Wednesday, December 28, 2011

James White: The Gospel for Muslims

"How often did we hear this evening: the Muslim must do this, and the Muslim must do that, and the Muslim must fast—Sami told us he fasted today because its Ramadan—and we must pray, and we must go on Hajj, and we must do all these things; you start by saying the Shahada—you have to do all these things! The Muslim does, does, does, and the Christian says Jesus Christ did perfectly in my place. He [Sami] says 'oh, but you need to take responsibility!' My friends, everything that Sami this evening has told us he does, and that the Muslim must do, is as filthy rags before a holy God. He said, 'we Muslims we are very, very humble'; if you think that your fastings, and your pilgrimages, and your giving of zakat, and your getting up and doing the Fajr prayer at 4:20 in the morning during the summer is somehow going to impress a holy God, you haven't met the God of the Bible. Because as soon as you take even the slightest bit of satisfaction in what you have done, you have sullied those things. Those things will not avail before a Holy God. That is not humility, that is the very pride of self righteousness that keeps a person from hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Minute 4:52-6:15

Where they crucified Him John 19:18 - Hoeksema

Were ever four words written, burdened with a heavier load of momentous significance than these?

Each one of them carries its own load of human shame and divine glory, of human enmity of God and divine love, of human hopelessness and divine redemption.

They crucified Him; that means that we sealed our own and the whole world’s condemnation. They crucified Him: that signifies that we utterly put Him to naught, despised, and rejected Him; but also that He bore the curse for us, in order that we might never be accursed. Him they crucified: and that reveals that we were filled with a deeply rooted enmity against the living God; but also that God loved us, and that, too, at the very moment when we were yet sinners and hated Him. And it was there, on Calvary, outside of the gate, that this drama of furious hatred on the part of man and of amazing, unquenchable divine love, was enacted: and that means that Christ offered Himself a sacrifice for our sins, sprinkling His blood upon the mercy seat in the inner sanctuary, but also, that we must go out to Him outside of the camp, bearing His reproach.

Let us contemplate these various aspects of the crucifixion somewhat in detail, as we stand on Calvary and “watch him there.”

They crucified Him!

Two questions clamor for an answer. Why did they commit this deed? And who were they that crucified Him?

As to the first question, there can be but one answer: they nailed Him to the tree because of what He is. He is the Son of God, the only Begotten of the Father, God of God and Light of Light. And this Son of God, by whom also the worlds were made, came as near to us as possible when He assumed our flesh and blood, and appeared in the form of a man. He entered into our world, walked among us in the likeness of sinful flesh, lived our life, spoke our language, and became like unto us in all things, sin excepted. All the thirty-three years of His earthly sojourn, but especially during the three years of His public ministry, He revealed the Father, in the words He spoke, in the works He performed, yea, in His entire person. Always He stood for the cause of God’s righteousness, of His glory and of His everlasting covenant. In the midst of a world of sin and darkness He never drew back. With the unfruitful works of darkness He never compromised. Always He revealed Himself as the light, and there was no darkness in Him at all. In Him God was manifested in the flesh.

This is the deep reason why the world hated Him.

For men were and are by nature enemies of God. They love the darkness and hate the light.

Oh, do not object that they knew not that He was the Son of God, that His glory was hid completely behind the form of a mere man, and that, if He had only been manifest in His divine glory, they would never have laid hands on Him. For this does not alter the case whatever. For although it stands to reason that they would never have ventured or been able to lay their vile hands on Him and to nail Him to the cross had He been revealed in the naked glory and majesty of His divinity, the fact remains that His entire sojourn among us was one clear and glorious revelation of God in His righteousness and holiness, His justice and truth, His love and mercy, and His power to save. God’s representative He was. As the Son of God in the flesh, He was manifest to all, through His words of eternal life and through His mighty works. The sinless among sinners He was, and the sinners hated Him. The light shining in the darkness He was, and the darkness would have none of Him. The Son of God tabernacling among men He was, and men, although they did not express it in those very words, said, in effect: “This is the Son. Let us kill Him!”

They crucified Him. And that means that their hatred knew no bounds. Oh, always they had despised and rejected Him! The more clearly He became manifest as the revelation of the Father, as the light of the world that would never condone the darkness, as the Son of God that absolutely refused to compromise with the cause of mere Man, the more they found Him intolerable, and hated Him with a bitter hatred. Always they opposed Him, contradicted Him, reviled Him, accused Him of standing in alliance with Beelzebub, marked Him as a deceiver and blasphemer. And frequently they sought to lay hands on Him and cast Him out of their world. But the cross was the climax, the ultimate revelation of their insatiable hatred. By the crucifixion they expressed that they considered Him a worthless fellow, to be numbered with the worst of criminals, accursed of men, utterly unfit to occupy a place in human society. Thus they revealed that the carnal mind is enmity against God, implacable, incurable, furious, bent upon the obliteration of His very name from the face of the earth.

But who were these men that so crucified Him?

Were they, perhaps, bloodthirsty savages, uneducated cannibals, uncivilized heathen? Were they men from the lowest ranks of society, unscrupulous criminals, the scum of mankind, upon whom we may well look with disdain?

On the contrary, they were men that represented the world at its best. Literally every conceivable class of men was represented. Oh, when the Gospel record has it that “they crucified him,” the reference is, perhaps literally to the soldiers that spiked Him to the tree. But after all, these were only the agents. Behind them stood the representative of the Roman world-power, proud of its culture and civilization, famous for its knowledge and development of human jurisprudence, represented by Pontius Pilate. And back of this world-power stood the religious world, that is, mere men, natural men, as they had come into contact with the outward revelation of the word of God, the law and the prophets. There were the scribes and the lawyers, the theologians of that time, who made it their business to discover what is the will of God; the Pharisees, who were renowned as men that walked in all the external righteousness of the law; and the priests, headed by the high priest, who functioned in the sanctuary made with hands. And there was even one of the inner circle of Jesus’ closest associates, who had heard His words, and been witness of His mighty works for three years, who even had been sent out to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, to heal the sick and to cast out devils in His name, but who assumed the despicable role of betraying the Master into the hands of the enemy.

What does it mean?

It signifies that you cannot explain this most atrocious sin of the crucifixion from lack of culture, civilization, education, religious influence; or from a difference in social standing, or in character.

It means that the crucifixion of our Lord is the revelation of something that is universal, that is common to all men, as mere men, apart from grace. And that is sin, enmity against God. It means that you and I, as mere men, crucified Him. It means that all our modern praise of the man Jesus, all our pretended goodness, and willingness to follow His example, all our religiousness, as long as it is nothing else than our religiousness and goodness, is pure sham, camouflage, deceit, hypocrisy. It means that if the Lord sojourned among us today, and walked the streets of our civilized world, we, mere men, no matter what our station may be in life, no matter how beautiful may be the polish and glamor of our culture, would no more give Him a place, and tolerate Him, than did the mere men of His day. We certainly would crucify Him! They crucified Him. That means: mere men crucified Him. And that means: mere men always crucify the Son of God in the flesh. Let us bow our heads in shame as we stand on Calvary and watch Him there. And let us confess that the cross of the Son of God is our greatest condemnation! But even this confession would be impossible for us to make, were it not for the power of that very cross. And that cross would not have that power, if it were nothing more than the expression of man’s implacable hatred of God; if it were not also, at the same time, and above all, the highest revelation of God’s all-enduring, sovereign, victorious love, through which He gave His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Thanks be to God, however, the cross is not only man’s cross but also the cross of God!

