At the fall, we changed, God didn't. By nature God is holy so He cannot become less-than-holy and still remain God. Even in our fallen state, God gives us commands to live in perfect holiness if we would live. For example, He calls us to love him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, yet this is an impossible supposition for fallen man - but, notice, this does not stop God from commanding us to do so. Why? Paul says the purpose of the Law for lost men and women is not to reveal their moral ability but their inability... "Through the law comes knowledge of sin."(Rom 3:19, 20) Thus, when God humbles us through His law, we see our utter spiritual bankruptcy ... that there is absolutely no hope left in ourselves, and God does this to make room for the gospel, since in our helpess state, it becomes obvious that the mercy of God in Christ can ALONE save us.
by John Hendryx
Many Christians will (reluctantly) acknowledge that there indeed do appear to be passages in the Bible, especially in the Gospel of John and the the theology of the Pauline epistles which strongly suggest that salvation is by grace alone, apart from the will or effort or cooperation of man (John 6:63, 65, 37; Rom 9:15, 16). However these same individuals will then quickly point out the "many" passages which give the appearance of teaching the free will of man to believe and follow Christ, apart from such grace. For example they appeal to passages in the Bible which say "if you are willing", "if you will hear", "if you will do" and they assume that such appeals to man demonstrates that he has a free will to believe.
Recently one individual with this view pointed out a similar type of passage in Jeremiah 26 where the Lord declares:
"Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. 3Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways. Then I will relent and not inflict on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done. 4Say to them, 'This is what the Lord says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, 5and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), 6then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse among all the nations of the earth.'"
The person who quoted the passage said the phrase "perhaps they will listen" is proof positive that man has a free will to repent and believe on their own and that the bible does not present such passages as deception.
I can't believe it is already the end of 2013. Lot's a very good titles to choose from this year. These were not necessarily best-sellers .. or at least I did not take this number into account when compiling this list.. They were simply books we liked or thought were the most important in the last 12 months ... even if (on rare occassion) we did not agree with every detail ... lots of good reading here!!!
Visitor's Question: Why does the Bible condone genocide? Was that just the Old Testament "god" who demanded that? It is clear that in the book of Joshua, God commanded the Jews to utterly wipe out people groups that inhabited Canaan. If this is so, why didn't Jesus denounce him? Christians often try to avoid this question, it seems to me.
Response: Actually, I am surprised that it should be avoided as it gives us one of the clearest pictures of one of the most important truths in the Bible: That not only did God take the lives of those he ordered the Israelites to kill (the Canaanites) – He also takes the life of everyone on earth. The peoples of Canaan were perhaps dealt out the death penalty earlier than they may have expected; but in essence, their lot was no different than ours. We are all subject to death. Death, as the Bible reveals, is the just penalty exacted for Adam's disobedience in the garden (Genesis 2:16-17; Rom. 5:12-14). So not only may God take life as he sees fit – he does take the life of every last human on earth (see Heb. 9:27). We should not lose the shock of this fearful truth: death is not natural, it is not a normal process of time and chance, it is not a necessary mechanism of evolution. Humans were created to live, and the fact that they do not bespeaks a terrifying truth – we are all born under divine wrath and judgment.
In recent years, pastors and theologians in Evangelical and Calvinistic churches have laid a great deal of emphasis on two theological terms that seek to describe the two main categories of theological error into which professing Christians may fall. These categories, under which much theological error occurs, are legalism and antinomianism. These terms are certainly not novel (albeit, the latter has certainly been employed with much less frequency in our day than the former). Theologians throughout the history of Protestantism have used these two terms when addressing doctrinal error in the church—as their historical context demanded. That being said, it is right for us to understand that these two errors always pose a threat to true Gospel ministry. In his short essay on Antinomianism, James Henley Thornwell made the following illustrative statement about these two errors into which God’s people are ever prone to fall:
The natural vibration of the mind is from the extreme of legalism to that of licentiousness, and nothing but the grace of God can fix it in the proper medium of Divine truth. The Gospel, like its blessed Master, is always crucified between two thieves—legalists of all sorts on the one hand and Antinomians on the other; the former robbing the Savior of the glory of his work for us, and the other robbing him of the glory of his work within us. (1)
The following quotes come from, what Luther saw as his most important work,"The Bondage of the Will". "De Servo Arbitrio" is the classic statement of the religion of faith. It is solidly rooted in Scripture. If Luther is correct in his thesis, then all religions predicated on human ability are woefully mistaken.
For context, Luther, is responding to some of Erasmus' assertions in support of man's natural moral ability to obey the gospel. Erasmus presupposed that all of God's commands to obey proved that we had the "free-will" or moral ability to do so. Erasmus would often ask, "if we can do nothing, what is the purpose of all the laws, precepts, threats and promises in the Bible? All these precepts are useless if nothing is attributed to the human will. If it is not in the power of every man to keep what is commanded, all the exhortations of Scripture are of necessity useless," In response, Luther, with great wit and irony exposes why Erasmus position on free will is an erroneous, unscriptural doctrine which, ultimately, undermines the gospel itself.
The wisdom of the age has it backwards. Declaring that a person is a sinner does not make one a hater, but a lover of that person ... and of mankind. Do Christians point out sin to shame, bully or incite violence against someone? Absurd and a profound misapprehension of our intent. In calling someone a sinner do Christians think they are superior, more moral? May it never be! Most people's sin pales in comparison to mine. Fact is, it would only be hate or discrimination if we refused the gospel to someone because we thought their sin makes them somehow unworthy of it. The gospel declares that anyone who, by the grace of God, comes to Christ will be forgiven, no matter how abominable their sin. And such are granted a new heart which loves God and his law.
The gospel is offensive, and according to the Bible, a stumbling block (Matt 21:44; 1 Cor 1:23; 1 Pet. 2:8). If people were not offended by it then I would think we were doing something wrong. Of course, we should not make ourselves needlessly offensive in the process. But I thank the Lord he is forgiving, or I would not stand a chance on my own. And He will forgive you if, by grace, you come to Jesus. He has come to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives. (Isaiah 61)
If God loves all people, why does he condemn gays? by John Hendryx
But God Made Me this Way! by John Frame
Duck Dynasty: ‘Going to shoot him? The woman? Me?’ by Marvin Olasky
The Doctrine of The Atonement as
Taught by Christ Himself
or The Sayings of Jesus Exegetically Expounded and Classified.
SECOND EDITION - 1871
by Rev. George Smeaton, D.D.
Professor of Exegetical Theology, New College, Edinburgh
Available in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats
The present volume is intended to be the first portion of a larger whole, which if completed, will exhibit the entire New Testament teaching on the subject of the atonement. I purposed to survey the whole testimony of our Lord and of His apostles; beginning with the former as fundamental. But as the subject grew in my hands, it was found necessary to reserve, in the meantime, the consideration of the apostolic testimony.
by John Hendryx
The commandments of God were never meant to empower us but to strip us of trusting in our own ability so that we would come to an end of ourselves. With striking clarity, Paul teaches that this is the intent of Divine legislation (Rom 3:20, 5:20, Gal 3:19,24). A command or invitation with an open ended hypothetical statement such as John 3:16 ('whosover believes') does not imply the ability to fulfill it. This is especially true in light of texts such as John 1:13, Rom 9:16, John 6:37, 44, 63-65; Rom 3:11; Matt 16-26' 1 Cor 2:14 and many more which show man's moral inability to come to faith or believe the Gospel in their fallen state. In our unregenerate nature we do not want God but rather love darkness and "will not come into the light" * (John 3:19, 20).
If men are never found naturally willing to submit in faith to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ, then how can it be good news? (Rom 3:11; John 6:64,65; 2 Thessalonians 3:2) Because in Christ Jesus, God gives to us freely, what he demands from us. In the gospel God reveals the same righteousness and faith for us that God demands from us. What we had to have, but could not create or achieve or fulfill, God grants us freely, namely, the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and living faith that unites to Christ. He reveals, as a gift in Christ Jesus, the faith and righteousness that was once only a demand. Faith is not something that the sinner contributes towards the price of His salvation. Jesus has already paid that price in full for us. Faith is our first gasp of breath in our new birth, so to speak. It is a witness of God's work of grace already haven taken place within us (Eph 2:5, 8; 2 Tim 2:25; 1 John 5:1; John 6:63, 65).
From time to time here at Monergism we plan on taking some good theological resources and making them available in a way that they can easily be read in a smart-phone friendly format. Of course these can also be read on your laptop or tablet, but many of these were previously only available in such a way that smart-phone users could only see them in tiny almost unreadable text.
The following are a few that I have been working recently on that I thought you would find helpful and edifying.
What is Covenant Theology? by J I Packer
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Mortality; Judgement; Heaven; Hell by J I Packer
Man's Own Character No Ground Of Peace by Horatius Bonar
The Present State of the World by Herman Bavinck
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - Each Part in Saving Sinners by James Buchanan
Five Arguments for the Unity of the Covenant of Grace by Robert L Reymond
The Knowledge of Christ Crucified by Stephen Charnock
Verifying The Resurrection: Six Evidences by James Montgomery Boice
The Virgin Birth and History by James Montgomery Boice