Archive for April, 2010

1)AT a time appointed by and acceptable to God, those whom God has predestinated to life are effectually called by His Word and Spirit out of the state of death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.Their minds are given spiritual enlightenment and, as those who are being saved, they begin to understand the things of God. God takes away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh.He renews their will, and by His almighty power He sets them to seek and follow that which is good, at the same time effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ.And to all these changes they come most freely, for they are made willing by divine grace.

Deut. 30:6; Ps. 110:3; Song 1:4; Ezek. 36:26,27; Acts 26:18; Rom. 8:30; 11:7; Eph. 1:10,11,17,19; 2:1-6; 2 Thess. 2:13,14.

2)God’s effectual call is the outcome of His free and special grace alone.Until a man is given life, and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is dead in sins and trespasses, so is entirely passive in this work of salvation, a work that does not proceed from anything good foreseen in him, nor from any power or agency resident in him. The power that enables him to answer God’s call and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, is no less than that which effected the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

John 5:25; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 1:19-20; 2:5,8; 2 Tim. 1:9.

3)Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases. The same is true of all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called through the preaching of the gospel.

John 3:3,5,6,8.

4)Men who are not elected, even though they may be called upon to embrace salvation by the preachers of the gospel, and may be the subjects of some common operations of the Spirit, cannot be saved, because they are not effectually drawn to Christ by the Father, for which reason they neither can, nor will, truly come to Him.Much less can men who do not receive the Christian religion be saved, no matter how diligent they are to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the teachings of the religion which they follow.

Matt. 13:20,21; 22:14; John 4:22; 6:44,45,65; 17:3; Acts 4:12; Heb. 6:4-6; 1 John 2:24,25.

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Found this on Monergism’s site.

“We saw earlier that Paul condemned those whose only desire was to sit on the fence in order to please the world, and escape persecution. For this had caused them to twist the gospel, and we see numerous examples of this today. Having seen that pure doctrine and the truth of God are unacceptable to the world, but that wicked men are incensed against it, these people, I say, seek to find some way to avoid creating bad feeling and incurring hatred. This being so, if we today were to interview people with at least some good sense, we would scarcely find one in a hundred of them who would admit that there were errors in the Papacy. Most would say that we ought not to force them to abandon everything and that it would be enough if they were to get rid of some of their more unreasonable and absurd superstitions, even if they continued to nurture many other corruptions. Why? Because, as we have said, they desire to be esteemed and highly credited, and because it is all the same to them if they betray the purity of the gospel, provided they can remain exempt from persecution. What is it that motivates them, but the fact that they wish to be valued and to acquire a good reputation? Now the devil, who has stirred up this kind of conflict ever since the days of Paul, continues to this present day, and therefore we need to arm ourselves with this doctrine. The best remedy is the one that Paul proposes here: that we reject all glorying, save that which is in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In order to understand this clearly, we must firstly remember what is written in Jeremiah, and confirmed here by Paul. In other words, that all the glory of man must be abased in order that God be exalted as he deserves. (Jer. 9:23, 24). Indeed, in the same way it is written that all the wisdom that men believe they possess is nothing, and will not be taken into account; it must be blotted out, that we might have recourse to God, as the one who has all abundance of good things in himself (Isa. 29:14; 1 Cor 1:19). Let us acknowledge, I say, that all wisdom proceeds from his free grace, so that we are enlightened by his Holy Spirit, and, being weak, strengthened by his might. Being full of pollution and iniquity, may righteousness be restored in us according to his gift.

Now let us come to the means. It is not enough to know that God is our light, that he is our righteousness, that he is our wisdom, and that he is our strength; in other words, that in his person is perfect life, joy and felicity. This is insufficient, for there is still too great a distance between himself and us. Yet we need to know how and by what means we can obtain all the graces that we seek in God. We know that they are all communicated to us in Jesus Christ, for he descended here below, made himself nothing, and was crucified willingly for our sakes. Therefore, since we must draw all that we lack from the Lord Jesus Christ, we can understand why Paul says that he sought only to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because he suffered a cruel and bitter death, and even exposed himself to God’s judgment on our behalf, receiving all our curse, and in this way was given to us as our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, strength and all that we lack.

Therefore, in the first place, we need to know who we are, before we can prevent all glorying and stay ourselves upon the Lord Jesus Christ. For we see many people bursting with pride who have no grounds for this whatsoever. All that they imagine to be true about themselves is no more than wind and smoke. Yet because they have not examined themselves properly to see what they are really like, they have not sought Jesus Christ; such are these hypocrites, and counterfeits, who are puffed up with presumption because of their ‘merits’. Therefore, as I have said, we must consider our condition and see the extent of its wretchedness, that is until the Lord Jesus takes pity upon us. This is how we can prepare ourselves to come to him. This is the first point.

