Repent for the Reformation?

MohlerA Response by Dr. Al Mohler (original source here)

CHURCH OF ENGLAND ARCHBISHOPS CALL FOR CHRISTIANS TO “REPENT” FOR THE REFORMATION

Now shifting to England, The Guardian reported yesterday that leaders of the Church of England have called upon their church and all fellow Christians to repent of the sins of the Reformation. The headline in The Guardian yesterday:

“C of E archbishops call on Christians to repent for Reformation split.”

Yesterday on the website of the Church of England, the two highest-ranking archbishops of that church, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu said,

“This year, churches around the world will be marking the great significance of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation in Europe, dated from Martin Luther’s 95 Theses protesting against the practice of indulgences, on 31 October 1517 at Wittenberg.”

“The Church of England,” they wrote, “will be participating in various ways, including sharing in events with Protestant church partners from Continental Europe.”

But the two archbishops then continued,

“The Reformation was a process of both renewal and division amongst Christians in Europe. In this Reformation Anniversary year, many Christians will want to give thanks for the great blessings they have received to which the Reformation directly contributed. Amongst much else these would include clear proclamation of the gospel of grace, the availability of the Bible to all in their own language and the recognition of the calling of lay people to serve God in the world and in the church.”

But then the two archbishops took this turn, and I quote,
“Many will also remember the lasting damage done five centuries ago to the unity of the Church, in defiance of the clear command of Jesus Christ to unity in love. Those turbulent years saw Christian people pitted against each other, such that many suffered persecution and even death at the hands of others claiming to know the same Lord. A legacy of mistrust and competition would then accompany the astonishing global spread of Christianity in the centuries that followed.”

The archbishops said,

“All this leaves us much to ponder.”

They conclude,

“Remembering the Reformation should bring us back to what the Reformers wanted to put at the center of every person’s life, which is a simple trust in Jesus Christ. This year is a time to renew our faith in Christ and in Him alone. With this confidence we shall then be ready to ask hard questions about those things in our lives and the life of our churches that get in the way of sharing and celebrating faith in Him.”

In the part of the statement that has received justly the most attention, the Archbishop said,

“Remembering the Reformation should also lead us to repent of our part in perpetuating divisions. Such repentance needs to be linked to action aimed at reaching out to other churches and strengthening relationships with them. This anniversary year will provide many opportunities to do just that, beginning with this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“We therefore call on all Christians to seek to be renewed and united in the truth of the gospel of Christ through our participation in the Reformation Anniversary, to repent of divisions, and, held together in Him, to be a blessing to the world in obedience to Jesus Christ.”

Now that’s the kind of statement that we might expect from the theological left in terms of the Reformation and its anniversary. But this is coming from the two senior leaders of the Church of England. The headline in The Guardian really gets to the point, are we truly to repent of the Reformation? Much of the background to the statement made by the two archbishops becomes clearer when we look at the words themselves. For one thing, when we look at their statement we notice that they are claiming that the Reformation caused a division in the church.

At this point we have to ask a very hard question. It’s the hard question that was asked by the reformers themselves. We need to note that the reformers, including not only Martin Luther, but John Calvin and others, did not believe that they had any right to bring division in Christ’s church. That is not at all what they understood themselves to be doing. They had come to the point and that was not clear in 1517, but it became clear shortly thereafter, that the Roman Catholic Church was indeed not even a true church. It was not the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Martin Luther made very clear, the simple rationale for this had nothing to do, first of all, with the papacy and the hierarchy of the church, or even with Marian devotion or any number of other issues, but the fact that the Catholic Church as he knew it not only did not preach the gospel, but by its system of sacraments and by its teachings repudiated the gospel. Continue reading

Advice for a Church Bookstore

Article: 20 Pieces of Advice for Establishing a Church Bookstall
by Justin Sok (original source here)

Justin works in Washington, D.C., and is a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

Between the two of us, we’ve served as deacons of our church’s bookstall for several years. As a result, we’ve learned a lot about what to do—and not do—when it comes to maintaining a bookstall. We hope these reflections are helpful to every church that wants to instill sound doctrine in their members through books that are both affordable and faithful.

But before we say anything else, let’s be clear. The goal of a church bookstall isn’t actually to sell books. It’s a discipleship tool. Your goal is not to include every Christian book you can, or even every good Christian book you can. The goal is to highlight the particular books you really want your congregation to read.

For that reason, our church treats book selection as a pastoral responsibility. Every book on the book stall has been added by a pastor. You can buy any book in the world on the internet. But a bookstall is where a church gets to hear from its pastors about what’s worth reading.

1) Budgeting To Start A Bookstall

You’ll need some money on-hand to start. How much? It depends on how big you want your inventory to be. If we estimate that each book could be purchased by the church for $10, you could buy 400 books for $4,000. If you have 5 copies of each title, that means you could carry 80 different titles. You can scale that estimate up or down depending on the size and needs of your congregation.

You’ll also need to set aside some money for shelving and a system to accept payments. You could find a cheap cash box for under $25 if you wanted to accept only cash and checks. If you want to use an electronic point-of-sale system like Square Register, the estimates would jump to around $700, including $100 for a cash drawer, $400 for a tablet to run the app, $50 for a credit card reader, and $30 for a barcode scanner. Some of those items can be found here. Since each church’s shelving may vary widely, we don’t have an estimate for how much shelving would cost.

2) Accessibility

It’s important to determine in advance how accessible the books will be to the congregation. At our church, we leave all books out at all times. The advantage to this is that the books are on hand when pastors or church members want to give them away for discipleship or evangelism. The disadvantage is that some books get taken off the bookstall outside sales hours are and subsequently unaccounted for. (People take books and then forget to leave cash or pay during normal hours.)

The cost of such an open policy will vary based on the size of the church, size of the bookstall, and use made of the bookstall by church staff and members. At our church, the deacon of the bookstall is responsible for regularly reminding staff and the congregation to properly account for books taken during off hours. These regular reminders have decreased the cost of an open policy.

3) Pricing – General Policy

Our goal is to sell books at the lowest possible price that permits the bookstall to be self-sustaining. We don’t sell our books exactly at cost, but the prices are low enough that total revenue is approximately equal to the total cost of the books. Our costs include the books, the price tags (perhaps $20 per year for the several thousand price tags we use), and a credit card swipe fee. The church budgeted for the newly installed electronic point-of-sale system; it wasn’t paid for from bookstall revenue. We also build sales tax into the price.

4) Shelving

Since neither of us were here when the bookcases were installed, we don’t know if they were purchased or constructed. Nonetheless, we have several of them built in at the back of our auditorium. This means the books are easily accessible. That said, our corner layout does cause some traffic problems after the morning service. Continue reading

Ten Things You Should Know About Sanctification

prayer89Article by Dr. Sam Storms (original source here)

We all hear a great deal about Christian sanctification, but what precisely is it, and how does it work? Today we look at ten things about this crucial biblical truth.

(1) Sanctification is transformation through consecration. The Greek word often translated “sanctification” (as well as “to sanctify”) carries both the sense of consecration (dedication, set-apartness), which is more positional (and less experiential) in force (see 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11), and the sense of transformation (renewal, change), which is more experiential (and less positional) in force (see Rom. 6:19, 22; 1 Thess. 4:3). By God’s grace, the believer is set apart unto God as his own possession, and inwardly energized by the Holy Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh and to grow into Christ-likeness.

(2) Sanctification or growth in holiness is primarily an inner transformation of the intellectual, spiritual, and moral essence of a person such that one’s beliefs, values, desires, and choices are increasingly renovated and renewed and brought into alignment with those of Jesus Christ himself.

Jesus is himself the perfect man and model for our lives, the one in whom the image of God is most completely embodied, and our holiness is authentic only to the degree that we are progressively reshaped to resemble him in all ways. Thus, the aim for our lives must be his righteousness in us: his love for the unlovely, his humility in place of pride, his self-denial as over against self-seeking; wisdom and boldness and self-control, together with faithfulness to the Father and strength under pressure. Continue reading

More Spurgeon Quotes on Calvinism

Spurgeon08I believe nothing merely because Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God.

The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism, though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this – it is possible you may not; but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded, that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven.

I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart.

But, say others, God elected them on the foresight of their faith. Now, God gives faith, therefore he could not have elected them on account of faith, which he foresaw. There shall be twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a shilling; but will any one say that I determined to give that one a shilling, that I elected him to have the shilling, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would be talking nonsense. In like manner to say that God elected men because he foresaw they would have faith, which is salvation in the germ, would be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment.

Our Arminian antagonists always leave the fallen angels out of the question: for it is not convenient to them to recollect this ancient instance of Election. They call it unjust, that God should choose one man and not another. By what reasoning can this be unjust when they will admit that it was righteous enough in God to choose one race, the race of men, and leave another race, the race of angels, to be sunk into misery on account of sin.

Some, who know no better, harp upon the foreknowledge of our repentance and faith, and say that, Election is according to the foreknowledge of God; a very scriptural statement, but they make a very unscriptural interpretation of it. Advancing by slow degrees, they next assert that God foreknew the faith and the good works of his people. Undoubtedly true, since he foreknew everything; but then comes their groundless inference, namely, that therefore the Lord chose his people because he foreknew them to be believers. It is undoubtedly true that foreknown excellencies are not the causes of election, since I have shown you that the Lord foreknew all our sin: and surely if there were enough virtue in our faith and goodness to constrain him to choose us, there would have been enough demerit in our bad works to have constrained him to reject us; so that if you make foreknowledge to operate in one way, you must also take it in the other, and you will soon perceive that it could not have been from anything good or bad in us that we were chosen, but according to the purpose of his own will, as it is written, I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Recollect also that God himself did not foresee that there would be any love to him in us arising out of ourselves, for there never has been any, and there never will be; he only foresaw that we should believe because he gave us faith, he foresaw that we should repent because his Spirit would work repentance in us, he foresaw that we should love, because he wrought that love within us; and is there anything in the foresight that he means to give us such things that can account for his giving us such things? The case is self-evident – his foresight of what he means to do cannot be his reason for doing it.

There was nothing more in Abraham than in any one of us why God should have selected him, for whatever good was in Abraham God put it there. Now, if God put it there, the motive for his putting it there could not be the fact of his putting it there.

A controversialist once said, If I thought God had a chosen people, I should not preach. That is the very reason why I do preach. What would make him inactive is the mainspring of my earnestness. If the Lord had not a people to be saved, I should have little to cheer me in the ministry.

I believe that God will save his own elect, and I also believe that, if I do not preach the gospel, the blood of men will be laid at my door.

Our Saviour has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature; he has not said, Preach it only to the elect; and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet, since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads, or to put any distinctive mark upon them, it would be an impossible task for us to perform; whereas, when we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and follow him.

God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but He called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by His workmanship in them.

Grace does not choose a man and leave him as he is.

What happens in abortion clinics?

abortion7When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I was trained to be a POC technician. POC stands for “Products of Conception.” Sometimes, if the staff were feeling funny, we would say that it stood for “Pieces of Children.”

Inside every abortion clinic across the country, someone is tasked to be the POC technician. Their job is to take everything suctioned out of the uterus during an abortion and reassemble the parts of the baby. We did this to ensure that the uterus was empty of all fetal parts. If something was left, it could create a potentially fatal infection for the woman.

— Abby Johnson

Talking about the Reformation

radio-0My interview on the twothieves podcast (Episode 28) has now been made available at this link. I had the opportunity of speaking about some vital things, as well as addressing my previous involvement in the word of faith movement.

Four Principles of Hermeneutics

Bible02From: http://www.rbap.net/

#1 The Holy Spirit is the Only Infallible Interpreter of Holy Scripture.

As an example of this principle, John Owen says, “The only unique, public, authentic, and infallible interpreter of Scripture is none other than the Author of Scripture Himself . . . that is, God the Holy Spirit.”[1] Nehemiah Coxe says, “. . . the best interpreter of the Old Testament is the Holy Spirit speaking to us in the new.”[2] This meant that they saw the Bible’s interpretation and use of itself as infallible and with interpretive principles embedded in it. When the Bible comments upon, or utilizes itself in any fashion (e.g., direct quotation, allusion, echo, or fulfillment in the OT or NT), it is God’s interpretation and, therefore, the divine understanding of how texts should be understood by men. This often means that later texts shed interpretive light on earlier texts. This occurs not only when the New Testament uses the Old Testament, but it occurs in the Old Testament itself. Or, we could put it this way: subsequent revelation often makes explicit what is implicit in antecedent revelation.[3]

[1] John Owen, Biblical Theology or The Nature, Origin, Development, and Study of Theological Truth in Six Books (Pittsburgh, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994), 797.

[2] Coxe and Owen, Covenant Theology, 36.

[3] See Vern S. Poythress, “Biblical Hermeneutics,” in Seeing Christ in all of Scripture: Hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary, ed. Peter A. Lillback (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2016), 14, where he says: “The later communications build on the earlier. What is implicit in the earlier often becomes explicit in the later.”

#2 The Analogy of the Scriptures (Analogia Scripturae)

Here is Richard A. Muller’s definition of analogia Scripturae: “the interpretation of unclear, difficult, or ambiguous passages of Scripture by comparison with clear and unambiguous passages that refer to the same teaching or event.”[1] An example of this would be utilizing a passage in Matthew to help understand a passage dealing with the same subject in Mark. This principle, as with the first one, obviously presupposes the divine inspiration of Scripture.

The principle of analogia Scripturae gained confessional status as follows: “The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself . . .” (2LCF 1.9).

[1] Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985, Second printing, September 1986), 33; emphasis added.

#3 The Analogy of Faith (Analogia Fidei)

Muller defines analogia fidei as follows:

the use of a general sense of the meaning of Scripture, constructed from the clear or unambiguous loci [i.e., places] . . ., as the basis for interpreting unclear or ambiguous texts. As distinct from the more basic analogia Scripturae . . ., the analogia fidei presupposes a sense of the theological meaning of Scripture.[1]

This principle has not always been understood properly. For example, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. fails to distinguish properly between analogia Scripturae and analogia fidei and advocates what he calls “The Analogy of (Antecedent) Scripture.”[2] While analyzing the principle of the analogy of faith, he says, “Our problem here is whether the analogy of faith is a hermeneutical tool that is ‘open [theological] sesame’ for every passage of Scripture.”[3] While discussing his proposal for “The Analogy of (Antecedent) Scripture,” Kaiser confidently asserts:

Surely most interpreters will see the wisdom and good sense in limiting our theological observations to conclusions drawn from the text being exegeted and from texts which preceded it in time.[4]

In the conclusion to his discussion, he says:

However, in no case must that later teaching be used exegetically (or in any other way) to unpack the meaning or to enhance the usability of the individual text which is the object of our study.[5]

This is, at worst, a denial of the historic understanding of analogia fidei and, at best, a very unhelpful and dangerous modification of the principle. This would mean, for example, that we cannot utilize anything in the Bible outside of Genesis 1-3 to help us interpret it. Since there is nothing in the Bible antecedent to Genesis 1-3, interpreters are left with no subsequent divine use, no subsequent divine explanation of how to understand those chapters. This method ends up defeating itself when we consider that Genesis (and all other books of the Bible) was never intended to stand on its own.[6] As well, the Bible itself (OT and NT) comments on antecedent texts, helping its readers understand the divine intention of those texts. Kaiser’s method seems to imply that the exegesis of a given biblical text is to be conducted as if no subsequent biblical texts exist. We must realize that, in one sense, we have an advantage that the biblical writers did not have—we have a completed canon. But we must also realize that the Bible’s use of itself (whenever and however this occurs) is infallible. If this is so, then the exegete, using tools outside of the biblical text under consideration, ought to consult all possible useful tools, which includes how the Bible comments upon itself no matter where or how it does so. If the Holy Spirit is the only infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture, then certainly exegetes ought to utilize biblical texts outside of Genesis to aid in the understanding of it. It seems to me that Kaiser’s proposal would give warrant for exegetes to consult fallible commentaries on Genesis to aid in its interpretation, but deny the use of the Bible itself (which contains inspired and infallible commentary) to that same end.

An example of the proper understanding and use of the analogy of faith would be identifying the serpent of Genesis 3. We can say with utter certainty that the serpent is the devil and Satan. We know this because God tells us via subsequent Scripture in Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan” and 20:2, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan.” So, according to the analogy of faith, we can affirm that the serpent of Genesis 3 is the devil and Satan.

The inspired and infallible rule of faith is the whole of Scripture, whose textual parts must be understood in light of its textual-theological whole. This insures that the theological forest is not lost for the individual textual trees. It should keep us from doing theology concordance-style, doing word-studies as an end-all to interpretation, and counting texts that use the same words and drawing theological conclusions from it. These methods often do not consider the meaning of the text (or word) under investigation in light of the various levels of context (i.e., phrase, clause, sentence, pericope, book, author, testament, canon) in which it occurs. The principle of the analogy of faith also warrants that, when we are seeking to understand any text of Scripture (e.g., Gen. 1-3), all texts of Scripture are fair game in the interpretive process. Or it could be stated this way: the context of every biblical text is all biblical texts.

The principle of analogia fidei gained confessional status as follows:

The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, (which is not manifold, but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. (2LCF 1.9)

[1] Muller, Dictionary, 33.

[2] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward An Exegetical Theology (1981; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, Sixth printing, January 1987), 134ff.

[3] Kaiser, Toward An Exegetical Theology, 135; bracketed word original.

[4] Kaiser, Toward An Exegetical Theology, 137.

[5] Kaiser, Toward An Exegetical Theology, 140; emphasis original.

[6] The OT is not an end itself; it is heading somewhere and demands answers to various issues left unfulfilled. It sets the stage for God’s future acts of redemption and assumes that God will follow his redemptive acts with corresponding redemptive-revelational words. The OT cannot stand on its own; it is an open-ended book and must be interpreted as such. The NT provides the rest of the story. See Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 160, n. 51, where he takes Kaiser to task for claiming that the OT can stand on its own. In Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 27, he claims: “The Old Testament can stand on its own, for it has done so both in the pre-Christian and the early Christian centuries.” Johnson replies: “As will be argued in Chapter 6, the preacher to the Hebrews saw in the Old Testament Scriptures themselves various indications that the Old Testament and its institutions could not ‘stand on their own[‘] but testified to a better, more ‘perfect’ order to come.” Johnson’s book is highly recommended. Reading and interpreting the OT on its own is like reading the Gospels without the Epistles, the Epistles without the Gospels, the Prophets without the Pentateuch, the Pentateuch without the Prophets, and the NT without the OT. Kaiser’s position seems to entail reading and interpreting the OT without the New. If this is the case, it would give the appearance of over-emphasizing the human authorial element of Holy Scripture. The apostle Peter informs us, concerning the writing prophets of the OT: “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look” (1 Pet. 1:12). The prophets wrote with a future-oriented messianic consciousness. What they predicted happened when our Lord came and the NT interprets our Lord in light of the OT.

#4 The Scope of the Scriptures (Scopus Scripturae)

Terms such as Christ-centered and Christocentric are used often in our day. But what do they mean? The older way of naming the concept these terms point to, the target or end to which the entirety of the Bible tends, is encapsulated by the Latin phrase scopus Scripturae (i.e., the scope of the Scriptures). This concept gained confessional status in the WCF, the SD, and the 2LCF in 1.5, which, speaking of Holy Scripture, say, “. . . the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God) . . .”

Reformation and post-Reformation Reformed theologians understood scope in two senses. It had a narrow sense—i.e., the scope of a given text or passage, its basic thrust—but it also had a wider sense—i.e., the target or bull’s eye to which all of Scripture tends.[1] It is to this second sense that we will give our attention.

Scope, in the sense intended here, refers to the center or target of the entire canonical revelation; it is that to which the entire Bible points. And whatever that is, it must condition our interpretation of any and every part of Scripture. For the federal or covenant theologians of the seventeenth century, the scope of Scripture was the glory of God in the redemptive work of the incarnate Son of God.[2] Their view of the scope of Scripture was itself a conclusion from Scripture, not a presupposition brought to it, and it conditioned all subsequent interpretation.

William Ames, for example, said, “The Old and New Testaments are reducible to these two primary heads. The Old promises Christ to come and the New testifies that he has come.”[3] Likewise, John Owen said, “Christ is . . . the principal end of the whole of Scripture . . .”[4] He continues elsewhere:

This principle is always to be retained in our minds in reading of the Scripture,—namely, that the revelation and doctrine of the person of Christ and his office, is the foundation whereon all other instructions of the prophets and apostles for the edification of the church are built, and whereunto they are resolved . . . So our Lord Jesus Christ himself at large makes it manifest, Luke xxiv. 26, 27, 45, 46. Lay aside the consideration hereof, and the Scriptures are no such thing as they pretend unto,—namely, a revelation of the glory of God in the salvation of the church . . .[5]

Coxe said, “. . . in all our search after the mind of God in the Holy Scriptures we are to manage our inquiries with reference to Christ.”[6]

Their Christocentric interpretation of the Bible was a principle derived from the Bible itself, and an application of sola Scriptura to the issue of hermeneutics. In other words, they viewed the Bible’s authority as extending to how we interpret the Bible. Or it could be stated this way: they saw the authority of Scripture extending to the interpretation of Scripture.[7]

[1] See the discussion in Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725, Volume Two – Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003 [Second Edition]), 206-23, where he discusses these distinctions. See also James M. Renihan, “Theology on Target: The Scope of the Whole (which is to give all glory to God),” RBTR II:2 (July 2005): 36-52; Richard C. Barcellos, “Scopus Scripturae: John Owen, Nehemiah Coxe, our Lord Jesus Christ, and a Few Early Disciples on Christ as the Scope of Scripture,” Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies [JIRBS] (2015): 5-24; and Stephen J. Casselli, Divine Rule Maintained: Anthony Burgess, Covenant Theology, and the Place of the Law in Reformed Scholasticism (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016), 102-07.

[2] See my forthcoming The Doxological Trajectory of Scripture: God Getting Glory for Himself through what He does in His Son — An Exegetical and Theological Case Study, Chapter 5, “Christ as Scopus Scripturae — John Owen and Nehemiah Coxe on Christ as the Scope of Scripture for the Glory of God.”

[3] William Ames, The Marrow of Theology (Durham, NC: The Labyrinth Press, 1983), 1.38.5 (202).

[4] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 23 vols., ed. William H. Goold (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987 edition), 1:74.

[5] Owen, Works, 1:314-15.

[6] Coxe and Owen, Covenant Theology, 33.

[7] See Poythress, “Biblical Hermeneutics,” 11, where he says: “We use the Bible to derive hermeneutical principles. Then we use hermeneutics to interpret the Bible.”

Grieving The One Who Sealed You

Text: Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

The Holy Spirit is not a force but a Divine Person whom we can grieve. Yet even when this happens, He never threatens His people with abandonment, having sealed us for the day of redemption. There is much concerning the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in this vital message.

The Impact of Relativism, Postmodernism, and Cultural Marxism

In this lecture, Dr. Tony Costa discusses the impact of moral relativism, postmodernism, and cultural Marxism on Western society.

Is “Scripture Alone” Real To You And Your Church?

scripute-aloneBy J.A. Medders, Pastor of Redeemer Church, Tomball, TX

The Solas have to be more to us than historical landmarks, relics from the Reformation. Scripture Alone has an undeniable effect on our lives and the culture, eco-system, and vibe of our churches.

To really live Sola Scriptura is to believe and grasp the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is sufficient, powerful, for all of your life in Christ. You don’t need John Piper’s podcast. You don’t lack anything if you can’t buy the Christian “Book of the Year.” These are all helpful and wonderful things, but if you have God’s word, you have the food you need. And this word leads us toward living with God, how to live for God, how to walk in the power of Christ.

In a way, Scripture Alone sets us free.

Scripture Alone Frees Us From The Tyranny of Human Opinion

In the Reformation, the people were weighed down and held captive to the words of men, Popes, Priests, and the Catholic Church ruled over the people.

When Luther was put on trial by the Church, and told to take back everything he said. He refused. He said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.”

Knowing the Bible sets you free from the tyrannical scepter of human opinion. “The Truth shall set you free.” This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to the biblical counsel and wisdom and Christian friends. Of course, we should; the Bible instructs us too.

Sola Scriptura means the Bible is the ultimately authoritative word in our lives because it is the word of God. No priest, Pope, professor, pastor, or person in our church can pull rank of the revealed word of God.

When a church is living Sola Scriptura, we hear more, “The Bible says…”, and less, “I think…”.

Pastors and Sola Scriptura

As a pastor, I am not anyone’s ultimate authority. Pastors are one authority. We don’t believe in Solo Scriptura, meaning that we only listen to Scripture and nothing else. That goes against the very testimony of Scripture. Pastors are only one authority in the Christians life, even other Christians are another authority in our lives, but it is the Bible, that has the ultimate and final say. If I step outside the Bible, I’ve lost my authority. In speaking with another Christian, if you contradict the Bible, go against what God has said, you are outside of your jurisdiction. Continue reading