Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria - Glory to God Alone

Each of the great solas is summed up in the fifth Reformation motto: soli Deo gloria, meaning "to God alone be the glory." It is what the apostle Paul expressed in Romans 11:36 when he wrote, "to him be the glory forever! Amen." these words follow naturally from the preceding words, "For from him and through him and to him are all things" (v.36), since it is because all things are from God, through God, and to God, that we say "to God alone be the glory."

If the entire creation is "from" God, "through" God, and "to" God, and if the way of salvation is likewise "from him and through him and to him", then you and I as a part of God's redeemed creation, are also "from him and through him and to him." In other words we also exist for God's glory and must give it to him. Paul asks. "Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Cor. 4:7). So glorify God with your life. Glorify God for your salvation, for your spiritual gifts, for your spiritual desires, for his protection and deliverance from your spiritual enemies, and for any good thing that he accomplishes in you and through you. To God alone be the glory.

Seigel Schwall Band - "THE BLUES SONG"

CORKY SIEGEL- Harmonica/Piano/Vocals. JIM SCHWALL - Guitar/Vocals, The Legendary SAM LAY - Drums/Vocals, ROLLO RADFORD - Bass/Vocals, SAMBO ARTHUR IRBY- Percussion's, Drums, Vocals

No Self Control

Edwards: Grace, a Drop from God's Infinite Fountain

The cacti of trendy biblical scholarship tend to send me back to the redwoods of the past, men like our friend Jonathan Edwards. Found this tonight in his sermon 'It Is What May Well Make Us Willing and Desirous to Go with God's People, That God Is with Them' (try getting that on your Sunday morning bulletin). Typical Edwards. Wonderful.
God is with his people as they have fellowship and communion with God and as they are partakers with God in his good, possessing infinite good, and those are partakers with him in the same excellency and happiness. God communicates himself to his people. He imparts of his own beauty. They are said to be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). They are partakers of God's holiness (Heb 12:10).

So God communicates to his people of his own happiness. They are partakers of that infinite fountain of joy and blessedness by which he himself is happy. God is infinitely happy in himself, and he gives his people to be happy in him. . . .

That grace and holiness, that divine light and love, and that peace and joy that is in the hearts of the saints is a communication from God. Those are streams, or rather drops, from the infinite fountain of God's holiness and blessedness. 'Tis a ray from the fountain of light.
--Jonathan Edwards, in The Glory and Honor of God: Volume 2 of the Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards (ed. M D. McMullen; B&H 2004), 155
Dane Ortlund

Elena Kagan and Partial-Birth Abortion

Here is an eye-opening article at National Review Online, written by Shannen Coffin on Supreme Court nominee (and undoubtedly future Justice) Elena Kagan and her crucial role in coming up with (dishonest) language to defend partial-birth abortion.
In judicial rulings on partial-birth abortion, one of the most important documents was produced by a “select panel” of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The Supreme Court used this document as a key example of medical opinion on partial-birth abortion, as it said that partial-birth abortion “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.” This language was used extensively in defeating partial-birth-abortion bans.
But in point of fact, the select panel of the AOG actually wrote in their initial draft that they “could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.”
Mr. Coffin writes:
Upon receiving the task force’s draft statement, Kagan noted in another internal memorandum [PDF] that the draft ACOG formulation “would be a disaster — not the less so (in fact, the more so) because ACOG continues to oppose the legislation.” Any expression of doubt by a leading medical body about the efficacy of the procedure would severely undermine the case against the ban.
So Miss Kagan sought to solve the problem.
Her notes, produced by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee, show that she herself drafted the critical language hedging ACOG’s position. On a document [PDF] captioned “Suggested Options” — which she apparently faxed to the legislative director at ACOG — Kagan proposed that ACOG include the following language: “An intact D&X [the medical term for the procedure], however, may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”
Kagan’s language was copied verbatim by the ACOG executive board into its final statement, where it then became one of the greatest evidentiary hurdles faced by Justice Department lawyers (of whom I was one) in defending the federal ban. (Kagan’s role was never disclosed to the courts.) The judicial battles that followed led to two Supreme Court opinions, several trials, and countless felled trees. Now we learn that language purporting to be the judgment of an independent body of medical experts devoted to the care and treatment of pregnant women and their children was, in the end, nothing more than the political scrawling of a White House appointee.
Yuval Levin writes:
What’s described in these memos is easily the most serious and flagrant violation of the boundary between scientific expertise and politics I have ever encountered. A White House official formulating a substantive policy position for a supposedly impartial physicians’ group, and a position at odds with what that group’s own policy committee had actually concluded? You have to wonder where all the defenders of science—those intrepid guardians of the freedom of inquiry who throughout the Bush years wailed about the supposed politicization of scientific research and expertise—are now. If the Bush White House (in which I served as a domestic policy staffer) had ever done anything even close to this it would have been declared a monumental scandal, and rightly so.
Apparently scientific integrity only matters as long as it doesn’t somehow infringe on abortion. That, of course, was always the lesson of the stem-cell debate in the Bush years anyhow. But clearly it started earlier. It’s good to know where Kagan’s priorities are. Let’s hope senators are paying attention.
Justin Taylor

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sola Fide - Faith Alone

The Reformers never tired of saying the "justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone." When put into theological shorthand the doctrine was expressed as "justification by faith alone," the article by which the church stands or falls, according to Martin Luther. The reformers called justification by faith Christianity's "material principle," because it involves the very matter or substance of what a person must understand and believe to be saved.

