Monday 27 April 2015

Three pungent, salty and needed sermons for the church today by Jonathan Edwards

It is sad when people study the 18th Century preacher Jonathan Edwards and only learn about abstract things. At the heart of the Edwards' worldview was a Sovereign God who saves sinners, people who are utterly unable to save themselves. It is ridiculous to talk about the beautiful theological mind of this theologian-preacher while missing this central and major point. Anyone who makes such a bold stand for apostolic doctrine will not be popular. For those people who look to Jonathan Edwards as an example, may we never downplay this aspect of his ministry which was his emphasis on the sovereignty of God in salvation and the spiritual ruin of sinful man's condition apart from God.

I would like to recommend three sermons for people to read, for those who want to learn more about Calvinistic gospel doctrine. Also we all need to be refreshed in those old fashioned but biblical truths.

These three sermons are:

1). The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners

2). The Excellency of Christ

3). Ruth's Resolution

These are all found in the Works (Volume 1, pp 664-689).

These are a few brief pages of salty gospel doctrines in these sermons and they are like "smelling salts". What do "smelling salts" accomplish? They wake up the sleeping or fainted person! True gospel doctrine does just that; it awakens the church from her slumber and surely this is needed urgently today!

Romans 3:19 "That every mouth may be stopped".

Wednesday 22 April 2015

We must not forget the Calvinistic basics!

For most Christians who enter into a biblical path in pursuit of solid doctrine, they often encounter the acronym TULIP. This can also be labelled the five points of Calvinism and it stands for:

T = total depravity
U = unconditional election
L = limited atonement
I = irresistible grace
P = perseverance of the saints

This is a summary in the English speaking world for the theology of the Synod of Dort which sought to handle the claims of the false teaching of Arminius. Arminian thinking today has spread like a worldwide plague through the church. This is because it packages Christianity in a way that is appealing to the natural man but Arminianism is not a biblical system.

While it is true that Reformed doctrine is far more than the so-called five points of Calvinism, we must not forget these five points. We must catechise our children and teach them to the next generation. We must teach the church about them also. When they are rightly understood their biblical truth will enable the church to resist Arminianism in the guise of Calvinism. One of the challenges of the growth of reformed doctrine is that some people claim to hold to reformed doctrine while their practice is more akin to Arminian teaching.

When the concern of the church is to start with man, the tables have turned. It is not unbiblical for a church to ask how we can reach the lost. However, when we give the lost what they want in order to reach them, then we can be in danger of losing our focus on the living God. In the Book of Acts, the apostles never sought the use of worldly methods to win souls. They did not hire the local theatres and use Greek dramas to draw a crowd.

For those who would like further reading, may I recommend James White "The Potter's Freedom" or Boettner "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination".

The church has to maintain her purity of doctrine. Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet".

Friday 17 April 2015

Is it possible to have the imputed righteousness of Christ as a Christian and yet displease the Lord?

Recently I attended a conference in the Southern part of the USA and there was a panel of ministers discussing some very helpful topics. The panel included Doug Kelly and others. One of the questions posed was the title of this blog post. It is clear that there are a raft of unclear parties in the church regarding the difference between justification and sanctification and this panel sought to clarify some things. There has been a real growth in Calvinistic thought in recent decades on both sides of the Atlantic and yet not everyone thinks things through as clearly and accurately as they should.

In Romans chapter 4 Paul the apostle teaches that those who are justified by faith, have the very righteousness of Christ Jesus imputed (or credited) to them. Romans 4:23-25 "But the words 'it was counted to him' were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification". What a precious gift to know that we cannot be lost and that we are saved on the merits of Christ alone!

However, this can be pushed to unbiblical extremes so that some Christians think that on the basis of imputed righteousness that they cannot displease the Lord and that they can live presumptuously with little thought given, that real obedience is expected by the Lord for those who are professing Christians. There can be a resistance to the idea that the moral law is binding, a push back on any idea that the Lord expects them to uphold the Christian Sabbath or that they will give an account of their lives to the Lord (Romans 14:12). This is to misunderstand the teaching of the gospel.

Let me clarify first that Christians can certainly displease the Lord and incur his chastisement by them doing so.

1. "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).

2. "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:30).

3. "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives" (Hebrews 12:6).

The Scripture is clear. The answer to the question posed in this blog title is a categorical "yes". Therefore, may we all amend our thinking and seek how we may please our heavenly Father as revealed in the Scripture and seek to live accordingly for the glory of God. We cannot change the past, but we can be renewed in our repentance and faith and follow the apostle Paul's teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:9 "So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him".

Thursday 2 April 2015

Dr Guy Prentiss Waters explaining how and why the Book of Acts ends the way it does.

Dr Guy Waters is a fine lecturer of the New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson in the USA. He has recently completed a fine commentary on Acts (published by EP) and he has given an excellent lecture explaining why the Book of Acts ends in the way it does.

For many, we wonder why it seems to end quite abruptly and some have deemed that Acts 29 is to be completed by the church. However, Dr Waters gives a fine and satisfying lecture on this intriguing, but theologically vital question. Why does Luke finish the Book of Acts in the way he does?

To get the answer listen to his lecture at this link: