Some Quotes on Sovereign Election

quillpen“After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of sovereign grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, ‘This is the most awful thing I’ve ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect.’ I answered her in this vein: ‘You misunderstand the situation. You’re visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, ‘Yes, you may come, but not you, and you, but not you, etc.’ The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction towards hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams. That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn’t it? If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish.” – Mark Webb

“The verb ‘elect’ means to select, or choose out. The biblical doctrine of election is that before the Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify and glorify in and through Jesus Christ. This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter of endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so, when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect.” – Dr. J. I. Packer

“I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, “You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.” My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will. Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“God chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe…” – Augustine (354-430)

“We give our hand to every man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ, be he what he may or who he may. The doctrine of election, like the great act of election itself, is intended to divide, not between Israel and Israel, but between Israel and the Egyptians, not between saint and saint, but between saints and the children of the world. A man may be evidently of God’s chosen family, and yet though elected, may not believe in the doctrine of election. I hold that there are many savingly called, who do not believe in effectual calling, and that there are a great many who persevere to the end, who do not believe the doctrine of final perseverance. We do hope the hearts of many are a great deal better than their heads. We do not set their fallacies down to any willful opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus but simply to an error in their judgments, which we pray God to correct. We hope that if they think us mistaken too, they will reciprocate the same Christian courtesy; and when we meet around the cross, we hope that we shall ever feel that we are one in Christ Jesus.” – C. H. Spurgeon

“If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learnt Jesus Christ aright.” – Martin Luther

“To know that from eternity my Maker, foreseeing my sin, foreloved me and resolved to save me, though it would be at the cost of Calvary; to know that the divine Son was appointed from eternity to be my Savior, and that in love he became man for me and died for me and now lives to intercede for me and will one day come in person to take me home; to know that the Lord ‘who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20) and who ‘came and preached peace’ to me through his messengers (Eph. 2:17) has by his Spirit raised me from spiritual death to life-giving union and communion with himself, and has promised to hold me fast and never let me go – this is knowledge that brings overwhelming gratitude and joy.” – Dr. J.I. Packer

“I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.” – C. H. Spurgeon Continue reading

A Shameful Betrayal

Rick-WarrenRick Warren, in this video throws the Biblical gospel to the curb, all in the name of “unity.” Yet there is no Christian unity apart from the gospel.

For Rome, justification is by grace plus merit, through faith plus works; by Christ plus the sinner’s contribution of inherent righteousness. In contrast, the Biblical gospel affirms (based on the sure foundation of Scripture alone) that salvation is by God’s grace alone, received through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.

Dr. James White writes, “…my heart truly aches when I see something like this… It is, to put it bluntly, a complete capitulation on Warren’s part. It is simply horrific. Either he is utterly ignorant of the realities of the dogmatic teachings of Rome, or, he is so completely compromised on his own view of the gospel that he can speak like this… It is such a betrayal of the Reformation and the gospel itself, and it is the fruit of the “Mere Christianity” cancer that has eaten away at the robust faith that once delivered millions from bondage to the darkness that is Romanism.”

Dan Phillips comments, “Absolutely appalling. What a wretched failure of Christian leadership… to say nothing of basic Christian fundamentals. God grant him repentance, and God spare others from being misled.”

I totally agree.

Update: Dr. James White has just provided a fuller response regarding Rick Warren by means of video (from Ukraine).

Part 1:

Part 2:

and another Rick Warren video was found…

Part 3:

Original Sin?

This article by Sam Storms entitled so pessimistic, this is the era of the Mars rover and the Human Genome Project. And haven’t the most learned psychologists and sociologists assured us that people are by nature good, having been turned to their evil ways not by some inner instinct but through the influence of a deviant culture and substandard education?

Clearly, there are obstacles to our understanding and acceptance of this notion of original sin. Perhaps the first thing we should do, therefore, is to define our terms. The terminology of original sin has been used in any one of three ways. Often people think immediately of the original original sin—the first sin of Adam. Others use this language to refer to inherited sin, the idea that all humans are born morally corrupt and spiritually alienated from God.1 Finally, by original sin some are referring to the causal relationship between Adam’s sin and our sin. In this chapter we will be touching on all three elements.

The Contribution of Romans 5:12–21

The key text for our study of original sin is Romans 5:12–21. A central point to keep in mind in studying this passage is that Paul’s thought is distinctly corporate in nature. Douglas Moo explains:

All people, Paul teaches, stand in relationship to one of two men, whose actions determine the eternal destiny of all who belong to them. Either one “belongs to” Adam and is under sentence of death because of his sin, or disobedience, or one belongs to Christ and is assured of eternal life because of his “righteous” act, or obedience. The actions of Adam and Christ, then, are similar in having “epochal” significance. But they are not equal in power, for Christ’s act is able completely to overcome the effects of Adam’s. Anyone who “receives the gift” that God offers in Christ finds security and joy in knowing that the reign of death has been completely and finally overcome by the reign of grace, righteousness, and eternal life (cf. vv. 17, 21).2

Here is what Paul says: Continue reading

Commentary on Ferguson

Voddie_BauchamVoddie Baucham is the pastor of preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas.

You can read his insightful commentary on the Ferguson situation here.

The Westminster Confession of Faith

I personally hold to the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), however there is no doubt that the Westminster Confession of Faith is also an excellent summary of Christian doctrine. In many sections, the confessions are identical, word for word, though there are a few significant differences on some points. This overview lecture series is a great resource for those wishing to study the Westminster Confession.

Lecture 1: Dr. John Gerstner begins his series with Westminster’s view of Scripture.

Lecture 2: In this message, Dr. John Gerstner examines the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapters 2-3, Sec. 3 which concerns the doctrine of God and His eternal decrees.

Lecture 3: Here, Dr. John Gerstner examines the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapters 3, Sec. 4-Chapter 5, Sec. 1: teaching on the decrees of God, creation, and the providence of God.

Lecture 4: Here Dr. Gerstner examines the providence of God and the fall of man into sin.

Continue reading

Three Uses of the Law

Jeff Robinson in an article entitled “Of What Use is the Law? Three purposes” my oldest son asked me a very insightful question: How do the Ten Commandments apply to us today if they were given so long ago in the Old Testament?

It is a basic theological question that many Christians have asked throughout the history of the church and it is an important query. Many answers have been given to that, not all of them good. Obviously, there are two answers that are dead wrong and lead to two opposite ditches that the follower of Christ must avoid: Antinomianism (the law of God has no place in the life of the believer and he/she is free to live however they please) and legalism (I am saved by how closely I adhere to God’s commands—works righteousness).

Calvin09One of the best and most helpful answers, in my opinion, that has been given was set forth by the Genevan reformer, John Calvin. In his venerable systematic theology, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin set forth three “uses” for the moral law of God. The Lord of history has given His law, Calvin wrote, to serve as:

A mirror. Calvin argued that the law functions to expose our sin and unrighteousness. When a sinner looks into the mirror of God’s law, he sees himself as he really is: depraved, sinful, wretched, undone, lost and in need of cleansing, in need of a savior. This reality causes sinners to despair of their own righteousness and leads them to flee to the Savior, the cross of Christ, for mercy. Wrote Calvin:

“The law is like a mirror. In it we contemplate our weakness, then the iniquity arising from this, and finally the curse coming from both—just as a mirror shows us the spots on our face . . . The apostle’s statement is relevant here: ‘Through the law comes knowledge of sin’ (Rom. 3:20).”

A restrainer of evil. The law of God functions to keep evildoers from being as bad as they otherwise might be. Thus, to some degree it serves to protect God’s people from the sinful machinations of the ungodly, Calvin argued. The law certainly cannot regenerate a sinful heart—that is the domain of the Holy Spirit through the gospel alone—but Calvin wrote:

“They are restrained, not because their inner mind is stirred or affected, but because, being bridled, so to speak, they keep their hands from outward activity and hold inside the depravity that otherwise they would wantonly have indulged. Consequently, they are neither better nor more righteous before God. Hindered by fright or shame, they dare neither execute what they have conceived in their minds, nor openly breathe for the rage of their lust.”

A revelation of the will of God. Believers, who have been transformed by the gospel, Calvin wrote, need the law as well, certainly not as a means of salvation, but as a guide to sanctification. The law reveals God’s perfect righteousness and reveals that which is pleasing to him. A believer can come to delight in God’s commands, however, only after he his heart has been regenerated by God’s grace through the gospel. Wrote Calvin:

“Here is the best instrument for them (believers) to learn more thoroughly each day the nature of the Lord’s will to which they aspire, and to confirm them in the understanding of it. It is as if some servant, already prepared with all earnestness of heart to comment himself to his master, must search out and observe his master’s ways more carefully in order to conform and accommodate himself to them. And not one of us may escape from this necessity. For no man has heretofore attained to such wisdom as to be unable, from the daily instruction of the law, to make fresh progress toward a purer knowledge of the divine will. Again, because we need not only teaching but also exhortation, the servant of God will also avail himself of this benefit of the law: by frequent meditation upon it to be aroused to obedience, be strengthened in it, and be drawn back from the slippery path of transgression. In this way the saints must press on; for, however eagerly they may in accordance with the Spirit strive toward God’s righteousness, the listless flesh always so burdens them that they do not proceed with due readiness. The law is to the flesh like a whip to an idle and balky ass (donkey), to arouse it to work.”

