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The Four Stages of Man

Adrian Reynolds

It is always helpful for the preacher to be thinking through to whom he is preaching in terms of their spiritual state. Thomas Boston is helpful here with his fourfold state, picking up on Augustine:

  • Primitive integrity, i.e. pre-fall – in Augustinian terms, able to sin
  • Entire depravity, i.e. post-fall, pre-conversion, not able not to sin
  • Begun recovery, i.e. regenerate, able not to sin
  • Consummate happiness (or misery), i.e. glorification, unable to sin

It will not have escaped your notice that we are not preaching to either (1) or (4). However, chances are we are preaching to both (2) and (3). Moreover, it is easy to make two mistakes when it comes to Christians (category 3 to you and I):

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:11 -- john_hendryx

The Top 10 Books for Elders - Professor David Murray

Today I’m listing my Top 10 Books for Elders, with the recommendation that elders read at least one of these books on eldership every year. Why not do it together with fellow-elders? Obviously there are various church polity models represented here, but I hope you’ll find much to learn about eldership from each of the various traditions.

1. The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer

I agree with Pastor Al Martin that this book should be required reading for all elders/pastors. Crystalizes the elder’s work around four verbs: Knowing, leading, protecting, providing.

Also see Witmer’s The Shepherd Leader at Home for application of the same shepherding principles to family life.

2. The Elder and His Work by David Dickson

We’ve been studying this older Scottish work at our church. It’s a short and inspiring treatment of eldership that will elevate and expand your view of eldership as well as providing much practical advice on how to fulfil your duties. You can read my notes on the book here.

3. Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 15:14 -- john_hendryx

"Your Website is Biased and Prejudicial"

Visitor: "Your website is an exercise in biased and prejudicial thinking.  Your stated mission and posted writings show a consistent pattern:  label something, then throw it into either the "good theology" bin or the "bad theology" bin.  I suppose this method and habit of thought provides you and many of your readers with a sense of security, but to me it is not the way of love.  It is the way of division, judgment, and prejudicial rejection---the very things Jesus spoke out and acted against.  Your view of the Bible is somewhat ironically not supported by the text itself, and to me amounts to Bibliolatry.It is sad to me that so many people (you, your contributors, and uncritical readership) of obvious intelligence have chosen to think in such rigid categories.  I only hope that some will face their anxiety squarely and courageously, rather than hardening their minds and hearts in the cognitionof unlove."

Response: Dear Brother ______,

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 13:19 -- john_hendryx

Union with Christ (Books)

This is a list of books (for sale) on the doctrine of the believer’s union with Christ. For free online resources click here, the largest collection of free resources on union with Christ online.

"In Christ" is a phrase found nearly 90 times in Paul's letters. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). To be "in Christ" means to be in union with Him, one with him and incorporated in him, so that God sees us "in Christ" qualifying us for our inheritance. This concept is to be identified with Christ as the Second Adam.

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 15:28 -- john_hendryx

What Happens When the Supernatualism of the Bible is Removed? Moralism

“…What remains in Christianity when the supernaturalism of the Bible is given up is not Christianity at all.  Liberal Christianity and liberal Judaism, for example, turn out to be exactly alike.  They have the same…fundamental skepticism about God, the same complacency about man, and the same mild admiration for the prophet of Nazareth.  Tolerance has had its perfect work.  The equilibrium has been restored.  The consuming fire of Christianity has burned out, and we have merely the same feeble moralism that was in the world before Christianity took its rise.”

It is a drab, dreary world – this modern world of which men are so proud.  I for my part feel oppressed when I look out upon it.  I admire, indeed, those who try to hold on with heart to what they have given up with the head; but as for me, any religion that is to claim my devotion must be founded squarely upon truth.  Where shall such a religion be found?

