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Category Archives: Reformed Theology

Celebrity pastor Ed Young regrettably spits into the wind!

When it comes to setting fashion trends and appealing to people’s sensuality, Ed Young jr. has indeed become a household name. At times his gimmicks have been ambiguous and over the top but he gets away with it because… Well he has a mega church that likes what he does and they will fund him to display his pranks and gimmicks. Recently he seemed to have bitten off too much and thereafter like an impudent brat spoken out of turn leaving his own audience cringing. You see (reports one Ordinary Pastor)….

20120627-164841.jpgThis morning I was inundated with a number of references to a sermon by a prominent Texas pastor. The fact that Ed Young says something controversial is not new. He has been in the news for bringing live animals up for his sermons and who could forget the whole 24-hour web chat from his bed, with his wife, atop his church building? Because of these types of stunts, I don’t pay much attention to what he is saying.
Today was different however. In the midst of a sermon he launched into a diatribe against Reformed Churches. His motto was that “Reformed Theology leads to Deformed Ecclesiology.” Can Reformed pastors afford to look in the mirror in light of the Scriptures? Yes. Absolutely. Do we have the corner market on the truth? Absolutely not.

At the same time, what Young said was truly troubling. Concerning his rant, Justin Taylor tweeted, “(it was) A sad mixture of prideful boasting and sinful slander against fellow pastors and brothers.”

But this is not the primary reason why I was troubled. My biggest offense was with what he said about the work of the Holy Spirit:

Are they all bad? No they just don’t reach anybody. Last year at Fellowship Church we baptized 2,632 people. One of the fair-haired boys of this movement, I will not call his name, they baptized 26 people last year. (he then drops his hand-held mic on the floor and looks stunned). Oh, he’s deep. What are you smoking? Are you kidding me? I cannot put my head on the pillow at night knowing we baptized 26 people.

Without going too deep, the Bible seems to teach that conversion is directly tied to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the same gracious, powerful, loving, God that brings 1 person to faith that brings 100 or 1,000 to faith.

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A year through John Calvin’s “The Institutes”.

I have many times tried to read just a paragraph of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and made it to only the end of the first sentence to just munch over and over what he meant. I love reading snippets and quotes from his works from time to time. Calvin was an extremely brilliant exegete of the scriptures and his work is still respected to this day. I came across this year plan to go through The Institutes in a year and thought I would just post it. You sure will have learnt a whole lot of Systematic Theology by the time you will have completed. Karl Bart once said:

20120626-182934.jpgJohn Calvin is a cataract, a primeval forest, a demonic power, something directly down from Himalaya, absolutely Chinese, strange, mythological; I lack completely the means, the suction cups, even to assimilate this phenomenon, not to speak of presenting it adequately. What I receive is only a thin little stream and what I can then give out again is only a yet thinner extract of this little stream. I could gladly and profitably set myself down and spend all the rest of my life with just Calvin.

Rightly said there Karl! I guess I too would have loved to listen to him teach through the book of Job or Ephesians.
Finally, to introduce the student to the study of the Scriptures Calvin wrote this following text. This program is no substitute or supplement for regular reading of God’s Word. Rather, the former is designed to serve as a aid to the latter.

Grant, Almighty God, that, since to a perverse, and in every way a rebellious people, thou didst formerly show so much grace, as to exhort them continually to repentance, and to stretch forth thy hand to them by thy Prophets, — O grant, that the same word may sound in our ears; and when we do not immediately profit by thy teaching, O cast us not away, but, by thy Spirit, so subdue all our thoughts and affections, that we, being humbled, may give glory to thy majesty, such as is due to thee, and that, being allured by thy paternal favor, we may submit ourselves to thee, and, at the same time, embrace that mercy which thou offerest and presentest to us in Christ, that we may not doubt but thou wilt be a Father to us, until we shall at length enjoy that eternal inheritance, which has been obtained for us by the, blood of thine only-begotten Son. Amen

Amen!!
Get a free kindle plus ePub or ebook of The Institutes. [ Ps: Amazon has very cheap versions too!]

The “Weslyans who love Calvin” club

Many Calvinists grow up in the rich Reformed tradition, but some of us became Calvinists later in life. We began as naive foaming in the mouth Arminians always on the look out for “those rabid Calvinists who worship Calvin” but as we studied the Bible closely became graciously closet Calvinists till we were able to hold our own ground in the Reformed faith. (Disclaimer: Calvinists do not worship John Calvin). I must therefore emphasise this, before we continue that one’s theological stance must always be based on balanced scriptural and doctrinal integrity rather than popular sentimentality or trending fads. I will now gladly introduce you to a new fledgling club. A couple of Wesleyans seem to appreciate Calvin for his theological views as John Starke (The Gospel Coalition) found out as he interviewed Fred Sanders (Patheos)….

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John Starke: Recently you had a fun post, “Calvinists Who Love Wesley.” From what I know of you, I’m tempted to call you a “Wesleyan who loves Calvin.” Is that fair? What about the Calvinist and Reformed tradition do you find compelling? Where is it strongest?

Fred Sanders: Definitely sign me up for the “Wesleyans who love Calvin” club. I teach excerpts from The Institutes every year, and I’ve worked through the whole book cover to cover five times (three with students in seminar). There is no better way to learn the craft of theology than to work through The Institutes. Calvin shows his work: he always lets you know what he’s after, what he’s afraid of, and why he’s doing things. He brings you along with him, and requires an active and responsive reader who is willing to make costly decisions all along the way. …Read More!

