LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Faith - The Sovereign Gift of God

Faith - The Sovereign Gift of God
by Colin Maxwell

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Acts 15:11)

I heard Rev. John Greer (Ballymena FPC) preach on this text recently. During the course of the message, he pointed out that the literal Greek rendering of this verse puts it that even the faith that saves is the product of grace. I notice that Robert Young, of Concordance fame, renders it as follows in his Literal translation:

But, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, even as also they.' (YLT)

This leaves us wondering then do all men, without exception, receive this faith to believe (and obviously do not exercise it) thus rendering it null and void or do only the elect (and none other) receive it. I run with the latter interpretation and here's a few reasons why:

1) The faith that saves is a specific gift from God is stated elsewhere:For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29)

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; (2 Corinthians 4:13)

And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: (Acts 18:27)

I might have mentioned Ephesians 2:8 where there is a strong argument that the gift of God refers to the faith, as well as the salvation, even though the Greek word for that is neuter and the Greek word for faith is feminine. Handley Moule points out that the Greek construction is used to introduce an addition of thought or a heightening of what goes before (examples: 1 Corinthians 6:8/Philippians 1:28) and that there is no new force if it but refers to gratuitous salvation. Therefore (argues Moule) it refers to the introducing of the idea that even the faith that saves is as much the gift of God as the salvation itself.
2) The Bible specifically says that all men have not faith
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:2)This is evidently referring to saving faith, in that men do have faith in false gods, false philosophies etc., But it would be a very strange way of wording it, if all men did have saving faith, but had failed to exercise it.

3) Saving faith is much more than the opportunity to believe or the ability to believe but the actual and effectual belief itself. Evidently, we must protect ourselves against the erroneous thought that God believes for us, yet it can still be said that God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13) which must go further (again) than merely meaning that He has merely given us the invitation to believe. If He has actually given us and enabled us to effectually believe to the saving of our soul, then it is obvious that He has not done so to every man without exception i.e. not every man actually believes. Therefore He gives such faith only to those who actually exercise it and these are the elect of God. (No matter how we believe that men arrive at the stage of being elect.)

Have I left any good arguments out? Are some of my arguments less than watertight? Is there a silver bullet for the opposing side that God has given all men saving faith even though all men are not and will not be saved? The above is of the top of my head (except where I reread Moule on Ephesians 2:8 so that I could state it accurately). What are your thoughts?

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Here in the fourth beatitude, Jesus blesses and describes Christians as having a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Christians have a Godly sorrow for their sin and sinful condition. This causes them feel poor because of a realization that they are lacking in the one thing they desire most and that is righteousness. This is certainly drastically different from what the world desires. Can you imagine the answers you would get if you asked people at random in our culture to list their desires and goals? Fame, fortune, success, money, possessions, etc. would all receive many votes. Even in many Christian churches, the sermon from the pulpit is not about Christ and his righteousness. The teaching is on how one can be more fulfilled and achieve success, wealth and temporal happiness. The focus is temporal and man-centered from start to finish. However, consider someone giving the following answer: “you know, I really hunger and thirst for righteousness. I would like to be more like Christ and be conformed to his image. I would like to be more holy.” This would be radical thinking in our age of hungering and thirsting for more stuff with little regard for ethical principles. A few years ago a survey was performed that asked people if they would throw a loved family pet from the rim of the Grand Canyon for a million dollars. Many including professing Christians answered in the affirmative. Paul in 2 Timothy 3 said the following:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. (2) For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, (4) treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, (5) having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Paul in this passage is not describing a blessed people who hunger and thirst for righteousness. He is describing a people who are sold out for self, pleasure, and riches. He is describing many in our post-modern culture who hunger and thirst for polluted water rather than living water. However, in the beatitudes, Jesus describes the characteristics of born again Christians that are indwelt by the HOLY SPIRIT. They have a hunger and thirst for righteousness that is just as real as the thirst that follows a salty meal.

Praise God that Jesus promises to fill those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are Christians and they can be sure they will be more and more conformed to Christ as they are sanctified and on judgment day they will be covered in the righteousness of Christ.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Chief Burdon of the Lord's Child

The chief burden of the Lord's children is sin. This is the main cause of all their sighs and groans, from the first quickening breath of the Spirit of God in their hearts until they lay down their bodies in dust.

The humble, penitential, minute confession of sin will . . . keep the conscience tender, create a watchful spirit within, sanctify the heart, and draw us closer and closer to the Cross, and to the Christ of the Cross.
Thus go to Jesus.
He is with you . . . in all your concerns, in all your trials, in all your blessings, in all your sorrows and in all your joys.
His dear eye is ever upon you for good.
He loved you with an everlasting love, and with loving kindness drew you to Himself.
Veil no secrets from Him.
Keep an open heart with Christ.
If your love is cold, He will warm it.
If your spirit is depressed, He will raise it.
If your corruptions are strong, He will subdue them.
The oftener you come the more welcome you will be.
You cannot weary nor wear Him out!

Mary Winslow

Thursday, September 27, 2007

God’s commands

I have noticed that some of God’s commands are exceedingly difficult – if not downright impossible – to achieve on our own.

Take for example the top two:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

And love your neighbor as yourself.

Not to mention the all-time-favorite “Love your enemies.”

Who does these consistently?

When we walk in the Spirit, certainly it is done, but we are prone to not rise in the morning and simply get up in the Spirit.

So I’m thinking that to live God’s commands as He says to do, we must daily ask Him for the qualities we need to do them. However, it doesn’t say in Scripture “ask God for what you need to do what He commands,” does it? Still, I think it’s necessary to ask Him. What do you think?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First Post - A Question of Sorts

We'll call this my "Get to Know You" post:

If you were to take a "Before" and "After" photo of your life as a Christian, what has been the most significant change in your life by the work of God's grace? What about your life do you KNOW changed not as a result of your own will, but by the sheer grace of God working to produce visible fruit?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Must I (sic) go home by the way of the Cross?

by Colin Maxwell
September 20, 2007

Must I (sic) go home by the way of the Cross?
Old Time Evangelicals, of whatever school, Calvinist through to Arminian, Dispensationalists etc., have always insisted that saving faith in Christ necessarily included faith in His finished work on the Cross. It was simply inconceivable that a man could profess faith in Christ while ignorant of the work of the Cross or even while opposed to it. Any one who argued otherwise was dismissed either as a member of some heretical cult or a modernist who was as likely as to deny to deny the Deity of Christ or the Virgin Birth.

We have a new breed of Evangelical now. Although they are still on the fringes, yet they are very vocal. They themselves believe in the work of the Cross, along with other fundamental objective truths, but this is all undone when they deny that it is absolutely necessary for a seeking soul to believe in the work of the Cross. This is an optional extra that may or may not be taken on board later. They argue that it really should be believed, yet the act of believing it is not essential to the justifying of the soul.

The challenge that emanates from their quarter is to find a verse of Scripture that clearly states that such a belief is essential to the acquiring of eternal life. Any one up to the challenge? To start us off, the verse that came my mind was Romans 3:25

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;.

Without trawling through all my commentaries on Romans, both in hard copy and on CD (never mind heading then for the Internet) I came up with the following comments from some noted writers. I wish I had kept my commentary on Romans by HA Ironside, as most of these folk claim to be Dispensationalist also. The standard commentators observe:

"That by faith in his blood we become interested in this propitiation. Christ is the propitiation; there is the healing plaster provided. Faith is the applying of this plaster to the wounded soul. And this faith in the business of justification hath a special regard to the blood of Christ, as that which made the atonement; for such was the divine appointment that without blood there should be no remission, and no blood but his would do it effectually. Here may be an allusion to the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifices under the law, as Exodus 24:8. Faith is the bunch of hyssop, and the blood of Christ is the blood of sprinkling. That all who by faith are interested in this propitiation have the remission of their sins that are past." (Matthew Henry)

"Through faith - Or by means of faith. The offering will be of no avail without faith. The offering has been made; but it will not be applied, except where there is faith. He has made an offering which may be efficacious in putting away sin; but it produces no reconciliation, no pardon, except where it is accepted by faith." (Albert Barnes)

"But the text says, "Through faith in his blood." So, then, this shows you that no propitiation has had any effect with regard to us actually until we have faith in the blood. I can never I know that God has blotted out my sin until I have faith. And what is faith but trust? And then, when I trust the blood of Jesus, my sin is all forgiven me in one moment. When I humbly rely upon my Saviour’s finished work, 'Though sins were as scarlet, they become as wool; though they were red like crimson, they are whiter than snow.'" (Spurgeon MTP # 3488)

"Through faith in his blood: He goes on to show the instrumental cause of justification, to wit, faith; i.e. the close adherence and most submissive dependence of the sinner; together with the peculiarity of the object of faith, viz. the blood i.e. the death and sacrifice, of Christ; in contra-distinction to his dominion (with which yet on other accounts faith is so much concerned,) and in opposition to the blood of beasts slain and sacrificed." (Matthew Poole).

So any ideas anyone? And/or if any one has Ironside on Romans, I would be interested in knowing what he wrote.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Welcome Marcia!

It is my honor to have Marcia on board here at BlueCollar. The work of the Holy Spirit is very evident in her young life as seen here, http://ruminationsandramifications.blogspot.com/2007/08/redeeming-time-i.html

She is a fine writer and I so look forward to her work here.

May the Lord bless you, Marcia!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Quote on Repentance

   It is not uncommon to find in some an understanding of the gospel wherein repentance is understood in terms of works. Repentance is understood by these as a halting of wickedness and a commencement of righteousness. While this is a fair description of what repentance looks like, it fails to describe with any precision, the holy nature and origin of repentance.

   A practical description of repentance isn't focused so much on the visible outworking of that repentance, but rather on the internal mechanism that produces the external action. Repentance is therefore more precisely understood as being the very opposite of what it means to resist the Holy Spirit. It is no carnal work that a man does, but a work that is done to the man by God who grants it.

   The Apostle John reminds us in the sixth chapter of his gospel that it is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Yet there remains in some a confused understanding of the nature of repentance - a confusion wherein a person imagines that they may receive life from the same Spirit whom they are actively and unceasingly resisting! This notion of receivingly life while resisting it steadfastly is as preposterous and contrary to reason as it is heretical! Who can receive faith while resisting the Spirit?

   A man cannot receive life from the Spirit unless that man stops resisting the Spirit. One cannot receive faith in one hand while rejecting God in the other, that is wherever God grants that a man yield himself to God's Spirit, that is, wherever a man is found who has stopped resisting the Holy Spirit - in that place, and only in that place, faith is found. The ability to stop resisting the Holy Spirit, which we have named "repentance" and the faith that is received the moment the Spirit is no longer resisted - these are both granted by God, not a work of the flesh that will perish, but a work of the Spirit that will continue.

   Have you come to faith without repenting? You are deceived! Some vaporous doppelganger has been presented to you as the authentic Christian faith, but it is a faith that presumes too much upon the ability of man, having never understood what it means to repent. This faith has never stopped resisting the Holy Spirit, and therefore has never received life. It is a dead faith that is entirely powered by self. It is sufficient for cleansing of the outside of your cup, yet like a sepulcher, inside you are full of dead men's bones.

   Faith happens when the Author of all faith - our Lord Jesus Christ, in response to God's decree, and through the Holy Spirit grants this first grace to us - a grace so entirely contrary to our nature - He strengthens our spirit so that in a moment, in an instant of time, we are able to stop resisting the Holy Spirit! The moment we stop resisting faith is poured in, but not until. Faith comes into us through the Spirit, and cannot come into us so long as we resist Him. When God opens our heart to receive the Spirit, faith is poured into us. Faith is never produced by us, but received into us the moment we stop resisting God. Repentance can be said to precede faith only in this sense (for they surely come in the same, single stroke) unless a man is given grace to stop resisting the Holy Spirit, he will by no means come to saving faith.

Do you agree?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

OT Saints and the Holy Spirit

When I came to faith as a born again believer, I didn’t have a particular hermeneutic to which I adhered – at least not any of which I was aware. If you said “hermeneutic” to me then, I probably would have responded “gesundheit.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that those who are unaware of hermeneutics don’t necessarily have one, but many folks read Scripture without adhering to one hermeneutic in particular because they’re taught so many variants among them. I myself couldn’t have pointed to any singular hermeneutic in my early days of belief. In fact, with respect to prophetic texts and Israel, I wouldn’t have had a clue what I believed then - at least not with any basis to which I could point in Scripture.

I had been raised going to church regularly until my youth, and after that point off and on until I left high school. I certainly didn’t read Scripture then, and I didn’t really step back into a church until God made me aware of my own lack and need for a Savior about eight years ago.

Around that time, I studied alongside my then 12-year-old son in preparation for his bar mitzvah under the tutelage of a messianic Jew. So I read some Scriptures with him from a messianic Jewish perspective, which of course holds a distinctive place for Israel separate from the church – not unlike dispensationalism.

The nation of Israel in modern times being a reality since my birth, it wasn’t difficult to see in the Jews a separate people unto themselves and unto God – except that national Israel is far from being a godly people and Scripture itself contains verses regarding all those of faith being Abraham’s descendants – both Jew and Gentile.

The church I attended from about 1999 on was Calvary Chapel – a non-denominational organization with a strong music program. It is man-centered, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, having never heard anything other than a man-centered gospel until about 18 months ago - and not attending a Reformed church until nine months ago.

Reformed theology grabbed me quite out of the blue, and it was a great relief to me as I had been struggling to maintain righteousness on my own for quite some time. Feeling like a failure and hypocrite as a Christian, I was slowly drifting from God. I thought – wrongly – that it all depended on me, my faith, and my actions (works).

After embracing the doctrines of grace, I am continually surprised and delighted by what should be obvious truths in light of God’s absolute sovereignty and immutability. Here are two of those truths:

1. Daniel’s comment to the August 22, 2007 post here at Bluecollar titled “I Found This Comment on Another Blog…,” in which Daniel wrote:

How did the old testament saints have their sins atoned? By the blood of bulls and goats, or the blood of Christ?

Daniel rightly pointed out that OT saints were saved in exactly the same way we all are: by grace through faith in Christ - one by looking forward and the other by looking back.

Even though their understanding of the incarnation was veiled, the channel through which God saved OT saints was faith in their Redeemer.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
- John 8:56

“For I know that my Redeemer lives.”
- Job 19:25a

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, 'Sacrifice and offering you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me,'
- Hebrews 10:4,5

“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”
- 1 Peter 1:10-11

2. And I learned just last night in a Bible study that the Holy Spirit was present in all OT believers. Being totally depraved, they would not have been able to be believers without the work of the Holy Spirit.

How it’s all continuing to come together as parts of the same puzzle! Not separate plans. Not separate peoples. Not separate faiths.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
- 1 Corinthians 12:13

“There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
-Ephesians 4:4-6

My previous understanding was that the Holy Spirit wasn’t given to OT saints, unless for special times. But they had to have the Holy Spirit to begin with or they would never have come to faith.

That said, the universal outpouring of gifts on believers for different purposes of ministry was not seen until NT days, fulfilling the prophecy of Joel, as explained by Peter in Acts:

“But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, … And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”
- Acts 2:17, 21

As was earlier desired by Moses:

“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!"” – Numbers 11:29b

The Holy Spirit was present in OT saints who would, without Him, have been unable to believe.

So we are all saved in exactly the same way –
by grace through faith in Christ and Christ alone
by the work of the Holy Spirit
to the glory of God the Father.

I’m not sure if I had a hermeneutic when I first came to faith, but I’m quite sure I’m on my way to one now.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Robert Grow's "Devoted Life": A Great Read!

The following is from Bobby Grows "Devoted Life". I loved this post so much that I brought it to BlueCollar blog. The original post can be found here http://bobbygro.wordpress.com/devoted-life/

Richard Sibbes on the Natural Man and Gracious Man: Struggling With Sin 9/17/07
Do you ever feel defeated in your Christian life? Do you ever look at your life, and wonder why you never see any victory over sin? Does this cause you angst and doubt in your communion with Jesus Christ? Richard Sibbes, English Puritan pastor and theologian addresses this very issue in his Bruised Reed treatise. He highlights the reality of living in a fallen, yet redeemed body, and the constant struggle we have as God’s people as the old nature begins to fade away (although not as quickly as we would like), and the new man (Christ in us) emerges from the ashes of our lives. In chapter VI, entitled: Grace is mingled with Corruption, Sibbes says:

. . . The ground of this mixture is, that we carry about us a double principle, grace and nature. The end of it is especially to preserve us from those two dangerous rocks which our natures are prone to dash upon, security and pride; and to force us to pitch our rest on justification, not sanctification, which, besides imperfection, has some soil.

Our spiritual fire is like our ordinary fire here below, that is, mixed; but fire is most pure in its own element above; so shall all our graces be when we are where we would be, in heaven, which is our proper element.

. . . From this mixture it is, that the people of God have so different judgments of themselves, looking sometimes at the work of grace, sometimes at the remainder of corruption, and when they look upon that, then they think they have no grace; though they love Christ in his ordinances and children, yet dare not challenge so near acquaintance as to be his. Even as a candle in the socket sometimes sheweth its light, and sometimes the show of light is lost; so sometimes well persuaded they are of themselves, sometimes at a loss. (Richard Sibbes, trans. Grosart, “The Works of Richard Sibbes,” 50)

Remember Sibbes wrote in the 17th century, and some of this is set in a polemic context oriented towards a particular strand of theology that caused many lay Puritans to wonder if indeed they were elect. Sibbes, like Luther might, challenges the laity to look at Christ, realize that because of His work they are children of heaven, and that their souls are firmly anchored at the right hand of the throne of the Father. Sibbes, as we all should, recognized that we are still living in these natural corrupt bodies (as Paul did cf. Gal. 5:17); and there are points which nature appears to overwhelm grace and the light of Christ. This can be discouraging, but Sibbes wants us to remember that this “competition” between nature and grace has no bearing on ones union with Christ, rather upon our communion. The remedy, look up at Christ, recognize we are in battle that has already been won; and continue to walk humbly with our God!


We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11. For we who are alive always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. ~II Corinthians 4:10, 11

What does the crucified life imply about ourselves? It seems clear that we have that nagging tendency to get in the way, so to speak. In other words, the reality of Christ’s cross, in our lives, is that we are put to death with Him, as He vicariously puts us to death at the cross of Calvary. It hurts the ego to die, doesn’t it? Isn’t this the struggle Paul talks about in Galatians 5:17? Our sin nature, the one that dies daily, is constantly desiring to pop its ugly head up against the beautiful face of Christ.

I would suggest (I say to self) to go with the pain and hurt of death, and walk in the security and comfort that the LIFE of Christ provides for each of us reconciled to Him. Interestingly all we can do is start with knowledge of Christ, first, in order to come to the point that we truly are able to see ourselves as we are in ourselves . . . dead and ugly. BUT this is okay, our life and “esteem” are rooted in Christ, not ourselves. It is okay, contrary to popular preaching, to talk about how filthy and wretched we are; because we know that the super-abundant beauty and life of Christ is now genuinely our life. In fact I would venture to say that those who would shrink away from seeing themselves as they truly are (dead and ugly), are starting with themselves, and attempting to reach Christ in their “own glory”. It is only when we see ourselves through Christ, both wretched and redeemed that it can be truly said that we have a Christ-centered gospel.

Remember Christ alone is supreme over both death and life (cf. Col. 1:13ff), the only way we can truly know Him is to recognize that within ourselves we cannot. We need to abandon ourselves and flee to Christ—of course when we do this we are truly admitting what the gospel has been saying all along—I CANNOT!


I recently finished a book called The Mediation of Christ by T. F. Torrance, and ever since I have been meditating upon the access we have to the Father through the mediatorial work of Jesus—it is quite mind-boggling when you ponder this reality. Think about this:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20. by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, 21. and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22. let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ~Hebrews 10:19-22

Of course the background context on this is the holy of holies of the Levitic system of worship in the Old Testament. Once a year the high priest could enter behind the veil and offer up petition and sacrifice unto Yahweh for his sins and the sins of the people. Now we continuously stand in the holy of holies through the mediating work of Jesus Christ! Wait a minute did you catch that? We stand, in Christ, in the holy of holies, the very throneroom of God. And not only that, but we are called to stand here boldly and confidently because of Jesus Christ. If I were you I would think deeply upon this, I would meditate on what this means for prayer and intercession. I would cogitate upon the kind of intimacy I have with the Father, and realize that when I pray He in fact is listening; because He listens to His Son—which I am by adoption. Just think about it, when we pray, He listens, He responds, He moves within the essence of His very being; of which we have been reconciled to in Christ. Jesus takes our frail petitions and shapes them into the mold of His perfect dialogue with the Father, leading to responses that fit perfectly within the plans and purposes of His sovereign direction.


Pray boldly, without ceasing, and realize that because we are in Christ, we are included in the trinitarian dialogue that takes place between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), Puritan pastor and theologian has a few words on the sufficiency of Christ’s offering to the Father, and the trinitarian shape of the gospel:

What a support to our faith is this, that God the Father, the party offended by our sins, is so well pleased with the work of redemption! And what a comfort is this, that seeing God’s love resteth on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ! For his love resteth in whole Christ, in Christ mystical, as well as Christ natural, because he loveth him and us with one love. Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, and in him God’s love, and build our faith safely on such a Saviour, that is furnished with so high a commission.
See here, for our comfort, a sweet agreement of all three persons: the Father giveth a commission to Christ; the Spirit furnisheth and sanctifieth to it; Christ himself executeth the office of a Mediator. Our redemption is founded upon the joint agreement of all three persons of the Trinity. (Richard Sibbes, trans. Grosart, “Works of Richard Sibbes: The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax,” 42-3)

What amazing thoughts! Did you notice in the first paragraph how Sibbes highlights the function that our union with Christ has before the Father. We are loved by the Father, with the same love that He loves His Son, Jesus, with. Let that reality sink in, meditate upon how intimate in fact you are with the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit! We are truly represented, and known to the Father, because of the redemptive work and mediatorial Priesthood of the Son. Come boldly to the Father, come as if you are His dearly beloved Son . . . because You are! We have been enveloped into the intratrinitarian life of the Father, Son, and Spirit; snatched out of the idolatry and slavery of self-love, and brought into the union and communion of HIS love. LOVE BOLDLY!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two Peoples of God?

Just a blogspotting note. Here is the first of a series of answers to the questions of the post
“A Few Qs” of September 13. I won’t continue to post a link here each time the author answers his questions, but wanted to let folks know of the answers being listed over there. Please check it out here: Two Peoples of God? by Nathan White.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Set free from the bondage of sin

Romans 6:6-23 (6)We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (7) For one who has died has been set free from sin. ……………………………………………………(14) For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. …………………………… (22) But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. (23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When the redeemed are regenerated and baptized in Christ, they are baptized into his death. Just as Christ was crucified and died as an atonement for the sins of the redeemed, we know that our old self was crucified with him. Through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, redeemed sinners are no longer under the power of sin, and are no longer slaves to sin because we have been set free from the bondage of the sin nature. Through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit, grace sets us free and brings us to willingly become slaves of God. With a new heart there is a new attitude, direction, and focus in life. Just as the attitude of the old sin nature produced fruit that led to death, the new Spirit led nature produces a fruit that leads to sanctification. Sanctification brings a progression toward godliness and holiness that results in eternal life. Verse 22 above does not state that it may happen, should happen, or could happen. No, it states that it will happen. Just as surely as attempted justification by law-keeping, void of the Holy Spirit, leads to death, a fruitless carnal “professing Christian” lifestyle without any influence of the Holy Spirit also leads to death. Just as a successful bowler must keep the ball from going into gutter on either side, a true Holy Spirit led Christian will not fall permanently into the gutter of self-righteousness on the one side or total fruitless carnality on the other side. Grace saves and grace carries the redeemed sinner all the way to glory.

Praise God that redeemed sinners are not only justified with divine power, but are sanctified by the same heavenly power. Divine power is fail safe. This free gift of eternal life is in Christ Jesus or Lord and God provides EVERYTHING needed in receiving this gift and it comes with awesome POWER.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Will You Rejoice?

It happens from time to time that we develop theologies that we vehemently pursue and defend because we have a profound intellectual investment in them. So it is good to put our theology to the test sometimes with little mental exercises.

Here is a mental exercise, and rather than instruct us in what it is going to teach us about what we believe - let's just have at it:

You love your children very much. You witness to them, but in their teenage years the world grabs a hold of your favorite son, and he hates your God, rejects him, and before you have the opportunity to persuade him otherwise, both you and your spouse, as well as this wayward son - you all die in the same car wreck.

You are standing there as God instructs your son to depart from Him into everlasting fire.

Here is where your theology is to be examined. Do you rejoice?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Welcome, Daniel!

The Bluecollar Clan is pleased to welcome Canada's Daniel on board!

Daniel has been a blessing to me for all of the two years I've been in blogdom. He is a fine writer and thinker, and I consider this quite an honor. He joins "Baptist Girl" as our "blessings from the North".

Here is the current Bluecollar Clan...

Shiloh Guy
mark pierson
Baptist Girl


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spurgeon Preached Repentance

To counter-act even more misinformation on another blog... Yes, Spurgeon preached repentance...

The entire sermon can be found here - http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/spurgeon_regfaith.html

Now, let me say a word or two in reply to certain questions. But must not a man repent as well as believe? Reply: No man ever believed but what he repented at the same time. Faith and repentance go together. they must. If I trust Christ to save me from sin, I am at the same time repenting of sin, and my mind is changed in relation to sin, and everything else that has to do with its state. All the fruits meet for repentance are contained in faith itself. You will never find that a man who trusts Christ remains an enemy of God, or a lover of sin. The fact that he accepts the atonement provided is proof positive that he loathes sin, and that his mind is thoroughly changed in reference to God. Moreover, as to all the graces which are produced in the Christian afterwards, are they not all to be found in embryo in faith? "Only believe, and you shall be save," is the cry which many sneer at, and others misunderstand; but do you know what "only believe" means? Do you know what a world of meaning lies in that word? Read that famous chapter to the Hebrews, and see what faith has done and is still able to do, and you will see that it is no trifle. Wherever there is faith in a man let it but develop itself and there will be a purging of himself from sin, a separating himself from the world, a conflict with evil, and a warring for the glory of Christ, which nothing else could produce. Faith is in itself one of the noblest of graces; it is the compendium of all virtues; and as sometimes there will lie within one single ear enough seed to make a whole garden fertile, so, within that one word "faith," there lies enough of virtue to make earth blessed; enough of grace, if the Spirit make it to grow, to turn the fallen into the perfect. Faith is not the easy and light thing men think. Far are we from ascribing salvation to the profession of a mere creed, we loathe the idea; neither do we ascribe salvation to a fond persuasion, but we do ascribe salvation to Jesus Christ, and the obtaining of it to that simple, child like confidence which lovingly casts itself into the arms of him who gave both his hands to the nail and suffered to the death for the sins of his people. He who believes, then, is saved—rest assured of that. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God"


Colin Maxwell Speaketh Out Against Error

Folks, please give this a read,

Nice job, Colin!

Labels: ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

This Man Receiveth Sinners

by C.H. Spurgeon

Observe the condescension of this fact. This Man, who towers above all other men, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners—this Man receiveth sinners. This Man, who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil their faces—this Man receiveth sinners. It needs an angel’s tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love. That any of us should be willing to seek after the lost is nothing wonderful— they are of our own race; but that he, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon himself the form of a servant, and bear the sin of many, and should then be willing to receive the vilest of the vile, this is marvellous.

“This Man receiveth sinners”; not, however, that they may remain sinners, but he receives them that he may pardon their sins, justify their persons, cleanse their hearts by his purifying word, preserve their souls by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and enable them to serve him, to show forth his praise, and to have communion with him. Into his heart’s love he receives sinners, takes them from the dunghill, and wears them as jewels in his crown; plucks them as brands from the burning, and preserves them as costly monuments of his mercy. None are so precious in Jesus’ sight as the sinners for whom he died. When Jesus receives sinners, he has not some out-of-doors reception place, no casual ward where he charitably entertains them as men do passing beggars, but he opens the golden gates of his royal heart, and receives the sinner right into himself—yea, he admits the humble penitent into personal union and makes him a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. There was never such a reception as this! This fact is still most sure this evening, he is still receiving sinners: would to God sinners would receive him.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A few Qs

My pastor pointed me to a blog previously unknown to me: Shepherd the Flock for a post on eschatology. At that blog, there are the following questions, which I found worthy of reposting here.

1. How many peoples of God are there? That is, does God have two different plans for two different groups of people? Do not the scriptures teach of one bride, one flock, one church, one faith? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

2. How many Second Comings of Christ will there be? Do the scriptures teach of one final Day, one final trumpet, one appearing of our Lord, or is there more than one of each of these? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

3. How many resurrections will there be? When the scriptures teach of the resurrection, do they speak of multiple resurrections taking place at multiple points in history? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

4. How many judgments will there be? When the scriptures teach of the judgment, do they speak of multiple judgments taking place at multiple points in history? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

5. Will Christ return at the last trumpet on the last hour of the last Day of this present age, or will He return 1,000 years before the last hour of the last Day of this present age? (In other words, does Scripture teach that Christ’s return will inaugurate the age that is to come, or will it inaugurate the final era of this present age?) What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

6. Will physical birth and physical death continue to occur after Christ’s Second Coming? Will physical life, death, and creation as we know it continue after the appearance of Christ in the clouds? (Don’t you think I Cor. 15 would deal with this (24-26)? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

7. Can men be savingly converted after Christ’s Second Coming? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ben and Mark Talk

Ben -"Please explain the conversions of Lydia and Cornelius within your "God hating prior to regeneration" paradigm."
Mark -Lydia and Cornelius were born in sin and shapen in iniquity like all others. It is said that they were dead in trespasses and sins, that they walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, conducting themselves in the lusts of their flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Ben - "The Bible says of Cornelius that he was "God fearing" and not "God hating" prior to putting faith in Jesus Christ. The Arminian would say that Cornelius was operating under prevenient grace while not yet being regenerated."
Mark - I see both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit working on Cornelius before a regenerating encounter:The Father first gives to the Son those who are to be saved - John 6:37,39.The Father draws that person - John 6:44The Father teaches that person about Christ - John 6:45Those granted by the Father come to Christ - John 6:65.The elect are separated from the rest of the world, and unto Christ by God the Holy Spirit - 2 Thess.2:13; 1 Peter 1:2.All of the above scriptures indicate that a working of Two of the Members of the Trinity are evident before a regenerating encounter. John 6 clearly shows that those whom the Father gives to the Son WILL come. Cornelius was at that stage between the beginnings of both the Father's and the Spirit's work, and regneration. IOW, we see in Acts 10 a man in whom God was already working, and irresistibly at that. (see John 6)
Ben -"How about Lydia? Was she regenerated before or after God "opened her heart"?"
Mark -After. God the Holy Spirit ALWAYS acts in conjunction with His word, never apart from it.
Ben - "She was a God worshipper prior to this experience and not a God hater. Do you believe that the opening of Lydias heart is a reference to irresistible regeneration? If so, I have a few more questions."
Mark - She was in that same process as Cornelius above - that of being drawn and enabled by the Father; and separated from the world, and unto Christ by the Spirit. Irresistible? Yes. Regeneration at this point? No. God the Holy Spirit ALWAYS acts in conjunction with His word. See Romans 10:17;1 Cor.1:18; 2 Thess.2:14; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23.
Ben - "Was the heart God opened the new heart you speak of, or the old one?"
Mark - The old one. See above.
Ben - "If it was the new heart [and the text no where suggests this] then why the need for the Lord to "open" it?"
Mark - It was the old heart.
Ben - "If it was the old heart that God opened to respond to the gospel, then we have a beautiful illustration of the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace."
Mark - Perhaps we are similar here.
Ben - "You earlier wrote,"The unregenerate love sin and hate the Light - John 3:19-20."Apart from the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, that is entirely true."Hence I couple this verse together with Eph.2:1-3, and Eph.4:17-19. for my definition of dead in sin."A few thoughts on your Eph. proof texts. 1) The regeneration described in 2:4-7 is said to be "through faith" [verse 8] and not "to faith". Faith is how the sinner recieves or gains access to God's grace. Look at Rom. 4:16 and 5:1.2) Paul is very careful to repeatedly note that all spiritual blessings [including regeneration] are only enjoyed by those who are "in Him [Christ]". Ephesians 1:13 makes it quite clear that we come to be in Christ after [logically speaking] believing the gospel, and not before."
Mark - I agree with all your above statements.
Ben - "Therefore, faith must precede regeneration because we cannot experience the life of Christ outside of vital union with Him, and that union comes by faith."
Mark - Why must it? Unregenerate man is hostile, loves sin, hates the light, doesn't understand the gospel, doesn't seek God. Left unattended man will not seek God. God the Holy Spirit, through the instrament of His Word brings about regeneration after the "prep period" mentioned above.
Ben - "In Him, you also, *after* listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation- *having* also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise."
Mark - Amen to your above points.
Ben - "The Greek is literally: "believing you were sealed".This alone proves that your doctrine of regeneration preceding faith is fallacious."
Mark - I don't see that. Again, regeneration comes about through the Spirit's working through His word, the gospel message.
Ben - "So how does a sinner come to believe? God graciously enables the sinner though the power of the gospel and the inner working of the Holy Spirit. This is prevenient [enabling grace] which draws and powerfully influences the dying sinner to respond in saving faith. God, in effect, graciously overcomes the sinners hostility/inability, upon the sinner hearing the gospel."
Mark - I whole heartedly agree!
Ben - "This enabling does not, however, guarentee a positive response."
Mark - WRONG. See John 6.
Ben - "So I believe that faith is a "gift" only in the sense that one could not believe if not for the prevenient and enabling grace of God."
Mark - Agreed.
Ben- "Faith is not a gift in the sense of being irresistibly caused by regeneration. Scripture nowhere says this, only the sophistry of certain theological systems."
Mark - Faith is a gift. Eph. 2:8; 1 John 5:1.
Ben - "Do you believe, in your system, that the regenerated sinner must in fact choose Christ [is caused to choose Christ], or do you believe that the sinner who is regenerated *freely* chooses Christ?"
Mark - The sinner freely chooses Christ. It is his new nature to.
September 12, 2007 8:25 AM


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Released from the law!

Romans 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

In the photo above, Moses is holding the written code of bondage. Born again believers have died to the law through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They have been released from the law and are under the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Believers are led by the Spirit and have the law written on their hearts. They are regenerated and through faith in their Lord and savior Jesus Christ and are justified and adopted as sons of God. They are in Christ and no longer controlled by the law of sin and death as Jesus has fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law on their behalf. Believers are also given the fruit of the Spirit as they look to grow in grace, sanctification, and Spirit led service. The old way of the written code is no longer applicable to Spirit led believers because Jesus has set them free and when the son sets you free, you are free indeed.

Praise our triune God that he provided everything he requires for those redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Christians should look to grace, the Holy Spirit and the teachings of Jesus in their sanctification and not the law.

Monday, September 10, 2007


"In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, nothing short of divine power was employed. What can we say of those who think that conversion is brought about by the free will of man and is due to his own good character? When we see the dead rise from their graves by their own power, then we can expect to see ungodly sinners turning to Christ of their own free will.

"The preached or read Word, in itself, does not bring this divine power. All quickening power proceeds from the Holy Spirit. The power that raised Christ from the dead was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb. Death itself could not hold Jesus in its chains. ...

"If God omnipotently says, 'You will,' man cannot say, 'I will not.' ...

"God receives great glory in the conversion of every sinner. ...

"Therefore, since we have been raised from the dead in Christ, we do not go back to our dead works or old corruptions. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3) ... note that the new life is united to Jesus. The same power that raised the Head works life in the members."

- Morning and Evening, by Charles Spurgeon, revised Modern English version, September 3rd evening devotion

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

To Counter-Act The Misinformation on Another Blog

Spurgeon preached that regeneration precedes faith.

The entire sermon can be found here...http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0979.htm

"At the same time, this faith, wherever it exists, is in every case, without exception, the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Never yet did a man believe in Jesus with the faith here intended, except the Holy Spirit led him to do so. He has wrought all our works in us, and our faith too. Faith is too celestial a grace to spring up in human nature till it is renewed: faith is in every believer "the gift of God."

"To believe in Jesus is a better indicator of regeneration than anything else, and in no case did it ever mislead. Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man."

C.H. Spurgeon

Folks, read the whole sermon yourself

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 08, 2007

New Covenant Glory

2 Corinthians 3:5-11 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

In this passage Paul calls the old covenant a ministry of death and condemnation. By contrast he calls the new covenant a ministry of righteousness that greatly exceeds the old covenant in glory. In fact the new covenant renders the old covenant to having no glory at all by comparison. The old covenant has ended and is finished. It has served its purpose and is over. Does that mean we can kill, commit adultery, etc? Certainly not, but we should not frame God’s righteousness and Christian conduct in the language of the ten commandments of “thou shall not” that suggests and points people toward legalism and works salvation. When we carry people back to the Mosaic Covenant it seems to have the effect of pointing them to works salvation. The new covenant of grace, regeneration, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the ministry of Jesus points believers toward sanctification and the fruit of the Spirit.

Matthew Henry’s commentary says the following about this passage:v. 6-11…….The law is done away, but the gospel does and shall remain, 2 Corinthians 3:11. Not only did the glory of Moses's face go away, but the glory of Moses's law is done away also; yea, the law of Moses itself is now abolished. That dispensation was only to continue for a time, and then tovanish away; whereas the gospel shall remain to the end of the world, and isalways fresh and flourishing and remains glorious.

The law was a guardian until Christ!

Galatians 3:15-29 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the covenant of promise made with Abraham. The Mosaic covenant, put in 430 years after the covenant of promise, did not add to or annul the covenant of promise (v. 15). The law of the Mosaic Covenant was not contrary to promises of God (v. 21). The law was added to be a guardian until the promised new covenant of faith in Jesus Christ was revealed. The law was given specifically to Israel at Mt. Sinai and ended with the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Now that faith has come a guardian is no longer needed, as all who are in Christ Jesus through faith are sons of God.

Does this mean God’s righteous standards have changed? Absolutely not! It means all the blessings of the New Covenant have been bestowed upon those who are redeemed by the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Praise God that he perfectly fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant for the redeemed and paid their sin debt on the cross of Calvary. By this redemption, Christ freed believers from the curse of the law, which brings death and not salvation. Redeemed blood bought followers of Christ should not go back to Moses and the law for standards of obedience and sanctification. We should look to Jesus Christ.

v.15 …. The Covenant of promise was a covenant fulfilled in the new covenant of Jesus Christ, and the law of the Mosaic Covenant did not add
anything or annul anything.
v. 16…. The promise was the seed of Abraham, Christ
v. 17…. The law did not add to or annul the covenant of promise with Abraham
v. 18…. The promise (Christ) saves, the law doesn’t
v. 19…. Added because of sin until the promised seed should come
v. 20…. God did this
v. 21…. The law does not contradict or nullify the promised seed. If there were any way to salvation through law then, then salvation would be by law.
v. 22…. Scripture showed that sin made salvation impossible except by faith in Jesus. v. 23…. Before faith (new covenant) came, sinners (everyone) were captive and in prison until salvation would be revealed.
v. 24 …. The law was a guardian until Christ came. The role of the law ended when Christ came. (Guardian- a person who guards, protects, or preserves.)
v. 25 …. Since faith has come we are no longer under law.
v. 26…. The redeemed are in Christ by faith and are sons of God. (Rom. 8)
v. 27…. Those baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
v.28 …. There is one people of God and they are in-Christ.
v. 29 …. Those in Christ are Abraham’s
offspring and heirs according to the promise. This verse connects the covenant
of promise with Abraham to the new covenant of the gospel of Christ. The
guardian of v. 25 is no longer needed and is called obsolete in Hebrews.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Blessed are the meek

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

In beatitude #1 Jesus described Christians as being poor in spirit due to a realization of their sin and unrighteousness. In #2 he says that Christians mourn and repent with a Godly sorrow due to being poor in spirit. In this the third beatitude Jesus blesses them as being meek. Christians realize their sinful state before God. They hate and mourn their sin and feel grateful that God’s grace has redeemed them from sins power and penalty. This thankfulness and inner peace causes an attitude of meekness and a resolve to endeavor to follow Christ with a heart and mind that are focused on heavenly things rather than worldly treasures. The blessing is that they will inherit the earth and this is their hearts desire. They are humbled because they have been forgiven and pardoned by the God that created the universe. This knowledge does not allow a Christian to have a high and mighty attitude that is focused on self. No, this awareness of their sin nature causes a Christian to be exceedingly grateful and meek for their blessing of salvation in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the meek are able to be at peace and content even if they are short on worldly goods.

These are not requirements that Christians must meet to inherit the earth. These are the effects of Christians that have been regenerated and led by the Spirit of God. This is a character description of blood bought Christian disciples and do not ever think that the blessing of eternal life is waiting for anyone who is not a disciple. If you harbor such folly, then I encourage you to repent and believe the gospel (the whole gospel).

Praise God that Spirit led Christians are meek people that are at peace in this world and will one day inherit a new earth where there will be no pain or tears.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Preach Repentance

by Mark Pierson

With sadness I enter this post. I have friends in the Free Grace movement whom I love and respect; but that does not mean I keep my mouth shut about this system.

I have watched how the proponents of this system present their views, how they make man-made divisions into the word. It seems to me that they are working from a false paradigm which supplies them with a false premise from which to build their case. Their system fails to provide Biblical information to the lost, spiritually dead, rebellious, sin-loving God-hater, who is walking according to the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience, that slave to sin who is by nature a child of wrath, who walks according to the weather vane of this world.

Consider this: the gospel of John begins in chapter 1 to present Christ as God, the Perfect Representative of the Father; the One Who unfolds the Father as a scroll to a world that has not retained God in its knowledge. Romans one through three is clear on this. The world has cast aside all knowledge of its Maker and has fully rejected His rightful rule. As a result mankind is completely under the devil's sway. To ignore what is before us in chapter one of John as we preach Christ is to ignore a major portion of Christ's mission to this earth. I repeat, He came to show us the Father as His only perfect representative.

We are saved by being in Christ the Person. Coming to Christ means taking His yoke upon us and learning of Him. Their system dichotomizes where the Bible does not authorize them. They have split faith and repentance which clearly belong together. In the Great Commission faith, (Mk.16:16) and repentance, (Lk.24:47) are to be preached together. If I believed the building I was standing in was on fire I would seek the fast escape. So it is with those who are told that they are in rebellion against their Creator and His Christ. That person is commanded by scripture to repent and believe the gospel - IOW, turn from following the spirit of this age, and take Christ's yoke upon him and so learn of Him.

That system, in all practicality, treats men as if there were no issue of original sin, no love of sin and hatred of God, no rebellion against the Creator. Calvinists and nonCalvinists alike agree that repentance flows from the genuine believer.

A couple of points:

1)No where in scripture does justifying faith happen without repentance also being evident. IOW, repentance always shows in the life of the believer. So, I say, nowhere in scripture do we see an unrepentant believer.

2) Let's look at Christ's accomplishments and their effects on the believer - Because of Christ's cross-work Paul was entrusted with a message that would "open eyes,turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins... " Acts 26:18-20. The Father has "conveyed us into His Son's kingdom" where there is redemption (being bought back from Satan's dark rule)and forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:12-14. Also Romans 6 teaches that we were once slaves of sin, but now, because of Christ's accomplishments on the cross, we are slaves of righteousness and of God.

Because of Christ's cross-work, His telling people to repent, through those servants of His who preach His word accurately, is like His having commanded that man to stretch forth his crippled hand, and when he has done so it is whole. And so it is when one is commanded to repent. His life will straighten out because of the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ as a result of His cross-work.

Justification is not the whole of the picture. Conformity to Christ is. This conformity, though not automatic, is inevitable, and begins at the moment of regeneration; hence the need to preach repentance to the unsaved. Christ is the One to be looked at for salvation. The world has rejected its Maker and His Christ. The world has thrown off God's rule in their lives. See the second Psalm. Faith and repentance result in the believer being brought into the Kingdom of God, and away from the rule of Satan.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Is He your Lord? Or not?

Is it Biblical to deny Jesus His title and rule as Lord over our individual lives if we claim that He is our Savior?

To what extent is the born-from-above Christian "free" in Christian liberty? Is s/he free to not submit all to the Lord's rule over his/her life?

Labels: ,

Monday, September 03, 2007

Evidences of a Backslidden Condition

Backslidden Christians are evident everywhere. They are in the churches. They are in the pews and in the pulpits. They are on the boards and are bored. They serve on committees and teach Sunday school. The backslidden seem to be more numerous than the upright and their influence throughout the world vastly more profound. While backsliders do not all manifest the same traits, evidences of their condition are not difficult to pinpoint. The following characteristics merit our serious attention.
  1. When prayer ceases to be a vital part of a professing Christian's life, backslidding is present .
  2. When the quest for biblical truth ceases and one grows content with the knowledge of eternal things already acquired, there can be no mistaking the presence of backslidding.
  3. When biblical knowledge possessed or acquired is treated as external fact and not applied inwardly, backslidding is present.
  4. When earnest thoughts about eternal things cease to be regular and gripping, it should be a warning light to the backslidder.
  5. When the services of the church lose their delights a backslidden condition probably exists.
  6. When pointed spiritual discussions are an embarrassment, that is evidence of backslidding.
  7. When sports, recreation, and entertainment are a large and necessary part of your lifestyle, you may assume backslidding is in force.
  8. When sins of the body and of the mind can be indulged in without an uproar from your conscience, your backslidden condition is certain.
  9. When aspirations for Christlike holiness cease to be dominant in your life and thinking, backslidding in there.
  10. When the acquisition of money and goods becomes a dominant part of your thinking, you have a clear confirmation of backslidding.
  11. When you can mouth religious songs and words without heart, be sure backslidding is present.
  12. When you can hear the Lord's Name taken in vain, spiritual concerns mocked and eternal issues flippantly treated , and not be moved to indignation and action, you are backslidden.
  13. When you can watch degrading movies and television and read morally debilitating literature, you can be sure you have backslidden.
  14. When breaches of peace in the brotherhood are of no concern to you, that is proof of your backslidding.
  15. When the slightest excuse seems sufficient to keep you from. spiritual duty and opportunity, you are backslidden.
  16. When you become content with your lack of spiritual power and no longer seek repeated enduements of power from on high, you have backslidden.
  17. When you pardon your own sin and sloth by saying the Lord understands and remembers that we are dust, you have revealed your backslidden condition.
  18. When there is no music in your soul and no song in your heart, the silence testifies to your backslidding.
  19. When you adjust happily to the world's lifestyle, your own mirror will tell the truth of your backslidding.
  20. When your church has fallen into spiritual declension and the Word of God is no longer preached there with power and you are still content, you are in a backslidden condition.
  21. When the spiritual condition of the world declines around you and you can not perceive it, that is testimony of your backslidden stance.
  22. When your tears have dried up and the hard, cold spiritual facts of your existence cannot unleash them, see this is an awful testimony both of the hardness of your heart and the depth of your backslidding.

-Richard Owen Roberts


Sunday, September 02, 2007


I found this at GraceGems and thought this worth sharing here...

(i) The sin of a justified person is odious—because he acts contrary to his own principles. He sins not only against the rule—but against his principles, against his knowledge, vows, prayers, hopes, experiences. He knows how dearly sin will cost him—yet he adventures upon the forbidden fruit!

(ii) The sin of a justified person is odious, because it is a sin of unkindness (1 Kings 11:9). Peter's denying of Christ was a sin against love. Christ had enrolled him among the apostles. He had taken him up into the Mount of Transfiguration and shown him the glory of heaven in a vision. Yet after all this dazzling mercy—it was base ingratitude, that he should deny Christ! This made him go out and "weep bitterly" (Matt. 26:75). He baptized himself, as it were, in his own tears! The sins of the godly go nearest to God's heart. The sins of others anger God; the sins of the godly grieve him! The sins of the wicked pierce Christ's side! The sins of the godly wound his heart! The unkindness of a spouse, goes nearest to the heart of her husband.

(iii) The sin of a justified person is odious, because it reflects more dishonor upon God. "By this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" (2 Sam. 12:14). The sins of God's people put black spots on the face of piety. Thus we see what cause there is why a child of God should weep even after conversion. "Can whoever sows such things refrain from tears?"

Now this sorrow of a godly man for sin, is not a despairing sorrow. He does not mourn without hope. "Iniquities prevail against me" (Psalm 65:3)—there is the holy soul weeping. "As for our transgressions, you shall purge them away"—there is faith triumphing.

Godly sorrow is excellent. There is as much difference between the sorrow of a godly man, and the sorrow of a wicked man—as between the water of a spring which is clear and sweet, and the water of the sea which is salt and brackish. A godly man's sorrow has these three qualifications:

(a) Godly sorrow is INWARD. It is a sorrow of soul. Hypocrites "disfigure their faces" (Matt. 6:16). Godly sorrow goes deep. It is a "pricking at the heart" (Acts 2:37). True sorrow is a spiritual martyrdom, therefore called "soul affliction" (Lev. 23:29).

(b) Godly sorrow is SINCERE. It is more for the evil that is in sin—than the evil which follows after sin. It is more for the spot—than the sting. Hypocrites weep for sin only as it brings affliction. Hypocrites never send forth the streams of their tears, except when God's judgments are approaching.

(c) Godly sorrow is INFLUENTIAL. It makes the heart better: "by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better" (Eccles. 7:3). Divine tears not only wet—but wash; they purge out the love of sin!

Use 1. How far from being godly are those who scarcely ever shed a tear for sin! If they lose a near relation—they weep. But though they are in danger of losing God and their souls—they do not weep. How few know what it is to be in an agony for sin, or what a broken heart means! Their eyes are not like the "fishpools in Heshbon", full of water (Song 7:4)—but rather like the mountains of Gilboa, which had "no dew" upon them (2 Sam. 1:21). It was a greater plague for Pharaoh to have his heart turned into stone—than to have his rivers turned into blood.

The wicked, if they sometimes shed a tear—are never the better. They go on in wickedness, and do not drown their sins in their tears!

Use 2: Let us strive for this divine characteristic. Be weepers! This is "a repentance not to be repented of" (2 Cor. 7:10). It is reported of Bradford, the martyr, that he was of a melting spirit; he seldom sat down to his meal but some tears trickled down his cheeks. There are two lavers to wash away sin: blood and tears. The blood of Christ washes away the guilt of sin; our tears wash away the filth of sin.

Repenting tears are precious. God puts them in his bottle (Psalm 56:8). Repenting tears are beautifying. To God—a tear in the eye, adorns more than a ring on the finger. Oil makes the face shine (Psalm 104:15). Tears make the heart shine. Repenting tears are comforting. A sinner's mirth turns to melancholy. A saint's mourning turns to music! Repentance may be compared to myrrh, which though it is bitter to the taste—is comforting to the spirits. Repentance may be bitter to the flesh, but it is most refreshing to the soul. Wax which melts is fit for the seal. A melting soul is fit to take the stamp of all heavenly blessing. Let us give Christ the water of our tears—and he will give us the wine of his blood!


More thinking out loud…

Still following the bread crumbs on this trail, I think I’ve come across some larger morsels from the same loaf . Could it be our daily bread?

When last I read Daniel 9:27, perplexed about whatever happens with the remaining 3 ½ years of the final (or 70th) ‘seven,’ if indeed the “he” in verse 27A is Jesus, I was intrigued by Riddlebarger’s suggestion that “we find the answer in Revelation 12:14, where John reinterpreted this three-and-one-half years in Daniel as ‘a time, a times, and half a time.’"

I noted in my last post that in Hebrew and Arabic the denotation of ‘two’ items is rendered distinct from all other plurals (three or more). This means that by the word alone you can determine a noun’s quantity by whether or not it is rendered in its singular form, its double (or two) form, or plural (three or more) form. Of course, this got me thinking that if ‘a time’ is singular and if ‘a times’ would happen to be the double form (not three or more), and then ‘half a time,’ well, that would indeed equal three-and-a-half.

So I looked a bit further into the “time, times, and half a time” of Revelation 12:14.

Let’s examine its context. The 12th chapter of Revelation notes that the woman (who gives birth to the child sought after by the dragon, widely held to be Christ sought after by Satan) flies “from the serpent into the wilderness to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.”

The footnote in RC Sproul’s English Standard Version for this particular verse points to Revelation 11: 2 – “but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.”

To which, Sproul writes: “11:2 – forty-two months. A time of distress and intense conflict between God’s people and their opponents [13:5].”

Revelation 13:5 - And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.”

Sproul notes: “It is also described as 1,260 days [v. 3, 12:6] or ‘a time, and times, and half a time” [i.e., three and a half years, 12:14]

Well, how about that?

Three-and-a-half years = 42 months = 1,260 days (with years having been rendered as 360 days in days past). There are 354.37 days in a lunar year [of 12 moons/months], and 365.24 days in a solar year; together they average 360 days.

He goes on: “It is half of seven years, which from a symbolic point of view suggests a complete period of suffering, cut short by half. The main background is found in Dan. 7:25, which in turn is related to other passages [Dan. 9:27; 12:7, 11:12]. But like other numbers in Revelation, this one may be symbolic in character, relating to the three and a half days in vv. 9, 11. It would then designate a persecution of limited length.”

To what three-and-a-half days is Sproul referring?

Revelation 11:9 – “For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb …”

Revelation 11:11 – “But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet and great fear fell on those who saw them.”

Let’s jump back to Daniel for a moment. Check out 7:25: “He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

This is uncanny – the fact that there are “3 ½ years” remaining from Daniel’s final ‘seven’ (if indeed the “he” in Daniel 7:25 refers to Christ) and the multiple references given to persecution of the saints of the Most High as “a time, times, and half a time,” both in Daniel 7:25 when the beast wears out the saints for this period of time and Revelation 12:14 when the woman who birthed the child is nourished for the same period of time. Fascinating.

A few other thoughts may help place this in a greater context.

“Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, "Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.” – Revelation 11:1,2

To which, Sproul notes:

“The description is reminiscent of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Assuming that Revelation was written before AD 70, some interpreters see chs. 6-11 or even larger portions of Revelation as prophecy concerning the fall of Jerusalem. But these verses may just as easily be a figure of the preservation of God’s people in the midst of attacks. The temple represents the presence of God on earth, especially through His people … The altar and those who worship there represent the worshipers of God, who are sealed and protected [ch. 7]. The destruction of the outer court represents the attack of outsiders on God’s people.”

With respect to the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11, Sproul indicates that they are possibly two literal individual human beings – either two Christian prophets who were martyred shortly before the fall of Jerusalem or two prophets who will appear shortly before the Second Coming. “But their identification with two lampstands [v. 4] suggests they might be symbolic figures standing for the witness of the lampstand churches of 1:20. If this is the case, they would symbolize churches rather than specific individuals. Two lampstands, rather than seven, are mentioned to imitate the pattern of Zech. 4 and of Moses and Elijah [cf. Deut 17:6; Matt. 17:3,4; Luke 10:10].”

And, if this interests you, do a quick google of ‘a time, times, and half a time.’ Several sites detail how it equals 3 ½ years.

Now, of course, 3 ½ years (or days), along with the references to 42 months and 1,260 days could be considered as great a leap to stretch it out into the entire kingdom or church age as inserting a several-thousand-year gap between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week. I daresay, however, that there seems to be a connection between the ‘time, times, and half a time’ (which I see as “3 ½ years,” albeit not necessarily literal 360- or 365-day periods) and the 3 ½-day, 42-month, and 1,260-day periods.

I just ordered Kenneth Gentry’s “Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation,” as well as his “Perilous Times” (about the book of Daniel), so I hope to learn more information about these things after I receive those books.

Still following the bread crumb trail on this…

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Just thinking out loud...

I’m following a trail of bread crumbs to an as yet unknown destination in my thinking, but I decided to detail the progress of the journey for this post on Daniel 9:26-27.

Saturday night, I popped in a video borrowed from my pastor – a debate between Thomas D. Ice, Ph.D. and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D. The discussion is “Matthew 24: Past or Future?” I confess that parts of it were a bit dry, and so after considerable listening to the opposing viewpoint (already knowing what I think for the most part about this chapter and with whom I agree), I fast forwarded to the more lively Q&A section at the end. It was during this section that I became intrigued by one question posed by Dr. Ice to Dr. Gentry:

Ice: “Ken, Daniel 9:27 says, ‘And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.’

“How can you say that the 70th week of Daniel was fulfilled in the first century when (1) no Roman leader ever made a covenant with the Jewish leaders especially for seven years and (2) since you apply the 70th week in the first century to the first century Romans, then when were they destroyed immediately after 70 AD…?”

Gentry: “And what do you believe? What he [referring to Ice] believes is that Daniel 9 talks about 490 years, and you go right up until 483 consecutively and then he inserts a gap of 2,000 years and puts the last seven years 2,000 years or more later…

Daniel 9… speaks of Jesus being baptized, coming before Israel… He presents the covenant to the people, and all the events of verse 24 come to pass in Jesus. And then, as a result of their rejecting Him, the Messiah is cut off, that is, He’s crucified… and then the Romans come in and destroy the temple.

Now, Jesus makes a covenant with the people – with the many for one week, that is Jesus deals with Israel for the seven-year period. He has a 3 ½ -year ministry, and then He dies because in the middle of the week, He will put a stop to sacrifice; His death is the conclusion to the sacrificial system as far as God is concerned.

What Gentry presented here was new to me. So when I later sat to read these passages for myself, I was discouraged to see that the NIV rendering for verse 27 is: “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

Now doesn’t that NIV wording imply that the “he” who confirms a covenant with many is the same “he” who puts an end to sacrifice and the same “he” who sets up an abomination that causes desolation, as well as the same “him” upon whom the end that is decreed is poured out?

Other translations render the person in 27B to be someone other than the person of 27A. When I referred to the NASB, I was encouraged by its wording (which notes in 27B a change of persons: “and will come one who makes desolate”). So after Sunday evening service, I showed both NIV and NASB renderings of these passages to my pastor, who inquired of me, “So did you check the Hebrew?”

D’uh. Now why didn’t *I* think of that?

The original Hebrew (or so as it reads in my Jewish Publication Society TaNaKh – the acrostic for Torah, Nevi’im v’Ketubim – Torah, Prophets and Writings) left me scratching my head even more with regard to the question "Who is he?," because after the reference to the cessation of offerings, I see no indication of anyone - neither to the first "he" nor to anyone else. Looking into the Hebrew, however, did enlighten me as to the difficulty in rendering the best translation. Here’s how the Hebrew translates into English (word for word, not grammatically correct in English). I show it here just to give a sense of what we're working with. It is shown without punctuation, as the original has none (other than vowel notations and cantor symbols):

Verse 26 And after the weeks sixty and two will be cut off the anointed one [note: ‘the verb here for ‘cut off’ is the same as that used for ‘to cut a covenant’] and there is not to him [note: he has or is no more] and the city and the holy he will destroy a people a leader to come and his end in a flow and until the end war decided desolations.

Verse 27 He will strengthen/intensify a covenant [note: the verb here is no longer the typical verb used throughout the OT for ‘to cut a covenant’] to many one week and half of the week ‘will put an end to’ [note: I didn’t know this particular Hebrew verb – ‘yashbit’ – and couldn’t find it in my dictionary] a sacrifice and an offering and upon wing abominations of desolation and until destruction decided will be poured down on desolation.

Lo and behold, while reading this morning, I came across this morsel in Kim Riddlebarger’s “A Case for Amillenialism”:

“There is always much discussion about this prophecy given the cryptic use of ‘seventy weeks’ or ‘seventy sevens’ as the time frame in which the prophecy is to be fulfilled. Again, the key here is to look for other biblical-theological images which lend us help in interpretation. …the key to the meaning of the ‘sevens’ is to be found in the sabbatical patterns established in Leviticus 25:1-4: ‘The Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields … But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest.’ In Daniel’s prophecy, the first of these sevens [v. 25] comprises seven sabbatical years [forty-nine years total], which constitutes the Jubilee [Lev 24:8] … The total period of seventy-sevens in Daniel 9:24-26, therefore, constitutes ten jubilee eras, with the emphasis falling on the ultimate jubilee yet to come after 490 years had passed. In other words, the messianic age.”


“The language throughout Daniel thoroughly supported the identification of the one who makes a covenant with the many as none other than Jesus himself. Not only did verse 25 give us a list of messianic and redemptive accomplishments associated with the coming one, but in verse 26, we read that the Anointed One will be cut off. Daniel used the verb ‘karat,’ which was often used to describe the cutting ritual associated with the ratifications of covenants. This connects the ‘cutting off’ of verse 26 with the confirming of a covenant in verse 27. ... The words in verse 27 informed Daniel that the one who would be cut off nevertheless would make a covenant in the middle of the seventieth week of the prophecy. ...

“It is significant that in verse 27 the angel Gabriel informed Daniel that the Anointed One would ‘confirm’ a covenant with man. The usual verb used for the making of a covenant, ‘karat,’ was found in verse 26. But in verse 27, the verb ‘higbir’ was used instead, which means to ‘make strong, cause to prevail.’ ... The use of ‘higbir’ illustrated that the covenant being ‘made strong’ or ‘prevailing’ in verse 27 meant that the covenant in verse 27 was not being made de novo but was a covenant being confirmed or enforced. In other words, the covenant being confirmed in the middle of the seventieth week by the Anointed One was a covenant which already existed. This is a reference to the covenant of grace which God had previously made with Abraham and now was confirmed by the Messiah on behalf of many (those redeemed by the suffering servant in Isa. 53:12).”

Now, all of this makes sense to me except for one question:

If Christ would be cut off in the middle of the 70th week, what about the last part (three-and-a-half years) of the final seven-year sabbatical period before the jubilee?

I believe Riddlebarger puts forth an interesting option for consideration here, and that is that “we find the answer in Revelation 12:14, where John reinterpreted this three-and-one-half years in Daniel as ‘a time, a times, and half a time.’.

Riddlebarger then quotes a woman named Meredith Kline. In part, she writes: ‘the last week is the age of the church in the wilderness of the nations for a time, a times, and half a time [Rev. 12:14]. Since the 70 weeks are 10 jubilee eras that issue in the last jubilee, the 70th week closes with angelic trumpeting of the earth's redemption and the glorious liberty of the children of God. The acceptable year of the Lord which came with Christ will then have fully come. Then the new Jerusalem whose temple is the Lord and the Lamb will descend from heaven [Rev. 21:10,22] and the ark of the covenant will be seen [Rev. 11:19], the covenant the Lamb has made to prevail and the Lord has remembered.” (The Law and the Prophets, Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, Meredith G. Kline)

Let me say at this point that I’m not sure yet what I think about that thought, except that it rang a bell with me in my understanding of Hebrew. I don’t know about Greek, but in both Hebrew and Arabic the denotation of ‘two’ items is rendered distinct from all other plurals (three or more). This means that by the word alone you can determine a noun’s quantity by whether or not it is rendered in its singular form, its double (or two) form, or plural (three or more) form. English has no equivalent for this.

This is what got me thinking that if ‘a time’ is singular and if ‘a times’ would happen to be the double form (not three or more), and then ‘half a time,’ well, that would indeed equal three-and-a-half. Even if the Greek doesn’t carry the equivalent for a double (as opposed to three-or-more plural) form, it does exist in the Hebrew and therefore Jewish mindset and could be considered a possibility here.

Still following the breadcrumbs on this one…

I wonder if they lead to further investigation of a time, times, and half a time.

Labels: , ,