Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

College Student Counselor Can Defer Homosexual Clients, Court Rules, Christian News

College Student Counselor Can Defer Homosexual Clients, Court Rules, Christian News

Michigan Group Responds to Christian Reformed Synod’s Decision on Homosexuality

Although "officially the Christian Reformed Church voted against accepting openly gay/lesbian members and transexuals, it would appear that the disease or contagion exists anyway. In my opinion this is the natural result of endorsing the three points of common grace. After all, if natural revelation through so-called "science" trumps God's special revelation in Scripture, then it follows that evolution might be true and the Bible is simply an inspired "story"? From there is it not that far to endorse open immorality like homosexuality and transexuality.

To read the story click here: Michigan Group Responds to Christian Reformed Synod’s Decision on Homosexuality.

Professor David J. Engelsma of the Protestant Reformed Theological School has rightly pointed out:

In May, 1952, Dr. Cornelius Van Til told a full house of Calvin Seminary and College faculty and students that if the common grace doctrine of the Christian Reformed Church prevailed one might as well blow up the science building of Calvin College with an atom bomb. This remark mightily irked the leadership of the Christian Reformed Church. It has always puzzled me-not the statement but that Van Til made it. For all his hedging and qualifying, Van Til held the same doctrine of common grace that Kuyper taught in his Lectures on Calvinism and that the Christian Reformed Church adopted in its decretals of 1924.

In any case, that was the science building that has given the Christian Reformed Church Howard Van Till's denial of creation, Davis Young's denial of the flood, and the 1991 report on creation and science that affirmed full-blown theistic evolution.

Dr. Engelsma's critique of the exaltation of natural revelation via the three points of common grace is a point well taken. To read his entire article, click here: Reformed Worldview: The Failure of Common Grace.

Mike Horton: What Is the Gospel?

This is an excellent summary of what the Gospel is and of the distinction between Law and Gospel. Give it a listen.

May the peace of God be with you! (Romans 5:1, 2).


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Carl Trueman on the Elephants in the Room: Do You Beat Your Wife? - Reformation21 Blog

Carl Trueman is a professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. His remarks below are a telling indictment of Mark Driscoll and the Elephants in the Room:

This request that we ask hard questions in the right venue, and consider the ER to have signally failed in this regard, will no doubt evince cries of `Hey, hater!' from some quarters. That is apparently the standard reaction now when anyone questions the actions of a successful pastor of a large church. If, however, we take true doctrine seriously, then surely we will see false teaching for what it is: soul destroying. Reflect on a parallel situation for a moment: let us say that, week after week, I see a congregant's wife with a black eye and an arm covered in cuts and bruises; eventually I ask her husband, `Did you do that?' to which he says `No, I abhor violence and despise the sort of people who beat their wives'; in such circumstances, is it unloving, Pharisaical or hateful of me to press the question a little further? I think not. Indeed, failure so to do would be moral delinquency of the highest order. To press the matter is actually responsible pastoring. The same thing applies with those whose public teaching seems to be deviant. It is not hateful to press the hard questions, and to do so with appropriate competence and in a suitable context; rather, it is right and necessary.

Click here to read the full article: Do You Beat Your Wife? - Reformation21 Blog

A Mega-Friday DL on TD Jakes and Elephants in the Room

Dr. James R. White of Alpha and Omega Ministries did an entire show on The Dividing Line concerning the heresy of T. D. Jakes and Oneness Pentecostalism:

A Mega-Friday DL on TD Jakes and Elephants in the Room

01/27/2012 - James White
OK, we've never crashed our servers before by going past the maximum number of connections, but, we did today. I guess there is really a great deal of interest, which, on one level, is very encouraging. In any case, I addressed the TD Jakes: is he a Trinitarian? issue head on during the first hour, and then took calls on the topic for a full hour after that. The callers were wide ranging, and while none defended the ER or Jakes, they did provide some good insights. Lots of positive feedback on Twitter and FaceBook. Hope it will be helpful! Here's the program.

Click here to see Dr. White's blog page: A Mega-Friday DL on TD Jakes and Elephants in the Room

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dr. Calvin Beisner Comments: elephant room | discernment | association | TD Jakes | James MacDonald

The following is from Here I Blog:

I asked Facebook friend, author and scholar, Dr. E. Calvin Beisner7, who has published two books on the Trinity, his thoughts on Jakes’ comments in the above interview. Beisner replied:

Far, far, far too little evidence there to justify reclassifying Jakes as Trinitarian granted all he’s said before and his continuing to consider United Pentecostals his Christian brothers. Nothing quoted there falls outside what any reasonably sly and sophisticated United Pentecostal could say. Let Jakes clearly and explicitly affirm such clear Trinitarian statements as the Nicene Creed, the Symbol of Chalcedon, the Athanasian Creed, or even just Warfield’s summary–There is but one God; the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit each is God; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each is a distinct Person–and then let him also repudiate the anti-Trinitarian statements of United Pentecostalism and other modalist sects, and it’ll be time to declare him converted to the true God. My impression is that Jakes is simply out to gain the trust of larger groups than the Oneness and Pentecostal crowd in which he’s been at home.

I beg to differ with Dr. Beisner on one point.  With the downplaying of "essential doctrine" in Pentecostal circles, it has now become generally accepted that the trinity and oneness issue is considered a matter of adiaphora.  The Society for Pentecostal Studies has removed all trinitarian doctrinal statements so that oneness pentecostals could participate since they could not in good conscience sign such a doctrinal statement in order to join the society.  See:  Wikipedia:  Society for Pentecostal Studies.

Click here to read the whole article: elephant room | discernment | association | TD Jakes | James MacDonald

Click here to read the transcript of the Elephant Room interview with T. D. Jakes: The Elephant Room II

Could Jesus Have Sinned? by R.C. Sproul | Ligonier Ministries Blog

[Addendum:  I no longer believe that Dr. Gordon H. Clark committed the Nestorian error.  He simply said that the human person of Christ and the divine Person of the Logos were united in the man Christ Jesus.  Dr. Clark's view is simply a further refining of the Definition of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.]