Justification is a declaration of God based on the work of Christ. It flows from God's grace and it comes to the individual not by anything he or she might do but by "faith alone." We may state the full doctrine as: Justification is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

Mose Allison Trio - 1962 - I Don't Worry About A Thing

Recorded: New York City, NY March 15, 1962
Mose Allison - Piano / Vocals
Addison Farmer - Bass
Osie Johnson - Drums

Al - man bear pig - Gore - strikes back

Father is the Christian name for God

“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”
—J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: 1993), 201-202

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sola Gratia - Grace alone

Sola Gratia means that human beings have no claim on God. That is, God owes us nothing except just punishment for our many and willful sins. Therefore if he does save sinners, which he does in the case of some but not all, it is only because it pleases Him to do so. Indeed, apart from this grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that flows from it, no one would be saved, since in our lost condition human beings are not capable of winning, seeking out, or even cooperating with God's grace.

By insisting on "grace alone" the Reformers were denying that human methods, techniques, or strategies in themselves could ever bring anyone to faith. It is grace alone expressed through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ, releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from death to spiritual life.

Whatever Happened To The Gospel Of Grace, James Montgomery Boice, Pg.34-35

George Benson - Take Five Montreux 1986

Canadian Cat

For all my Canadian friends

The Gospel in Four Words

“‘Come unto me,’ he says, ‘and I will give you.’  You say, ‘Lord, I cannot give you anything.’  He does not want anything.  Come to Jesus, and he says, ‘I will give you.’  Not what you give to God, but what he gives to you, will be your salvation.  ‘I will give you‘ — that is the gospel in four words.
Will you come and have it?  It lies open before you.”
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), I:175.
Of First Importance

God’s Great Grace

One of the beautiful things about the book of Ephesians is the way in which Paul celebrates God’s grace, power, might, wisdom, love, and glory.
Follow the adjectives and superlatives to see an example of worshipful pastoral theology in action.
We are saved “to the praise of God’s glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6)
Our redemption and forgiveness through the cross is “according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” (Eph. 1:6-7).
We are called to know “the riches of [God's] glorious inheritance in the saints” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power . . . and his great might” (Eph. 1:18-19).
Because God is “rich in mercy” and because of his “great love” toward us, we were saved” (Eph. 2:4).
In the coming ages God will show us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).
Paul preached to the Gentiles “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).
Though the church “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).
Paul prays that “according to the riches of [God's] glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph. 3:16).
One application for us is that we should notice how we speak of God’s love, wisdom, grace, etc. Do we feel, with Paul, how truly great God’s grace is?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This Takes Faith

HIDEAWAY (1966) by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers- featuring Eric Clapton

Still one of the best versions of this ever. Clapton has great tone on his guitar.

Rattlesnakes Do not Piss off

Regeneration What does it mean to be born again? by Wayne Grudem Part 4

Genuine Regeneration Must Bring Results in Life
In an earlier section we saw a beautiful example of the first result of regeneration in a person’s life, when Paul spoke the gospel message to Lydia and “the Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14; cf. John 6:44, 65; 1 Peter 1:3). Similarly, John says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1 NIV).10 But there are also other results of regeneration, many of which are specified in John’s first epistle. For example, John says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9 NIV). Here John explains that a person who is born again has that spiritual “seed” (that life-generating and growing power) within him, and that this keeps the person living a life free of continual sin. This does not of course mean that the person will have a perfect life, but only that the pattern of life will not be one of continuing indulgence in sin. When people are asked to characterize a regenerated person’s life, the adjective that comes to mind should not be “sinner,” but rather something like “obedient to Christ” or “obedient to Scripture.” We should notice that John says this is true of everyone who is truly born again: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin.” Another way of looking at this is to say that “every one who does what is right has been born of him” (1 John 2:29).
A genuine, Christlike love will be one specific result in life: “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 NIV). Another effect of the new birth is overcoming the world: “And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God has overcome the world” (1 John 5:3–4 NIV). Here John explains that regeneration gives the ability to overcome the pressures and temptations of the world that would otherwise keep us from obeying God’s commandments and following his paths. John says that we will overcome these pressures and therefore it will not be “burdensome” to obey God’s commands but, he implies, it will rather be joyful. He goes on to explain that the process through which we gain victory over the world is continuing in faith: “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4 NIV).
Finally, John notes that another result of regeneration is protection from Satan himself: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God [that is, Jesus] keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him” (1 John 5:18 NIV). Though there may be attacks from Satan, John reassures his readers that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NIV), and this greater power of the Holy Spirit within us keeps us safe from ultimate spiritual harm by the evil one.
We should realize that John emphasizes these as necessary results in the lives of those who are born again. If there is genuine regeneration in a person’s life, he or she will believe that Jesus is the Christ, and will refrain from a life pattern of continual sin, and will love his brother, and will overcome the temptations of the world, and will be kept safe from ultimate harm by the evil one. These passages show that it is impossible for a person to be regenerated and not become truly converted.11
Other results of regeneration are listed by Paul where he speaks of the “fruit of the Spirit,” that is, the result in life that is produced by the power of the Holy Spirit working within every believer: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23). If there is true regeneration then these elements of the fruit of the Spirit will be more and more evident in that person’s life. But by contrast, those who are unbelievers, including those who are pretending to be believers but are not, will clearly lack of these character traits in their lives. Jesus told his disciples:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. (Matt. 7:15–20)
Neither Jesus nor Paul nor John point to activity in the church or miracles as evidence of regeneration. They rather point to character traits in life. In fact, immediately after the verses quoted above Jesus warns that on the day of judgment many will say to him, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” But he will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers” (Matt. 7:22–23). Prophecy, exorcism, and many miracles and mighty works in Jesus’ name (to say nothing of other kinds of intensive church activity in the strength of the flesh over perhaps decades of a person’s life) do not provide convincing evidence that a person is truly born again. Apparently all these can be produced in the natural man or woman’s own strength, or even with the help of the evil one. But genuine love for God and his people, heartfelt obedience to his commands, and the Christlike character traits that Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit, demonstrated consistently over a period of time in a person’s life, simply cannot be produced by Satan or by the natural man or woman working in his or her own strength. These can only come about by the Spirit of God working within and giving us new life.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Albert Collins - Travelin' South