A day in the life of a missionary in rural Africa.

I have lately been searching for Reformed and conservative missionary groups in Africa more especially Uganda. On the surface Uganda just like many other third world countries struggles with many issues theological and otherwise. Christianity in Africa as they say is “a mile wide but an inch deep”. I am deeply grateful for the few laborers going into the field and faithfully preaching the gospel and discipling new believers. Today I will feature a simple letter (blog post ) written a little while ago. It is written by James Huckabee  a missionary from America to rural Western Uganda.

Greetings! I thought I’d send a brief letter and let you see the latest construction out at the Juru church. They have put the roof on the pole building, and we had our first service at the new location yesterday. Thank you to the church that sent us money for the construction. This is what your money built:

We had a great service. The morale of the church is greatly improved. I know it wasn’t terribly comfortable meeting in the old place, which had mud walls and a tarp roof (’til some lowlife stole it). It was wet in there when it rained, and hot in the sun. This new building is dry and cool. There’s always a nice breeze. …Read More!

Today in Church History: The death of John Calvin (27th May)

John Calvin was born in 1509. He died in 1564. This year on the 27th of May we will read what Philip Schaff wrote about John’s death. Before he died his last wish was to be buried in an unmarked grave with no witnesses and no ceremony. Schaff writes:

… Calvin spent his last days in almost continual prayer, and in ejaculating comforting sentences of Scripture, mostly from the Psalms. He suffered at times excruciating pains. He was often heard to exclaim: “I mourn as a dove” (Isa. 38:14); “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it” (Ps. 39:9); “Thou bruisest me, O Lord, but it is enough for me that it is thy hand.” His voice was broken by asthma, but his eyes remained bright, and his mind clear and strong to the last. He admitted all who wished to see him, but requested that they should rather pray for him than speak to him.

On the day of his death he spoke with less difficulty. He fell peacefully asleep with the setting sun towards eight o’clock, and entered into the rest of his Lord. “I had just left him,” says Beza, “a little before, and on receiving intimation from the servants, immediately hastened to him with one of the brethren. We found that he had already died, and so very calmly, without any convulsion of his feet or hands, that he did not even fetch a deeper sigh. He had remained perfectly sensible, and was not entirely deprived of utterance to his very last breath. Indeed, he looked much more like one sleeping than dead.”

He had lived fifty-four years, ten months, and seventeen days.

HT Jim West. (And there is a good collection of posts here. Thanks to my good friend and insomniac, Jim again! 😉 )


Basel and the Reformation.

The next highlight of the Reformation week conference was the visit to Basel. ( see Haus Barnabas report here; Constance report here and Zurich report here). The town of Basel was called Basilea or Basilia in Latin and this name is documented from 374 AD. Basel like most Swiss cities is calm and sedate. Beautifully located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel is Switzerland’s second-largest urban area. the River Rhine runs through Basel and provides such a romantic backdrop to maul up this city’s turbulent and engaging history.

My trip to Basel to trace places of historical importance to the Reformation period started by a cordial visit to a local Swiss Reformed church in Riehen (a municipal of Basel).

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The Reformed branch of Protestantism in Switzerland was started in Zürich by Huldrych Zwingli and spread within a few years to Basel (Johannes Oecolampadius), Bern (Berchtold Haller and Niklaus Manuel), St. Gall (Joachim Vadian), to cities in southern Germany and via Alsace (Martin Bucer) to France.

In the Swiss Reformed church in Riehen one can still see the long standing traditional architectural structure of the church set up. The pews and wall designs tell of the tensions as you look at the different designs of art of a time gone past. …Read More!

Zurich and Zwingli: The people’s priest in Zurich and his contribution to the Reformation.

I had a very interesting trip recently to Germany and Switzerland as I followed a few of the Reformers. One of them stuck out. No he didn’t nail theses on walls but he knew how to get his point across. I must add here that the Reformation actually was not a one man crusade as some would want you to believe. God in his providence harnessed events in tandem to bring about one of the greatest revivals since Pentecost and the visible effects were actually out workings and fruits of birth pangs that had began with people going back to reading the scriptures.

In Zürich (Switzerland) stands a statue that has braved mischievous and militant Swiss pigeons to the hilt. It stands in the church yard of one of  the biggest cathedrals in Zürich, the Grossmünster. The statue is of the man who was called “the people’s priest” Ulrich (Huldrych) Zwingli. Zwingli was born January 1, 1484 in Wildhaus, Switzerland. Early scholarly gifts caused him to be sent to school, especially at Basel, and he learned to love the classics.

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When Zwingli became a priest he arrived in Zürich town with the announcement that he would begin to preach right through the Gospel of Matthew. This was a departure from the fragmentary reading of Scripture that had prevailed in the medieval Church. After Matthew he preached through Acts and then turned his attention to Paul’s epistles. There is a lot that the contemporary church movement would learn  from this simple man who led to spiritual reform from just beginning to preach verse by verse (expository preaching) at the Grossmünster. (Click here for Zwingli resources online)

The Grossmünster (“great minster”) is a Romanesque-style Protestant church in Zürich, Switzerland. It is near the banks of the Limmat River. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. Huldrych Zwingli initiated the Swiss-German Reformation in Switzerland from his pastoral office at the Grossmünster, starting in 1520. Zwingli won a series of debates …Read More!

What did John Huss contribute to Church History?

