Archive for September, 2009

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.”— A.W. Tozer

 Thank God for Pastor’s like John Piper!!!!!

Here’s an excellent article about Charles Spurgeon and his desire for evangelism written by Tom Ascol from the Founders Ministries.

 “Charles Spurgeon has been aptly described as one of those “once-a-century” type of preachers in whom all of the powerful gifts which are useful in ministry are deposited. His life and labors stand today, more than one hundred years after his death, encouraging and challenging ministers of the gospel who face the third millennium.

Any study of his ministry immediately reveals a man obsessed with evangelism. From the moment of his conversion to his dying day, Spurgeon maintained a deep burden for souls. He was a fanatic about it–in all of the right ways. As a pastor he took to heart the apostolic injunction to “do the work of an evangelist.” And he diligently tried to stir up evangelistic concern among his church and fellow preachers.

This fact confounds some students of Spurgeon’s life. For, along with his evangelistic fervor (and, we might add, despite modern claims to the contrary), he never wavered from a strong commitment to the doctrines of grace. He clearly understood, personally believed, and powerfully proclaimed what is popularly called “Calvinism.” And he did so not out of any kind of devotion to a man or philosophical system, but because he was convinced that the body of truth which historically flew under that banner was nothing other than biblical Christianity. It was this understanding which enabled him to preach Christ so simply and persuasively.

Some who disagree with Spurgeon’s theology but appreciate his evangelism have difficulty reconciling his beliefs with his practice. Their reasoning typically goes like this: “Yes, Spurgeon was a Calvinist, but despite that fact, he was evangelistic.” Such an analysis, however, completely misses the mark. It would be far more accurate to say that “Of course Spurgeon was a Calvinist, and therefore he was evangelistic.” His devotion grew out of his doctrine and his belief gave direction to his practice.

It is here, perhaps more than anywhere else, that the “Prince of Preachers” has much to teach modern Baptists. There has been a return to Spurgeon’s theology by many Baptists over the last twenty-five years. This theological renewal is growing exponentially. But what has not been seen is a commensurate growth in Spurgeon’s kind of evangelism. And this ought to alarm all who want to see real, biblical renewal sweep across our churches.

There is a generation of Baptist ministers who grew up with evangelism that was modeled on salesmanship. And some modern evangelism workbooks are little different from Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal. This kind of evangelism has wreaked havoc on churches, filling membership rolls with unconverted people and utterly confusing believers about the nature of real Christianity. Such evangelism is deadly and must be rejected out of hand. But, as Jesus warned, when an unclean spirit goes out of a man, if it is not replaced, then it will return and bring with it “seven other spirits more wicked than himself, . . . and the last state of that man is worse than the first. “ (Matt. 12:45). False evangelism must be replaced by the true. And Spurgeon can point the way particularly in terms of inward attitudes and desires. Rest of the article here.

From The Shepherd’s Fellowship

Yesterday we looked at seven common conditions or tests that don’t necessarily prove or disprove the existence of saving faith. What then are the marks of genuine saving faith? Are there some reliable tests from the Word of God that enable us to know for certain whether one’s faith is real? Thankfully there are at least nine biblical criteria for examining the genuineness of saving faith.

Nine conditions that prove genuine saving faith.

1. Love for God

First of all a deep and abiding love for God is one of the supreme evidences of genuine saving faith. This gets to the heart of the issue. Romans 8:7 says “the carnal mind is enmity [hostility, hatred] against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Thus, if a man’s heart is at enmity with God there is no basis for assuming the presence of saving faith. Those who are truly saved love God, but those who are not truly saved resent God and His sovereignty. Internally they are rebellious toward God and His plan for their life. But the regenerate person is set to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. His delight is in the infinite excellencies of God. God is the first and highest affection of his renewed soul. God has become his chief happiness and source of satisfaction. He seeks after God and thirsts for the living God.

By the way, we must be careful to distinguish the difference between that kind of true love for God that seeks His glory from the kind of self-serving love that sees God primarily as a means of personal fulfillment and gain. True saving faith doesn’t believe in Christ so that Christ will make one happy. The heart that truly loves God desires to please God and glorify Him. Jesus taught that if someone loved their father and mother more than they loved Christ, they were not worthy of Him. In Matthew 10:37-39 Jesus put it like this: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

The question then is this: Do you love God? Do you love His nature? Do you love His glory? Do you love His name? Do you love His kingdom? Do you love His holiness? Do you love His will? Is your heart lifted when you sing His praises-because you love Him? Supreme love for God is decisive evidence of true faith.

2. Repentance from Sin

A proper love for God necessarily involves a hatred for sin that leads to repentance. That should be obvious. Who wouldn’t understand that? If we truly love someone we seek their best interests. Their well being is our greatest concern. If a man says to his wife, “I love you but I could care less what happens to you,” we would rightly question his love for her. True love seeks the highest good of its object. If we say that we love God, then we will hate whatever is an offense to Him. Sin blasphemes God. Sin curses God. Sin seeks to destroy God’s work and His kingdom. Sin killed His Son. So when someone says, “I love God, but I tolerate sin,” then there is every reason to question the genuineness of his love for God. One cannot love God without hating that which is set to destroy Him. True love for God will therefore manifest itself through confession and repentance. The man who loves God will be grieved over his sin and will want to confess it to God and forsake it.

In examining our faith we should ask: “Do I have a settled conviction concerning the evil of all sin? Does sin appear to me as the evil and bitter thing that it really is? Does conviction of sin increase in me as I walk with Christ? Do I hate it not primarily because it is ruinous to my own soul or because it is an offense to the God I love? Does the sin itself grieve me or am I only grieved over the consequences of my sin. What grieves me most-my misfortune or my sin? Do my sins appear to me as many, frequent and aggravated? Do I find myself grieved over my own sin more than the sins of others?” Genuine saving faith loves God and hates what He hates, which is sin. That attitude results in real repentance.

3. Genuine Humility

Saving faith is manifested through genuine humility. Jesus said blessed are those who are poor in spirit, and those who mourn [their sin], and those who are meek, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:3-6)-all marks of humility. In Matthew 18 Jesus said that “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). True saving faith comes as a little child-humble and dependent. It is not the man who is full of himself who is saved, but the man who denies himself, takes up his cross daily and follows Christ (Matthew 16:24).

In the Old Testament we see that the Lord receives those who come with a broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18; 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2). James wrote: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We must come as the prodigal son, broken and humble. Remember what he said to his father-“Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21). Those possessing genuine saving faith do not come boastfully to God with their religious achievements or spiritual accomplishments in hand. They come empty-handed in genuine humility.

4. Devotion to God’s Glory

True saving faith is manifested by a devotion to God’s glory. Whatever believers do, whether they eat or drink, their desire is to see God glorified. Christians do what they do because they want to bring glory to God.

Without question Christians fail in each of these areas, but the direction of a Christian’s life is to love God, hate sin, to live in humility and self-denial, recognizing his unworthiness and being devoted to the glory of God. It is not the perfection of one’s life but the direction of a life that provides evidence of regeneration.

5. Continual Prayer

Humble, submissive, believing prayer is mark of true faith. We cry “Abba, Father” because the Spirit within us prompts that cry. Jonathan Edwards once preached a sermon titled, “Hypocrites are Deficient in the Duty of Secret Prayer.” It’s true. Hypocrites may pray publicly, because that’s what hypocrites want to do. Their desire is to impress people-but they are deficient in the duty of secret prayer. True believers have a personal and private prayer life with God. They regularly seek communion with God through prayer.

6. Selfless Love

An important characteristic of genuine saving faith is selfless love. James wrote, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well” (James 2:8). John wrote, “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). If you love God you will not only hate what offends Him, but you will love those whom He loves. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14). And why do we love God and love others? Because this is the believer’s response to His love for us. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Jesus said we will know that we are His disciples by our love for each other (John 13:35).

7. Separation from the World

Positively, believers are marked by a love for God and for fellow believers. Negatively, the Christian is characterized by the absence of love for the world. True believers are not those who are ruled by worldly affections, but their affection and devotion is toward God and His kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 2:12 Paul wrote that “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” In 1 John 2:15 we read: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15). True saving faith separates one from the pursuits of this world–not perfectly, as we all fail in these areas, but the direction of a believer’s life is upward. He feels the pull of heaven on his soul. Christians are those whom God has delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of His Son. The believer is marked by the absence of love or enslavement to the satanically controlled world system (Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:13; James 4:4).

8. Spiritual Growth

True believers grow. When God begins a true work of salvation in a person, He finishes and perfects that work. Paul expressed that assurance when he wrote in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

If you are a true Christian, you are going to be growing-and that means you are going to be more and more like Christ. Life produces itself. If you’re alive you are going to grow, there’s no other way. You’ll improve. You’ll increase. The Spirit will move you from one level of glory to the next. So examine your life. Do you see spiritual growth? Do you see the decreasing frequency of sin? Is there an increasing pattern of righteousness and devotion to God?

9. Obedience

Obedient living is not one of the optional tracks given for believers to walk. All true believers are called to a life of obedience. Jesus taught that every branch that abides in Him bears fruit (John 15:1-8). Paul wrote that believers “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). That speaks of obedience. We are saved unto the obedience of faith (see 1 Peter 1:2).

How can we know our faith is genuine? Examine your life in the light of God’s Word. Do you see these characteristics in your life? Do you have a love for God, hatred for sin, humility, devotion to God’s glory, a pattern of personal and private prayer, selfless love, separation from the world, the evidence of spiritual growth and obedience. These are the real evidences of genuine saving faith.

I found this over at Shepards Fellowship . Enjoy

What kind of things do and do not prove the genuiness of saving faith?

Answer

 

Churches today are filled with people who hold to a faith that does not save. James referred to this as a “dead faith”-meaning a mere empty profession (James 2:17, 20, 26). Paul wrote to the people in the church at Corinth to test or examine themselves to see if they were truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). As important as it was in Paul’s day, how much more important it is for people in our churches today to put their faith to the test and to make sure they have not been deceived.

But where do we start? By what criteria do we determine true from empty faith? What are the distinguishing marks of genuine saving faith? Surprisingly, there are a number of popular standards or tests that really don’t prove the genuineness of one’s faith one way or the other. So before we look at the tests that prove genuine faith, let’s take a look at some popular tests that neither prove nor disprove the genuineness of one’s faith.

Here is a list of seven conditions that do not prove or disprove the genuineness of saving faith. One can be a Christian and possess these things or one may not be a Christian at all and still possess them. While they don’t prove or disprove one’s faith, they’re important to know and understand so you will not be deceived.

Seven conditions that do not prove or disprove genuine saving faith.

1. Visible Morality

There are some people who just seem to be good people. They can be religious, moral, honest, and forthright [trustworthy] in their dealings with people. They may seem to be grateful, loving, kind and tenderhearted toward others. They have visible virtues and an external morality. The Pharisees of Jesus day rested on visible morality for their hope and yet some of Christ’s harshest words were directed at them for this very thing.

Many who possess visible morality know nothing of sincere love for God. Whatever good works they appear to possess, they know nothing of serving the true God and living for His glory. Whatever the person does or leaves undone does not involve God. They’re honest in their dealings with everyone-but God. They won’t rob anyone-but God. They’re thankful and loyal to everyone-but God. They speak contemptuously and reproachfully of no one-but God. They have good relationships with everyone-but God. They are like the rich young ruler who said, “All these things [conditions] have I kept, what do I lack?” Their focus is on visible morality, but that visible morality doesn’t necessarily mean salvation. Jesus told one of the Pharisees “you must be born again” (John 3:6), not “you must put on an external morality.” People can “clean up their act” by reformation rather than regeneration-so reformation in itself is not a mark of saving faith.

2. Intellectual Knowledge

Another condition that can be misleading is intellectual knowledge. People can possess an intellectual understanding and knowledge of the truth and yet not be saved. While the knowledge of the truth is necessary for salvation, and visible morality is a fruit of salvation, neither of these conditions by themselves translate into true saving faith. People can know all about God, all about Jesus, who He was, that He came into the world, that He died on the cross, that He rose again, that He’s coming again, and even many details about the life of Christ-and still turn their backs on Him.

That’s what the writer of Hebrews was warning against in Hebrews 6:4-6. There were people in the church who knew all about God and understood gospel truths. They even had a measure of experience with gospel truth. They’d seen the ministry of the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives-and yet knowing all of that, they stood in grave danger of turning away and rejecting Christ.

In Hebrews 10 the writer warns this kind of man that he is treading underfoot the blood of Christ by not believing what he knows to be true. There are many people who know the Scriptures but are on their way to hell! A man cannot be saved without the knowledge of the truth, but possessing that knowledge alone does not save.

3. Religious Involvement

Religious involvement is not necessarily a proof of true faith. According to Paul there are people who possess an outward form (a mere external appearance) of godliness but who have denied the power of it. They have an empty form of religion. Jesus illustrated this when He told of the virgins in Matthew 25. They waited and waited and waited for the coming of the bridegroom, who is Christ. And even though they waited a long time, when He came they didn’t go in. They had everything together except the oil in their lamps. That which was most necessary was missing. The oil is probably emblematic of the new life; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They weren’t regenerate. They had religious involvement but were not regenerate. A person can be visibly moral, know the truth, be religiously involved, and yet not possess genuine saving faith.

4. Active Ministry

It is possible to have an active and even a public ministry, and yet not possess genuine saving faith. Balaam was a prophet who turned out to be false (Deuteronomy 23:3-6). Saul of Tarsus (later becoming the apostle Paul) thought he was serving God by killing Christians. Judas was a public preacher and one of the twelve disciples of Christ-but he was an apostate. In Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” Those whom Jesus spoke of had been involved in active and public ministry-but Jesus said he never knew them. Sobering words indeed.

5. Conviction of Sin

By itself, even conviction of sin is not a proof of salvation. Our world is filled with guilt-ridden people. Many even feel badly about their sin. Felix trembled under conviction at the preaching of the apostle Paul, but he never left his idols or turned to God (Acts 24:24-6). The Holy Spirit works to convict men of sin, righteousness, and of judgment, but many do not respond in true repentance. Some may confess their sins and even abandon the sins they feel guilty about. They say, “I don’t like living this way. I want to change.” They may amend their ways and yet fall short of genuine saving faith. That’s external reformation, not internal regeneration. No degree of conviction of sin is conclusive evidence of saving faith. Even the demons are convicted of their sins-that’s why they tremble-but they are not saved.

6. The Feeling of Assurance

Feeling like you are saved is no guarantee you are indeed saved. Someone may say, “Well, I must be a Christian because I feel that I am. I think I am one.” But that is faulty reasoning. If thinking one is a Christian is what makes one a Christian, then no one could be deceived. And then, by definition, it would not be possible to be a deceived non-Christian, and that doesn’t square with the whole point of Satan’s deception. He wants people who are not truly saved to think they are. Satan has deceived multiplied millions of religious people into thinking they are saved even though they are not. They may say to themselves, “God won’t condemn me. I feel good about myself. I have assurance. I’m ok.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean a thing.

7. A Time of Decision

So often people say things like: “Well, I know I’m a Christian, because I remember when I signed the card,” or “I remember when I prayed a prayer,” or “I remember when I walked the aisle” or “went forward in church.” A person may remember exactly when it happened and where they were when “it” happened, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Our salvation is not verified by a past moment. Many people have prayed prayers, gone forward in church services, signed cards, gone into prayer rooms, been baptized, and joined churches without ever experiencing genuine saving faith.

These are seven common conditions or tests that don’t necessarily prove or disprove the existence of saving faith. What then are the marks of genuine saving faith? Are there some reliable tests from the Word of God that enable us to know for certain whether one’s faith is real? Thankfully there are at least nine biblical criteria for examining the genuineness of saving faith.

I’m posting this in hopes of clarifying some misconceptions of what some people may think that I believe. Not only that, for some reason when you mention the name “Calvin”, some people that have never or  never intend on studying doctrine, theology, or church history, make judgement calls that are based on a lack of knowledge, or that are based on “opinions” they have heard from others. So instead of assuming you know me and what I believe, I hope and pray that this will shed a better light 0n me. My desire is for conversations to take place on these issues, but I am slowly losing faith in that happening. I AM NOT A HYPER-CALVINIST!! I adhere to the Doctrine’s of Grace, because and only because, I believe that the Word of God puts these beautiful doctrines on display throughout scripture. I do not, and will not, place these doctrines over Christ or the authority of scripture either. Christ and scripture are what led me to them. I found this short article over at Monergism Books. They have one of the best web-sites on the internet. I highly recommend you check them out.