Regeneration What does it mean to be born again? by Wayne Grudem Part 3

In This Sense of “Regeneration,” It Comes Before Saving Faith
Using the verses quoted above, we have defined regeneration to be the act of God awakening spiritual life within us, bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. On this definition, it is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith. However, when we say that it comes “before” saving faith, it is important to remember that they usually come so close together that it will ordinarily seem to us that they are happening at the same time. As God addresses the effective call of the gospel to us, he regenerates us and we respond in faith and repentance to this call. So from our perspective it is hard to tell any difference in time, especially because regeneration is a spiritual work that we cannot perceive with our eyes or even understand with our minds.
Yet there are several passages that tell us that this secret, hidden work of God in our spirits does in fact come before we respond to God in saving faith (though often it may be only seconds before we respond). When talking about regeneration with Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Now we enter the kingdom of God when we become Christians at conversion. But Jesus says that we have to be born “of the Spirit” before we can do that.7 Our inability to come to Christ on our own, without an initial work of God within us, is also emphasized when Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), and “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65). This inward act of regeneration is described beautifully when Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). First the Lord opened her heart, then she was able to give heed to Paul’s preaching and to respond in faith.
By contrast, Paul tells us, “The man without the Spirit (literally, the “natural man”) does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14 NIV). He also says of people apart from Christ, “no one understands, No one seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11).
The solution to this spiritual deadness and inability to respond only comes when God gives us new life within. “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4–5). Paul also says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ” (Col. 2:13 NIV).8
The idea that regeneration comes before saving faith is not always understood by evangelicals today. Sometimes people will even say something like, “If you believe in Christ as your Savior, then (after you believe) you will be born again.” But Scripture itself never says anything like that. This new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe.
The reason that evangelicals often think that regeneration comes after saving faith is that they see the results (love for God and his Word, and turning from sin) after people come to faith, and they think that regeneration must therefore have come after saving faith. Yet here we must decide on the basis of what Scripture tells us, because regeneration itself is not something we see or know about directly: “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Because Christians often tend to focus on the results of regeneration, rather than the hidden spiritual act of God itself, some evangelical statements of faith have contained wording that suggests that regeneration comes after saving faith. So, for example, the statement of faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America (which has been adapted by a number of other evangelical organizations) says,
We believe that the true Church is composed of all such persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the body of Christ of which He is the Head. (paragraph 8)
Here the word “regeneration” apparently means the outward evidence of regeneration that is seen in a changed life, evidence that certainly does come after saving faith. Thus “being born again” is thought of not in terms of the initial impartation of new life, but in terms of the total life change that results from that impartation. If the term “regeneration” is understood in this way, then it would be true that regeneration comes after saving faith.
Nevertheless, if we are to use language that closely conforms to the actual wording of Scripture, it would be better to restrict the word “regeneration” to the instantaneous, initial work of God in which he imparts spiritual life to us. Then we can emphasize that we do not see regeneration itself but only the results of it in our lives, and that faith in Christ for salvation is the first result that we see. In fact, we can never know that we have been regenerated until we come to faith in Christ, for that is the outward evidence of this hidden, inward work of God. Once we do come to saving faith in Christ, we know that we have been born again.
By way of application, we should realize that the explanation of the gospel message in Scripture does not take the form of a command, “Be born again and you will be saved,” but rather, “Believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”9 This is the consistent pattern in the preaching of the gospel throughout the book of Acts, and also in the descriptions of the gospel given in the Epistles.

