The Shepherd Sets the Sheep Free

If the natural man has a free will to believe the gospel, then why does he need grace at all? If his will is naturally free then it would do away with the need for grace altogether ... he could simply come to Jesus Christ on his own, apart from grace. But the Bible teaches that it is precisely because man is in bondage to sin (2 Tim. 2:26; 1 Cor 2:14) that he needs Christ to set him free (John 8:34, 36) that he might indeed come to faith in Jesus (John 6:63, 65).

But lest anyone think the above is an attack on Arminianism, they would assume too much. It is meant to demonstrate the biblical truth that the natural man (the man without the Spirit) does not have a free will -- a slave to sin and corruption, something both Calvinists and Arminians agree upon. This statement is more directed toward the many semi-pelagian Christians out there who even deny the need for an Arminian-type prevenient grace - they actually exist in America in much greater numbers than Classic Arminians and thus the urgency to proclaim this message. I once had a discussion with Roger Olson (a Classic Arminian) a professor at Baylor who said he had many students who thought he was a closet Calvinist because of his belief in prevenient grace. So I propose that we stop debating about whether man has a free will or not.  He doesn't and that has been established by the above.  The debate is really more about what the Bible has to say about the nature and extent of God's regenerating/saving grace.

As much as they think it gets them off the hook, Arminnian prevenient grace really does not help Arminians escape this issue of free will and the ability of the natural man. Prevenient grace hides behind a mask in order to avoid the questions that dig a little deeper. For starters, prevenient grace elicits two major questions:

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 17:15 -- john_hendryx

Why don't you still put to death people who break God's law like in OT Israel?

Visitor: Why don't you still put to death people who break God's law like in OT Israel? Wouldn't you establish a theocracy and take over the state mechanism if you had the opportunity?

Response: Multi-tiered answer.

1) the death penalty still stands for the same sins committed, but with the coming of Christ there is now a delay in carrying out judgment as He holds out pardon in advance of His invasion for those who ally themselves with Him. When he bore the sin of many on the cross He died the death we all deserved. He paid for the sins of the Christians now living...and for those sheep he still intends to gather. So now is a time of mercy, today is the day of salvation ... but when Christ comes again such offers of clemency will cease forever .. and then their death sentence will be carried out.

2) As Christ grafted in the Gentiles into His olive tree (Rom 11), we no longer live under a direct theocracy but are cast and dispersed all over the world, called to live as pilgrims and exiles like Israel in the Babylonian captivity. In whatever country we live we are called to seek the welfare of the city where the Lord sends us, pray on its behalf (Jeremiah 29: 4-7) and obey the laws of the governing authority (Roman 13:1-7).

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 09:58 -- john_hendryx

Helpful Links from Around the Web (New Years' 2014 Edition)

What is Regeneration? (.pdf) By Gary Brady
Gary Brady is pastor of Child's Hill Baptist Church, London. He has written extensively on regeneration. He states early on, 'When it comes to theology and the new birth in particular, we should delve into the subject as deeply as we can. However, in the end, we must recognise that it will defy us'.  Nevertheless he elucidates many points that help to open up our understanding.  

Great Biblical Doctrines (55 - Part MP3 Lecture Series)
by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
A collection of 55 of the lectures from the Friday evening meetings held at Westminster Chapel. Unfortunately, this collection is incomplete due to quality problems with the original tapes and the fact that some tapes were missing. The full series in the book includes 81 lectures.

Wed, 01/01/2014 - 13:11 -- john_hendryx

Resisting the Holy Spirit

An argument frequently made against the biblical doctrine of irresistible grace is an appeal to Acts 7:51 which declares “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you."

It should be noted, however, that the very text here cited by some to demonstrate that grace is resistible contains the very language that makes a decisive argument against their own position. Indeed these persons Stephen is directing the comments toward are resisting the Holy Spirit, but look closely... the Text declares that their heart and ears are "uncircumcised". In the Old Testament this is commonly used language used for regeneration (See Deut 29:4, 30:6 & Ezek 36:26) so being unregenerate, to resist every outward working of the Spirit, is simply acting in accordance with their natures.

People always resist the outward call of the gospel.. ALWAYS, until God chooses to open their eyes, ears and heart to the gospel. That is called circumcision of heart, the new birth or regeneration. The work of the Holy Spirit is manifold, regeneration being only one aspect of redemption ... The Bible declares that He may convict the unregenerate of certain sin and do many things short of regenerating grace. Anything short of regeneration CAN and WILL BE be resisted.

Question: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn." Deut. 10:16 --> If God commands the Israelites to circumcise their own hearts in this verse and in Jer. 4:4, how can we reconcile these two verses with monergistic principles?

Answer: Good question.

Tue, 12/31/2013 - 11:50 -- john_hendryx

Our Poisoned Culture of Libel and Defamation

I have not historically spent much time, if any, obsessing on the various sexual liberation agendas in our culture. But it has come to my attention that perhaps the most troubled and confused people in our current society are those who accuse Christians of hate speech and homophobia for simply wanting to share the gospel with them. Such groundless declarations of hate betray the speakers themselves as a people driven by irrational prejudice. In doing so they are creating a poisoned cultural, educational and political atmosphere which they teach others to hate Christians for something they don't even believe, nor has it crossed our mind .... since no true Christian believes he/she morally better and many of us have committed much worse sins. We are here to proclaim freedom to those enslaved, ourselves included. It is mercy alone which saved us, and certainly not any good in us.

It is one thing to say that you don't believe Christianity to be true but quite another to declare that it must come from hate. Sadly I do believe a large number of people promoting these cultural myths know this, but truth seems to go out the window for people when they have a political agenda. However, when such an agenda involves smearing others with non-existent motives, then this is a form of defamation and is ITSELF perhaps the worst form of hate there is. Perhaps THIS is the source of our very hostile, divided culture. If there are so-called Christians, who are hateful, and no doubt there are, surprising as it may sound to some, a more conservative view of theology is the answer to dealing with such ignorance and bigotry. Jesus who delivers ALL OF US from some form(s) of bondage, calls us to proclaim liberty to captives whoever they may be, homosexual or otherwise.

Sat, 12/28/2013 - 14:26 -- john_hendryx

We Changed, God Didn't

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.

Sat, 12/28/2013 - 13:24 -- john_hendryx

If My People ...

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.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 12:58 -- john_hendryx

Monergism's Top 12 Christian Books of 2013

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!!!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 14:25 -- john_hendryx


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