May 2017

Not Able Not to Sin

I often see critiques from professing Christians online regarding their deep opposition to the biblical view that, due to a corruption of nature, fallen man has no free will to come to Christ. Recently I even encountered someone with a list of bible verses which allegedly prove that human beings have free will. Before going through these verses with you (so you can have a reference), I would encourage you to all be familiar with the Augustine's helpful four-fold nature of man before and after the fall. Augustine taught that there are four states of humanity:

These four states, which are derived from the Scripture, correspond to the four states of man in relation to sin:  1) able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare); 2) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); 3) able not to sin (posse non peccare); and 4) unable to sin (non posse peccare). The first state corresponds to the state of man in innocency, before the Fall; the second the state of the natural man after the Fall; the third the state of the regenerate man; and the fourth the glorified  man.

It is good to keep these in mind as you look at the following texts of Scripture posted online in an attempt to prove man has a free will.  My response to the uses of these texts will be in bold. 

Phm 14
but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own Free Will. Free will In the Greek ( adv ) means voluntary choice...

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 17:16 -- john_hendryx

"Anyone can be saved If they will."

Visitor: Any person can be saved, if they will.

Response: Don't we all believe any person can come if they will? The problem is, are there any persons naturally willing to submit to the terms of the gospel? Does it come naturally for fallen sinners to come to the humbling realization that they have no righteousness of their own and so flee to Christ alone as their only hope? Can a person say "Jesus is Lord" apart from the Holy Spirit"? (1 Cor 12:3) The scripture reveals that men are so bent on wickedness (John 3:19, Rom 8:7) that unless the Spirit disarm the hostility of their hearts, turning their heart of stone to a heart of flesh, they would never believe.

Jesus declared, "the Spirit quickens, the flesh counts for nothing ... that is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me grants it (John 6:63, 65)

Augustine said, "to will is of nature, but to will aright is of grace."

Like you I believe the gospel must be preached indiscrimanately to all men. We are to get the gospel to men's ears, but only God can get it to their hearts.

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 11:59 -- john_hendryx

The Lordship Controversy Resolved?

Christ's Lordship is bound up in His being the Savior. Here is why:

When a person comes to faith in Christ as Savior, are they not acknowledging their helplessness, and so come to Him in the hope that He will free them from both the guilt and power of sin? Do not people come to Christ so that He might liberate them from sin's tyranny over them? In coming to Christ as Savior from sin we implicitly acknowledge His Lordship, for we no longer want to be under the rule of sin. When the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our wretched condition before God, we want to be free of sin but, knowing we are impotent to save ourselves from it, we ask Christ to free us. No one who is truly converted comes to Christ and says "please don't free me from sin". Anyone who did this is not even coming to him as Savior but hoping He will leave them in their original condition as slaves.

We are all painfully aware of the remainders of sin that exist in us as believers.  But if the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are incapable of remaining indifferent to it. We will mourn over it and desire to be rid of it, but being unable to do so ourselves, we come to the Savior daily plea for the help we so desperately need.  Can a person claim to believe in Christ as their Savior and be content to remain in sin? Will the Holy Spirit allow that? (1 Cor 11:31-32)  If so then in what sense is Christ their Savior? 

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 12:18 -- john_hendryx

Why does God command Christians to be holy when we are already holy in Christ?

“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:16

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." 2 Cor 7:1

"...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Hebrews 10:10

Recently I have come across a number of people online who declare that we cannot become more sanctified ...and we cannot become more like Jesus because we are already perfect in him, so, they reason, that all calls to be holy are wrong.
I write this piece because I want to point out how important it is to make distinctions, especially when the Bible does so. In doing so we shall attempt to answer the question(s): Does Christ having made us holy once for all do away with the concept that we are to become more like Him? or does the fact that He has perfected us through the body of Christ once for all (Heb 10:14) contradict the idea that we are to be growing in holiness? How are we to understand all this?  

Perhaps this matter of definitive vs. experiential sanctification can be illustrated and better understood by a story I once heard from a friend.

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 17:20 -- john_hendryx

Responding to Christianese: Since God is Love He would Never Violate our Free Will

When I hear professing Christians say that since God is love He would never violate our free will (btw, a concept not found in the Bible)... my first thought is to ask:

"So you are troubled that God did for you what you couldn't do for yourself? Is Hell better than being saved? In everyday life we keep our children back from things that would harm them. Why? We do it because we love them. If this is true for our children, how much more God? So if God rescues us, in spite of our willful disobedience, it springs from His great mercy and love. But if His love toward us were based on a condition we have to meet, it would, by definition, be neither loving nor gracious."