ALBERT KING - Oh Pretty Woman

Gropal Warning

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Primer on Limited (or Definite) Atonement

Last week Doug Wilson linked to a piece by Randy Alcorn, who suggested that the logic of limited atonement is appealing but the exegetical basis for it is lacking. Doug offered a brief response, with valid points about Christ securing actual salvation and not possible salvation, but asserts that post-millenialism is the real solution. I don’t see how the post-mill scheme helps much exegetically, but that’s not the point of this post.
Let me mention a couple of things that I found helpful when I began exploring this issue several years ago.
In his classic The Death of Death in the Death of Christ John Owen explained the dilemma of those who deny definite atonement:
The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:
  1. All the sins of all men.
  2. All the sins of some men, or
  3. Some of the sins of all men.
In which case it may be said:
  1. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
  2. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
  3. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?
You answer, “Because of unbelief.”
I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!
In other words, it is impossible to reconcile the proposition “Christ paid the punishment for all the sins of all people” with the idea that “Some people will pay the punishment for their sin in hell.”
Secondly, Lorraine Boettner showed in The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination that both Calvinists and Arminians “limit” the atonement.
The Calvinist limits the extent of [the atonement] in that he says it does not apply to all persons . . . ; while the Arminian limits the power of it, for he says that in itself it does not actually save anybody.
The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively.
For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes only half-way across.
I think these are valid arguments.
But it was John Piper who helped me see the issue from another angle. In effect, Piper argues that Calvinists essentially affirm the biblical truth that Arminians insist upon. But the Calvinist affirms something some more—something biblical that Arminians deny.
If you want to think this through, then I’d encourage you to read the following carefully. I’ve added some headings and italics to help process the argument a bit.
What Arminians Believe
Arminians take all the passages which say the death of Christ is “for us” (Romans 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:10) or for “his own sheep” (John 10:11, 15) or for “the church” (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28) or for “the children of God” (John 11:52) or for “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14) and say that the meaning is that God designs and intends the atonement for all people in the same way, but that God applies it as effective and saving only for those who believe and become part of “us” and “the sheep” and “the church” and “the children of God.”
In this view, then, the sentence, “Christ died for you,” means: Christ died for all sinners, so that if you will repent and believe in Christ, then the death of Jesus will become effective in your case and will take away your sins.
Now, as far as it goes, this seems to me to be acceptable teaching.
What Arminians Deny
But then Arminians deny something that I think the Bible teaches.
They deny that the texts about Christ’s dying for “us” or “his sheep” or his “church” or “the children of God” were intended by God to obtain something more for his people than the benefits they get after they believe.
They deny, specifically, that the death of Christ was not only intended by God to obtain benefits for people after they believe (which is true), but even more, Christ’s death was intended by God to obtain the very willingness to believe.
In other words, the divine grace that it takes to overcome our hardness of heart and become a believer was also obtained by the blood of Jesus.
Where Arminians and Calvinists Agree
There is no dispute that Christ died to obtain great saving benefits for all who believe.
Moreover, there is no dispute that Christ died so that we might say to all persons everywhere without exception: “God gave his only begotten Son to die for sin so that if you believe on him you may have eternal life.”
Where Arminians and Calvinists Disagree
The dispute is whether God intended for the death of Christ to obtain more than these two things: (1) saving benefits after faith, and (2) a bona fide invitation that can be made to any person to believe on Christ for salvation.
Clarifying Questions
Specifically, did God intend for the death of Christ to obtain the free gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8) and repentance (2 Timothy 2:25)?
Did the blood of Jesus obtain both the benefits after faith, and the benefit of faith itself?
Here’s the Rub
Does the historic Arminian interpretation of any of the “universal” texts on the atonement necessarily contradict this “more” that I am affirming about God’s intention for the death of Christ? (Texts like: 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Corinthians 5:19; John 1:29; 2 Peter 2:1.)
I don’t think so. Arminians historically are just as eager as Calvinists to avoid saying that these texts teach “universal salvation.” So they do not teach that the death of Christ “for all” saves all. Rather, they say, in the words of Millard Erickson, “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons. Christ died for all persons, but this atoning death becomes effective only when accepted by the individual.” Erickson then says, “This is the view of all Arminians” (Christian Theology, p. 829, emphasis added).
What has come clearer to me as I have pondered these things is that Arminians do not say that in the death of Christ God intends to effectively save all for whom Christ died. They only say that God intends to make possible the salvation of all for whom Christ died. But this interpretation of these “universal” texts does not contradict the Calvinist assertion that God does intend to obtain the grace of faith and repentance for a definite group by the death of Christ.
Arminians may deny this assertion, but they cannot deny it on the basis of their interpretation of the “universal” texts of the atonement. That interpretation simply affirms that all may have salvation if they believe. Calvinists do not dispute that. They only go beyond it.
Here’s the rub: if he did this “more,” he didn’t do it for everyone. So at this level the atonement becomes “limited.” And this is what Arminians stumble over: is there anything that God would do to get some unbelievers saved that he would not do for all? This “limitation” implies a choice on God’s part to save some and not all.
A word about the comments before anyone responds. Let’s dialogue respectfully. Before critiques are offered—for or against limited atonement—let’s make sure we have an attitude of faith seeking understanding.
Justin Taylor


