faith“Faith is nothing but the instrument of our salvation. Nowhere in Scripture will you find that we are justified because of our faith; nowhere in Scripture will you find that we are justified on account of our faith. The Scripture says that we are justified by faith or through faith. Faith is nothing but the instrument or the channel by which this righteousness of God in Christ becomes ours. It is not faith that saves us. What saves us is the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect work. It is the death of Christ upon Calvary’s Cross that saves us. It is His perfect life that saves us. It is His appealing on our behalf in the presence of God that saves us. It is God putting Christ’s righteousness to our account that saves us. That is the righteousness that saves; faith is but the channel and the instrument by which His righteousness becomes mine. The righteousness is entirely Christ’s. My faith is not my righteousness and I must never think of faith as righteousness. Faith is nothing but that which links us to the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness.” – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“The saving power of faith resides not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests. It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ. It is not strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith.” – B. B. Warfield

George Whitefield

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones and C. H. Spurgeon both considered Whitefield England’s greatest ever preacher. Dr. Steven Lawson begins to explain why that might indeed be the case in a message entitled “the power of God in George Whitefield’s life.”

Many decades ago, J. C. Ryle wrote the following biography of Whitefield (10 short videos – a great resource):

Continue reading

Does God Author, Cause, or Permit Sin?

From the Desiring God website: These excerpts from John Frame’s The Doctrine of God (P&R, 2003), provide an accessible and thoughtful analysis of how to talk about God’s sovereignty over sin:

This is part 1 of a 4-part series on how to talk about God’s sovereignty over sin.

In his last three sermons, John Piper has made some provocative statements about God’s sovereignty over sin.

August 12: “God created [Satan and his demons] knowing what they would become and how, in that very evil role, they would glorify Christ. Knowing everything they would become, God created them for the glory of Christ.”

August 19: “God is sovereign over Satan, and therefore Satan’s will does not move without God’s permission. And therefore every move of Satan is part of God’s overall purpose and plan.”

August 26: “[E]verything that exists—including evil—is ordained by an infinitely holy and all-wise God to make the glory of Christ shine more brightly. . . . Adam’s sin and the fall of the human race with him into sin and misery did not take God off guard and is part of his overarching plan to display the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ.”

Desiring God has received a batch of emails in response—some more heated than others!—questioning (or outright disagreeing with) God’s sovereignty over sin.

We’ve found that John Frame provides some significant help on how to talk about God’s sovereignty over sin… If you get some help here, we’d highly recommend purchasing The Doctrine of God.

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The following is from The Doctrine of God, Chapter 9, “The Problem of Evil,” by John Frame. The headings are added; the paragraphs are Dr. Frame’s.

God Is Sovereign Over Sin
. . . God does harden hearts, and through his prophets he predicts sinful human actions long in advance, indicating that he is in control of human free decisions. Now theologians have found it difficult to formulate in general terms how God acts to bring about those sinful actions. . . . Do we want to say that God is the “cause” of evil? That language is certainly problematic, since we usually associate cause with blame. . . . [I]t seems that if God causes sin and evil, he must be to blame for it.

Words: The Theologian’s Tools
Therefore, there has been much discussion among theologians as to what verb should best describes God’s agency in regard to evil. Some initial possibilities:authors, brings about, causes, controls, creates, decrees, foreordains, incites, includes within his plan, makes happen, ordains, permits, plans, predestines, predetermines, produces, stands behind, wills. Many of these are extra-scriptural terms; none of them are perfectly easy to define in this context. So theologians need to give some careful thought about which of these terms, if any, should be affirmed, and in what sense. Words are the theologian’s tools. In a situation like this, none of the possibilities is fully adequate. There are various advantages and disadvantages among the different terms. Let us consider some of those that are most frequently discussed.

1) Does God Author Sin?
The term authors is almost universally condemned in the theological literature. It is rarely defined, but it seems to mean both that God is the efficient cause of evil and that by causing evil he actually does something wrong.1 So the [Westminster Confession] says that God “neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin” (5:4). Despite this denial in a major Reformed confession, Arminians regularly charge that Reformed theology makes God the author of sin. They assume that if God brings about evil in any sense, he must therefore approve it and deserve the blame. In their view, nothing less than libertarian freedom will serve to absolve God from the charge of authoring sin.

God Does Not Author Sin
But as we saw [in chapter 8] libertarian freedom is incoherent and unbiblical. And as we saw [in chapter 4] God does bring about sinful human actions. To deny this, or to charge God with wickedness on account of it, is not open to a Bible-believing Christian. Somehow, we must confess both that God has a role in bringing evil about, and that in doing so he is holy and blameless. . . . God does bring sins about, but always for his own good purposes. So in bringing sin to pass he does not himself commit sin. If that argument is sound, then a Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God does not imply that God is the author of sin. Continue reading

What God Never Said to Job

storms-sIn an article entitled, the time has finally come for God to speak. Now that Job has endured indescribable suffering, now that his three friends and Elihu have had their say, what might one expect God to say? Amazingly, all the things one might think God would say (or should say) are nowhere to be found.

(1) There is no condemnation of Job, no reversal of the divine verdict on his character that was given in chapters one and two. God does not agree with the assessment of Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz, or Elihu. He says nothing that would lead us to believe that Job’s suffering was the direct result of Job’s sin.

(2) There are no apologies. Nowhere do we read anything like: “O my dear child, Job. I’m so very sorry for what has happened. You’ve endured a great many trials on my behalf and I want you to know how much I appreciate it. You’ve hung in there and shown yourself to be a real trooper. I promise I’ll do my best not to let this sort of thing happen again.”

As Larry Crabb put it, “Job apparently expected God would listen to what he had to say, pull slowly on his beard, and reply, ‘Job, thanks for sharing your perspective on things. You’ve got a point. Frankly, I really hadn’t seen things quite the way you see them. Look, I’ve made a bit of an error but I’ll straighten it all out right away'” (Inside Out, 146).

(3) There are no compliments. After all that Job had endured so that God might prove his point to the devil, one might have expected to hear something like this: “Job, bless your heart! You have no idea how proud I am of you. It really means a lot to me that you’ve persevered so valiantly. You exceeded all my expectations. We really showed that devil, didn’t we!”

God says nothing to Job that one might think would be appropriate for someone who had suffered so much. There are no words of encouragement or consolation; no words of how much good his experience will accomplish in the lives of others who face tragedy. There are no words of praise for his having stood his ground when the barrage of arguments came from his three friends. There are no “Thank-you’s” for having held his tongue in check from cursing God when it seemed the reasonable thing to do.

(4) There are no explanations. This is perhaps the most shocking omission of all. At the very least you would expect God to lay it all out in black and white before Job. But nowhere do we find something like this: “Job, let me begin by explaining to you how this whole thing came about in the first place. You see, one day Satan came to me and insisted that the only reason you worship me is because I treat you so well. I couldn’t let him get away with that. I had to prove him wrong, and, well . . . the rest is history, as they say!”

Nor do we find: “Job, I know you’ve been wondering how I could permit this to occur and not be guilty of injustice and hard-hearted cruelty. Well, it’s like this . . . ” Nor do we find: “Job, you’ve struggled with why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. Sit down and take out pen and paper. You’ll undoubtedly want to take notes. There are ten reasons why you, a righteous man, suffered so horribly. Number one: …”

Amazingly, there is no discussion of the problem of evil, of divine justice, of human sin, or any such thing. In fact, God supplies no answers at all to any of the questions raised by Job or Eliphaz or Bildad or Zophar or Elihu, or by you and me! Instead, it is God who asks the questions! It isn’t God who appears on the witness stand to undergo cross-examination in order to make sense of what has occurred. It is Job, of all people, who is cross-examined. More than 70 times God asks Job an unanswerable question.

Says Phillip Yancey:

“Sidestepping thirty-five chapters’ worth of debates on the problem of pain, he plunges instead into a magnificent verbal tour of the natural world. He seems to guide Job through a private gallery of his favourite works, lingering with pride over dioramas of mountain goats, wild donkeys, ostriches, and eagles, speaking as if astonished by his own creations” (Disappointment with God, 190).

For 35 chapters Job has been crying out, “God, put yourself in my place for a while!” God now responds and says, “No, Job, you put yourself in My place! Until you can offer lessons on how to make the sun rise each day or give commands to the lightning or design a peacock, don’t pass judgment on how I run my world.” In other words, God says, “Until you know a little more about running the physical universe, don’t tell me how to run the moral universe. How do you expect to understand the complexities of my dealings with mankind when you can’t even understand the simplicity of my dealings with nature?”

So what did Job then say to God?

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6).

The Largest Persecution of Christians in History – Happening Now!

“Few people realize that we are today living through the largest persecution of Christians in history, WORSE even than the famous attacks under ancient Roman emperors like Diocletian and Nero.

Estimates of the numbers of Christians under assault range from 100-200 million. According to one estimate, a Christian is martyred every five minutes. And most of this persecution is taking place at the hands of Muslims. Of the top fifty countries persecuting Christians, forty-two have either a Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations.”

Lets pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

See this link.

Spiritual State of the Nation

Ken Ham, from the 2013 Answers Mega Conference on the State of the Nation (and much of the western world):

Ken Ham’s final presentation at the 2013 Answers Mega Conference addresses the fact that two-thirds of our children are walking away from the church—as explained in the book Already Gone—and what must be done to avoid losing our children to the evil one.

Rescuing our kids: