Guest Post by Steve Hays1. Two recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida renewed perennial debates about the problem of natural evil. Calvinists and freewill theists give different answers. A friend asked me to comment on this old screed by Rachel Held Evans:¬ I rarely read RHE. Outrage is crack cocaine for folks like RHE. The moral satisfaction of waxing judgmental gives them a temporary high. They're addicted to indignation. They live for indignation. Because the high wears off, they are constantly on the lookout for something wax indignant about.¬ ¬ In her post, RHE uses John Piper as a foil to attack Calvinism in general. She also uses the occasion as a pretext to launch into a gratuitous tirade against C. J. Mahaney. I say gratuitous because that has nothing to do with natural evil.¬ ¬ In this post I'm not going to comment on the allegations against Mahaney, both because it's a red herring in relation to the primary topic of her post, and simply because I'm in no position to offer an informed opinion regarding his complicity, if any, in the scandal.¬
by Thaddeus Williams‚ÄúFor our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.‚ÄĚ(2 Corinthians 5:21)What is substitutionary atonement?The cross of Jesus is where the substitutionary atonement happened. On the cross, Jesus served as our substitute and atoned for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).At the cross, our sin became Christ's sin, our blameworthiness became Christ's blameworthiness, the wrath we deserve from an infinitely just Being became the wrath He absorbed from an inÔ¨Ānitely just Being. It made salvation possible for spiritually dead sinners wrought with guilt. As if this weren't good news enough, Christ's blamelessness became our blamelessness, Christ's reward became our reward, Christ's perfection our perfection, and Christ's conÔ¨Ādent standing before the holy and just Father became our confident standing before the holy and just Father.We can no more improve on Christ's imputed righteousness than we can count past inÔ¨Ānity.‚ÄúThis is our acquittal: the guilt that held us liable for punishment has been transferred to the head of the Son of God‚Ä¶We must, above all, remember this substitution, lest we tremble and remain anxious throughout life‚ÄĒas if God's righteous vengeance, which the Son of God has taken upon himself, still hung over us‚Ä¶.[To] take away all cause for enmity and to reconcile us utterly to himself, he wipes out all evil in us by the expiation set forth in the death of Christ; that we, who were previously unclean and impure, may show ourselves righteous and holy in his sight.‚ÄĚ(John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2, pp. 506, 510)
Yes, I believe God ordains all that comes to pass (Eph 1:11) If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?" (Amos 3:6). After losing all ten of his children after a great wind had caused the collapse of his son's house, Job says, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). After being covered with boils he says, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). Our world has been under judgment since the Fall, so there is sickness, death and calamity.Jesus declared that disasters are reminders that we all live in our fallen world, of life's precariousness and ought to cause us all to repent:(Quote) "...those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.‚ÄĚ (Luke 13:1‚Äď5)Does this mean we (the church) should sit on our hands? No, I am thankful that God also ordains that his church would engage in acts of mercy and pray ... and that the prayers of His saints will play a role in, and affect the outcome of events and be instrumental in the salvation of souls. God ordains both the means and the ends.
When the Holy Spirit regenerates a man and joins him to Christ, He shows him the heinousness of his sin. Seeing he cannot save himself from it, the sinner appeals to Christ to deliver him both from 1) sin's guilt and 2) from its power; from God's wrath and from sin's bondage; to not only justify him, but to sanctify him --- to apply the double cure. Christ did not die for our sin so we could have peace with sin but so that we would go to war with sin. No regenerate man says 'Lord forgive my guilt but leave me in my bondage to my sin.' No, by the grace of God, he flees from sin to Christ for salvation - salvation from God's wrath as well as deliverance from our sinful self, for the power of the Spirit to put off sin. So unlike some modern teaching, salvation does not merely consist of being delivered from God's wrath but includes much more. Many in the justification-only crowd and some liberal theologians have used this theology as an excuse to live in sin. But as J. I. Packer once said, "A half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth."