Insubordination Grows

Regeneration What does it mean to be born again? by Wayne Grudem Part 2

The Exact Nature of Regeneration Is Mysterious to Us
Exactly what happens in regeneration is mysterious to us. We know that somehow we who were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) have been made alive to God and in a very real sense we have been “born again” (John 3:3, 7; Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13). But we don’t understand how this happens or what exactly God does to us to give us this new spiritual life. Jesus says, “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Scripture views regeneration as something that affects us as whole persons. Of course, our “spirits are alive” to God after regeneration (Rom. 8:10), but that is simply because we as whole persons are affected by regeneration. It is not just that our spirits were dead before—we were dead to God in trespasses and sins (see Eph. 2:1). And it is not correct to say that the only thing that happens in regeneration is that our spirits are made alive (as some would teach),5 for every part of us is affected by regeneration: “If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Because regeneration is a work of God within us in which he gives us new life it is right to conclude that it is an instantaneous event. It happens only once. At one moment we are spiritually dead, and then at the next moment we have new spiritual life from God. Nevertheless, we do not always know exactly when this instantaneous change occurs. Especially for children growing up in a Christian home, or for people who attend an evangelical church or Bible study over a period of time and grow gradually in their understanding of the gospel, there may not be a dramatic crisis with a radical change of behavior from “hardened sinner” to “holy saint,” but there will be an instantaneous change nonetheless, when God through the Holy Spirit, in an unseen, invisible way, awakens spiritual life within. The change will become evident over time in patterns of behavior and desires that are pleasing to God.
In other cases (in fact, probably most cases when adults become Christians) regeneration takes place at a clearly recognizable time at which the person realizes that previously he or she was separated from God and spiritually dead, but immediately afterward there was clearly new spiritual life within. The results can usually be seen at once—a heartfelt trusting in Christ for salvation, an assurance of sins forgiven, a desire to read the Bible and pray (and a sense that these are meaningful spiritual activities), a delight in worship, a desire for Christian fellowship, a sincere desire to be obedient to God’s Word in Scripture, and a desire to tell others about Christ. People may say something like this: “I don’t know exactly what happened, but before that moment I did not trust in Christ for salvation. I was still wondering and questioning in my mind. But after that moment I realized that I did trust in Christ and he was my Savior. Something happened in my heart. Yet even in these cases we are not quite sure exactly what has happened in our hearts. It is just as Jesus said with respect to the wind—we hear its sound and we see the result, but we cannot actually see the wind itself. So it is with the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Jesus was not a Christian

“Many persons hold up their hands in amazement at our assertion that Jesus was not a Christian, while we in turn regard it as the very height of blasphemy to say that He was a Christian. ‘Christianity,’ to us, is a way of getting rid of sin; and therefore to say that Jesus was a Christian would be to deny His holiness.
‘But,’ it is said, ‘do you mean to tell us that if a man lives a life like the life of Jesus but rejects the doctrine of the redeeming work of Christ in His death and resurrection, he is not a Christian?’ The answer is very simple. Of course if a man lives a life like the life of Jesus, all is well; such a man is indeed not a Christian — he is a being who has never lost his high estate of sonship with God.
But our trouble is that our lives do not seem to be like the life of Jesus. Unlike Jesus, we are sinners, and hence, unlike Him, we become Christians; we are sinners, and hence we accept with thankfulness the redeeming love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had pity on us and made us right with God, through no merit of our own, by His atoning death.”
—J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith? (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991), 110-11
Of First Importance

Thursday, June 24, 2010

solus Christus - Christ Alone

The church of the middle ages had added many human achievements to Christ's work, so that it was no longer possible to say that salvation was entirely by Christ and his atonement. Christ was part of it...but salvation was also said to be won by human merit. The saints were said to have been so exceptionally holy that they had accumulated masses of excess merit that could be applied to lessor believers by the sacraments through church authority. The church was able to effect salvation by tapping into this treasury of merit. This was the most basic of all heresies, it was the work of God plus the work of man, Jesus righteousness plus mans righteousness.

The Reformation motto solus Christus - Christ alone, was formed to repudiate this error. It affirmed that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any "gospel" that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one.

 James Montgomery Boice, Whatever happened to the Gospel of Grace, p.34
Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World

Stop Hiding Millions of Christians.

Ben-Peter Terpstra
There are millions of Christians in the United States, and three hard-to-ignore questions. They are: Why is the media hiding Christians? Do they not breathe? And where are all the "shoe-leather reporters" covering Christian stories?

Granted, the atheist S.E. Cupp is speaking out. In her thought-provoking book Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity the bright writer states (p.213):
The loss of the religion beat around the country also risks sending a dangerous message to news consumers - that faith has disappeared and religious issues aren't worth covering. Of course, the zeitgeist tells just the opposite story. In a country still so polarized over domestic policies [in the post-partisan Obama age] with explicit religious implications - gay marriage, abortion, abstinence education, prayer in school, stem cell research, and even the environment - religious ideology is often the stage on which those arguments are hashed out, not only by philosophers and scholars, but by political candidates, religious leaders, and their congregations.

Tellingly, when campaigning journalists decide to cover Christianity, it is in a deceptive light. So when a non-representative Christian leader "sins," on the one hand, he is religiously mocked and presented as a rule. On the other hand, the only supposedly good Christians are pastors who don't believe in God.

