Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watchman or Gossip?

[Love] “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1Corinthians 13:6)

Herescope asks some penetrating questions on the subject of Watchman or Gossip?

How do we react to the news of the fall of Christians, or to the rumor of the latest heresy that comes out of the camp of the false teachers? Do we take delight in pouncing on the latest tidbit of scandal and spreading it as wide as possible? Or do we react like David and Samuel did?

This article is a must read for those who value Biblical discernment while desiring to maintain our Christian resolve toward charity - both of which are admonished by scripture. May we who are called by the Name of the LORD be ever mindful that we are sinners saved by grace and that even God's truth can be professed without love and without balance.

Continue reading "Watchman or Gossip?" here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ten Effects of Believing in the Five Points of Calvinism

by Dr. John Piper
(April 20, 2002)

These ten points are my personal testimony to the effects of believing in the five points of Calvinism. I have just completed teaching a seminar on this topic and was asked by the class members to post these reflections so they could have access to them. I am happy to do so. They, of course, assume the content of the course, which is available on tape from Desiring God Ministries, but I will put them here for wider use in the hope that they might stir others to search, Berean-like, to see if the Bible teaches what I call "Calvinism."

1. These truths make me stand in awe of God and lead me into the depth of true God-centered worship.
I recall the time I first saw, while teaching Ephesians at Bethel College in the late '70's, the threefold statement of the goal of all God's work, namely, "to the praise of the glory of his grace" (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

It has led me to see that we cannot enrich God and that therefore his glory shines most brightly not when we try to meet his needs but when we are satisfied in him as the essence of our deeds. "From him and through him and to him are all things. To him the glory forever" (Romans 11:36). Worship becomes an end in itself.

It has made me feel how low and inadequate are my affections, so that the Psalms of longing come alive and make worship intense.

2. These truths help protect me from trifling with divine things.
One of the curses of our culture is banality, cuteness, cleverness. Television is the main sustainer of our addiction to superficiality and triviality.

God is swept into this. Hence the trifling with divine things.

Earnestness is not excessive in our day. It might have been once. And, yes, there are imbalances in certain people today who don't seem to be able to relax and talk about the weather.

Robertson Nicole said of Spurgeon, "Evangelism of the humorous type [we might say, church growth of the marketing type] may attract multitudes, but it lays the soul in ashes and destroys the very germs of religion. Mr. Spurgeon is often thought by those who do not know his sermons to have been a humorous preacher. As a matter of fact there was no preacher whose tone was more uniformly earnest, reverent and solemn" (Quoted in The Supremacy of God in Preaching, p. 57).

3. These truths make me marvel at my own salvation.
After laying out the great, God-wrought salvation in Ephesians 1, Paul prays, in the last part of that chapter, that the effect of that theology will be the enlightenment of our hearts so that we marvel at our hope, and at the riches of the glory of our inheritance, and at the power of God at work in us – that is, the power to raise the dead.

Every ground of boasting is removed. Brokenhearted joy and gratitude abound.

The piety of Jonathan Edwards begins to grow. When God has given us a taste of his own majesty and our own wickedness, then the Christian life becomes a thing very different than conventional piety. Edwards describes it beautifully when he says,

The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope, and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior (Religious Affections, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959, pp. 339f).

4. These truths make me alert to man-centered substitutes that pose as good news.
In my book, The Pleasures of God (2000), pp. 144-145, I show that in the 18th century in New England the slide from the sovereignty of God led to Arminianism and thence to universalism and thence to Unitarianism. The same thing happened in England in the 19thcentury after Spurgeon.

Iain Murray's Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1987), p. 454, documents the same thing: "Calvinistic convictions waned in North America. In the progress of the decline which Edwards had rightly anticipated, those Congregational churches of New England which had embraced Arminianism after the Great Awakening gradually moved into Unitarianism and universalism, led by Charles Chauncy."

You can also read in J. I. Packer's Quest for Godliness (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), p. 160, how Richard Baxter forsook these teachings and how the following generations reaped a grim harvest in the Baxter church in Kidderminster.

These doctrines are a bulwark against man-centered teachings in many forms that gradually corrupt the church and make her weak from the inside, all the while looking strong or popular.

1 Timothy 3:15, "The church of the living God [is] the pillar and bulwark of the truth."

5. These truths make me groan over the indescribable disease of our secular, God-belittling culture.
I can hardly read the newspaper or look at a TV ad or a billboard without feeling the burden that God is missing.

When God is the main reality in the universe and is treated as a non-reality, I tremble at the wrath that is being stored up. I am able to be shocked. So many Christians are sedated with the same drug as the world. But these teachings are a great antidote.

And I pray for awakening and revival.

And I try to preach to create a people that are so God-saturated that they will show and tell God everywhere and all the time.

We exist to reassert the reality of God and the supremacy of God in all of life.

6. These truths make me confident that the work which God planned and began, he will finish – both globally and personally.
This is the point of Romans 8:28-39.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

7. These truths make me see everything in the light of God's sovereign purposes – that from him and through him and to him are all things, to him be glory forever and ever.
All of life relates to God. There's no compartment where he is not all-important and the one who gives meaning to everything. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Seeing God's sovereign purpose worked out in Scripture, and hearing Paul say that "he accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11) makes me see the world this way.

8. These truths make me hopeful that God has the will, the right, and the power to answer prayer that people be changed.
The warrant for prayer is that God may break in and change things – including the human heart. He can turn the will around. "Hallowed be thy name" means: cause people to hallow your name. "May your word run and be glorified" means: cause hearts to be opened to the gospel.

We should take the New Covenant promises and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and in our neighbors and among all the mission fields of the world.

"God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give him a new heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 11:19).

"Lord, circumcise their hearts so that they love you" (Deuteronomy 30:6).

"Father, put your spirit within them and cause them to walk in Your statutes" (Ezekiel 36:27).

"Lord, grant them repentance and the knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil" (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

"Father, open their hearts so that they believe the gospel" (Acts 16:14).

9. These truths reminds me that evangelism is absolutely essential for people to come to Christ and be saved, and that there is great hope for success in leading people to faith, but that conversion is not finally dependent on me or limited by the hardness of the unbeliever.
So it gives hope to evangelism, especially in the hard places and among the hard peoples.

John 10:16, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also. They will heed my voice."

It is God's work. Throw yourself into it with abandon.

10. These truths make me sure that God will triumph in the end.
Isaiah 46:9-10, "I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand that I will accomplish all my purpose'"

Putting them altogether: God gets the glory and we get the joy.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:
Email: Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

A False Gospel Leads to Damnation


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Insufficiency of the Simplicity of the Gospel…

...or "When Did the Church Lose Faith in Grace?"

I've been amazed and saddened by the all out attack on the simplicity of the Eternal Gospel of Grace that's been launched over the past several days because one Ray Comfort, a well known, orthodox, and faithful bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ has accepted an invitation again (and much to the chagrin of some) to preach the foolishness of the cross at an upcoming Word of Faith conference. Ray Comfort is an evangelist who, as far as I can tell, faithfully presents the uncompromised and eternal gospel of grace whereby God is pleased to supernaturally and miraculously convert deadened, hell bound sinners into lively stones fitly joined together.

Maybe I'm just terribly dense on this matter, and perhaps a loving brother or sister in the Lord out there can help me to understand, but I’m still looking for ONE scriptural precedent wherein ministers of the gospel EVER placed preconditions or caveats upon the faithful proclamation of the eternal gospel of grace under ANY circumstances; or perhaps for ONE scriptural case wherein any believer or group of believers are exhorted in the scriptures to place certain “in advance” demands or prerequisites upon another believer prior to his ministering of the gospel. It seems to me that something this important wouldn’t have been overlooked in the Bible say, for example, when the Lord Jesus Christ gave the Great Commission. Bravo to those who are willing and able to boldly stand on the infallible Word of God and faithfully proclaim His pure and eternal gospel of grace at every opportunity and especially in the face of opposition - whatever its source - for they are being faithful to King Jesus and His Great Commission to the praise of His glory alone forever and evermore. For men to add preconditions or caveats to another man's faithful presentation of the pure gospel is simply without biblical precedent.

I’m also still a bit confused as to why some sovereign grace Christians apparently seem to believe that the Lord God Omnipotent is so powerless and thoughtless that He would miraculously regenerate His elect through the faithful proclamation of His eternal gospel of grace and then simply abandon His child to “drink spiritual poison” allowing them to languish underneath false teaching thus becoming unfaithful to His promise to finish the good work that He has begun (Philippians 1:6). Can someone help me out here? What love is this? What happened to sovereign grace?

Why has the conception of the absolutely sovereign One True and Living God of the Holy Bible become so small as to think that the power of His eternal gospel of grace needs a little help from sinful men to REALLY get the point across because, well, you know, people are REALLY deceived by Satan?

When did the church begin believing the lie that Satan’s power of deception is greater than the One True and Living God’s gospel power of salvation? Our God is God. Our God reigns. He sits in the heavens and does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3). When did the church begin ascribing God’s attributes to the enemy?

The power of the eternal gospel of grace is more than sufficient to overcome all the wiles and deceits of the enemy by God’s power alone. Have faith! May those who are called by the name of the Lord of Glory never be found standing in opposition to the faithful proclamation of His Eternal Gospel of grace!

The eternal gospel of grace faithfully presented is more than sufficient and it is in fact God’s chosen means whereby sinners are supernaturally and miraculously converted to faith in Jesus Christ by grace through faith in Him alone. God’s power to save His elect from every kingdom, tribe, tongue and nation is omnipotent and is able to save His chosen to the uttermost.

It seems to me that if one wishes to quote Jude 3 (as some have) as a proof text against those who would boldly and faithfully proclaim the eternal gospel to ANYONE, ANYWHERE then let’s please continue to read on down through verses 21-23 and then let’s be obedient to the WHOLE COUNSEL of God. The same goes for 2 Cor. 6:14-18 – I think all discerning, orthodox, Bible-believing Christians would agree the WoF cultists aren’t in the church so in its proper context this application fails the "proof text test" as well as this text is clearly referring to brothers and sisters inside the church who are living in sinful immorality and does not refer to those outside the church – even if they claim to be “true Christians” (i.e. Mormons and JW’s). Lastly 2 John 10-11 has exactly nothing to do with the situation at hand because the admonishment herein is to not receive such people into the church (and at the time of writing most likely admonished against receiving such into the house churches in a spirit of Christian hospitality and fellowship which cannot be applied to unbelievers) which is the exact reverse of faithfully going out into the world and preaching the gospel unto unsaved false believers (such as WoF cultists) with a bold and unflinching faith that God will save those whom He has elected by His sovereign grace and power alone.

It has pleased the Lord to draw His children, whom He has foreknown from the foundations of the world, by the foolishness of the preaching of the cross.

The eternal gospel is the answer to the WoF heretics.

The eternal gospel is the solution to culture.

The eternal gospel is God’s chosen means whereby sinful, wretched, hopelessly lost sinners are miraculously and supernaturally converted into lively stones fitly joined together. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!

All the discernment in the world doesn’t matter a bit apart from the all-redeeming power of the glorious gospel of grace. Certainly the WoF’ers are ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing and ought to be soundly and roundly rebuked by true Bible believing, blood bought Christians everywhere - HOWEVER - when in our sincerest moments we should find that we begin to place preconditions on the PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL then we find ourselves in a spiritual no-man’s land. In fact if we are ever to be found in such a sorry estate then we will also be found to be standing over and against the Great Commission of our glorious Lord and Savior. May such a thing never be named among those who believe on Him and Him alone.

Did Paul “give credence” to the unbelieving Jews when he preached the gospel from synagogue to synagogue or when he earnestly contended for the faith during his Mars Hill Discourse with the Athenian philosophers? Did his preaching there place the Athenian philosopher’s beliefs “on equal footing” with the eternal gospel?

Or what about Peter; did he “give credence” to the unbelievers to whom he preached the very first Christian sermon on the Day of Pentecost? Did his preaching there place his hearer’s false beliefs “on equal footing” with the eternal gospel?

Or how about the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; when he accepted invitations and ate with harlots, sinners, and tax collectors (without preconditions); did He “give credence” to their debauched lifestyles or did He share the good news of the kingdom of God with them? Is the Lord Jesus Christ guilty of putting their sinful lifestyles “on equal footing” with His own eternal gospel?

Again could someone please share just ONE example from scriptures where it seemed good to the Holy Spirit to refuse the proclamation of the eternal gospel of grace to sinners?

As men's souls are enlightened by God alone through the hearing of the true and faithful proclamation of the eternal gospel of grace alone then God and God alone will ensure that He finishes the good work that He has begun in His elect. This is the very foundation of the doctrines of grace - that salvation is God wrought meaning that our salvation, sanctification, and ultimate glorification is ALL OF GRACE!

It isn't up to Ray Comfort to correct the erroneous beliefs to which the WoF adherents hold - this ought to be crystal clear because according to the scriptures unregenerate sinners have no spiritual discernment! This is the work of the Holy Spirit’s power of regeneration by grace through faith which comes by the hearing of the Word of God. And how will they believe without a preacher?

What possible good could a clever oratory on spiritual discernment and the manifold heresies of the WoF heretics do for their deceived adherents who probably haven't even heard a faithful proclamation of the eternal gospel of grace and thus are dead in their trespasses and sins and spiritually blinded? NONE! God bless Ray Comfort and may the Lord grant that he present a faithful proclamation of the true gospel of the REAL Jesus Christ to those WoF'ers and let us pray that it might please the Lord to save some of His elect who are in attendance there from their present miserable estate of bondage and oppression by His Gospel power alone!

Sadly it seems that this matter with Ray Comfort began - and evidently continues - because some people seem to think that the faithful preaching and presentation of the WHOLE GOSPEL OF GRACE is in some way insufficient.

In fact this position has been articulated to me in private and it is also available for public view as you can see here in this comment: "Ray, You Have To Warn, Not Just Preach the Gospel". (You'll need to click READ MORE FEEDBACK and scroll down to read this comment in its entirety.)

...not "just" preach the gospel?!?


This is the real touch point where this whole controversy started, that somehow the gospel itself, properly and faithfully presented is INSUFFICIENT in some way which is, of course, a lie from the pit of hell. In fact it's hard for me to imagine a more man-centered and anti-christian sentiment than to say “the gospel just isn't enough”.

No, it's MORE than enough since it's the very means whereby God in His sovereign wisdom and good pleasure has been chosen to supernaturally and miraculously enable unworthy, sinful men not only get to go to have their sins forgiven, not only to get to go to heaven, not only to enjoy eternal life, not only possess the treasure of eternal joy away from the presence of sorrow and sin, but to possess the TRUE treasure of eternal joy beholding the unveiled and unspeakably majestic glory of the One True and Living God in the face of Jesus Christ forever and evermore.

To think that a faithful presentation of the pure gospel needs "just a little help"; or just a little “something more” from Ray Comfort - or any other sinful man or woman for that matter - is shockingly unscriptural and in my mind represents a pathetically low and unbiblical view of the omnipotent, omniscient, absolutely holy, just, righteous, infinite, only wise One True and Living God of the Holy Bible.

He and His gospel are more than able.

He and His gospel are more than enough.

He and His gospel are more than sufficient.

And, as any true believer would agree, His chosen method of converting sinners is the faithful presentation of His gospel of grace.

With this in mind let's join together and pray for Ray Comfort and all those who are willing to go anywhere and preach to anyone about the wondrous good news of the kingdom of God in fulfillment of Christ's Great Commission regardless of their reputations or whether or not they "get invited back again". The measure is God's glory as His eternal gospel is faithfully proclaimed, not the results or responses or opinions of wicked, fallen men and women.

In closing there is, however, at least one viable argument that could be made if one were to consider the fact that 2 Cor is a FOLLOW UP to 1 Cor in which case we can look back and see another possibility (one which I think may be in play in this whole dust up) which is that Ray’s attendance at the conference is causing his brothers and sisters who are weaker in the faith to stumble (1 Cor 10:27-28). In this case Ray’s appearance definitely is given scriptural grounds for pause, but in all other complaints that I’ve seen lodged thus far the charges are simply out of context non-sequiturs and unbiblical straw man arguments.

It would seem, therefore, that if one actually wanted to make a compelling case as to why Ray shouldn’t preach the gospel (or “appear with” or “share the platform with” or whatever) at the upcoming WoF conference then someone should write to him and tell him that they’re weak in their faith and it will cause them to stumble if he does so.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Power of the Gospel

"But Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods." - Exodus 7:12

This incident is an instructive emblem of the sure victory of the divine handiwork over all opposition. Whenever a divine principle is cast into the heart, though the devil may fashion a counterfeit, and produce swarms of opponents, as sure as ever God is in the work, it will swallow up all its foes. If God's grace takes possession of a man, the world's magicians may throw down all their rods; and every rod may be as cunning and poisonous as a serpent, but Aaron's rod will swallow up their rods. The sweet attractions of the cross will woo and win the man's heart, and he who lived only for this deceitful earth will have an eye for the upper spheres, and a wing to mount into celestial heights. When grace has won the day the worldling seeks the world to come. The same fact is to be observed in the life of the believer. What multitudes of foes has our faith had to meet! Our old sins - the devil threw them down before us, and they turned to serpents. What hosts of them! Ah, but the cross of Jesus destoys them all. Faith in Christ makes short work of all our sins. Then the devil has launched forth another host of serpents in the form of worldly trials, temptations, unbelief; but faith in Jesus is more than a match for them, and overcomes them all. The same absorbing principle shines in the faithful service of God! With an enthusiastic love for Jesus difficulties are surmounted, sacrifices become pleasures, sufferings are honors. But if religion is thus a consuming passion in the heart, then it follows that there are many persons who profess religion but have it not; for what they have will not bear this test. Examine yourself, my reader, on this point. Aaron's rod proved its heavengiven power. Is your religion doing so? If Christ be anything He must be everything. O rest not till love and faith in Jesus be the master passions of your soul!

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