Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter!

The Divine Exchange
by Pastor John Samson

Surely he has borne our griefs (lit. sicknesses) and carried our sorrows (lit. pains); yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. -Is. 53:4-6
The cross was no accident, but the center point of a plan devised by God before time began. The plan culminated in a divinely ordained exchange which would take place at Calvary. All the wrath and punishment due to us for our sinfulness was to come upon Jesus; and the good due to Jesus due to His sinless obedience was to come upon us. The innocent would bear the just punishment of the guilty, and the guilty would receive all the benefits due to the just.

I remember around two decades ago, hearing a sermon regarding this divine exchange. What I heard still affects me greatly today. For His glory, and out of His love for us, God met all of our needs at the cross: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, material, financial, temporal and eternal. As we think about these eight declarations concerning what Christ achieved for His people in His death, burial and resurrection, let us celebrate the perfect and finished work of the perfect Savior:

1. Jesus was punished so that we might be forgiven (Is. 53:4, 5)

2. Jesus was wounded so that we might be healed (Is. 53:4, 5; 1 Pet. 2:24)

3. Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)

4. Jesus died our death so that we might share His life (John 10:10; Rom. 6:6, 7; Gal. 2:20)

5. Jesus was made a curse so that we might receive the blessing (Gal. 3:13, 14)

6. Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance (2 Cor. 8:9)

7. Jesus endured our shame that we might share His glory (Ps. 69:7; Is. 53:3; Heb 12:2; Heb. 2:10)

8. Jesus endured our rejection that we might share His acceptance (Matt 27:45-47; Eph. 1:3, 4)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Predestined To Hell?

Predestined To Hell
by James Spurgeon

To know what the confessors of sovereign grace soteriology actually believe, it would seem to me that the prudent thing to do would be to read what those who hold to those doctrines actually say and write. In other words, common sense would say that the best way to understand what the professors of any faith believe would be to read what they have said about it themselves. So if we want to know what Calvinists believe about predestination, for example, reading what Dave Hunt says would be second-hand information. For the more accurate version we would naturally turn to the old confessions of the Calvinists themselves. Wouldn't we?

Does God predestine people to hell? What is the historic Calvinistic answer to that question? To find it, I went to the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of 1742.

I found the following on God's eternal decree which I have cut & pasted here adding only the three numbers found in parentheses to aid in the breaking down and understanding of it. The wording varies only slightly from one document to the next.

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby (1) neither is God the author of sin, (2) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; (3) nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Now think about the nature of God for a minute. He is omniscient. His knowledge is infinite and unchangeable because it is perfect. He never learns for he has always known it all. God is also omnipotent. He has all power and that power is infinite so that his power can never be increased nor diminished. There is no limit to what he can do. God is also all-wise. His wisdom is perfect. He never takes even a second-best path. All of his choices, decisions, decrees are eternal and they are perfectly wise. In fact, his decrees are the wisest of all choices.

Omniscience + omnipotence + all-wisdom = complete sovereignty.

So this God of whom we speak has decreed all things, according to historic Calvinist (I would say "Christian") teaching, whatever comes to pass. He has done so freely. He has done so unchangeably. That he has done so freely and unchangeably are necessary conclusions stemming from those three atributes of God which I noted above. The all-wise God never has to re-consider and the all-knowing God never receives new information which he has to process and the almighty God does nothing by outside compulsion. All this leads us to the inevitable conclusion that his decrees are eternal.

Is your head spinning yet? I hope not. Go get a drink of water, come back, and let's go a step further.

Here's the question. Does this decree, this sovereignty, this predestination, extend to who is saved and who is not? The answer: Yes, it does. Does this mean God predestines people to hell? Yes, it does. But let's look at that in the light of the statement and see what it is we mean by that.

I noted in the above statements three clauses that I call "exception clauses" though that might not be an accurate name for them. Whatever you want to call them, they help head off many common objections to the stated doctrine and add clarity to what is meant by it.

1. God Not the Author of Sin

The first one is this: ". . . yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin . . ."

However God is sovereign, it is in such a way as to not make God the author of sin. Let us say that the relation of God and his decree to sin is not efficient, but permissive. God does not commit sin, nor force anyone to sin. God does allow free creatures to sin, but that only for his greater purpose, and God will punish that sin—justly.

2. No Violence Done to the Creature's Will

Now to the second clause. However God is sovereign, it is in such a way as to do no violence to the will of the creatures. ". . . nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; . . ."

