Sunday, January 31, 2010

Believing is the Evidence of the New Birth

Awesome explanation of the new birth by John Piper!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The "Seeker"-Sensitive Gospel

What I Believe About Election by Jack Brooks

I was recently asked why I described myself as a moderate Calvinist. The "moderate" part reflects the fact that I understand the Scripture to teach that, in some sense, Christ died for everyone without exception. Christ provided the possibility of redemption for everyone, and an actual redemption is applied only to the elect -- those who are given the gift of faith. The logic problems that my five-point Calvinist brethren immediately raise don't sway me, since the only concern I choose to have is over what specific verses actually say in the original languages -- not how many logic syllogisms my view might seem to contradict, or how one escapes "double jeopardy", and so on. Those philosophical objections don't matter to the question, "what does this verse mean?" because, in the end, they are philosophical objections, not exegetical questions. Only exegetical principles matter when one is asking the question, "What does this verse mean?" The question, "How can I reconcile this with these other ideas over here" is a secondary, or even a tertiary, concern. Not a primary concern. Limited atonement does not survive consistent, thorough-going exegetical analysis. It's our job to iron out any wrinkles that the exegesis might create in the over-all fabric of our systematic theology.

But what about election to salvation?

It is impossible for God to elect anyone to salvation on the condition of foreseeing the sinner's willingness, or exercise of faith. This is because sinners are not capable of being willing, or of exercising faith, apart from the grace of God causing them to become so. Sinners are dead, not wounded. They have zero godly virtue in their hearts. All their righteousness is like filthy rags in the eyes of God. Lost people, that is, people who are still in their natural, Adamic condition, cannot exercise faith in Christ. An unregenerate person is incapable of accepting, welcoming, embracing the truths of God's Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12-14). It isn't just that the sinner will not accept them. He cannot accept them.

Unbelievers are spiritually blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). They do not want to find God (Romans 3:11). They commit sins, not because of bad up-bringing, but because their hearts are hardened by sin (Ephesians 4:17-18). Their thoughts and actions are controlled by sinful lust, lusts of both body and mind, which are inflamed by the prince of the power of the air, Satan (Ephesians 2:3). Non-Christians have no ability to put faith in Christ (John 6:44, 65).

To affirm free will, as "free will" is commonly understood, is the same thing as denying the Bible's teachings about sin, and its effects on the human race.

God chose us to be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:13). He didn't chose for us to just have an opportunity to be saved, but to actually be saved. According to this text, the two-sided method God used was the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (exerted on our hearts prior to faith) and our faith in the Gospel. God chose to do this for us prior to the creation of the universe. He could not foresee our faith, because we had no faith for Him to foresee, nor did we have any ability to have faith for Him to foresee. Any faith God might foresee was foreseen because He put it in our hearts. The ultimate goal of our salvation is to enable us to attain Christ's resurrection glory.

Read Jesus' words in John 6 carefully. Jesus was the most "Calvinistic" preacher around. Jesus said that sinners come to Him because the heavenly Father first gave them to Christ (John 6:37). It is impossible for anyone given to Christ by God not to come (John 6:37). The converting work of the Spirit cannot be successfully resisted. It is impossible for anyone who comes to Christ to fall away and be lost (John 6:39-40). God irresistibly draws the sinner to Christ by spiritually teaching him or her the truth of the Gospel (John 6:45).

God desires many things that never happen. God did not desire Joseph's brothers to sin against Joseph, because God hates sin, but He ordained that they should go ahead and sin against Joseph, for a higher purpose of His own intent (Genesis 50:20). God predetermined that Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Romans, and the people of Israel should reject Jesus, and crucify Him (Acts 4:27). He found displeasure in their sin, but preordained that they should act as they did, fully in obedience to their own wicked souls. God calls all men everywhere to repent, while at the same time knowing that all men everywhere will not repent. Even Arminians teach this, and don't charge God with insincerity. So we cannot charge God with insincerity in regards to election, either.

