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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Friday, December 30, 2005

From Owen's Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers...

Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers:

What Mortification of Sin is Not
From Chapter 5:

(2.) I think I need not say it is not the dissimulation of a sin. When a man on some outward respects forsakes the practice of any sin, men perhaps may look on him as a changed man. God knows that to his former iniquity he hath added cursed hypocrisy, and is got in a safer path to hell than he was in before. He hath got another heart than he had, that is more cunning; not a new heart, that is more holy.

(3.) The mortification of sin consists not in the improvement of a quiet, sedate nature. Some men have an advantage by their natural constitution so far as that they are not exposed to such violence of unruly passions and tumultuous affections as many others are. Let now these men cultivate and improve their natural frame and temper by discipline, consideration, and prudence, and they may seem to themselves and others very mortified men, when, perhaps, their hearts are a standing sink of all abominations. Some man is never so much troubled all his life, perhaps, with anger and passion, nor doth trouble others, as another is almost every day; and yet the latter hath done more to the mortification of the sin than the former. Let not such persons try their mortification by such things as their natural temper gives no life or vigour to. Let them bring themselves to self-denial, unbelief, envy, or some such spiritual sin, and they will have a better view of themselves.

(4.) A sin is not mortified when it is only diverted. Simon Magus for a season left his sorceries; but his covetousness and ambition, that set him on work, remained still, and would have been acting another way. Therefore Peter tells him, “I perceive thou art in the gall of bitterness;” — “Notwithstanding the profession thou hast made, notwithstanding thy relinquishment of thy sorceries, thy lust is as powerful as ever in thee; the same lust, only the streams of it are diverted. It now exerts and puts forth itself another way, but it is the old gall of bitterness still.” A man may be sensible of a lust, set himself against the eruptions of it, take care that it shall not break forth as it has done, but in the meantime suffer the same corrupted habit to vent itself some other way; as he who heals and skins a running sore thinks himself cured, but in the meantime his flesh festereth by the corruption of the same humour, and breaks out in another place. And this diversion, with the alterations that attend it, often befalls men on accounts wholly foreign unto grace: change of the course of life that a man was in, of relations, interests, designs, may effect it; yea, the very alterations in men’s constitutions, occasioned by a natural progress in the course of their lives, may produce such changes as these. Men in age do not usually persist in the pursuit of youthful lusts, although they have never mortified any one of them. And the same is the case of bartering of lusts, and leaving to serve one that a man may serve another. He that changes pride for worldliness, sensuality for Pharisaism, vanity in himself to the contempt of others, let him not think that he hath mortified the sin that he seems to have left. He hath changed his master, but is a servant still.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I recently came across a helpful link. Mark Dever at 9 Marks gives multiple 3-6minute answers on common questions that Pastors ask.
In just a few minutes you can hear valuable advice on a variety of subjects from one of the leading Pastors in America. Hope you find the same value that I have.

In Christ alone,

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Sensuous Christian

A quotation from R.C. Sproul's Knowing Scripture:
I have often been tempted to write a book by the title The Sensuous Christian.
The Sensuous Woman, The Sensuous, Man, The Sensuous Couple, The Sensuous
Divorcee, ad nauseam, all have become best sellers. Why not The Sensuaous
Christian? What is a sensuous Christian? One dictionary defines sensuous as,
"pertaining to the senses or sensible objects: highly susceptible to influence
through the senses." The sensuous Christian is one who lives by his feelings
rather than through his understanding of the Word of God. The sensuous Christian
cannot be moved to service, prayer or study unless he "feels like it." His
christian life is only as effective as the intensity of present feelings. When
he experiences spiritual euphoria, he is a whirlwind of Godly activity; when he
is depressed, he is a spiritual incompotent. He constantly seeks new and fresh
spiritual experiences and uses them to determine the Word of God. His "inner
feelings" become the ultimate test of truth. The sensuous Christian doesn't need
to study the Word of God because he already knows the will of God by his
feelings. He doesn't want to know God; he wants to experience him. The sensuous
Christian equates "childlike faith" with ignorance. He thinks that when the
Bible calls us to childlike faith it means a faith without content, a faith
without understanding. He doesn't know that the Bible says, "In evil be babes,
but in your thinking be mature" (1Cor 14:20). He doesn't realize that Paul tells
us again and again, "My beloved brethren, I would not have you ignorant" (see,
for example, Rom 11:25).

Couldn't agree more.

In Christ alone,

Monday, December 19, 2005

Increased Respect for Josh

I cannot begin to express the increase of respect I have for Josh Harris after posting and stating this Sunday (12-18-05).

'The Wrong Decision
I shared the following comments with my church this morning. Sometimes you learn the hard way, but I'm grateful for a patient congregation and the faithful wounds of friends.
"This year because Christmas morning falls on a Sunday I made the decision to replace our normal Sunday meeting with two Christmas Eve services. Since then I’ve come to believe that this was the wrong decision, informed by the wrong priorities. I made my decision primarily out of a desire to release the staff and volunteers from their normal service on teams like the parking crew and children’s ministry. What I failed to see is that next Sunday morning is an opportunity for us as a church to reaffirm the priority of gathering to worship as the people of God on the Lord’s day. It’s chance to state to ourselves and our families and our community that the worthiness of our God, not the convenience of the calendar dictates our worship. All that to say, that we’ve decided to hold a Christmas morning meeting next Sunday. We’re going to have one meeting at 11am that will be an hour long. This is going to be a very simple morning. We’re doing Sunday differently so that we can release our army of volunteers. There won’t be any children’s ministry, but feel free to come worship as a family.I apologize for my misjudgment and any inconvenience it causes you. And I thank you for your patience."'

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

WOW - Can't stop laughing

I just read this over at purgatorio and could not stop laughing. If you know anything about Calvinism / Reformed Theology then this should make you crack up. The sad thing is when you understand why every joke is funny.

Even sadder ... I was able to do this one:

7. Without me giving last names, you still know who I'm referring to:


And I think someone has been talking to Katelyn:

1. For romantic occasions, you prefer to give/get

instead of

Katelyn might have told them about this one as well:

15. The word "Puritan" appears as a required character trait in your profile on

Now this was the laugh I needed. Time to go to sleep so I can wake up for my final tomorrow.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Philippians 2:3-11

This week is finals week! Consequently, I do not have the time or energy to post anything too substantive. However, for one of my classes we have to memorize the following passage. It is a great passage and I can kill two birds with one stone by posting it here. I could post a lot about the Kenosis Theory or a bunch of other things. However, again, time and energy do not permit me to do so. Plus, I think there is a sense in which we should just look at this scripture and sit back and see the beauty of our Lord. Certainly, there is a time and a place for refuting nonsense like that heresy, but we musn't be inclinded to do this always.

3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

A day I thought I would never see...

A day that I have not expected to come has finally arrived. It appears that there is actually going to be a legitamate discussion about the continuationist/cessationist debate. Tim Challies has managed to get some of the top speakers on both sides of the issue to agree to an interview. This week, representing the cessationists, is Dr. Sam Waldron. So far he has avoided the crucial mistake that nearly all cessationists make when beginning this discussion. Most feel inclined to jump to the abuses of the gifts (ie. Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, etc.) and thus taint the water. Waldron has not done so and for this I am very thankful.
Representing the Continuationists is Wayne Grudem. He is probably the leading expert in the continuationist camp and I expect nothing less than excellence from him. His interview will start next week.

I hope that this can be a first step in quality discussion between the camps.

For the record, I would probably closest align myself with John Piper or Robert Saucy. I reject the cessationist view but very carefully and cautiously approach the gifts.

In Christ alone,

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How to Teach and Preach Calvinism

John Piper at Desiring God Ministry wrote a handy little article back in 1998 where he lists 10 ways that he thinks Calvinism should preached from the pulpit. I will dialogue with his comments:

1. Be rigorously textual in all your expositions and explanations and defenses of Calvinistic teachings. Make it a textual issue every time, not a logic issue or an experience issue.

In a sense this is how every issue should be. Doctrine should come solely from the text and we must use the Scriptures to validate all that is taught. Furthermore, we should never put experience or logic above the clear teaching of scripture. After laying the foundation with scripture then I think experiential illustrations and logical inferences can be helpful, but they should never be the main thrust of the argument.

2. Don't be strident but gentle. Assume that working these great issues through to conviction may take years and that being in process is OK.

I think most people who have been Calvinists for longer than six months realize this principle. This is something that most of us did not arrive at overnight and we should not expect others to make the journey quicker than we did.

3. Speak of your own brokenness in regard to these things and how they are precious to you and why and how they minister to your soul and help you live your life.

This is not in contradiction with number one (experience) because in this case the Pastor is not explaining or developing an idea from experience. Rather, after the scriptures have been preached, experiences and feelings should be explained and used to comfort and exhort the brethren.

4. Make Spurgeon and Whitefield your models rather than Owen or Calvin, because the former were evangelists and won many people to Christ in a way that is nearer to our own day.

I agree. I may stick Jonathan Edwards in there as a bridge between the two groups and point at him.

5. Be an evangelist and a missions mobilizer so that the criticism that Calvinism dulls a passion for the lost is put to silence.

This is an absolute essential. Some of the biggest criticisms of Calvinism would be removed if we simply "walked the talk".

6. Work the five points out from the "I" in tulip not the "U". That is, show people that they don't really want to take final credit for their coming to Christ. They don't want to stand before God at the judgment day and respond to the question, "Why did you believe and others with your opportunities didn't?" with the answer, "Well, I guess I was smarter, or more spiritual." They want to say, "By grace I was brought to faith." Which is "irresistible grace." That is, grace that triumphs over all resistance in the end.

This is probably my favorite suggestion. Starting with Grace and working backward toward election seems to be the best way to go. When you start with Election then it can sometimes become as man-centered as views we reject.

7. Out rejoice your critics. The one who knows and rests in the sovereign grace of God should be the happiest saint. Don't be a sour or glum or hostile false advertisement for the glory of God's grace. Praise it. Rejoice in it. And don't let that be a show. Do it in your closet until it is spilling over in the pulpit and the commons.

I think that this is my second favorite suggestion!

8. Don't ride hobbyhorses that aren't in the text. Preach exegetically, explaining and applying what is in the text. If it sounds Arminian, let it sound Arminian. Trust the text and the people will trust you to be faithful to the text.

Yes! We must not ride hobby horses or the church begins to follow a pastor rather than Christ. When coming to a difficult text then it must be preached faithfully. Difficult texts need to be preached in a way that they can be explained to the congregation without contradicting other passages. However, if one finds themself so having to twist a passage to make it fit into a theological construct - then possibly their understanding of the passage is wrong.

9. Avoid theological jargon that is not in the text. The word "Calvinism" is probably not helpful. "Doctrines of grace" may not do it either. Just stick with what is there in the text, or come up with some new striking phrases that will cause the people to wonder and be excited.

I agree with the first part. Sermons are traditionally expository preaching on a given passage. They are not systematic theologies and therefore names like this probably do not help. As for making up new phrases to make people "wonder and be excited", I'm not sure I understand what he is getting at.

10. Tell stories and experiences from biography and from the lives of living saints that illustrate their dependence on the sovereignty of God. Especially stories related to missions and evangelism and holiness of life.

I happen to love biographies of saints so I give this suggestion two thumbs up!

In Christ alone,

Friday, December 02, 2005

John 3:16, 6 and 10

Interestingly, John 3:16 is one of the most often quoted passages to "refute" Calvinism. I suspect that at least part of the reason is due to biblical literacy. In any even, the passage states:
For God so loved the world that he gave is only begotten (or One and Only) son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

It is amazing to me how different people will look at the same verse and notice completely different things. For some reason it seems that Arminians look at this passage and see some sort of Libertarian Free Will. However, is this what this passage teaches? Here are the affirmations that are made:
God Loved the world
God Gave his Son
Whoever believes will not perish
Whoever believes will have everlasting life.

"Whosoever believes" seems to be the key phrase that Arminians cling to. They have concluded that the word "whosoever" implies that Anyone can believe. However, is this what the verse says? Is this the intention of the verse? No! The verse simply teaches that whomever believes will be saved. There is nothing either way about who can and who cannot believe.

However, there is a passage in John that does explain who can come to Jesus. Sadly, this is not the passage that Arminians would like to quote. Nevertheless, in an attempt to convey what scripture truly does teach on the matter, we must look at John's words. An interesting syllogism presents itself when several verses are considered.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” ( 6:37)
”… no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." ( 6:65)

As we did with John 3, let us consider the statements of these verses. For the sake of logical clarity, I will work backward.

No person can Come to Jesus unless it is Granted by the Father

Every person whom the Father does Grant will indeed come to Jesus.

Every person Who does Come to Jesus will never be cast out.

The Arminian is in a difficult position when he considers this text. What is the difference between people who believe and people who do not believe? It is not that some are more intelligent, some are more humble, some are more religiously inclined, etc. Rather, it is that some belief has been granted by the father and others have not.

John records Jesus teaching the same principle in Chapter 10:

25Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

What is the stated reason for their lack of belief? Again, they are not part of Jesus' flock. Rather, those whom are his Sheep do hear his foice and they know Him and follow him. In return, Jesus gives them eternal life.

Am I trying to insinuate that We do not choose Jesus but Jesus chooses us? Absolutely. Consider Jesus' own words in John 15:
16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

Returning to John 3, is "whosoever believes" a suggestion that anyone may come to belief? Absolutely not. Rather, If we believe it is only because it has been granted to us becuase we were chosen:
7For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

All that we have, including our belief, comes from God (see also Eph 2:8-9. Rejoice in this great truth!

Eph 2
4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved

In Christ alone,


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Arminian Grace

One of my favorite Blogs to read is Tim Challies'. I found, and am now stealing, something that I found from his site. I believe he took it from some internet site so I do not have the original link.

Arminian Grace - To the Tune of Amazing Grace

Arminian "grace!" How strange the sound,
Salvation hinged on me.
I once was lost then turned around,
Was blind then chose to see.

What "grace" is it that calls for choice,
Made from some good within?
That part that wills to heed God's voice,
Proved stronger than my sin.

Thru many ardent gospel pleas,
I sat with heart of stone.
But then some hidden good in me,
Propelled me toward my home.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Because of what we've done,
We've no less days to sing our praise,
Than when we first begun.

(With apologies to John Newton)

This may be more against the Semi- Pelagians than Arminians but I think that it applies in some sense to all of the libertarian theologies. In any case, it is not meant as a treatise against Libertarianism. It is meant as a little light hearted dig at some of our Arminian friends.

In Christ alone,
Thanks to His Amazing Grace,