Those individuals, then, who we say are predestined to hell, are predestined to go there in such a way as to do no violence to their will. Let's make that clear. God does not force them or coerce them to sin. He does not make them evil, nor does he make them commit evil. Their evil choices and actions are free.

3. Liberty and Contingency of Second Causes Established

Now, let's look at the third clause. However God has decreed all things, whatever comes to pass, it is in such a way as not to take away the liberty of secondary causes. ". . . nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

Those individuals, then, who we say are predestined to hell, are not predestined to go there without sufficient cause. If they are to go there, and if God has decreed from eternity that they will go there, he has done so because there is a cause or a reason for them to go there. The cause is their sin and their guilt. Their liberty in sinning and in accruing that guilt is not taken away from them. I say again, their liberty is not done away with. In fact, quite the opposite, it is established. God decreed that those who go to hell would do so freely and with sufficient cause—because they are guilty.

However God has decreed all things, whatever comes to pass, it is in such a way as to not take away the contingency of secondary causes.

Contingent means dependent on or upon something uncertain. What is uncertain in this context is only uncertain to us, for nothing is uncertain to God.

Those individuals, then, whom we say are predestined to hell, are not predestined to go there "no matter what." Rather, God has decreed that they should go there because they are guilty and because they reject Christ. Their liberty in rejecting Christ is not taken away from them (again) but rather established in the decree. God's decree that they should be sinners, guilty, and condemned, was passive, not active. It was permissive. He allowed it to happen. He allowed them to do it to themselves.

In other words, God decreed that they would go there because they freely sin and reject Christ, and for that reason. In fact, all those who freely reject Christ, God has decreed from before time that they will spend eternity in hell. Rather than undermine God's justice, this establishes God's justice. The causes of their being damned (that of freely sinning and freely rejecting Christ) are just as necessary (and just as certain) as the end result.

Once again, this is true, even if we just take into consideration God's omniscience and God's omnipotence. Does God know the end from the beginning? Yes, he does.

Is God able to choose the end, working it any way he wants? Yes. God chooses the beginning, the middle, and the end and works it all after the counsel of his own will—any way he wants to.

If God has chosen this universe, out of an infinite number of possibilities, including its past, present, and future, and in his wisdom decreed that it should be, should we question that wisdom?

Once again, nothing about God's decree makes him the author of sin, does violence to the will of free creatures, or takes away the liberty or contingency of secondary causes.

Now, didn't we already know this?

So man falls by divine appointment, but he falls by his own fault. We can then say that it happens because God allows it. God permits it. God is the first cause in that it would not happen without his permission and that leaves God as first cause, but man at fault.

So the damnation of the wicked depends upon the decree of God, the predestination of God, in such a way that the cause and matter of it are found in the wicked themselves. It is by divine appointment, but it is so by man's fault.

So let's ask and answer the question: Does God predestine some people to hell, no matter what? No. God predestines those to hell who sin and reject him. Their damnation is just and the fault of it is their own.

Let us repeat that the relation of God and his decree to sin is not efficient, but permissive. God does not commit sin, nor force anyone to sin. God does allow free creatures to sin, but that only for his greater purpose, and God will punish that sin—justly.

Does God predestine some people to heaven, no matter what? Again, no. God does predestine some to heaven, but only through means.

1 Corinthians 1:21 (KJV)
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Romans 10:14-17 (KJV)
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

God has predestined no one to heaven in a way which does violence to the individual's will.

God has predestined no one to heaven in a way that takes away the liberty of secondary causes, or the contingency of secondary causes. In fact, the opposite, God has decreed that a multitude which no man could number would go to heaven and that they would go there through the means of the death of Christ, the preached gospel, their faith in Christ and that gospel, and the finishing work of the Holy Spirit in them. Without those things, they would not go to heaven.

In the final analysis—those who go to hell, do so according to God's decree and because they reject Christ. Those who go to heaven, do so according to God's decree and because they come to Christ for mercy (by God's grace alone).

