Testimony: Costi Hinn

I can relate to so much in this interview as I was once a pastor in the word of faith movement and a local TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) host. I praise the Lord for drawing me out and leading me into truth, just as He has for Costi here. The fact that we both are now Reformed pastors committed to expositional preaching is a sweet joy!

Benny Hinn’s Nephew, Costi Hinn, Refutes The False Teaching of His Uncle In His First Television Interview:

21 Misunderstandings of Reformed Thinking

by Dr. Sam Storms (original source here)

There are a few things beside the native darkness and pride of the human heart that are a greater danger to the doctrines of grace than the widespread misunderstandings of those doctrines and their implications. The best solution to these misunderstandings is a study of the Reformed tradition itself and its clear statements about what the Bible does, and does not, teach regarding the doctrines of grace.

Before I addressed this important subject, I gave the conference four points of introduction. The first of those is the subject of this first post on those 21 misconceptions of Calvinism.

The Sources of These Misunderstandings

I distinguished three sources of misconceptions about Calvinism

The first was Arminian Misrepresentation. It is unquestionable that both today and in the past history of the church, Arminians have constantly repeated misrepresentations of the doctrines of grace. While these misrepresentations may have seemed to them the necessary implications of the views of their Calvinist opponents, they were made in many cases in spite of the clearest denials by the Reformed. It is unfair for anyone to charge their opponents with holding views that they deny even though they seem to be the logical implications of their positions. It is fair to point out that their views do lead to such implications. It is not fair to affirm that they hold or believe such implications when they explicitly deny them.

The second was Immature Reaction. Another source of various misunderstandings of the doctrines of grace comes from the over-reaction of immature Calvinists. In their new found vision of the absolute sovereignty of God and newly acquired revulsion to the widespread ignorance and denial of God’s sovereignty by professing Christians, it is easy for neophyte Calvinists to make all sorts of extremist statements and adopt all sorts of imbalanced views that time and calm consideration will show are filled with ill-considered assertions and careless implications. These statements are not the deliberate misrepresentations of Arminians or the calculated presumption of Hyper-Calvinists, but the enthusiastic overstatements of “Young Turks” or “Cage-stage” Calvinists.

The third was Hyper-Calvinist Presumption. But another and dangerous source of misunderstandings about Calvinism is the historical stream of real Hyper-Calvinism which developed in the centuries following the Reformation. Yes, there really is such a thing as Hyper-Calvinism! Of course, Hyper-Calvinism is not five point Calvinism. That is just Calvinism. Granted such Hyper-Calvinism scarcely exists anywhere any more. But its writings and its representatives do exist and pose a constant and, I fear, growing temptation to young, imbalanced Calvinists ready to embrace anything that appears to exalt a sovereign God. I warn you, then, that everything is not gold that glitters. Be careful of those who will tell you that the free and well-meant offer of the gospel, the doctrine of common grace, and duty-faith are Arminianism.

The Solution to These Misunderstandings

The root of each of these sources of misunderstanding is, I think, the same. It is rationalism. By that I mean the exaltation of human reason over the teaching of the Word of God. It is, of course, true that human reason is created by God and is a necessary tool in the interpretation of the Bible. This is undeniable. I concur with the Westminster Confession when it says:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture …

But we must never forget that our reason is limited in two respects. It is both finite and fallen. We must be, therefore, modest and careful in the deductions which we draw from Scripture, guarding always against allowing our human reason to purge from Scripture things which seem contradictory to our reason. We must be prepared, to put this in other words, to allow the divine wisdom of Scripture to correct our human wisdom and reason. We must not jump quickly to unnatural and forced interpretations to remove from Scripture things which are offensive to our reason.

My third point of introduction was …

The Substantiation of These Misunderstandings

The title of 21 Misunderstandings of Calvinism assumes that we have some authority for what historical Calvinism or Reformed thinking is. Only on the basis of some authoritative statement of Calvinism can I show or substantiate that certain views are misunderstandings of its teaching. In my message at RP 15 I used two such authoritative statements of Calvinism.

First, I will use the historic Calvinistic Baptist Confession of Faith, the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. It is the confession that can claim more than any other to have shaped Reformed and Particular Baptist thought. It has the further advantage of being a revision of the Westminster Confession, the classic Reformation confession, and echoing most of its language and doctrinal sentiments.

Second, I will use the Canons of Dort. The Canons of Dort were the first, creedal, and systematic exposition of the doctrines of grace in the history of the church and were affirmed by an international synod of Reformed churches and theologians in 1618-19. I think these two documents are indisputably authoritative, historical affirmations of Calvinism. Continue reading

Regeneration Is Monergistic

This excerpt is adapted from Foundations of Grace by Steven Lawson (original source here).

There may be no truth in the Bible more deeply loved and greatly cherished than the subject of the new birth. Here is the grace-centered message of a new beginning for those whose lives have been ruined by sin. Here is the life-changing truth that sinful men can be made new. When the new birth is caused by God, old things pass away—old practices, old cravings, old habits, old addictions, and old associations. Behold, new things come—new desires, new pursuits, and new passions. An entirely new life begins. Nothing could be more positive than this. It is no wonder that the truth of the new birth is so beloved.

Yet despite its great appeal, the new birth may be the most misunderstood doctrine in Scripture. Most people naively imagine that there is something they can do to cause themselves to be born again. They hear a well-meaning person say, “Believe and be born again,” and suppose that they can. So they try to effect their own regeneration. But this they cannot do. In attempting it, they are like someone who imagines he caused himself to be born physically. Did he meet with his parents and ask to be born? Did he initiate his own birth? Of course not. The truth is, the initiative in birth lies outside of the one being born. He is merely part of a process that started long before he came into being. His parents acted, then God acted. And as a result, that individual was brought into the world. He did not cause his own birth to happen.

The same is true regarding spiritual birth. If you have experienced the new birth, it is not because you initiated it. Rather, it was an event that God brought about in you. More specifically, you were not born again because you exercised faith. In truth, the new birth preceded your faith and produced it. Saving faith is the fruit of regeneration, not the root of it. The biblically correct order of salvation—known in theological language as the ordo salutis—is not “Believe and be born again,” but the very opposite: “Be born again and believe.” The living God must act upon the spiritually dead soul and cause it to be born again. The new birth is by divine choice and sovereign initiative. God’s will affects the human will, not vice versa. Scripture intentionally uses the imagery of birth to underscore this essential truth of the sovereignty of God in regeneration.

John Murray, one of the foremost theologians of the twentieth century, affirmed the divine initiative in the new birth when he wrote:

“For entrance into the kingdom of God we are wholly dependent upon the action of the Holy Spirit, an action … which is compared to that on the part of our parents by which we were born into the world. We are as dependent upon the Holy Spirit as we are upon the action of our parents in connection with our natural birth. We were not begotten by our father because we decided to be. And we were not born of our mother because we decided to be. We were simply begotten and we were born. We did not decide to be born…. If this privilege is ours it is because the Holy Spirit willed it and here all rests upon the Holy Spirit’s decision and action. He begets or bears when and where He pleases.”

Murray goes on to write, “Regeneration is the act of God and of God alone.” In other words, regeneration is monergistic, meaning that “the grace of God is the only efficient cause in beginning and effecting conversion.” The key word here is only. God is the only cause behind the new birth. The opposite of monergism is synergism.

This latter word is derived from the Greek word synergos, meaning “working together.” According to the theory of synergistic regeneration, both the divine and human wills are active, and each must cooperate with the other. But what does the Scripture teach?

According to James 1:18, “Of his own will he brought us forth”—an unmistakably monergistic statement. John 1:12–13 reads, “All who did receive him, who believed in his name … were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” This view of the new birth could not be more monergistic. John 3:8 says, “‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” Man does not effect the movement of the Spirit—God does. First Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Clearly, regeneration is monergistic, the activity of only one will—namely, the divine will.

In the latter epistles of the New Testament, this truth of regeneration appears with intentional regularity (James 1:18; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18). This is a fundamental teaching within the doctrines of grace. It reveals that God must implant new life within your soul. God must effect a spiritual conception within you. God must impregnate your heart. In short, God must cause you to be born again.

Expository Preaching

What took me a couple of hours to teach on last week’s Dividing Line broadcasts, Shai Linne sums up in just a few minutes:

Preacher: Preach the Word (Part 1)

Preacher: Preach the Word (Part 2)

God Raised You From the Dead

Dr. John Piper: You came into this world dead. Not sort of “hard of hearing” towards the gospel, not simply crippled in good works, not struggling to keep your head above the waters of sin. You were dead: spiritually lifeless and unmoving. Everything that a dead corpse can contribute to becoming alive, you could do, spiritually, to believe in Christ. Nothing. Dead means dead (Ephesians 2:1–3).

But God, because of the wealth of mercy in his being, loving dead corpses such as we are, said to us, “Live.” And as surely as the voice of God raised the Son of God from the tomb outside Jerusalem, he raised us up from death, and set us about the works of Christ, by the same power that breathed in our souls from the beginning of our first cries of faith (Ephesians 2:4–7).

This is the good news of Jesus. No boasting, no claim of contribution to our own resurrection — we boast, but say nothing but “useless” of ourselves. Our boasting is in the Lord who raises the dead, for his glory (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Scripture: Ephesians 2:1–10

LAB_PDX_10 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Spiritual Warfare: Essential Military Directives

Text: Ephesians 6:10-20

Every Christian, while at peace with God is at war with a hostile, malicious and well organized enemy. So that we do not become casualties of war, God has supplied vital and essential equipment for each of His soldiers. Follow orders and put on the whole armor of God.

Calvin on the Necessity for Reforming the Church

Article by Dr. Robert Godfrey (original source here)

More than 450 years ago, a request came to John Calvin to write on the character of and need for reform in the Church. The circumstances were quite different from those that inspired other writings of Calvin, and enable us to see other dimensions of his defense of the Reformation. The Emperor Charles V was calling the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire to meet in the city of Speyer in 1544. Martin Bucer, the great reformer of Strassburg, appealed to Calvin to draft a statement of the doctrines of and necessity for the Reformation. The result was remarkable. Theodore Beza, Calvin’s friend and successor in Geneva, called “The Necessity for Reforming the Church” the most powerful work of his time.

Calvin organizes the work into three large sections. The first section is devoted to the evils in the church that required reformation. The second details the particular remedies to those evils adopted by the reformers. The third shows why reform could not be delayed, but rather how the situation demanded “instant amendment.”

In each of these three sections Calvin focuses on four topics, which he calls the soul and body of the church. The soul of the church is worship and salvation. The body is sacraments and church government. The great cause of reform for Calvin centers in these topics. The evils, remedies and necessity for prompt action all relate to worship, salvation, sacraments and church government.

The great cause of reform for Calvin centers in these topics. The importance of these topics for Calvin is highlighted when we remember that he was not responding to attacks in these four areas, but chose them himself as the most important aspects of the Reformation. Proper worship is Calvin’s first concern.

Worship

Calvin stresses the importance of worship because human beings so easily worship according to their own wisdom rather than God’s. He insists that worship must be regulated by the Word of God alone: “I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honour of God. But since God not only regards as fruitless, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice.’” This conviction is one of the reasons that reform was required: “. . . since . . . God in many passages forbids any new worship unsanctioned by his Word; since he declares that he is grievously offended with the presumption which invents such worship, and threatens it with severe punishment, it is clear that the reformation which we have introduced was demanded by a strong necessity.” By the standard of God’s Word Calvin concludes of the Roman Catholic Church that “the whole form of divine worship in general use in the present day is nothing but mere corruption.”

For Calvin the worship of the medieval church had become “gross idolatry.” The issue of idolatry was for him as serious as the issue of works righteousness in justification. Both represented human wisdom replacing divine revelation. Both represented a pandering to human proclivities, rather than desiring to please and obey God. Calvin insists that no unity can exist in worship with idolaters: “But it will be said, that, though the prophets and apostles dissented from wicked priests in doctrine, they still cultivated communion with them in sacrifices and prayers. I admit they did, provided they were not forced into idolatry. But which of the prophets do we read of as having ever sacrificed in Bethel?” Continue reading

An Old Sermon On Death

Dr. John MacArthur: A message preached on March 29, 1970, entitled, “Abolishing Death: The Ultimate Triumph” (original source here):

TRANSCRIPT:

Turn in the your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 15, as we look at our lesson for this morning from the Word of God. When you have arrived at that point, just hold your thumb in that area or something to mark verse 54, where we shall consider our text in a few moments. There is a preacher of the old school, but he speaks about as boldly as ever today. He’s not very popular, even though the world is his parish, and he travels to every part of the globe, and he speaks in every language. He visits the poor. He visits the rich. He preaches to people of every religion, and he preaches to many of no religion. And the subject of his sermon is always the same. It never changes. He is an eloquent preacher, and he is able to stir emotions in hearts that are not emotional. He is able to bring tears to eyes that seldom weep. His arguments are beyond refutation. There is no heart that remains untouched and unmoved by the force of his appeals. This preacher shatters life. This preacher disturbs the status quo. Most people hate him. Everybody listens to him. His name is death. Every tombstone is his pulpit. Every newspaper prints his text. And one day you will be the subject of his sermon, and he will stand at your graveside and preach to others…

With this in mind, Thomas Gray said, “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, and all that beauty, all that wealth ere gave, await alike the inevitable hour, the paths of glory lead but to the grave.” With every living soul that comes into this world, there is a built-in little time fuse, and we all have one. And when we’re born, it’s lit, and it begins to burn. And some burn fast and some burn slow, but all burn. And every birth signals the beginning of a countdown, and every countdown zeroes on an exit. And some countdowns are long and some are short…

And so life is just the process of dying. And yet men shrug off their indifference, and they yawn in God’s face while their fuse burns and their countdown continues. And to many men, life may seem like a dead end street. And at the end of that dead end street is the inevitable pine box, and that’s about all they have to look forward to…The day when the fuse burns out, the day when the hearse arrives and somebody has reached zero hour. And then what? What after that? I mean is there a hope? Is there an escape from doom? Is there something that has power over death, or does death grab us and hold us?

One night, many years ago, and you all remember it very well, in the Atlantic, there was a very serious, grim countdown. The countdown began for some people who were on a ship called the Titanic, and a huge question mark still hangs over the spot where the Titanic sank. Many people met their countdown then. Life zeroes in on an exit…And I’ve often looked at the story of the Titanic and asked myself, “Was that the sinking of the world in metaphor?”…Because many people reached their zero hour that night, reached their dead end voluntarily, refusing with scorn the lifeboats that left the ship half filled, thinking that ship couldn’t sink. Soon their scorn turned to terror… Continue reading