For consider now that it is He, the Son of God, whom they crucified!

But how could they? How could they possibly lay hands on the Son of God, even as He appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh?

The answer is: only because, in perfect obedience of love to the Father, and in love to His brethren, He voluntarily surrendered Himself into the hands of sinners, willingly suffered all the reproach and shame that was heaped upon Him, gave His blessed body to be nailed to the cross, and by His own will remained on the accursed tree even to the bitter end. And what else does this mean than that the Father sent His Son into the world that He might bear our sins, satisfy the justice of God with respect to our iniquities, atone for our transgressions, and obtain for us righteousness and eternal life? O, indeed, it was they that crucified Him! Yes, but only because He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God could they lay their wicked hands on Him. They crucified Him! Indeed, but they could accomplish this most heinous sin only because God gave His Son, the Son gave Himself, the Spirit sanctified Him to bring the perfect sacrifice for our transgressions. They crucified Him! O, but considered in the light of God’s revelation this means that He took the cross upon Himself, and with the cross the curse of God’s wrath against our sins, the curse under which we must needs perish everlastingly, and that He, by bearing that curse in perfect obedience of love to the Father, removed the guilt of our sins. Through the darkest night of our corruption and enmity against Him, it pleased God to penetrate with the most glorious light of His wondrous love.

That is the paradox of the cross, and at the same time its power of salvation!

Let us put all our imaginary righteousness away, in order to put all our confidence in the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ and Him crucified!

There they crucified Him. . . .

Herman Hoeksema, When I Survey. (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1977), 359-63.

Philippians 1:6 Persevere in Christ - Clark

1:6 . . . being persuaded by this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until [the] day of Christ Jesus . . .

. . . This great verse is one of the great verses supporting the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, which doctrine Arminians condemned as one of the five essential and essentially false doctrines of Calvinism. But how can anyone eradicate the idea from this great verse? Christ will complete the work he began. As Neander said, “Gottes Art ist ja nicht, etwas halb zu thun.”

This then is the first point: The work of salvation in the heart or soul was initiated by Christ, not by the human person. The text does not say that because Christ began to work after the sinner had started a good work, he, Christ, would continue his efforts too. The text says that Christ began the good work. He also will perfect or complete it, continuing his work throughout the now regenerated sinner’s life.

One commentator, who somewhat grudgingly admits that this is so, hurries on to insist that nonetheless the regenerated soul, the saint, is not passive, but himself does a lot of work, too. This sort of statement needs to be examined for accuracy, distinctions, and exaggerations. In the first place, as already said, the sinner does not initiate the good work. As the Westminster Confession says, the sinner is “made willing by his grace”; and “this effectual call is of God . . . and not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein” (X, 1 and 2). Human depravity is so all inclusive (VI, 1-6) that „a natural man, being altogether averse from that [spiritual] good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself or to prepare himself thereunto” (IX, 4).

But so anxious are many people to find some trace of initiative and merit in man that after they briefly mention the work of God, they expatiate on the work of man. In one way or another they side-step or obscure the point. For example, Motyer says that “Paul saw in the Philippians [ital. added] the feature of perseverance [ital. his] in that they had prolonged their fellowship ‘from the first day until now’ (verse 5) and endurance [ital. his] . . .” (21).

It is clearly false that Paul could see in their conduct that they would persevere. Some apparently sincere converts did not persevere—Demos for instance. Paul’s statement is not a deduction from empirical observation, but a revelation from God. Eadie rightly observes, “The apostle’s confidence . . . rested on his knowledge of God’s character and methods of operation . . .” (12). A few lines below he rejects the perversion: “He among you who has begun to do a good work will continue to do well until death.” Such violent mistranslations show to what lengths some Arminians will go.

Of course the Philippians not only believed the Gospel, they also cooperated with Paul by overt action. It is true that after regeneration, but only after regeneration, a saint can actively accomplish a modicum of spiritual good. Yet even his actions, as Paul will later indicate in 2:13, are God’s works. The perfecting process, which Christ initiated, is also controlled throughout by God’s working in us.

It is because of this that we may know that every regenerate person will persevere to the end. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.

We have been talking about the perseverance of the saints until the day of their death. But, though it may seem strange, the verse says more. Christ continues the good work in us until the day of his return. Now, the Shorter Catechism says, „The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.” True, of course. But the present verse adds something: Christ continues the good work in us until he returns. It seems that though we are made perfect in holiness at our death, Christ’s blessings to us continue to multiply even in Heaven.

Because of the pervasive Arminianism among the relatively evangelical Christian groups in America today, a short historical note will help to show the importance of this doctrine. During the Reformation period of the sixteenth century the anti-Romish movement was unfortunately divided into Lutherans and Calvinists. Had Luther’s successor been someone other than Melanchthon this rift might have been closed. Early in the seventeenth century within the Calvinistic movement, Arminians revolted and retreated, not all the way, but a few steps back toward the Romish theology. In Switzerland, Holland, Great Britain, and even in Ireland Reformed confessions were formulated. These culminated in the Westminster Confession just before the mid-century mark. This Confession, and its accompanying two catechisms, in agreement with the Swiss and Belgic confessions, expressed what the English-speaking Protestants regarded as the central doctrines of the Bible. It was to have been the unifying position in the British Isles. But the English throne went to a secret Catholic, then to an open Catholic, and the hopes of the English puritans and Scottish Presbyterians were cruelly suppressed. A few lines from this last and greatest Reformed confession are now to be quoted with several paragraphs from the present writer’s What Do Presbyterians Believe?

The Westminster Confession, chapter XVII, says:

They whom God hath accepted . . . can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election. . . .

Here now are a few paragraphs from my previous publication.

One evening as I was conducting the mid-week prayer meeting, an elderly, white-haired gentleman asked for one of his favorite hymns: “How Firm a Foundation.” The hymn has six long stanzas, and as the meeting was very informal I wondered aloud which of the six we could omit. Not the first, of course – it speaks of the Word of God as the foundation of our faith; not the second because we need the strength of God’s omnipotent hand; the third or fourth? The old gentleman interrupted my wondering by insisting that this was a good hymn and that we could sing it all. We did, and as we reached the fifth stanza, everyone else in the room saw in it the picture of the grand old man who had requested the hymn:

E’en down to old age all my people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love.
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

He too sang it with vigor, and he sang the sixth stanza too:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.

Now it was a bit strange that this gentleman should have requested this hymn and should have sung it with such praise and devotion. For he did not like Calvinism; all his life he had been an Arminian; he did not believe in “eternal security,” as he called it; and he had been telling his friends so for years. Even now he would have disowned the name of Calvinism. But could it be that without realizing it he had now come to believe, and that his earlier Arminian views had changed with the color of his hair?

If it is strange that this lovely Arminian saint could become at least somewhat of a Calvinist without knowing it, it is far more strange that anyone who bases his faith on the firm foundation of God’s Word could ever be an Arminian.

The Scripture verses are too numerous to mention.

But some may be puzzled at the doctrine of perseverance and think that it ascribes too much will power to frail humanity. Such an objection rests on a misunderstanding. Section ii of this chapter clearly says that “this perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election.” I remember a conversation with another Arminian. He had been fulminating against the doctrine of election and I replied that election was the basis of our assurance of salvation. The Arminian’s contempt rose in his face as he charged me with substituting the doctrine of election for the crucifixion of Christ. Well of course, our salvation is based on the active and passive obedience of Christ; but our assurance requires some reason to believe that the benefits of Christ’s work are permanently applied to ourselves. Small comfort it is indeed if we are saved at breakfast and lost at noon. Let us emphasize the fact: The Arminians can have no sure hope of entering Heaven. They must always entertain the uncomfortable feeling that they will finally be lost. Obviously no man can depend on his own power to persevere in grace; for, first, human nature is weak, and, second, grace is not something we can earn or keep. And if the Arminian refuses to admit that God causes his elect to persevere, what reasonable expectation can he have of Heaven?

The Roman Catholic doctrine, to which the Arminians reverted in the revolt against the Reformation, is expressed in the decrees of the Council of Trent. One section reads, „If anyone maintain that a man once justified cannot lose grace, . . . let him be accursed.”Only a massive ignorance of the Scriptures allows for such a position.

If Philippians 1:6 is as clear as it is possible for language to be, John 10:28-29 are still clearer. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hand.”

How some people have squirmed to avoid these verses. Those who insist on a free will independent of God say that although other men cannot pluck a child of God from the Father’s hand, the man himself is free to do so. But this verse says no man can do so: This includes the man himself. Another act of desperation is to argue that although no man can pluck the child from the hand of God, the devil can do so. But once more, the phrase no man in the King James Version is in the original “no one.” So it is translated in the American Revised Version. And in any case the verse says that Christ gives his sheep eternal life. Would it be eternal if it ceased after five days or five years? The verse also says that they shall never perish. How long and how sure is never? It would seem that no one could misunderstand this language.

Then for good measure we shall add 1 Peter 1:5, which speaks of the regenerate as those “who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Why belabor the obvious? And still the Scriptures, addressed as they are to stubborn rebels against God, repeat the same idea time after time. Compare 2 Timothy 2:19; Jeremiah 31:3, and 32:40; 1 John 2:19; and Isaiah 55:11.

Of course, the perseverance of the saints does not mean sinless perfection or a life free from struggle and temptation. Eradication of our corrupt nature is a long and difficult process and will not be completed until we are glorified. As long as the present life continues, we may become careless of the means of grace, our hearts may be temporarily hardened, we may fall into grievous sins. Thus we may harm others and bring temporal punishment upon ourselves. God does not promise to carry us to the skies on flowery beds of ease. But praise his name, he promises to carry, drag, or push us there. So, and only so, we arrive.

What should be particularly noted in this section is how the doctrine of perseverance fits in with all the other doctrines. God is not irrational or insane. What he says hangs together; it forms a logical system. Election, total depravity, effectual calling, sovereign grace, and perseverance are mutually consistent. God does not contradict himself. But Arminian saints do. They may be grand old men, loved by all who know them. But not until the message of the Bible persuades them of God’s sovereign, unchangeable love, can they really sing,

The soul, though all Hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no never forsake.

Because of the great importance of this subject, this has been a long exposition for a single verse. Even so, a footnote seems to be in order. It is this: The subject has been perseverance, not assurance of salvation. Like any other two topics in theology, they are related, and much more closely related than some other pairs. Yet assurance and perseverance are not the same thing.  Arminians, at least some I have met, assert assurance but deny perseverance. One [sic] one occasion a very Arminian college invited me to give a lecture on philosophy. The lecture stayed within the bounds of the advertised topic. But afterward the head of the Philosophy Department took me to lunch and we talked about assurance. He assured me that he was assured of his salvation. I am sure, he said, that if I should die right now, I would go to Heaven. But as I tried gently to tell him, he was not assured that if he did not die until the following week he would get to Heaven. He might “fall from grace” in the interval.

Note that being assured of salvation does not mean that one will be saved. Aside from Arminians there was the Catholic plumber who was sure the Church would get him past the pearly gates. Many people are assured that God is too good to punish anybody. Others are assured of many things that are not so—for example, that a forked branch can point out a good place to dig a well. Assurance may be delusional, but the perseverance of the saints is God’s truth.       

Gordon H. Clark, Philippians. (Hobbs, NM: The Trinity Foundation, 1996), 10-7.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eusebius on the Persecution of Gallic Christians by the "Tolerant" Pagans

In his Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Eusebius writes:

{Gallic Letter:} The severity of our trials here, the unbridled fury of the heathen against God's people, the untold sufferings of the blessed martyrs, we are incapable of describing in detail; indeed no pen could do them justice. The adversary swooped on us with all his might, giving us now a foretaste of his advent, which undoubtedly is imminent [2 Thess. 2:7-9]. He left no stone unturned in his efforts to train his adherents and equip them to attack the servants of God, so that not only were we debarred from houses, baths, and the forum; they actually forbade any of us to be seen in any place whatever. But against them the grace of God put itself at our head, rescuing the weak and deploying against our enemies unshakable pillars, [Gal. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:15] able by their endurance to draw upon themselves the whole onslaught of the evil one. These charged into the fight, standing up to every kind of abuse and punishment, and made light of their heavy load as they hastened to Christ, proving beyond a doubt that the sufferings of the present time are not to be compared with the glory that is in store for us [Rom. 8:18].

To begin with, they heroically endured whatever the surging crowd heaped on them, noisy abuse, blows, dragging along the ground, plundering, stoning, imprisonment, and everything that an infuriated mob normally does to hated enemies. Then they were marched into the forum and interrogated by the tribune and the city authorities before the whole population. When they confessed Christ, they were locked up in jail to await the governor's arrival. Later, when they were taken before him and he treated them with all the cruelty he reserves for Christians, Vettius Epagathus, one of our number, full of love towards God and towards his neighbor, came forward. His life conformed so closely to the Christian ideal that, young as he was, the same tribute might be paid to him as to old Zacharias; he had scrupulously observed all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord [Luke 1:6], and was untiring in service to his neighbor, utterly devoted to God [Rom. 10:2], and fervent in spirit [Rom. 12:11; Acts 18:25]. As such he found the judgment so unreasonably given against us more than he could bear; boiling with indignation, he applied for permission to speak in defense of the Christians, and to prove that there was nothing godless or irreligious in our society. The crowd round the tribunal howled him down, as he was a man of influence, and the governor dismissed his perfectly reasonable application with the curt question, 'Are you a Christian?' In the clearest possible tones Vettius replied, 'I am.'

And he, too, was admitted to the ranks of the martyrs. He was called the Christians' advocate, but he had in himself the Advocate [paraclete, John 14:16], the Spirit that filled Zacharias [Luke 1:67], as he showed by the fullness of his love when he gladly laid down his own life in defense of his brother Christians [1 Thess. 2:8; John 3:16]. For he was and is a true disciple of Christ, following the Lamb wherever He goes [Rev. 14:4]

Translated by G. A. Williamson (1895-1960?). Published by Dorset Press. Source

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The start of my journey

Hello all, this might come as a different sort of post, but I decided to post my struggles with and hardships to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and God.

My journey started when someone close to me passed away. Before that I was quick to condemn and be angry at god for all that I perceived that was wrong with the world. I was prideful and thought I was more intelligent by casting off the shakes of religion and superstition. For all intents and purposes I was an atheist in training. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens were my Gods, and their call beckoned me to cast off Christianity, or any religion for that matter, and instead use reason to understand the world. I fell under their spell and thought that not only was humanity inherently good, capable of any feats before it, but also that it was the followers of God that were keeping us in chains. I can go on with how foolish I was and fill volumes.