A common misunderstanding about amillennialism is that ‚Äúcovenant theologians regard the kingdom of God as a wholly invisible and wholly present reality with no future, earthly fulfillment.‚ÄĚ It is argued that because amillennialists have no place in their eschatological scheme for Jesus reigning upon a earthly throne in Jerusalem, they therefore by necessity have no place for an earthly, consummated kingdom. Far to the contrary, the amillennial position on the nature of God's kingdom is that it is both a present and future reality ‚Äď i.e., that it is both already-and-not-yet, inaugurated but not consummated ‚Äď and that both these present and future elements of the kingdom include spiritual as well as earthly dimensions. This fulfillment, however, will not take place during a future millennial period but rather at the end of the age when Christ returns and heaven and earth are renewed. To say that because amillennialists do not affirm Christ's earthly reign ‚Äúfrom a throne in Jerusalem‚ÄĚ then they cannot affirm an earthly future for God's kingdom is to confuse a particular (premillennial) understanding of what Christ's reign will look like with the broader category of God's kingdom. Such an assertion would be similar to an amillennialist saying that because premillennialists do not affirm that Satan is currently bound so they cannot affirm the current, spiritual presence of God's kingdom.The follow excepts conclusively show that the above position is the amillennial position.Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism
Just a couple of comments on one of the articles in the Nashville StatementARTICLE 10WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree------If I may add my 2 cents to Article 10:Those within the visible church who APPROVE of homosexual immorality are not acting in love toward our neighbor but, for fear of man's opinion, are denying him or her the gospel, which is the only hope for any of us. Those churches who approve are, therefore, guilty of doing harm and/or murdering souls.If I say to the wicked, ‚ÄėYou shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand." - Ezek 3:18
While peace and global unity are laudable pursuits on the surface, such goals ought to be seen in the light of what took place at the Tower of Babe (Gen 11:1-9). This event stands as a stark warning against utopianism, against man's proud and unending use of politics, economics and false religion to attain global unity apart from God. Mankind's ability to fashion such a world was forfeited at the fall and until we return to our Creator, and embrace His appointed means to reach this goal, mankind's quest for global unity will inevitably end in chaos and utter destruction.According to Scripture, mankind will indeed finally succeed in creating this global counterfeit kingdom (Rev 13:8, 16:9, 17:8) but God will overthrow it, bring judgment on the earth, and join the family of man together under his righteous rule and bring in the only true lasting kingdom. (Rev 21)"And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Dan 2:43- 44
by Dean DavisNOTE: The essay below is an extract from the book, The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys to the Great End Time Debate by Dean Devis (Redemption Press, 2014). It deals with one of the great biblical signs of the imminence of the Consummation: the large-scale converision of ethnic Israel in the last of the Last Days. Though other biblical texts touch on this theme (see note 1), Romans 11:11-36 gives us the single most important discussion of this holy mystery. I hope you will enjoy my humble attempt to plumb its amazing depths.An Exposition of Romans 11:11-36Though this passage touches only indirectly upon the Consummation, it is of great importance, since here we are supplied with yet another outstanding sign of its imminence: the latter day conversion of ethnic Israel at large, leading swiftly to the Parousia and the Resurrection of the dead. Later, I will touch on some of the practical implications of this unique revelation for Christian life and ministry. First, however, we must examine the text itself, in order to see if this really is the apostle's message.Introduction
by Costi HinnProsperity is hot topic in the church. Does God care if a pastor drives a nice car or lives in a nice home? Does God command that all who follow Him take a vow of poverty and starve their families in a protest of earthly comfort? Bible teachers sell millions of books and accumulate mass amounts of wealth, are they in the same league as other wealthy preachers? Some men will have deep convictions about attaining any measure of wealth, while others will be content use their wealth to give back to their church. Some will use their wealth to fund a child's college tuition, or even scholarship a seminary student. Others will invest their wealth with the goal of giving even more away in the future.Stewardship comes in all shapes and sizes but one thing doesn't‚ÄĒGod's ability to weigh a man's heart and motives. It is a man's heart that God is most interested in and the gospel a man proclaims that God will judge most. When Heaven's final bell rings and every man is recompensed according to his deeds, God will have the final say. The issue will not be whether that pastor took home a six-figure salary; the issue will be what that man taught and wrote while representing the gospel of Jesus Christ.In this article, the prosperity gospel is placed front and center as one of the deadliest teachings in the world today. It has attached itself to the Bible, and to Jesus Christ‚ÄĒthough it has no business doing so. Billions chase after it in search of stability and hope. Yet, all those who live and die trusting in the prosperity gospel for salvation will be left wanting in both this life, and the next.What is Prosperity Gospel Theology?