The affirmation of free will reflects a humanistic, anti-Biblical view of the spiritual condition of lost mankind. The Bible clearly teaches that everyone's heart is in bondage to Satan. You can baptize them until they drown, it won't save them. You can fill them with consecrated bread and wine until they can eat and drink no more, and it won't save them. You can strive to live a faithful Christian life until the day you die, and it doesn't save you. God, by Himself alone, saves you, from beginning to end.

HT: Truth Matters

Serious Preaching by Jim Elliff

I have been considering for some time the desperate condition of preaching in the West. I have even toyed with the idea of writing a booklet entitled Serious Preaching. Such preaching is out of vogue, but I still believe in it. Please know that I’m not talking about serious sweating. It used to be said that if a man didn't fill his hanky with sweat, make himself hoarse with screaming and wind up walking on about two inches of his pants cuff, he hadn’t really preached at all! Billy Sunday, the baseball-player-turned-evangelist of the early 1900’s, was like that. But, with all the humor and quaintness of his message and style, after reading his sermons (and even hearing one on tape) I am left empty. He could rivet a sinner with words like a machine gunner, he could wave his chair and compel them to listen, he could lure them down the “sawdust trail” (his words, by the way), but all in all, nothing very important was said. It is easy to wave a Bible and yet never preach it. There are many who have fought hard for the inerrancy of Scripture who don’t sufficiently break open the Bible they fought for. No, What we need is doctrinal preaching...real solid truth.

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Air Conditioning Hell: How Liberalism Happens

by Albert Mohler

Though any number of central beliefs and core doctrines were subjected to liberal revision or outright rejection, the doctrine of hell was often the object of greatest protest and denial.

Considering hell and its related doctrines, Congregationalist pastor Washington Gladden declared: "To teach such a doctrine as this about God is to inflict upon religion a terrible injury and to subvert the very foundations of morality."[3]

Though hell had been a fixture of Christian theology since the New Testament, it became an odium theologium—a doctrine considered repugnant by the larger culture and now retained and defended only by those who saw themselves as self-consciously orthodox in theological commitment.

Novelist David Lodge dated the final demise of hell to the decade of the 1960s. "At some point in the nineteen-sixties, Hell disappeared. No one could say for certain when this happened. First it was there, then it wasn't." University of Chicago historian Martin Marty saw the transition as simple and, by the time it actually occurred, hardly observed. "Hell disappeared. No one noticed," he asserted.[4]

The liberal theologians and preachers who so conveniently discarded hell did so without denying that the Bible clearly teaches the doctrine. They simply asserted the higher authority of the culture's sense of morality. In order to save Christianity from the moral and intellectual damage done by the doctrine, hell simply had to go. Many rejected the doctrine with gusto, claiming the mandate to update the faith in a new intellectual age. Others simply let the doctrine go dormant, never to be mentioned in polite company.

What of today's evangelicals? Though some lampoon the stereotypical "hell-fire and brimstone" preaching of an older evangelical generation, the fact is that most church members may never have heard a sermon on hell—even in an evangelical congregation. Has hell gone dormant among evangelicals as well?

Read the full article here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do You Have Integrity? - Tim Conway

Watch the full sermon here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Catholic Mysticism and the Emerging Church Reexamined

A very important presentation by Richard Bennett from Bearean Beacon given to an audience in London.

Mysticism attempts to gain ultimate knowledge of God by a direct experience that bypasses the mind. Catholic mysticism, now officially married to the Emerging Church, needs to be reexamined.

Public Passion VS Private Devotion

by Francis Chan

It is hard to be rejected. I hated it in junior high, and I still hate it today. It didn’t take long to learn how to fit in, in order to avoid the pain of rejection. That ability has stayed with me and begs me to use it. I know how to keep people from rejecting me and leaving the church. I know what words to say and which actions to take to keep people around. But when I do that, I’m no longer leading. I’m being led by the right or wrong desires of the people.

God calls us to give people what they need. Based on His word, regardless of whether they stick around. Jesus led. Few followed, but He kept leading.

Last summer I came to a shocking realization that I had to share with my wife: If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment. I know better how to cater to people’s desires so they stick around. Jesus was never really good at that. He was the one who said, “He who loves father or mother … son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37 NIV) I’m much more popular than Jesus.

Having come to that conclusion, I came back to the church with resolve to call people to the same commitment Christ called them to. I knew that people would leave, and they have. I found comfort in that because, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26 NIV) Over time though, the conviction can fade, and it gets tiresome seeing people leave. There is a constant pull to try to keep people around rather than truly lead the faithful who remain. When my church was started, I used to tell my wife that I didn’t care if we only had ten people, as long as they really loved God and desired to worship Him with all of their hearts. Where is that conviction now?

Read the full post here

Monday, January 18, 2010

Heavenly-minded, Courageous John Bradford

By Steve Burchett

What would inspire a man to fearlessly preach Christ and offer words of hope in the minutes just before he was burned to death on a stake? Consider the life, and death, of John Bradford.

John Bradford lived in Britain in the 16th century. He was born around 1510, converted in 1547, and he became a "roving chaplain" in 1550, rebuking sin and preaching Christ. Eventually, the rule in Britain was handed over to a rogue regime set against the gospel. The ensuing persecution was fierce, and Bradford was imprisoned because of his love for Christ. He was ultimately condemned to die by wicked men. Another believer, 19 year-old John Leaf, was to be killed beside Bradford. Finally, the day of their martyrdom arrived. Faith Cook tells what happened next:

Approaching the stake, both men fell on their faces in one brief moment of silent prayer. "Arise and make an end," said the sheriff impatiently, "for the press of the people is great." And so the martyrs were chained to the stake. Just moments before the fires were lit, John Bradford lifted up his face and hands in one last plea to his countrymen: "O England, England, repent thee of thy sins. Beware of false anti-christs; take heed they do not deceive you." He asked forgiveness of any he might have wronged and freely forgave those who so grievously offended against him. After begging the prayers of the people, he turned to address young John Leaf, his fellow-sufferer. The words are unforgettable: "Be of good comfort brother; for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night!"1

What gave John Bradford the courage to live, and die, for His Savior? Was he just a naturally gutsy guy? No, Bradford's courage was inspired by his knowledge of the eternal inheritance to come. Read again these words of Bradford to John Leaf: "Be of good comfort brother; for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night!" Because Bradford's mind was enthralled with future blessings in eternity, he was freed from the fear of man and the comforts of this world.

Even while Bradford was sitting in prison, his thoughts were on the joys of heaven. He wrote the following to his loved ones:

Ah! dear hearts, be not faint-hearted. Continue to walk in the fear of the Lord, as you have well begun. At the length we shall meet together in Christ's kingdom, and there never part asunder . . . O joyful place; O place of all places desired!2

John Bradford endured suffering and death for Christ because he knew and believed God's promises. He did what Peter charged his suffering readers to do: "Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13). Bradford was like Abraham who "by faith . . . lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land . . . for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:9-10, emphasis added).

Bradford understood and believed what those suffering Christians knew in Hebrews 10:34. Faced with the choice to either hide and avoid persecution, or visit fellow believers in prison and lose their goods, the author of Hebrews writes, "For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one" (emphasis mine). Like these believers, Bradford's fixation with heaven was the key to his courageous faith.

What was the impact of Bradford's life and death? Cook writes that he confirmed "by his death the truth of that doctrine he had so diligently and powerfully preached" and "inscribed the Reformation truths more deeply on the conscience of the nation."3 He had previously prayed that God would give him strength to glorify Him by his death. His prayer was answered.

John Bradford teaches us the importance of living in light of the hope that awaits us in Christ in heaven. By filling our minds with the truth about the blessings of eternity (which will take more than just a few minutes a day of meditation on Scripture!), we will be strengthened to live for Christ today. This means we must beware of bondage to anything this world has to offer, like the television, or computers, or supped-up technological gadgets. Those things are not wicked, but habitually overusing them will dull your affections for Christ and make you a selfish person who lives a cozy, Christ-denying, non-influential life.

"So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." (Hebrews 13:13-14)


1 Faith Cook, Singing in the Fire (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2008), 7-8.
2 Ibid., 6.
3 Ibid., 8.

Copyright © 2009 Steve Burchett. Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including web address. All other uses require written permission.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Armor of God, Pt 2 (Ephesians 6:14)

John MacArthur on The Belt of Truthfulness:

This is what I read you earlier. First Peter 1:13 and 14, “Gird up your loins, pull in all the loose ends of your life.”

Now the identification of this is it is the belt of truth, or aletheia. You could say that’s content and you would be true, you would be right. Aletheia can refer to truth and surely that’s an important element of it. We need to be committed to the truth.

But it’s more than just the content because later on there’s another piece of armor called the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. So we’re not so much talking about the fact that we go to war wielding the Word of God here, as we are talking about aletheia not as truth, content, but as truthfulness, attitude. In other words, it is that we are seriously committed to the battle. Because we believe the truth, because we love the truth, we go to war for the truth. We pull in all the loose ends. This is sincerity, if you will, truthfulness, integrity, true dedication. It is not so much content as it is commitment. Attitude is the real issue here. We have a heart for the battle. We’re not out there unprepared. We’ve got all the loose ends pulled together. We’ve put on the sash that holds our weapons and marks us as soldiers. We have a heart for battle. We’ve counted the cost. Like Jesus said, you don’t go to war unless you count the cost. The true Christian loves the truth and is ready to fight for the truth. We will earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. We’ll go to battle for the truth, but we’ll go to battle truly for our own spiritual protection.

Watch the full video here:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What I Don't Want For 2010

This is a must read by Pastor Jim McClarty. It really expresses how the Spirit of God totally transforms a person.

What I Don't Want For 2010

It’s already 12 days into the new year, 2010. I don’t usually make resolutions when the calendar changes. In fact, I don’t remember ever making new year’s resolutions. It’s just not in my emotional or psychological makeup, I suppose.

This year, however, I’ve been doing some thinking. As opposed to resolving to do particular things, I’ve been considering the things I no longer want in my life.

Here are the basic facts: I am now 54 years old. In my brain, I’m still about 24. The mirror leads to a form of cognitive dissonance. But, I’ve lived long enough to know a few things about myself. And I’ve grown weary of my most tenacious tendencies. So here is my 2010 list of things I no longer want:

My own way.

I spent a great deal of my life pursuing -- and pretty effectively attaining -- my wants and desires. Unfortunately, inasmuch as I’m a depraved person (a fact that I can prove with ample evidence), my wants and desires were equally depraved. And eventually the constant diet of fulfilled sinful desire became wearying and soul-stultifying.

As I look back, I’ve learned two important lessons. One: every bad, painful, horrid thing that ever happened to me, I didn’t see coming. And two: every truly good thing that has occurred in my life happened despite me. So, what is instantly clear is that I am not in control. And on those occasions where it appeared that I had some influence over the outcome of things, I always messed them up. So, why would I want control? Why would I want things to work my way?

Early on in my Christian conversion I was taught a wonderful guiding principle: God is too holy not to that which brings Him the greatest glory and He loves us too much not to do that which is for our greatest good. In other words, He’s going to do things His way whether we like it or not. That’s what sovereign providence is all about.

So, from 2010 onward, I want no more of my own way.

My own fame.

In my early 20’s I decided to move to Los Angeles. That decision was driven by the need to be famous. It was no longer sufficient to have people in the Detroit area know me, I wanted a national stage. And rock music was the vehicle that would take me there. I had performed for two seasons and toured Great Britain with the Houston All-City Symphony. I had played intimate jazz and “big band” swing. I had played in garage bands, club bands, marching bands, pit bands, and shows bands. But, rock’n’roll was like the express elevator to worldwide recognition. It was hard work. It was emotionally draining. But, it paid big dividends. And that was just fine with me.

But, as Christianity took hold in my heart and mind, thoughts of my own personal advancement and fame became increasingly upsetting and revolting. “How,” I began to wonder, “can Christ truly be ‘all and in all’ if I am constantly making sure there’s adequate room for me?”

I cannot save anyone. My death will not result in anyone else’s redemption. I am quite utterly imperfect. I cannot heal sickness, solve crises, prevent catastrophes, or bring the dead to life. All in all, I am hardly a person to be admired or imitated because, when it comes to the really important matters, I can only point to the One who actually matters. So then, why should I be famous? He should have all the fame because He has all the power. And I need Him far more than He needs me.

So, from 2010 onward, I want no more of my own fame.

Be sure to finish reading the rest of the article here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

James R. White on Lordship Salvation

Lordship Salvation continues to be a hotly debated issue.

Does it add works as a prerequisite of salvation? Or does it simply say that the Holy Spirit will necessarily bring about repentance, sanctification, and submission to the Lordship of Christ in all those that truly have faith in Jesus.

Men like John MacArthur have been under attack on this issue, even by others in the Reformed camp.

James R. White of answers a question on the topic.

HT: Reformed Voices

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

by John Hendryx

Is Jesus really the only way? In an environment of such plurality and diversity this really seems an implausible or even arrogant claim of Christians. When confronted with the exclusive claims of Christianity, the question on many people's minds is how can Christians be so narrow as to believe that all non-Christians will be excluded from heaven? There are plenty of good people who are not Christians. Do Christians think they are better than others? So the question often put to Christians is what about a person, a good person who has been good all their life ... will they go to heaven?

Actually, Jesus himself answered this question. When asked by a rich young ruler what must he do to gain eternal life, Jesus answered: "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments" (Matt 19:17). So Jesus himself makes it clear that a good person who obeys all of God's commands would merit or qualify for eternal life. This includes all good people of all time from all nations, peoples, races and languages. The point is that if anyone could obey all God's commandments, they will live (also see Rom 2:6-8). So in answer to the question, yes a good person who has done good all their life would merit eternal life. The Scripture declares, however, that there is no one on earth who fits that description (Rom 3:9-18). There is no one who does not sin when measured against the holiness and majesty of God. That means you ... and that means me ... yes, all of us have utterly failed to follow the law God has given us. Only Jesus Christ alone has obeyed all of God's commands and earned a place at the right hand of God (Hebrews 4:15). You see, it is always important to look at context, for after Jesus tells the rich young ruler, "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments", He then goes on to explain but "With man this is impossible..." (Matt 19:26) So it is very important to note that Jesus teaches that the first prerequisite of eternal life in God, is when by God's grace, we recognize our utter impotence to save ourselves by human effort due to our moral corruption. This slavery we have to our rebellion renders it impossible to obey God's commands. In fact Jesus saved his greatest criticism of people on earth for the Pharisees because they believed and trusted in their own righteousness and moral ability to please God.

So what is Jesus saying here because this is really important? He is saying that in God's economy both moral and immoral people are equally alienated from God. God is equally offended by both. This may be counter-intuitive but moral people are lost because of their "goodness". Why? It is often the case that goodness keeps people from God. In fact many people avoid Jesus by avoiding sin because they are trying to become their own saviors ... attempting to justify themselves. But the gospel is neither moralism nor relativism and so it is equally offensive to the moral and the irreligious. So Christ calls us to repent of both our good and bad works, for we have no righteousness of our own.

Read the rest of the post here:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Contextualizing the Gospel

Excellent post by Steve Camp.

Beloved, the gospel does not benefit one bit from our programs, methods, target specific agendas, cultural analysis, or contextualization of its truth. Scripture affords no luxury for such human pragmatics when it comes to the salvation of lost souls. The gospel IS the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17); and it is the Lord who adds to the church daily (Acts 2:42ff)--not us.

Paul combats an early rise of sectarian contextualized views of ministry when saying,

"So, what is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Cor. 3:5-7).

Paul never sought to contextualize the gospel by being culturally relevant but "sought to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).

In this same vain, it has been asserted today that the church should strive to have a "humble orthodoxy", but beloved, I couldn't disagree more. Truth by definition is exclusive; truth is commanding; it is bold; and it is unwavering. Christian doctrine and theology contained in the pages of Holy Scripture (the 66 books of the O.T. and N.T.) is objective truth; it is unbending, unyielding, uncompromising, and it asks not for man's approval, but demands obedience to its claims. It is... God's Word and He does not negotiate with His creatures as to what is acceptable or not. His Word silences all other "truth assertions" by taking "every thought captive to the obedience in Christ" (2 Cor. 10:1-5). There is nothing humble about truth, about orthodoxy; however, the truth does humble its listeners.

What we do need are humble servants of Christ proclaiming a bold orthodoxy; not watering down the offense of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18ff); but in ourselves to give no offense so as to discredit the ministry (2 Cor. 6:1-3). Paul was such a man: "For they say, 'His letters are weighty and strong' (a bold orthodoxy), 'but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible'" (a humble servant) (2 Cor. 10:10).

Read the full article here:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Careful With The Word

From a sermon entitled "Working Out What Is Worked In," delivered July 12, 1868.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Heart of the Gospel - John Piper

"Prayer In The Closet, And Prayer In The Spirit"
Matthew 5:1-5
January 3, 2010

Full video @:

HT: Truth Matters

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rest in the Day of Evil

It was a pleasantly cool Fall evening in 1976, just after dusk, the faint smell of burning leaves in the air. The young man and Pastor Rollie Leeman had just finished a wonderful meal and were sitting in the living room of the parsonage talking. Pastor Leeman began sharing the Gospel with the fellow, who was not a believer. This young man had been dating a sister new in the Lord who had been attending the small independent Baptist church Pastor Leeman pastored, and Pastor was duly concerned with his salvation.

"Before you decide to become a Christian," Pastor warned, "you need to know about this story from Scripture." He proceeded to read from Acts 6, the testimony of Stephen, and how certain leaders "suborned men" as "false witnesses" against him. and how they "stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon [him], and caught him, and brought him to the council." Pastor concluded with Acts 7:59, "And they stoned Stephen...."[1]

Pastor paused a moment and looked earnestly into the eyes of the young man. "Before you become a believer you must count the cost," he said soberly. He repeated it with emphasis, "It is a serious matter to become a Christian and you must know what you are getting into. Count the cost."

A year later the young man would become a Christian, never forgetting Pastor Leeman's strong admonition. But in all of the years he has been a believer he has never heard a Gospel presentation quite like it, and has often wondered, why not?

Read the rest of the article: Part 6: Preparations for Sufferings

Sunday, January 3, 2010

And They Crucified Him - Art Katz

Art Katz states that we have not only missed the cross in today's culture, we have also missed the power of the resurrection. As a result we are living fleshly, sensual, and devilish lives rather than the triumphant-victorious life we have in Christ. This message is an appeal to turn back to Jesus as He actually is.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What are you looking at?

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other Name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12

HT: Truth Matters

Friday, January 1, 2010

Do You Practice Prayerless Prayer?

This is from the DVD series by Mark Kielar entitled: "The True Christian's Love for the Unseen Christ." You can get this series at

Beginning The New Year

by Dr. Harold Sala
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14