Monty served as a deacon in our church for many years. When I first met Monty and his wonderful wife Vicki, they greatly enjoyed the fellowship of our church, the God-centered worship and the preaching, but they didn’t realize we were reformed. When it became clear to them what we believed they thought they might need to leave the church. They agonized over what to do. They had been given Norman Geisler’s Chosen but Free, the supposed biblically balanced answer to “extreme Calvinism.” Monty made an appointment with me and my fellow pastor, John. The night before the appointment he scoured his Bible, he prayed, he read, he agonized, he took up the mantle of the Bereans. During the night, the wrestling was so intense, he experienced chest pains. The next morning we arrived, with James White’s book, The Potter’s Freedom, in hand. We were prayed up, having asked for a spirit of gentleness and grace as we discussed the issues that were troubling this wonderful couple. Before we could start the conversation, Monty told us about his night and said, “I have come to a conclusion which has made this conversation unnecessary.” Immediately I thought to myself, “Hey, wait a minute, at least give us a chance!” Then Monty said, “Here is my conclusion after reading my Bible and praying: God is God, I am not, He does what He pleases.”
The following resource(s), are the unofficial, but meticolously enscribed, sermon notes for Timothy Keller's “Vision of Redeemer” 12-part sermon series which was preached in the fall of 2005, plus one additional sermon from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
These 13 sermons provide a worldview unique to the Gospel, to the preaching of Drs. Lloyd-Jones and Keller, and unique to their respective churches. We sense that these sermons encapsulate the true nature of the Gospel (in the first 3 sermons…and first three Readings of this book) – particularly the core idea of Paul in all his letters dealing with our standing before God, and summarized succinctly in Titus 3:4-6. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
The 4th Reading (Where is Your Faith? – by Dr. Lloyd-Jones) should remove once for all any falsely held assumption that a life of faith will be a one of great comfort and few, if any, trials.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson (born 1948) is a Scottish theologian known in Reformed Christian circles for his teaching, writing, and editorial work. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen and has been an minister in the Church of Scotland since 1971. He has served as an editor with the Banner of Truth Trust and worked as a minister at St George's-Tron Church, Glasgow.
Ferguson currently was called to Senior Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina to become effective in December of 2005. He has previously held the Charles Krahe Chair for Systematic Theology at the Philadelphia campus. He has also taught at other reformed protestant seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary.
Some of the books he has written, edited or contributed to include:
One of the primary reasons for the division in the church over free grace and free will is the failure of one side to distinguish between law and gospel. Most synergists erroneously reason (outside of Scripture) that if something is commanded in Scripture then man must, therefore, have the moral ability to do it. Instead, after the fall, the Bible uses the holy commands as an instrument of God to strip man of all hope in himself and behold his own moral bankruptcy (Rom 3:19, 20).
"The commandments are not given inappropriately or pointlessly; but in order that through them the proud, blind man may learn the plague of his impotence, should he try to do as he is commanded." Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, pg. 160
"By the law is the knowledge of sin' [Rom 3:20], so the word of grace comes only to those who are distressed by a sense of sin and tempted to despair." Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, pg. 168
All the commands of our Lord were given to us to obey. We cannot twist Scripture to somehow ignore the weight of the responsibility this puts on each one of us. Grace does not somehow give us a trump card to ignore the commands. No, we appeal to grace, not in order to cancel out, avoid or do away with God's commands. On the contrary, we appeal to the grace of God in Christ in order that we might have the strength and power to do them. For apart from grace we can do nothing (John 15:5, 3:27, 6:63; 1 Cor. 4:7, 15:10; 2 Tim 2:25) If God commands us to love him with all our heart how do we do this? By grace. If God calls us to love our neighbor, how to we do this? By grace. If God summons us to believe the gospel, how do we do this? By grace. This is the message found on every page of the bible.
Who made you to differ?
It is grace, free, sovereign grace, which has made you to differ!
Should any here, supposing themselves to be the children of God, imagine that there is some reason "in them" why they should have been chosen, let them know, that as yet they are in the dark, concerning the first principles of grace, and have not yet learned the gospel.
If ever they had known the gospel, they would, on the other hand, confess that they were less than the least- the offscouring of all things- unworthy, ill-deserving, undeserving, and hell-deserving, and ascribe it all to distinguishing grace, which has made them to differ; and to discriminating love, which has chosen them out from the rest of the world. Great Christian, you would have been a great sinner if God had not made you to differ!
O! you who are valiant for truth, you would have been as valiant for the devil if grace had not laid hold of you! A seat in heaven shall one day be yours; but a chain in hell would have been yours if grace had not changed you! You can now sing his love; but a licentious song might have been on your lips, if grace had not washed you in the blood of Jesus! You are now sanctified, you are quickened, you are justified; but what would you have been today if it had not been for the interposition of the divine hand? There is not a crime you might not have committed; there is not a folly into which you might not have run.Even murder itself you might have committed if grace had not kept you.You shall be like the angels; but you would have been like the devil if you had not been changed by grace!
The following sermons on the Gospel of John by Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson are in MP3 format.
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