However, this is not all. For there are some who will confess that they are sinners, and that they are full of nothing but vanity, and yet continue to wallow in their filth. Why? Because they do not anticipate the judgment of God, and their minds have been lulled to sleep by the world. All such pleasure-seekers, who abandon themselves to drunkenness, or bawdiness, and the like, cannot excuse their wickedness, and indeed, they ought to be ashamed of it, and yet they seem to take pleasure in sins and continue in them as if hardened. Why? They have been intoxicated by the world, and blindfolded by the devil, such that they cannot see that one day they must give an account of themselves. They have stupidly made themselves believe that they will always remain as they are, pursuing evil things, and that they will never have to sigh and tremble, but only laugh, as if they seek wilfully to show contempt for God. Thus, we can see how it is that some are prevented (indeed, they are fully incapacitated) from coming to Jesus Christ, either because they presume to have their own wisdom, or because they are pursuing a false notion that Satan has placed in their minds, or because they think they are wise enough without Jesus Christ. These are the reasons why they despise him. Others, of whom there are an infinite number, know that they are poor sinners, and yet do not seek a remedy. Why? Because this world has them in its grip, and they are so caught up in it that they cannot lift their eyes or their minds above to seek for the remedy that has been provided in Jesus Christ.

We must, therefore, be all the more ready to meditate on what I have said, that is, to rid ourselves of all pride and presumption, and to feel so much shame that we have no rest until we have found relief in the Lord Jesus Christ. May we open our eyes to see our depravity and be ashamed of it, and not only so, but also to recognise that this life is nothing, and that God has placed us here as on a journey, so that he can test whether or not we are following him. May each of us therefore come aside, both morning and evening, to consider our sins, and may they be like goads to prick us and encourage us to come to God. May we not be like brute beasts, tied to this world, but may our need lead us to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what it is to glory in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul specifically speaks of the cross here because he seeks to knock down and trample underfoot all haughtiness in man. For we always want to be ‘someone’ in and of ourselves, and maintain a certain dignity. Therefore, in order to rid us of such a wicked desire, Paul shows us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, should be our only cause of glorying because he was crucified for us. Following on from this, he adds that we will be crucified to the world, and the world to us, when we have learned to glory only in the grace that our Lord Jesus Christ has brought us. How? Those who are not crucified to the world, that is, those who desire to have a position of some authority, and to be important, and who ask to be held in honour and promoted, in other words those who are diverted here, there and everywhere by their lusts, certainly do not yet know what it is to glory in the cross of Jesus Christ, for they begin at the wrong point. They are confused within themselves.

Therefore, Paul can say with confidence that when his glorying was founded upon the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, he abandoned and forsook the world. By ‘world’ he means all that appeals to our flesh, to men who neither think of God nor of eternal life, but are given over to avarice or ambition. Each one is controlled by his own natural instincts, and not one looks beyond this world. When men follow their inclinations and when God has not touched them by his Holy Spirit or drawn them to himself, it is true to say that though they have all strayed and roamed, yet there is a great variation in their desires, such that, when we examine the matter, we find that one is heading in a certain direction, whilst another is pulling in completely the opposite direction. Thus, it seems as if men are very different from one another. However, they are all alike in one area, that is to say that they want to be important in the eyes of the world, and are given over to their personal profit or pleasure. In other words, they are so enmeshed in things here below that they do not mind being separated from God. But Paul says that if all our glorying is in Jesus Christ, knowing that by means of his cross he has committed us to God the Father, and has secured the kingdom of heaven for us, then it will be easy for us to withdraw from the world and cut ourselves off from it, as it were. Why? Whoever has been cut to the quick and overwhelmed with a sense of their own sin will surely seek the grace offered to him in Jesus Christ, and the world will be worth nothing to him.

Indeed, we treat all the spiritual riches that God has offered us and invites us to share as if they were nothing, because, in comparison to the deceptions and temptations of Satan, we do not value them at all. What is this world, when we contemplate it as it is? Not one of us sees just how fragile our lives are, that they are but smoke which floats past and then vanishes. Men still burn with lust and are transported and carried away thereby. As for God, he calls out, ‘Poor people! You have less sense than little children, in that you busy yourselves about wisps of straw, meaningless rubbish, and all kinds of nonsense, and attach yourselves whole-heartedly to these things. Yet when I offer you that which is perfect felicity, you ignore it; to you it is unimportant.’ Hence, the reason that we are so cold and so slow to accept the riches that God offers us is that we are preoccupied with the things of this world. Indeed, we value this world too highly. What makes us do this? It is because we do not know what priceless riches God is offering us.

