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.