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by Jason A. Van BemmelHear the Call to Kill Sin
I often see critiques from professing Christians online regarding their deep opposition to the biblical view that, due to a corruption of nature, fallen man has no free will to come to Christ. Recently I even encountered someone with a list of bible verses which allegedly prove that human beings have free will. Before going through these verses with you (so you can have a reference), I would encourage you to all be familiar with the Augustine's helpful four-fold nature of man before and after the fall. Augustine taught that there are four states of humanity:These four states, which are derived from the Scripture, correspond to the four states of man in relation to sin: 1) able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare); 2) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); 3) able not to sin (posse non peccare); and 4) unable to sin (non posse peccare). The first state corresponds to the state of man in innocency, before the Fall; the second the state of the natural man after the Fall; the third the state of the regenerate man; and the fourth the glorified man.It is good to keep these in mind as you look at the following texts of Scripture posted online in an attempt to prove man has a free will. My response to the uses of these texts will be in bold. Phm 14but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own Free Will. Free will In the Greek ( adv ) means voluntary choice...
Visitor: Any person can be saved, if they will.Response: Don't we all believe any person can come if they will? The problem is, are there any persons naturally willing to submit to the terms of the gospel? Does it come naturally for fallen sinners to come to the humbling realization that they have no righteousness of their own and so flee to Christ alone as their only hope? Can a person say "Jesus is Lord" apart from the Holy Spirit"? (1 Cor 12:3) The scripture reveals that men are so bent on wickedness (John 3:19, Rom 8:7) that unless the Spirit disarm the hostility of their hearts, turning their heart of stone to a heart of flesh, they would never believe.Jesus declared, "the Spirit quickens, the flesh counts for nothing ... that is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me grants it (John 6:63, 65)Augustine said, "to will is of nature, but to will aright is of grace."Like you I believe the gospel must be preached indiscrimanately to all men. We are to get the gospel to men's ears, but only God can get it to their hearts.
Visitor: Any person can be saved, if they will.Response: Don't we all believe any person can come if they will? The problem is, are there any persons naturally willing to submit to the terms of the gospel? Does it come naturally for fallen sinners to come to the humbling realization that they have no righteousness of their own and so flee to Christ alone as their only hope? Can a person say "Jesus is Lord" apart from the Holy Spirit"? (1 Cor 12:3) The scripture reveals that men are so bent on wickedness (John 3:19, Rom 8:7) that unless the Spirit disarm the hostility of their hearts, turning their heart of stone to a heart of flesh, they would never believe.Jesus declared, "the Spirit quickens, the flesh counts for nothing ... that is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me grants it (John 6:63, 65)Augustine said, "to will is of nature, but to will aright is of grace."Like you I believe the gospel must be preached indiscrimanately to all men. We are to get the gospel to men's ears, but only God can get it to their hearts.
Christ's Lordship is bound up in His being the Savior. Here is why:When a person comes to faith in Christ as Savior, are they not acknowledging their helplessness, and so come to Him in the hope that He will free them from both the guilt and power of sin? Do not people come to Christ so that He might liberate them from sin's tyranny over them? In coming to Christ as Savior from sin we implicitly acknowledge His Lordship, for we no longer want to be under the rule of sin. When the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our wretched condition before God, we want to be free of sin but, knowing we are impotent to save ourselves from it, we ask Christ to free us. No one who is truly converted comes to Christ and says "please don't free me from sin". Anyone who did this is not even coming to him as Savior but hoping He will leave them in their original condition as slaves.We are all painfully aware of the remainders of sin that exist in us as believers. But if the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are incapable of remaining indifferent to it. We will mourn over it and desire to be rid of it, but being unable to do so ourselves, we come to the Savior daily plea for the help we so desperately need. Can a person claim to believe in Christ as their Savior and be content to remain in sin? Will the Holy Spirit allow that? (1 Cor 11:31-32) If so then in what sense is Christ their Savior?
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:16"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." 2 Cor 7:1"...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Hebrews 10:10Recently I have come across a number of people online who declare that we cannot become more sanctified ...and we cannot become more like Jesus because we are already perfect in him, so, they reason, that all calls to be holy are wrong. I write this piece because I want to point out how important it is to make distinctions, especially when the Bible does so. In doing so we shall attempt to answer the question(s): Does Christ having made us holy once for all do away with the concept that we are to become more like Him? or does the fact that He has perfected us through the body of Christ once for all (Heb 10:14) contradict the idea that we are to be growing in holiness? How are we to understand all this? Perhaps this matter of definitive vs. experiential sanctification can be illustrated and better understood by a story I once heard from a friend.
When I hear professing Christians say that since God is love He would never violate our free will (btw, a concept not found in the Bible)... my first thought is to ask:"So you are troubled that God did for you what you couldn't do for yourself? Is Hell better than being saved? In everyday life we keep our children back from things that would harm them. Why? We do it because we love them. If this is true for our children, how much more God? So if God rescues us, in spite of our willful disobedience, it springs from His great mercy and love. But if His love toward us were based on a condition we have to meet, it would, by definition, be neither loving nor gracious."It is better to reach important doctrinal positions by being biblically informed, rather than relying on unaided human reason or emotional appeals.The Epistle to the Ephesians declares"...even when we were dead in our trespasses, (He) made us alive (quickened us) together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—" - Eph 2:5Now, God is not doing violence to our will any more than God violated your will when he gave you life, or gave you eyes, or ears. But He certainly rescued us regardless of our disposition at the time because, llike any good parent, he knows better what is good for us. Some may raise the objection: but does not God say he does not want anyone to perish, but rather everyone to come to repentance?
I have sometimes heard the charge from skeptics that Christians come off as thinking they are better than other people. This impression perhaps arises for at least two reasons: 1) because a professing Christian who does not understand the gospel actually DOES think they are better than non-Christians or 2) a true regenerate Christian who may be triggered/set off by something, forgets the gospel, and rashly in their pride says some things indicating they think they are better. Either way, the fact is that we are not better. Not by a long shot. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once declared in no uncertain terms "Do you think that you deserve forgiveness? If you do, you are not a Christian."A Christian is Saved By GraceA sinner is saved when, by grace, they acknowledge that they have no righteousness of their own and trust in Christ's promise to deliver them from their guilt and captivity to sin. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9).At our very best — we are but miserable sinners. We are not saved because we are better or more deserving than others, but are saved by God's mercy alone. It is true that God sets Christians apart and works holiness into their character but the Christian is one who remembers that any good character he/she may now have is only because of God's mercy. We had nothing to do with it. There is no hierarchy of merit in coming to the cross... No one gets to heaven because they are better than anyone else. NO ONE. We are all saved by Christ alone.
The sad irony is that the very "churches" that claim to want full inclusion of practicing LGBT persons into their fellowship/membership are the very same churches that would deny them entrance into the kingdom via the gospel. Because they have caved to the culture, fearing the opinions of men rather than God they end up hating, not loving, the precious souls of people held captive by this particular sin.Most of our churches, including mine, include brothers and sisters who struggle with same sex attraction. According to Scripture we were all delivered from from bondage to various sin(s) from which we could not deliver ourselves (1 Cor 6:9:11). We all still fight some of these sins. That is why we need the gospel daily. We come to Jesus, the Savior, because He ALONE can deliver us from ourselves and from the sin(s) holding us captive.The churches that do not believe this, thinking it loving to include unrepentant persons among the saints, deny the gospel and are not true churches. They pose both a danger to themselves and to others.Dear friends, for the love of God and their souls, pray for the visible church and call these individuals to repentance.Note: I post this because I actually run into so-called pastors on Facebook who have deceived themselves into believing that they are doing gospel-work by being "inclusive" and think antinomianism, not grace, is the answer. They end up doing harm rather than good.
"It is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather he accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ's sake. Nor does He mean to leave us the way He found us, but to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Without that transformation and new conformity of life we do not have any evidence that we were ever His in the first place." - Dr. Sinclair FergusonComments:Jesus came "to proclaim good news to the poor ... to proclaim liberty to the captives." (Luke 4:18)When sinners like us, by the grace of God, come to Christ one of the most important reasons we do so is because we want Him to unburden us from our sin, both from its guilt and from its power ... with the goal that we might have intimate fellowship with God.. so to know that God will not leave us as we are, in sin's grip, is a major part of the good news of Christ.