Therefore, let us join together these two things: namely, let us be crucified to the world, and the world to us, glorying alone in Jesus Christ crucified. Now this is easier to say than to do, and yet each of us, wherever we are, must strive to do so; once we have heard this doctrine, we must put it into practice. For if we would be esteemed and accounted Christians before God and his angels, we must conform to what Paul tells us here; indeed, if we were not otherwise-minded, we would find plenty of opportunity to do so, as I have already said. For all those who simply look within themselves and consider what they are really like, and what condition they are in whilst still separated from Jesus Christ, will be terrified of feeling the wrath of God which they deserve. They will feel that they are ruined by their accursed state, and that it would be better if the earth were to swallow them a hundred times, rather than live under this curse for a single day as the enemies of God who cannot escape his hand. Let us therefore learn to examine ourselves. Those who wish to adorn themselves according to this world, especially women, will gaze into a mirror with great curiosity and concern. Yet our poverty and filth will not be reflected there, in order truly to humble us before God, or make us consider what we glory in. The one who recognises his shame and ignominy will certainly seek to remedy it, if indeed the Spirit of God is working deep within him, and he is not (as I have already said) intoxicated by Satan. Let us, therefore, learn to examine ourselves sincerely, without flattery, and when we have acknowledged our poverty and misery, let us come to the Lord Jesus Christ. Since, by means of the cross, all haughtiness, self-worth and boasting is cast down, let us be truly crucified to the world and may it mean nothing to us. Read the Rest Here

Some helpful and much needed advice from Darryl over at DashHouse.com

“As you may know, some 7,000 people are attending the Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky today. You, like me, may not be one of them.

It’s easy at a time like this to start to get bitter. It’s like the dance that everyone attended in high school without you. Everybody cool is going to be there, which leaves you feeling like you naturally should be there too.

You can’t escape it. Yesterday I quickly pulled a shirt out from my dresser. At random, I found my T4G shirt from two years ago. I swear it was mocking me. Last night I dreamt that my friend Paul Martin – who was not planning to attend, and now is – was personally invited by Mark Dever to take the last spot before the conference sold out. Such is the sad state of my dream life.

To make it worse, this morning I read on Twitter that Fake John Piper and Jonathan McIntosh are fighting over pillows in their room. See what we’re missing?

How should you cope with not attending T4G? Hopefully better than I am, which qualifies me to offer the following advice:

Act Smug. Say that you don’t believe in conferences. All the wasted money and energy and time, not to mention the celebrity worship. You’re at home serving the Lord. Not that you’re judging anyone, of course. They may have been called to sit and soak. It’s just that you’ve been called to serve. We can’t all be ears in the body of Christ.

It’s hard to pull this off without coming across like a prideful wannabe, but with practice I’ve found this approach to be quite effective. (My wife just glared at me. What’s that about?)

Act Strategic. Say that you are going to instantly buy all the book giveaways on your Kindle the minute they announce them. Before they can crack open a book, you’ll have figured out what’s on the chairs through the power of Twitter, and you’ll be reading it instantly. No heavy suitcases of books to carry back. You’ll also listen to all the free audio from the conference. You’ll spend less time traveling and have all the benefits of attending, minus the cost – and some other minor things like all the relationships and the experience and the sense of corporate worship. But you’re cool with that. You’re simply being strategic.

Play the Security Card. It’s simply not safe for everyone important to be in one room. Instead, you’re home or at an undisclosed location. Say everyone gets a stomach virus – God forbid – and can’t preach this weekend. Who is Bethlehem Baptist going to call? Probably you. It’s a good thing you didn’t attend.

Yes, this makes you the Dick Cheney of T4G. Live with it.

There are undoubtedly many other ways you can cope with not being at T4G. Please know that I am there for you. We’ll get through this together.”

Thanks Darryl, I needed that.

I had heard about this book through twitter and facebook post and hadn’t really given much thought to it. Trevin’s review has sparked my interest enough to motivate myself to check it out. Here are Trevin’s thoughts ………………

Ever wonder how a committed unbeliever would feel in your church service?

Have you ever given thought to how evangelicals are viewed by those outside the church?

How many of your friends disagree with you politically? Theologically?

In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church (Metropolitan, 2010) tells the story of Gina Welch. The book gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Thomas Road Baptist Church (the church Jerry Falwell pastored) through the eyes of an atheistic, secularist, liberal young woman.

Welch faked a conversion experience, got baptized, and spent two years at Thomas Road. (She even participated in evangelism on a mission trip.) During this time, she kept a detailed journal of her experience, which she has now turned into a book that chronicles her journey into evangelical America.

If you’re like me, your first reaction upon hearing about a book like this is to roll your eyes and think, Oh great! An exposé of evangelicals from someone who deliberately engaged in deceptive practices in order to show up evangelical hypocrisy. That was my initial reaction. But after reading a number of reviews, I was intrigued enough to pick up the book. I was pleasantly surprised by Welch’s portrayal of evangelicals, and I was riveted by her account. While I abhor the deceit that grounds this book, I recommend that evangelicals read it for a number of reasons. READ THE REST HERE

Mr. Wax also had the opportunity to interview Gina Welch….. Read that here

The thought that has consumed me since reading these articles (and I assume will increase after reading the book), is what would she have written had she picked my church? What would she see, what would be her view of not only Christians but more importantly how would she view Jesus? My initial thoughts are we cannot base an overall general opinion of Christianity by visiting one local body of believers can we? I’m sure this happens all the time, hence the decline of church attendance and memberships in recent years. My hope and prayer is that when people visit our church or any church for that matter, they don’t see us, they see Jesus.  

More to come……