Calvin’s is a helpful paradigm, I think. But perhaps best of all, Calvin reminded his readers, in speaking of the first use of the law, that the law—like a schoolmaster—prepares one to receive the good news of the gospel. The law of God demonstrates that man has no righteousness in himself that is pleasing to God. Sinful man must be given a righteousness that is extra nos—outside of himself. As the Puritans, Calvin’s theological ancestors, famously put it, the law wounds and then the gospel arrives and heals. Wrote Calvin:

“While [the law] shows God’s righteousness, that is, the righteousness alone acceptable to God, it warns, informs, convicts, and lastly condemns every man of his own unrighteousness. For man, blinded and drunk with self-love, must be compelled to know and to confess his own feebleness and impurity. If man is not clearly convinced of his own vanity, he is puffed up with insane confidence, in his own mental powers, and can never be induced to recognize their slenderness as long as he measures them by a measure of his own choice. But as soon as he begins to compare his powers with the difficulty of the law, he has something to diminish his bravado. For, however remarkable an opinion of his powers he formerly held, he soon feels that they are panting under so heavy a weight as to stagger and totter, and finally even to fall down and faint away. Thus man, schooled in the law, sloughs off the arrogance that previously blinded him.”

As followers of Christ, we are a people of grace and not law. But it is God’s law that demonstrates his spotless character and shows our need of grace. Calvin saw this clearly. As Paul admonished young Timothy, may God teach us how to use the law lawfully (1 Tim. 1:8).

Jeff Robinson is an editor for The Gospel Coalition. A native of Blairsville, Ga., Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Georgia, a Master of Divinity in biblical and theological studies and a Ph.D. in historical theology with an emphasis on Baptist history from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, where he was mentored and supervised by noted Baptist historian Tom Nettles. At Southern Seminary, he also served as public relations officer for 10 years and also served as adjunct professor of church history at Boyce College. Jeff also spent 11 years as an editor and writer with The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in Louisville. Prior to entering ministry, he spent nearly 20 years as a newspaper journalist. Jeff and his wife Lisa have been married for 19 years and have four children: Jeffrey, 12, Hannah, 10, Lydia, 8, and Jacob, 6. Jeff is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on theology, culture, gender issues, fatherhood/parenting, baseball history and church history and is co-author with Michael Haykin of The Great Commission Vision of John Calvin from Crossway. He is a contributing writer for the online church history journal, Credo. He serves as senior fellow for the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist History and Tradition and is an adjunct professor of church history at SBTS.

The Ghastly Doctrine of the Carnal Christian

To understand what the Bible teaches about genuine salvation we must also have a category in our minds for false conversion. Many who profess faith in Christ are not truly regenerated (born again).

The following is a transcript from an excerpt of a sermon by Dr. R. C. Sproul concerning Mark chapter 4 and the Parable of the Sower. Quoting the text Dr. Sproul says:

And the ones sown on stony ground are those who, immediately receive it with gladness; but they have no root and endure only for a time…

Sproul-RCWhat I see here theologically is a vivid description of “the Spurious Conversion.” We see it all the time, where the Evangelist gives his altar call and the people rush to the front of the Church, sign the commitment card, they raise their hand, they make the profession of faith, they are all excited, they are filled with joy and the next day its “business as usual”…

I’ll never forget the night I was converted to Christ. My best friend and I were together. Before we went to bed, later that night we both sat down and wrote to our girlfriends about our conversion. When we woke up in the morning, my friend had completed repudiated what he had embraced with joy the night before – where my life was changed forever.

Its always haunted me, where I see people initially respond to the gospel but it doesn’t take root, it doesn’t last. The gospel says “immediately” that seed withers and dies because it has no place to take root.

Then Jesus said that some of those of the seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it and it yielded no crop.

Again we see an example of a spurious conversion – how somebody who makes the profession of faith but is immediately intoxicated by the enticements of this world – the quest of money, fame, lust, whatever it is; and what they professed is choked out, never taking root again.

Beloved this is why, until you’re tired of hearing it, I keep warning you and telling you that no one was ever, ever justified by a profession of faith. We must possess that faith in order to be justified. That seed has to take root in our hearts if we are to enter the kingdom of God. A superficial profession of faith is no sign of true redemption.

One of the most ghastly doctrines that has made its way through the Evangelical Church today is this idea of the “carnal Christian.” The Carnal Christian is described as a person who is truly redeemed but whose life never brings forth fruit. Even though they’re saved they are still altogether and completely carnal. Don’t confuse this with what the New Testament teaches about the TRULY converted Christian who has to fight against his flesh all of his life. But there’s no such thing as a Christian who is totally carnal. It’s a contradiction in terms.

But why does that doctrine emerge? I’ll tell you where it comes from. It comes from Evangelists who can’t stand to admit the idea that they are dealing with false professions all the time. They see people who make the profession and have no change in their life and they say “well, we’ll still count them as converts. They’re just carnal Christians.” And this gives confidence to people who are not converted that in fact they are converted.

But if the parable really is going to be called the parable of the soil, then we have to understand the ONLY ONES who bring forth fruit, the harvest of thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold, are those where the seed falls upon good soil.

Now here’s where we have to be very, very careful. We could say “well the good soil means that the seed is not going to take root unless the person who receives that seed, who hears that word is a good person. “I’m a Christian because I believed the word and the reason why I believe the word is because I am a good man.” If that’s how I think, I’ve never received the word at all.

That’s not the point of this parable.

What makes the soil “good” soil? Continue reading