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 14:53 -- john_hendryx

New Atheist Ideologues and How Christians Ought to Respond

Anyone paying any attention has recently witnessed a new boldness from many of the most verbal online atheists. A large number who declare that they think the "virus" of religion should be "eradicated" and "outlawed". Many are using the same phrases and language as if they were all reading off of the same sheet. Look closely. This is the language of totalitarianism and control; the language of those who abhor freedom of conscience; the language we usually behold in the most virulent forms of fundamentalism ... but do not be troubled: this really should not come as a surprise to anyone who is a Christian. It is what we were frequently told by our Lord that we should expect in this world. The natural man is hostile and at enmity with God and His people... but REMEMBER we were no different then they. SUCH WERE MANY OF US. And apart from the grace of God intervening, we would likewise be hostile to God his people. So let us, in return, pray for and do good to those who intend to persecute us. Perhaps God will be merciful and grant them repentance. This is not a Manichean "us vs. them" world... it is much more complex than that. Skeptics and atheists are not really our enemy at all, but fellow sinners, just like us, who need love, prayer and rescuing from the coming wrath.

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 15:54 -- john_hendryx

7 Free eBooks by B. B. Warfield

The following free eBooks by Benjamin Warfield are available in ePub and .mobi formats, accessible for your eReading device. These are classic works which are all highly recommended.  We believe no one should be held back from having a significant library of these important works because of cost so please spread the word to your friends so as many people as possible can make good use of this edifying literature.

Faith and Life (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Studies in Theology (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Biblical Doctrines (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Calvin and Calvinism (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Augustine & The Pelagian Controversy (eBook)

The Making of the Westminster Confession (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Sermons and Essays from the Works of B. B. Warfield (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

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Sat, 08/30/2014 - 10:50 -- john_hendryx

Purity of Heart - Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. - Matthew 5:8

Each of the Beatitudes has two components: the condition called blessed (or “happy”), describing the heart state of citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven; and the resulting condition of life in the Kingdom. As we have seen in our study of the other Beatitudes, either one of these phrases might not mean what we assume on first reading. For one thing, we are sinful by nature and not in tune with God’s way of thinking or viewing the world. For example, the first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” might refer to someone who has a strong sense of being economically disadvantaged, or it might describe someone with low self-esteem. Rightly understood, though, it refers to someone who is aware of their sin and guilt before God and knows they have no spiritual currency with which to settle their debt. Anyone who feels this way sees the true meaning.

“Blessed are the pure in heart” is another one of the Beatitudes that is frequently misread. Quite often we read it as if it refers to those whose hearts are clean, without spot or stain of sin. Such a person will indeed see God, and all those who believe in Christ are washed clean and made pure by His blood. But if we look elsewhere in Scripture, we see there is another interpretation. Psalm 24:4 says, “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart . . . does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” Read this way, someone who is “pure in heart” has a heart entirely devoted to God, a heart that is not mixed or divided or combined with anything else. Food that is “100% pure” does not have any additives or fillers. Hearts that are 100% pure are set on God and nothing else—no private agendas, not secret idols.

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:31 -- john_hendryx

Mercy - Matthew 5:7

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.- Matthew 5:7

                We live in a world of imbalance.  Material wealth is distributed unevenly, but people have non-material qualities in differing degrees, too.  Some are more intelligent or have more or less artistic skill or scientific aptitude or business acumen.  Yet some skills or abilities can be increased or developed beyond natural aptitude.  This is true, too, for our emotions, our capacity to feel, especially to feel for others.

But what makes people merciful?  What makes us care about others in need?  Some people may be born with more merciful hearts, and some may have been taught well.  But mercy is most powerful when it comes from the heart, and we are most inclined to feel mercy for others when we know that we ourselves depend on mercy each day.

As we consider the progression of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 we see that the poor in spirit inherit the kingdom of heaven because, only if we admit our sin and depravity can we receive God’s offer of salvation.  When a grasp of the gravity of our sin causes us to mourn, we are comforted by the assurance of forgiveness in Christ.  This makes us meek, for we can no longer enforce our will over someone else once we ourselves are humbled at the realization our standing before God.  And aware of what we do not have and what we are not, we hunger and thirst for what we would be; we long to be like God and so crave His righteousness.

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:41 -- john_hendryx

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