Does Rome Possess the Gospel?

Dr. James White writes, “It is a question every generation has to face. Often. Repeatedly. And today, it is a question being brushed under the rug in the service of ecumenism and political power and cultural defense. Does Rome possess the gospel? Many on the far side of the Tiber River have concluded that while Rome gets a few things wrong, they are not really definitional, and hence, Rome gets a pass now, and can be considered simply a Christian faith with a few odd additions, nothing more. You will not be shocked to discover that I disagree. Strongly. Passionately. And here is the video of that 45 minute (or so) segment:”

Friday Round Up

(1) I am very much encouraged by the reaction to my new book “Twelve What Abouts” now out in paperback. At 168 pages, it seeks to provide answers to the most frequently raised objections to the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty in salvation. For more information, click on the links to the right hand side of this page.

(2) It was a great pleasure (this week) to meet the hosts of “Backpack Radio” as they conducted an interview of me regarding my new book. The one hour program flew by and the show airs this Sunday night on 1360AM KPXQ Radio in Phoenix at 9:00 p.m. PST, which is of course midnight over on the east coast. For those outside the Phoenix area, you can hear the program as it goes out live on the internet at

(3) What is at stake in N.T. Wright’s view of justification? Dr. Steven Lawson and Dr. Sinclair Ferguson explains here.

(4) Once again, Ligonier has some excellent deals on right now in this week’s $5 Friday sale. I particularly recommend the “The Atonement of Jesus” and the “God Alone” series (10 messages covering the five solas of the Reformation) downloads. Check out the $5 Ligonier sale here.

(5) TEMPTATIONS by Richard Sibbs

1. Take heed of Satan’s policy, that God has forgotten me because I am now in extremity; nay rather, God will then show mercy, for now is the special time of mercy; therefore beat back Satan with his own weapons.

2. Temptations at first are like Elijah’s cloud, no bigger than a man’s hand, but if we give way to them they will soon overspread the whole soul. Satan nestles himself when we dwell upon the thoughts of sin; we cannot prevent the sudden risings of sin, but by grace we may keep them down, and they should never long remain without opposition. Let us labor therefore as much as we can to be in good company, and run in a good course, for as the Holy Ghost works by these advantages, so we should wisely observe and improve them.

3. In every evil work that we are tempted to, we always need delivering grace, as to every good work God’s assisting grace.

4. It is hard to discern the working of Satan from our own corruptions, because for the most part he goes secretly along with them; he is like a pirate at sea who fires upon us under our own colors. Like Judas to Christ, he comes as a friend, therefore it is hard to discern; but it is partly seen by the eagerness of our lusts, when they are sudden, strong and strange, so strange sometimes that even nature itself abhors them. The Spirit of God leads sweetly on, but the devil hurries a man like a tempest, as we see in Amnon for his sister Tamar. Again, when we resist the motions of God’s good Spirit, dislike His government, and give way to passion, then the devil enters. Let a man be unadvisedly angry, and the devil will make him envious and seek revenge; when passions are let loose they are chariots in which the devil rides; some by nature are prone to distrust and some to be too confident; now the devil joins with them and so draws them on further; he broods upon our corruptions; he sits as it were upon the souls of men, and there broods and hatches all sin. All the devils in hell cannot force us to sin. Satan works by suggestions, stirring up humors and fancies, but he cannot work upon the will; we betray ourselves by yielding before he can do us any harm; yet he ripens sin when cherished in the heart and brings it forth into actual transgression.

The Greatest Legacy

Bible scholar Don Carson writes:

My father was a church planter in Québec, in the difficult years when there was strong opposition, some of it brutal. Baptist ministers alone spent a total of eight years in jail between 1950 and 1952. Dad’s congregations were not large; they were usually at the lower end of the two-digit range.

On Sunday mornings after the eleven o’clock service, Dad would often play the piano and call his three children to join him in singing, while Mum completed the preparations for dinner. But one Sunday morning in the late fifties, I recall, Dad was not at the piano, and was not to be found.

I finally tracked him down. The door of his study was ajar. I pushed it open, and there he was, kneeling in front of his big chair, praying and quietly weeping. This time I could hear what he was saying. He was interceding with God on behalf of the handful of people to whom he had preached, and in particular for the conversion of a few who regularly attended but who had never trusted Christ Jesus.

In the ranks of ecclesiastical hierarchies, my father is not a great man. He has never served a large church, never written a book, never discharged the duties of high denominational office. Doubtless his praying, too, embraces idioms and stylistic idiosyncrasies that should not be copied.

But with great gratitude to God, I testify that my parents were not hypocrites. That is the worst possible heritage to leave with children: high spiritual pretensions and low performance. My parents were the opposite: few pretensions, and disciplined performance.

What they prayed for were the important things, the things that congregate around the prayers of Scripture. And sometimes when I look at my own children, I wonder if, should the Lord give us another thirty years, they will remember their father as a man of prayer, or think of him as someone distant who was away from home rather a lot and who wrote a number of obscure books.

That quiet reflection often helps me to order my days.

Source: Don Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Baker, 1992), page 26.


Open Heart Surgery

Often times we will hear a preacher tell his audience to “open their heart” to the Lord. What strikes me about this phrase is that the only time I can find the concept of the opening of the heart mentioned in the New Testament, not man.

Acts 16:13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well…”

Knowing this is extremely liberating for preaching and teaching. Obviously, for someone to be converted, the heart must be opened. A new attitude is needed. Hostility towards God and His gospel has to dissipate. There has to be openness to the message. When we understand that it is Almighty God who acts to open the heart of man, it allows the preacher to preach all the counsel of God, including the so called “rough edges” of the gospel. He can preach anything found in the word of God and do so with boldness, knowing that some will reject the message outright but others will experience this opening of the heart, as God the Holy Spirit does His work under the sound of the gospel. If we really get this, we can preach anything the word of God says – absolutely anything – we can “tell it like it is” and be free to do so. God will accomplish all He intends to accomplish. His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish everything He intended; either the hardening or the opening of the heart. Continue reading

Spiritual Dyslexia

Chapter 19 of my new book “Twelve What Abouts…”

Dyslexia warps reality; the consequences of which can be catastrophic. It is something that causes great hardship to multitudes in our day. People with normal, or even above normal, intelligence suffer from dyslexia as the brain reverses numbers, letters or words. It is a huge learning handicap and, in severe cases, can greatly limit education and employment opportunities.

For those unfamiliar with the problem, imagine having the word “GOD” written clearly in front of you and yet your brain interprets the information as “DOG,” as the first and last letters of the word are transposed. I am sure you will agree that there is a vast chasm of difference inherent in this misinterpretation. My heart truly goes out to those who have to go through life having to combat dyslexia.

Moving from the physical to the spiritual realm, I believe multitudes of Christians suffer from what I would call “spiritual dyslexia.” It’s a phrase I heard some years ago and found it to be a striking one. Theologians don’t use this language of course. They would be much more comfortable describing this concept as “the noetic effects of sin,” which is the simple recognition that since the Fall of Adam, all of mankind’s faculties have been negatively affected, including his mind. In simple terms, we just don’t think now as clearly and precisely as we would have done if there had been no Fall.

According to 1 Corinthians 13, this side of glory, we only see through a glass darkly. One day, we will all comprehend things exactly (as much as finite minds can grasp the infinite). Yet right now, we all have our traditions and blind spots. If we knew exactly where we were wrong, we would change our viewpoint immediately. But the point is that we do not see these things until God the Holy Spirit enlightens us and overcomes the effects of our depravity.

Someone suffering with spiritual dyslexia then reads certain Bible verses and, though the words are clear, the traditions of men jumble up the words or miss key words entirely in a sentence. Or they just do not grasp the meaning at all. I speak here from my own experience, as I can honestly say that I had read certain verses a certain way (giving them what I believed to be a true interpretation) for many years until, suddenly, God the Holy Spirit allowed me to overcome my deeply ingrained spiritual dyslexia to see what the Scripture actually said. This is especially true in my own theological journey towards Reformed theology. I say this (hopefully) not out of spiritual pride, but simply out of sincere grateful thanks to God for opening up my understanding to the true nature of His grace. Please allow me to cite just a few examples of what I am referring to with a few quotes from the Gospel of John.
Continue reading

What are the Gospels all about?

Though I am not in any way a fan of N. T. Wright (due to his teachings on justification by faith alone and his “new perspective” on Paul), there is no getting away from the fact that in other matters of Christian theology, he has a great deal to contribute. This lecture, given in January 2012 on the message of the Gospels is very insightful.

The Authority of the Word of God

I believe… the account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the earth and the universe. The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six consecutive twenty four hour days of Creation. The various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct creative acts of God. The living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within the original kind. Only limited biological changes (including mutational deterioration) have occurred naturally within each kind since Creation.

The special creation of Adam (the first man) and Eve (the first woman), and their subsequent fall into sin, is the basis for the necessity of salvation for mankind. Death (both physical and spiritual) and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to and as a direct consequence of man’s sin. The great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and effect and much (but not all) fossiliferous sediment originated at that time.

In other words, I believe the Bible, even from the very first verse.

Here is Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, a man on fire, defending the Bible’s authority at a time when much of the church lies in compromise.

We need a new Reformation in our day. Here’s why:

Radio Interview

I would welcome your prayers that all goes well (technically and discussion wise) with the one hour interview taking place today at 3:00 pm EST (12:00 pm PST) at the KPXQ 1360 Christian radio studios in downtown Phoenix. The show is a Christian apologetics program called “Backpack Radio.” I’ve not had the joy of meeting the hosts before but I’ve been asked to come in and speak about my new book “Twelve What Abouts” and to provide biblical answers to objections made against the Reformed faith.

Though the recording will be made today, I am told that the show will air at a later date. I will let you know details of date and time as they become available.

Many thanks.

The Basics of Monergism and Synergism

At the blog site, the following is a primer on the two perennial branches of theological systems in Christianity. Or to put it another way, there are two very different ways for believers to view how their salvation was brought about.

In general, the first type (the Arminian-Synergist) affirms what is called “synergism.” Synergists believe that two forces in the universe are necessary to bring about regeneration in the life of the sinner. In specifics, the two forces at work (cooperation) that are necessary to bring about regeneration, or spiritual life, is the will of man and the Holy Spirit (grace).

To put it another way, the work of the Holy Spirit is dependent on the creature’s will, hence, “synergism” (working together). Synergists will sincerely say, “I believe in grace alone.” But in reality, they believe that grace is not alone (sufficient), but that man’s will is necessary for regeneration to be effective.

It could be said that synergists are “functional” Arminians because even though some will deny the label, their theology functions synergistically (thus, how they identify themselves is inconsistent with what they teach and believe).

The second group of believers (the Calvinist-Monergist) affirm what is called “monergism.” Monergists believe that there is only one force in the universe (grace alone) that brings about regeneration in the life of the sinner. In specifics, because of the deadness of man’s spiritual state, his moral inability, the Holy Spirit performs the miracle of spiritual resurrection (regeneration) in that person, hence, “monergism” (one work). Grace is sufficient to be effective, and does not depend on some action of man.

In other words, the Holy Spirit does not merely whisper in the hardened sinner’s ear, hoping that the rebel sinner will “cooperate”; rather, while the sinner is in a state of hardness and rebellion, the Holy Spirit penetrates in the will of man and performs the miracle of spiritual life (regeneration). That is grace alone. Faith does not precede regeneration, regeneration precedes faith.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13

He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God. John 8:47

Arminians cannot affirm monergism (grace alone); they must always have the creature’s will as the final determiner of their destiny, not God. Inconsistently, Arminians pray (without knowingly) Calvinisticly, “God, change my unbelieving relative’s heart.” I have never heard them pray, “God, only whisper in my relative’s ear, but don’t change their heart unless you’ve been given permission.” In contrast, the Calvinist prays and affirms biblical truth consistently.