S.E. Cupp is a regular guest commentator on programs such as Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld and Larry King Live - and her message relates to professional ethics. It is: Stop hiding millions of Christians.

Eric Clapton - Reconsider Baby - Live TV Recording

Not The Real Problem

Regeneration What does it mean to be born again? by Wayne Grudem

We may define regeneration as follows: Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. This is sometimes called “being born again” (using language from John 3:3–8).
 Regeneration Is Totally a Work of God
In some of the elements of the application of redemption that we discuss in subsequent chapters, we play an active part (this is true, for example, of conversion, sanctification and perseverance). But in the work of regeneration we play no active role at all. It is instead totally a work of God. We see this, for example, when John talks about those to whom Christ gave power to become children of God—they “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Here John specifies that children of God are those who are “born...of God” and our human will (“the will of man”) does not bring about this kind of birth.
The fact that we are passive in regeneration is also evident when Scripture refers to it as being “born” or being “born again” (cf. James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:3–8). We did not choose to be made physically alive and we did not choose to be born—it is something that happened to us; similarly, these analogies in Scripture suggest that we are entirely passive in regeneration.
This sovereign work of God in regeneration was also predicted in the prophecy of Ezekiel. Through him God promised a time in the future when he would give new spiritual life to his people:
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezek. 36:26–27)
Which member of the Trinity is the one who causes regeneration? When Jesus speaks of being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8), he indicates that it is especially God the Holy Spirit who produces regeneration. But other verses also indicate the involvement of God the Father in regeneration: Paul specifies that it is God who “made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5; cf. Col. 2:13). And James says that it is the “Father of lights” who gave us new birth: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures” (James 1:17–18).1 Finally, Peter says that God “according to his abundant mercy has given us new birth... through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3, author’s translation). We can conclude that both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit bring about regeneration.
What is the connection between effective calling2and regeneration? As we will see later in this chapter, Scripture indicates that regeneration must come before we can respond to effective calling with saving faith. Therefore we can say that regeneration comes before the result of effective calling (our faith). But it is more difficult to specify the exact relationship in time between regeneration and the human proclamation of the gospel through which God works in effective calling. At least two passages suggest that God regenerates us at the same time as he speaks to us in effective calling: Peter says, “You have been born anew not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.... That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23, 25). And James says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth” (James 1:18 NIV). As the gospel comes to us, God speaks through it to summon us to himself (effective calling) and to give us new spiritual life (regeneration) so that we are enabled to respond in faith. Effective calling is thus God the Father speaking powerfully to us and regeneration is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit working powerfully in us to make us alive. These two things must have happened simultaneously as Peter was preaching the gospel to the household of Cornelius, for while he was still preaching “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44).
Sometimes the term irresistible grace3is used in this connection. It refers to the fact that God effectively calls people and also gives them regeneration, and both actions guarantee that we will respond in saving faith. The term irresistible grace is subject to misunderstanding, however, since it seems to imply that people do not make a voluntary, willing choice in responding to the gospel—a wrong idea, and a wrong understanding of the term irresistible grace. The term does preserve something valuable, however, because it indicates that God’s work reaches into our hearts to bring about a response that is absolutely certain—even though we respond voluntarily.4

Fighting Fear of Man

“The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”
Proverbs 29:25
“Fear of man is such a part of our human fabric that we should check for pulse if someone denies it.”
In order to fear God not man, here are the steps Welch sets forth in his book:
Step 1: Recognize that the fear of man is a major theme both in the Bible and in your own life.
Step 2: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by people in your past.
Step 3: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by the assumptions of the world.
Step 4: Understand and grow in the fear of the Lord. The person who fears God will fear nothing else.
Step 5: Examine where your desires have been too big. When we fear people, people are big, our desires are even bigger, and God is small.
Step 6: Rejoice that God has covered your shame, protected you from danger, and accepted you. He has filled you with love.
Step 7: Need other people less, love other people more. Out of obedience to Christ, and as a response to his love toward you, pursue others in love.
You can read chapter 1 of the book online for free.
Justin Taylor

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone

When the Reformers used the words sola Scriptura they were expressing their concern for the bible's authority, and what they meant to say by those words is that the bible alone is our ultimate authority - not the pope, not the Church, not the traditions of the church or church councils, still less personal intimations or subjective feelings, but Scripture only.

Sola Scriptura has been called the formal principle of the Reformation, meaning that it stands at the very beginning and thus gives form or direction to all that Christians affirm as Christians. Evangelicals abandon sola Scriptura when they reinterpret the bible to fit modern notions of reality or ignore it on the basis of supposed private divine revelations or leadings.

Unfortunately, it is possible to believe that the bible is the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, as many if not all evangelicals claim to do, and still effectually to repudiate it because we think that it does not work today and are convinced that other things need to be brought in to accomplish what the Bible cannot do.

Whatever Happened To The Gospel Of Grace? by James Montgomery Boice  pp.32-34
Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World


(Latin sacerdos, “priest”)
Sacerdotalism is the belief in an established hierarchy that separates man from God. In such a system the priesthood stands as an essential mediator between God and man. This priesthood, according to sacerdotalists, is a necessary component in worship, receiving communion, confessing sin, baptism, and other acts of administering grace. This “caste” system is generally rejected by Protestants who traditionally hold to the doctrine of the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Pet. 2:5). Protestants believe that the only mediator between God and man is Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). Advocates of sacerdotalism reference the priesthood established in the Old Testament which was sacerdotal. Opponents will emphasize the difference between the New Testament church and the Old Testament theocracy, believing that the Old Testament sacerdotal system is completely fulfilled in Christ and, therefore, no longer necessary (Heb. 10:19-20).
Theological Word of the Day

Milt Jackson - People Make The world Go around

One of my favorite CD's with Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Billy Cobham on drums.

Soccer: The Perfect Socialist Sport

The world's most popular sport? Puh-leeze. This is like saying that dirt is more popular than gold simply because there is more of it. Last time I checked, soccer was very popular where starvation, archery, and badminton were the alternative activities. Where soccer has to compete with the NFL, college football, and basketball -- not to mention WWE, the X Games, cheerleading contests, and cage-fighting -- not so much.

And no, I am not some redneck soccer newbie who has never been exposed to the sport. Actually, I attended the prep school that brought the sport to the Research Triangle area of North Carolina -- one of the first soccer hotspots in the country. We are talking multiple decades ago. And frankly, I rather enjoyed playing it in one of the southeast's first little league soccer organizations and in high school PE class.

But watching it? Oh my God. The only thing more predictable than Barack Obama blaming George W. Bush and BP is that when you flip over to World Cup coverage, the score will be 0-0. I don't care who is playing or where you are in the, match. It will be 0-0. And for those who think watching the grass grow is more exciting, I think these matches are so long they do have to mow the pitch at halftime. (Hey -- I know they call it a pitch, not a field. Told you I was not a redneck newbie.)

At its heart, soccer is the perfect socialist sport. That's why it will never catch on among Americans the way football or basketball has -- regardless of how hard ESPN or ESPN Deportes tries to force feed it to us. Soccer is a redistributive dreamer's delight, with most of the potential risk-reward strategy of the sport removed by rule. It is a self-esteem cornucopia, where a blistering rout of, say, 2-0 seems so close in the score book. No one's feelings get hurt at 2-0. And on and on the socialist feel goes.

A liberal's only complaint with soccer is that it entails such low scoring that there's no point trying to have a youth league where no one keeps score. It's 0-0. We all know that already. You can't even pretend not to know the score. Then again, 0-0 is the perfect score for a "no score" league, I guess.

Dog Attacks, Dressing Up and Incorrect Information

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Let the Love of God Really Grip You

“God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, ‘Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me’ [Gen. 22:12]. But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the Cross, and say to God, ‘Now, we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.’ When the magnitude of what he did dawns on us, it makes it possible finally to rest our hearts in him rather than in anything else.”
- Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York, NY: Dutton, 2009), 18.
Of First Importance

The one antithesis of all the ages

“The one antithesis of all the ages is that between the rival formulae: Do this and Live, and, Live and do this; Do and be saved, and Be saved and do. And the one thing that determines whether we trust in God for salvation or would fain save ourselves is, how such formulae appeal to us.”
- B. B. Warfield, Faith & Life (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust), 324-5.
Of First Importance

Got My Mojo Working - Muddy Waters - full version newport jazz

The great Otis Spann on piano and James Cotton on harmonica

Flash From The Past Part 2

Another picture from the hippie reunion I attended Saturday, That's me on left, Jason Summer and Gary Kline

The Reform That Will Kill You

Tim Conway - The Bumbling Dentist

Maybe one of the best Tim Conway and Harvey Corman skits from the Carol Burnett Show.

Monday, June 21, 2010

John Coltrane - Blue Train

A Flash from The Past

Last Saturday I attended a picnic with some of my hippie friends from the late 60's and early 70's. They had some pictures of me that I've never seen. I sent this to my kids on Fathers day and they loved it. I showed it to the Church Sunday and said this is long hair. As my Father always said it's your head kid.

Insidious Pride

From Jerram Barrs' wonderful book on evangelism, wonderful not because it gives new insights so much as old reminders.
Scripture teaches us that God resists the proud but gladly receives the humble. Humility is to be a lifelong attribute, not simply the attitude of our hearts when we first come to Christ. Every day we are to remember our own need of God's mercy, the problems and failures in our own lives, rather than making ourselves blind to our own sins by concentrating on those of others. . . . Even biblical knowledge can make us proud, not because sound biblical knowledge is a problem, but because of the pride in our hearts that clasps on to anything that will help us to feel a little better about ourselves than about our fellow believers.
--Jerram Barrs, The Heart of Evangelism (Crossway 2001), 164;
Dane Ortlund

Endless Zeros

By Jeffrey Folks

Twenty trillion dollars. That is the estimate of federal indebtedness by 2020. But that $20 trillion is just the federal debt: it does not include $3.4 trillion in current annual spending, nor does it include state and local obligations.

Government has no intention of paying off this debt -- only of continuing to add to it. What that means is that taxpayers are obligated to service this debt (and whatever is added to it) at prevailing interest rates forever. Those rates could range from 3% on up -- to whatever rate the bond market assigns. Generally speaking, the more debt a nation incurs, the higher the rate over time.

