Three Means God Used

PottersfreedomIt was the visit to Scottsdale of Dr. Sproul in the year 2000 and Dr. James White’s book “The Potter’s Freedom” that were the two major means God used to turn me from a word of faith pastor into…. slowly but surely… over time… a Reformed Baptist pastor subscribing to the 1689 London Baptist Confession. A third means would be the vast theological resources of sermons and essays at monergism.com, a site hosted by John Hendryx.

Concerning ‘The Potter’s Freedom’ book, Dr. White writes:

I am certain Norman Geisler had no intentions, upon completing Chosen But Free, of seeing entire churches founded upon the Reformed faith as a result of his book. In fact, just the opposite was his desire. We had discussed his forthcoming book on a ride to the airport in Indianapolis in 1999. As I listened to him discuss “extreme Calvinism” I immediately recognized he was simply talking about Calvinism itself. I offered to send him my book, naively. He had just explained to me that he did not think anyone less than 65 should write a Systematic Theology, and to this day, as those who know him know, he does not believe he can learn from anyone younger than himself (a sort of reverse age-discrimination thing). I did send my books (at that time I had two little books on Calvinism out, God’s Sovereign Grace, and Drawn by the Father), but I know they were never read.

Like many of my books back then, TPF was written in a relatively short amount of time. These days it takes me forever, but back then I wasn’t traveling globally, so I had more time to write, and more focus as well. One of the real issues in dealing with the book was that the first edition did not have a meaningful Scripture index. One of the editors (it was published by my own publisher, Bethany House, so I had some inside insight into it) told me that they wanted a complete index, but it ran into a page limit issue, so the original Scripture index was extremely meagre. As a result, I used the ?#?prosapologian? chat channel to help. I would pay guys, like MarkE22, in Amazon gift cards of $10 or $15 to scan through the entire book and provide a page list of every reference to John 6:37, for example.

I look back now and smile at what I was thinking at the time. “Geisler’s book will create such confusion in people’s minds! He has amazingly chosen to redefine all the classic terminology, which will cripple people in their understanding of the historic discussion of this vital issue.” It really was my entire intention to address that problem, showing all due respect to Dr. Geisler. And though he has been anything but kind to me in the years since that book came out (I was informed only two days ago about a letter he wrote ripping into me, all in defense of—guess who? Yeah, Ergun Caner), I am very thankful that any semi-fair reader will be able to verify the respectfulness of the book with reference to Geisler.

As I said above, I doubt Geisler realized how wide the impact of his book would be—in the reverse direction of his intentions. I know of one church that was founded because of TPF—have lost count of the number of people who have found places of ministry, or even entered into the ministry, at least partly due to that work. I surely had no idea how the book would be received or how widely it would be read.

Feedback

What-Abouts-Cover-LgAn author is always grateful to receive positive feedback concerning something he has written. I wrote the “Twelve What Abouts” book with the hope that those new to the subject of Sovereign Election, would be able to grasp the concepts clearly. If that goal was achieved then I give great thanks to the Lord.

I just received this letter today from a gentleman named William.

Pastor Samson,

I wanted to thank you so much for you latest book ‘Twelve What Abouts.’ I just finished reading it and I was so blessed by it.

I am a Reformed Baptist with an MDiv from Southern Seminary and I found your short book to be one of the best responses to objections to Reformed Theology. Not that you have new information, but that you package it in a small, quick book that is to the point.

There are many books on Reformed theology, but most of them are very technical and are not accessible to the average layperson. I loved that your book is very easy to read and your arguments are very easy to follow.

I especially appreciated your chapters on 2 Pet 3:9 and 1 Tim 4:10. I had always heard the two wills theory and just found it somewhat lacking. Hearing your explanation fits the context so much better than other ones. Your explanation of common grace in 1 Tim 4:10 was good as well.

I really like the way you address traditions throughout the book, challenging the reader to consider whether their tradition matches what the text really says.

While I know your book will be read by many within the Reformed community, I hope that its brevity and style might appeal to those on the “other side”.

Thank you again for your work and I pray that God will continue to bless your ministry.

Grace be with you,

William Sandell

Reviews of Twelve What Abouts

An author writes in hope of being read and that his readership would be helped by the things he has written. I just took a look at the reviews of my book on amazon.com John Samson, is the pastor of King’s Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

The book was published in February 2012 by Solid Ground Publishers. It has endorsements by John Hendryx (monergism.com) and James White (aomin.org). Both men are well known in reformed Christian circles.

The first three chapters of the book explain the theological position of election. Then, the following chapters attempt to answer common objections to election. Topics covered include: God’s love, sovereignty, foreknowledge and explanations of common “gotcha” scriptures that attempt to refute the reformed doctrine of election (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4; Matt. 23:37; 1 Tim. 4:10 and John 12:32). Also included are chapters on reprobation, lost loved ones, prayer, evangelism, faith, doubt, spiritual blindness and church mission.

Book Evaluation

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. John Samson’s writing style is eminently readable. He writes with knowledge, passion and compassion. He understands the difficulty that election can pose for some and he is sensitive to the reader. John explains concepts well, and presents a strong case for the reformed position on election.

