April 2016

Praying for Magistrates and for All in Authority

by John Calvin

We must not only pray for the faithful, who are our brothers already, but for those who are very far off, those poor unbelievers.  Even though there seems to be a great distance and a thick wall between both, nevertheless we must have pity for their coming destruction, to the end that I may pray to God that he would draw them unto him.  Since this is so, let us notice how backward a thing it is for every man to be committed to his own profit, and have no regard to his neighbors.  For our Lord God has not created infinite worlds, for every man to dwell apart by himself, seeking nothing but his own private commodity.  Instead he has placed us together, one with another.  Since he makes us to dwell together, he has also bound us to think upon this, how we ought to communicate with our neighbors.  And therefore he has made us of one nature.  When I look upon a man, I cannot but behold my own image in him; and in seeing him I look upon myself and know myself in him.  Moreover and beside this, there is another thing even more worthy to be considered, namely, the image of God which he has ingrained in us.  Therefore if we bear any reverence and honor to God, it is good reason for us not to despise his image which he has ingrained in all men; and know what is said in the Scripture: that no man hates his own flesh, for it is a monstrous thing, and clearly against humanity.  And when it speaks of flesh, this is extended to great and small, and to the greatest stranger in the word; as the prophet Isaiah also says (Isaiah 5:7).  We see that God has joined us together upon this condition, that every one of us should employ himself to serve his neighbors as much as he can, and how he may.  And we must do this in our prayers to God, for it i

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 15:50 -- john_hendryx

The Bible's Description of Man's Condition Evidences the Divine Inspiration of Scripture

“An incomprehensibly holy God with such a hatred of sin would never have been conceived of by any of Adam’s fallen descendants because this would have required an admission of guilt.... The description of God's holiness of foreign to man-made gods found in mythology and false systems of religion. This further evidences the divine inspiration of Scripture. People, by nature, do not really want to believe in God's holiness as described in the Scriptures. Fallen man wants to emphasize personally beneficial attributes ahead of those that do not serve his interests." - Keith Knell.

I agree. This is one of the best evidences for the truth of Scripture. The God of the Bible does not just go after "others" out there and create some kind of us versus them mentality. No. It directly targets all of us in a sweeping judgment of our rebellion against God. If any are saved it is by their sheer mercy of God in Jesus Christ (Rom. 9:15, 16), not because we were better than others. This teaching goes so against the grain of human nature that it rings genuine. When you look at mythologies and other religions in the world, without fail they somehow prop up man and his pride.  They point to human attainment rather than divine accomplishment because men are, by nature, prideful and it goes against ever fiber in our being to acknowledge our  helpless and spiritually bankrupt state.  In the Old Testament the LORD knew that Israel would be tempted to be prideful because he chose them over others so he makes certain they know that it had nothing to do with them, stripping them of all possibility of boasting over others.  God declared:

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 13:14 -- john_hendryx

Why Does God Choose Some and Leave Others in their Wretched Blindness?

by John Calvin

"For if a man asks us why God has chosen us, why he has enlightened us, and hath left so many miserable and wretched in blindness, why he changed us and turned us to him by his Holy Spirit, and others remain in their hardness, we cannot say that we are better than they, and therefore God preferred us before those whom he left alone, neither that we are worthier than they; there is not such matter. So what was it then? We must come to that which is spoken in the eleventh chapter to the Romans. When he speaks of the judgments of God he cries out, How incomprehensible are your ways! And who has given to him that he should repay them? Who can brag that he has brought anything of his own that he may say that God should be moved to love him more than another? No, no, men are void of all goodness, there is nothing in them but confusion and shame of face, and God accepts and calls whom he wants, and calls them in such a way that there is no goodness in them, but he changes them, and renews them by the grace of his Holy Spirit, that where they were inheritors of death, where there was nothing in them but curse, he reforms them to his image, he plants life and an incorruptible seed in them. When we know these things, what can we say, but be astonished and cry out as St. Paul does there. What a bottomless pit is the grace of God! How incomprehensible are his ways! So then let us mark well that we shall never know our redemption thoroughly until we come to that astonishment which was in St. Paul, and which ought to be in all the faithful." - John Calvin, Sermons on 1 Timothy

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 17:35 -- john_hendryx

Moral Improvement or Total Replacement?

Christianity is not about behavior modification or making yourself a better person. We are too far gone to perfect ourselves by patchwork or a few improvements. Rather, the old edifice is so rotten that it must be torn down completely and replaced. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not simply supply one thing that was lacking in us, but everything that was part of our original nature had to be overturned and corrected, since there was nothing but corruption to begin with.

