Sunday, March 30, 2008

In Christ Alone

by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! Who took on flesh,
fulness of God in helpless babe!
This Gift of love and righteousness,
scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
the wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid;
here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day,
up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine,
bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life no fear in death,
this is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home,
here in the power of Christ I'll stand!

Grace, God's Grace

"The promises of God's grace provide the power that makes the demands of God's holiness an experience of freedom rather than fear. Peter described the freeing power of God's promises like this: 'Through [His precious and very great promises] you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire' (2 Peter 1:4). In other words, when we trust the promises of God, we sever the root of corruption by the power of a superior promise.

Therefore we should pray for each other the way Jesus prays for us in John 17:17: 'Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth'. There is no abiding joy without holiness, for the Scripture says, 'Strive...for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord' (Hebrews 12:14). How important, then, is the truth that sanctifies! How crucial is the Word that breaks the power of counterfeit pleasures! And how vigilant we should be to light our paths and load our hearts with the Word of God! 'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path' (Psalm 119:105). 'I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you' (v. 11; cf. v. 9).

John Piper - Desiring God pp. 149-150

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The professing church is brimming with hirelings. What is a "hireling" you might ask, and how is it relevant to the question of the condition of today's church? I'm glad you asked. Let's see what the Lord Jesus has to say of the hireling:

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (John 10:11-13)

As you can see, the Lord isn't impressed with the hireling, in fact He disdains him and heaps contempt upon him. So what does it say about the state of the church when today's denominational pipelines and seminaries are cranking out hirelings nearly as fast as Mattel cranks out Ken and Barbie? And isn't there a parallel here between the plastic Christianity of these hirelings and their plastic toy counterparts? Why yes, yes there is; they're both platicized, fake, and without true life.

True life is the life imputed by the Lord of Hosts and is a thing which no man can attain to, it is the gift of God lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet today's plastic Christian leadership - equipped with their plastic crosses - shill a plastic gospel that is bloodless, powerless, and ineffectual for salvation. These blind leaders of the blind send countless myriads of deceived followers home each week singing of a heaven they'll never see apart from the change of heart, submission, and faithful obedience to Christ that are foundational to true salvation.

But believer beware! These hirelings become simultaneously defensive and aggressive when their meal-ticket is threatened. If one dares question the status quo of their Nicolaitane constructs, rest assured that the poisoned darts of false accusations and ad hominem are sure to fly his way. All bets are off and all the stops are pulled when these spiritual cockroaches are exposed to the light of scripture. As they quickly scurry from the light they hurl baseless accusations, twist scripture, and resort to absurd claims of spiritual authority in their desperate attempts to maintain their deception at all costs. Not unlike the miserable, feeble old man hiding behind the curtain while pretending to be "The Great and Powerful Oz", the spiritual charlatan will attempt continue his masquerade even when the truth is standing there staring him squarely in the face.

Of the hireling Tozer well said:

A Hireling; No True Shepherd
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

It is doubtful whether we can be Christian in anything unless we are Christian in everything. To obey Christ in one or two or ten instances and then in fear of consequences to back away and refuse to obey in another is to cloud our life with the suspicion that we are only fair-weather followers and not true believers at all. To obey when it costs us nothing and refuse when the results are costly is to convict ourselves of moral trifling and gross insincerity….

Again, the pastor when facing his congregation on Sunday morning, dare not think of the effect his sermon may have on his job, his salary or his future relation to the church. Let him but worry about tomorrow and he becomes a hireling and no true shepherd of the sheep. No man is a good preacher who is not willing to lay his future on the line every time he expounds the Word. He must let his job and his reputation ride on each and every sermon or he has no right to think that he stands in the prophetic tradition. SIZ, 146-147.
(A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership)

A prayer: Give me grace to follow, Lord–especially when it really does cost me something. Amen.

May the hirelings quickly find themselves either out of work or broken and repentant before the One True and Living God, the infinite Creator and Judge of the universe.

Praise Him!

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Oh Lord, how can I express my thankfulness to You? How can I be thankful enough? For with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm you pulled me from the devourer's jaws. You loved me before I loved You. You knew me before the world began.

Oh Lord, how can I express my thankfulness for You? How can I be thankful enough? You called me by name and opened my eyes. Like Lazarus I heard Your voice and came to You. You've hidden me in the cleft of the Rock and sheltered me beneath the shadow of Your wings.

Oh Lord, how can I express my thankfulness? You are God alone! There is none like you! Who is like the Lord? There is no one! May all praise and glory and power and honor and strength and wisdom and riches be unto the name of the Lord forever and ever more! May Your hands of healing and protection rest upon Your children. May You keep us from evil and rebuke the devourer for our sakes. May the vain imaginings of the enemy bear no fruit against us, but rather may his plans be utterly confounded and of none effect.

Oh Lord, fill me with Your holy presence! Draw close to me, and draw me close to You! Write Your statutes upon the tables of my heart that Your Word would never depart from my lips. Cause me oh Lord to be the man You've called me to be! By Your power alone may I be the husband, the father, the brother, the son, the friend, the disciple, the servant, the child of the Living God that You've called me to be. Mortify my flesh oh Lord that it would be in subjection to Your Holy Spirit. Cause me oh Lord to walk in the very center of Your perfect will, turning neither to the right hand, nor the left. Oh Lord may I walk only upon the path You've set before me.

Oh Lord, direct my mind according to Your awesome power! Cause me oh Lord to think Your thoughts after You. Give me oh Lord the desires of my heart, that I would desire only that which You desire! May my every thought be captive to Christ!

Embolden me oh Lord that I would speak forth Your truth in love with a humble boldness that testifies to Your eternal Godhead and Gospel! Shape me, use me, mold me, make me that vessel which seems good and right in Your eyes.

Satisfy me oh Lord within Your presence. May I long for nothing more than to dwell within Your Holy place where there is fulness of joy! Set my heart aflame oh Lord that Your Word would burn as a fire within my bones that I may speak forth the eternal truth of Christ crucified, the hinge upon which all of history turns!

Break me oh Lord as a potter shatters the clay. May I decrease as You increase within me. Renew me oh Lord that I may be found worthy of the high calling of Christ Jesus. Purge me oh Lord of sin and iniquity. Forgive me oh Lord for my sinful pride. May I make my boast only in the Lord and His everlasting mercies.

Thank You Lord for this day. Thank You for the life You've given me. Thank You for the family You've given me. Thank You for the many blessings in my life that I take for granted. Thank You for saving me. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for the blood You shed on Calvary. Thank You for setting aside Your throne of eternal glory and becoming a man. Thank You for taking my sin and shame upon Yourself. Thank You for Your love that is better than life. Thank You for Your Word that is sharper than a two-edged sword. Thank You for being unchanging and unchangeable in nature, purpose, perfection, works and knowledge.

Thank You for being The Great I AM, Yahweh Elohim Shaddai, Jehovah, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Creator and Judge, the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the King of Glory, the Rock of our salvation, the suffering servant, our kinsman Redeemer, the Ancient of Days, God Almighty, the One True Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ forevermore.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 4:8)

The Eternal Existence of Christ

This important study succinctly breaks down the the oft ignored subject of Christology in the light of inerrant scripture:


Our modern world is decidedly confused. On the one hand, the rationalistic, humanistic viewpoint dominates within our public education system. We are now taught to question the validity of anything that can be called "supernatural." The very idea that someone might believe in miracles, revelation, etc., is opened up to direct ridicule. At the same time, in a direct reaction against this kind of dry humanism, many people are fleeing for refuge into every kind of spiritistic group imaginable. "Channeling" (a fancy way of saying a spirit medium) is very popular, and the Eastern ideas of reincarnation and mysticism are drawing converts from every walk of life.

In the midst of all of this confusion we find the Bible, continuing to proclaim the timeless message of Jesus Christ. Yet even the Lord Jesus has come in for modern "updating" in many men's writings. After a century of "searching for the historical Jesus" men (hopefully) have discovered that outside of the inspired writings of the apostles in the New Testament, we will not find much information on who Jesus was. Indeed, unless we see that it is illogical and irrational to reject the Scriptures for what they claim to be we will never have much to say to our world.

Continue reading "The Pre-existence of Christ In Scripture, Patristics and Creed" here

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Is Risen

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; (Matthew 28:6-7)

He is risen indeed!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Nothing But the Blood

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon this I see. Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace. Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Countercult Corner: Roman Catholicism

Unmasking the Pope

"In the long war on the truth the most formidable, relentless, and deceptive enemy has been Roman Catholicism. It is an apostate, corrupt, heretical false Christianity. It is a front for the kingdom of Satan. The true Church of Jesus Christ has always understood this." - John MacArthur

HAT TIP: Reformation Nation

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Source of False Doctrine

"Although the Bible primarily focuses on the human agents propagating false doctrine, it also deals with the source of false doctrine: Satan and his demons.

Behind all false teachers are invisible demons. No false teacher teaches from his own wisdom; a demon or demons inspire him to teach. False teachers are mouthpieces for Satan." - John MacArthur

On the Professing Church

"When it comes to the early twenty-first century evangelical church as a whole, techniques have unfortunately replaced truth, style has supplanted substance, convenience outdistances consecration, and modern church growth principles receive more attention than biblical church growth truth. Scripturally speaking, this is not Christ's intended state of affairs for His lovely bride - the church. This man-centered approach to chruch spells a gloomy future for what ought to be as bright as Christ's glory." - Richard Mayhue, Dean of Master's Seminary

The Power of the Cross

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25)

O, to see the dawn of the darkest day;
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

O, to see the pain written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought, ev'ry evil deed
crowing Your blood-stained brow.

Now the daylight flees; now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life-
"Finished!" the victory cry.

O, to see my name written in the wounds,
For through Your suff'ring I am free.
Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love!

This is the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath;
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Monday, March 10, 2008

This Is Why I Blog

Absolute Dominion is a very small island in a vast ocean of digital information, however it has a very theologically solid group of "regulars" who often drop by to share encouragement, exhortation, or simply a personal anecdote, thought or insight. Perhaps more importantly it also has the usual trolls, drifters, and cultists who sometimes stop by to stir up a bit of stink. I particularly enjoy being given the opportunity to share the the truth in love about the REAL Jesus Christ with these drive-by types. Sometimes I never know if they've even come back to see my response, and yet on occasion they will return and there is a witnessing opportunity granted of the Lord.

It's simply stupefying to me that someone such as myself - a wretched lump of sin - could be used of the Lord in any way to proclaim His truth via the medium of the Internet, yet I know that it's only by His divine hand of sovereignty and providence that anything whatsoever happens in any realm, whether it be in heaven, in the earth, or within the virtual world of the blogosphere and so I steadfastly soldier onward toward the prize, the high calling of Christ Jesus and the eternal message of Him crucified, dead, buried and resurrected on the third day - the foolishness of preaching the offense of the cross - the truth of the ages, the hinge upon which all of human history turns.

I am a weak, small, sinful, trembling, unworthy man who is nevertheless devoted to the glory of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. By His power alone I shall continue earnestly preaching, teaching, and reaching with His Holy Word here in my dusty little corner of cyberspace and in those opportunities He may grant in my day to day life.

I am Coram Deo and this is Absolute Dominion!

The following exchange took place in the comments section of one of my posts:

Please preach/explain the gospel to me right now, if you would. I'm serious.
Mark Portman | 02.15.08 - 11:40 am | #


Mark Portman,

I'm glad you asked and I'd be honored to proclaim the Gospel to you!

There is One True and Living God in all of existence Who created everything from nothing for His own purposes, by His own power, and for His own good pleasure.

This One True and Living God is totally self contained, completely self sufficient, and eternally existent without beginning or end and takes no counsel of anything or anyone outside of Himself since He is the embodiment of absolute perfection and is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. He is the Ultimate Ultimate and there is none like Him, He is the great "I AM".

This Creator God doesn't change because by implication absolute perfection of knowledge, power, and holiness could not improve or become "more perfect" and to become less perfect would be an absurdity for an absolutely perfect and holy divine Being.

Furthermore this Creator God has revealed Himself to His creation, mankind, through natural revelation (His created order) and special verbal revelation (His Word). His Word in which He has revealed Himself is the Holy Bible which consists of the Old and New Testaments.

God originally created man perfect and in God's own image. Sadly man sinned against God by transgressing His commandment and fell into a state of spiritual death causing God's image in man to become badly marred and wholly corrupted by the taint of sin.

The One True and Living God's absolute holiness and perfection required divine justice against transgression of His commandment. Thus sinful man incurred physical death along with spiritual death.

Man has continued in his fallen, sinful state since all men are found guilty in their sins inherited by the original man, our standard bearer in the flesh, Adam. But out of His infinite mercy, love, compassion, and pity the One True and Living God decided not to leave man helpless and hopeless in his fallen state but chose instead to intervene directly in the affairs of men in order to bring about a Savior Who would deliver those who trusted in Him by faith alone from their inherited curse of sin.

The wages of sin is death, both spiritual and physical. Those who die apart from God are doomed to an unspeakably horrific eternity in a place commonly known as hell where they are tormented forever and ever without rest or relief. Men's souls are not annihilated in hell, because men's souls are eternal. Our flesh and bones are merely "tents" or "houses" for our spirits which exist eternally in one of two states, either they are forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, or they are damned to eternal hell for failing to repent of sin, and trust in, believe upon, and humbly obey the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Coram Deo | Homepage | 02.15.08 - 11:50 pm | #


The One True and Living God brought the Savior Jesus Christ out of the people of Israel, the Jewish race who God Himself raised up to become a people specially chosen to bring forth salvation to all those who would be saved from their sins by repentance (a turning away from sin and a turning toward God) and faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior.

Jesus Christ was and is the Savior, the Anointed One; the Messiah Who alone lived an absolutely perfect and sinless life that fully pleased His Heavenly Father. God's standard for acceptance is absolute perfect sinlessness and no man has ever lived such a life apart from Jesus Christ.

Yet Jesus Christ was more than a mere man. Though he was 100% human he was simultaneously 100% God. Jesus Christ was and is the "God -man". We know this because according to the Bible He was miraculously conceived of the Holy Spirit of God in the womb of Mary, a virgin Jewish maiden.

Because Jesus Christ was and is both God and man and was without sin He was uniquely able to stand in the gap between God's divine fury and wrath against sin, which no mortal man could ever repay, and become the sin bearer for all those who believe on Him as their Savior.

Jesus Christ paid the sin debt by living a perfect, sinless life, and then by giving His own life as a ransom for many and dying a horrible, agonizing death upon a Roman cross, being humiliated, scourged, tortured, crucified, and murdered by His own creatures who knew Him not.

This is the greatest story ever told, and it's 100% true.

And the best part is yet to come! Jesus Christ didn't remain in the grave, three days after His death He was raised from the dead never to die again, gaining victory over death itself for both Himself, and all those who would be saved by Him.

Jesus Christ appeared to numerous witnesses proving His resurrection from the dead and sent his apostles out into the world to proclaim the "Good News", which is translated as "Gospel" that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.".

This doesn't mean that whoever believes in Jesus won't taste physical death, for we know Jesus Himself tasted physical death, but rather those who believe on Him and are miraculously "born-again" of the Spirit of God are translated from spiritual death (and damnation) unto spiritual life (and salvation) because they have been forgiven by the shedding of the perfect, sinless blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Who takes away the sins of the world.

Coram Deo | Homepage | 02.15.08 - 11:53 pm | #


Mark Portman, this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as I understand it and I believe it with all of my heart. Now I'm not asking you to trust my heart, because I don't trust my own heart since the Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked. Yet the Bible also says that those who are born-again are given new hearts that their old hearts of unbelief are taken away and a new heart of belief, tenderness, love, humility, and submission to Jesus Christ and the will of God are given to those who believe.

I believe.

I'm a believer.

And it's not just because I had an emotional experience once, or because I need a "religious crutch" to lean on. It's because of the cross. It's because of the power of God. It's because of His Holy Spirit. It's because of His inspired Word. It's because of His sacrifice for me. It's because He has driven me to the very end of myself to the point that He opened my eyes to see myself as I truly am, wretched, wicked, helpless, sinful and vile.

Yet His grace is sufficient for one such as me. Not many wise are called, not many noble, but God has chosen those whom He will choose and we are the least of the least. The lowest of the low. The off scouring of polite society.

But it pleased God to make the wisdom of this world foolish by the preaching of the cross and to make the wise simple and the simple wise by His truth.

None of my words have any power Mark Portman; they're just the words of a man. But God's Word is truth and it is power and if this message were meant for you then by the regenerating power of His Holy Spirit you've already believed it by now. And if this message wasn't for you then you are still responsible before The One True and Living God, the Infinite Creator and Judge of the universe for the truth you've received and you will certainly give an account for it as you stand before Him in Holy Divine Judgment.
Coram Deo | Homepage | 02.15.08 - 11:55 pm | #


I've prayed to my God that He would grant you repentance and salvation, Mark Portman.

Grace and peace to you!
In Christ,
Coram Deo | Homepage | 02.15.08 - 11:58 pm | #


Thank you. I want to be very honest, in that I am daily impressed by your blog, and I wanted to see how you explained the Gospel. I am consistently plagued by the Holy Spirit (for the better) to free myself from the Flesh. Being 20 years old, breaking from worldly desires has been very much like coming off an addiction to a drug. I'm going with my father to witness today, only, I will be listening to him as he does so and will be there for prayer and support. I very much appreciate that you shared this with me, as I am going to rededicate my life (which is a result of only a recent practice of true repentance on my part). I cannot undermine the Gospel, and I'm very thankful for the powerful stand you take for the Truth of God's Word. I have to pray to God and ask him to battle my unbelief every day. It's mostly doubt in myself, but I understand that my faith must rely on Christ alone. It's a difficult path, as I understand now more than ever, but God has blessed me with an eye of discernment, and your blog is certainly a sound representative of the Christian faith.
Mark Portman | 02.16.08 - 8:02 am | #


Just to add, I certainly hope it's the Holy Spirit that is consistently pointing out even my most obscure of sins. I don't see how it could be anything else!
Mark Portman | 02.16.08 - 8:08 am | #


Mark Portman,

Thank you for sharing and may the Lord be praised for your hearty encouragement!

God be with you, sir!
Coram Deo | Homepage | 02.20.08 - 10:26 pm | #

Sunday, March 9, 2008

On Spiritual Discernment

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)

Marks of a True Believer - Test the Spirits by John MacArthur

Old Truth

Truth itself does not change just because our point of view does. As we mature in our ability to perceive truth, truth itself remains fixed. Our duty is to conform all our thoughts to the truth (Psalm 19:14); we are not entitled to redefine "truth" to fit our own personal viewpoints, preferences, or desires. We must not ignore or dsicard selected truths because we might find them hard to receive or difficult to fathom. Above all, we can't get apathetic or lazy about the truth when the price of understanding or defending the truth turns out to be demanding or costly. Such a self-willed approach to the truth is tantamount to usurping God (Psalm 12:4). People who take that route guarantee their own destruction (Romans 2:8-9).

Truth is never determined by looking at God's Word and asking, "What does this mean to me?" Whenever I hear someone talk like that, I'm inclined to ask, "What did the Bible mean before you existed? What does GOD mean by what he says?" Those are the proper questions to be asking. Truth and meaning are not determined by our intuition, experience or desire. The true meaning of Scripture - or anything else, for that matter - has already been determined and fixed by God. The task of an interpreter is to discern that meaning. And proper interpretation must proceed application.

- John MacArthur

HAT TIP: Reformation Nation

On Christ

"Yea, He is altogether lovely." (Song of Solomon 5:16)

The superlative beauty of Jesus is all attracting; it is not so much to be admired as to be loved. He is more than pleasant and fair, He is lovely. Surely the people of God can fully justify the use of this golden word, for He is the object of their warmest love, a love founded on the intrinsic excellence of His person, the complete perfection of His charms. Look O disciples of Jesus, to your Master's lips, and say "Are they not most sweet?" Do not His words cause your hearts to burn within you as He talks with you by the way? Ye worshippers of Immanuel, look up to His head of much fine gold, and tell me, are not His thoughts precious unto you? Is not your adoration sweetened with affection as ye humbly bow before that countenance which is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars? Is there not a charm in His every feature, and is not His whole person fragrant with such a savour of His good ointments, that therefore the virgins love Him? Is there one member of His glorious body which is not attractive? One portion of His person which is not a fresh loadstone to our souls? One office which is not a strong cord to bind your heart? Our love is not as a seal set upon His heart of love alone; it is fastened upon His arm of power also; nor is there a single part of Him upon which it does not fix itself. We anoint His whole person with the sweet spikenard of our fervent love. His whole life we would imitate; His whole character we would transcribe. In all other beings we see some lack, in Him there is all perfection. The best even of His favoured saints have had blots upon their garments and wrinkles upon their brows; He is nothing but loveliness. All earthly suns have their spots: the fair world itself hath its wilderness; we cannot love the whole of the most lovely thing; but Christ Jesus is gold without alloy - light without darkness - glory without cloud - "Yea, He is altogether lovely".

This devotion was taken from "Morning and Evening" by C.H. Spurgeon.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Exposing Error: Andrew Clarkson SPM 1

In the interest of providing a Biblical counterpoint to SPM 1's ongoing series on Reformed/Calvinist thought I'd like to offer the following point by point analysis and refutation of SPM contributor Andrew Clarkson's latest article entitled Unconditional Eternal Security as it Relates to Calvinism.


This verse is particularly true of those who would undermine the truth of scripture and substitute it with a ”vain traditions of men” religion, making a shipwreck of the faith. Christ directed this condemnation to those who go about building up idols by adding to or taking away from the Word of God and elevating their own perverse man-centered doctrines to equality with scripture. This is precisely the error of those who hold to the wholly unbiblical belief that men save themselves by “making a decision” for God and relegating the King Himself to a position inferior to sinful man’s own “choice”. This false belief turns the Scripture on its head and makes man the agent of his own salvation! Man saves man!

This false belief is especially insidious and attractive to the natural man because deep within their desperately wicked and sinful hearts men desire to be a god, and therefore the idea that they can somehow “decide” for themselves and “choose to accept” Christ’s invitation by their own power is very, very appealing. Instead of simply taking God at His Word and believing the truth that it is God alone Who is the singular agent of salvation, drawing those whom He will and choosing those whom He will out of His boundless ocean of mercy, pity and love as it is written in the Holy Bible, these ungodly deceivers seek to ensnare men in their cunningly devised fables that “God has done all He can and now the rest is up to you” which is a damnable lie from the pit of hell.

Think about this question for a moment; Are you a Christian? If you answered in the affirmative are you a Christian because of God's will, or are you a Christian because you chose to be (i.e. because of your will)? Did God choose you, or did you choose God? Did God accept you, or did you accept God? Why are you a Christian while many of your friends, family members and neighbors are not? Did you choose better than they? Why? Is it because you're smarter, better, or more righteous than they are, or is it because God Almighty for His own glory, and by His own good pleasure sought you out and saved you by His Son Jesus Christ? Is salvation of you or is it of Christ? Is salvation wrought of God or is it wrought of men? Did Christ die for those He was unable to save? Is He the sovereign and personal God of all creation Who is able to fully save those who His Father gives unto Him, or is He an impotent beggar wringing His hands in heaven, helplessly pleading for men to accept Him and His ineffable gift of eternal life, powerless to save anyone?

The Bible’s concept of God is that HE IS GOD! He is fully in control of all things and all things transpire according to His perfect plan and will. Nothing that happens in the universe happens apart from it being ordained by God Himself, for His own purposes, for His own glory, and according to His own holy counsel, wisdom and knowledge. Those who teach that the God of the Holy Bible is simply “rolling the dice” and allowing things to fall where they may clearly have the wrong conception of the Almighty.

God is GRACIOUS in that He mercifully grants some men salvation, but it is not unfair that He does not grant ALL men salvation. All men are deserving of JUSTICE which is eternal damnation in hell, but miraculously God will save some, granting them pardon in His Son’s substitutionary death on the cross for all those who believe on Him by grace through faith alone. One cannot demand mercy, because it is up to the Judge to grant mercy. Some will receive mercy, and some receive justice, but all men are equally guilty covenant breakers until Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin becomes a propitiation for the sins of those who believe in Him by grace through faith alone, and are therefore miraculously “born-again”, justified and forgiven being once and for all and reconciled unto God.

Sadly there are many who teach that man can demand mercy and that God must grant that mercy based on repeating the so-called “sinner’s prayer”, being dunked beneath some tepid tap water, and possibly by eating a cracker and drinking some grape juice from time to time. These poor, misguided souls do greatly err because they don’t understand the scriptures, having their understanding darkened by their own worthless works which are as filthy rags before the Lord. They trust in themselves that they are righteous because they believe in their hearts they have done the “right” religious things based on their ”vain traditions of men” doctrines. These blind guides of the blind don’t realize that the professing church and the professing Christian aren’t synonymous with the TRUE Bride of Christ, the church invisible which is comprised of all true regenerate, born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are hidden within the broader false professing church. These “Churches of the Tares” lack the Holy Spirit and therefore lack discernment - thinking themselves wise when they are fools who are without God and without hope. These self-righteous man-centered works-based idolaters are those who will one day stand before the Infinite Creator and Judge of the Universe and hear the awful words ”Depart from me”. Smiling like crocodiles and with a glimmer in their eyes they send their deceived congregants home week after week singing of a heaven they'll never see and praising a Jesus Who will rebuke and condemn them on judgment day. But don’t worry about that right? After all, you said “the sinner’s prayer”, right? Sure…right…

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:23)

What does the Lord mean here when he rejects the workers of iniquity and who are they?

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.


Few there be that find it.

We can see that the Lord is rebuking a group of lawbreakers, a group who is guilty of committing lewdness, crookedness, and perverseness in contradistinction to being straight, upright, and moral according to God's Holy commandments. I should point out here that I'm not advancing a works based salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith and is a miraculous and sovereign work of God alone. Yet God's holy demands are irrevocable and it is His Spirit that empowers and enables the regenerate to holy and righteous living before His face.

It's interesting to note in the verses leading up to verse 23 a group is described who will call Jesus "Lord" and who will recite a litany of good works they've performed in His name. Still more interesting in this discourse we see that the Lord does not deny or make any effort to refute the works claimed, nor does he dispute that the lawbreakers did the works in His name, rather He simply commands them to depart from Him and summarily states that He never knew them! Clearly Jesus is the omniscient God Almighty so He mustn't mean that He has no idea who they are, rather He is unequivocally stating that He was never in a relationship with them. They are strangers to His covenant of grace, and hence are guilty and condemned covenant breakers.

I have little doubt that this stinging rebuke and rejection of the King of Glory strikes the unregenerate false believers as a complete and utter surprise.

They believed they knew Him! ”But, we recited the sinner’s prayer, Lord, we chose You and accepted You! We went to church every time the door was open and volunteered!”

They claimed their good works were performed in His name! ”But we got baptized right there in church and even got dunked a few extra times when we thought we might need to rededicate, plus we ate the crackers and drank the grape juice every week, and lots of people shouted a lot and prayed for us to be saved too! There must be a mistake here, check the book again, Jesus!”

And the Lord doesn't even deny their claims! Is there some mistake here? Is the Lord guilty of unreasonably and arbitrarily rejecting true, regenerate born-again Christian men and women? God forbid!

The truth of the matter is that the false believers pictured in this terrible and frightful verse in Matthew are typical of the sort of lukewarm works-righteousness Christian who is so prevalent in the modern professing church. Today's church is a hothouse within which "shallow root", "weedy" false Christians thrive. These are the tares sown by the enemy which spring up alongside the true wheat of the Lord. This is the false church which exists side by side with the true invisible church. These are the stooges and pawns of the enemy who trust in themselves that they are righteous. They are self righteousness exemplified, an object lesson in damnation. These ignore the Whole Counsel of God in favor of their own denominational sewage and heap hot coals upon their heads in the process.

I personally believe the Lord doesn't bother attempting to refute their works claims because their claims are truthful and accurate as far as they go. By the measure of man they probably did many admirable and noble works in the Lord's name during their time on the earth. They were probably model citizens, faithful church attendees, good parents, community volunteers, and cheerful givers. No doubt within their ranks were pastors, deacons, elders and church leaders and congregants of all stripes. I would imagine they were a congenial and generally wonderful group of people while on this side of glory. They likely quoted lots of scripture and thought themselves to be model Christians among Christians.

But they had a spiritual problem. They didn't know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

What does this verse mean? We can clearly see here that Jesus is addressing the very type of person who verbally and/or intellectually assents to Christ's truth claims, and has a form of godliness but who fails to submit to Him as Lord and Savior in spirit and in truth. This describes the exact types of false believers - the very same individuals - that are rejected by the Lord in Matthew 7:23!

Trusting in Jesus Christ as one's Lord and Savior isn't simply repeating a "sinner's prayer" or "believing in God". Trusting in Christ is believing God and acting on that belief through repentance and humble submission to His Word, the Whole Counsel of God, including His hard commands. It's the total abandonment of self to apprehend Christ and the rejection of the ”vain traditions of men” false religion which so easily ensnares the self-righteous idolaters.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

Jesus was serious about people surrendering their all in order to follow Him. He didn't preach a gospel that allows men to keep one foot in heaven and the other foot in the world, quite the opposite in fact. Jesus challenged men to be willing, able, and even eager to give up all their worldly comforts, their families, wives, children, reputations, inheritances, even their very lives if called upon by Him to do so. His message was so important, and His demands were so strident that scripture records how time and again He turned away the half-hearted adherents, the curious hangers-on, and "seekers" by the thousands. It’s HIS way and HIS Word that counts, not man’s corrupted, perverted, idolatrous, vain religiosity that says “I can save myself by making a decision for Jesus!”.

Clarkson says: One of the commandments of men is the doctrine of eternal security or the once saved/always saved teaching. Too many commandment of men followers do not stay in His word which marks true believers from the false one’s. “IF you abide in My words, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free”- John 8:31-32. “Sanctify (set them apart) by Your truth. Your word is truth”- John 17:17. Baptists, like the other cults, wrest Scripture to their own destruction. One such pastor once told this evangelist that if he joined his church he would have to disband his home church fellowship. I was also told that I could not celebrate communion weekly as has been my practice but instead I would have to fall under their umbrella of teachings. Needless to say I are not at that Baptist church. Now, why would I, as a former Nazarene pastor, desire to join a Baptist church in the first place?

John 8:31-32 is deeply misunderstood by those who would deny the plain teaching of Scripture in order that they might hold onto their ”vain traditions of men” idolatry that says: Man saves man!” By ripping the scriptures out of context and twisting them like a wax nose so that they fit within their false religion of works-righteousness framework these would teach that salvation itself is conditional upon the actions of sinful men! This lie is the very height of satanic hubris and wickedness! It literally drips with self righteousness and the idolatry of the heart! In fact the Lord is delineating that His true disciples WILL abide in His words from which we can infer that those who DO NOT abide in His words are not His disciples! There’s nothing confusing or mysterious about this fact. Christ Himself has said that no one can pluck His own from His Father’s hands. This is because the true believer is eternally secure and hidden in Christ Who Himself will see that His true disciples are saved to the uttermost and that they will in no wise be lost. With respect to John 17:17 the Son’s prayers are always answered by the Father and we can rest assured that His true sheep will absolutely be sanctified (set apart) by His truth and they will not heed the voice of another. This is yet another beautiful verse confirming the eternal security of the true believer in Christ.

Clarkson says: Denominations, by and large, practice the doctrines of whatever founder they might have and not necessarily the doctrines of the Bible. I don’t see eternal security taught in the Bible. One of the catch Bible verses Baptists use in that regard is Romans 8:35- “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He always loves us but mankind makes conscious choices as to whether or not they will follow Him. It is not enough to walk with Jesus or to come to Him with no intention of obeying Him. “Whoever does not bear his cross and come AFTER ME cannot be My disciple”- Luke 14:27.

Clearly this is true of the Nazarene church that was founded a little over 100 years ago. Lots of folks can’t see the truth of scripture as it’s taught in scripture, but that doesn’t make it any less true or any less there, instead it usually just points to the spiritual blindness of the reader. It’s interesting that one can’t see the Risen Christ as being able to keep those whom He saves secure in His care, but that same one can see men being able to “decide” to keep the faith based on their own “free will” apart from Christ’s power alone…interesting indeed, and wholly unbiblical I might add. This is a classic demonstration of gross self-righteousness and wicked sinful pride.

Clarkson says: Many walked with Jesus when they saw the signs which He did but Jesus did not commit Himself to them (John 2:23-24). How many “IF’S” did Jesus utilize in His teachings? What of the Holy Spirit? “The Spirit expressly (clearly) says that in latter times SOME WILL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils”- 1 Timothy 4:1. The Holy Spirit’s teachings in that regard are crystal clear so why aren’t more of the church following that lead? What seducing spirits and doctrines of devils do you crave? Could one be that of John Calvin?

These seducing spirits lead many professing Christians into grave error, especially inside the professing church! Men crave to be gods, therefore they heap to themselves false teachers who will tickle their ears with what they want to hear: “Anybody can be saved!” “Just say the sinner’s prayer!” “Come down front right now and we’ll pray with you so that you can be born again!” “Just repeat this prayer after me…” Liars! Thieves! Deceivers! Anathema! The day a sinful man thinks he can become his own savior by repeating a false prayer to a false god in his own wicked heart is the day wherein Satan greatly rejoices! Apart from being drawn of the Holy Spirit by the Father and being given to Son as the Triune God covenanted to do before time there is no salvation. Jesus Christ’s blood was shed as a 100% effective propitiation for the sins of those for whom He died, and those for whom He died are those whom were predestined by God to be partakers in His eternal kingdom whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundations of the world. This book isn’t being written, is has been written and the number who will be saved is being fulfilled according to God’s own holy, divine, perfect and unchanging will.

Clarkson says: I have some people that have written in to this ministry that believes the 10 Commandments is still in force today. “You who attempt to be justied by law, you have fallen from grace” Galatians 5:4 plus Romans 10:3-4, Galatians 2:21. That is crystal clear to me but what about you? There can be no doubt that the Holy Spirit was the speaker in question in that verse. Our ministry is not one that cares about pleasing men as we have been entrusted with the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:4-5) with no hidden agenda. Are you standing fast in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:8)?

Praise Jesus that He lived a perfectly sinless, righteous life that fulfilled God’s immutable, unchanging and unchangeable law which fully pleased His Father and Who willingly laid down his life so that His righteousness might be justly imputed to those who believe on Him by grace through faith alone fully justifying them before a Holy God, satisfying His holy wrath and justice which sin demands, and thereby perfectly and completely reconciling them unto Him forever and evermore!

Clarkson says: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us WHO ARE BEING SAVED, it is the power of God”- 1 Corinthians 1:18. Believers are in the process of being saved. No one has arrived yet as we are still in our flesh.

The Roman Catholic Church would happily agree that salvation is a process during which men cooperate with God to attain unto a right standing before Him, yet as we just saw above when touching on the atonement the Holy Bible clearly teaches that salvation is an instantaneous, specific event that occurs at a moment in time. One is not justified before God over time, it is an absolute announcement, a proclamation of ”NOT GUILTY!” for all those whose sins are covered by the perfect, sinless, atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the spotless, priceless Lamb of God when they are miraculously translated from spiritual death unto spiritual life and born-again of the Spirit. Certainly individual men are continually BEING SAVED at specific moments in time throughout the world as the glorious Gospel is proclaimed and God brings His formerly lost sheep into His fold, but salvation isn’t a process. You seem to have conflated salvation with sanctification which is the same gross error as is committed the RCC. I pray that you’ll quickly repent of this heresy.

Clarkson says: Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, AND WHEN HE IS WON, you make him twice the son of hell as yourselves”- Matthew 23:15. What happens when a Jehovah’s Witness brings a believer into their cult? Or a Christian Science person does the same thing? Does that believer stay a believer in the true Jesus Christ? Jesus says that a person can be won over to a cult which makes him twice the son of hell as themselves. That doesn’t sound much like eternal security to me! Of course, the Calvinist objection is, “Well, they were never really saved to begin with?” To those cultists out there I would sound this verse and I again repeat it for emphasis. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us WHO ARE BEING SAVED, it is the power of God”- 1 Corinthians 1:18. Not to those of us who “ARE” saved but to those of us who are “BEING” saved, which is a continual process. “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race the is set before us” Hebrews 12:1.

Again a sad failure to properly exegete scripture leads you into gross error. This is always the case with the unregenerate mind when it is confronted with the glorious truth of the Holy Writ. The scribes and Pharisees – and yes the cultists – do in fact “win” converts to their false systems of belief. Evidently even the Nazarenes can perform this feat. And the truth is that by their very actions these converts give evidence to the fact that, if they ever professed to be Christians, their professions of faith were utterly false as demonstrated by their unfaithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. We as runners in a race aren’t in competetion with other runners, we’re not even to look for how we may “measure up” to the other runners. Why is this? Because the mark, the measure, the comparison against which we are held is Jesus Christ Himself – in other words absolute perfection. We won’t achieve any such measure on this side of glory by our own powers or merit, but we who are true believers who have been purchased by His precious blood will run the race, faithfully, by His power alone until the very end which brings much glory to God.

Clarkson says: If eternal security exists for the believer why is there the need to run this race with endurance? “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith” Hebrews 12:2. “He that endures to the end will be saved”, but what happens if you “DON’T” endure to the end?

Then the fact that you were never truly His is evidenced for all to see. The fact that one was a tare sown by the enemy, a false convert, a shallow weedy unbeliever is made manifest by those who don’t endure to the end because those who do endure to the end are those who were empowered by the God alone to do so. All others who try by their own merits and through their own power to endure to the end will fail miserably in their self-righteous ”vain traditions of men” schemes heaping shame and condemnation upon their own heads. The true believer WILL endure to the end and run their race well because according to the scriptures God Himself will ensure it.

Clarkson says: “It is IMPOSSIBLE (Sorry, Dr. Schuller, but that word DOES exist in the Bible) for those who were ONCE enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, AND HAVE BECOME PARTAKERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, and have tasted the good word of God and of the powers of the age to come, IF THEY FALL AWAY, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify AGAIN for themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” Hebrews 6:4-6. I know there are many that explain away those verses as saying they applied specifically to Jewish Christians but the verse that says, “And have become partakers of the Holy Spirit” annuls that thinking. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, would come upon someone and then leave, but what about in the New Testament? “Of how much worse punishment do you suppose will be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”- Hebrews 10:29.

Sadly many read Hebrews 6:4-6 from their rebellious self-centered sin nature and exclaim, ”Aha! See, true believers can fall away, the Bible says so right there! Gotcha!” But this isn’t what the passage says at all, it’s only what the ”vain traditions of men” religionists will ALWAYS read into the passage from their own wicked, desperately sinful hearts because of their sin encrusted man-centered beliefs. What does Hebrews 6:4-6 really say? It only says that whoever satisfies the conditions listed and then withdraws from the faith cannot repent again. That’s what it says and that’s what it means. Does a true believer ever withdraw? It doesn’t say. Can a true believer ever withdraw from the faith? It doesn’t say. Has it ever happened? It doesn’t say. All we know for sure is that IF it were to happen (which this verse doesn’t say can or does happen) that person could not repent again. It’s only when men try to force their own views in between the lines of scripture and walk away with a message not in the scripture that anyone could twist Hebrews 6:4-6 into a proof text that true believers can indeed “fall away”. One has to approach this passage with an a priori motive which fully intends to come away with an unsupported “Aha!” interpretation in order to arrive at the unsupported conclusion that these verses disprove eternal security – when they manifestly don’t. For a deeper study on this subject I highly recommend reading Biblical Reflections on Hebrews 6 since those who point to this passage crying “you can fall away” are guilty of demanding that Christians must “hold onto” their salvation by their own power! These would say "The Risen Christ isn’t able to keep you secure, so you better take things into your own hands, brother!” The arrogance and self-righteousness of this type of perverse thinking is simply breathtaking!

Clarkson says: As for unconditional eternal security, there are a great many “IF’S” in the Bible that are tied to obedience. “You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. But IF anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him. We are not those who draw back to perdition but of those who believe in the saving of the soul” Hebrews 10:36-39. IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM BECAUSE THEY DRAW BACK TO PERDITION. Judas was one who drew back to perdition and was he a saved individual?

According to the Holy Bible Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas was “a devil” and that he was the “son of perdition” who was omnisciently chosen by Christ so that the scriptures might be fulfilled. If you’re actually uncertain about whether or not Judas Iscariot was a truly saved believer then you need to immediately stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and fall on your face before the Lord Jesus Christ and beg Him to save you, now! I’m not kidding, I’m pleading with you to please, please ask the Lord to have mercy on your soul and save you from your sins and trespasses. I’m fervently praying for you right now as I type these words because I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness and have no part in the kingdom of heaven.

Now back to the topic at hand, just as with Hebrews 6:4-6, what does Hebrews 10:36-39 say? It says IF anyone draws back. Do true believers draw back? It doesn’t say. Can false converts draw back? Surely they can because they were never true believers in the first place, and Judas Isacariot is a shameful example of exactly this type of professing believer who was never a true born-again believer.

Clarkson says: “If (that operative word again), after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (obedience and belief), they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them”- 2 Peter 2:20-21. That is why the Holy Spirit clearly warns the church about apostasy in the latter days for they have fallen away over seducing spirits which produce doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1). In effect, they have been taken captive by the devil to do his will all the while believing that they are saved individuals (2 Timothy 2:26).

There isn’t a even a hint of saving knowledge in this verse and I find it appalling that you would insert the words “obedience and belief” into the text when THEY DON’T APPEAR THERE! This is a shameful and deceitful tactic that’s most frequently employed by the arch-deceiver Satan himself. Lots of people come into the possession of a “head knowledge” of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Lots of people profess to be Christians and may even live out their lives as though they are His followers. And lots of those same people will be rejected and condemned by Him in judgment because all their knowledge stopped in their heads and never took root in their hearts. The devils believe in God and tremble - Satan’s theology is quite orthodox - and like the devil and his angels those who have head knowledge of God but are without the new heart that comes only from true spiritual rebirth by the unmerited gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone will find themselves cast into hell fire forever.

Clarkson says: In a few more days I shall post again on more specific material related to Calvinism.

I must say that I’m very excited about your forthcoming “specific material” because I’m truly enjoying these wonderful opportunities to shine the bright light of the Holy Writ upon the myriad errors, fabrications, and outright falsehoods that are being exposed by the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ in these ongoing posts. Please keep them coming!

In Christ,

Thursday, March 6, 2008

On Salvation

"Ye must be born again." (John 3:7)

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are "born again", for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it - the being "born again", is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou can hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been "born again", your acknowledgement will be, "O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, Thou art my spiritual Parent; unless Thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day 'dead in trespasses and sins'. My heavenly life is wholly derived from Thee, to Thee I ascribe it. 'My life is hid with Christ in God'. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me." May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.

This devotional was taken from "Morning and Evening" by C.H. Spurgeon.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Exposing Error: King James Onlyism 2

From Pulpit Magazine, a ministry of Shepherds' Fellowship:

We’ve noticed that the King James Only discussion has appeared in some of the recent comment threads. So we thought we would take a brief detour to address that issue, before continuing our study of the charismatic gifts. The following is a study our elders at Grace Community Church put together regarding the King James Version. This detour will take us just a few days, after which we will resume our discussion of the gifts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Exposing Error: King James Onlyism

A Response to a Brother in Christ: Dr. Morris' "Defense" of the King James Bible Reviewed by James White

The June, 1996 edition of Back to Genesis contains a short, 3-page article titled, Should Creationists Abandon the King James Version? The article, unfortunately, repeats the same erroneous arguments that KJV Only advocates have been putting forth for a number of years now. It is regrettable that Dr. Morris would lend his weight to these kinds of arguments. I was heartened, to some degree, a few years ago when Dr. Morris withdrew his endorsement of Gail Riplinger's book, New Age Bible Versions, a work that has been rejected as utterly inaccurate and without merit by nearly every knowledgeable Bible scholar and minister that has reviewed it. When I spoke with Dr. Morris at that time, he repeated his preference for the KJV, but admitted that he had not read Mrs. Riplinger's work well enough to realize what it really contained.

The arguments put forward by Dr. Morris are thoroughly examined and, in each case, refuted, in my full-length work, The King James Only Controversy (Bethany House, 1995). However, as the questions that are raised by Dr. Morris are common, I would like to comment on them in passing.

Dr. Morris, throughout the article, falls into the trap of making the KJV the "standard" by which all others are judged. The problem is, the KJV is not the standard, and cannot be the standard. Think about it for just a moment. Were there not translations before the KJV? Of course. Wycliffe, Tyndale, the Geneva Bible, the Bishops' Bible, and so forth, all served the needs of English speaking Christians prior to 1611. So why not choose one of these as the "standard"?

Continue reading here.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Perseverance of the Saints

by John F. MacArthur, Jr.

Peter's life exemplifies what the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints means in the life of a faltering believer. Christ's present intercessory prayers assure that genuine believers will be saved to the uttermost. This is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Those with true faith will not lead perfect lives, though some have attributed such a claim to proponents of working-faith salvation. The teaching of "once saved, always saved" may carry the false implication that after "accepting Christ" a person may live any kind of life and still be saved. That leaves out the doctrine of perseverance, which carries with it the need for a holy life. Peter in his first epistle furnishes six means through which God causes every Christian to persevere: by regenerating them to a living hope, by keeping them through His power, by strengthening them through tests of faith, by preserving them for ultimate glory, by motivating them with love for the Savior, and by saving them through a working faith. Quantification of how much failure the doctrine of perseverance allows is impossible, but Jesus did prescribe a way for the church to deal with a professing believer whose life sin had seemingly come to dominate.

In order to place the doctrine of perseverance in proper light we need to know what it is not. It does not mean that every one who professes faith in Christ and who is accepted as a believer in the fellowship of the saints is secure for eternity and may entertain the assurance of eternal salvation. Our Lord himself warned his followers in the days of his flesh when he said to those Jews who believed on him, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye truly my disciples, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). He set up a criterion by which true disciples might be distinguished, and that criterion is continuance in Jesus' Word.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Exposing Error: David Stewart

In the interest of providing a Biblical counterpoint to SPM 1's ongoing series on Reformed/Calvinist thought I'd like to offer the following analysis of their article entitled A Link on the Topic of Calvinism which back links to the article discussed in my post below.

From "What a mess! Calvinism…Hyper-Calvinism…Arminianism?" by David Stewart:

Stewart says: “The concept of original sin is demonic. We are NOT held accountable for Adam's sin, but we suffer because of his sin.”

I respond: Prove it with scripture! The Bible says:

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (Romans 5:14)

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Stewart says: “God told Adam and Eve that they would die the very day they ate of the forbidden fruit, but they didn't die when they ate the fruit (Genesis 2:17). Why didn't they die? They did die, but it was a spiritual death; not physical. Thus, every human being born into this world since Adam has been born spiritually dead, void of God. When a man is "born again," his dead spirit is made alive by God's Holy Spirit.”

I ask: What precisely does a dead man do for himself? Calvinists would fully affirm Stewart’s assessment of man’s spiritual death from birth since this is the plain, consistent teaching of scripture. So now we’re faced with a real dilemma; how can a dead man come to life either spiritually or physically?

Can the dead man ask for life? No, that’s impossible because he’s D-E-A-D.

Does he need to metaphorically “swallow the medicine” of the Gospel to cure the deadly illness of sin? No, he can’t swallow because he’s not merely sick, he’s D-E-A-D.

Like Lazarus being called forth the dead are only raised by the One True and Living God as evidenced by scripture. This applies to both physical death as we can see in the resurrection and spiritual death as we can see by sovereign, monergistic justification by grace through faith alone.

From whence is the fountainhead of grace? It is from God Himself.

From whence is faith? It is from God Himself.

From whence is justification? It is from God Himself.

From whence is salvation? It is the gift of God and not of works lest any man should boast. Is “choosing”, “accepting”, or “receiving” Christ a work? If so, is it a work of man or is it the work of God?

I ask: “Are you a Christian?” I surely hope your response would be affirmative. If so, do you know people; friends, relatives, acquaintances who are not Christians? I surely hope your response would be affirmative on this point as well. So now, I would ask another question; Why are you a Christian while your friends, relatives, and acquaintances are not?”

Did you choose better than they?

Are you smarter than they?

Are you wiser or more holy than they?

Are you in possession of greater knowledge about God and therefore in a better position to make an informed decision than they?

How can you explain the fact that you are a Christian while your friends, relatives and acquaintances are not apart from God's work of divine electing grace? The only remaining option is a form self-righteous pride couched in the subtle idolatry of a works based salvation, i.e. ”I chose correctly and they chose badly.” This is called synergism and is the belief that men cooperate with God to effect their own salvation. Incidentally this is the position taught by the Roman Catholic Church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Mormon LDS, practically every false religion on earth, and free will Arminianism as espoused by the majority of modern professing churches. You’ll find synergism taught nowhere in the Holy Bible.

Standing over against synergism is monergism. This is the belief that God alone saves those whom He will according to His own perfect and holy sovereign plan, for His own glory, and because of no intrinsic merit or worth that He sees that is in - or will be in - those sinners whom He miraculously translates from spiritual death unto spiritual life out of His boundless oceans of undeserved mercy, pity, and love. Salvation is all of God and is all of grace. This is the position taught by the Reformed/Calvinist professing churches and the Holy Bible.

Stewart says: ”Calvin misunderstood the Word of God. The Bible does indeed teach that it is IMPOSSIBLE for mankind to save himself. Mark 10:25-27 reads, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible). Yet, the Word of God also proclaims that "whosoever will" (anyone) can get saved, a view that Calvinists and Hyper-Calvinists do NOT hold. Romans 10:13 plainly teaches, "For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." It is certainly Biblical that salvation is absolutely 100% of God. We read in John 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." But for Calvinists and Hyper-Calvinists to teach that God is "selective" in choosing who will or won't be saved is certainly NOT Biblical. Titus 2:11 clearly teaches, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Did you read that...ALL men? Calvin believed that only certain sinners of God's choosing would be saved. Romans 10:13 plainly teaches that "WHOSOEVER" will may come to be saved (and Arminius believed this). John 3:16 proclaims that God loved the WORLD enough to send His only begotten Son to pay for our sins. Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism are wrong to teach that God chooses who will be saved.

I respond: Based on his reckless mishandling of scripture it’s clear that it is David Stewart who has misunderstood the Word of God. First Stewart affirms the scripture teaches the impossibility of mankind saving himself (i.e. becoming justified by his own actions), then he turns around and says that it possible for anyone to save himself (i.e. to become justified by his own actions)! Which is it? Stewart commits precisely the same error as all who hold a high view of man and a low view of scripture and that is to demand mercy from God. I wonder if Stewart is similarly offended that everyone everywhere wasn’t invited onto Noah’s ark before the flood? I wonder if Stewart is stewing over the fact that God made Israel His covenant people in the Old Testament instead of making everyone in the whole world His covenant people? Stewart continues in his unbroken pattern of error by wresting the scriptures and demanding that whosever will must mean that salvation depends on sinful men’s choices instead of a Holy God’s choice. Stewart says it isn’t Biblical to believe that God chooses who to save, even after he quotes the scriptures that teach no man can come to Christ unless the Father draws him! Amazing! How are these men to choose apart from God drawing them and how are they to be drawn unless God chooses to draw them? The absurdity is mind boggling! But foolishness, irrationality, and illogical gibberish are the hallmarks of the unregenerate and desperately sinful human mind when it is confronted with the truth of God’s Word.

According to his own argument Stewart ought to believe, like every Calvinist would affirm, that WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.", and then he should also believe that "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." There’s nothing even remotely contradictory in these statements. Those whom the Father draws to Christ will be the “whosoever” that shall call upon the name of the Lord and they shall be saved to the uttermost and shall in no wise be lost.

With this in mind unless he’s advocating the heresy of universalism – that everyone will be saved – then Stewart’s following statement doesn’t make any sense at all: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Did you read that...ALL men? Calvin believed that only certain sinners of God's choosing would be saved. Now I don’t think that Stewart believes everyone is going to be saved so I’m going to assume he’s simply confused here and thus fails to make any cogent point whatsoever.

Continuing Stewart says: John Calvin taught heresy when he taught that God chooses people to be saved. There is NOT one Scripture in the entire Word of God which teaches that God chooses anyone to be saved. The Bible teaches that all believers were predestined to "be conformed to the image of His Son," NOT predestined to salvation ("For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" -Romans 8:29). Calvinism teaches predestination unto salvation. This is unbiblical. God NEVER chooses anyone for salvation, Scriptures such as Acts 17:30 make this abundantly clear ("...but now commandeth all men every where to repent"). Why would God command ALL men to repent if only certain men have been chosen for salvation.

When refuting similar error espoused by Dave Hunt, James White of Alpha & Omega ministries inserted the following comments into a dialogue between himself and Hunt (White's comments in bold): Indisputably, the phrases themselves which are represented by the first four letters in the acronym TULIP never appear in the entire Bible. [Neither does the word Trinity, nor “pre-tribulation rapture” to use a term you frequently utilize, but as anyone can see, the use of specific terms is not the issue: the phrase “free will” does not appear in the context of man’s alleged ability to freely choose or reject Christ, either. The issue is, does the Bible teach the concept that is described by phrases like Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, etc.] That fact should speak volumes. [It doesn’t] Where is it stated in plain words that men are by nature incapable of believing the gospel or of seeking God? [That would be John 6:44, Romans 8:7-8, and Romans 3:10-11, just to name a few representative samples] Where does it say in clear language that men are chosen unconditionally to salvation [Ephesians 1:3-11, Romans 8:28-31, etc.], or that grace is irresistible [every passage that describes the work of salvation as a divinely powerful and radical change, such as the removal of the heart of stone and the giving of a heart of flesh (Eze. 36:26) or the giving of life to the dry bones (Eze. 37) and every passage that says that we are saved by grace alone (Eph. 1:6) teach the divine power of saving grace, which is all irresistible grace is about] or that Christ died only for a select few? [We do not believe it is a few, we believe it was for all the elect, which no man can number, and the plain words would be such passages as Matthew 1:21, Romans 8:31-34, Eph. 5:25, etc.] Where does it say explicitly that one must be sovereignly regenerated without any understanding or faith before one can understand and believe the gospel? [This is the constant misrepresentation of the Reformed position that is found throughout your work. God uses the proclamation of the gospel as the means of bringing the knowledge of Christ to His elect. The fact that regeneration precedes saving faith is found in numerous passages, such as John 1:12-13, 1 John 5:1, etc., and is likewise substantiated by the description of faith as a gift given by God, Phil. 1:29] The Calvinist cannot produce for any part of TULIP a clear, unambiguous statement from any part of Scripture! [That is wishful thinking, Dave, and has been refuted above] Calvinism must therefore be imposed upon certain texts because it cannot be derived from any. [An assertion that any person who has taken the time to read both sides knows is far beyond any kind of rational basis]

And with respect to Stewart’s concern about Acts 17:30 we can easily see commands throughout scripture that God gives despite His knowledge that men will not and cannot keep them. This truth ought to drive men to their knees in contrition and repentance before God, not make them haughty and self righteous resulting in their mimicking of the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the tax collector who nevertheless smote his breast and went home justified. Acts 17:30 is succinctly explained here by the Reformation Theology blog.

Thus saith David Stewart: There really is NO debate concerning Arminianism, Calvinism, and Hyper-Calvinism if you simply take the Word of God at face value...they're all messed up!

And again: Calvinism is unbiblical heresy!

I respond: I partially agree with Stewart's first statement (Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism are all messed up), and I know where and why I agree and disagree with him. But I don’t know how grounded his other readers may be in the scriptures and apparently Stewart is quite fond of making numerous false, bald assertions that have no basis in reality whatsoever – and he doesn’t seem terribly bothered by this bad habit - although his readership should be.

Stewart continues: The Bible teaches universal atonement. Like it or not, the Word of God is our Final Authority, NOT Spurgeon or any other man. 1st John 2:2 reads, ""And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 2nd Corinthians 5:15, "And that he died for all..." We read in 1st Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. The Word of God proclaims that Christ came to save sinners, not just certain sinners. Listen to the plain teaching of 2nd peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." This Scripture clearly reveals that it is possible for ALL men to repent. God is NOT willing for any to perish. If Calvinism is correct, then how can you reconcile God's desire for all men to repent if He only predestinates certain of them to salvation? Calvinism makes no sense at all.

Actually it’s Stewart that doesn’t make sense, and he clearly hasn’t bothered to actually learn anything substantive about Calvinism apart from the boogey-man stories he seems to have been taught by his vain traditions of men religion. Stewart demonstrates that he doesn’t bother to study and show himself approved by utterly failing to note the context in which “the whole world” and similar verses he points toward are used. In their original contexts they are used to explain to the ethnically Jewish Christians who comprised most of the early church that salvation had come to the Gentiles (the world) as opposed to being limited strictly to the children of Israel, who were theretofore God’s only and unique covenant people.

Additionally Stewart’s theology is shown to be absolutely wretched because if the atonement is universal - as he claims - then it necessarily follows that salvation must be universal as well. This is because Christ’s shed blood is a 100% effective propitiation for sin, meaning all those for whom His blood was shed will be saved. Therefore if He died for everyone in general and no one in particular then everyone in general must be saved or else the Father is made to be a liar, casting men into hell for whom Christ died. This also makes the church, the bride of Christ, an absurdity because it means Christ didn’t have a specific group (the church) in mind when He gave His life as a ransom for many. Since Christ was and is omniscient God, and since according to Stewart Christ had the whole world in mind as recipients of His blood sacrifice, and if the Father then doesn’t draw all men to Jesus, resulting in some of them being lost and cast into hell, then based on Stewart’s theology Christ’s suffering and death on the cross was a failure of cosmic proportions! If Stewart is correct then it means some of those “world in general” types Jesus had in view on the cross will not be saved meaning He will have failed to accomplish His redemptive task. And he says Calvinism makes no sense?

The truth is that unless he espouses the heresy of universalism then Stewart himself must believe in a limited atonement; that atonement being limited to those within the professing church. In this case a limited atonement must be in view for every professing Christian, the scope of that limitation being the only point in dispute.

Stewart says: Furthermore, God never forces anyone to be saved. Not one instance in the Word of God is found where God forced anyone to get saved. Again, Titus 2:11 declares that the grace of God that brings salvation appears to ALL humanity. Psalm 19:1-3 clearly teaches that nature itself testifies of the goodness of God. Romans 1:20 teaches that God's eternal power and Godhead are CLEARLY presented in God's creation. Therefore, all men are without excuse. The Door of salvation is open to all, and that Door is Jesus Christ. Anyone may enter, but God will NOT force a man to be saved. Calvin taught heresy. Jesus clearly exposes the lie of irresistible grace when he said in John 5:40, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Jesus said, "ye WILL NOT"; He didn't say, "ye CANNOT!"

I respond: Again Calvinists affirm that God doesn’t force anyone to be saved. This is because no one naturally desires salvation or the things of God. Men naturally loathe and reject anything to do with God because they’re desperately wicked and self-righteous desiring to be gods themselves. It’s only by the effective regenerating power of the Holy Spirit on the elect that empowers them to approach God and become recipients of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It’s not as if God is withholding something from men that they desire, no one naturally desires Him apart from His effectual drawing. This is why Jesus could rightly claim that men will not come to him, because they WON’T (will not). Men WILL NOT “self-will” themselves to come to God, because only God can will them to come to Himself. Clearly by implication and simple inference we can see that if men will not come to God of their own accord apart from God drawing them to Himself, then it follows that they CANNOT come to Him apart from His drawing either.

Sadly David Stewart's article was so filled with shameful exegesis, blatant errors, gross distortions, and outright falsehoods that it would take days to point out and refute them all. Given the examples above I believe I've offered sufficient scriptural evidence to refute David Stewart's error riddled man-centered theology, therefore I’m going to leave off by simply asking anyone who happens to follow the link to the original article to take a discerning look at David Stewart’s home page and carefully consider the totality of his online "ministry" in the light of the manifold errors contained in the poor offering we've covered today.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

On Doctrine

Andew Clarkson over at Spiritual Pathways Ministries 1 is beginning a March series on Calvinism. I'm hoping to participate in a spirited exchange with Andrew and David Norris on this subject, in particular as the discussion relates to the doctrines of grace as expounded by the statistical minority of Reformed/Calvinist believers which stand over and against the doctrines of free will Arminianism which are espoused by the vast majority of the broader professing church.

Clarkson's first installment is entitled Calvinism - Prologue: "Manichaeism". In my view the foundation laid in this article is an unveiled effort to disparage Calvin's character through "guilt by association" tactics which are clearly intended to cast doubt on Reformed theology as articulated by John Calvin on the basis of views held by some of his contemporaries coupled with his own experiences in the Roman Catholic Church from which, by the grace of God alone, he separated himself. At best this is shaky ground from which to launch an intellectual/Biblical assault, and at worst it's a rank example of the logical fallacy of ad hominem. I'm a firm believer in earnestly discussing our doctrinal positions and reasoning from the Holy Scriptures since this is the only way to arrive at God's revealed truth.

Certainly few would argue that John Calvin was a "saint" or some similar Christ figure - he wasn't. He was a depraved sinner in desperate need of a Savior like all men apart from Jesus Christ Himself. Fewer still would argue that the Reformation ended with Calvin and that there's no more reforming to be done in the church. I am personally on record bemoaning the sad fact that the Reformers didn't do enough to cut clean the poisoned umbilical cord that tied the early Protestant church to Rome with such absurdly unscriptural doctrines as infant baptism and transubstantiation.

But regardless of the sins of the man there's no disputing that the Holy Bible itself is the source of the doctrines of grace, not John Calvin or any other human being. Some would argue that the doctrines of grace, as perhaps best articulated by John Calvin, are unbiblical concepts that were simply cobbled together by an error ridden wolf in sheep's clothing. These will often claim that they are merely following the truth where it leads - taking the high road - in contradistinction to being beholden to unseemly "doctrines of men". Yet isn't it interesting that many of the same individuals who make this claim follow after the error ridden teachings of Joseph Arminius and his modern day spiritual offspring?

I'm looking forward to your series, guys.