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Foreknowledge and the Free Will of Men

by John Frame

The doctrine that God foreordains and directs all events is generally regarded as Calvinistic, and I am not embarrassed to be called a Calvinist. However, other Christian traditions also accept this doctrine, sometimes in spite of themselves. Take Arminianism for example. The Arminian makes much of human "free will," insisting that our free decisions, especially those of religious significance, are not foreordained or otherwise determined by God. He seeks thereby to reinforce the doctrine of human responsibility (a doctrine with which, in itself, the Calvinist has no quarrel). But the Arminian also recognizes (1) that God foreknows the future exhaustively, and (2) that He has created the world knowing what the future will bring. For example, before the foundation of the world, God knew that Joe would make a free decision to become a Christian. Somehow, then, before Joe was born, God knew of his free decision. So even at that time, Joe's free decision must have been inevitable. Why was it inevitable? Not because of Joe's free will, for Joe was not yet born. Not because of God's predestination, because the Arminian denies that possibility from the outset. It would seem that the inevitability in question had some source other than either Joe or God.

[Frame's Note]: That is a scary possibility! In rejecting "divine determinism," the Arminian in effect embraces a determinism coming from some mysterious other source -- another god? the Devil? world history? impersonal laws? In any case, this idea certainly does not leave much room for free will.]

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 14:09 -- john_hendryx

I Love Deuteronomy

I have always loved Deuteronomy. In fact the Lord used this book as a key instrument in my own conversion. Deuteronomy is a book of the Law and reveals the holiness of God. Reading it will instill the deep fear of the Lord in a person.

But according to the Text, did Israel receive God's favor because they were obedient to the Law and deserved it? No, God declared to the Israelites three times that the "Lord your God is NOT giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for (He said) you are a stubborn people." But rather the reason the He says He blesses them is to confirm the word of promise and grace that the Lord swore to to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Deut 9:5-6)

And while the first 28 chapters of the book give God's holy law and declares that they will be blessed and righteousness if they obey but cursed if they disobey. Yet were they able to obey it? No, as Joshua said, they will not obey because God is holy. (Joshua 24:19) Furthermore, in Deuteronomy 29:4, after the giving of the law, God declares, "But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear." So what were they to do? Not only was God's promise based on the favor he showed to Abraham but also He promised them that "the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:6) It is grace that would make the children of promise willing to obey, apart from which, there would naturally be only stubborn hardness of heart.

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 11:24 -- john_hendryx

5 Principles of Evangelical Religion

by J. C. Ryle

I. To the question “what Evangelical Religion is? ” the simplest answer I can give is to point out what appear to be its leading features. These I consider to be five in number.

( a ) The first leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the absolute supremacy it assigns to Holy Scripture , as the only rule of faith and practice, the only test of truth, the only judge of controversy.

Its theory is that man is required to believe nothing, as necessary to salvation, which is not read in God’s Word written, or can be proved thereby. It totally denies that there is any other guide for man’s soul, coequal or co-ordinate with the Bible. It refuses to listen to such arguments as “the Church says so,”—“the Fathers say so,”—“primitive antiquity says so,”—“Catholic tradition says so,”—“the Councils say so,”—“the ancient liturgies say so,”—“the Prayer-book says so,”—“the universal conscience of mankind says so,”—“the verifying light within says so,”—unless it can be shown that what is said is in harmony with Scripture.

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 11:37 -- john_hendryx

Salvation as a Gift: An Arminian Attempts to Discredit Calvinism

Here is my response to a meme I came across today which attempts to critique the Calvinist who says an Arminian's choice of following Jesus can be grounds for boasting before God.

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Salvation is a gift, in its entirety. Jesus provides EVERYTHING we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe (Deut 29:4, 30:6; Ezek 36:26; Eph 2:8). Your meme presumes that the new heart to believe is not part of God's gift to us but that faith is something that can naturally spring from our unregenerated human nature, apart from grace, apart from God's gift. Your meme wrongly assumes that the captives do not need liberating from their love of darkness, hatred of the light and unwillingness to come into the light (John 3:19; 1 Cor 2:14) ... since their wills are already good. That this Spirit wrought change of heart is not part of God's grace but that the unhardening of our own heart is something we are naturally willing and able to do on our own. But just like a seed needs rain from heaven to grow so the seed of the gospel needs the Holy Spirit to be germinated. 'No one says Jesus is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3).

Likewise 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

Yet your position forces you to believe that a person can come to faith in Christ even if the Father DOES NOT grant it, or willing to come even if the Spirit DOES NOT quicken, and so your position by default presumes that the flesh DOES indeed count for SOMETHING, contrary to the bible.

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 16:46 -- john_hendryx

Hope for the Wretched (Like Me)

by Herman Bavinck

Both for unbelievers and believers, the doctrine of election is a source of inexpressibly great comfort. If it were based on justice and merit, all would be lost. But now that election operates according to grace, there is hope even for the most wretched. If work and reward were the standard of admission into the kingdom of heaven, its gates would be opened for no one. Or if Pelagius’s doctrine were the standard, and the virtuous were chosen because of their virtue, and Pharisees because of their righteousness, wretched publicans would be shut out. Pelagianism has no pity. But to believe in and to confess election is to recognize even the most unworthy and degraded human being as a creature of God and an object of his eternal love. The purpose of election is not—as it is so often proclaimed—to turn off the many but to invite all to participate in the riches of God’s grace in Christ. No one has a right to believe that he or she is a reprobate, for everyone is sincerely and urgently called to believe in Christ with a view to salvation. No one can actually believe it, for one’s own life and all that makes it enjoyable is proof that God takes no delight in his death. No one really believes it, for that would be hell on earth. But election is a source of comfort and strength, of submissiveness and humility, of confidence and resolution. The salvation of human beings is firmly established in the gracious and omnipotent good pleasure of God.

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Fri, 06/16/2017 - 14:45 -- john_hendryx

Hide Not the Offense of the Cross

by C. H. Spurgeon

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man” —Galatians 1:11

A gospel which is after men will be welcomed by men; but it needs a divine operation upon the heart and mind to make a man willing to receive into his inmost soul this distasteful gospel of the grace of God. My dear brethren, do not try to make it tasteful to carnal minds.

Hide not the offense of the cross, lest you make it of none effect. The angles and corners of the gospel are its strength: to pare them off is to deprive it of power. Toning down is not the increase of strength, but the death of it.

Why, even among the sects, you must have noticed that their distinguishing points are the horns of their power; and when these are practically omitted, the sect is effete. Learn, then, that if you take Christ out of Christianity, Christianity is dead.

If you remove grace out of the gospel, the gospel is gone. If the people do not like the doctrine of grace, give them all the more of it. Whenever its enemies rail at a certain kind of gun, a wise military power will provide more of such artillery.

A great general, going in before his king, stumbled over his own sword. “I see,” said the king, “your sword is in the way.” The warrior answered, “Your majesty’s enemies have often felt the same.” That our gospel offends the King’s enemies is no regret to us.

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From  Charles H. Spurgeon, “Galatians 1:11 - Our Manifesto.” Preached on April 25th, 1890, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 15:41 -- john_hendryx

Two Top Rated Books on the Gospel

Among the best books ever written on the gospel. Both available for free download

Click on the following links to go to the download pages. These high quality eBooks have an actively linked Table of Contents, not scanned.  To download, use your default browser, not your Facebook app.

The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (eBook) by Walter Marshall
This is perhaps one of the best treatises on the doctrine of sanctification (and the gospel) ever penned. It was first published in 1692, yet remains today as one of the most authoritative treatments of the subject. The contents are the culmination of Puritan thought on living the Christian life. Combining doctrinal precision and pastoral sensitivity, Walter Marshall shows how sanctification is essential to spiritual life, dependent on spiritual union with Jesus Christ, and inseparable—though distinct—from justification. He shows how holiness involves both the mind and the soul of the believer and that it is the aim of the Christian life. It is no wonder that this book has been reprinted many times throughout the years and received such high praise from leading ministers of the gospel.

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 13:20 -- john_hendryx

This Week's Listing of Free Resources at Monergism

"For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." - Rom 9:15-16

The Reformed Faith: An Exposition Of The Westminster Confession Of Faith (eBook)
by Robert Shaw. This is considered by many (along with A. A. Hodge's Commentary) to be the best commentary on the Westminster Confession.

The Glorious Feast of the Gospel (eBook)
by Richard Sibbes - Delivered in diverse sermons upon Isaiah 25:6-9.

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 14:11 -- john_hendryx

Is it Unjust of God to Ask Sinners to Do What They Are Morally Unable to Do?

Some claim it would be unjust of God to command us to do something we are unable to do.
 
That is an odd claim. Isn't that why we need grace to begin with? ... because we are morally bankrupt?, impotent to carry out the works of the Law? The command "Love the Lord your God with all your heart..." Does anyone naturally love God with all their heart? No. We are impotent to obey this command in the flesh. Does that make God unjust for asking us to conform to his holy standards? No, of course not. The commands of God are righteous and holy and we only have ourselves to blame for rejecting them ... not to mention that the purpose of the law is to reveal sin (Rom 3:19-20)
 
But lets bring this same question to the summons to believe the gospel. We all agree that the choice of right or wrong is put before every person. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Yet, even if we did not inherit original sin from Adam, the moment we choose to sin in our personal lives against an infinitely holy God, we would render ourselves dead in sin, unspiritual creatures of the flesh, owing a sin-debt we cannot repay. Any good will or moral ability to see the goodness, beauty and excellency of Christ has been destroyed by sin. As a result, "...there is no one who seeks God" (Rom 3:11) Now, in every day life, if you owe a debt you cannot repay... are you still responsible to repay the debt?
Wed, 06/07/2017 - 13:33 -- john_hendryx

Not by Free Will but by Grace through Faith -- St. Augustine

Men are not Saved by Good Works, nor by the Free Determination of their Own Will, but by the Grace of God through Faith

But this part of the human race to which God has promised pardon and a share in His eternal kingdom, can they be restored through the merit of their own works? God forbid. For what good work can a lost man perform, except so far as he has been delivered from perdition? Can they do anything by the free determination of their own will? Again I say, God forbid. For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost. "For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." [1] This is the judgment of the Apostle Peter. And as it is certainly true, what kind of liberty, I ask, can the bond-slave possess, except when it pleases him to sin? For he is freely in bondage who does with pleasure the will of his master. Accordingly, he who is the servant of sin is free to sin. And hence he will not be free to do right, until, being freed from sin, he shall begin to be the servant of righteousness. And this is true liberty, for he has pleasure in the righteous deed; and it is at the same time a holy bondage, for he is obedient to the will of God.

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 13:08 -- john_hendryx

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