 

Most Calvinists reject as deplorable the following hyper-Calvinistic and destructive beliefs:

– that God is the author of sin and of evil
– that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect
– that the number of the elect at any time may be known by men
– that it is wrong to evangelize
– that assurance of election must be sought prior to repentance and faith
– that men who have once sincerely professed belief are saved regardless of what they later do
– that God has chosen some races of men and has rejected others
– that the children of unbelievers dying in infancy are certainly damned
– that God does not command everyone to repent
– that the sacraments are not means of grace, but obstacles to salvation by faith alone.
– that the true church is only invisible, and salvation is not connected with the visible church
– that the Scriptures are intended to be interpreted by individuals only and not by the church.
– that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority
– that the grace of God does not work for the betterment of all men
– that saving faith is equivalent to belief in the doctrine of predestination
– that only Calvinists are Christians (Neo-gnostic Calvinism

 

Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism were both among the historical errors battled by Charles Spurgeon, who was himself a 5-point Calvinist. He vigilantly fought these twin errors on both sides of the spectrum. One of Hyper-Calvinism’s main errors is to declare that, because of God’s sovereignty, we should not evangelize the lost. Spurgeon rejected such nonsense as do the large majority of people who would call themselves Calvinists today (such as R.C. Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg and many others) We believe the doctrine of election should be declared strongly because the Bible does and because man’s affections are enslaved to sin. He cannot save himself but needs the effectual working of the Holy Spirit if he is to have ears to hear when we preach the gospel. The preacher casts forth the seed of the gospel (the command to believe) indiscriminately but the Holy Spirit germinates the Word (so to speak) in the hearts of those he intends to save; i.e. those given to the Son by the Father in the eternal covenant made before time (John 6:37, 39, Eph 1, 4). Many Christian missionaries whom most would consider heroes held to the five point of Calvinism: William Carrey (he was opposed by a Hyper-Calvinist), Jonathan Edwards & David Brainard (missionaries to native Americans) just to name 3.

 

In the love of Christ,

    Bill

With President Obama set to make a national speech to our children in the classroom, many different opinions have been expressed. As someone who is skeptical at best when Mr Obama speaks on anything, I wanted to see what he has to say. I found the opinions of two people whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I was mildly shocked at first but as I thought about their statements, they began to make perfect sense to me.. I have posted their comments below. I hope this can be beneficial to you as well.

 Dr. Mohlers Thoughts:

The controversy over President Barack Obama’s speech to America’s school children scheduled for Tuesday morning continues to incite controversy. On the surface, this seems incredible. Why would a speech calling for students to remain in school and set personal goals for themselves incite any controversy at all? Is this just another eruption of the Culture War?

At first glace, that seems to be exactly what this fracas is all about. Much of the controversy is reckless, baseless, and plainly irrational. Some have called the speech an effort to recruit America’s children into socialism. Others have argued that any presidential speech piped into classrooms is illegitimate. But a presidential speech to students is hardly unprecedented. This speech by this president has led to an unprecedented uproar.

At this level, the controversy is a national embarrassment. Conservatives must avoid jumping on every conspiracy theory and labeling every action by the Obama administration as sinister or socialist. Our civic culture is debased when opposing parties and political alignments read every proposal by the other side as suspect on its face. Read the rest here.

John Piper’s take:

This is the speech I expected the President to give to our children—excellent.

Given that he is not directing them to Christ, which would be the best counsel, his advice is a wonderful gift of common grace from God to the students of our land.

If you settle for the news headlines that say the president tells the kids to wash their hands and take care of the environment, you will miss the wisdom and courage in this speech. Within its spiritual limitations it is simply amazing.

You can read it all at the White House Site. Here are my excerpts. Read the rest here.

I received this e-mail this morning from my friend Jeremy Strang (Time2Stand). I thought it was pretty awesome and thought I ‘d share it with you guys.

 

“These days we have, and continuously are, abandoning the preaching of Spirit led men of the past.  Therefore, I have decided to revisit George Whitefield.  This quote is also quoted in the soon to be released book, Christian – a dangerous title to claim.”

 

       “Give me leave to ask you, in the presence of God, whether you know the time, and if you do not know exactly the time, do you know there was a time, when God wrote bitter things against you, when the arrows of the Almighty were within you?  Was ever the remembrance of your sins grievous to you?  Was the burden of your sins intolerable to your thoughts?  Did you ever see that God’s wrath might justly fall upon you, on account of your actual transgressions against God?  Were you ever in all your life sorry for your sins?  Could you ever say, My sins are gone over my head as a burden too heavy for me to bear?  Did you ever experience any such thing as this?  Did ever any such thing as this pass between God and you soul?  If not, for Jesus Christ’s sake, do not call yourselves Christians; you may speak peace to your hearts, but there is no peace.  May the Lord awaken you, may the Lord convert you, may the Lord give you peace, if it be his will, before you go home!”

