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An Introduction to the Gospel: A Covenant Theology Primer

by John Hendryx

How may a sinful man approach God (Exodus 3:5)? Does God require perfect obedience to His law in order to achieve the righteousness He requires of us?

"...Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? ... If you would enter life, keep the commandments." (Matt 19:15-17) "For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them (Ro 10:5). [but] The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me (Ro 7:10). "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (Jas 2:10) …and “the soul that sins shall die” (Ez 18:20). But "…God [sent] his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh ... in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Ro 8:3-4).

Wed, 01/13/2016 - 13:15 -- john_hendryx

Resources For Communicating the Gospel to Mormons

I recently asked Aaron Shafovaloff, who does evangelistic work among Mormons in Utah, what were some of his recommendations for top online resources out there for interacting with Mormons. He answered with some liks to some helpful material:
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Hi John, hopefully you can mine some useful nuggets from the following.

If someone wants to seriously dive in, here is my *top* recommendation:

1) Read the LDS manual "Gospel Principles" (https://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles?lang=eng), and then also read Rob Bowman's corresponding review articles (http://mit.irr.org/gospel-principles-archive). He is top-notch and there is enough meat there to keep one chewing for a long time. As Bowman writes, "[Gospel Principles] provides the best overview of LDS doctrine and values and is arguably the religion’s most important and enduring curriculum publication." My recommendation is to let Bowman's materials at IRR.org be your first go-to for quality online material.

2) I would also highly recommend the materials of my own colleagues, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, at mrm.org

3) UTLM: http://utlm.org/navtopicalindex.htm
Mon, 01/04/2016 - 11:01 -- john_hendryx

About That Christianity Thing

There are some things that are non-negotiable, and by that I mean those things that make Christianity what it truly is. When Christians make a common confession assenting to the essentials of the Christian faith there is no room for negotiation. Christianity is particularly Trinitarian, particularly exclusive, and particularly redemptive through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no room for negotiation. Either God exists eternally in three persons, and either Jesus is the only way to God, and either Jesus provides the only access to God, and either Jesus rose from the dead, or Christianity is a lie. This is the sum and substance of the creedal Christianity that has existed for almost two millennia. This is the faith that Christians have believed and that Christians do believe. It will do no good to embrace a faith that has no substance, and to hold close that which bothers to carry no theological and biblical conviction. Christianity is substantive. Christianity is authoritative.  Words mean things and ideas have consequences. We didn’t get here all by ourselves. What this means is that to truly be Christian we align ourselves with those that have gone before us. This is the faith once and for all delivered to us.  We are not the beginning and neither are we the end. This is the faith for which men and women have died. This is not cheap easy-believe-ism.  This is the faith that transforms. This is the faith for which martyrs have died. This is the faith which may cost you your life. We may come and we may go, but this is the faith that will endure. The temptation is to negotiate. The temptation is to acquiesce. Resist the spirit of the age. Resist the enticement to compromise. Believe. Believe this:

Fri, 01/01/2016 - 12:42 -- john_hendryx

How does the doctrine of God's unmerited sovereign grace toward us apply practically to our horizontal relationships with people?

One of the first things that always comes to mind is how salvation by God's free grace radically affects how we treat unbelievers or skeptics. When we truly understand the biblical gospel of the grace of God in Christ it removes the "us vs. them" mentality. If it teaches us anything, being saved by grace alone teaches us that we are no better than anyone... that we are all desperately cracked about the head ... and so when we see great evil in the world we do not say "oh look at them...we are better"... no, we say "but for the grace of God there I go". .. and I think this goes a long way in helping begin to repair the problems between people in the world ... and enables us to have a point of commonality with others .... we then see others as fellow human beings who are sinners like us, with the same struggles we have. We become overwhelmed by a sense that since such enormous free forgiveness has been extended to us, how could we not extend a forgiveness to others? If God granted us unconditional grace, then we find the strength to extend such grace to others, even and especially those who are our active enemies.

And when, by the grace of God, we engage in good works, grace teaches us that we cannot boast in them or compare ourselves with "those bad people out there" but see our doing good as part of the overflow of God's grace to us, giving rise to a thankful heart ... and so if we understand grace correctly, it leaves us no room for boasting over anyone. Rather it interact with others who differ from us with humility. These are some horizontal applications.

Solus Christus.

Fri, 12/25/2015 - 11:19 -- john_hendryx

Does Our Cooperation With God Have Redeeming Value?

Some professing Christians believe that their cooperation with God is, at least partly, what redeems them. Indeed we believe and work but we do so because God works in us to do according to his good pleasure - works which God prepared beforehand (Phil 2:13; Eph 2:10). If we are talking about salvation, your cooperation adds nothing to your salvation... rather it is an inevitable product or result OF salvation. Your cooperation does not MAINTAIN your just standing before God lest we do the very thing Paul warns of in Galatians 3:3... "having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

We call all people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel (Acts 17:30). But because they love darkness (as we all once did) they will not respond to this call apart from the grace of God. We give the command to believe. That is our duty and their duty, but it is Jesus alone who provides what He requires. It is grace itself which makes us humble, it is Christ Himself which provides the new heart to believe (Deut 29:4; 30:6; Ezek 36:26; John 6:63, 65). Humility is not self-generated, because self-righteousness is the natural disposition of man apart from grace.

God's commands are no longer burdensome to us because we are born again.(1 John 1:2-4) But we do not obey them in order to maintain our acceptance before God, we obey them BECAUSE we already have acceptance before God, and a heart which now inclines to God.