At 3%, the annual cost of servicing a $20-trillion debt is $6,000 per taxpayer (assuming that half of all Americans pay no federal taxes), or $12,000 per middle class couple. This amount is in addition to whatever Congress appropriates each year. By 2020, the annual appropriation (currently at $3.4 trillion) may well reach $5 trillion, which is $50,000 per taxpayer. Assuming that $1 trillion of this amount is passed along annually to the national debt, the immediate obligation would be $40,000 per capita. Add $40,000 to $6,000 and we get $46,000, or $92,000 per taxpaying couple.

The Heritage Foundation provides a similar estimate. Federal spending in 2010 will come to $30,543 per household, at least half of which pay no income taxes. A conservative estimate of a 60% increase in spending by 2020 implies federal spending of nearly $50,000 per household, half of whom pay no taxes.

These figures do not include state and local tax obligations, which consist of future pension liability and bond indebtedness. California, for instance, is in hock by $68 billion (December 31, 2009 figure), or $1,838 per capita. This may seem like a modest figure, but it does not include a 2010 deficit of $19 billion, nor does it account for future pension and benefit obligations. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Sheaf Of Snakes Used Heretofore To Be My Seal, The Crest Of Our Poor Family

A Sheaf Of Snakes Used Heretofore To Be My Seal, The Crest Of Our Poor Family  
                   John Donne (1572-1631)  
ADOPTED in God's family and so
Our old coat lost, unto new arms I go.
The Cross—my seal at baptism—spread below
Does, by that form, into an Anchor grow.
Crosses grow Anchors; bear, as thou shouldest do
Thy Cross, and that Cross grows an Anchor too.
But He that makes our Crosses Anchors thus,
Is Christ, who there is crucified for us.
Yet may I, with this, my first serpents hold ;
God gives new blessings, and yet leaves the old.
The serpent may, as wise, my pattern be ;
My poison, as he feeds on dust, that's me.
And, as he rounds the earth to murder sure,
My death he is, but on the Cross, my cure.
Crucify nature then, and then implore
All grace from Him, crucified there before ;
Then all is Cross, and that Cross Anchor grown ;
This seal's a catechism, not a seal alone.
Under that little seal great gifts I send,
Works, and prayers, pawns, and fruits of a friend.
And may that saint which rides in our great seal,
To you who bear his name, great bounties deal ! 

Maggie's Farm

Jimi Hendrix - Stockholm - The Wind Cries Mary (live 1967)

Everybody Will Pay

Grace: The Explosion in Our Darkness

Lutheran theologian Gerhard Forde (1927-2005) on the simultaneity--the at-the-same-time-ness--of gospel grace:
Generally law tends to remain the dominating reality and grace dwindles off into the status of a pious fiction. After all, we have to do something, don't we? . . .

In the place of all such schemes, in the place of the conditional thinking that always traps us, we must put the absolute simultaneity of sin and righteousness. When God acts upon us with his grace, with his justifying deed, his pronouncement, we become simul justus et peccator, simultaneously righteous and sinner. . . . When the word of promise comes or begins to dawn on us, our reaction is 'I can't believe it! You mean that's all?' . . .

Grace is the divine pronouncement itself, the morning star, the flash of lightning exploding in our darkness which reveals all truth simultaneously, the truth about God and the truth about us.
--Gerhard Forde, Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life (Fortress 1982), 29; emphasis original
Dane Ortlund

Justified Once For All

The glory of salvation is that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus is completely pardoned.  It is not some of his sin that is put away, but all of it.  I rejoice to look upon it as dear Kent does when he sings,
Here’s pardon for transgressions past,
It matters not how black their cast;
And, O my soul, with wonder view,
For sins to come here’s pardon too.
We are plunged into the fountain of redeeming blood and cleansed from every fear of ever being found guilty before the living God.  We are accepted in the Beloved through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, justified once for all and forever before the Father’s face!  Christ said, ‘It is finished,’ and finished it is.  And Oh, what a bliss is this — one of the things that may well stagger those who have never heard it before.  But let them not reject it because it staggers them but rather let them say, ‘This wonderful system which saves and saves completely, in an instant, simply by looking out of self to Christ, is a system worthy of divine wisdom, for it magnifies the grace of God and meets man’s deepest necessities.’”
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), I:451-452.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Robert Johnson - "Preachin' Blues"

Owen: The Ignorance of a Christless Intellect

He that has attained to the greatest height of literature, yet if he has nothing else--if he have not Christ--is as much under the curse of blindness, ignorance, stupidity, dullness, as the poorest, silliest soul in the world. . . . The more abilities the mind is furnished with, the more it . . . strengthens itself to act its enmity against God. All that it receives does but help it to set up high thoughts and imaginations against the Lord Christ.

. . . I hope I shall not need to add anything to clear myself for not giving a due esteem and respect to literature, my intention being only to cast it down at the feet of Jesus Christ, and to set the crown upon his head.
--John Owen, Communion with God (Christian Focus 2007), 185-86
Dane Ortlund

Environmental Idiots