That is the reformed and Baptist doctrine of predestination.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Must Read: Great Works Of Theology

Must Reading For Your Theological Edification & Education

The following are considered among "great works of theology." This collection of books are must-have editions for your library: Highly recommended reading for your journey in the Christian life. This list is, of course, far from exhaustive (so don't get upset if I did not pick a favorite) but a good place to start if you have not read them. Once you read some of these you will wonder why you spent your precious time on lesser things. I assume you already have a Bible of your own so that is not on the list:

Augustine: Confessions, Anti-Pelagian Writings, On the Trinity

Anselm: Why God Became Man

Bonar, Horatius: The Everlasting Righteousness

Brown, John (of Edinburgh, 1784-1858): Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 3 volume

Charnock, Stephen: The Existence And Attributes Of God

Fairbairn, Patrick: Typology of Scripture

Lloyd-Jones, Martyn: The Sermon on the Mount

Luther: Bondage of the Will

Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Edwards: Treatise on Religious Affections, Freedom of the Will

Machen: Christianity and Liberalism, What Is Faith?

Owen, John: Sin & Temptation, The Holy Spirit, Glory of Christ, Death of Death, Biblical Theology

Sibbes, Richard: The Bruised Reed

Spurgeon, Charles: Lectures to My Students

Turretin, Francis: Institutes of Elenctic Theology 3 vol. set

Warfield, B.B: The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield

Watson: Body of Divinity

Historical Document: Westminster Confession of Faith


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Arminianism… Still A Heresy.

by Rev. C. Matthew McMahon, Ph.D.

The heresy plaguing the modern church of the 21st century. What is it and where did it come from?

The system of doctrine known as Arminianism is heresy. It is an offshoot from Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. It has been adversely affecting the church and its doctrine for over 250 years. Men like Finney and Wesley, being the charismatic personalities they were, propagated the doctrine and resurrected the Pelagian error from the pit of hell once again to persecute the church of Christ. Today’s Arminians are not necessarily the same caliber as those of old. Historic Arminianism is altogether heretical. However, contemporary Arminianism is often confusing; it melds together a number of different theological ideas to come up with a theological “soup”. Some things contemporary Arminians believe are radically different than historic Arminians. If we were to live in the days of old, when the caliber of theology for Arminianism reached its zenith in its contentions with the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, we would find men very much deceived and propagating doctrines of a different nature than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, each case for an “Arminian” church must be taken on its own accord since much of 21st Century Christendom really has no idea what they theologically believe. It is not my purpose to condemn all men who hold a title of “Arminianism” since many do not know what the title means, much less believe all the historic aspects of the theological system. Walk into any church and ask the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism, and you will find a variety of answers. Yet, there are some today who do hold to historic Arminianism, and who do believe the depth of Arminian theology historically. There are even a variety of Arminian websites which propagate the doctrines. But for the most part, each “Arminian” must be dealt with individually in order to assess their understanding, or flavor, of theological soup. It may very well be that they are believing a damning heresy. It may very well be that they are simply confused and need help to understand the doctrines of God’s grace, or their depravity. But in any case, the Calvinist ought always to be fair, gentle and loving in his approach to preaching the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Spurgeon was correct when he said,

“I have heard it asserted most positively, that those high doctrines which we love and which we find in the Scriptures, are licentious ones. I do not know who has the hardihood to make that assertion, when they consider that the holiest of men have been believers in them. I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitfield, who in successive ages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of those Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing; but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they the orthodox.”

Why is this still so? Why are the Calvinists looked upon at the “cultists” and the Arminians as those who are orthodox? Men no longer know how to think, nor desire to do so. They simply do as Eve did in the garden, they accept the lie and the consequence of erroneous ideas then plague the church until they have run their due course.

It is in the course of these errors which the church has taken up their pens and fought vehemently against them. But even in our own day men take up the pen hesitantly in fear of other men and the consequence of a biblical stand for the truth. John Owen pleaded with men in his “Death of Death in the Death of Christ” to take up the pen and write against the errors of Arminius, Pelagius and the like. But men are slow to do so. We need more men to stand for the truth and not shy away from it when the cooker becomes hot with the flames of adversity.

Those who hold to and preach the deviant theological systems known as Arminianism and Pelagianism will not help people find Christ. They deter people from the Christ of the Bible because those who follow such doctrines do become twice sons of hell as those that propagate the doctrines. Sincerity does not necessarily breed truth. Sincere, theologically astute Arminians are more destructive to the church than sincere Buddhists will ever be. It is because the system of doctrine known as Arminianism clothes itself so well that people actually believe the crafty fox is a real live sheep. Satan has so sown the seeds of confusion among such men and such churches that this clever lie continues to breed and grow through the world.

Now some will say, “You have not told us what Arminianism is. How do we know it is bad theology if you do not have anything here comparing the system to the Bible?” Well, the articles to the right are filled with information about Arminianism and the ideas that it houses. In those articles there are a wealth of information about what it teaches. But that may take lots of study time that you, the reader, may not have today. So, to gain a clear understanding of where Arminianism came from and what heresies it teaches, read this article that I wrote on its history and theology: The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon. It is in the Historical Theology section of this website. It not only covers the history of Semi-Pelagianism, or Arminianism as it is called, but also its roots in the Pelagian heresy. That will give the reader a clear understanding of what Semi-Pelagians believe, and what contemporary Semi-Pelagians have said in sermons, on the TV, and in books.

It is not that this part of the web site offers every answer. As I am able I hope to write more articles, and post other like-minded articles and papers which may help the traveler who is searching for the biblical Christ find Him.

Some who hold a banner for Arminianism may be readily offended at this website and especially at this section of the site. I am truly saddened that some would feel this way. I do not think this part of the site contradicts 2 Tim. 2:24-26, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” I believe loving men begins with telling them the truth in love. Jesus did this with the Rich Young Ruler. He loved him in that he preached the truth to him. But alas, the Rich Young Ruler went away sad.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Spiritual Discernment Is For The Spiritual

Spiritual Discernment is for the Spiritual
by: J.W. Hendryx

"the things of the Spirit of God ... are spiritually discerned" ( 1Cor 2:14)

"he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24"45)

I would like to challenge each one of you to take a friend from work out to lunch; someone that you know is not a Christian. This person preferably is a someone with whom you developed some degree of a good relationship with. During the course of your meal, when it seem appropriate, you can lead the conversation toward the Gospel. Tell him or her that God Himself has truly entered into human history from the time of Israel through the time of Christ, and not only has made himself known to us in the Person of Jesus Christ but has redeemed us from our sin and rebellion against the Creator. He Himself fully endured the wrath we justly deserve for sin by His death on the cross. Living the life we should have lived and dying the death we deserve. Then, vindicating the truth of what He accomplished God raised him physically from the dead on the third day. There were over 500 witness to this historic event and different witness to the same event wrote down their testimony which now makes up the Holy Scripture.

Then when you are done explaining the unfolding drama of redemption in history ask him or her whether they acknowledge the truth of these factual claims. If he responds that these events are something less than historical, just a myth or a fairy tale, I challenge you to consider the question of why he rejects something that should be as plain as day. it is true is it not. It is not that he lacks sufficent data so one thing you can be assured of is that he/she is spiritually blind in some way and cannot see the plain truth as put before them. Their eyes are closed to the gospel, but why? If you have also shown them great love and patience and presented these facts with warmth and a genuine spirit with great eloquence and done so till you are blue in the face, your effort, while it may leave a seed, does not convince and will be of no avail if the Holy Spirit does not remove his blindness and give him new spiritual eyes to see the truths you presented him/her. All your exegesis, proclamation and logical persuasion will have no effect unless the Spirit remove the veil of darkness, clearing the way for them to believe the truth of the message you put before Him (John 6:63-65). This means if the Lord is to use us to win souls to Christ we must pray that the Holy Spirit disarm their innate hostility, overcome their lack of faith (heal their faithlessness), remove the barricades erected in their heart and enlighten the truths we herald from the Scripture. The reason they reject is, not simply because the evidence you provide is not strong enough, but because their affection remains set on the darkness (John 3:20).

Let no one misunderstand, I am not at all, in any way, encouraging you to forget your persuasive arguments, for these are good, and the Holy Spirit utilizes them concurrantly with His work to open eyes, but they are useless if they are alone. Like a seed is is dormant until germinated, the Spirit must also germinate the seed of the Word. Only the Holy Spirit can actually open and illuminate the truth of the gospel to the unbeliever's understanding because they are spiritual truths Prayer and intercession of their behalf is, therefore, absolutely essential as we engage those in the world. Perhaps much of our frustration to the lack of response to the message of the gospel lies simply in the fact that we have not spent time praying that God would save them. Prayer only makes sense in the context of the sovereignty of God, for we believe only He can change a hard heart and illumine a darkened mind. I often wonder why the 'free will' people pray for people's salvation for this is inconsistent with their theology if God really cannot do anything to change them aside from external persuasion (which is no more than a preacher does). Those who believe in the free will of man can really offer no explanation for prayer, for, in their view, God cannot interfere with hardened sinners in any way ... so the free will position leaves one without God the Holy Spirit in the process of salvation because the sinner, by definition, would be left to his own devises to make up their own mind through external persuasion alone. For movement of a persons' will by God, in any way, betrays their theology. On our knees, therefore, I believe they must pray like the rest of us and the fact is that most of them do pray for people's salvation. But why pray if God can do nothing more than a preacher who works to persuade? What can God do for them?