by Jerry Bridges"Faith involves both a renunciation and a reliance. First, we must renounce any trust in our own performance as the basis of our acceptance before God. We trust in our own performance when we believe we've earned God's acceptance by our good works. But we also trust in our own performance when we believe we've lost God's acceptance by our bad works—by our sin. So we must renounce any consideration of either our bad works or our good works as the means of relating to God. Second, we must place our reliance entirely on the perfect obedience and sin-bearing death of Christ as the sole basis of our standing before God—on our best days as well as our worst ...
by R. C. SproulI believe that once a person is authentically redeemed, is truly in Christ, that person will never be lost to Christ. That person has what we call eternal security—not because of the person's innate ability to persevere, but I believe that God promises to preserve His own and that we have the benefit of our Great High Priest who intercedes for us every day. Now, at the same time, Christians are capable of gross and heinous sin. They're capable of very serious falls away from Christ. They're capable of the worst kind of denial and betrayal of our Lord.Consider, for example, Exhibit A—the apostle Peter, who denied Jesus with cursing. He was so emphatic that he uttered profanities to underscore the fact that he never knew Jesus. If you talk about somebody who didn't seem to want to repent and who had turned away from Jesus, Saint Peter is your classic example. Yet his fellow disciple Judas also betrayed Jesus and turned away from Him, and of course, both of the betrayals were predicted by Jesus at the Last Supper. When Jesus spoke of Judas, He said, “What you have to do, do quickly. Go.” And He dismissed him to his treachery. He mentioned in the Scripture that Judas was a son of perdition from the beginning. I think it's clear in Jesus' High Priestly prayer that He understood Judas was never a Christian. So Judas's betrayal was not the case of a Christian turning on Christ.
by Paul David Tripp.This post is adapted from his book Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and DoHope Versus PanicIt is quite clear that your view of God will inescapably shape your perspective on your circumstances. In this way your theology is like a lens through which you examine life. This means you never come at your circumstances from some happy place of neutrality. You and I are always evaluating our situation from the vantage point of vertical awe or awelessness. In some way, we, like the children of Israel, are always asking and answering five deeply theological questions, and the way that we answer them will push us toward hope or panic.1. Is God good?Now you can rest assured that the goodness of God will confuse you. You see, what looks good from God's perfect eternity-to-destiny perspective doesn't always seem good to us at ground level. It is hard to accept that God knows better than we do. It is hard to admit that God can use difficulties for good in our lives. When it comes to what is good, it is very hard for us to stay on God's agenda. And again the issue of awe lies at the heart of this. If I live at the center of my God-given capacity for awe—that is, if awe of self has replaced awe of God—then I will invariably conclude that God is not always good, and loads of complaints will follow.
by Michael Hortonadapted from his new book, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God's Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life.What we meet in the unfolding biblical drama is not merely three “personas” but three concrete persons; not just three roles, but three actors. We encounter the Father as the origin of creation, redemption, and consummation, the Son as the mediator, and the Spirit as the one who brings every work to completion.There are various ways of formulating this mystery:1. The Son is the Father's image; the Spirit is the bond of love between them. Consequently, in every external work of the Godhead the Father is the source, the Son is the mediator, and the Spirit is the consummator. Creation exists from the Father, in the Son, by the power of the Spirit; in the new creation Christ is the head while the Spirit is the one who unites the members to him and renews them according to Christ's image to the glory of the Father.2. Or we can say that the Father works for us, the Son works among us, and the Spirit works within us.
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (eBook) by Walter MarshallSanctification (eBook) by J. C. RyleThe Doctrine of Sanctification (eBook) by A. W. PinkYour Sanctification (eBook) by C. H. SpurgeonHoliness (eBook) by J. C. RyleHow to Grow in Grace (eBook) by Archibald AlexanderThe Sanctifying Work of the Holy Spirit (eBook) by Abraham KuyperOn the Christian Life by John CalvinChrist, the Believer's Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption (eBook)by C H Spurgeon, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, Charles HodgeMortification of Sin in Believers (eBook) by John Owen
Have you noticed that whenever there is a terrorist attack that certain people rush to the defense of Islam saying "Well there are extremists in Christianity too" No doubt there are professing Christians who have committed despicable and inexcusable acts but it really misses the point entirely. There is something intrinsic to teaching in the Quran and early Islamic history that is somehow being missed in these online discussions.Muhammad directly taught, in many circumstances, that we ought to kill or subjugate our enemies (e.g.. Surah 9). Christ by example taught we ought to die for our enemies and liberate them ... It is recorded in history that Mohammed had murdered dozens of his enemies by the time of his death. Jesus, having killed no one, died to reconcile his enemies to himself, calling us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek when we are persecuted by them. Following these teachings, the first 500 years of Islam was a story of bloody conquest. The first few hundred years of the church was one of weakness and severe persecution for the followers of Christ, not conquest. So we can see that the teaching of the two heads of these faiths could not be more sharply contrasted. One leader in many circumstances gives justification to sacrifice others, the other only justification to sacrifice self for others.