            “When the sinner is first awakened, he begins to wonder – How came I to be so wicked?  The Spirit of God then strikes in, and shows that he has no good thing in him by nature; then he sees that he is altogether gone out of the way, that he is altogether become abominable, and the poor creature is made to lie down at the foot of the throne of God, and to acknowledge that God would be just to damn him, just to cut him off, though he never had committed one actual sin in his life.  Did you ever feel and experience this, any of you – to justify God in your damnation – to own that you are by nature children of wrath, and that God may justly cut you off, though you never actually had offended him in all your life?  If you were ever truly convicted, if your hearts were ever truly cut, if self were truly taken out of you, you would be made to see and feel this.  And if you have never felt the weight of original sin, do not call yourselves Christians.  I am verily persuaded original sin is the greatest burden of a true convert; this ever grieves the regenerate soul, the sanctified soul.  The indwelling of sin in the heart is the burden of a converted person; it is the burden of a true Christian.  He continually cries out, ‘O! who will deliver me from this body of death’, this indwelling corruption in my heart?  This is that which disturbs a poor soul most.  And, therefore, if you never felt this inward corruption, if you never saw that God might justly curse you for it, indeed, my dear friends, you may speak peace to your hearts, but I fear nay, I know, there is no true peace.”

            “Further: before you can speak peace to your hearts, you must not only be troubled for the sins of your life, the sin of your nature, but likewise for the sins of your best duties and performances.  When a poor soul is somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, then the poor creature, being born under the covenant of works, flies directly to a covenant of works again.  And as Adam and Eve hid themselves among the trees of the garden, and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness, so the poor sinner, when awakened, flies to his duties and to his performances, to hid himself from God, and goes to patch up a righteousness of his own.  Says he, I will be mighty good now – I will reform – I will do all I can; and then certainly Jesus Christ will have mercy on me.  But before you can speak peace to your heart, you must be brought to see that God may damn you for the best prayer you ever put up; you must be brought to see that all your duties – all your righteousness – as the prophet elegantly expresses it – put them all together, are so far from recommending you to God, are so far from being any motive and inducement to God to have mercy on your poor soul, that he will see them to be filthy rags, a menstruous cloth – that God hates them, and cannot away with them, if you bring them to him in order to recommend you to his favour.  My dear friends, what is there in our performances to recommend us unto God?  Our persons are in an unjustified state by nature:  ‘They that are in the flesh cannot please God.’  You may do things materially good, but you cannot do a thing formally and rightly good; because nature cannot act above itself.  It is impossible that a man who is unconverted can act for the glory of God; he cannot do anything in faith, and ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin’.”

            “Our best duties are as so many splendid sins.  Before you can speak peace in your heart, you must not only be made sick of your original and actual sin, but you must be made sick of your righteousness, of all your duties and performances.  There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness, you cannot come to Jesus Christ.”

            “But then, before you can speak peace to your souls, there is one particular sin you must be greatly troubled for, and yet I fear there are few of you think what it is; it is the reigning, the damning sin of the Christian world, and yet the Christian world seldom or never think of it.  And pray what is that?  It is what most of you think you are not guilty of – and that is, the sin of unbelief.”

            “I appeal to your own hearts, if you would not think me uncharitable, if I doubted whether any of you believed in Christ; and yet, I fear upon examination, we should find that most of you have not so much faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the devil himself.  I am persuaded the devil believes more of the Bible than most of us do.”[1]

 

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”[2]

 

            “Most of you, if you examine your hearts, must confess that God never yet spoke peace to you; you are children of the devil, if Christ is not in you, if God has not spoken peace to your heart.  Poor soul!  What a cursed condition are you in.  I would not be in your case for ten thousand, thousand worlds.  Why?  You are just hanging over hell.  What peace can you have when God is your enemy, when the wrath of God is abiding upon your poor soul?  Awake, then, you that are sleeping in a false peace, awake, ye carnal professors, ye hypocrites that go to church, receive the sacrament, read your Bibles, and never felt the power of God upon your hearts; you that are formal professors, you that are baptized heathens; awake, awake, and do not rest on the bottom.  Blame me not for addressing myself to you; indeed, it is out of love to your souls.  I see you are lingering in your Sodom, and wanting to stay there; but I come to you as the angel did to Lot, to take you by the hand.  Come away, my dear brethren – fly, fly, fly for your lives to Jesus Christ, fly to a bleeding God, fly to a throne of grace; and beg of God to break your hearts, beg of God to convince you of your actual sins, beg of God to convince you of your original sin, beg of God to convince you of your self-righteousness – beg of God to give you faith, and to enable you to close with Jesus Christ.  O you that are secure, I must be a son of thunder to you, and O that God may awaken you, though it be with thunder; it is out of love, indeed, that I speak to you .  I know by sad experience what it is to be lulled asleep with a false peace; long was I lulled asleep, long did I think myself a Christian, when I knew nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I went perhaps farther than many of you do; I used to fast twice a-week, I used to pray sometimes nine times a-day, I used to receive the sacrament constantly every Lord’s-day; and yet I knew nothing of Jesus Christ in my heart, I knew not that I must be a new creature – I knew nothing of inward religion in my soul.

            I hope God does not intend to let me preach in vain; I hope God will reach some of your precious souls, and awaken some of you out of your carnal security; I hope there are some who are willing to come to Christ, and beginning to think that they have been building upon a false foundation.”[3]

 

~ George Whitefield ~

In light of the publishers deciding to do away with the TNIV version(I applaud this move) when they roll out the updated new NIV version of the bible (story here),I wanted to take a poll to see if the NIV was still a popular version still being used today. I know I used it in the past almost exclusively until a friend introduced me to the ESV. So if you would be so kind as to participate in this poll I would appreciate it. Feel free to leave a comment as well. Thanks. 🙂

Is the Reformation over? There have been several observations rendered on this subject by those I would call “erstwhile evangelicals.” One of them wrote, “Luther was right in the sixteenth century, but the question of justification is not an issue now.” A second self-confessed evangelical made a comment in a press conference I attended that “the sixteenth-century Reformation debate over justification by faith alone was a tempest in a teapot.” Still another noted European theologian has argued in print that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is no longer a significant issue in the church. We are faced with a host of people who are defined as Protestants but who have evidently forgotten altogether what it is they are protesting.

Contrary to some of these contemporary assessments of the importance of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, we recall a different perspective by the sixteenth-century magisterial Reformers. Luther made his famous comment that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls. John Calvin added a different metaphor, saying that justification is the hinge upon which everything turns. In the twentieth century, J.I. Packer used a metaphor indicating that justification by faith alone is the “Atlas upon whose shoulder every other doctrine stands.” Later Packer moved away from that strong metaphor and retreated to a much weaker one, saying that justification by faith alone is “the fine print of the gospel.”

The question we have to face in light of these discussions is, what has changed since the sixteenth century? Well, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that people have become much more civil and tolerant in theological disputes. We don’t see people being burned at the stake or tortured on the rack over doctrinal differences. We’ve also seen in the past years that the Roman communion has remained solidly steadfast on other key issues of Christian orthodoxy, such as the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and the inspiration of the Bible, while many Protestant liberals have abandoned these particular doctrines wholesale. We also see that Rome has remained steadfast on critical moral issues such as abortion and ethical relativism. In the nineteenth century at Vatican Council I, Rome referred to Protestants as “heretics and schismatics.” In the twentieth century at Vatican II, Protestants were referred to as “separated brethren.” We see a marked contrast in the tone of the different councils. The bad news, however, is that many doctrines that divided orthodox Protestants from Roman Catholics centuries ago have been declared dogma since the sixteenth century. Virtually all of the significant Mariology decrees have been declared in the last 150 years. The doctrine of papal infallibility, though it de facto functioned long before its formal definition, was nevertheless formally defined and declared de fide (necessary to believe for salvation) in 1870 at Vatican Council I. We also see that in recent years the Roman communion has published a new Catholic catechism, which unequivocally reaffirms the doctrines of the Council of Trent, including Trent’s definition of the doctrine of justification (and thus affirms that council’s anathemas against the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone). Along with the reaffirmations of Trent have come a clear reaffirmation of the Roman doctrine of purgatory, indulgences, and the treasury of merits.

Read the rest of the story here.