It is better to reach important doctrinal positions by being biblically informed, rather than relying on unaided human reason or emotional appeals.

The Epistle to the Ephesians declares

"...even when we were dead in our trespasses, (He) made us alive (quickened us) together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—" - Eph 2:5

Now, God is not doing violence to our will any more than God violated your will when he gave you life, or gave you eyes, or ears.  But He certainly rescued us regardless of our disposition at the time because, like any good parent, he knows better than we do what is good for us. 

Some may raise the objection: but does not God say he does not want anyone to perish, but rather everyone to come to repentance?

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 14:26 -- john_hendryx

Are Christians Better than Non-Christians?

I have sometimes heard the charge from skeptics that Christians come off as thinking they are better than other people.  This impression perhaps arises for at least two reasons: 1) because a professing Christian who does not understand the gospel actually DOES think they are better than non-Christians or 2) a true regenerate Christian who may be triggered/set off by something, forgets the gospel, and rashly in their pride says some things indicating they think they are better.  

Either way, the fact is that we are not better.  Not by a long shot. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once declared in no uncertain terms "Do you think that you deserve forgiveness? If you do, you are not a Christian."

A Christian is Saved By Grace

A sinner is saved when, by grace, they acknowledge that they have no righteousness of their own and trust in Christ's promise to deliver them from their guilt and captivity to sin.

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9).

At our very best — we are but miserable sinners. We are not saved because we are better or more deserving than others, but are saved by God's mercy alone.  It is true that God sets Christians apart and works holiness into their character but the Christian is one who remembers that any good character he/she may now have is only because of God's mercy. We had nothing to do with it. There is no hierarchy of merit in coming to the cross...   No one gets to heaven because they are better than anyone else. NO ONE.  We are all saved by Christ alone.

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 15:33 -- john_hendryx

Hate Masquerading as Love

The sad irony is that the very "churches" that claim to want full inclusion of practicing LGBT persons into their fellowship/membership are the very same churches that would deny them entrance into the kingdom via the gospel. Because they have caved to the culture, fearing the opinions of men rather than God they end up hating, not loving, the precious souls of people held captive by this particular sin.

Most of our churches, including mine, include brothers and sisters who struggle with same sex attraction. According to Scripture we were all delivered from from bondage to various sin(s) from which we could not deliver ourselves (1 Cor 6:9:11). We all still fight some of these sins. That is why we need the gospel daily. We come to Jesus, the Savior, because He ALONE can deliver us from ourselves and from the sin(s) holding us captive.

The churches that do not believe this, thinking it loving to include unrepentant persons among the saints, deny the gospel and are not true churches. They pose both a danger to themselves and to others.

Dear friends, for the love of God and their souls, pray for the visible church and call these individuals to repentance.

Note: I post this because I actually run into so-called pastors on Facebook who have deceived themselves into believing that they are doing gospel-work by being "inclusive" and think antinomianism, not grace, is the answer. They end up doing harm rather than good.

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 15:25 -- john_hendryx

Faith Involves Both Renunciation and Reliance

by Jerry Bridges

"Faith involves both a renunciation and a reliance. First, we must renounce any trust in our own performance as the basis of our acceptance before God. We trust in our own performance when we believe we’ve earned God’s acceptance by our good works. But we also trust in our own performance when we believe we’ve lost God’s acceptance by our bad works—by our sin. So we must renounce any consideration of either our bad works or our good works as the means of relating to God. Second, we must place our reliance entirely on the perfect obedience and sin-bearing death of Christ as the sole basis of our standing before God—on our best days as well as our worst ...

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 14:26 -- john_hendryx

Come as You Are?

"It is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather he accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ's sake. Nor does He mean to leave us the way He found us, but to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Without that transformation and new conformity of life we do not have any evidence that we were ever His in the first place." - Dr. Sinclair Ferguson


Jesus came "to proclaim good news to the poor ... to proclaim liberty to the captives." (Luke 4:18)

When sinners like us, by the grace of God, come to Christ one of the most important reasons we do so is because we want Him to unburden us from our sin, both from its guilt and from its power ... with the goal that we might have intimate fellowship with God.. so to know that God will not leave us as we are, in sin's grip, is a major part of the good news of Christ.

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 14:09 -- john_hendryx

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