It was on the day that someone really close to my heart died that I came full force with the blasphemous gospel that has enthralled our current generation. All that talk of no after life and relativity came crashing down on me and showed me just how much of a fool I was. It was at that moment that I asked myself "If everything is by chance and that there is no after life, then why do I care for the dead corpse in front of me?". Not only that, but I also asked the question of why did my relative live his life the way he did?

I will personally testify that my relative (I shall call him X) lived a decent life. X was god fearing, and tried to follow the commandments of the bible as closely as possible. All of us know the crushing feeling of disenchantment of our human condition when asked to give up sin, but X strived to live "simply" and to "follow the gospel". I am ashamed to say that even I laughed at his attempt to live according "to a book that was written by man". We got into many arguments and I am regretful to say that I was not able to apologize for my foolishness. That part of me will stay forever, but in his death I know that he has been taken to heaven to be with our lord Jesus Christ. I however am a different matter.

For a long period of time I was angry after X's passing. I was angry at the world, God, and more importantly myself. I was confused. "Why do I feel sadness? Anger? All these emotions? Is not X just gone? Gone forever and never to come back?". That is when it hit me. A void so terrible that I remember it to this day. I felt truly alone, truly desolate, an insignificant speck in this world. "No one cares about me" I thought long and hard. That is when I was thinking of taking my life. I will not lie when I say that I honestly thought of taking my life and ending the so called "charade of life". "What does it matter if I finish it? There is nothing in the great beyond? Why continue this pointless life?". All those thoughts passed my mind like a tsunami. The only reason that I felt alive was because of my depression, anger, and anxiety. I thought those feelings would never stop, but that is when I met my guardian angel.

I met Y (to protect my friend's privacy) at a local retail job. We stared to work there and he was the one who introduced me to Christianity and undid all the damage that was done to my mind by our current educational program and relativistic culture. He was the one who showed me that God is forgiving, and has a purpose for me beyond simple "feel good" mentality that I was following. Thanks to him I was able to get through those dark moments and I shall forever be indebted to him.

However, even when I heard the word I was rebellious. I argued any point to try and disprove God and his teachings. I failed miserably, but my ego did not let me accept Jesus as my Savior. To this day I struggle with my doubt. Doubt is the greatest enemy a Christian faces, or some might say must face. It is an invisible enemy that sneaks into your mind and does not let go. It turns us away from God and justifies our pride, our superiority, and falsely makes us believe that we are capable of doing good and being moral without God. As absurd as that sounds I still struggle, many a times did Y try to convince me of my folly, but I still remained stubborn.

However I resolved to study the bible, to beg forgiveness due to my rebellious nature and hope that I will be able to receive the gift of salvation. It is an arduous battle. The world of today blasts us with many half truths and blatant blasphemies against the true word of God. I only ask that you pray for me to find strength to overcome my doubt. I only hope that I will be deemed worthy to even hold the bible let alone to ask for salvation and redemption. Today I start the long and hard struggle of finding Jesus and accepting him as my savior not because of my wants, but to glorify the Almighty and to follow him and do his bidding.

Pray for me friends, for the world, and for those fallen for only we can pray for those that are incapable of receiving salvation due to their rebellion against God.


Synergism in Shambles! James R. White Exegetes John 6 in 8 Minutes

"Jesus teaches that God is sovereign and acts independently of the “free choices” of men. He likewise teaches that man is incapable of saving faith outside of the enablement of the Father. He then limits this drawing to the same individuals given by the Father to the Son. He then teaches irresistible grace on the elect (not on the “willing”) when He affirms that all those who are given to Him will come to Him."  James R. White, The Potters Freedom, 2nd ed. (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2009), 153.

Dr. White goes on to say, 

". . . The first assertion is one of complete divine sovereignty . . . “All that the Father gives Me.” The Father gives someone to Christ. The elect are viewed as a single whole, given by the Father to the Son. The Father has the right to give a people to the Son. He is the sovereign King, and this is a divine transaction. All that are given by the Father to the Son come to the Son. Not some, not most, but all.  All those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son. It is vital to see the truth that is communicated by this phrase: the giving by the Father to the Son precedes and determines the coming of the person to Christ. The action of giving by the Father comes before the action of coming to Christ by the individual. And since all of those so given infallibly come, we have here both unconditional election as well as irresistible grace, and that in the span of nine words! . . . the action of coming is dependent upon the action of giving . . . God’s giving results in man’s coming. Salvation is of the Lord."  James R. White, The Potters Freedom, 2nd ed. (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2009), 155-6.

I would like to point out, as Dr. White said in the debate, the people following Jesus to Capernaum did it for the wrong reasons. They had motives other than God; their motives were self-serving. In my opinion this is most clear later in the chapter. After Jesus repeats once again that no one can come to Him unless it is granted them by the Father, we read in John 6:66, "From that time on many disciples went back and walked with Him no more." They went back and deserted the Master because they could not accept what Jesus said about His centrality in salvation and the sovereignty of His Father. In the next verse Jesus asks the twelve "Will you also leave me," and Simon-Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life. And we have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." The only reason anybody "chooses" and believes in Christ is because the Father enables them to do so. The right reason to believe comes only from God. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Last Words of Samuel Rutherford, A Poem by Anne R. Cousin

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

Oh! Well it is forever, Oh! well forevermore,
My nest hung in no forest of all this death doomed shore:
Yea, let the vain world vanish, as from the ship the strand,
While glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

There the Red Rose of Sharon unfolds its heartsome bloom
And fills the air of heaven with ravishing perfume:
Oh! To behold it blossom, while by its fragrance fanned
Where glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty, without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey, though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army, doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

Oft in yon sea beat prison My Lord and I held tryst,
For Anwoth was not heaven, and preaching was not Christ:
And aye, my murkiest storm cloud was by a rainbow spanned,
Caught from the glory dwelling in Immanuel’s land.

But that He built a Heaven of His surpassing love,
A little new Jerusalem, like to the one above,
“Lord take me over the water” hath been my loud demand,
Take me to my love’s own country, unto Immanuel’s land.

But flowers need nights cool darkness, the moonlight and the dew;
So Christ, from one who loved it, His shining oft withdrew:
And then, for cause of absence my troubled soul I scanned
But glory shadeless shineth in Immanuel’s land.

The little birds of Anwoth, I used to count them blessed,
Now, beside happier altars I go to build my nest:
Over these there broods no silence, no graves around them stand,
For glory, deathless, dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

Fair Anwoth by the Solway, to me thou still art dear,
Even from the verge of heaven, I drop for thee a tear.
Oh! If one soul from Anwoth meet me at God’s right hand,
My heaven will be two heavens, In Immanuel’s land.

I’ve wrestled on towards Heaven, against storm and wind and tide,
Now, like a weary traveler that leaneth on his guide,
Amid the shades of evening, while sinks life’s lingering sand,
I hail the glory dawning from Immanuel’s land.

Deep waters crossed life’s pathway, the hedge of thorns was sharp;
Now, these lie all behind me Oh! for a well tuned harp!
Oh! To join hallelujah with yon triumphant band,
Who sing where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

With mercy and with judgment my web of time He wove,
And aye, the dews of sorrow were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided, I’ll bless the heart that planned
When throned where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

Soon shall the cup of glory wash down earth’s bitterest woes,
Soon shall the desert briar break into Eden’s rose;
The curse shall change to blessing the name on earth that’s banned
Be graven on the white stone in Immanuel’s land.