The Scripture itself says that "the things of the Spirit" [spiritual truths] "...are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor 2:14) What does it mean that something is "spiritually discerned"? It points to the fact that the unspiritual cannot understand it, that they are completely in the dark about it. One must first be spiritual to grasp spiritual truth. As we proclaim to gospel to our friends they are either in one condition or another: spiritual or unspiritual. The Scripture does not allow anywhere for a middle ground between the two. So no matter what kind of grace is given to unspiritual people prior to salvation, if it does not actually change their heart and make them spiritual, they simply will not grasp any spiritual truths for they still lack the mind of Christ. The problem with synergism is here because they believe God's grace to unbelievers does not save but only gives an opportunity. But again, an opportunity for whom? They still must claim it is an oppotunity for an unregenerate person. And unless he is already regenerate (i.e. born again) then he is still unspiritual and by definition "...hostile toward God; for [he] does not subject itself to the law of God, for [he] not even able to do so."(Rom 8:7). Jesus says you do not look for figs on a briar bush. That bad trees do not bear good fruits. In other words, if something's very nature is different or bad, it does not produce the intended results. An unspiritual man does not exercise faith because he is by nature unspiritual. Jesus says the tree must first be made good for the fruit to be good.

Again, the message of the gospel is "spiritually discerned", so only the regenerate grasp it, only those whose minds have been illumined by the Holy Spirit can see the truth in it. But all synergists would have us believe that unspiritual men actually have spiritual thoughts. The Bible does not allow for this and it is an impossible supposition. The prerequisite for being spiritual is the Holy Spirit. All spiritual acts, such as faith in Christ, require one to actually be spiritual. "No one, the Scripture says, can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit."Only those who have the mind of Christ can think after the mind of the Lord ( 1 Cor 2:16).

That is why verse 13 of 1 Cor 2 says "we have received...the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things freely given us by God" (That is, that we might know Jesus Christ and the gospel). The same text says unregenerate persons cannot know them BECAUSE they are spiritually discerned. They think of them as foolish. No amount of persuasion on its own will make any difference.

The work of the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite to spiritual understanding. Consider, in this world we have two ways to obtain knowledge: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation is simply the created world and special revelation refers to the Holy Scriptures directly revealed by God. General revelation itself should be enough to know God, but due to the noetic effects of sin on the mind in the fall we do not read creation correctly so we also need the Bible for saving knowledge. We cannot now read the world around us correctly apart from Scripture. But again salvation cannot be known merely by reading the page of Scripture either, even though it is infallible. It may have been sufficient before the fall, but now general and special revelation are insufficient to give us life through saving knowledge of Christ. Let there be no mistake about this. it is not because either general or special revelation are defective in any way. Romans 1:20 and following says that God is clearly known to all persons through General revelation so that men are without excuse. The problem is not with revelation but with the heart of man, who "suppresses the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom 1:18)

What humans still need above and beyond general and special revelation is the illumination of the Holy Spirit who gives man spiritual eyes to see the truth of Christ in the gospel. Only the mind of Christ will suffice to understand the things of Christ. Only as the Lord opens the heart do we understand and "take heed" to the things of the Lord (Acts 16:14).

People, therefore, do not reject the gospel because they are unintelligent, uneducated or simply do not have enough data. You could give them all the data in the world and they still would not believe. Romans 1 says that all men, in some respect, 'know the Lord', the question is, do they know him as an enemy or as a friend? Only the Spirit can transform and disarm our hostility toward Jesus Christ. Only he can illumine the text so that we might understand it. Man is blinded to the gospel because his affections are for this world. The love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19, 20). Persuasion is not sufficient without the Spirit shining a light on the message.

