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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.

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 16:13 -- john_hendryx

Don't Confuse Justification with Regeneration or Sanctification

by John Murray, Ralph Erskine, William Perkins, James Ussher, James Buchanan

“The epistle to the Romans is concerned with this very subject, the justification of sinners. That is the grand theme of the first five chapters in particular. Romans 8:33,34 conclusively shows that the meaning is that which is contrasted with the word ‘condemn’ and that which is related to the rebuttal of a judicial charge. The meaning of the word ‘justify’ therefore, in the epistle to the Romans, and therefore in the epistle which more than any other book in Scripture unfolds the doctrine, is to declare to be righteous. Its meaning is entirely removed from the thought of making upright or holy or good or righteous.

This is what is meant when we insist that justification is forensic. It has to do with a judgment given, declared, pronounced; it is judicial or juridical or forensic. The main point of such terms is to distinguish between the kind of action which justification involves and the kind of action in regeneration. Regeneration is an act of God in us; justification is an act of God with respect to us. The distinction is like that of the distinction between the act of a surgeon and the act of a judge. The surgeon, when he removes an inward cancer, does something in us. That is not what a judge does—he gives a verdict regarding our judicial status. If we are innocent he declares accordingly.

The purity of the gospel is bound up with the recognition of this distinction. If justification is confused with regeneration or sanctification, then the door is opened for the perversion of the gospel at its center. Justification is still the article of the standing or falling church. (121)

Wed, 03/18/2020 - 12:00 -- john_hendryx

"Problematic Texts” for Definite Atonement in the Pastoral and General Epistles

BY THOMAS R. SCHREINER

Is definite atonement actually taught in the Scriptures, or do prejudiced interpreters read it into biblical texts? I. Howard Marshall asks the right question: “Is it possible to interpret the election statements in such a way as to be consistent with the universal statements without twisting the meaning of either?”1 I will argue here that supporters of definite atonement can answer that question in the affirmative. A number of texts in the Pastoral Epistles, the Petrine Epistles, and Hebrews that speak to the issue of definite atonement will be considered. Many of the texts examined here are part of the arsenal of those who defend unlimited/general atonement. In this chapter, I will argue that (1) understanding some of these texts in a way that supports definite atonement is more persuasive exegetically and theologically; and (2) those texts which do concern God’s salvific stance to all kinds of people (1 Tim. 2:4; 4:10) or to everyone (2 Pet. 3:9) do not in fact disprove the doctrine of definite atonement—God’s desire for people to be saved and his intention to save only the elect are compatible elements in biblical soteriology.

Pastoral Epistles

CONTEXT OF 1 TIMOTHY

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 10:53 -- john_hendryx

Particular Redemption in John 17

At the beginning of Jesus High Priestly prayer in John 17, of Himself He declares, "you have given him authority over ALL FLESH, to give eternal life to ALL whom you have GIVEN HIM." (v.2)  This statement is universal in His authority over all flesh and particular in that He refers specifically to those the Father has given Him out of all flesh. He does not give eternal life to some of those the Father has given him but to ALL He has given Him. He further prays, "I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have GIVEN ME, for they are yours" (John 17:9).

In the context of John 17, the persons He prays for (those the Father has given him) are the same ones which he sanctifies. He prays,  "And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth." (V 18). His consecrating of himself is referring specifically to his atoning act for them. Sanctification is a redemptive work. He makes a clear distinction of those He prays for and those He does not before going to the cross for them.  When he speaks later of all those who believe in Him through the apostles teaching he also refers to them as those the Father has "given him" (v.24), so, in addition to the "all flesh" cited in verse 2, they are also included among them in this verse. A recurring pattern is demonstrated here and in other parts of the gospel of John is that the "giving" of the Father precedes their coming to faith in Him

So in the context itself Jesus plainly teaches that he is praying for and sanctifying those the Father has given Him, and them only.  He does not sanctify any but those He prays for. 

Sat, 03/14/2020 - 18:32 -- john_hendryx

Prayer is Abandoning Reliance on Self

by Paul David Tripp

Prayer is abandoning my reliance on me and running toward the rest that can be found only when I rely on the power of God.

Prayer abandons independence. Prayer forsakes any thought that you can make it on your own. Prayer affirms dependency. Prayer acknowledges weakness. Prayer renounces assessments of capability. Prayer embraces the reality of failure. Prayer tells you that you are not at the center. Prayer calls you to abandon your plans for the wiser plans of another. Prayer flows from a deep personal sense of need and runs toward God’s abundant grace.

Because of what prayer really is, prayer is not natural for us. It’s not natural for us to embrace our sin, weakness, and failure. It’s not natural for us to be comfortable depending on the mercy of another. It’s not natural for us to surrender our hopes and dreams to the better vision of another. It’s not natural for us to surrender our wisdom and control to someone greater than us. It’s not natural for us to think that we need grace. On the other hand, it’s natural for us to think that our righteousness, wisdom, strength, and work are enough. As a result, many of our prayers are the religious pronouncements of self-righteous people, the long wish lists of entitled people, or the impatient demands of people who are wondering what in the world God is doing. So many of our prayers aren’t prayers at all (see Luke 18:9–14).

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 19:00 -- john_hendryx

The Work of the Holy Spirit and the Strengthening of Faith

by Theodorus Vandergroe

LORD’S DAY 25 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. —ROMANS 10:17 

Question 65: Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all His benefits by faith only, whence doth this faith proceed? 

Answer: From the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. 

Question 66: What are the sacraments?

Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, He may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that He grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. 

Question 67: Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? 

Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which He offered for us on the cross. 

Question 68: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament? Answer: Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper. 

Mon, 03/09/2020 - 15:50 -- john_hendryx

A New Nature

by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

We would almost think at this stage that we have seen all the glories which Paul saw in the cross, but that is not so—their number is not exhausted, there is more for us to see, as the Apostle still goes on glorying in it. He does so because it is to him the source and the centre out of which, and from which, come all the blessings that he has ever enjoyed as a Christian man. Now this is the thing I want to emphasize at this point. There is nothing ultimately possible for us in the way of good, apart from the cross. The cross is the source, the origin, and the centre of every blessing. There is no Christian blessing possible to anyone apart from the cross. It is impossible for anyone to be blessed by God in any way ultimately, apart from the cross. The cross is the key that opens, if I may so put it, the heart of God. And without the cross we know no blessings at all. This is a most important point. Why did the Apostle not say: 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ'? Now that is what some of us would like him to say, is it not? That is what the modern man would like him to say. The modern man admires the Sermon on the Mount. He says that that is what we need, that there is the most wonderful ethical, moral, standard that has ever been invented and thought of by man, and that is what we want. There are many people who are not Christians who praise the Sermon on the Mount. The late Mr Gandhi, who died a Hindu, praised it. And there are many others who do the same. There are many infidels today who praise the Sermon on the Mount. They like Jesus, the teacher, the religious teacher, the political agitator, as they regard him, and they are ready to laud his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 14:48 -- john_hendryx

Before you convert to Roman Catholicism... (Top Ten List)

by James White

Dear Mr. White, For someone considering converting to Catholicism, what questions would you put to them in order to discern whether or not they have examined their situation sufficiently? Say, a Top 10 list. Thanks.

When I posted this question in our chat channel a number of folks commented that it was in fact a great question, and we started to throw out some possible answers. Here is my "Top Ten List" in response to this fine inquiry.

10) Have you listened to both sides? That is, have you done more than read Rome Sweet Home and listen to a few emotion-tugging conversion stories? Have you actually taken the time to find sound, serious responses to Rome's claims, those offered by writers ever since the Reformation, such as Goode, Whitaker, Salmon, and modern writers? I specifically exclude from this list anything by Jack Chick and Dave Hunt.

9) Have you read an objective history of the early church? I refer to one that would explain the great diversity of viewpoints to be found in the writings of the first centuries, and that accurately explains the controversies, struggles, successes and failures of those early believers?

8) Have you looked carefully at the claims of Rome in a historical light, specifically, have you examined her claims regarding the "unanimous consent" of the Fathers, and all the evidence that exists that stands contrary not only to the universal claims of the Papacy but especially to the concept of Papal Infallibility? How do you explain, consistently, the history of the early church in light of modern claims made by Rome? How do you explain such things as the Pornocracy and the Babylonian Captivity of the Church without assuming the truthfulness of the very system you are embracing?

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 11:41 -- john_hendryx

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