O I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved’s mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner into His “house of wine.”
I stand upon His merit—I know no other stand,
Not even where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

I shall sleep sound in Jesus, filled with His likeness rise,
To love and to adore Him, to see Him with these eyes:
’Tween me and resurrection but Paradise doth stand;
Then—then for glory dwelling in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

I have borne scorn and hatred, I have borne wrong and shame,
Earth’s proud ones have reproached me for Christ’s thrice blessed Name:
Where God His seal set fairest they’ve stamped the foulest brand,
But judgment shines like noonday in Immanuel’s land.

They’ve summoned me before them, but there I may not come,
My Lord says “Come up hither,” My Lord says “Welcome home!”
My King, at His white throne, my presence doth command
Where glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

[A shorter version of this poem is also known as "In Immanuel's Land," and a version even shorter than that (only 5 stanzas) was made into a beautiful hymn entitled "The Sands of Time Are Sinking." Samuel Rutherford was a 17th century Scottish Presbyterian preacher and theologian who opposed the state church. Rutherford served as one of the Divines to the Westminster Assembly in London, and years later - after the Restoration of Charles II across Scotland, England, and Ireland - suffered many persecutions resulting in his banishment from church and beloved home in Anwoth (hence the references). He was eventually charged with treason and would have been beheaded, but thankfully, Rutherford went Home to his Lord before this sentence was passed. To my understanding the poem itself was not composed by Rutherford, rather it was the wife of a Presbyterian minister, Mrs. Anne Ross Cousin, who took Rutherford's ideas and arranged them into stanzas. This site indicates the writings of Rutherford used by Anne Rice to compose the poem.]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Great Denial of Men - A.W. Pink

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven, is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men in their philosophizing and theorizing, relegating God to the background. Take the material realm. Not only is it denied that God created everything, by personal and direct action, but few believe that He has any immediate concern in regulating the works of His own hands. Everything is supposed to be ordered according to the (impersonal and abstract) "laws of Nature". Thus is the Creator banished from His own creation. Therefore we need not be surprised that men, in their degrading conceptions, exclude Him from the realm of human affairs.

Arthur W. Pink. The Sovereignty of God (Kindle Locations 92-97). Feedbooks.

Hyper-Calvinism: A Definition - Clark

. . . The Presbyterian Journal, November 18, 1981, includes an article by the Reverend Donald A. Dunkerley entitled “Hyper-Calvinism Today.” This author is to be highly commented because he knows what hyper-Calvinism is and he states the definition clearly. Most popular writers and preachers neither state nor know it. Hyper-Calvinism is “that view of Calvinism which holds that ‘there is no world-wide call to Christ sent out to all sinners, neither are all men bidden to take him as their Savior.’ Hyper-calvinists . . . maintain that Christ should be held forth or offered as Savior to those only whom God effectually calls” (14).

It seems that there are such people, people who are decisively called Hard-shell Baptists. There must be very few such, and I do not know of any Presbyterians who qualify. Dunkerley himself acknowledges that they are “an almost negligible minority.”

. . . In spite of his acknowledgment that hyper-Calvinists are an almost negligible minority and after describing various forms of evangelism, he complains that “we lack and urgently need in our day [a] compassionate evangelism.” Well, this is true, but in its context it seems to mean that hyper-Calvinism is almost the worst aberration of the twentieth century. Perhaps of the eighteenth century also, for Whitefield – whom he cites with approval – hardly evinces the evangelistic methods he seems to require.

Of course, the Bible commands us to preach the Gospel to all men. To a hyper-Calvinist who insisted that a minister should preach the Gospel only to the elect, Clarence Edward Macartney, if I remember correctly, replied, “You point out to me which persons are the elect, and I shall confine my preaching to them.”

But when Mr. Dunkerley wants to tell everyone that “God loves you,” I wonder how he can defend that phrase when not only Jacob, but Esau also is in the audience. 

Clark, G. H., (1996). The Atonement (pp. 136-137).  Hobbs, New Mexico: The Trinity Foundation 

Saving Grace - Herman Hoeksema

And what does it mean that, apart from grace, we are dead in trespasses and sins?

O, it signifies exactly what it says: that by our sins we are, by nature, just as dead unto God and righteousness, unto all good works, as the corpse in the grave is dead unto all activity of any kind. It means that, apart from grace, we are wholly incapable of doing any good, or even of thinking and willing anything that is pleasing to God. We are bound from within with unbreakable shackles of darkness and corruption. We are slaves of sin, willing slaves to be sure, but slaves withal, loving darkness rather than the light. And this spiritual, ethical death is God’s own wrath upon us: the punishment for sin. For we are children of wrath from our birth, guilty and damnable because of Adam’s transgression. And we can only daily increase our guilt and our damnation.

Such is our miserable plight! There is a debt we can never pay, nor do we care to pay it. There is a power of corruption from which we cannot and will not deliver ourselves. There is wrath and damnation from which we can never escape, nor do we care to, or seek to escape: for we are enemies of God, and the carnal mind is death!

In that horrible depth of misery grace finds the sinner.

Do you imagine, then, that he is capable or willing to cooperate with God to his own salvation, or that any emotional and sentimental plea of a preacher will persuade him to desire to seek salvation in Christ? I tell you Nay. Before grace takes hold of that sinner and raises him from the dead, he will always refuse to accept the proffered salvation and will prefer death to life, sin to righteousness, the devil to God! He must be saved by grace as a divine wonder!

Consider, too, unto what heights of glory grace saves the sinner. He is made partaker of the highest good! But what is the highest good? It is eternal life! Yes, but what is eternal life? Is it a sort of carnally conceived everlasting state of bliss in a beautiful place called heaven? God forbid! O, to be sure, heaven is blessed and beautiful. But it is so principally because God is there, and Christ is there, and the saints in Christ are there. And the blessedness of heaven consists in this, that it is the house of God, and that in that house we may dwell in fellowship with the living God, a fellowship that is more intimate than the first man Adam ever tasted: for it has its center in the incarnated Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ! To be the perfect sons of God, knowing God even as we are known, righteous as He is righteous, holy as He is holy, loving and beloved forever, seeing Him face to face, and having our delight in the doing of His will and keeping His precepts, loving Him with all our heart and mind and soul and strength in heavenly perfection and glory – that is the blessedness of heaven, and that is the height of glory to which grace raises us in Jesus Christ our Lord! But do you imagine that there could be any cooperation on the part of that miserable sinner we just described to reach that height of perfection? Or would you say that the sinner who is an enemy of God even longs for that perfect fellowship with God, that he who loves darkness is capable of yearning for that state of perfect and everlasting light? I tell you Nay. He is saved by grace, and by grace only, as a wonderwork of Him Who raises the dead and calleth the things that are not as if they were!

Saved by grace! Delivered from wrath, guilt, damnation, corruption, and death – all by grace! Clothed with righteousness, holiness, life, and glory – by grace only! Translated into light, from death into life, from shame into glory, from hell into heaven – all by the power of God’s wondrous grace! And all because of the eternal, sovereign love of Him Who chose the things that are not to bring to nought the things that are; that no flesh should glory in His presence!

Herman Hoeksema (1982). The Wonder of Grace (pp. 14-15). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformed Free Publishing Association.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

'The Wounds of Possibility'?

When in Amsterdam, Dr. Clark had an interview with Dooyeweerd, in which he asked whether there was absolute truth. Dooyeweerd replied in the negative. Clark wrote on a piece of paper: “There is no absolute truth,” handed it to Dooyeweerd and asked: “Is what is written absolute truth?”

I inquired, “What did Dooyeweerd say?” I was told this was the wrong question. I should have asked, “What did Dooyeweerd do?” and the answer was, “He smiled.”