The Bible does not say we were originally something and then God added more to make us better. Instead God shows us that we are less than nothing on our own and that all we have is from above by His gracious hand. When we want to exalt the grace of God as He deserves, we have to confess what we would be on our own and what would become of us if God had not extended His mercy toward us.

John Murray once said, "God effects a change which is radical and all-pervasive, a change which cannot be explained in terms of any combination, permutation, or accumulation of human resources, a change which is nothing less than an new creation by him who calls the things that be not as though they were, who spake and it was done, who commanded and it stood fast. This, in a word, is regeneration."

Sun, 04/17/2016 - 11:11 -- john_hendryx

Does God Ever Change His Mind?

by Sam Storms

All people are fickle, in varying degrees. I suspect we’d be shocked to learn how many times in the course of a normal day we change our plans, reverse course, or pull out an eraser to delete an appointment or a task we had set for the week. Changing our minds feels so natural to us as humans, it’s hard to envision life without it. In most instances the changes are harmless and typically result from unforeseeable circumstances, as well as the alterations that other people make that directly affect us. But what would it mean for God to change his mind? Does he? Could he? Or are all his plans and purposes immutable?

The importance of defining our theological terms with precision is most evident in the case of divine immutability. Here is a word that in contemporary evangelical circles evokes either protest or praise. Some see it as a threat to the biblical portrait of a God who does indeed change: he changes his mind (“repents”) and he changes his mode of being (“the Word became flesh”). Others are equally concerned that a careless tampering with this attribute of God will reduce him to a fickle, unfaithful, and ultimately unworthy object of our affection and worship. It is imperative, therefore, that we proceed cautiously, and yet with conviction, in the explanation of the sense in which God both can and cannot change.

Immutability as Consistency of Character

Thu, 04/14/2016 - 16:33 -- john_hendryx

“What are Our Privileges in Christ?

by Sinclair B. Ferguson

“What are our privileges? They are truly amazing:

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest… But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering” (Heb. 12:18, 22, ESV).

In the days of promises and shadows, believers came to an assembly convened at a mountain engulfed with a sense of awful judgment. By contrast, in the full blaze of light that has appeared in Christ, we have come to the abiding city of God, angels in festal gathering, the assembly of Christ, and the spirits of departed believers.

Indeed, we have come to God Himself, not with Moses, but to Jesus. We have received the new covenant in His shed blood.

This is the assembly in which we gather for worship to hear the voice of Christ in His Word, to lift our voices under His choral direction in praise, to share His trust in His Father, and to gather around Him as His brothers and sisters (cf. Heb. 2:10–13).

Consequently, this is also our family—composed of the redeemed from among all mankind and the elect among the angelic host. This is the kingdom in which our names are enrolled as citizens (12:23).

It is a kingdom, unlike all the kingdoms and empires of this world, that can- not be shaken (12:27–28). What riches are ours in these three dimensions of the life of grace!

An assembly, a family, a kingdom! And they are already ours in Christ! Here and now our lives are punctuated by special visiting rights to heaven’s glory as we assemble with our fellow believers.

Fri, 04/08/2016 - 11:21 -- john_hendryx

Saved By God, From God, For God

by Rev. John Samson

Christians are notorious for using a vocabulary that is not always understood by those around them. There's no doubt that we have our own lingo and jargon.

One such word is the word "saved." Often, Christians ask unsuspecting neighbors, colleagues and friends the question, "are you saved?" and usually receive only puzzled expressions in response. These folk are desperately trying to understand the question, but have no reference point whatsoever from which to make an assessment of how to answer. The Christian, on the other hand, seeing this as a wonderful opportunity to evangelize, usually pounces on this hesitation, though just how much is communicated in such times is open to debate. Though the Christian is usually sincere in desiring to share his faith, he needs to provide some foundation for the person to understand what he is seeking to communicate.

Yet in saying this, the word "saved" is very much a biblical word. The scripture says, "whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

But what exactly is this referring to? What is it that those who call on the name of the Lord are saved from?

Tue, 04/05/2016 - 14:40 -- john_hendryx

New Paperback Titles - 4-1-16

The Garden, the Curtainand the Cross

By Carl Laferton

List Price:     $14.99
Price:     $12.98 & eligible for FREE Shipping on orders over $35.

This beautifully illustrated hardback book takes children on a journey from the garden of Eden to God's prefect new creation.

Retelling the Easter story through a Bible overview, children will discover that 'because of our sin, we can't go in' but because of Jesus' victory on the cross, an even better garden awaits us...

Fri, 04/01/2016 - 12:48 -- john_hendryx

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