Methods for Fighting Half-Hearted Prayer

beeke3_2This excerpt is taken from Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel Beeke.

5 Methods for Fighting Half-Hearted Prayer

The Puritans were prone to give five methods for fighting our natural tendency to lapse into half-hearted prayer:

1. Give priority to prayer. Prayer is the first and most important thing you are called to do. “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.”

2. Give yourself—not just your time—to prayer. Remember that prayer is not an appendix to your life and your work, it is your life—your real, spiritual life—and your work. Prayer is the thermometer of your soul.

3. Give room to prayer. The Puritans did this in three ways. First, they had real prayer closets—rooms or small spaces where they habitually met with God. When one of Thomas Shepard’s parishioners showed him a floor plan of the new house he hoped to build, Shepard noticed that there was no prayer room and lamented that homes without prayer rooms would be the downfall of the church and society. Second, block out stated times for prayer in your daily life. The Puritans did this every morning and evening. Third, between those stated times of prayer, commit yourself to pray in response to the least impulse to do so. That will help you develop the “habit” of praying, so that you will pray your way through the day without ceasing. Remember that conversing with God through Christ is our most effective way of bringing glory to God and of having a ready antidote to ward off all kinds of spiritual diseases.

4. Give the Word to prayer. The way to pray, said the Puritans, is to bring God His own Word. That can be done in two ways. First, pray with Scripture. God is tender of His own handwriting. Take His promises and turn them inside out, and send them back up to God, by prayer, pleading with Him to do as He has said. Second, pray through Scripture. Pray over each thought in a specific Scripture verse.

5. Give theocentricity to prayer. Pour out your heart to your heavenly Father. Plead on the basis of Christ’s intercessions. Plead to God with the groanings of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26). Recognize that true prayer is a gift of the Father, who gives it through the Son and works it within you by the Spirit, who, in turn, enables it to ascend back to the Son, who sanctifies it and presents it acceptable to the Father. Prayer is thus a theocentric chain, if you will—moving from the Father through the Son by the Spirit back to the Son and the Father.

What would it mean if a child of God were finally and forever lost?

Sam Storms:

Have you paused to consider what would be true were it possible for one of God’s blood-bought children to fall fully and finally from saving grace? Often I hear people casually speak of “losing” their salvation. But there would be far more involved were it possible for a justified-by-faith-alone-in-Jesus-alone believer to suffer eternal damnation. I was awakened to this yet again on reading Marcus Johnson’s excellent book, One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation (Crossway). Here is how Johnson put it:

“When God joins us to Christ through faith, he is making real in our temporal lives what he has already decreed in his eternal will and accomplished in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of his Son. To be severed from the Son would require that the Father rescind what he has already decreed and accomplished. Every benefit that we have received from being united to Christ would have to be undone. Having already justified us in Christ, God would have to re-condemn us and repeal our participation in Christ’s righteousness; having already sanctified us in Christ, God would have to reverse our baptism into Christ’s death, burial, and new resurrection life; having already adopted us in Christ, God would have to make us orphans; having already resurrected us with Christ and raised us in his ascension, God would have to lower us into death and cast us from the heavenly realms; and having already glorified us in Christ, God would have to terminate the end to which he appointed all of his blessings. In sum, having joined us to Christ, God would have to dismember the body of Christ” (175-76).

So, may I suggest that you be careful should you ever find yourself questioning the reality of the saints’ perseverance in faith, fully and finally unto the end. To argue that a redeemed and reconciled child of God can undergo un-redemption and un-reconciliation is to destroy God’s eternal purpose that he ordained for us in Christ. Praise be to God that his unshakable determination is “to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24b)!

Transmission of the Text – Contrasting Christianity with Confucianism & Islam

TurretinFan and Christianity – One Point of Contrast

Qin Shi Huang (260 – 210 BC) is the most prominent of the Chinese emperors. He united China through conquest, began the Great Wall of China, and had the Terra Cotta warriors built. He’s significant to Confucianism – and especially the textual transmission of Confucius’ works – because toward the end of his reign he engaged in a process of burning books and burying scholars. The scholars that were allegedly buried alive were apparently Confucian scholars, and Confucian works were apparently largely destroyed by the Emperor’s decree.

The Qin dynasty ended shortly after Qin’s death, and was replaced by the Han dynasty. In A.D. 9, Wang Mang (45 BC – A.D. 23) usurped the throne from the ruling family and set up his own short-lived dynasty. During Wang Mang’s reign, it was alleged that some of Confucius’ writings had been rediscovered. Wang Mang apparently used these texts in an attempt to support his own reforms.

Robert Greene (in “The 48 Laws of Power,” p. 397) explains it this way:

Reigning from A.D. 8 to A.D. 23, the Chinese emperor Wang Mang emerged from a period of great historical turbulence in which the people yearned for order, an order represented for them by Confucius. Some two hundred years earlier, however, Emperor Ch’in had ordered the writings of Confucius burned. A few years later, word had spread that certain texts had miraculously survived, hidden under the scholar’s house. These texts may not have been genuine, but they gave Wang his opportunity: He first confiscated them, then had his scribes insert passages into them that seemed to support the changes he had been imposing on the country. When he released the texts, it seemed that Confucius sanctioned Wang’s reforms, and the people felt comforted and accepted them more easily.

While there is controversy (apparently to this day) about the nature and extent of Qin’s burning of books, and of Wang Mang’s (or others’) possible editing or forging of Confucian writings, these controversies were all made possible by the fact that Qin had control of the geographic area where Confucius’ works circulated, and the means for effectively destroying those works.

This parallels the history of the transmission of the Qur’an. The first caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr, is said to have collected the Qur’an in A.D. 634. Nevertheless, various versions of the Qur’an were apparently circulating during reign of the third caliph, Uthman (reigned A.D. 644 – 656). Uthman created a standard text of the Qur’an and had the other copies burned. This was possible because Uthman had control of the geographic area where the Qur’an circulated and the means for effectively destroying competing copies.

There is, however, no close parallel in Christianity. Christianity rapidly spread copies of books of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) beyond the reach of the Roman Empire. Christianity had no centralized earthly ruler and by the time emperors like Constantine or Roman bishops tried to operate in such a capacity, the text of the New Testament was so well established and widespread that any attempt to edit or control the text would have been ineffective. While this uncontrolled transmission of the text may seem messy it is one of the means by which we can have confidence in the text today, without the need for a continued prophetic witness.

For more on the issue of transmission, this video teaching by Dr. James White is very informative:

The Divine Exchange

Text: Isaiah 52:12-53:13

At the cross, God orchestrated an exchange whereby the punishment due to us came upon Christ and the good due to Christ, came upon us. Then the resurrection of Christ once and for all, proved that He had fully satisfied the demands of God’s justice.

How We Got the Bible

This youtube video features Dr. James White hosting an episode of Apologia Radio/TV. Here he teaches on how we got the Bible and the translation of the text of Scripture. It is a very worthwhile and useful study from one of the leading Christian apologists of our time.

Twelve What Abouts

TWELVE WHAT ABOUTS

Here’s some video teaching I put together some time back as a supplement to my book “Twelve What Abouts – Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election.”

(1) The first session is on John chapter 6, verse 35 and following:

Session One-for Web from as well as what is referred to as the Golden Chain of Redemption.

Twelve What Abouts – Session Two from Runway Productions on Vimeo.

(3) Romans 9 stands like Mount Everest – a majestic, spectacular, lofty and immutable testimony to God’s supremacy and sovereignty in salvation. Here’s a 36 minute video teaching I did on the chapter:

Twelve What Abouts – Session Three from Runway Productions on Vimeo.

(4) Many Christians reject the biblical doctrine of God’s sovereignty in election because of traditions associated with the love of God and what amounts to a pagan concept of the human will, as I seek to explain in this 20 minute video teaching:

Twelve What Abouts – Session Four from Runway Productions on Vimeo.

(5) A biblical study of foreknowledge and the grace of God:

Twelve What Abouts – Session Five from Runway Productions on Vimeo.

(6) The three texts most often raised as objections to the Biblical doctrine of Divine election, namely John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9 and Matt 23:37:

Twelve What Abouts – Session Six from Runway Productions on Vimeo.

Expiation and Propitiation

Sproul877This excerpt is taken from The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul:

When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words.

Expiation and Propitiation

Let’s think about what these words mean, then, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking away guilt through the payment of a penalty or the offering of an atonement. By contrast, propitiation has to do with the object of the expiation. The prefix pro means “for,” so propitiation brings about a change in God’s attitude, so that He moves from being at enmity with us to being for us. Through the process of propitiation, we are restored into fellowship and favor with Him.

In a certain sense, propitiation has to do with God’s being appeased. We know how the word appeasement functions in military and political conflicts. We think of the so-called politics of appeasement, the philosophy that if you have a rambunctious world conqueror on the loose and rattling the sword, rather than risk the wrath of his blitzkrieg you give him the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia or some such chunk of territory. You try to assuage his wrath by giving him something that will satisfy him so that he won’t come into your country and mow you down. That’s an ungodly manifestation of appeasement. But if you are angry or you are violated, and I satisfy your anger, or appease you, then I am restored to your favor and the problem is removed.

The same Greek word is translated by both the words expiation and propitiation from time to time. But there is a slight difference in the terms. Expiation is the act that results in the change of God’s disposition toward us. It is what Christ did on the cross, and the result of Christ’s work of expiation is propitiation—God’s anger is turned away. The distinction is the same as that between the ransom that is paid and the attitude of the one who receives the ransom.

Christ’s Work Was an Act of Placation

Together, expiation and propitiation constitute an act of placation. Christ did His work on the cross to placate the wrath of God. This idea of placating the wrath of God has done little to placate the wrath of modern theologians. In fact, they become very wrathful about the whole idea of placating God’s wrath. They think it is beneath the dignity of God to have to be placated, that we should have to do something to soothe Him or appease Him. We need to be very careful in how we understand the wrath of God, but let me remind you that the concept of placating the wrath of God has to do here not with a peripheral, tangential point of theology, but with the essence of salvation. Continue reading

The Gospel of Thomas

Dr. James White:

The Gospel of Thomas

Part 1 (1-39)

Part 2 – Finishing the Gospel of Thomas (begins at the 16 minute 50 seconds mark)