Thu, 12/24/2015 - 12:41 -- john_hendryx

Adversity

by Terry Johnson

Background Reading:
Romans 8:26-39; Genesis 50:15-21

In 1858, a gifted young Presbyterian missionary named John G. Paton sailed with his wife and infant son to the New Hebrides in the South Pacific to begin missionary work among the islanders. Within a few months of arrival, both his infant son and his wife had died, leaving him to labor alone.

In August 1876, a gifted young theologian names Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and his bride were honeymooning in Germany. While sightseeing in the Black Forest region, they were suddenly caught in a severe storm, and something that was never quite explained happened to his bride, rendering her an invalid for the rest of their lives together.

In the 1950s the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah congregation called a young preacher to take the reigns of a very divided church. He came with his wife and their five children, the youngest only three years old. Within a year and a half, Anton Van Puffelen developed a brain tumor, and in just over two years after he started his work in Savannah the Rev. Van Puffelen was dead.

How do you explain these things? Perhaps just as baffling, how do you explain the responses of these individuals? John G. Patton stayed on the field and reaped a great harvest, later saying:

I built the grave round and round with coral blocks, and covered the top with beautiful white coral, broken small gravel; and that spot became my sacred and much frequented shrine, during all the following months and years when I labored on for the salvation of these savage Islanders amidst difficulties, dangers and deaths. Whensoever Tanna turns to the Lord, and is won for Christ, man in after-days will find the memory of that spot still green – where with ceaseless prayers and tears I claimed that the land for God in which I hand ‘buried my dead’ with faith and hope.

Tue, 12/22/2015 - 17:21 -- john_hendryx

Monergism Reading Guide 2015

If you are giving books as a gift to your friends and family this year, we have compiled a list of some of the best classic and contemporary books for beginner, intermediate and advanced readers.  If you work through the books on this list you will be devotionally enriched and will be giving yourself a solid theological education that you would not get at the vast majority of seminaries. This is certainly not an exhaustive list but a good foundation.

Introductory Reading

Christianity is not about knowing a lot of things. It is about deeply knowing the one true God in order that your whole person may be conformed into His image.

Thu, 12/10/2015 - 15:30 -- john_hendryx

To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself

by John Hendryx

One of the most prevalent motifs that runs through the whole Bible is its constant reminder of the insufficiency of man. While this may seem all too obvious, we need constant reminding of this critical truth in our everyday lives. This truth may be self-evident when we consider the non-Christian, because we know he or she has no hope apart from Christ's mercy. But perhaps less obvious, is recognizing how this truth is so critical for the regenerate Christian who must continually be aware that apart from Christ we can do nothing; we can neither grow in grace nor have anything to offer to God. (John 15:5) This is not only clear in those parts of the Scripture which are propositional but are also quite pervasive in the gospel narratives. If you read closely about the events associated with Christ's earthly ministry, it becomes obvious that deliverance occurred in individuals only when they exhauted their own resources, were so desperate that they came to an end of themselves and were reduced to begging, if you will. Grace works salvation in us, not as we are, but first humbles our pride, revealing our spiritual bankruptcy, moral impotence, causing us to have a broken spirit - things which none of us naturally (apart from grace) are ready to recognize and confess. For our true condition before God is that we cannot even lift a finger toward our salvation, and can bring nothing to God except that which He first grants us in Christ, which includes both the humility to acknowledge our captivity to the yoke of sin and our desperate need of the Savior Jesus Christ (including a new heart which trusts in Him). The same dependent disposition must continue throughout the Christian life.

Wed, 12/09/2015 - 10:23 -- john_hendryx

Doesn’t Matthew 22:14 contradict Romans 8:29-30?

Visitor Question: Doesn’t Matthew 22:14 contradict Romans 8:29-30? In other words, how can Matthew claim that not all who called are chosen, while Romans claims that all who are predestined are called?

•       “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14, English Standard Version Bible)

•       “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”(Romans 8:29-30)

----

Response: That is a very good question.  I would like to call your attention to a text in 1 Corinthians which, I think, clears up any misunderstandings of this issue.

"Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor 1:22-24

Sat, 12/05/2015 - 11:43 -- john_hendryx

No Lie Too Monstrous, and No Story Too Absurd

by J. C. Ryle

Those who had been listening to [Jesus] replied, "Aren't we correct in saying that you are a Samaritan and are possessed by a demon?" Silenced in argument, these wicked men resorted to personal abuse. To lose temper, and call names, is a common sign of a defeated cause. Grievous indeed are the sufferings which the saints of God have had to endure from the tongue in every age. Their characters have been slandered. Evil reports have been circulated about them. Lying stories have been diligently invented, and greedily swallowed, about their conduct. No wonder that David said, "Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue." (Psalm 120:2.)

The true Christian in the present day must never be surprised to find that he has constant trials to endure from this quarter. Sinful human nature never changes. So long as he serves the world, and walks in the broad way, little perhaps will be said against him. Once let him take up the cross and follow Christ, and there is no lie too monstrous, and no story too absurd, for some to tell against him, and for others to believe. But let him take comfort in the thought that he is only drinking the cup which his blessed Master drank before him. The lies of his enemies do him no injury in heaven, whatever they may on earth. Let him bear them patiently, and not fret, or lose his temper. When Christ was reviled, "He reviled not again." (1 Peter 2:23.) Let the Christian do likewise.

 

- J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on The Gospels,  John 8:48-59

Fri, 12/04/2015 - 13:24 -- john_hendryx

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