Quoted from Absolute Truth by William Young, in Godon H. Clark: Personal Recollections, p. 117.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dr. G.H. Clark Comments on II Thessalonians 1:8-10

…in a fire of flame, distributing vengeance to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which ones shall suffer the penalty, eternal destruction from the face of God and from the glory of his strength, when he comes to be glorified in [better, with or by] his saints and to be marveled at by all who believe [aorist], because our witness was believed by you, in that day.

…First let us consider the flame of fire. Often fire is a symbol of punishment. We speak of Hell fire. But this is not always the case. Recall the burning bush which Moses stopped to see. So here the fire is a display of God’s glory, even though the next word is vengeance. It is the angels, not the wicked, who are in the fire. Or maybe it is not the angels, but Christ alone. The grammar is interesting. In verse 7 the Lord Jesus is in the genitive case; distributing is also genitive, in fact, genitive singular. Therefore, it is not the angels also, but Christ alone who distributes vengeance.

On the first few lines of these three verses Hendriksen offers a solution to a problem that must trouble many Christians. It is best to quote most of his paragraph.

"The Lord comes in order to “inflict vengeance” (compare Deuteronomy 32:35; Isaiah 59:17, Ezekiel 25:14). On whom? Two answers are possible, depending on what translation one adopts, whether “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”; or “inflicting vengeance on those who not know God, even on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

In the former case two classes are indicated: (a) pagans who have never heard the Gospel; and (b) Jews and pagans who have rejected the Gospel. In the latter case the reference is to only one class, namely, those who having heard the Gospel, refuse to obey it. In view of the fact that in the entire context the blind heathen who have never come into contact with the message of salvation are never alluded to and that those who in their willful disobedience persecute God’s children are definitely in the apostle’s mind (see verse 4, 6, 9), we accept this latter alternative."

Hendriksen’s solution will appeal to those sympathetic Christians who worry about the thousands of generations in Africa and Asia, and even in early Europe. But the question is, Is his inference valid? In the first place, he mistranslates the verse. He quotes it as “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God, even on those who do not obey the Gospel.” But the Greek text has no even. It is a simple kaí (kai), and. Furthermore, there are articles before both “do not know” and “do not obey.” Were there but one article, there could have been only one class. But two articles strongly indicate, indeed grammatically demand, two classes. The resulting truth may disturb us, and we may wish it were otherwise, but such disturbances neither translate Greek nor validate fallacies. The conclusion is that “do not know God” refers to the Gentiles, and “do not obey” refers to the Jews.

The fact that John 8:55, 15:21, and 16:3 describe the Jews as not knowing God does not destroy this interpretation. The grammar is the determinative. Nor does logic cast doubt. Obviously several groups can be described as not knowing God. If one says that the Moslems do not know God, there is no implication that the Tibetans do. At any rate, Scripture often refers to the Gentiles as not knowing God. Acts 17:23, 30 put it mildly; Romans 1:28 puts it harshly; and, somewhat between the two extremes…1 Thessalonians 4:5 puts it factually.

The punishment to be visited upon these two groups, though mentioned only briefly, is too horrible to contemplate. Verse 9 calls it everlasting destruction. The word for everlasting is αιωνιον (aiōnion). Some, to mitigate its duration, translate it as age-long, in order to bring it to an end. But in doing this, they automatically terminate our age long blessedness. Whether the King James has eternal or everlasting, the word refers to Heaven and Hell. See Matthew 18:8; 19:16; 29; 25:41, 46. The first of these is everlasting fire; the second two are everlasting blessedness; the last two are everlasting punishment. John 3:15 has everlasting life, as also John 4:36, 5:39, 6:54, and so on for about seventy instances in the New Testament.

Verse 10 dates the arrival of this punishment and this glorification not in years A.D., but at Christ’s coming to be glorified by having his saints attend him. The phrase “glorified in his saints” conveys little meaning. The Greek preposition ἐν (en), often properly translated in, also means by; indeed it indicates agency about as many times as it indicates location, and location here makes no sense. In fact this very verse has a second ἐν which must be translated by: “be admired by all them that believe.”

Next there comes the parenthetical phrase “because our testimony among you was believed.” It must be parenthetical, for the following words “in that day” obviously refer to the parousia of the first part of the verse. The parenthesis simply emphasizes the fact that the Thessalonians had indeed believed. As for “in that day,” one can note that, just above, horror was its characteristic, but here its characteristic is glory and rejoicing.

Clark, G. H. (2005). The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, Volume 12: Commentaries on Paul’s Epistles (pp. 304-306). Unicoi, Tennessee: The Trinity Foundation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christian and Pagan Ethics - Clark

It was the differences…which attracted the attention of those to whom Christianity first was preached… To the educated, respectable citizen of the first century it was not paganism but Christianity which appeared immoral and atheistic. The Greeks charged Christians with defective education, the Romans accused them of defective patriotism. In the Martyrdom of Polycarp the Romans designate the Christians as atheists, and Lucian slurringly puts Epicureans, atheists, and Christians into one class. And finally, the persecution through which the church was called upon to go shows that in the minds of those who saw paganism and Christianity at first hand, the latter was not merely another innocuous pagan sect.

There is one fundamental difference between the pagan and Christian theories which makes all other differences appear subsidiary. According to Greek philosophy the chief end of man was the perfect development of his natural abilities. Aristotle made contemplation the height of man's attainment because he regarded reason as man's highest function. The Stoics said, "nature herself never gives us any but good inclinations." And also, according to Epictetus, "you are a distinct portion of the essence of God and contain a certain part of him in yourself," cultivate, therefore the god within you. And other schools say similar things.

But Christianity has a totally different aim, indeed not merely a different but a radically opposed aim. In the New Testament there is no exhortation to develop the natural abilities, the desirable thing is rather the death of the natural man and the birth of a new and supernatural man. As originally born and even before birth, man is guilty of sin and fatally impaired by it throughout his whole nature. No individual can escape its terrible consequences for it is inherent in the race. In Adam all die, with the result that their understanding is darkened, being alienated from the life of God because of the blindness of their heart. All have sinned, there is none righteous, no not one, and they are hereby rendered incapable of pleasing God in any respect whatsoever. To man so conceived no wonder it is said, "except a man be born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God." And a few verses below that just quoted the contrast between the natural and the spiritual is made very distinct. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The chief aim of man, then, will not be the development of his natural but of the spiritual nature. The new life which begins with the new birth leads in precisely the opposite direction to the Greek formulae. "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." From this fundamental proposition flow all the other differences.

In Greek ethics it was customary to distinguish between the practical or moral virtues, such as courage, justice, honor, and the theoretical or intellectual virtues. In both of these departments of life the fundamental chasm appears between the widely separated results. The names by which the virtues are called are sometimes the same but the concepts for which they stand are often quite different. For example, both the Greek and the Christian would call wisdom good. But what Aristotle and Epicurus called wisdom and thought good, the Christian might call foolishness. Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics, we might say all pagan antiquity, so emphasized wisdom as to consider only the wise man, only the philosopher, as strictly virtuous. In the Bible as well, not only in the books of Solomon but in many other passages also, wisdom receives no meagre praise. But in the New Testament the natural wisdom of the Greeks which engenders pride is regarded as a possible stumbling block on the way to the Kingdom of God. Christ sent Paul "to preach the gospel; not with wisdom of word lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness. For it is written I will destroy the wisdom of the Wise . . . Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"

First Corinthians clearly states that the natural man is by his very nature incapable of understanding true wisdom. The wisdom of God is Jesus Christ himself, a reference to the opposing claims of the Gnostics, and in Him, as Colossians continues, are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And the evil deeds proceeding from the darkened understanding mentioned in Romans 1:21-28 and elsewhere, include among them some of the moral or practical virtues which were so highly praised by the Greek philosophers.

It may seem strange at first that the moral virtues, even of a pagan, are considered worthless from a Christian standpoint. But Christianity goes further and declares them to be not only worthless but actually dangerous and harmful because, seeming good, they deceive. They lead us to put our trust in them, to rely on them alone, whereas "without faith it is impossible to please God." The virtuous Greek was not able to see his need of a new birth. Deceived by his own morality he was blinded to his own imperfection.

The most highly valued virtue in the ancient world and the one least prized by Christians was courage or patriotism. This, as Aristotle said, mirroring the prevailing conception, was essentially a political and wartime virtue. But the followers of the Christ who told Peter to sheath his sword, who declared that his kingdom was not of this world, abandoned the practice of courage and patriotism. They were willing to bear persecution; fortitude was their strong point but patriotism was a vice. In this world the Christian is a pilgrim and a stranger. He is looking for a city whose builder and maker is God, his citizenship is in heaven. The followers of Christ were willing to render to Caesar what was Ceasar's. Obedience to all laws which did not conflict with Christian principles they insisted upon. But their main attention was directed to rendering unto God what was God's.

Among the virtues catalogued by Aristotle, pride or high-mindedness is called the "crown of the virtues." Though Aristotle warns against conceit, yet the high-minded man "will be only moderately pleased at great honors conferred upon him by virtuous people, as feeling that he obtains what is naturally his due or even less than his due." Christianity, on the contrary, emphasizes humility. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," and "whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever of you will be the chiefest shall be the servant of all."

The astounding thing is that while the Greek schools in general appealed only to a select class of especially educated people and even with those usually failed of actual reform, as is pictured for us in Kingsley's gripping novel Hypatia, and while the comparatively wide appeal of the Stoics neither affected the masses nor stayed the corruption of the Emperor's court, Christianity within twenty-five years of its inception gave a totally new life to thousands and thousands. This new life most noticeably expressed itself in a virtue which the Stoics condemned and which certainly was absent from the practice of the public. In Ben Hur, or in the sources if they be open to us, the most abominable cruelty makes us recoil. Against this the Christians preached and practiced love, pity, mercy. The Founder had a word of compassion for the woman taken in adultery, for the thief on the cross and for the very ones who crucify him, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." And in Quo Vadis the Christian, as he is being tortured on a cross, forgives and thereby converts Chilo Chilonides, his betrayer.

Stoicism never achieved this state of mind. While it taught that all men were brothers, that the Sage will serve all, one would err if he admitted their troubles to his heart. For the Stoic's unperturbedness is all important and the anguish of vicarious suffering, the very foundation of Christianity, is absolutely foreign both to Stoicism and to all the other schools. Love, then, is the striking Christian virtue. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son," and, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. . . . And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

We can note only in passing that Epictetus says we must not be too hard on men who are unchaste before marriage; and Aristotle is somewhat similar. But Christianity has hardly had in the eyes of the world a more singular success than its erasure of the distinction between bond and free, male and female, for all are one in Christ. And if anyone point to Christianity's shortcomings in this and in many other respects, it is because he refuses to compare conditions here and now with what is in India today or what was universal in the time of Christ. The love of God in Christ reflected in the lives of his followers is a conquering power that the forces of darkness cannot withstand.

And finally. While the philosophers gave up the dreary conceptions of an after life as taught by Homer, they had nothing very definite as a substitute, and certainly the ordinary Greek never conquered his fear of death. His affections were set on this world and death meant defeat. Among the papyri there is a friendly letter on the death of a child. The most conspicuous thing about it is its utter lack of consolation; it says in so many words that consolation in such a case is impossible. But for the Christian death is swallowed up in victory and the grave has lost its sting. This is the actual result of that other-worldliness which some condemn as sour and glum. But it is the pagan, of today as well as of that time, who comes to be sad if he considers life seriously, while the Christian through a very sure hope can remain happy in the face of misfortune. "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The above article was written by Gordon H. Clark and appeared in the October 1929 issue of The Evangelical Student. For the full article and magazine click here. Thanks to the PCA Historical Center website for providing these resources. Bold emphasis mine. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Gospel of John, Chapter 15 NASB

1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. 11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 "You are My friends, if you do what I command you. 15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. 17 "This I command you, that you love one another.

18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 "He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 "But they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'

26 "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, 27 and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

J. Gresham Machen's Fundamentalism

Full Sermon

Friday, July 22, 2011

Determinism and Turkish Cab Drivers - Clark

The late Dr. Gordon H. Clark reading out of his book, "What Do Presbyterians Believe?" Taken from Chapter V, Of Providence. For the full book and more biblical teaching please visit:​

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What is Justification? John MacArthur & John Piper on Luke 18:10-14

And why the chest? Why do the righteous beat upon their heart? It is to say, "All is there, all is there; the righteous beat their heart as the source of all evil longing." The tax collector was pounding on the very essence of where his wretchedness was.

Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man. Matthew 15:11

Who makes us come?
Who makes us thirsty?
Who makes us hungry?
Who makes us cry out?
Who makes us want?
None other than Him.
And who is the we who get that counted to us?
His children; the chosen children of God.

Does God have emotions? - Cheung

The IMMUTABILITY of God follows from his eternity. Since there is no "before" or "after" with God, he remains the same in his being and character. This attribute is also associated with his perfection. If God is perfect in every way, then any change in him must be for the worse. But since he is immutable, he cannot change for the worse. And since he is already perfect in every way, he has no need to change or develop.

Psalm 102:25-27 says that, although the physical universe undergoes decay and will perish, God remains the same:

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.

God says in Malachi 3:6, "I the LORD do not change." And he says in Isaiah 46:11, "What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do," and Psalm 33:11 says, "the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." Numbers 23:19 says, "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" And James writes that God does not "change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). God remains the same not only in his being and character, but all his thoughts and decrees stay the same.

The immutability of God implies the IMPASSIBILITY of God. This means that God is without "passions" – emotions or feelings. Less thoughtful believers protest against the doctrine, since they misapply biblical passages that seem to describe a God who experiences emotions such as grief, joy, and wrath (Psalm 78:40; Isaiah 62:5; Revelation 19:15).

Passages that appear to ascribe emotions to God are anthropopathisms. Opponents of divine impassibility argue that this is to avoid the obvious teaching of Scripture. It dismisses as anthropopathism what we do not wish to associate with God. However, these same people would agree that those biblical references that ascribe to God bodily parts such as hands and eyes are anthropomorphisms. Those who think that God really has a physical body should not even be considered Christians. Therefore, one must not reject anthropopathism as an explanation without good reason.

Since the Bible teaches that God is spirit and that he has no form (John 4:24 and Deuteronomy 4:12, 15), any passage that speaks about God as if he has a body is obviously figurative. When they are understood this way, both kinds of passages make good sense, whereas to interpret them in the opposite direction would not. That is, if it is thought that God has a physical body, then those passages that say he is spirit and that he has no form would generate confusion, if not outright contradiction. And this problem would arise because they are not supposed to be interpreted this way.

The Bible is consistent in this. When it talks about God's being, it teaches that he is spirit and that he has no form. When it talks about his ability and his work, it sometimes uses anthropomorphisms, so that it refers to his hands, arms, eyes, ears, and so on. The former refers to what he is, and the latter refers to what he does. The difference is very definite and easy to perceive. In fact, given those passages that tell us about the being of God, it would be heretical to interpret the other passages as teaching that God has a body. Likewise, given what the Bible tells us about the being of God, it would be heretical to say that he has emotions that resemble human feelings and fluctuations.

The view that God experiences emotions like men appear to entail a number of contradictions:

A man may become angry against his will in the sense that he does not choose to become angry, and he does not choose to experience whatever causes the anger, but that the "trigger" incites this emotion in him against his preference. This applies to human experiences of joy, fear, grief, and so on. Although one may develop a remarkable level of self-control by the power of the Scripture and the Holy Spirit, it remains that a person's volition and emotion do not maintain an exact relationship. His emotional state is not always exactly the way he wishes or decides it to be. However, this cannot be true with God even if he were to experience emotions, because such lack of self-control contradicts his omniscience, sovereignty, and immutability.

Since God is omniscient, he cannot be surprised, and this at least eliminates certain ways of experiencing emotions. Suppose I become angry because a man insults me at this very moment. It is unlikely that I would still be angry two thousand years in the future. And if I had known two thousand years in the past that he would insult me today, it is unlikely that I would become angry by the time he does it. In fact, if I have had two thousand years to consider his insult, by the time he actually does it, I might not react at all.

Perhaps the reply is that all facts are simultaneously present to God, so that the insult that angers him is always happening "now." But this would imply that God must be angry about this one insult throughout eternity, and not just when it happens. If so, then God's emotions would not offer us the kind of interactivity that proponents of divine emotions are after. In any case, suppose something happens that alleviates this anger. Of course, the only way is forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But since God knows Christ's sacrifice just as well as the man's insult, we are at a loss as to whether he is ever angry or not. The mental experiment results in absurdity, because the truth is that God is not like man, because he is not a man.

Then, if an action of mine can cause anger in God in a similar way that I can cause anger in a man, then this means that I can cause anger in God by my power. To the degree that he lacks self-control, he is helpless against my efforts to cause anger in him. Likewise, if an action of mine can produce joy in God in a similar way that I can produce joy in a man, then this means that I have the ability to produce joy in God at will. In this manner, I would exercise a significant measure of control over God. But this contradicts his sovereignty and immutability.

The matter becomes much more complex when we take into account that he knows all the thoughts and actions of his creatures in all of history simultaneously. But it is enough to consider all the billions of people who anger him at any point in time, and the thousands or at least hundreds of people who please him at the same time. How is it possible for him to be angry with two billion people in a sense like man's anger and pleased with two hundred people, also in the human sense, at the same time? If the answer is that God's mind is immense, so that he is not subject to human limitations, then our point is also established. There is no warrant to say that God is extremely similar to man in some ways, as if bound by many of man's limitations, but that he is completely superior to man in other ways, as if he has none of man's limitations.

Therefore, some form of divine impassibility is necessary. If God is angered by our sins, it is only because he wills to be angered by them, and not because his mental state is subject to our will or beyond his control. Even if God has emotions, they are under his control, and they will never compromise his divine attributes. And since they cannot compromise the divine attributes, this also means that even if he has emotions, he does not have them in a way that is similar to man. But then we wonder why we would still call them emotions. Thus at least in this sense and to this extent, we must affirm that God is without passions.

Christians who have been influenced by modern psychology and philosophy are eager to defend emotions, both in man and in God. Although they might acknowledge that those biblical passages that refer to God as if he has a physical body are instances of anthropomorphism, they refuse to admit that those passages that refer to God as if he has emotions are instances of anthropopathism. However, they have been unable to offer an excuse for this hypocrisy.

The dictionary defines "emotion" as "disturbance, excitement; the affective aspect of consciousness; a state of feeling; a psychic and physical reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling and physiologically involving changes that prepare the body for immediate vigorous action." The word originally refers to a disturbance of the mind. Although this meaning is now obsolete in colloquial speech, even in common usage, it remains a "psychic and physical reaction." In my view, a definition of emotion should include the idea of a disturbance of the mind that may interfere with the normal process of rational thought. The disturbance itself does not carry a negative connotation, but it is a description of what happens, although a disturbance of the mind would, of course, often produce negative consequences.

Contrary to popular teaching, the Bible never says that the mind consists of the will, intellect, and emotion. This division originates from secular psychology, not biblical psychology. Under this scheme, the will, intellect, and emotion are distinct parts of the mind, so that the mind is only real as the aggregate of the three. Since they are related but independent, there is no necessary relationship between the development of each part. Thus Christians who assume this framework would often say that a person must not only develop his intellect, but that he must also develop his emotion. But if this framework is false, then the recommendation tells us to do something that cannot be done, since it assumes a division in the mind that does not exist. The result is a perverted spiritual development.

The Bible teaches that the inward part of man is the mind. The will and emotion are not things in themselves, but merely functions of the mind. To illustrate, digestion is not an organ apart from or within the stomach, but the stomach is the physical organ, and digestion is the function of this organ. Likewise, the mind is the inward and incorporeal part of man. Sometimes it becomes disturbed, and a disturbance of the mind affects how it thinks, often in a negative way. Therefore, the emotion is not good in itself. Although the Bible does not call all emotions sinful, many emotions can indeed be sinful, and sinful emotions often lead to other sins:

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6-7)

Christians do not need more emotions; they need more self-control. The Bible contains not nearly as many emotional words or phrases as people want to believe. Some people may even misinterpret the contentment in Philippians 4:12 as an emotional satisfaction, that is, before they realize that it is a Stoic word denoting indifference. And is "happy" even an emotion in the Bible? Love is not an emotion in the Bible, but a volition. The spiritual man is marked by self-control, and has achieved mastery over his emotions. The mind of God is so integrated that he does only what he wills. As we increase in faith and holiness, our emotion should increasingly come under our conscious control, so that we become excited because we decide to become excited, become angry because we decide to become angry, and we can stop when we decide to stop.

Jesus experienced emotions, but what can we infer from this? He also experienced hunger and fatigue (Matthew 21:18; Luke 4:2; John 4:6), but this only proves that the Son of God took upon himself a human nature. Just as Jesus in his divine nature did not experience hunger or fatigue, he in his divine nature did not experience emotions. Only his human nature experienced hunger, fatigue, and emotions. Those instances when he experienced emotions were indeed disturbances of the mind (Mark 14:34), and since Hebrews 4:15 says that he never sinned, we conclude that not every disturbance of the mind is sinful. However, it is invalid to infer from this that emotions are good, or that it should not be restrained or suppressed. Therefore, the fact that Jesus experienced emotions only proves that he possessed a human nature and that not every disturbance of the mind is sinful.

On the other hand, the Gospels show that Jesus was always in full control of himself. He was so disturbed before his arrest that he bled through his skin, but he never lost control. He was able to pray to God, to resolve to fulfill his will, and to rebuke his disciples for falling asleep. He was under intense pressure, but he retained full control of his mental and physical functions. Sometimes things happen that disturb us, but to be disturbed in the mind is not part of sanctification. A person is not holy or spiritual just because his mind fluctuates like the waves of the ocean. Rather, Christ's self-control in the face of the most disturbing circumstances – his faith to walk on the stormy waters – is what his followers ought to emulate.

Cheung, Vincent (2011). Systematic Theology (p. 58-62).