Muhammed taught, in many circumstances, that we ought to kill or subjugate our enemies (e.g. Surah 9). Christ by example taught we ought to die for our enemies and liberate them ... It is recorded in history that Mohammed had killed dozens of his enemies by the time of his death. Jesus, having killed no one, died to reconcile his enemies to himself, calling us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek when we are persecuted by them. So we can see that the teaching of the two heads of these faiths could not be more sharply contrasted. One leader in many circumstances gives justification to sacrifce others, the other only justification to sacrifice self for others.This is certainly not to deny that there have been professing Christians in history who have killed others. There have been. But they were knowingly acting in disobedience to their Lord. (Christians are capable of sin like anyone else). But those Muslims who kill can appeal to a wide variety of Muhammed's teaching to justify murder. So the media portraying groups like ISIS as not true Muslims is a clear distortion of the truth. Certainly they do not represent all Muslims but they are not teaching anything much different from the founder of their faith.
by Graeme GoldsworthyIt cannot be stressed too much that to confuse the gospel with certain important things that go hand in hand with it is to invite theological, hermeneutical and spiritual confusion. Such ingredients of preaching and teaching that we might want to link with the gospel would include the need for the gospel (sin and judgment), the means of receiving the benefits of the gospel (faith and repentance), the results or fruit of the gospel (regeneration, conversion, sanctification, glorification) and the results of rejecting it (wrath, judgment, hell). These, however we define and proclaim them, are not in themselves the gospel. if something is not what God did in and through the historical Jesus two thousand years ago, it is not the gospel. Thus Christians cannot ‘live the gospel', as they are often exhorted to do. They can only believe it, proclaim it and seek to live consistently with it. Only Jesus lived (and died) the gospel. It is a once-for-all finished and perfect event done for us by another.When we confuse the fruit of the gospel in the Christian life for the gospel itself, hermeneutical confusion is introduced. The focus easily turns to the life of the believer and the experience of the Christian life. These can then become the norms by which Scripture is interpreted. Instead of interpreting our experience by the word, we start to interpret the word by our experience. Such reversal of perspective from Christ to self really begins the movement towards the autonomy of human reason in hermeneutical theory.
This post is adapted from the chapter entitled "Revelation" by Charles E. Hill in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized , edited by Michael J. Kruger.The Denouement of ScriptureThe “Revelation of Jesus Christ” portrays in dramatic fashion the paradoxical present rule of Jesus Christ as King of all the kings of the world, his ultimate triumph, and the salvation of his people through tribulation. As monumental as this is, it is not all. In the course of reexperiencing the visions John saw on Patmos, John's audience witnesses not only the salvation of man, God's image, but also the reclamation of the heavens, the earth, and the subterranean regions (i.e., the sea, the abyss, hades, fountains of water), the domains of man's dominion as originally given in Genesis 1–3. Revelation presents to us a great Serpent, a woman who brings forth a male child who is to rule the earth, and a final restoration of the tree of life. The symbolism of the book ranges through the entire Old Testament canonical Scriptures and drives us back to the very beginning for some of its most elemental imagery.
by Sinclair B. Ferguson“The Spirit’s coming inaugurates a communion with Christ in which the Spirit who dwelt on Christ now dwells on and in believers… The coming of the Spirit is the equivalent of the indwelling of Jesus…Having the Spirit is the equivalent, indeed the very mode, of having the incarnate, obedient, crucified, resurrected and exalted Christ indwelling us so that we are united to Him as He is united to the Father.It is this sense that John sees the difference that Pentecost signals in the ministry of the Spirit. Now, as the bond of union to God, the Spirit indwells all who believe as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a development of epochal proportions.The Spirit who was present and active at Christ’s conception as the head of the new creation, by whom He was anointed at baptism (John 1:32-34), who directed Him throughout His temptations (Matthew 4:1), empowered Him in His miracles (Luke 11:20), energized Him in His sacrifice (Hebrews 9:14), and vindicated Him in His resurrection (1 Timothy 3:16; Romans 1:4), now indwells disciples in this specific identity.This is the meaning of our Lord’s words, otherwise impossible to comprehend: ‘It is for your good that I am going away’ (John 16:7).”----- From Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit: Contours of Christian Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 71-72.
A Guest Post by Steve HaysOver the years I've read a number of prominent Christian apologists make their case for the Resurrection. Notable examples include John Warwick Montgomery, C.E.B. Cranfield, William Lane Craig, Timothy and Lydia McGrew, Richard Swinburne, Gary Habermas, N. T. Wright, and Mike Licona. Craig in particular has been influential in making a stereotypical case for the Resurrection, based on his minimal facts strategy, that's widely copied. So I was thinking recently about how I'd make a case for the Resurrection if I was asked to give a presentation at church or college.
The following free eBooks are mostly in ePub and .mobi formats. On the download page, use your default browser and not your Facebook app to download.The Atonement of Christ (eBook) by Francis Turretin(Also a moderized version here)Introductory Essay to John Owen's Death of Death in the Death of Christ (eBook) by J. I. PackerThe Death of Death in the Death of Christ (eBook) by John OwenThe Atonement (eBook) by A. A. HodgeChrist Crucified (eBook) by Stephen CharnockThe Doctrine of the Atonement As Taught By the Apostles (eBook) by George SmeatonThe Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by Jesus Himself (eBook) by George SmeatonThe Atonement (eBook) by Loraine Boettner
No, man has a will and he makes voluntary choices. But, being fallen, when he hears the gospel he makes the wrong choice. He loves darkness too much, he hates the light and will not come into the light lest his deeds be exposed (John 3:19-20). He neither understands nor wants to understand because he thinks Jesus Christ is foolish (1 Cor 2:14) So if he is to see and enter the kingdom he must be born again (John 3:3-8). As Augustine said, "to will is of nature, but to will aright is of grace."So predestination does not coerce anyone to sin and does not hold people back from life against their will. In it God reveals His affections to multitude of ill-deserving sinners and sets them aside for Himself in Christ, purchases them with His own blood and gathers them up through the gospel, which He germinates by His Holy Spirit in the hearts of His elect. Not because they are more righteous, but because of his sheer mercy. The rest He leaves to their own boasted "free will" which is really not free at all because they are willfully captive to sin and will not come to Him for life.Thus predestination is an act of mercy whereby in Christ God saves a multitude of sinners who would otherwise certainly be lost. Left to ourselves, we would all be without hope to be saved.
Two amazing quotes by Calvin on the relationship of justification and sanctification.by John Calvin:Justification and sanctification, gifts of grace, go together as if tied by an inseparable bond, so that if anyone tries to separate them, he is, in a sense, tearing Christ to pieces. Sanctification doesn't just flow from justification, so that one produces the other. Both come from the same Source. Christ justifies no one whom He does not also sanctify. By virtue of our union with Christ, He bestows both gifts, the one never without the other."Calvin's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:30, Volume XX, Baker, 1993, p. 93.
by Geerhardus Vos a) It is God the Father by way of eminence. Since regeneration appears as something completely new, it fits with the economy of the Father that regeneration is ascribed to Him. “According to his great mercy, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3; cf. also Jas 1:18; Eph 2:5; and the expression “born of God,” 1 John 5:1, 4, 18). b) The Son is related to regeneration in more than one way. 1. He is the meriting cause. He has obtained the Holy Spirit, who works all subjective grace, and so has also obtained regeneration (Rom 5:18). 2. He is the head to whom believers are joined as members by regeneration, and who thus lives in them and expresses His life in them (Gal 2:20). 3. He is the image into which the believers are transformed in regeneration and to which continually they are also being increasingly conformed (1 Cor 15:49; Gal 4:19). c) The Holy Spirit is the one who effects regeneration [John 6:63] for the sake of the Father and the Son in the heart of the sinner, as He in general organizes the mystical body of Christ.------

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