The recent Reformation Week conference in German/Switzerland gave me an opportunity to visit the memorial stone of John Huss. The slide show depicts: sights and scenes in Constance, The Huss museum, Huss memorial stone, the munster (cathedral) in Constance. So, who was John Huss?

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John Huss (Jan Hus) was born in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) in about 1371. He received a master’s degree from Charles University in Prague in 1396, became a professor of theology in 1398, was ordained to the priesthood in 1400, was made rector of the University in 1402, and in 1404 received a bachelor’s degree in theology (presumably a more advanced degree than the term suggests today).

In his day, there was a crisis of authority in the Western Church. In 1305, under pressure from the King of France, the seat of the Popes was move from Rome to Avignon in France, where it remained for 70 years. (This period is called the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, suggesting the 70 years that Jerusalem lay desolate after when the Jews were deported to Babylon.) …Read More!

The Reformation Week Conference in Germany and Switzerland.

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Haus Barnabas was the host destination again for this years “Reformation Week Conference 2012”. This serene Christian guesthouse and retreat centre is tucked away in the picturesque village of Utzenfeld in the “Hochschwarzwald” – Black Forest Highlands approximately 30 miles north of Basel in Switzerland and 20 miles south-east of the historic city of Freiburg in the Rhine plain. [In the picture slide above are Haus Barnabas, Gross Munster cathedral in Zurich, statue of Zwingli, Anabaptist cave,  Imperia statue in Zurich, Munster in Basel, Anabaptist memorial at the River Limmatt in Zurich and some art work found in the Munster in Basel]

This year’s conference began with evening dinner on Thursday 3rd May followed by sessions led by Dr. Bernhard Kaiser. Dr Kaiser is founder and director of the Institute of Reformational theology in Reiskirchen near Giessen, Germany and is a lecturer in Systematic theology at the Selye-Janos University in Komamo, Slovakia. His passion is teaching the relevance of reformation Theology for today’s generation.

This year’s programme delved in to Reformation Theology (the Solas) …Read More!

Do you “believe to be born again” or are you “born again to believe”?

No it’s not a riddle. It is not even a trick question. I while back some of my friends kept asking, “Why has Michael become a “Reformed Christian” after several years in prosperity driven and seeker sensitive churches?” So to make things alot easier to understand I thought it’s best to go back to the Bible and back to basics. What  exactly does it mean to become a Christian?

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. …Read More!

Aha! So, are you a Calvinist….no ifs and no buts?

So imagine the theological police round you up in a dark street corner and as they breathe down your neck and one asks you,“so, little helpless brat are you a Calvinist?” With the microphone firmly planted to your upper lip say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. …Read More!

Calvinism Makes People Lose Their “Holy Ghost Fire”

"holy ghost party"

When I was a Word of Faith enthusiast I loved God because I was born again and the only church I knew taught what I eventually picked up. I did not understand much of what was taught in church and knew some of the doctrines made no theological or scriptural sense. I easily embraced prosperity theology and any fad that slithered to the pulpit. It is true that when people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. But scriptural exegesis and theological exertions are not encouraged by many churches-most especially in the liberal non-cessationist camps. They call this being “pharisaical” or “too conservative” or limiting the move of Holy Spirit who would otherwise want every one to be open minded and receptive to every and anything.

Its against that background that I understand why this young man drew a line in the sand and dared the bravest of Calvinists to smell the coffee on the liberal side:

Recently I made a very hard important decision concerning Facebook. I felt like a few people on my friends list were posting and promoting things, that I feel are a threat to my personal faith walk, and a threat to the effectiveness of the Body of Christ period. If you do not know by now, I am not a Calvinist, and I do not agree with the doctrines of Calvinism and reformed theology (mainly the TULIP). There’s More

Sola Scriptura and The Cult of One

The clarion call of the Reformation was to get back to the source of christian faith. A relentless and clear cry to go back to the scriptures, the principle now known as “Sola Scriptura” (by scripture alone). Additionally, another prominent doctrine which was then brought forth is often known as “the universal priesthood of the believer“. Well you see

Many, many, people in the years since interpreted those two doctrines taken-together to mean that each person interprets the bible for himself (and by himself). Unfortunately, this has had the tendency to create novel doctrines over the years, and yes, a proliferation of cults.

I’m not saying that each individual cannot understand the Bible — and thus needs a professional clergy-person to do it for him. Rather, the point of those two doctrines was to emphasize the idea that one needn’t be part of the professional clergy to understand the Bible. …Read More!

Theological Elephantiasis: Pulling out the race card when you run out of verses.

Bishop Jakes, who was spiritually nurtured in the Oneness Pentecostal tradition, had never given a clear affirmation of Trinitarian orthodoxy, even though he had been pressed on this from Christian apologists (most notably 12 years ago in the year 2000). Elephant Room 2 was to take him to task about his slippery antics but he seemed to have wiggled out again. Some conservative (especially Reformed) Christians thought Jakes had an easy ride and was’t even quizzed on his other aberrant beliefs like Word of faith and prosperity theology. Kaboom! Out came the race card!!

Argh! Surely aren’t Christians supposed to “be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” How come some  of us are just too thin skinned to take correction, rebuke and can’t even stomach careful instruction? Now this is absurd! Or rather am I (as a young black reformed Christian) supposed to be  learning an easy trick? If I get rebuked or run out of bible verses to back my aberrant beliefs in ANY debate or discussion there seems to always be a “get out of jail” sympathy card for some. Phil Johnson makes an interesting observation :

If you’re an old white guy with any hint of Reformed theology in your confessional statement and you don’t think T. D. Jakes’s equivocations at Elephant Room 2 were sufficient to erase decades of concern about his Oneness leanings and his relentless proclamation of a false Prosperity Gospel—then you must be a racist. And even if you don’t think you’re a racist, you should shut up anyway. Because in the black community relationships are more important than any doctrine, including the gospel and the Trinity. We all should strive to subjugate doctrine to relationships anyway.

If on the other hand you are a young black man with Reformed convictions—or any black person who just has a keen interest in doctrinal and biblical accuracy—you are a sellout and a reproach to your own community. The only possible explanation is that you are guilty of “White Idolatry.” You secretly wish to earn favor with Whitey. You should not only shut up, you should be ashamed. As far as the importance of relationships is concerned, we don’t really care to have one with you. …Read More!

Help, I need more Arminian friends!

It’s usually said if you want two see to lads play endless theological ping-pong, start a Calvinism vs Arminianism debate and title it “Does man have free will?” You will literally have to drag one of them apart…kicking and screaming. But I must say these theological debates do achieve their own edification in various unseen ways. They are strenuous and it always seems as though the other guy is just playing dumb like Balaam’s donkey. But when you come to finally hear your proverbial nemesis drop his daisies and grab hold of a bunch of graceful Tulips, doesn’t it just warm your heart? (sorry couldn’t resist the pun ;)) This is an excerpt from an article written by Mark Ketchum– on discovering God’s Sovereignty in election, salvation and transformation of a sinner dead in sin:

    …We are not able to seek Him or turn to Him unless He first intervenes to soften our hearts. Are we capable? …. Are we able? No, our hearts are seeped in sin and our depravity makes God undesirable…

    Romans 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    I have struggled with this concept for a long time. Ever since the concept of election was brought to my attention, I have fought against the idea of the inability to seek God on my own. During the sermon today at Faith Bible Church, it was as if a light bulb went on for the first time… God does choose us… we do not and cannot choose Him.

    My salvation is not because of anything I have done, but because of what God has done to and through me.

    While John is capable of going to college and graduating with a good degree, he is not able to accomplish this because of his laziness.

    Scripture tells us that we cannot come to Jesus unless we are compelled or drawn by the Father (John 6:44).  Jesus also spoke to us via Parable in Luke 14:16-24, explaining that the Father sent His servant Jesus to compel people to the banquet because nobody would come on their own… they were filled with excuses.

    I do believe in free will, however, now I see that free will is and will always be limited by ourselves. My free will allows me to jump off a roof with my arms a flapping, but I will never be able to fly on my own accord without assistance.

    My free will allows me to choose to murder, but thankfully I never will because that is not in my heart. The same goes for salvation. My free will allows me to choose God, but in my/our depraved state of sinfulness, I never will because it isn’t in my heart… unless God first softens my heart and changes me. Then and only then am I able to have the faith that offers repentance and salvation. …Read More!

Oh, where did all the good books go?

Joseph M. Bianchi rightly said:

A walk through your local Christian book store will reveal a vast array of titles whose themes range from self-help to identifying which demon you are afflicted by. In this sorry state of affairs, one has to ask: “Where have all the sound, doctrinal books gone?”.

The real question, however, is, “Where have all the well taught, well discipled Christians gone?” The core of the issue is not the plethora of shallow, theologically unsound books that are flooding the market, but their huge success. It is indeed unmistakable that the church of Jesus Christ in the latter half of the twentieth century has retreated into a superficial, theological ghetto, that mirrors the culture, rather than transforms it. …Read More!

A day in the life of a relentless Reformed preacher…

One Reformed preacher whose sermons have helped me deal with several theological conundrums is a wonderful man called Arturo G. Azurdia III. Art (for those who know him) and have listened to him usually likes using the word “relentless” and therefore he becomes our first in a series of relentless preachers to be featured. 😉

Lets dig deeper into his personal life and see what things he holds loosely and what things he clings to dearly. Here is an interview excerpted from the Exiled Preacher (2008):

QN: Who has taught you most of what it means to preach the Word of God?

AA: It’s difficult for me to reduce it to one man, because several have had strategic influence on me at various stages of my development.

Shortly after I was converted it was the preaching of …Wanna Read More?

This year I will become a millionaire! It’s in the Bible! Look!

I will tell you how I used to spend the last day of each year. Yup, we would spend it in church quoting Jeremiah 29:11. We would affirm: “This new year I will be prosperous! This is my year of divine destiny! This is my year of health, wealth and prosperity!”

But Voddie Baucham in this clip explains something very important. How I wish I had come across such teaching on exegesis and rightly understanding scripture in context.

Jeremiah 29:11 is just one of many mis quoted verses. …Read More!!

The cost of taking the gospel out of America

Adoniram Judson lived several years before America’s lucrative export became a lukewarm synthetic form of materialism called prosperity gospel. Adoniram was a selfless Calvinistic Baptist missionary from the United States who labored for almost forty years in Burma. At the age of 25, he was the first Protestant missionary sent from North America to preach in Burma. To summarise his missionary endeavors here is a concise post ….

Anarchic despotism, fierce war with Siam, enemy raids, constant rebellion, and no religious freedom (pg 85). What missionary would decide to go such a place? Although Burma(Myanmar) was essentially what we call a “closed country”, Adoniram Judson went in spite of an admonition from William Carey not to go (pg 85)…at age 24, and with a 23 year old wife! Ahead of Judson was immense loss, which many of us could scarcely imagine. But through it all he could say “If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings” …Read More!

The most terrifying truth of Scripture…

Paul Washer explains the most terrifying truth of Scripture:

…Read More!

Total Depravity:What is the difference between me and Hitler?

This short clip expounds on the doctrine of total depravity:

I see that hand: When ‘man saves man’ and decisions are the plan.

Where did we ever get the idea that people can save other people, and even save themselves? Sure, nobody comes right out and says that, but you can tell that they think it. It’s amazing how this one theological error upstream ends up causing an entire evangelism epidemic downstream. No, theology is not useless “head knowledge”, it impacts our actions. And in this case, bad theology has produced an entire errant evangelistic system.

The problem that we are seeing today, is that church leaders believe that people can control when and if the New Birth occurs. Here’s one example with scenes from an actual church service:

We are warned of the problem in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God:

    “If we forget that it is God’s prerogative to give results when the Gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. …Read More!

If only I could defeat Calvinism.

Here is a humorous video (with awesome royal marching music in the background) illustrating a number classic errors that are frequently used by opponents of Calvinism.

HT Turretin Fan

The secret to reaching the youth culture.

The most embarrassing vibrant ministry in most churches seems to be the youth department (no, seriously). Needless to say this elusive fad driven generation has seen its fair share of relevant and purpose driven ideas being floated Sunday after Sunday. So, how do you reach the youth culture? Steve Lawson answers…

HT 5ptsalt.com

What was Martin Luther’s Conversion like?

What was Martin Luther’s conversion like? Thanks for asking. Well you see…
With help from the old monk and Staupitz, but especially from the study of Paul’s Epistles, Luther gradually was brought to the conviction that the sinner is justified by faith alone, without works of law. By the end of his convent life he came to the conclusion that “the righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17) is the righteousness which God freely gives in Christ to those who believe in him. Righteousness is not to be attained through man’s own exertions and merits. Rather, it is complete and perfect in Christ, and all the sinner has to do is to accept it from Him as a free gift. …Read More!

Why the preaching of the Word is more important than fancy gimmicks in Church growth strategies.

This short article may be taken to be very difficult to swallow. In actual essence it simply contains the basic instructions of the Christian faith and doctrine. When we neglect the preaching of the word (and resort to carnal means of church growth) we inadvertently pander to base activities that on the surface may draw multitudes but profit little to bring  sinners to repentance. …Read More!

The Movie: Martin Luther

Is Lecrae the new Kirk Franklin?

Kirk Franklin’s meteoric rise in the late 1990s across the Christian-secular divide was followed by instant world wide recognition. With unprecedented popularity came the usual questions. Would he sell out and water down his message? Would there be a down grade? Would he let the whole world sing to traditional gospel songs like Savior more than Life To me or The Reason Why We Sing ? Kirk’s best answer to that question was his next ear deafening hit aptly titled Stomp.

Stomp, featuring Cheryl “Salt” James (of Salt-N-Pepa), was a huge hit, enjoying heavy rotation on MTV and other music channels, and charting at No. 1 on the R&B Singles Airplay chart for 2 weeks, even making it in to the Top 40. This was the long awaited manna in form of a groovy Holy Hip hop tune. Kirk had finally  introduced the entertainment world to a luke warm ‘lovable Hip Jesus’ who you could dance and  groove to till you got high. Theologically by popularising his message of a ‘lovable Hip Jesus’ was he making both church folk and secular audiences happy with the same tune? Or was he another pied piper dulling the ears of a generation and making the Holy appear common? …Read More!

Dementia: Will I still remember the gospel in that dark hour?

I recently had the opportunity of visiting a friend whose devout Christian mother now has dementia. Instead of leaving at the end of the visit with a spirit of heaviness, I left pretty much encouraged in the Lord. I will tell you why.

For those who do not know what dementia is, imagine having started reading this article and then as though as from sleep you catch yourself asking: Hey who am I? What am I doing on this blog? This is usually what happens in the early stages of dementia. …Read More!

Theological Imperialism and The Black Community

Interesting conversation here:

[HT Thabiti Anyabwile]

Who was Loraine Boettner?

Today I was reading Loraine Boettner’s classic book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (1932). Well, it wasn’t the first time I was tucking into it. It has always (okay over the last 2 years) been one of my favorite books. At this point I look at my small library and immediately shudder (yeah, its a very small library these days after I got rid of my word of faith, prosperity and purpose driven rubble).

So, who was Loraine Boettner? Where do we begin? Well…

Loraine Boettner

Loraine was born March 7th 1901 in Linden Missouri. He lived with his family; his father being a Christian school superintendent and his mother a housewife. Loraine attended his father’s church until he was 18. Then he joined his mother’s church–the Centennial Methodist Church; his mother was of a different denominational background than his father. …Read More!

Pre destination or Unconditional Election: Debunking Common Straw Man Arguments

What are the common straw man arguments against Predestination also called the doctrine of God’s fore knowledge or Unconditional Election? It is argued that the doctrine of “Unconditional Election” cannot be true because:

1. Anyone who wants to be saved, can be. “Whosoever will May come.”

2. God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), but desires that all men repent.

3. We should preach the gospel to everyone. If God has only planned to save some, why should we preach to and pray for all?

4.”Election” and “predestination” are terms contrived by the Calvinists to cause confusion, bring division, and excuse a lack of evangelistic zeal (The issue is whether election ever took place or not).

Well lets tackle each of these issues one straw at a time:

1. The true believer in free grace will never deny that God has extended a free offer of mercy, in Christ, to all who hear the Gospel. To deny that “Whosoever will may come,” is to deny the clear teaching of God’s Word. The real issue, however, is whether any will desire salvation (in God’s way and on God’s terms) unless God gives him that desire (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:11; Psalm 58:3-5; John 3:14-21, 5:40). …Read More!

Did You Just Speak in Tongues? No, Bwana I Actually Do Speak Swahili!

It is often said that Charismatic/ Continuationist Christianity in Africa promotes either a pietist withdrawal from social and political concerns, or a preoccupation with gaining individual health and wealth (the prosperity gospel). Needless to say it is the fastest growing branch of Christianity on the continent.  Following the recent debates in evangelical circles about Cessationism and Continuationism, Bwana Nathan Busenitz  [Bwana means “Sir” or “Mr.” in Swahili] wrote an interesting article in which he  took the challenge to respond in 100 words or less, to the question “Are you a Charismatic/Continuationist?”:

[No!] I am convinced that the biblical gift of tongues was the supernatural ability to speak in authentic foreign languages that the speaker had not previously learned; AND that the gift of prophecy was the accurate proclamation of authoritative, inerrant revelation that the prophet received directly from the Holy Spirit; AND that the gift (or gifts) of healing resulted in the immediate, undeniable, and complete recovery of a sick or injured person at the hands of the healer. …Read More!

How (Not) to Win a Theological Debate When You Run Out of Bible Verses!

Lessons in Theology From A Young Boy Barely Seven Years Old

The Heidelberg Catechism is a Protestant confessional document taking the form of a series of questions and answers, for use in teaching Reformed Christian doctrine. It has been translated into many languages and is regarded as one of the most influential of the Reformed catechisms. This young boy in this clip goes through the first 16 questions and answers (with his dad, an ex sunni muslim). Watch this…

Now who says kids dont like theology?

A Quiz For My Arminian Friends

I hope this Theology quiz goes the distance to help you understand your Bible and appreciate that God is the author of salvation. He alone can sustain a Christian and will complete the work He started on the day He glorifies him.

George Whitefield To John Wesley: Error Must Be Opposed

The tension between two great evangelical ministers can never be profound yet graciously loving than the public and personal tensions between George Whitefield and John Wesley. On one front one would easily have had the impression that these two would never even share a drink at a communion table. The most surprising twist was that George Whitefield actually asked Mr Wesley to eulogize at his funeral. But did that bury the proverbial hatchet? Did Whitefield eventually roll over and accept defeat to Wesley? Far from it. Iain Murray in this article rightly summarises this unique conundrum:

George Whitefield

    The occasion and background of [Whitefield’s letter to Wesley] requires a few words of explanation. From the time of his conversion in 1735, Whitefield had been profoundly conscious of man’s entire depravity, his need of the new birth, and the fact that God can save and God alone. Describing an experience which occurred a few weeks after his conversion, he wrote: “About this time God was pleased to enlighten my soul, and bring me into the knowledge of His free grace . . .” Strengthened by his reading of the Scriptures, the Reformers and the Puritans, Whitefield gradually grasped the great related chain of truths revealed in the New Testament—the Father’s electing love, Christ’s substitutionary death on behalf of those whom the Father had given Him, and the Spirit’s infallible work in bringing to salvation those for whom it was appointed. These doctrines of “free grace” were the essential theology of his ministry from the very first and consequently the theology of the movement which began under his preaching in 1737. …There’s More!

We All Start Arminian -Don’t We?

John Pedersen writes a deeply passionate plea outlining his concerns and fears during his transition from Arminianism to Reformed theology.

“If Arminianism is so evil, why did many Reformed believers start their Christian lives as Arminians, as Christians who believed in “free will”? I myself was a believer in “free will” Arminianism for years, and it was a long and painful journey for me to finally see the biblical basis for the doctrines of grace.”

“All those years, I read my Bible, prayed, and sought the salvation of my friends and loved ones, just as I do now. My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity, good Reformed books, and the patience and godly example of Reformed believers who did not castigate me for my free will beliefs but encouraged me to see the greater richness and deep biblical truths of Reformed doctrine.”

“I was loved into the Reformed Faith; not condemned into it. …Read More!

Hey If I Were John MacArthur…

I have enjoyed Grace To You podcasts while half asleep on the train, while bleary eyed walking out of the Emergency Room and when chasing stray cats away from the back garden on weekends. Needless to say I have come to respect and love John MacArthur for his love for the gospel. But wait a minute, thats not all….

If I were John MacArthur, for one thing, I’d be able to throw a football further than anyone reading this post. But I would also be faced with a conundrum of existential proportions: What’s next?

[Recently], to the sound of thunderous ovation, Dr. MacArthur completed the expository preacher’s equivalent of landing on the moon. They say the space shuttle carrying Armstrong employed less technology than a modern coffee machine. By finishing the Gospel of Mark, MacArthur has preached on every verse of the New Testament, using less technology than a typewriter (a rollerball was his instrument of choice to handwrite every one of his thousands of sermons). 

For 43 years John tunneled his way with a worm’s-eye-view of the Greek grammar and syntax each week in his tiny home study, so that he could share the mined wealth of insight with a hungry congregation of 6000 members, and a waiting planet of innumerable Grace To You listeners. He set out to achieve this goal early in his ministry. It must have been the confidence of youth, bolstered by pro football and baseball scouts desperately wooing him, which fueled his “dream big” mentality.

A lesson learned: If your checklist for success is as mundane as “Big house, small wife, two cars parked outside a two-car garage full of junk, and a couple of kids” you set yourself up for midlife crisis. Either you attain your underwhelming goal and think, like the preacher in Ecclesiastes, “Is this it?” resulting in the purchase of a Harley Davidson, hair transplants, or home renovation. Or you fail to attain your dream of mainstream mediocrity and…find solace in the company of new friends like Prozac or Jack Daniels. …Hee hee. Read More!

God’s Wit: Unwitting and Unwilling Man

A very interesting post by Andy Underhile on God’s sovereignty:

John 11:49-52 tells us, “But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”
This is an amazing text. It demonstrates, quite emphatically the sovereignty of God over men’s wills – even over the wicked. Even enemies of God, who hate Him and wish to rebel against His will, are still under His sovereign power and cannot so much as move apart from Him. Moreover, they are often used, unwittingly and unwillingly, as instruments for the very plans of God they wish to frustrate. …Read More!

Can You Be So…So Anointed And Attain Sinless Perfection?

Early in my Christian walk I was taught and made to believe several  things. Like one can be anointed (yeah that elusive word once again ) to the point that they soar to a higher level of grace than others and henceforth attain levels of sanctification that endow them with a state of sinless perfection. Well, the title question above delves into this mystic doctrine of sinless perfection. Is it biblical? If not where does it err? I came across this brilliant article by Reese Currie and I hope it will answer   a few questions for some:

Attaining higher piety?

I [Reese Currie] have been receiving an increased volume of e-mail lately from proponents of “sinless perfection” doctrine in response to my article, “Can We Live Sin Free?” None of these supposedly sinless folks offer any argumentation from the Bible, since the doctrine they espouse can’t be found there, but yet they seem quite concerned that I’m doing terrible things to peoples’ Christian walk in maintaining that humans never attain sinless perfection. I am, according to one writer, “an agent of Satan” holding back the true believers in Christ, and should “seek God and be taught of Him.”

Obviously, another article on this is required, since the first, although quite laden with Biblical facts on the matter, does not dissuade these people from e-mailing me to label me a heretic, unknowledgeable, and “Satan’s agent.” So, I offer these facts about people who advocate “sinless perfection.” …Read More!

Martin Luther’s Prayer At The Diet of Worms

Left with twenty four hours to recant his 95 theses, Martin Luther found himself looking to God as he stood at the precipice of one of the greatest revivals that the church has had in the last one thousand years. This was his prayer:

Martin Luther at Diet of Worms

O God, Almighty God everlasting! how dreadful is the world! behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in Thee! . . . Oh! the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength of this world – all is over . . . The knell is struck . . . Sentence is gone forth . . . O God! O God! O thou, my God! help me against the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beseech thee; thou shouldst do this . . . by thy own mighty power . . . The work is not mine, but Thine. I have no business here . . . I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! Read More…

Can A Christian Still Get Sloshed With Red Bull Mixed With Duff?

When it comes to Christian liberties the questions are endless, aren’t they? You can always see the questions from a far as they begin with, “Er…Can a Christian drink alcohol or smoke pot or drink red bull.” The list is endless…

The Council of Jerusalem, described in Acts 15, sought to answer such practical questions faced by the early Christians as they wrestled with how to enjoy freedom from the Mosaic administration without becoming stumbling blocks to Jewish people.

These were questions to which Paul in particular gave a great deal of thought. He was, after all, one of those appointed by the Jerusalem Council to circulate and explain the letter that summarized the decisions of the apostles and elders (Acts 15:22ff; 16:4). Faced with similar issues in the church at Rome, he provided them with a series of principles that apply equally well to twenty-first-century Christians. His teaching in Romans 14:1–15:13 contains healthy (and very necessary) guidelines for the exercise of Christian liberty. Here are four of them: Read More

Taking Comfort in God’s Providence

It is lucrative to preach that God will bless you if you only….[add your favorite verb here]. Most people prefer to have self help/ motivational preachers tell them how successful they can become if they only “sow a seed” or do this or that. But what happens to the person who has scraped the bottom of the proverbial barrel and has nothing? Absolutely nothing to offer and is looking to God to intervene? Yes, do we hear enough of God’s providence these days?

Well, What then is God’s providence?

Elijah being fed by ravens...

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Pro. 16:33).

“God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). If Creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of that same energy whereby the Creator, according to his own will, (a) keeps all creatures in being, (b) involves himself in all events, and (c) directs all things to their appointed end. The model is of purposive personal management with total “hands-on” control: God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is …Read More

You Mean Spurgeon Did Not Even Make One Altar Call?

C.H. Spurgeon invited men to come to Christ, not to an altar.
Listen to him invite men to Jesus Christ

Before you leave this place breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon Thy name….Lord, I am guilty, I deserve Thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to do of Thy good pleasure.Thou alone hast power, I know To save a wretch like me; To whom, or whither should I go If I should run from Thee? There’s More…

So If God Created All Things Did He Create Evil Too?

The bible says that God is Omniscient (all knowing) and Sovereign. He created the entire universe ex nihilo (out of nothing) and ordains or allows events and times. Nothing happens without His express permission. Yes, even wars, floods, tsunamis, holocausts and earthquakes. So then, some ask: How do you reconcile God’s Holiness with the evil all around us? Did a Holy God create evil? How could he fore see  Adam’s  fall from grace and let it happen?

THE objection may be raised that if God has foreordained the entire course of events in this world He must be the Author of Sin. To begin with, we readily admit that the existence of sin in a universe which is under the control of a God who is infinite in His wisdom, power, holiness, and justice, is an inscrutable mystery which we in our present state of knowledge cannot fully explain. As yet we only see through a glass darkly. Sin can never be explained on the grounds of logic or reason, for it is essentially illogical and unreasonable. The mere fact that sin exists has often been urged by atheists and skeptics as an argument not merely against Calvinism but against theism in general. There’s More…

Video: George Whitefield -In The Words of Martyn Lloyd Jones

A brilliant documentary narrated by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones: George Whitefield was born on December 16, 1714, in Gloucester, England. The youngest of seven children, he was born in the Bell Inn where his father, Thomas, was a wine merchant and innkeeper. His father died when George was two and his widowed mother Elizabeth struggled to provide for her family. There’s More…

When John Knox Gave Mary Queen of Scots a Bloody nose.

Further in our study of church history we shall look at Scotland. In 1561, Mary Queen of Scots arrived in Scotland from France, and immediately issued an order to celebrate Mass in her private chapel. On hearing that, Mary’s relatives and attendants threatened to return to France, rather than live in a land where Mass could not be said, John Knox stated “Would that they, together with the Mass, had taken goodnight of this realm forever.” He denounced the Mass from the pulpit, concluding his sermon with the words that “one Mass is more fearful to me, than if ten thousand armed enemies were landed in any part of the realm.”

Knox well understood that this would only be the first step in a counter-reformation, designed to overthrow the work which had been achieved so far. His words were reported to Mary, and he was summoned to appear before her in conference. Mary accused Knox, saying,

[Here is the conversation]  Mary: “You have taught the people to receive another religion than that which their princes allow; but God commands subjects to obey their prince. Therefore you have taught the people to disobey both God and their prince.”

“Madam,” Knox calmly replied, “as right religion receive not its origin nor authority from princes but from the eternal God alone, so are not subjects bound to frame their religion according to the tastes of their princes, for oft it is that princes are the most ignorant of God’s true religion. . .”

“Well then,”, she said, “I clearly perceive that my subjects shall obey you, and not me; and shall do what they list and not what I command; and so must I be subject to them and not they to me.”

“God forbid,” answered Knox, “that ever I take upon me to command any to obey me or to set subjects at liberty to do whatever pleases them. . . My travail is that both princes and subjects may obey God. And think not, Madam, that wrong is done you when you are required to be subject unto God, for He it is who subjects peoples under princes, and causes obedience to be given unto them. . .”

“Yea,” replied the queen, “but ye are not the Kirk that I will nourish. I will defend the Kirk of Rome; for it is, I think, the true Kirk of God.”

“Your will, Madam, is no reason; neither doth it make that Roman harlot to be the true and immaculate spouse of Jesus Christ. . .”

“My conscience is not so,” said Mary.

“Conscience, Madam,” said Knox, “requires knowledge, and I fear that right knowledge, ye have none.” There’s More…

If God Is Sovereign, Why do Anything?

To deny the Sovereignty of God, people always first come up with this question-“If God is Sovereign, why do anything?” But what does the Bible say regarding God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility?

Fatalism

God’s sovereignty, as I am convinced the Bible teaches it, means that God has fore-ordained everything that happens. Before creation, God planned and decided (‘ordained’) the entire course of human history down to the smallest details. All circumstances in time are therefore the outworking of God’s plan which He decreed in eternity.

In light of this, a common objection is ‘If God has already decided what will happen, then why should I do anything? We don’t control history anyway. Therefore, we can just sit back and do nothing.’ The objector is saying that the logical outcome of belief in the absolute sovereignty of God is what we will call ‘indifferent fatalism’–the view that we should do nothing since God controls everything.

How are we to answer the objection of the indifferent fatalist? Why doesn’t belief in God’s absolute sovereignty lead to indifferent fatalism? And if God is absolutely sovereign, how can our choices have real meaning? These are very good questions that a proper understanding of God’s sovereignty will answer. Read More…

Who Was Martin Bucer?

He may have been apparently forgotten as a theological light weight but to the keen eye Martin Bucer’s role in the reformation was and is invaluable. Bucer was an ecclesial diplomat pastor with deep coherent theological conviction.

Martin Bucer played a part in the Reformation and his impact was in the city of Strasburg. Martin Bucer is not as well known as Martin Luther and John Calvin but he did make an impact on Strasburg until he was forced to flee the city.

Bucer was born on November 11th 1491. He was influenced by the Humanistic teachings of Erasmus and he read and accepted the arguments of Martin Luther. He had been a Dominican monk but he left in 1521 and became the chaplain to Franz von Sickingen, a protestant knight, and in 1522 became pastor of Landstuhl in the Palatinate. Here he married Elizabeth Silbereisen – a former nun. In 1523, Bucer became a minister in Strasburg where he preached in the cathedral.

Strasburg had long suffered from poor priests in terms of quality and absentee bishops. The city was also a major centre of the book trade so it was very susceptible to the influence of the printed word. The writings of Martin Luther and Melancthon were widely circulated and as early as 1521, preachers had arrived in Strasburg to “preach the pure Gospel”. Read More