Archive for the ‘Reformed Theology’ Category

…for a more substantive assessment of Whitefield’s preaching, we turn to a fellow believer, and a fellow evangelical, a fellow Anglican, and a fellow Calvinist: J.C. Ryle (1816-1900). In his short book on Whitefield, Ryle gives six characteristics of Whitefield’s preaching:

1. A Pure Gospel.
First and foremost, you must remember Whitefield preached a singularly pure gospel. Few men ever gave their hearers so much wheat and so little chaff. He did not get into his pulpit to talk about his party, his cause, his interest, or his office. He was perpetually telling you about your sins, your heart, and Jesus Christ, in the way that the Bible speaks of them. “Oh, the righteousness of Jesus Christ,” he would frequently say; “I must bo excused if I mention it in almost all my sermons!” This, you may be sure, is the corner stone of all preaching that God honors. It must be preeminently a manifestation of truth.”

– See more at:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/2009/12/happy-birthday-george-whitefield/

Here’s a snippet:

” The same question arising in verse 1 surfaces here again: Does “all people” (πάντας ἀνθρώπους; v. 4) refer to every person without exception or to every person without distinction? The Reformed have traditionally defended the latter option.5 Sometimes this exegesis is dismissed as special pleading and attributed to Reformed biases. Such a response is too simplistic, for there are good contextual reasons for such a reading. A focus on all people without distinction is supported by verse 7, where Paul emphasizes his apostleship and his ministry to the Gentiles: “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” Hence, there are grounds in the context for concluding that “all people” zeros in on people groups, so that Paul is reflecting on his Gentile mission. In Acts 22:15 (NIV), when Paul speaks of being a witness “to all people” (πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους), he clearly does not mean all people without exception; “all” refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles in his mission (Acts 22:21).”

Read the rest at link below :
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/problematictexts.html

Regeneration

Posted: October 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christian Theology, Christianity, Discipleship, Reformed Theology

Regeneration (excerpt) by Matthew Barrett

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit to unite the elect sinner to Christ by breathing new life into that dead and depraved sinner so as to raise him from spiritual death to spiritual life, removing his heart of stone and giving him a heart of flesh, so that he is washed, born from above and now able to repent and trust in Christ as a new creation. Moreover, regeneration is the act of God alone and therefore it is monergistic in nature, accomplished by the sovereign act of the Spirit apart from and unconditioned upon man’s will to believe. In short, man’s faith does not cause regeneration but regeneration causes man’s faith.

In Deuteronomy 30:6 we read, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” If the circumcision of the heart refers to regeneration (cf. Rom. 2:25–27), then to what purpose does God promise to circumcise the heart? He circumcises the heart “so that” his people will love the Lord. The Lord does not circumcise their hearts “because” they acted in repentance and faith by loving the Lord. Rather, it is God’s sovereign act of circumcising the heart that causes the sinner to love him. Nowhere in Deuteronomy 30:6 do we see any indication that God’s sovereign act of circumcising the heart is conditioned on the will of man to believe. Rather, it is quite the opposite. The Lord must first circumcise the heart so that the sinner can exercise a will that believes.

– Matthew Barrett, from his booklet, What is Regeneration? by P&R Publishing

 

HT:Reformation Theology

For Calvin, salvation flows from our union with the living and exalted Jesus. Unless he dwells in us, and we in him, his death, resurrection, and exaltation are of no value to us. In other words, the Spirit unites us to Jesus, our Benefactor, who bestows on us the benefits won through his accomplishment.

Calvin applies these biblical and theological insights to the relation of justification and sanctification:

Although we may distinguish them, Christ contains both of them inseparably in himself. Do you wish, then, to attain righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he cannot be divided into pieces (1 Cor. 1:13). Since, therefore, it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness (Institutes, 3.16.1).

Read the whole piece here

“Reader, would you have more faith? Then seek to become more acquainted with Jesus Christ. Study your blessed Savior more and more, and strive to know more of the length and breadth and height of His love. Study Him in all His offices, as the Priest, the Physician, the Redeemer, the Advocate, the Friend, the Teacher, the Shepherd of His believing people.

Study Him as one who not only died for you—but is also living for you at the right hand of God; as one who not only shed His blood for you—but daily intercedes for you at the right hand of God; as one who is soon coming again for you, and will stand once more on this earth.

The miner who is fully persuaded that the rope which draws him up from the pit will not break, is drawn up without anxiety and alarm. The believer who is thoroughly acquainted with the fullness of Jesus Christ, is the believer who travels from grace to glory with the greatest comfort and peace.”

– J. C. Ryle, Faith in Christ

Pride Destroyers , Doctrines of Grace

Posted: August 14, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Reformed Theology

“What are the ‘doctrines of grace’ and why do they matter? Such is like asking, “What does the Bible teach about the very heart of the gospel, and does it matter one way or the other?” The doctrines of grace are the biblical teachings that define the goal and means of God’s perfect work of redemption. They tell us that God is the one who saves, for His own glory, and freely. And they tell us that He does so only through Christ, only on the basis of His grace, only with the perfection that marks everything the Father, Son, and Spirit do. The doctrines of grace separate the Christian faith from the works-based religions of men. They direct us away from ourselves and solely to God’s grace and mercy. They destroy pride, instill humility, and exalt God. And that’s why so many invest so much time in the vain attempt to undermine their truth. The religions of men maintain authority over their followers by 1) limiting God’s power, 2) exalting man’s abilities, and 3) “channeling” God’s power through their own structures. A perfect salvation that is freely bestowed by God for His own glory is not a “system” that can be controlled by a religious body or group. And even more importantly, such a system is destructive of any sense of pride in the creature man, and if there is anything man’s religions must safeguard, it is man’s “self esteem.””

Dr. James White

The Gospel is the Food of Faith

Posted: June 26, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Reformed Theology

“The new life in Christ, just like all natural life, must be nourished and strengthened. This is possible only in communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit and through the word of Scripture. Enlightened by the Spirit, believers gain a new knowledge of faith. The gospel is the food of faith and must be known to be nourishment. Salvation that is not known and enjoyed is no salvation. God saves by causing himself to be known and enjoyed in Christ.”

— Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 4: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Academic, 2008), 96

from Pastor Jared Wilson ‘s blog

a quote by John Calvin from Kevin DeYoung’s blog

John Calvin:

Now this, also, ought to be added, that although either fatherly favor and beneficence or severity of judgment often shine forth in the whole course of providence, nevertheless sometimes the causes of the events are hidden.

So the thought creeps in that human affairs turn and whirl at the blind urge of fortune; or the flesh incites us to contradiction, as if God were making sport of men by throwing them like balls. It is, indeed, true that if we had quiet and composed minds ready to learn, the final outcome would show that God always has the best reason for his plan:

either to instruct his own people in patience,

or to correct their wicked affections and tame their lust,

or to subjugate them to self-denial,

or to rouse them from sluggishness;

again, to bring low the proud, to shatter the cunning of the impious and to overthrow their devices.

Yet however hidden and fugitive from our point of view the causes may be, we must hold that they are surely laid up with him, and hence we must exclaim with David: “Great, O God, are the wondrous deeds that thou hast done, and thy thoughts toward us cannot be reckoned; if I try to speak, they would be more than can be told” [Ps. 40:5].

(Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.17.1)

 

A post by Scott Oliphint on a Reformed theology of persuasion in apologetics
the problem in the medieval view was that the effects of sin on our minds was not adequately taken into account. What, for example, does it mean that the mind set on the flesh cannot submit to the law of God (Rom. 8:7)? What does it mean that the natural man is not able to understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14f.)?  Does this only imply that those outside of Christ cannot understand or submit to the gospel? Surely it means that. But can those who are dead in trespasses and sins understand anything properly about a world that is created and sustained by God, and in which God is continually revealing himself through his own creation?
For this reason (among others), during the time of the Reformation, there was a radical shift in emphasis, from the medieval focus on the power of reason as a foundation of knowledge, to a central and foundational focus on the power and necessity of Scripture. This focus was the result, in part, of the biblical teaching of sin’s power. Depravity was not simply a problem of the will, such that we did not want to choose properly (though that is true); it was a problem of the intellect as well, such that we sinfully reject that which we know. Because of sin’s effect on the mind, there was no way that reason could provide a needed epistemological foundation for knowing and believing.
Thus, a central aspect to “re-forming” theology in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries included a renewed focus on Scripture as our only foundation for knowing, believing, and for reasoning properly. In a discussion of the difference in prolegomena (doctrine of revelation) between medieval theology and the Reformers, Richard Muller notes: “This view of the problem of knowledge [during the Reformation] is the single most important contribution of the early Reformed writers to the theological prolegomena of orthodox Protestantism. Indeed, it is the doctrinal issue that most forcibly presses the Protestant scholastics toward the modification of the medieval models for theological prolegomena.” The “modification” that was set forth by the Reformers, against the medieval view, included the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

read the whole piece here

A New Heart, He Does What I Am Unable to Do

Posted: April 4, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Reformed Theology

“God’s love is unconditional for those He intends to adopt as His children. He does not make us meet a condition (faith) before He will love us, as the Arminian affirms. Rather, He meets the condition for us in Christ by doing for us what we are unable to do for ourselves, that is, giving us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. (Ezek 36:26).”

– John Hendryx

Of Free and Sovereign Grace

Posted: March 21, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Reformed Theology, Spurgeon, Uncategorized

 

God could have justly left all mankind to perish in their sin and misery, as He left the angels which kept not their first estate, but according to the good pleasure of His will, He chose in Christ, before the foundation of the world, all whom He purposed to save. “According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1: 4,5). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified them He also glorified” (Romans 8: 28-30). These verses from among many which could be quoted, and the whole scheme of redemption from Genesis to Revelation, afford infallible and unqualified proof that salvation is of free and sovereign grace.

The ninth chapter of Romans is the Holy Spirit’s commentary on the eternal decrees of God. In connection with these sublime mysteries it becomes us, as sinful finite creatures, to be still and to know that He is God, just in all His ways, holy in His works all, that His judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out. As the election of all whom He purposed to save flows from His sovereign good pleasure, so the passing by the rest of mankind has also its source in the unsearchable counsel of His sovereign will, in all the actings of which He is holy, just and true. “Election is the expression of the divine mercy; reprobation of the divine justice. Whoever hold the doctrine of election must hold the doctrine of reprobation. Reprobation implies that God simply passes by the sinner leaving him as he is. In election He makes choice of the sinner in His sovereign grace. Both are acts of the sovereignty of God.” (Rev. D. Beaton, Free Presbyterian Magazine, Vol. 35: p. 244). The non-elect are ordained of God, according to the unsearchable counsel of His will “to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice” (“Confession of Faith,” Ch. 3, sec. 7). It is not for their being passed by that they are punished, but for their sins. Their being passed by is a sovereign act: their condemnation is a judicial act of God in His capacity as a judge. “Salvation is all of grace, damnation all of sin. Salvation of God from first to last — the Alpha and the Omega; but damnation of men not of God: and if you perish, at your own hands must your blood be required.”

C. H. Spurgeon

 

HT:JohnSamson

A bright and pure flame

Posted: February 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Reformed Theology

“How excellent is that inner goodness and true religion that comes from this sight of the beauty of Christ! Here you have the most wonderful experiences of saints and angels in heaven. Here you have the best experience of Jesus Christ Himself. Even though we are mere creatures, it is a sort of participation in God’s own beauty. ‘Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.’ (2 Pet 1:4) ‘God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.’ (Heb 12:10) Because of the power of this divine working, there is a mutual indwelling of God and His people. ‘God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.’ (1 John 4:16)

“This special relationship has to make the person involved as happy and as blessed as any creature in existence. This is a special gift of God, which he gives only to his special favorites. Gold, silver, diamonds, and earthly kingdoms are given by God to people who the Bible calls dogs and pigs. But this great gift of beholding Christ’s beauty, is the special blessing of God to His dearest children. Flesh and blood cannot give this gift: only God can bestow it. This was the special gift which Christ died to obtain for his elect. It is the highest token of his everlasting love, the best fruit of his labours, and the most precious purchase of his blood.

by this gift, more than anything else, the saints shine as lights in the world. This gift, more than anything else, is their comfort. It is impossible that the soul who possesses this gift should ever perish. This is the gift of eternal life. It is eternal life begun: those who have it can never die. It is the dawning of the light of glory. It comes from heaven, it has a heavenly quality, and it will take its bearer to heaven. Those who have this gift may wander in the wilderness or be tossed by waves on the ocean, but they will arrive in heaven at last. There the heavenly spark will be made perfect and increased. In heaven the souls of the saints will be transformed into a bright and pure flame, and they will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Amen.”