Important to remember, the Holy Spirit is not giving any new revelation. Rather He enlightens man by doing a work of grace in his heart so that he can perceive the revelation already given. Even as believers we pray that God would open our eyes to see wonderful things from his law. The law already exists in is full clarity and he has already turned on a flashlight as in a dark room for us so we see some truths, but others still remain hidden until God shines a light on them. But unbelievers are completely in the dark. We need to ask the the Holy Spirit to illumine their mind and remove the veil that they may see the beauty and excellency of Christ in the gospel. They may already understand the gospel to a degree intellectually but they do not see any beauty, truth or excellency in it. Only the Spirit can change our affection for Christ. Just as we cannot lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, and just as water does not rise above its source, so the unspiritual man does not see or grasp or love spiritual things. No addition to revelation is needed. Instead we need a remove of the darkness that shrouds the hearts of unbelievers ... a darkness that prevents them from seeing the goodness of Christ.

In light of what was just said, consider Elisha's prayer to open the eyes of his servant that he might see what was already there:

"Alas, my master! What shall we do?"
So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

17Then Elisha prayed and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see " And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Jonathan Edwards explained that this knowledge (light) is given immediately by God and not obtained through natural means that operate by their own power. While God often makes use of natural means, yet the medium is not what causes the effect. God may teach us many things through nature and reason, and even use the words of Scripture to convey a doctrine or proposition, but only God can illumine them in such a way wherein we see their beauty and excellency. Those who are unregenerate have no capacity to love what is spiritual and so they are not partly but wholly dependent on God to translate them from darkness to light.

Paul likewise said he knew God had chosen the Thessalonians because...

"...this gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1 Thess 1:4,5)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Secrets Of The Da Vinci Code

Was Jesus Married?

One of the most amazing claims of The Da Vinci Code is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and she then became the most important of the apostles. If this is true, then the New Testament cannot be trusted, and its entire inspiration is in question.

There can be no serious question about the marital status of Jesus. The canonical gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) preclude any option of understanding Jesus as married. He operates as an unmarried teacher with a band of devoted disciples. He is not the head of a household, but builds a household of faith--the church. At the crucifixion, he assigns John responsibility for caring for Mary, his mother. There is no mention of any wife, certainly no mention of children.

This is no problem for Dan Brown and others who promote their invented Christology. According to Brown and author Margaret Starbird, Jesus not only married Mary Magdalene, but also fathered a child who became the head of the Merovingian royal dynasty.

So, how can Brown and others promote this theory? Simply by asserting that the marital status of Jesus was hidden by Christian leaders by means of a vast conspiracy. This conspiracy, we are told, explains the absence of any mention of Jesus' marriage in the New Testament and the church's denial of any such suggestion throughout its history. What evidence would Brown and Starbird produce in order to buttress their case?

Starbird points to Jesus' instruction to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection, as recorded in John's gospel. When Jesus tells Mary not to touch Him, Starbird claims that this actually means, "do not cling to me," which is further asserted to mean that they were married. As Vargas explains by means of a question: "and that kind of embrace would have been unusual if it were not between a man and a woman, husband and wife?"

Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, countered Starbird's assertion. "Its just her single act of devotion," Bock explained, "given to him without concern about what people are thinking about what she's doing." Vargas then conceded that the majority of biblical scholars consulted for the program agreed with Professor Bock's assessment. Nevertheless, don't count that as a complete loss, for she did find one biblical scholar who thought that the scene in the garden might "point to an intimate relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus."

Father Richard McBrien of the University of Notre Dame quickly confirmed that if Jesus had married, it would have been to Mary Magdalene. "If he was married, it was obviously...oh, yeah, it was obviously Mary Magdalene." Father McBrien evidently confuses romance novels with the New Testament.

One of the central arguments found in The Da Vinci Code is that certain leading figures in history have always known the truth. The "Priory of Sion," asserted to be a cabal of the illuminated ones, is central to Brown's plot. The Priory is claimed to involve a host of luminaries from European history including, of course, Leonardo Da Vinci. According to Brown's thesis, Da Vinci hid hints of Jesus' marriage in works of art such as his famous masterpiece, "The Last Supper." Brown argues that one of the figures in the fresco standing next to Jesus isn't a man at all, but Mary Magdalene.

Jack Wasserman of Temple University isn't buying that argument. A prominent art historian, Wasserman simply countered that the figure doesn't even look like a woman, once we understand the artistic style of the era.

As a matter of fact, art historians have poked holes in most of Dan Brown's interpretations found in The Da Vinci Code. Of course, if you are promoting a conspiracy theory, you just make this part of the conspiracy. When Elizabeth Vargas asked Dan Brown why so many art historians dismiss his theories "as absolutely bizarre and crazy," Brown explained: "I think its because we see what we've been told we see." Oh, now we see. Instead of seeing what we've been told we should see, we should now see what Dan Brown wants us to see. See?

The most fascinating insights revealed in the "Prime Time Monday" broadcast had actually very little to do with The Da Vinci Code itself. Of far greater interest to thinking Christians were the arguments made by liberal theologians and divinity school professors that directly attacked the truthfulness of the Bible. This is, of course, of much greater concern than the interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpieces.

In introducing this material, Vargas argued: "If you look at the Christian Bible, it's clear that there are large holes in the stories we have about the life of Jesus. The church chose four gospels that tell his story in the New Testament. But there were other stories written about Jesus, other gospels so controversial the Church ordered them destroyed. And they were, except for one set of copies. And it remained hidden in Egypt until about fifty years ago." Ah ha! The conspiracy deepens.

Vargas' hyped introduction referred to the Nag Hammadi scrolls found around the time of World War II. These Gnostic gospels were heretical accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. Early Christians were aware of these spurious writings and rightly rejected them as sub-biblical and erroneous.

Of course, Dan Brown and company are now ready to tout the Gnostic gospels as even more reliable than the New Testament. These documents and fragments are not older than the canonical Gospels, as is often claimed. They are examples of the false gospels that were recognized as such by the early church.

Father Richard McBrien, well known as a liberal Roman Catholic academic, is ready to elevate Mary Magdalene to the status of an apostle. As he claimed, "She really was every bit as much an apostle, a companion, spokesperson for Jesus and his gospel as any of the men were." Of course, this assertion denies the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and the consensus of all branches of Christianity throughout the last two thousand years.

Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School argues that the denial of Jesus' marital status and the marginalization of Mary Magdalene are the result of a male conspiracy to deny the equality of women and the rightful place of female leadership in the church. Of course, since she sees Christianity as something that human beings have made, she would now call for the church to remake itself in a way more to her liking.

"Sometimes religion is presented as something that's fixed and stable," King explained, "where you have to accept it or reject it." But, as you might now suspect, professor King does not see Christianity as anything fixed or stable. To the contrary, as she asserted: "But the fact is that religious traditions, and certainly Christianity among them, is very diverse, very filled with possibilities. And we need to take responsibility for the kind of religion we make."

That final sentence is a quintessential statement of liberal theology. According to professors like Karen King, we "make up" Christianity as we go along. Now, informed by feminism and New Age spirituality, we can remake Christianity and leave behind all that tired, stale, orthodoxy that has been handed down to us.

The evidence against these revisionist forms of Christianity is massive. Belief in the veracity and historical credibility of the New Testament is the great dividing line between Christianity and this new religion posing as Christianity. According to John 3:16, Jesus is "the only begotten" Son of God. He came to redeem sinners by His atoning death and resurrection in order that we might become adopted as the sons and daughters of God. Jesus Christ did not marry and did not beget any children of the flesh. Through faith, we become the sons and daughters of God through Christ's accomplished work of salvation.

All these revisionist versions of Christianity are rejections of the Gospel handed down from the apostles and honored by faithful Christians in every generation. Dan Brown has written a suspense thriller that ABC News has taken as a serious historical argument. They were able to find a host of liberal enablers to help push the case and hype the story. But, in the end, we have to choose between the Christ of the New Testament and the Christ of The Da Vinci Code.

Check it out for yourself, and read the New Testament. Truth is far more interesting than fiction. The mythical Christ of The Da Vinci Code is no match for the authentic Christ of the Bible.

Do you know what the message of the Bible is?

It tells us that God is good by nature, and because of His goodness He will make sure that justice is eventually done. For example, there were more than 150,000 unsolved murders in the U.S. during the last 20 years — however, those unpunished murderers will receive justice by being sent to God's "prison" — a place called "Hell." But God is so good He will also punish rapists, thieves, liars, adulterers, blasphemers, and fornicators (those who have had sex before marriage).

How will you do on Judgment Day? Ask yourself a few questions: Have you ever lied (even once) or stolen (regardless of value)? Have you ever used God’s name in vain, or had sexual thoughts about someone to whom you are not married? Have you ever hated someone? The shocking truth is that if you said yes to those questions, on Judgment Day God will see you as a lying thief . . . a blasphemer . . . an adulterer . . . and even a murderer. Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart," and Scripture also says that if you hate someone, you are a murderer.

This is the Bible’s warning — if God gives you justice on Judgment Day, you will end up in Hell. However, God is rich in mercy, and He made a way for you to be forgiven: "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus suffered and died on the cross, taking the punishment for your sins. Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. If you repent and trust in Jesus, God will forgive you and grant you eternal life. Then read the Bible daily and obey what you read (see John 14:21).

If you choose to ignore the Bible's warning, and instead believe the fantasies of The Da Vinci Code, then be aware that you have joined the "Elvis is Alive!" crowd. You've included yourself in the ranks of the wide-eyed and faithful tabloid customers. The choice, however, is yours. It's your eternity. So think it through carefully. There's nothing more important than where you spend eternity.

The Da Vinci tract pictured above is available from:

Article Source:

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Open Air Preaching

I went to our town's annual "Swampfest" today and did some open air preaching for about 3 hours on a little stool on a street-corner. I didn't use any gimmicks or magic tricks, just opened my mouth and began preaching. The clown in the booth next to me (it was literally a clown wearing a funny suit and makeup) turned down his music once I began preaching. The vendors across from me eventually heard my voice getting hoarse and brought me lemonade to drink. Some woman offered me money and told me, "I know that you are for real and actually believe what you are preaching," when I wouldn't take her money but instead urged her to put it in the offering plate at church tomorrow. A bunch of kids saw all the "money" in my front pocket and were amazed when I began pulling it out and handing it to them. It was a pack of million dollar bill tracts.

Overall, it was a very good day because the gospel was preached and people were pointed to God's word which I proclaimed, "is reliable, trustworthy, inerrant -- which means without any error or contradiction. If you see contradictions in the bible, you're just reading it wrong. You can totally take God at His word! You can trust what he says about salvation and you can trust what he says about sin." I talked about repentance and faith, the Law and the sinfulness of our sin, and even proved the existence of God! It was awesome.

I was able share the gospel many times and point people to trusting in God's Word as reliable and trustworthy. I also encouraged people to go to church. Many people came up to me during the day to thank me for taking a stand for Christ. I am grateful for what God has done in me and for me, and I want to see men and women put their trust in Christ, repent of their sins, and be saved.

Here is a link to listen to an audio clip of part of the preaching from today. It's a little distorted because the microphone was in my front pocket and I was talking loudly. You can click this link and listen online or right click and "save target as" to save it to your computer. Enjoy!

Happy April Fools Day!

"The fool has said in his heart, There is no God." Psalm 14:1

To say "there is no God," and to be correct in the statement, I must be a know it all. I must know how many hairs are upon every head, every thought of every human heart, every detail of history, every atom within every rock…nothing is hidden from my eyes…I would have to know the intimate details of the secret love-life of the fleas on the back of the black cat of Napoleon's great-grandmother.

To make the absolute statement "There is no God." I must have absolute knowledge that there isn't one. If the atheist is reasonable he will have to say, "Having the limited knowledge that I have at present, I believe that there is no God."

In other words, the atheist doesn't know if God exists, so he is not an "atheist," he is what is commonly known as an "agnostic." The word “a” means without and “gnostic” means knowledge — agnostic means without knowledge.

The agnostic is like a man who looks at a building, and doesn't know if there was a builder.

Perhaps the “atheist” has a question about faith. We have faith in plenty of things we don't understand. Did you understand the mechanics of television before you turned it on? Probably not. You took a step of faith, turned it on, and after it worked, understanding how it worked wasn't that important.

Or perhaps he has an ulterior motive? Could it be that the "atheist" can't find God, for the same reason a thief can't find a policeman? Could it be that his love for sin is clouding his good judgment?

If you, like the atheist, have broken even one law, then you have sinned against God and therefore will "surely die," for the "wages of sin is death." We are all guilty of breaking God’s moral law, the Ten Commandments.

Listen to the voice of your conscience, and let it remind you of some of the sins of the past.

On Judgment Day our transgressions will be evidence of our shame. Think of it: God has seen every sin we have ever committed. We share our thought-life with Him. We are guilty of violating His Law a multitude of times, yet if we repent, God can forgive us because Jesus stepped into the courtroom 2.000 years ago and paid the fine for us.

His death on the cross satisfied the Law we so blatantly transgressed, and at the same time demonstrated how much God loves us.

Please, forget your arguments, repent and put your trust in Jesus and be saved from God's wrath. Make Psalm 51 your prayer, then read your Bible daily and always obey what you read; God will never let you down. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Don’t be an April Fool!
Visit this Fool-Proof website for more info: