefits purchased by Jesus Christ … and it was never granted to the non-elect nor intended for them. …Read More!

Why do we sin?

We do not sin simply because of Satan or because of social deprivation, stressful situations, bad influences, or any other external cause. Those things may tempt us to sin and make sinning easier, but when we commit sin – or even intend to commit sin – it is because we decide to sin. Sin is an act of the will. – John MacArthur

2012: The Best and Worst of the year!

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The year 2012 was interesting and frustrating. This year I will not feature the 10 most popular posts like I did in 2011. However I will give you a running commentary and “warm your little Calvinist hearts” with some grace and hope you won’t end up swimming back to Rome in the end.

The year started with high expectations and has ended on a high note – well unless you are a Mayan apocalypse enthusiast then you might be just a tard deflated. But hey cheer up we have extra time now, don’t we?

In 2012 it was interesting to see that many people were interested in reading how Veggie Tales ended up being a failed experiment. Well to be honest it was a fad that went too far into teaching kids how to be “Christian” without knowing Christ. Ironic but frankly I have come to expect this from most Evangelical fads that it doesn’t surprise me any more. Speaking of fads the year kicked off with a fad…oops thud when Steven Furtick (yup the celebrity pastor who spontaneously baptised 2,000 people in two weeks) invited Matt Chandler into a room full of orange flood lights, orange walls and orange carpets. When Matt began to preach about celebrities and supposed pastors using church as a platform for personal ambition, you could hear a pin drop. The barn burning sermon was a good fire starter for the year it and it ended with a clear gospel presentation too. But nothing prepared us for pastor Jim Murphy’s stance when he decided to root out religious junk from his lukewarm church bookstore. Murphy lamented the disintegration of Christianity and its falling away from the truth of the gospel and into more and more error – he traced the roots of today’s error to the subtle attacks on the authority of Scripture. When he finally asked “How did we get where we are?” Many expected him to point the finger else where but the wise old pastor pointed to him self and said said he was responsible for allowing his church to become lukewarm and hence forth there would be changes. Talk about the perspicuity of scripture.

Don’t blink yet, that was just the beginning!

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Samuel Davies: This Very Year You May Die.

The masterful sermons of what American preacher profoundly influenced Patrick Henry to become a great orator and patriot? Second question, what American minister succeeded Jonathan Edwards as President of Princeton University? The answer to both questions is Samuel Davies. Well, Samuel Davies preached this classic message at Princeton College on New Year’s day (January 1, 1761) and died shortly there after, on February 4–at the age of 37! Thus in a way—he preached his own funeral sermon! Follow the text taken from Jeremiah 28:6 and may it be a wake up call for every sinner (and I am the chief of sinners) who reads or listens to it:

“Thus says the Lord—I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die!” Jeremiah 28:16 While we are entering upon the threshold of a new year, it may be proper for us to stand, and pause, and take a serious view of the occurrences thatmay happen to us this year—that we may be prepared to meet them. …There is More!

How to make an appearance on TBN (Walter Martin Style -And never be invited back)!

Walter Martin defending the faith, circa 1985, on TBN with host Doug Clark. Neither the host nor the guest were ever invited back and the program was not re-aired the following Monday as it was scheduled.

It gets more interesting (you should watch all the segments) but below is the fourth segment

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Comfort During an Uncertain Festive Season

It’s that time of the year. Everybody seems to be carrying home a new “something”. Kept under wraps till that moment when they let it out. Brilliantly adorned decorations grace the lounges of homes and foyers of hotels and shopping parlours. In the midst of all the apparent hustle and bustle and glamorous festive mood it is an undeniable fact that we still live in a difficult and miserable world. However much we attempt to drown our sorrows with materialism we still lie naked and in need of the comfort and merciful kindness of God our our father. In the words of Martyn’s Lloyd Jones…

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God’s Loving Kindness – We are living in a difficult and trying world, and we all, sooner or later, find ourselves in some kind of wilderness where nothing matters but this. When we are bereft of all things that we normally have and enjoy – health, strength, wealth, friends, entertainment – when we are suddenly laid down by some serious illness, those things are of no help or value to us. We are left alone, and nothing matters except our knowledge of God’s loving-kindness. So the most important thing is to know always that He is with us, that we have access to Him, and that we can enjoy His presence in the most humbling, the most difficult, the most trying circumstances. This is the essence of wisdom even from the standpoint of personal experience.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Seeking Certainty)

God be with you all during this Christmas season as we remember the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Was there any fanaticism during the ‘First Awakening’ revival?

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There is a lot to learn especially when it comes to Church history and revivals and revivalisms.

Unusual outward manifestations attended the revivals of
[The Great Awakening of the 18th century]. At times there were audible sighs and sobs throughout assemblies under the preached Word. Sometimes convicted sinners cried out, ‘What must I do to be saved?’, as scripture was brought home to their consciences. In a few instances men fell prostrate on the floor, even becoming physically rigid for a time. What was the attitude of the pastors to these unusual happenings?

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Desiderius Erasmus: A Notable Quote!

I think I like this guy:

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“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” Desiderius Erasmus

They Shall Beat Their Swords into Plowshares…(and) Learn War No More.

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Seeing the violence and wickedness on earth today, The Heidelberg Catechism asks a pertinent set of questions. Did God, then, create man so wicked and perverse? Whence, then comes this depraved nature of man?
Over the entrance of the United Nations building in New York there is an inscription taken from the second chapter of the Book of Isaiah that reads:

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. -Isaiah

Will such a world be achieved by the UN? Well, that is another question for you to ponder. The UN was formed as a deterrent Council so that man in his depravity would not indulge in another all out house clearance like he did in 1914 and 1939. I am actually surprised that it took that long to descend into such a global war. I am equally amazed that God was gracious enough allow the human experiment to continue there after. Enough about the UN.
To understand where man is, one has got to begin by reading the Scriptural narrative in Genesis. The Catechism enlightens the Christian that God created man good, and after His own image (true in righteousness and holiness) that he may rightly know, love and live with his Creator and glorify Him. However from the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve became so corrupt in nature that we all his descendants are conceived and born in sin.
Should we believe then that we are so corrupt and inclined to evil (that if left to our own folly would rather learn war and make swords and spears) and are wholly incapable of doing any moral good?
Sadly, yes! Unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God says the Bible (not me) and that in it’s self is by grace alone lest any man should boast.
(Scripture readings: Genesis 3:1-5:3; Psalm 14; Romans 1: 18-32)

 

Such a Wretch you would have been!

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“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have
drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

There are but few upon whom God bestows His saving love.
Tell me, are not the gifts which Christ has given you—rare
gifts? What would you have been—if Christ had not made
a difference between you and others—by those glorious gifts
which He has conferred upon you? You look upon some, and
see they are very ignorant of spiritual truth. O! What would
you have been—if God had not bestowed saving knowledge
upon you? You look upon others who are unclean, profane,
and filthy. Why! such a wretch you would have been—if
the Lord had not made a difference between you and them,
by bestowing Himself, His grace, and Spirit upon you.
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom
of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor
idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual
offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers
nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what
some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by
the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ~ Thomas Brooks

Excerpt from The Unsearchable Riches of Christ.

What is it like being a Reformed pastor in Rome?

Andrea Ferrari is a Reformed pastor in Italy. He opens up to the challenges faced by him, the church and his mission field.
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Can any thing good come out of Rome?

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Well, Rome has always been associated with a lot of mischief but I think the gospel is changing the hearts of some. Daniel Ventura writes about the effects of the Reformation and gospel in Italy today:

The first thing I noticed when driving from the airport is that Italian drivers are crazy. No one is paying much attention to stop signs, speed limits, or any other traffic signs for that matter. Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get to and from wherever it is they are going, and there is not much acknowledgment of one another on the road unless you have an Italian flag hanging outside your window following the victory of an Italian soccer match (then you receive a flood of honks every corner you turn!).

It seems Italian driving indicates something about the Italian cultural mindset in general. Both in the car, walking down the street, in café’s and supermarkets, everyone is focused simply on what is going on right in front of them. There are not many friendly hellos’, warm smiles, conversations on the corner, or any real human acknowledgement of one another for that matter. And in such a difficult economic time for Italy, it makes a lot of sense that there is this sense of depression and gloom wherever you go. In many ways, people are forced into this kind of lifestyle because the pressures are so great to meet financial obligations; so only an individualized fast paced life keeps one enduring each day.

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Happy Reformation(s) Day?

Zwinglius Redivivus

‘Reformation Day?  No!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a…

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36 Free Sermons by John Calvin

Monergism has a link to 36 free sermons by John Calvin. Click here.

The 4 tips from Richard Baxter for evaluating a “Christian” book.

Are you about to read a book? Does the author say it is a “Christian” book? Here are 4 tips from Richard Baxter that will help you evaluate any “Christian” book…

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1. Could I spend this time no better?
2. Are there better books that would edify me more?
3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?
4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?
[ Furthermore, Baxter adds] make careful choice of the books which you read: let the holy scriptures ever have the pre-eminence, and, next to them, those solid, lively, heavenly treatises which best expound and apply the scriptures, and next, credible histories, especially of the Church . . . but take heed of false teachers who would corrupt your understandings.

Reforming the local church

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For Reformation theology to affect the life of a local church, it needs to be fleshed out in new perceptions of the dynamics of the corporate life of the local church. While there has been much talk about recovering biblical churchmanship over the last twenty years, and even efforts to recapture the simplicity of the first-century house church, what we have actually seen is the rise of the following:
(1) consumer churchmanship (meeting felt needs);
(2) commercial churchmanship (marketing religious enterprises or entities); and
(3) cultural/countercultural churchmanship (church life that mimics patterns in the broader culture or Christian versions of the counterculture).
What seems to be on the decline is the sort of vibrant, vital churchmanship described in the New Testament (1 Cor. 10:16–17; Eph. 4:11–16; Col. 1:3–14, 3:12–17). Reformed theology casts our churchmanship in a light that might be unfamiliar to us, but seems to be more consistent with the actions and dispositions found in the New Testament. …Read More!

Paul Washer on the fallen state of Man.

“Natural man is a fallen creature, he is morally corrupt, and he is Hell-bent on autonomy or self-government. He hates God because God is righteous, and he hates God’s laws because they censor him and restrict his evil. He hates the truth because it exposes him for what he is and troubles what is left of his conscience. Therefore fallen man seeks to push the truth—especially the truth about God—as far from him as he can possibly remove it. He will go to any extent to suppress the truth, even to the point of pretending that there is no such thing as truth, or that if it does exist, it cannot be known or have any bearing on our lives.” ~ Paul Washer

HELP! I am not sure I am saved…I may just be another false convert.

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Are you wrestling with the thoughts that you may not be saved? Do you question whether your faith in God is genuine? Perhaps you feel like you’ve had a conversion experience in the past but your not sure if you’re a true convert. Below are five questions to ask yourself and explanations that provide general proofs of a genuine work of salvation. I hope that these provide helpful insight to you:

1) Is there present belief in God?
We are never to depend upon a previous testimony of something we did years ago such as pray a prayer or sign a card or walk down an isle for an altar call, we must presently be confessing Jesus Christ as Lord through faith.

2) Is there a habitual impenitent sin in your life?
A true Christian will not habitually and impenitently practice a lifestyle of sin. (1 John 1. 5-10). This does not mean that we will ever be sinless, this side of heaven, but that we who are in the light do not seek to remain in darkness.

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Free Book: What is Reformed Theology?

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If you live in the US here is a free book by R.C Sproul. This book was one of my first primers in the Reformed faith. It answers a lot of questions and does ground you into solid foundational truths of Christianity.

Afflictions do not come alone…

In the words of  John Newton:

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Afflictions do not come alone,
A voice attends the rod;
By both He to His saints is known,
A Father and a God!

Let not My children slight the stroke
I for chastisement send;
Nor faint beneath My kind rebuke,
For still I am their Friend.

The wicked I perhaps may leave …Read More!

When spiritual conviction and awakening occur in a sinner.

I am currently reading my first book by Jonathan Edwards. I hope to learn alot from such a great man of outstanding wisdom. The first volume of A Narrative of Surprising Conversions retells stories of several of the conversions in Edwards’ time. But to begin with he expounds on regeneration. You see…

Persons are first awakened with a sense of their miserable condition by nature, the danger they are in of perishing eternally, and that it is of greater importance to them that they speedily escape and get into a better state. Those who before were secure and senseless, are made sensible how much they were in the way to ruin, in their former courses.

Some are more suddenly seized with conviction – it may be, by the news of others’ conversion, or something they hear in public, or in private conference – their consciences are smitten, as if their hearts are pierced through with a dart. Others are  awakened more gradually, they begin at first to be some thing more thoughtful and considerate, so as to come to a conclusion in their minds, that it is their best and wisest way to delay no longer, but to improve the present opportunity. …Read More!

Calvin Unleashed!

Every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols. ~John Calvin

We glory… in Jesus Christ!

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Of the knowledge of Jesus:

Consider the excellencies of the knowledge of Christ. The comfort of believers are streams from this fountain. Jesus Christ is the object of a believer’s joy. Take away the knowledge of Christ, and Christians would be the most sad and melancholy beings in the world. Let Christ but manifest himself, and dart the beams of his light into their souls, and it will make them kiss the stake, sing in the flames, and shout in the pangs of death, as men that divide the spoil. We can perform no duty, enjoy no comfort, nor can we be saved without it (John 17:3).
If it is life eternal to know Christ, then it is eternal damnation to be ignorant of Christ. Christ is the door that opens heaven, and knowledge is the key that opens Christ. It is profound; all other sciences are but shadows; this is a boundless, bottomless ocean; no creature has a line long enough to fathom its depths, there is height, length, depth, and breadth ascribed to it (Eph. 3:18), yea, it passes knowledge. …Read More!

Puritan Devotionals: Voices From The Past.

If you are looking for a daily devotional look for one that is deep with theology and will spur you to delve deeper into the scriptures. The Puritan devotional Voices From the Past by Richard Rushing should be high on your list and this is why:

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1 Timothy 4:2 … “Whose consciences are seared.”
“Get and keep a tender conscience. Be sensible of the least sin. Some men’s consciences are like the stomach of the ostrich that can digest iron: they can swallow the most notorious sins without regret. A good conscience is very delicate. It feels the least touch of known sin, and is grieved at the thought of grieving God’s Spirit. It will choose the greatest of suffering before the least of sinning.

However, the jeering Ishmaels of the world are ready to reproach and laugh it to scorn for its precise scruples. Daily train all your graces for battle. Live in a military posture, both defensive and offensive. Stand constantly by your weapons. Admit no peace with sin. The soldier of Christ must never lay down his arms. Satan never ceases his wiles and stratagems. He will tell you that sin is pleasant. Ask yourself if the gripping of conscience is also pleasant? Ask yourself if it is pleasant to be in hell, and be under the wrath of God? Ask yourself if the pleasures of sin for a season compare with the rivers of God’s pleasures? How do they compare to a weight of glory, an incorruptible crown, and a heavenly kingdom?

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Learning “Old Truth” from the Reformers and Expository Preaching.

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In loving memory of Jim Bublitz who went to be with the Lord not more than two days ago, I will feature this post from his blog – The Old Truth.

In the 19th century, R.L. Dabney wrote –
“All the leading Reformers, whether in Germany, Switzerland, England or Scotland were constant preachers, and their sermons were prevalently expository”; the purpose was to explain the meaning of Scripture. So he says, “We can assume with safety that the instrumentality to which the spiritual power of the great revolution of the Reformation – was mainly due to the restoration of scriptural preaching”.
Martin Luther in 1533 said, “The Word of God is the greatest most necessary, most important thing in Christendom.” And it is. I’ll tell you what, you turn away from the Book and you have endless problems. You turn away from the Book and Jesus becomes a clay toy, you can shape Him any way you want. Truth becomes a clay toy, you can shape it any way you want…
See, people want to reinvent Jesus, shape Him any way they want.

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That Shocking Youth Message by Paul Washer (Transcript)

20120704-221433.jpgOne of the best youth messages I have come across was Paul Washer’s “shocking youth message”. It was a biblical message about what it truly means t o be a Christian. It was so good that he wasn’t welcomed back! (No kidding)

It’s a tremendous privilege for me to be here this afternoon with you. Before we begin with any further speaking, I would also like to go to the Lord in prayer. I would ask you to pray. There is so much going on here this afternoon, so much that you don’t understand, but I’ll tell you where I’m coming from. I’ll preach as a dying man to dying men and women and youth….
Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
Father . . .Father, I am so small and so pitiful, Father, in so many ways. You know, Lord, You know, though dear God, should false fire be the only thing ever placed on Your altar, or could fire come down from Heaven amidst all the noise and the clamor and the activities . . . could fire come down from Heaven and these dead bones live…. Breathe on them. Grant them repentance. Grant them faith. Bring them into Your Kingdom, Lord, for Your own glory, for the sake of Your own great name, do this thing, Lord. As the brother said, let it be so, Lord, so that no man will take credit for it, so that no man will lay his hand to the ark of God and, if he did, that You would strike him down dead, Lord. Oh, God, move among us, please, because we have no other hope. We have no other hope. These children have no other hope except that You move…Amen.
I stand here today . . . I’m not troubled in my heart about your self-esteem. I’m not troubled in my heart about whether or not you feel good about yourself, whether or not life is turning out like you want it to turn out, or whether or not your checkbook is balanced. There’s only one thing that gave me a sleepless night. There’s only one thing that troubled me all throughout the morning, and this is this. Within a hundred years, a great majority of people in this building will possibly be in hell. And many who even profess Jesus Christ as Lord will spend an eternity in hell…

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You know you have a pastor who loves you when he writes a letter like this one…

This letter was excerpted from here. Please read through it and understand the uncomfortable nature of the topic and also appreciate the genuineness of the pastor’s resolution to safe guard his flock and young people.

Come out from among them and be separate, says the LORD. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you

– 2 Corinthians 6.17

20120630-193745.jpgDear Friends,

With a somewhat heavy heart I must write to you regarding separation from error. I have a heavy heart because I know that these are matters which can cause upset and contention. But these are matters which we must be very clear about.

From time to time I receive invitations to join our church with various organisations or events. One such well-meaning invitation was to an event called ‘Arise *****’. We understand that over 5,000 people gathered at ******* Stadium for a time of prayer, worship and so forth. We surely rejoice in one sense, that so many people cared enough about their faith to come together.

This event saw many churches in the area joining together. Surely it is mean-spirited to raise any objection to so many people who seem to long for God’s blessing, gathering together? But that is not the case. In order to foster this ‘unity’, many simple truths of the Word of God are ignored. We see the Roman Catholic church simply accepted as equal to any other church. We see outright liberal denominations given the same courtesy. What foolishness can have seized us if we think that God will be pleased to bless those of his children who are ‘unequally yoked together’ (2 Cor 6) with those who deny the clear teaching of His Word?

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Do Calvinists put on rippling V-neck shirts and skinny jeans?

Contrary to urban mythologies spawned by ignorant sooth sayers and idle whisperers Calvinism is not about trends in fashion. It’s actually far from having a high view of man. So, if it’s not about v-neck t-shirts or tight skinny jean pastors, then what is Calvinism about? I am glad you asked. You see…

20120628-183903.jpgCalvinism, also known as reformed theology, is a movement within orthodox Protestantism that … adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual to where he is then able to and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation… …Read More!