– Jonathan Edwards, “How to Know if You Are a Real Christian”

 

HT:JaredWilson

Call of the Gospel

Posted: February 27, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christian Theology, Christianity, Reformed Theology

“So, then, what is this effectual, internal call that we are speaking about? Well, the most we can say about it is — and this must of necessity be true in the light of these scriptures — that it is the exercise of the power of the Holy Spirit in the soul. It is a direct operation of the Holy Spirit within us. It is immediate, it is spiritual, it is supernatural, miraculous. And what it does is to make a new mode of spiritual activity possible within us. Without this operation we are incapable of any true spiritual activity but as the result of this operation of the Holy Spirit upon us, we are rendered capable, for the first time, of spiritual activity and that is how this call now becomes effectual, that is what enables us to receive it.

“Now this is very important and I want to emphasise the immediacy, the direct action. You see, what happens when the call comes to men and women effectually is not simply that the moral influence of the truth is exercised upon them. Some people have thought that; they have said that the gospel is preached and that the truth has a kind of general moral effect upon people. For instance, to take a human theme, a capable orator, a man wanting to persuade men and women to vote at an election for a given party, can put the case so well that he can exercise a moral influence upon his listeners. But it is not that. It is an operation of the Spirit upon the men and women themselves, in the depths. It is not merely that the Holy Spirit heightens our natural faculties and powers, it is more than that. It is the Spirit acting upon the soul from within and producing within us a new principle of spiritual action.

“Now it must be that; it cannot be less than that. Because these things, says Paul, are all spiritual. And that is why the natural man does not understand them; and that is why, as I have often reminded you, we should never be surprised, or to the slightest extent disappointed or put out, when somebody brings us the argument that ‘Christianity cannot be right because look at this great man and he doesn’t believe it!’ How often have you heard that argument! Someone says, ‘You know, I cannot believe this, because if Christianity were true, it could not be possible that all these philosophers and scientists and all these great statesmen and other men do not believe it.’

“In the light of these things, it is very natural and we can understand it perfectly well. The greatest natural intellect cannot receive this, he is ‘a natural man’. And you need a spiritual faculty to receive the wonderful truth about the two natures in the one Person; the outstanding doctrine about the Trinity; the whole doctrine of the incarnation and the atonement, and so on. This is spiritual truth and to the natural person it is utter folly, it is foolishness, as Paul says. So when the Holy Spirit does enable us to believe it, it must be something beyond the heightening of our natural faculties. It is not simply that He brings the truth of His great moral suasion to us. No, no. We need some new faculty, some new principle, and that is the very work that He does. He implants within us this new spiritual principle, this principle of spiritual vitality and activity, and it is as the result of this that the general call of the gospel comes to us in an effectual manner.”

– Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Effectual Calling and Regeneration”

HT:JaredWilson

Best rule of sobriety

Posted: February 14, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Reformed Theology

The subject of predestination, which in itself is attended by considerable difficulty, is rendered very perplexed, and hence perilous, by human curiosity, which cannot be restrained from wandering into forbidden paths… Those secrets of his will which he has seen fit to manifest are revealed in his word  revealed in so far as he knew to be conducive to our interest and welfare… Let it, therefore, be our first principle that to desire any other knowledge of predestination than that which is expounded by the word of God, is no less infatuated than to walk where there is no path, or to seek light in darkness. The best rule of sobriety is, not only in learning to follow wherever God leads, but also when he makes an end of teaching to cease from wishing to be wise.

– John Calvin

Great post by John Hendryx, read the whole thing here.

Sufficiency vs. Necessity

The central difference between Reformed and non-Reformed theology is that the former affirms that Jesus Christ is SUFFICIENT to save to the uttermost while later believes that while Jesus is NECESSARY, but He is NOT SUFFICIENT. The Reformers never charged Rome of believing one could be saved apart from grace. That wasn’t the debate. The debate of the Reformation was never ever about the necessity of grace, it was about the sufficiency of grace. Reformed Theology emphasizes more than anything else, the sufficiency of Christ in salvation. There is nothing more essential to its position and this is what sets it apart from other all other theologies.

The word “sufficient”, in this case, means that Jesus Christ meets all the conditions for us that are necessary for our salvation, not only some of the conditions. It further means what Jesus does for us on the cross meets all of God’s requirements for us, including giving us the new heart which is needed to believe and obey (Ezekiel 36:26).

Evangelicalism broadly believes in an insufficient Jesus whose love is conditional, that is, that we must first meet a condition if He will help/love us.

………

In the Bible, God gives conditions, but in Jesus He meets all the conditions for us.