Dedicated to the Passionate Pursuit of the Glory of God.

Puritan Catechism Question of the Week
Q 16. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery.

Name: Mike
Location: California, United States
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Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Reformation Day!

It is my true conviction that this day,1517, God used a man by the name of Martain Luther to spark what resulted in the restoration of the Gospel. We needed a Reformation those hundreds of years ago and I believe we need one today. May we all be as bold and yet fearful as that great man. Let us all return to our knees and ask for a revival greater than the Reformation, yea, greater even than that at Pentecost.

In Christ alone,

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What does he mean when he says he is Reformed?
This question has been directed to me several times and I think for good reason. The term “Reformed Theology” has several different meanings, and upon asking three different people, one may come away with three different answers. My goal will be to outline what is commonly meant by “Reformed Theology”.

First, it is important to note that Reformed Theology can relate to three different fields of study. Typically, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology are discussed. While this is generically true, the main component has been Soteriology and thus it is common to discuss “Reformed Theology” and only mention Soteriology. As such, a person can properly call themselves “Reformed” if in fact they only hold to one of the three tenets.
Having said that, let’s examine the three fields:

Soteriology – This is the Doctrine of Salvation.
The reformed view is often referred to as the “Doctrines of Grace” or “TULIP”. The acronym can be helpful for remembering the distinctions (although the terms have led to some misunderstandings). Nevertheless, here are the five key components:
Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

Ecclesiology – This is the Doctrine of the church (specifically relating to the connection with Israel).
The Reformed position is often either called “Covenant Theology” or “Replacement Theology”. In summary, this position holds that Israel is expanded to include the church and that there is not a distinction between the peoples of God. Rather, there is one people of God, namely the Church (which Includes Israel). This position does not rule out a future moving of ethnic Jews, but sees True Israel and the Church as one body. This position believes that there are only 2 Covenants (of Works and of Grace) rather than the 3 or 7 often expressed in Dispensational thought.

Eschatology – This is the doctrine of the End times.
The Reformed position has typically been amillennial. This view holds that there is no future, earthly reign of Christ for one-thousand years. Rather, it classically has held to a Spiritual millennium with a Spiritual ruling and reigning of our Lord. Furthermore, it sees the promises to Israel fulfilled in the church (thus alleviating any need for a future earthly millennium).

Now, it is so important that I will repeat myself. Not all people who would consider themselves reformed agree with all points. The prime indicator is one’s soteriology. A so-called “5-Point” Calvinist is a Reformed believer (with respect to their soteriology). After that, Ecclesiology and Eschatology often go together (in reality they are inseparably linked).

Lastly, it should be noted that those who reject Reformed Ecclesiology are often not 5-point Calvinists. Typically Dispensationalists (these folks do see a difference between Israel and the Church) have been self-professed 4-point Calvinists (Normal Geisler is an example). While this is typically the case, there is nothing necessarily in the system of though, for Dispensationalists, which forces them out of Reformed Soteriology. John MacArthur is a prime example. While holding a dispensational view, he is very much a 5-point Calvinist (I believe he adopted the Limited Atonement view around 1998).

Hopefully that has been of some help,

Monday, October 24, 2005

The critical question for our generation - and for every generation - is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?
God is the Gospel by John Piper. Pg. 15.
For this book check out his site.

Great quote from a great man who has written yet another great book!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Evangelism in Reformed Theology?
Whenever the topic of Reformed Theology is discussed, particularly when discussing the Providence of God, one of the ensuing questions inevitably relates to Evangelism or Prayer. It is my purpose to briefly address the issue of Evangelism.

It is, of course, ironic that it is at this point that the Libertarian chooses to launch his attacks. Personal piety, prayer, or evangelism are often the targets. Yet, it is at these points, that Reformers have flourished. Who can consider Evangelism and not think of Calvin, Edwards, Whitefield, Bunyan, Spurgeon, or any of the other classic Reformed men. Modern names also confirm this trend. John Piper is best known by some for his missions emphasis. Dr. James Kennedy is the founder of Evangelism Explosion! More and more names could be mentioned. Whenever you see a true Reformed Theologian, there also you see an Evangelist.

"Yes, Yes! I know" interrupts the Arminian, "Many Calvinists have had a great desire to preach the message to the lost. This does not mean that they are being consistent." So then, we must address why it is the Calvinist feels the need and desire to preach the gospel.

The Libertarian charges the Calvinist with having a doctrine that shows no need for Evangelism. They say, "If God determines who will be saved, then it necessarily follows that there is no need for you to evangelize." In one sense they are very much correct. Unlike the Arminian, the Calvinist is quick to point out that God is not dependant on his creation for his purposes. If any given person is not saved, "it is not as though the word of God has failed" (Rom 9:6). God does not sit upon his thrown and hope that a person at a Missions Conference is guilted into traveling to India where he may freely choose to speak to PersonA who may freely choose to "accept" Jesus. God is not a passive bystander who is subject to the whims of fallen human beings. In this respect, it is certainly correct that there is not a "need", at least by God, for anyone to Evangelize.

However, simply because God is not under compulsion to use Humans to reach the world, does not mean that he does not use his creation as instruments for his purpose. Where God has elected for an Ethiopian Eunuch to be saved, He has also elected a Philip to go out into the desert and preach the gospel (see Acts 8). Where God has elected a Paul to be saved, he has also elected an Ananias to go to him (see Acts 9).

In Romans 8, Paul beautifully lays out the reconciliation mission of our God. He says, "For those whom He foreknew (please note that it does not say "foreknew would come to faith), He also Predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and those whom he called, He also justified; and those whom he justified, He also glorified." This is an entirely Theocentric picture of Salvation and it must be where we begin. However, let us never ignore Romans 10 which explains how God changes the heart of the reprobate: "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?"

Far be it from the Calvinist to suggest that God does not use Evangelism. Far be it from the Calvinist to believe that Missions are unimportant. At the same time, far be it from the Calvinist to say that it is We who save, We who Call, or We who change the hearts of men. God does not need us. If God was hungry, he would not tell us. If God wanted a man saved, he need not commission us. Yet he does! God uses his fallen, stained creation to bring about a perfect and holy plan. With this realization, namely the fact that God chooses to use us for His plan, the Calvinist can impact the world with humility and thankfulness to God.

Furthermore, he can approach missions with a confidence that Salvation does not rest on his ability or with his wise words to change the heart of a man. Rather, he plants or waters, but God alone causes the growth.

It is this hope and humility, which are inextricably linked, that the Calvinist preaches the Gospel. Never would one claim that God is in need of us to evangelize for Him. Never would one claim that it is in our ability that a man comes to saving faith. But, ever so boldly and confidently can the Calvinist proclaim the gospel around the nations for we trully believe that "it is the power of God for Salvation."