What do we mean when we make the distinction between the visible and invisible church? And what is the reason for this distinction? Starting around the 4th century - the expression "Visible Church" was refered to by theologians, not to a building, but to the members on the rolls of a local church. In other words, all persons who are members of a local church are considered to be a part of the visible church.On the other hand, the invisible church refers to those persons who have actually been regenerated or quickened by the Holy Sprit, God's elect or true believers. Augustine referred to the church as a mixed body, a visible people, but this people has both tares and wheat, as described by Jesus. In other words, there is no such thing as a perfect church, and there will always people in the church there with bad motives or are there for the wrong reason. There will always be people who claim to love Christ but whose heart is far from Him. Many, Jesus says, will say on that day, did we not do this and that in your name? Jesus wil then say, "I never knew you". These are descriptions of some people now sitting in your local church and Jesus says of them that he "never knew them!!!" Some persons are in church for show, to be seen by men as pious, others perhaps for a social club or to show of their ability to wax eloquent when discussing theology. These persons hearts are completely invisible to us, but of course, they are not invisible to God and only He can know who is truly regenerate, so we must be generous in our judgements.The following is a detailed description of the orthodox doctrine of the visible and invisible church as explained by Pastor Brian Schwertley. It is well worth reading and quite helpful:
Our motivation makes the difference. The legalist obeys God's commands in order to attain and/or maintain their just standing before God; something that is clearly Christ's office alone. Evangelical obedience, if I may use that term, obeys out of a renewed heart. i.e. because he is born again and God's seed dwells in him (1 John 3:9). The thought of abiding in sin goes against the grain of who is is - a Spirit-indwelt believer whose heart now has the law of God written upon it.Being set free from the curse of the law means we are no longer under its condemnation (Rom 8:1) because Jesus has fulfilled the law on our behalf (Rom 8:3-4). But this does not mean we are to cease obeying God's commands."this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world." 1 John 5:3-4
A guest post by Steve HaysI've posted most of the definitions at one time or another, but it's useful to collate them in one place.¬ ¬ Is Calvinism fatalistic? Is determinism synonymous with fatalism?¬ Critics of Calvinism use "fatalism" as an inaccurate term of abuse, because it has invidious connotations that a neutral term does not. Here are some standard definitions and explanations of fatalism. Calvinism is not fatalistic:¬ Fatalism, in its most usual sense, should not be confused with predestination. Fatalism asserts an abstract necessity without regard to causal antecedents and thus is diametrically opposed to predestination, in which causes and effects, ends and means, are determined in relation to one another. The use of means is rendered futile by fatalism, but not by predestination.¬ The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 4:180.¬ According to this view, then, determinism is the thesis that everything that occurs, including our deliberations and decisions, are causally necessitated by antecedent conditions. Fatalism, by contrast, is the doctrine that our deliberations and decisions are causally ineffective and make no difference to the course of events. In circumstances of fatalism what happens does not depend on how the agent deliberates. The relevant outcome will occur no matter what the agent decides.¬ Clearly, however, determinism does not imply fatalism. While there are some circumstances in which deliberation is futile (i.e. 'local fatalism'), deliberation is nevertheless generally effective in a deterministic world.
The following is an excerpt of a short conversation that ensued as a result of this Lloyd-Jones quote:Visitor: Actually Man was made in the image of God and God said that His creation was very good!! I do not see myself as a wretch but as a child of God, who God thought was worth the blood of Jesus. He must have seen incredible worth in us to send His Son to die for us!! I have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. By His sacrifice we can once again be conformed into His image and bring glory to His name. I wouldn't call my God given image a 'vile wretch'. I think that is just false humility born out of religion and spoken by someone who does not understand their true identity in Christ!-----Response: Actually it not false humility. It's simply an acknowledgement of the truth. Apart from Christ we all justly deserve the wrath of God. If there is anything good in us, good inclinations, works pleasing to God etc, it is from Christ. The rest is our fault. If we don't understand that then we do not even understand the most basic reason for the gospel. Jesus came to rescue us, to free the captives from their bondage to sin. He did not come to give us advice about how to save ourselves.We all agree we were created in the image of God. Praise the Lord. But we have made a shipwreck of God's gifts and have distorted that image with our sin. But in Christ as we behold the glory of God he transforms us into his likeness, but now all of us are woefully far from loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Like many of you, my heart was broken and saddened by the abominable evils we witnessed in Charlottesville ... so, so painful when the story broke. To see that kind of heinous evil and racism today ...it is disgraceful. But it reveals again how much work still needs to be done, and it serves as a looking glass to remind us of our own sin. So let us, by grace, put all rising thoughts of hate and prejudice to death (1 John 2:9-17; 3:14-15; 4:19-20; Col 3:8) and pray with the apostle Paul: "may the Lord make [us] increase and abound in love FOR ONE ANOTHER and FOR ALL" (1 Thess 3:12) There is no greater time than the present for the church to glorify her Lord by being a holy community of love ... to break down walls, to break down barriers to embrace our brothers and sisters who have come from all walks of life ... and to dignify ALL people we meet as image bearers of God. And by God's grace, may the church stand apart from the shrill political rhetoric, the virtue signalling, and rather, (Lord help us) abound in love for one another.
Listen to Audio or watch this Video of this sermonby John MacArthur1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16It was about 25 years ago in my life that I was asked to write a little book, and the original title of that little book was Focus on Fact.¬ You've probably never seen it; it didn't last very long.¬ It came out in another edition with another title a couple of years later, and that title was Why I Trust The Bible.¬ It was 1983.¬ And as I was preparing to write that book about why I trust the Bible, which is really what the first one was about as well, I had to answer the question why did I trust the Bible.¬ What was it about the truth of Scripture that made it believable to me?¬ Was I smarter than everybody else?¬ Had I been presented a more powerful set of evidences about Scripture?¬ And certainly such can be presented.¬ Why did I have such immense confidence in the Bible?
Biblical Theology in the tradition of Geerhardus Vos approaches the Bible as an organic drama of God's unfolding revelation through history. In distinction from doctrinal or systematic theology, biblical theology follows the progressively unfolding revelation of God's words and deeds through history. This linear aspect of revelation unites each revelatory event and proclamation both retrospectively and prospectively. Vos described the organic continuation of revelation in history as a flower expanding from bud to blossom. The blossom is retrospectively united to the bud; the bud is prospectively united to the blossom. One of the tasks/privileges of the interpreter of Scripture is to draw out these organic prospective and retrospective relationships. At the center of this organic unity is the person and work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Even as our Risen Lord related all of Scripture retrospectively and prospectively to himself (Luke 24:27), so Reformed biblical theology is preeminently Christocentric. We seek to display Christ in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
by Martin Luther‚ÄúWhen I am converted by the Gospel, the Holy Spirit is present. He takes me as clay and makes of me a new creature, which is endowed with a different mind, heart, and thoughts, that is, with a true knowledge of God and a sincere trust in His grace.To summarize, the very essence of my heart is renewed and changed. This makes me a new plant, one that is grafted on Christ the Vine and grows from Him. My holiness, righteousness, and purity do not stem from me, nor do they depend on me. They come solely from Christ and are based only in Him, in whom I am rooted by faith, just as the sap flows from the stalk into the branches. Now I am like Him and of His kind. Both He and I are of one nature and essence, and I bear fruit in Him and through Him. This fruit is not mine; it is the Vine's.Thus Christ and the Christians become one loaf and one body, so that the Christian can bear good fruit‚ÄĒnot Adam's or his own, but Christ's. For when a Christian baptizes, preaches, consoles, exhorts, works, and suffers, he does not do this as a man descended from Adam; it is Christ who does this in him.The lips and tongue with which he proclaims and confesses God's Word are not his; they are Christ's lips and tongue. The hands with which he toils and serves his neighbor are the hands and members of Christ, who, as He says here, is in him; and he is in Christ.Behold, with the words ‚ÄėHe who abides in Me, and I in him' (John 15:5) Christ wants to indicate that Christianity is not brought in from without; it is not put on like a garment, nor does it consist in the adoption of a new manner of living, which, like monasticism and self-chosen sanctity, is concerned with works.
N. T. Wright explains why he denies the doctrine of imputed righteousness:"If we use the language of the law court, it makes no sense whatever to say that the judge imputes, imparts, bequeaths or conveys or otherwise transfers his righteousness to either the plaintiff or the defendant. Righteousness is not an object, a substance or a gas which can be passed across the courtroom." N. T. Wright, What Paul Really Said, pg. 98Michael Reeves Responds:"But if Christ takes our sin and we take his righteousness because we are united to him, then all those difficulties melt away. As Calvin would argue: " We do not, therefore, contemplate him (Christ) outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body - in short, because he deigns to make us one with him." - Calvin, Institutes 3.11.10. If Christ and the believer are made one then the sin-righteousness swap is as unobjectionable as what happens in a marriage when a man and woman become one. It is as if a rich husband were - at his own cost to pay off all his wife's debts and then share with her his enormous wealth.----Source: What the Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester,More Resources on Union with Christ
The 2017 Greenville Seminary Spring Theology Conference commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant ReformationThe following files are in MP3 format.¬ To download, right click and save to your hard drive.01 - Sola Scriptura by Dr. Joel Beeke02 - Luther's Providential God by Dr. Robert Kolb03 - Question & Answer 1 by Dr. Robert Kolb04 - Sola Gratia by Joseph A. Pipa Jr.05 - Luther's Preaching on the Parables by Dr. Robert Kolb06 - Solus Christus by Cliff Blair07 - Sola Fide by Carl Robbins08 - Panel Discussion by Joseph A. Pipa Jr.09 - Soli Deo Gloria by Dr. L. Michael Morales10 - Law as Friend and Foe in Luther's Theology by Dr. Michael Whiting11 - Luther on Life without Dichotomy by Dr. James E. McGoldrick
by John FrameThe doctrine that God foreordains and directs all events is generally regarded as Calvinistic, and I am not embarrassed to be called a Calvinist. However, other Christian traditions also accept this doctrine, sometimes in spite of themselves. Take Arminianism for example. The Arminian makes much of human "free will," insisting that our free decisions, especially those of religious significance, are not foreordained or otherwise determined by God. He seeks thereby to reinforce the doctrine of human responsibility (a doctrine with which, in itself, the Calvinist has no quarrel). But the Arminian also recognizes (1) that God foreknows the future exhaustively, and (2) that He has created the world knowing what the future will bring. For example, before the foundation of the world, God knew that Joe would make a free decision to become a Christian. Somehow, then, before Joe was born, God knew of his free decision. So even at that time, Joe's free decision must have been inevitable. Why was it inevitable? Not because of Joe's free will, for Joe was not yet born. Not because of God's predestination, because the Arminian denies that possibility from the outset. It would seem that the inevitability in question had some source other than either Joe or God.[Frame's Note]: That is a scary possibility! In rejecting "divine determinism," the Arminian in effect embraces a determinism coming from some mysterious other source -- another god? the Devil? world history? impersonal laws? In any case, this idea certainly does not leave much room for free will.]
I have always loved Deuteronomy. In fact the Lord used this book as a key instrument in my own conversion. Deuteronomy is a book of the Law and reveals the holiness of God. Reading it will instill the deep fear of the Lord in a person.But according to the Text, did Israel receive God's favor because they were obedient to the Law and deserved it? No, God declared to the Israelites three times that the "Lord your God is NOT giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for (He said) you are a stubborn people." But rather the reason the He says He blesses them is to confirm the word of promise and grace that the Lord swore to to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Deut 9:5-6)And while the first 28 chapters of the book give God's holy law and declares that they will be blessed and righteousness if they obey but cursed if they disobey. Yet were they able to obey it? No, as Joshua said, they will not obey because God is holy. (Joshua 24:19) Furthermore, in Deuteronomy 29:4, after the giving of the law, God declares, "But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear." So what were they to do? Not only was God's promise based on the favor he showed to Abraham but also He promised them that "the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:6) It is grace that would make the children of promise willing to obey, apart from which, there would naturally be only stubborn hardness of heart.
by J. C. RyleI. To the question ‚Äúwhat Evangelical Religion is? ‚ÄĚ the simplest answer I can give is to point out what appear to be its leading features. These I consider to be five in number.( a ) The first leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the absolute supremacy it assigns to Holy Scripture , as the only rule of faith and practice, the only test of truth, the only judge of controversy.Its theory is that man is required to believe nothing, as necessary to salvation, which is not read in God's Word written, or can be proved thereby. It totally denies that there is any other guide for man's soul, coequal or co-ordinate with the Bible. It refuses to listen to such arguments as ‚Äúthe Church says so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚Äúthe Fathers say so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚Äúprimitive antiquity says so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚ÄúCatholic tradition says so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚Äúthe Councils say so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚Äúthe ancient liturgies say so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚Äúthe Prayer-book says so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚Äúthe universal conscience of mankind says so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ‚Äúthe verifying light within says so,‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒunless it can be shown that what is said is in harmony with Scripture.
Here is my response to a meme I came across today which attempts to critique the Calvinist who says an Arminian's choice of following Jesus can be grounds for boasting before God.-----Salvation is a gift, in its entirety. Jesus provides EVERYTHING we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe (Deut 29:4, 30:6; Ezek 36:26; Eph 2:8). Your meme presumes that the new heart to believe is not part of God's gift to us but that faith is something that can naturally spring from our unregenerated human nature, apart from grace, apart from God's gift. Your meme wrongly assumes that the captives do not need liberating from their love of darkness, hatred of the light and unwillingness to come into the light (John 3:19; 1 Cor 2:14) ... since their wills are already good. That this Spirit wrought change of heart is not part of God's grace but that the unhardening of our own heart is something we are naturally willing and able to do on our own. But just like a seed needs rain from heaven to grow so the seed of the gospel needs the Holy Spirit to be germinated. 'No one says Jesus is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3).Likewise 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. 65Yet your position forces you to believe that a person can come to faith in Christ even if the Father DOES NOT grant it, or willing to come even if the Spirit DOES NOT quicken, and so your position by default presumes that the flesh DOES indeed count for SOMETHING, contrary to the bible.
by Herman BavinckBoth for unbelievers and believers, the doctrine of election is a source of inexpressibly great comfort. If it were based on justice and merit, all would be lost. But now that election operates according to grace, there is hope even for the most wretched. If work and reward were the standard of admission into the kingdom of heaven, its gates would be opened for no one. Or if Pelagius's doctrine were the standard, and the virtuous were chosen because of their virtue, and Pharisees because of their righteousness, wretched publicans would be shut out. Pelagianism has no pity. But to believe in and to confess election is to recognize even the most unworthy and degraded human being as a creature of God and an object of his eternal love. The purpose of election is not‚ÄĒas it is so often proclaimed‚ÄĒto turn off the many but to invite all to participate in the riches of God's grace in Christ. No one has a right to believe that he or she is a reprobate, for everyone is sincerely and urgently called to believe in Christ with a view to salvation. No one can actually believe it, for one's own life and all that makes it enjoyable is proof that God takes no delight in his death. No one really believes it, for that would be hell on earth. But election is a source of comfort and strength, of submissiveness and humility, of confidence and resolution. The salvation of human beings is firmly established in the gracious and omnipotent good pleasure of God.-----
by C. H. Spurgeon‚ÄúBut I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒGalatians 1:11A gospel which is after men will be welcomed by men; but it needs a divine operation upon the heart and mind to make a man willing to receive into his inmost soul this distasteful gospel of the grace of God. My dear brethren, do not try to make it tasteful to carnal minds.Hide not the offense of the cross, lest you make it of none effect.¬ The angles and corners of the gospel are its strength: to pare them off is to deprive it of power. Toning down is not the increase of strength, but the death of it.Why, even among the sects, you must have noticed that their distinguishing points are the horns of their power; and when these are practically omitted, the sect is effete. Learn, then, that if you take Christ out of Christianity, Christianity is dead.If you remove grace out of the gospel, the gospel is gone. If the people do not like the doctrine of grace, give them all the more of it. Whenever its enemies rail at a certain kind of gun, a wise military power will provide more of such artillery.A great general, going in before his king, stumbled over his own sword. ‚ÄúI see,‚ÄĚ said the king, ‚Äúyour sword is in the way.‚ÄĚ The warrior answered, ‚ÄúYour majesty‚Äôs enemies have often felt the same.‚ÄĚ That our gospel offends the King‚Äôs enemies is no regret to us.-----From¬ Charles H. Spurgeon, ‚ÄúGalatians 1:11 - Our Manifesto.‚ÄĚ Preached on April 25th, 1890, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
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