The book is brief, which is a plus. Readers will not find exhaustive treatment of all the relevant scriptures in this book. It’s brevity is a strength, but also a weakness. There is not much in the way of footnotes, however there are ample quotations of scripture to back up his points. Readers are given an extensive “for further reading” list to explore topics further.

Again, this book is introductory. It seems that the target audience is Christians who may be investigating the reformed doctrine of election. I believe, along with the author, that it is the biblical position. John exegetes the scripture both thoroughly, concisely and accurately.

At 165 pages, the book is a fairly quick read. Fast readers should be able to complete the book in 2-3 hours. The book flows well, and for a non-fiction title, in my opinion it is a page turner. I have found this to be somewhat unusual for books of this type.

Book Recommendation

I would recommend this book to all Christians. Those who will gain the most benefit are those Christians who may be new to a reformed understanding of election, and want to dig a little deeper. I would recommend approaching this book with an open mind. The author repeatedly warns about our traditions and how they can sometimes blind us to different perspectives. We need to maintain an openness so we can at least understand the perspective presented here.

The Biblical Doctrine of Regeneration

I am humbled to have contributed a chapter to this new e-book – there’s some outstanding essays from some of the great teachers of the Church in history on a very misunderstood topic: here.

Now Available Down Under

Readers in Australia may be interested to know that the paperback edition of my “Twelve What Abouts” book is now available in many bookstores throughout the country as well as through the Koorong ministry online it is available here.

In the USA, there is currently a 50% discount available at this link.

Someone put together these quotes from the book:

“You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) It is true to say “Mission Save the Elect” becomes “Mission Accomplished.” (Rev 5:9)”

“God’s attributes are not a buffet line of options. We are not invited to choose the attributes of God that we like best and leave the others. We have no right to say, “I’ll give Sovereignty a pass, but I’ll take the love.”

“Unbelievers do not lie awake at night fearful of meeting God because all the Church has told them is “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” They have no concept of the need to flee from the wrath to come.”

“God ordains both the ends and the means. The end is His elect coming to saving faith. The means is: The proclamation of the Gospel.”

“Without election, evangelism would be much like a salesman trying to sell his products in a graveyard.”

“The natural man is so hostile towards God that if he could kill God, he would, even if it meant the end of his own existence. He also hates the fact that God is sovereign. When I speak of God’s sovereignty, I mean that God does what He wants, when He wants, the way He wants, without asking anyone’s permission.”

How to Write a Theology Essay

Michael P. Jensen’s book “How to Write a Theology Essay” could prove to be a valuable resource for anyone wishing to help people grasp true things about God. Each of the twenty chapters ends with a bullet-point summary (though there is more to the book than the summaries):

1. How not to lose heart before you start

•The topics of theology really matter
•The knowledge of God is not the preserve of the very clever
•Starting to write theology is a challenge that can be fun!

2. What is theology in any case?

•Theology is a species of reason, subject to the Word of God
•Theology is a form of speech
•Theology is evangelical: it is about God and his deeds
•Theology is evangelistic: it is an invitation to submit to the Lordship of Christ

3. What is a theology essay?

•An essay is an invitation to persuade
•The object of the theology essay is to say true things about God
•The theology essay deals with ideas and concepts
•It is not merely a summary of Scripture

4. The responsibility of theology

•Theology is answerable to God and must be done with prayerful reverence
•Theology is best done in service to God and his people
Continue reading

A Sample Chapter and more…

In Dr. R. C. Sproul’s latest book “Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism” he outlines six core doctrines in which Roman Catholicism is at odds with the clear teaching of the Bible; namely her view of Scripture, the Church, the sacraments, the Papacy and the role of Mary. He also describes how Protestants should relate to Roman Catholics without minimizing the vital differences. I encourage you to read the foreword (by Dr. Michael Horton) as well as the introduction and sample chapter on justification:

The book is a clarion call to evangelicals to stand firm for the gospel, the precious good news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone. You can purchase it at the Ligonier store .

Handling Objections

Back in June I was interviewed by Pastor Kevin Boling about my new book “Twelve What Abouts” on the “Knowing the Truth” Radio broadcast. The 50,000 watt radio station originates in Greenville, covering all of South Carolina and parts of North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

There seems to have been a great deal of interest in the broadcast, with more than 700 mp3 downloads, and so I was invited back to do a second interview about the book today. We were able to talk about a number of the “what abouts.”

Here are the links to the two programs:

First Interview

Today’s Interview

God’s Sovereignty in Election

Last Thursday, June 21 2012, I was interviewed by Pastor Kevin Boling on the “Knowing the Truth” Broadcast about my book “Twelve What Abouts” on a radio station covering all of South Carolina and parts of neighboring states. Here’s the link if you wish to listen to (or download) the show.

God’s Sovereignty in Election

I was interviewed for a whole hour by Pastor Kevin Boling on the “Knowing the Truth” Broadcast about my book “Twelve What Abouts” early yesterday morning on a radio station covering all of South Carolina and parts of neighboring states. Here’s the link if you want to listen to the show.