Like most semi-Arminians R.C. Sproul makes numerous capitulations to Arminianism, like the three points of common grace, a semi-Amyraldian view of the atonement (i.e. Christ died to purchase common grace for the reprobates and the free offer to the reprobates), and the infralapsarian view of God's decrees (as if God did not plan anything until after He had logically considered the results of the Fall of Adam?). Now we find that Sproul agrees with the Pentecostals that Jesus is not fully divine, but simply avoids sinning by virtue of the fact that He is filled with the Spirit beyond measure. Logically speaking, either way, Jesus has an advantage that we do not enjoy, since "we" do not have the Spirit beyond measure. So the purpose of denying the impeccability of Christ is rendered moot.

The fact is, if we say that Jesus could have sinned in His human nature, and if we concede that the divine nature could not sin, we have an irrational paradox that in effect denies the complete deity of Jesus Christ. This is the same sort of error committed by the otherwise solid Gordon H. Clark when Clark proposed the Nestorian theory of the incarnation.  [Although Clark would never say Christ could sin since Clark's view is that predestination is absolute]. To say that Jesus could have sinned in His human nature would mean that it would be possible to separate the human nature from the divine nature when the two are perfectly united in the one Person of Jesus Christ. It would mean that God's decrees are tentative and that divine predestination is not true! The idea that Christ "could have sinned" is not the Reformed view of the incarnation, mission, sinless life, and the atonement on the cross.  It would mean that these doctrines were all contingencies and that Christ's mission "could have failed"! In short, the idea of Christ being peccable or able to sin is in essence the Arminian or semi-pelagian view, not the Calvinist or Reformed view.

In fact, it was not Luther's view either! Luther plainly said that absolutely nothing happens by contingency and that there is no such thing as libertarian free will--not even in Adam prior to the fall! The Fall was certain to happen because God decreed it to be so. Luther says:

Sect. 9.—THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. But, however, before I establish this point by any arguments of my own, and by the authority of Scripture, I will first set it forth in your words.

Are you not then the person, friend Erasmus, who just now asserted, that God is by nature just, and by nature most merciful? If this be true, does it not follow that He is immutably just and merciful? That, as His nature is not changed to all eternity, so neither His justice nor His mercy? And what is said concerning His justice and His mercy, must be said also concerning His knowledge, His wisdom, His goodness, His will, and His other Attributes. If therefore these things are asserted religiously, piously, and wholesomely concerning God, as you say yourself, what has come to you, that, contrary to your own self, you now assert, that it is irreligious, curious, and vain, to say, that God foreknows of necessity? You openly declare that the immutable will of God is to be known, but you forbid the knowledge of His immutable prescience. Do you believe that He foreknows against His will, or that He wills in ignorance? If then, He foreknows, willing, His will is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so: and, if He wills, foreknowing, His knowledge is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so.

From which it follows unalterably, that all things which we do, although they may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, and even may be done thus contingently by us, are yet, in reality, done necessarily and immutably, with respect to the will of God. For the will of God is effective and cannot be hindered; because the very power of God is natural to Him, and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived. And as His will cannot be hindered, the work itself cannot be hindered from being done in the place, at the time, in the measure, and by whom He foresees and wills.
The Sovereignty of God: The Bondage of the Will

It seems to me that R. C. Sproul's commitment to reason above Scripture via the "classical" apologetics of Thomas Aquinas has prejudiced him against the plain teaching of Scripture in regards to both the absolute deity of Jesus Christ and the absolute predestination of God and His decrees.

"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- 23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; (Acts 2:22-23 NKJ)

"For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27-28 NKJ)

"And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" (Luke 22:22 NKJ)

Logically speaking if it were possible for Jesus to sin--even in His human nature--it would mean that it is possible for God to not know what the future holds. If it were possible for Jesus to sin in His human nature, then it logically follows that it would be possible for Jesus to become less than fully God, since it is impossible for God to sin. Since it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18), it follows that it would be impossible for Jesus to fail to keep God's promise to save the elect (Genesis 3:15; Matthew 1:21). It is truly sad to see someone who claims to be Reformed teaching obviously Arminian doctrines like the peccability of Jesus Christ while He was on earth.

Even J. I. Packer does not make that sort of mistake:

Jesus, being divine, was impeccable (could not sin), but this does not mean he could not be tempted. Satan tempted him to disobey the Father by self-gratification, self-display, and self-aggrandizement (Matt. 4:1-11), and the temptation to retreat from the cross was constant (Luke 22:28, where the Greek for “trials” can be translated “temptations”; Matt. 16:23; and Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane). Being human, Jesus could not conquer temptation without a struggle, but being divine it was his nature to do his Father’s will (John 5:19, 30), and therefore to resist and fight temptation until he had overcome it. From Gethsemane we may infer that his struggles were sometimes more acute and agonizing than any we ever know. The happy end-result is that “because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18).

Packer, J. I. (1995). Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.

Furthermore, the suggestion that Jesus could have sinned ignores the fact that Jesus had an advantage that Adam did not have prior to the Fall. Jesus was and is fully God, and He additionally had the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34; John 1:1, 14, 18; Colossians 1:19, 20; Colossians 2:9). Although Jesus suffered in every point like we do, He never sinned and in fact it was destined to be so! (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). It was never possible that God would fail to keep His promise to save His elect. Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8 NKJV).

To read R. C. Sproul's remarks click here: Could Jesus Have Sinned? by R.C. Sproul | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Fwd: New Book by Dr. John Frame "A Reformed Response to Escondido Theology"

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." (John 18:36 NKJ)

(See the ad from TheNiceneCouncil.Com which inspired this article here:  The Escondido Theology, by John Frame.  Charlie).

It looks like the neo-legalist Van Tilians and theonomists are up to more contumelious attacks against the doctrines of grace and the Gospel promises.  Legalists, being obsessed with their own ability to transform themselves and society, seem to think that only their efforts and thoughts and logic can possibly be correct.  I got a huge chuckle out of the following ad I received by e-mail from The NiceneCouncil.Com site concerning the new book by the multiperspectivalist "Reformed" writer, John Frame, The Escondido Theology We are told in the ad that, "Dr. Frame's insight and analysis clearly represents the Reformed Christian World and Life View because it is historically rooted in Calvinistic theology."

What is amusing about this bare assertion is that it makes a fallacious argument.  Simply asserting the conclusion that Frame's view "represents the Reformed Christian World . . . View" does not make it so.  If the premise is wrong then the conclusion is wrong as well.  First of all, the premise is that Frame's view "is historically rooted in Calvinistic theology."  But what does this mean?  Even the imminent church historian Carl Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia has acknowledged that there is no reified "Reformed tradition".  So how can Frame represent the entire Reformed Christian worldview if there is no such thing?  The fact is the Reformed tradition has from the beginning had competing factions and taken as a whole the movement is diverse and often at odds, including the divisions between modernists and traditionalists, between theonomists and two kingdoms theology, between confessional Reformed theology and the Federal Visionist/Auburn Avenue theology, between the advocates of neo-Kuyperian common grace and those who uphold classical Calvinist theology, and between the followers of Cornelius Van Til and the followers of Gordon H. Clark's Scripturalist presuppositional apologetics.

My advice to my readers is the same advice I received in college and seminary.  Do not trust secondary sources in forming your opinions about any position.  In other words, if you want to understand the two kingdoms theology then read the primary sources like Meredith Kline, Michael Horton, or R. Scott Clark.  Only after reading the primary sources can you then critically read the secondary source criticisms of the two kingdoms view.  I would say the same about Frame.  If you want to critique Frame, read Frame's works first and then read the criticisms made of Frame's work.  Unfortunately, John Frame's triperspectivalism or multiperspectivalism opens the door to subjectivism and relativism, which implies that Frame's views are less than biblically based propositional truth claims.  Although Frame places Scripture as the first premise of triperspectivalism, that is Scripture is the normative basis for the other two premises, the problem is that for Frame Scripture is not the final word on any matter at all. Obviously interpreting the Bible through the lens of triperspectivalist presuppositions like situational ethics and semi neo-orthodox existentialism as the the other two points of his theory makes Frame's presuppositional approach relativist and not Scripturalist. 

Gordon H. Clark's apologetics method is far superior since for Clark the logical propositions in Scripture are univocally God's thoughts on all matters of faith and practice.  Frame's approach, however, is inherently liberal since in the final analysis Frame makes the three branches of triperspectivalism equal in authority.  That is, for Frame Scripture is not the final authority but is simply one of three equals:  1) Scripture as the normative perspective, 2) Situational ethics as the situational perspective, and 3) Existential experience as the existential perspective.  It is this sort of thinking that has changed the focus of popular Reformed theology from the hereafter and transcendent theology to the here and now, this world, and transforming society.  Sound familiar? 

Yes, the social gospel, although on the left, had a similar emphasis on transforming society to make it more fair and equitable to the poor.  In doing so the doctrines of grace relating to the hereafter and where the soul would spend eternity were left by the wayside and a socialist, materialistic mentality took over to the point that Christianity for all practical purposes became simply an agnostic, atheist political organization rather than a metaphysical religion.

Although theonomists, reconstructionists, neo-legalists, and neo-Kuyperian Calvinists consider themselves as transforming society and fighting liberalism, they are in fact a right wing theocratic version of liberalism.  Ironically, the emphasis on the here and now, theology from below, and transforming society rather than preaching the Gospel and where the individual soul will spend eternity winds up leading in two undesirable directions.  On the one hand such thinking leads back to Rome and the papist mentality of ruling the world as vicars of Christ on earth.  On the other hand, theonomy, reconstruction, and neo-legalism leads to the very liberalism that theonomists "think" they are fighting against since ecumenicalism and co-belligerency in the political realm trumps the doctrines of grace (Galatians 1:6-9) and the promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:20).  These unforeseen consequences are indeed ironic. 

I would contend that transforming society has never been the focus of classical Reformed theology.  Jonathan Edwards' classic sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," is evidence enough of that.  The real question is, "Where will you spend eternity?"  (Matthew 16:15, 16).  The attempt to marginalize classical Calvinists and the biblical focus on the promises of God and eternity is a telling indictment against theonomy/reconstruction and its theological offshoot, the Federal Vision/Auburn Avenue heresy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

WHI-1070 | Christianity & the New Liberalism - White Horse Inn Blog

Is Christianity primarily about what God is doing in your life right now, or what he did one afternoon two-thousand years ago? Is the idea of Jesus “in your heart” more important than Jesus “in the manger” or “on the cross”? Do you value your own personal experience of faith more than what God accomplishes externally through the proclamation of the gospel? In the not-too-distant past, theological liberals were the ones answering yes to questions like these, but increasingly American evangelicals are moving in this direction. On this program, the hosts discuss this troubling trend and offer some challenges to this “new liberalism” of our time (originally broadcast March 23, 2008).

Click here to listen to this episode of The White Horse Inn.

WHI-1070 | Christianity & the New Liberalism - White Horse Inn Blog

T. D. Jakes and the Elephant Room Controversy

 "But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”" (John 8:45-47, NKJV)

 I posted the following comment over at the Daniel's Place blog.  Daniel is a student at Westminster Seminary, California.  He has been covering the controversy over the invitation extended to the heresiarch T.D. Jakes to speak at The Elephant Room.  You can see Daniel's article by clicking here: News: James MacDonald resigns from TGC .

I agree that inviting T. D. Jakes to the Elephant room is a tacit endorsement of Jakes' theology. But I hate to break this news to you. The fact is the vast majority of Pentecostals and Charismatics these days NO LONGER REGARD ONENESS PENTECOSTAL TEACHING AS HERESY. Excuse me for yelling:) But I think this emphasis needs to be made. Basically, the Charismatic movement is more concerned about spreading Pentecostalism and Charismatic teaching than about correct doctrine on the ESSENTIALS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. For example, The Society for Pentecostal Studies, which publishes a theological journal called, Pneuma, does not require belief in the trinity or triunity of three persons in one divine nature. That can be easily demonstrated in the compromise of their original doctrinal statement here: Wikipedia: The Society for Pentecostal Studies. The short of it is that Pentecostals and Charismatics are compromised from the get go because their emphasis on the "gifts of the Spirit" and the "baptism with the Holy Spirit" trumps the orthodox and essential doctrine of the trinity. I've been saying this for several years now and I'm wondering why so few are listening?

The fact that T.D. Jakes enjoys such mainstream popularity among Charismatics and Pentecostals and on "Christian" TV is proof enough that the movement as a whole is cultic, heterodox, and heretical. Yes, you heard me right.

Another indication of this sort of heterodoxy is the widespread acceptance of the Word of Faith doctrines on health, wealth and prosperity--doctrines which come from Christian Science and New Thought. Included in that package are extremely heretical doctrines on the incarnation of Christ and His deity. Word of Faith teachers say that Christ is not fully God but is simply a "Spirit-filled man". They also teach that Jesus was demonized on the cross and that He suffered for three days in hellfire.

It is beyond my comprehension why anyone who considers themselves Reformed in theological perspective would want to lead others into this heretical and heterodox movement. I'm thinking here of "non-cessationists" like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Vincent Cheung, Mark Driscoll, Vern Poythress, and others. This wrong emphasis is akin to saying it's ok to be Mormon! In fact, the Word of Faith movement also incorporates some Mormon doctrine since Kenneth Hagin taught that God has a "spiritual" body, i.e. a spiritualized physical body.

I could go on but I'll stop there. The short of it is that I think Evangelicals in general are way too gracious toward Pentecostalism and Charismatic theology because of the fear of losing support.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Addendum:  I know some of you think I am overgeneralizing since some Pentecostal and Charismatic churches take a strong stand against modalism and the Word of Faith movement.  However, to take a strong stand against false teaching while continuing to fellowship with heretics is duplicitous.  This sort of dissimulating compromise reveals that Pentecostals and Charismatics are more concerned with ecumenicalism than with Scriptural truth.  But if the souls of millions of adherents are at stake, why invite false teachers to lead them astray?  That is the question at issue here.  It is impossible to follow false teaching while at the same time following the truth. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

John Calvin on the Law/Gospel Distinction


For when the conscience feels anxious as to how it may have the favor of God, as to the answer it could give, and the confidence it would feel, if brought to his judgment-seat, in such a case the requirements of the law are not to be brought forward, but Christ, who surpasses all the perfection of the law, is alone to be held forth for righteousness.  --John Calvin

The neo-legalists at Westminster Theological Seminary, including Richard Gaffin and Lane Tipton, insist that the assurance of salvation is not in justification by faith alone or in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but in the "mystical union" with Christ.  By this they mean some combination of faith, justification and sanctification together.  They wish then to downplay justification by faith alone so that they can now emphasize holiness and sanctification instead.  But is this the emphasis of John Calvin?  According to the neo-legalists the law/gospel distinction is a Lutheran doctrine and not the doctrine of the Reformed view.  But this idea is wrong on several points.   (Romans 3:20-28; Romans 7:7; Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 2:16, 21).

First of all, to assume that the law/gospel distinction is only a Lutheran doctrine and not the Reformed view assumes that the term "Reformed" is concrete or reified.  Such is not the case since obviously the Zwinglian side of the Reformed camp was not in agreement with the Genevan camp on several points, which in turn necessitated a clarification of the doctrine of union with Christ and how the sacraments fit with the Scriptures in light of faith and being united with Christ by and through the means of faith. 

Since Calvin was the primary author of the Consensus of Tigerinus, it follows that Calvin's doctrine of union with Christ can reasonably be understood from that document.  Calvin clearly does not emphasize holiness above justification by faith alone in the Tigerinus but rather he continually appeals to union with Christ "by faith" which is the reality for which the signs stand.
  Calvin says,

Article 10. The Promise Principally to Be Looked To in the Sacraments.
And it is proper to look not to the bare signs, but rather to the promise thereto annexed. As far, therefore, as our faith in the promise there offered prevails, so far will that virtue and efficacy of which we speak display itself. Thus the substance of water, bread, and wine, by no means offers Christ to us, nor makes us capable of his spiritual gifts. The promise rather is to be looked to, whose office it is to lead us to Christ by the direct way of faith, faith which makes us partakers of Christ.   (Consensus of Tigerinus).

"2. Christian liberty seems to me to consist of three parts. First, the consciences of believers, while seeking the assurance of their justification before God, must rise above the law, and think no more of obtaining justification by it. For while the law, as has already been demonstrated ( [supra] , chap. 17, sec. 1), leaves not one man righteous, we are either excluded from all hope of justification, or we must be loosed from the law, and so loosed as that no account at all shall be taken of works. For he who imagines that in order to obtain justification he must bring any degree of works whatever, cannot fix any mode or limit, but makes himself debtor to the whole law. Therefore, laying aside all mention of the law, and all idea of works, we must in the matter of justification have recourse to the mercy of God only; turning away our regard from ourselves, we must look only to Christ. For the question is, not how we may be righteous, but how, though unworthy and unrighteous, we may be regarded as righteous. If consciences would obtain any assurance of this, they must give no place to the law. Still it cannot be rightly inferred from this that believers have no need of the law. It ceases not to teach, exhort, and urge them to good, although it is not recognized by their consciences before the judgment-seat of God. The two things are very different, and should be well and carefully distinguished. The whole lives of Christians ought to be a kind of aspiration after piety, seeing they are called unto holiness ( [Eph. 1:4] ; [1 Thess. 4:5] ). The office of the law is to excite them to the study of purity and holiness, by reminding them of their duty. For when the conscience feels anxious as to how it may have the favor of God, as to the answer it could give, and the confidence it would feel, if brought to his judgment-seat, in such a case the requirements of the law are not to be brought forward, but Christ, who surpasses all the perfection of the law, is alone to be held forth for righteousness." Institutes Book 3:19:2
Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vincent Cheung's Response to the Nestorian Controversy: Gordon H. Clark, The Incarnation

Addendum:  I no longer view Clark's position as Nestorian.  He clearly did not reject Chalcedon but sought to further define the creed.  I do not take the view that Sean Gerety takes, namely that Clark rejected the Definition of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.  Charlie J. Ray, 9/5/2013.

As you can see below, Vincent Cheung mistakenly thought that the issue of the correct doctrine of the trinity and the incarnation of Jesus Christ is not a biblical issue but rather an issue of interpreting what Gordon H. Clark meant in his book, The Incarnation.   Nothing could be further from the truth.  Since Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is one person who is both God and man, the early church sought to explain this doctrine without compromising either His deity or His humanity.  Gordon H. Clark refused to accept the plain teaching of Scripture and instead said that it was impossible for one person to be both God and man at the same time.  So instead Clark postulated that Jesus Christ was really two persons, a divine person and a human person.  How those two persons could be united Clark never tells us.  The real problem with Clark's view is that while He solves the apparent contradiction of uniting the second Person of the Godhead, the divine Logos, with the human nature in Jesus Christ, Clark's solution effectually divides Christ into two persons who are not united at all.  In essence, then, the person of Jesus Christ for Clark is not divine!   The Bible, on the other hand, says many times over that the man, Jesus Christ, is fully divine and only one person.  (John 1:1, 14, 18; 1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 1:19; 2:9; Titus 1:3, 4).

In other words, Clark's view undermines not only the atonement (Isaiah 53:4-6, 11; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28) but the mediatorship of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5, 6).  All of Clark's earlier books, including The Trinity, uphold the doctrine of a unity of two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ.  But suddenly Clark changed his mind in his last book due to his over reaction to the premature appeal to paradox and mystery by the followers of Cornelius Van Til, who essentially proposed a semi neo-orthodox doctrine of Scripture where Van Til said that Scripture is an "analogy" of God's Word and that even the propositional truth claims of the Scriptures are not "identical to" or "univocally" the very words of God in written form.  It would appear that both men, although contributing many good points of theology to the Reformed and Evangelical churches, end up in heterodoxy and heresy.

The Anabaptist emphasis on the "leading of the Spirit" has obviously taken hold of many of Clark's followers just as the same sort of wrong teaching has taken hold among Van Til's followers.  Vincent Cheung is a perfect example of that.  And just as bad, many of Clark's modern day followers try to reconcile theonomy with Clark's theology of propositional truth.  That view is about as logical as saying that Van Til and Clark were never in conflict!

You can read Vincent Cheung's irrational remarks below.  I did not post this when it was originally e-mailed because I wanted to check all my sources first.  As it stands now, The Trinity Foundation is as heretical on the doctrine of the incarnation as the Federal Visionists are heretical on the law/gospel distinction, imputed righteousness/justification by faith alone.  Would that Sean Gerety and his friends could see that Nestorianism undermines the very salvation they "think" they are defending!

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie J. Ray

------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Gordon H. Clark, The Incarnation
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2010 21:02:19 -0500
From: Vincent Cheung <vincent@rmiweb.org>
To: cranmer1959@hotmail.com

I was made aware of the debate on Gerety's web site a while ago. Although I still have not read the debate itself, a number of people have asked me about it. It appears that some people consider me a small authority on Clark, and so when there is a controversy, they consult me about it. But I am not an expert on Clark, and have never claimed to be, although I have read his works and I think that they are overall very good and correct. 

I read his Incarnation and Philippians about 9 or 10 years ago. If I recall correctly, the Incarnation was released after Philippians, and there is a note by John Robbins in Philippians that says Clark changed his view (from a one-person to two-person view). The Incarnation indeed gave me the impression that Clark held a two-person view. Again, this is an impression that I got from reading these books 10 years ago. Whether Clark meant something very different by "person," so that even a two-person view would not essentially contradict Chalcedon, or whether he really rejected Chalcedon, I cannot say. 

Also, I understand that, at least as stated in your message, this controversy, or this part of the controversy that you mention to me, is over the correct interpretation of Clark, and not over the correct interpretation of Scripture, or the correct theological formulation based on Scripture. Because of this, I regard the significance of the debate quite limited. 

On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 5:57 PM, Charlie J. Ray <cranmer1959@hotmail.com> wrote:
I am sorry to bother you as I know you are inundated with e-mail and you are busy.  But a few months ago I became involved in a heated debate over at the God's Hammer blog run by Sean Gerety.  It is Gerety's contention that Dr. Clark rejected the Definition of Chalecdon 451 A.D. and said that Jesus was actually two persons, one divine and one human.  He redefined person in some technical fashion that I cannot remember offhand.  I wonder if you could offer an opinion as to what Dr. Clark's final book actually said about the incarnation and did Clark deny the Definition of Chalcedon?

Thank-you in advance for any opinion you might offer. *****

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Charlie J. Ray

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Conspiracy of the Anonymous « God's Hammer

It looks like a cover-up is underway in the Presbyterian Church in America. Now it seems that bloggers reporting on heresy trials and such is more problematic than the actual heresies that are arising within the PCA. Sean Gerety reports on this on the God's Hammer blog article, Conspiracy of the Anonymous:

Now, the focus of the meeting, at least according to byFaith, was to “ease denominational tension” that has been caused, not by false teaching and the false gospel that continues to spread like cancer virtually unabated throughout the PCA, but by bloggers and a narrow minded faction within presbyteries (read TRs) who are evidently too concerned with orthodoxy when examining candidates seeking ordination in the PCA. According to one nameless attendee; “At the presbytery level, pockets of the PCA have become overly concerned with measuring orthodoxy.” Oh, my. We can’t have that. Of course, this raises the question what else should those at the presbytery level be concerned with when examining candidates for ministry besides measuring a candidate’s level of orthodoxy? Admittedly, there are other variables that need to be taken under consideration when someone is seeking ordination like can he teach or does he become tongue-tied or break into a sweat when speaking before a room full of people. Beyond that his personal character, maturity in the faith, along with his ability to manage his family are all areas to be examined. However, I would have thought that measuring the orthodoxy of prospective pastors would be the primary concern of those at the presbytery level. In fact, PCA BCO 21 requires a “careful examination” (would that be same as a precise examination) of a candidate’s “knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages, Bible content, theology, the Sacraments, Church history, the history of the Presbyterian Church in America, and the principles and rules of the government and discipline of the church.”

To read the rest of Sean's comments click here: Conspiracy of the Anonymous « God's Hammer

As an aside, I always point out that The Trinity Foundation and the God's Hammer blog have apparently endorsed the Nestorian views of Gordon H. Clark's final book, The Incarnation.  Although I generally support the work of The Trinity Foundation, I believe that Nestorianism is as serious a departure from confessional Reformed teaching as the Federal Vision or the New Perspectives on Paul. This is true because there is only one mediator between God and man. He must be both divine and human to fully execute the penal substitutionary atonement in the place of the elect persons chosen by God before the foundation of the world.


Thirty-nine Articles of Religion: Article II

Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man

The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

Friday, January 20, 2012

AMiA break with Rwanda and Anglicanism complete: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2012, p 7. « Conger

AMiA break with Rwanda and Anglicanism complete: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2012, p 7. « Conger

Justin.tv - 13th Street Baptist Church - Sunday December 4th, 2011 Morning

This is one of the best sermons I have heard on the Law and Gospel distinction in a long time. Obviously this pastor has a firm understanding of the doctrines of sovereign grace. Click on the link to see the video sermon by Baptist pastor, Bill Parker. I'm not sure where the 13th Street Baptist Church is located but this is a church I would highly recommend.

Justin.tv - 13th Street Baptist Church - Sunday December 4th, 2011 Morning

Looks like the church is in Ashland, Kentucky.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

J. I. Packer's Continued Crusade: Catechism Classes

{This article is pirated from Christianity Today without their express permission.  Sue me!  Click here to read the full article:  Small Groups and Heresy}

Note: J. I. Packer is the award-winning author of numerous books, including the classic Knowing God. SmallGroups.com recently had the chance to speak with Dr. Packer as part of an editors' panel in the offices of Christianity Today International.

Do churches and small groups have a responsibility to fight heresy when laypeople teach others?

Yes, churches are responsible for weeding out heretical teaching, and that's pretty clear from the New Testament. In those early days of Christianity out in the pagan world, there were any number of cults and any number of false views. And in the Pastoral Epistles we see individuals who are held up as solemn warnings—"Don't go their route."

Let me also say that it's my firm conviction that churches ought to foresee this unhappy possibility of heresy getting in when lay-folk are leading. And they should counter the possibility by what in the history of the church has been called "catechesis." We hardly hear of it these days, but in the second and third centuries A.D.—and indeed for some centuries after—it's rather amazing to discover that inquirers into the faith were fed into catechetical classes.

Can you explain a little more about the process of catechesis?

First, there are other ways of doing catechesis than by question and answer, which is what we are used to when we think of catechizing children. Catechesis is the teaching of the truths that Christians live by, and linked with that it's the teaching of how to live by those truths. It's a practical, pastoral discipline of instruction.

In the second and third centuries, the inquirers didn't have any Christian background—they didn't have any kind of theistic background even. They were polytheists who came out of various pagan cults. And so the catechists had to begin at the beginning and take them through the whole body of Christian doctrine.

We know from surviving catechetical materials that they taught not by separating truths from each other in order to focus on them in isolation. Rather, they taught the whole Christian view of Christianity—God's great economy of grace for the salvation of sinners—and the syllabus was essentially the themes of the Apostle's Creed.

And you feel that the practice of catechesis would be beneficial in modern churches, as well?

Yes. If we could recover catechesis as a regular element of church life, well, we'd be anticipating a lot of these problems with heresy and other troubles. We'd be constantly sustaining orthodoxy and reminding people of what the Christian faith is when you put it all together as a single ball of wax.  And in the absence of catechesis you do find laypeople who believe themselves to have a teaching gift—and perhaps have impressed the church as having a teaching gift— but allow themselves to deviate.

In your opinion, what should churches do when they identify someone who may be leading others astray?

Don't let them go on doing it, first and foremost. It seems to me that the responsibility of the small group is to let it be known that a leader is saying some things that appear to be unsound, unbiblical, or untrue. And that complaint must go up to the leadership of the congregation, whatever form the leadership takes. As an Anglican I'm thinking in terms of the rector; all bucks stop on the rector's desk. But there will always be a leadership group in any congregation.

Well, the complaint goes up to the leadership group, and it's the leadership group's responsibility in the first instance to handle it—which means that they ask the person who's been making waves to explain him or herself. And then according to the way the offender reacts to the corrective response, well, you take it from there. You hope that the errorist will allow him or herself to be put straight. Sometimes it happens that way and sometimes it doesn't.
What kinds of heretical beliefs have you found to be common in the church today?
What is common in this post-Christian age is all the various forms that are taken by the fantasy, and it's a very potent fantasy, that all religions are somehow one. Somehow they are the same religion. Somehow they are all of them pointing to the top of the same mountain, and as we climb we become more and more aware that we're getting closer to everybody else who is climbing by other paths—Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever—and when we get to the top, we shall find that we're totally together.  It's a sweet dream, but the early Christians rejected it out of hand. And, I think, so should we.

Going back to the topic of catechism, is it still possible to do catechesis or guard against heresy as effectively when so many of our modern churches are so large?

I think it would be possible if the will was there.  I mean, if you have a megachurch, what's important is the infrastructure. You've got to develop an infrastructure which takes in all the people, thousands of them, to give them such basic instruction as they all need. Of course, it's easier to arrange an infrastructure for a congregation of about 100, but the principle is the same even though the work is harder.

You break people down into learning groups, call them classes or whatever you choose, and you have persons who are gifted and know their stuff as catechists. The catechists teach the faith as the integrated unity that it is in Scripture. They don't teach isolated points of doctrine; they teach the whole Christian story as it's brought together, and they teach the creeds. And as they go along they sort out the inquirers and they dispel the errors.

—J. I. Packer; copyright 2011 by the author and Christianity Today International.

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

John Stott Memorial Service Sermon by Rev. Canon Dr. J. I. Packer (1/3) - YouTube

John Stott Memorial Service Sermon by Rev. Canon Dr. J. I. Packer (1/3) - YouTube

CVMT: Introduction, The Purpose and Limits of the Book « Lux Lucet

Odd but I am reading this book, A Christian View of Men and Things, by Gordon H. Clark, and suddenly Sean Gerety of the God's Hammer blog posts a link to a review of the book. Although I continually link to The Trinity Foundation and God's Hammer, it troubles me that these folks get the Gospel right and the doctrine of Christ wrong. Even John W. Robbins officially endorsed Gordon H. Clark's final book, The Incarnation, which proposed a Nestorian view of Christ's incarnation. Clark's final book nowhere solved the problem of Christ's unity as both God and man. Instead, Clark separated the two and left the issue hanging since he died before he could finish the book

Click here to see the review of A Christian View of Men and Things, by Gordon H. Clark: CVMT: Introduction, The Purpose and Limits of the Book « Lux Lucet

Theological Word of the Day: Supplication

Words we do not often use today are used throughout the King James Version of the Bible.  Some of these words are archaic and others are not.  One such word is "supplication".  This word is used in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as well.  So what does "supplication" mean?  According to Dictionary.com:


an act or instance of supplicating;  humble prayer, entreaty, or petition.
So the next time you see the word "supplication" you will know that it means to petition God in prayer.  (Psalm 6:9).  Often we must humble ourselves in prayer before God and then and only then will He hear and answer our prayers.  (James 4:10).  Although God is under no obligation to us, out of His sheer mercy and grace He hears and answers the prayers of His children.  (Luke 11:13).  He does not do so because they are more righteous than others but out of His sheer mercy and grace.  (Deuteronomy 7:7; Titus 3:5, 6, 7).

The elect are still sinful by nature (Romans 7:22-25) although they have a new nature and have been regenerated.  (John 1:12-13; 2 Corinthians 5:17).  This is why it is essential that we understand that Christ died for all the sins of His elect (John 10:11, 15), including the sins of the past, the present, and the future.  (Mark 3:28, 29).  Being God, He already knows every wrong decision you will ever make.  (Psalm 139:4, 16).  If God could fail to save His elect, then salvation would be unknown to us and there would be no assurance of salvation.  (1 John 5:13).
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. 18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (1 John 5:13-18 KJV)

There is only one mortal sin.  It is the sin of unbelief.  That could be in the form of never accepting the Gospel promises or it could be apostasy.  Those who go through the motions of believing and then become atheists or unbelievers were never of us.  (1 John 2:19).

May God's peace be with you today!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Presbyterians may split: Conservatives drafting plans for new denomination

Looks like the Presbyterian Church USA will split over the issue of non-celibate homosexual ministers. Unfortunately, the "conservatives" will not go back to the Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Instead the "conservatives" will retain the ordination of women and the rather broad Eleven Confessions of Faith.

Click here to read more: Presbyterians may split: Conservatives drafting plans for new denomination

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reasonable Christian Ministries

As I believe God is calling me to full-time ministry, I am praying that God will provide a way to establish an official ministry and to plant a church here in the Wauchula, Florida area.  For those who wish to contribute to this endeavor I sincerely ask for your prayers and your support.  Anyone would would like to be a part of this church plant and ministry as a board member, advisor, and prayer partner should feel free to call me at 863-375-2948 or e-mail me at cranmer1959 DOT hotmail DOT com.  I am in need of like-minded Christians to stand with me in the gap for the doctrines of grace and the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Anyone who would like to donate financially to this effort may send your check to:

Charlie J. Ray, Reasonable Christian Ministries.
P.O. Box 731
Bowling Green, Florida 33834-0731

As of yet I have not applied for an official tax status with the IRS so your donations are not tax deductible.  However, it takes time to establish such a status with the IRS.  Know that your donations will be used solely to support the establishment of Reasonable Christian Ministries and a church to be called Sovereign Grace Anglican Church, Wauchula, Florida.

Regarding spiritual accountability I will be initially submitting to the Heritage Anglican Network and the Anglo-Reformed Movement.  Also, I  am consulting with Christ Church Longwood where my church membership was before I moved to Wauchula, Florida.

I have decided to call the apologetics and theology based ministry, Reasonable Christian Ministries, based on Romans 12:1-2 and Isaiah 1:18,

"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NKJ)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2 NKJ)
The burden God is placing on my mind and heart is to plant a truly reforming and reformed Anglican congregation here in the Wauchula, Florida area.  The emphasis will be a low church worship and liturgy utilizing the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as interpreted by the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion.  The confessional basis for a Reformed or Calvinist Anglican congregation is known as the "Anglican Formularies".    (See:  Thirty-nine Articles:  The Historic Basis of Anglican Faith).

It is necessary for a Reformed witness to be established in every city.  Since the mainline Episcopal Church has gone liberal and ordains homosexuals and women as ministers and consecrates homosexual and women bishops, it is unreasonable to join with such congregations here in the United States.  The other Anglican or Episcopal denominations here, such as the Anglican Church in North America, are more conservative on moral issues but theologically are unreformed, Anglo-Catholic/Tractarian, and openly hostile toward truly Evangelical and Reformed Christians.  If one joins their congregations or the denominations (i.e. the continuing Anglicans are Anglo-Catholic or Tractarian in general), one is expected to go along with their heterodox teachings without protesting.  Obviously, Anglo-Catholicism and the Reformed Anglican faith are mutually incompatible:

In the sluggish waters of one of our western streams, a friend of mine found last year a wondrous water-lily. In its broad leaf, and in its perfect blossom, he recognized at a glance the lotus that Egyptian monarchs sculptured on their tombs. He naturally asked what brought it here? What strange causes could have conspired together to have taken from Egypt's torrid clime the symbol of a despotism that nourished five thousand years ago, and have transplanted it to our northern skies, to our modern civilization, and to our atmosphere of freedom and equality? So, to-day, if we have transplanted Episcopacy--Episcopacy that, I do not hesitate to say, has been, in every age since the Reformation, more or less, in proportion to the degree that the truth has been suppressed or developed--has been the symbol of despotic power and ecclesiastical arrogance--into the atmosphere of evangelical religion; if it is the same historic Church, and yet changed in its circumstances and relations, we naturally expect the question: "Why?" I do not shrink from meeting it. I answer, that reform in the Episcopal Church is the direct result in the first place of intellectual and spiritual growth. "Two nations are in thy womb---two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels," was God's declaration to Rebekah before the birth of Esau and Jacob. The same strange statement could have been made to the Episcopal Church from the very hour of the Reformation down to the present day. Two systems, the exact opposite of each other, have been struggling for supremacy within her. The Ptolemaic theory in regard to the movements of the planets around their centre, and that of Sir John Herschel, are not more utterly irreconcilable than these two systems of Theology. I stand here to-night, and I make the assertion without the fear of contradiction, that the gospel that my dear brother (who has said some hard things about me) preaches in Trinity Church, is as utterly irreconcilable with that which is preached in the cathedral on West Washington street, as these two systems of astronomy. They are utterly and wholly and radically different from each other. Now I can make discordant elements in chemistry blend together. I can take two substances that struggle in the crucible, and, by the mystic processes of the art I have learned, can make them combine in perfect peace. But here there is no possible accord. If the doctrine of justification by faith in the blood of Jesus, is the truth of God, then justification by sacraments is a lie, whose author is the Father of lies. There is no possible ground on which to stand between the two. If the one is true, the other is false. Like the Arve and the Rhone, like the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence, the same external boundaries may indeed contain them, but their waters refuse to mingle.

The theory of the High Church party, down at its very foundation, is that, while the Bible is indeed the inspired word of God, it is to be received by the people, only with the authoritative interpretation of the Church. In other words, if I believe that the Bible teaches me a certain truth, and yet my minister tells me that that truth is not in the Bible. I must accept the teaching of my pastor, because he is the representative of the Church, rather than the plain unvarnished statements of the Scripture that God inspired.

The theory of the Low Church party, on the other hand, has ever been that which Chillingworth announced long years ago--that the sole rule of faith and practice is the Bible and the Bible alone; that Scripture is to be interpreted to the Christian conscience, not by Churches, not by Councils, not by creeds, not by confessions of faith, not by doctrines of any human authority whatever, but by the Spirit of God sought in prayer.

Between these two systems there can be no harmony. To reconcile them is as impossible as to make truth and error a perfect unit. But, if both these opposites had remained dormant, the work of Reform might have been indefinitely postponed.

  (See:  Charles Cheney:  The Reformed Episcopal Church).

This is the reason I resigned from my ordination as a deacon with the Reformed Episcopal Church in 2004 or so.  The REC is no longer faithful to its original reason for being, namely opposing Anglo-Catholicism and standing for Evangelical and Reformed teaching and the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation.  The REC has now completely re-interpreted The Declaration of Principles upon which the denomination was originally founded.

In light of the above, please sincerely pray about what God would have you to do in support of the planting of a sovereign grace Anglican church here in Wauchula, Florida.  If you live in another area maybe you would like to pray that God would establish such a church in your area?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Trusting God When There Is No Worldly Security

Trusting God When There Is No Worldly Security

As Americans we often take for granted that our need for food, clothing, and housing will be met. We take for granted our jobs and our ability to work and provide for our families. But what do we do when we run out of all resources and it becomes apparent that everything upon which we depend comes from God? What do we do when we are faced with a foreclosure on a mortgage, the loss of a job, or the threat of imminent homelessness?  (Luke 12:27-28).

Those are good questions. Given the current political climate the extremists on both sides seem to prevail. There are the socialistic politicians who want to tax and spend and turn our nation into a welfare state. And on the other side are the pure capitalists who say tough luck if your circumstances turn against you. Some things are beyond our control. A house fire destroys our home or the economy collapses and we find ourselves out of work. Perhaps a health problem comes from out of nowhere and suddenly we are at the end of our resources. Our health insurance is cancelled because we cannot afford the cobra payments anymore. Or perhaps after losing a job we cannot afford our student loan payments?

The moral law of God is summarized in the two tables of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The first four commandments are directed toward God and the other six are directed toward our neighbor. That fact alone ought to show us that we do have a responsibility not just toward the household of faith (Galatians 6:10; 1 Timothy 5:8; Proverbs 3:27) but also to our fellow human beings, including our enemies (Matthew 5:44-47; Luke 6:35). If we say we love God but show no mercy to our brothers and sisters in the church, James says that our faith is dead:

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:5-10 NKJ)

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17 NKJ)
I am not saying here that good works are the basis for our salvation or that obedience saves us. On the other hand, if we have been saved by grace our entire view of the world changes. Now out of gratitude to God for saving us by His mercy we want to please Him and we want to bless others. (Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Samuel 22:50; Romans 15:9). Instead of having a judgmental attitude toward other sinners, especially those who have yet to be regenerated by God's grace and converted, we now have an attitude that except for the grace of God we too could have been left in our spiritual blindness and our slavery to the sinful nature (Ephesians 2:1-5).

I say all this because I have in the past taken for granted God's goodness toward me. I have often complained and I have been ungrateful and unthankful to God for His many blessings. Now I find myself unemployed once again. I cannot say that it is none of my own fault since I am a sinner and often fail (Romans 3:23). When we are down and out our friends and family will judge us and wonder what sin brought this discipline of the Lord upon us:

And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life." 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" 10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place-- Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. (Job 2:6-11 NKJ)

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: (Job 4:1 NKJ)

Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same. (Job 4:8 NKJ)

I have had two jobs in the last year and was fired from one after eight months and from the other after only three weeks. The odds of drawing unemployment again are low. Although I have my health and I have a college degree and a master of divinity, I find myself unable to find work. I am not wanted in most denominations because I am divorced and because I preach only the doctrines of grace and that salvation is an absolutely free gift of God apart from our obedience. Obedience is what we do out of gratitude, not obligation. The third use of the moral law is not meant to save ourselves since only the cross can save us. Rather our imperfect obedience testifies to others that we are Christians with a living faith. The assurance and foundation of our faith, however, is in Christ and Christ's obedience alone (Romans 10:4-6; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 3:24-28).

The first temptation when things go south is to fear that God will forsake us and leave us destitute or homeless. While this is certainly a genuine and real possibility, my experience in the past is that God has always provided for me inspite of my lack of faith and my fear. What do we do when all our resources are used up and we have only God to depend upon? The Apostle Paul said,

Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. 6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:5-10 NKJ)

I am at that point where I can only trust that God will not leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalm 27:9; Hebrews 13:5). I can only ask for your prayers. Would you pray with me that God will provide a way for me where there seems to be no way? My heart's desire is to serve God for the rest of my life and that I would be enabled to minister God's grace to others through the preaching and teaching of His Word. If that means planting a church or receiving a call to a church of some kind, I pray that God's will be done. Nothing happens by chance since it is God's secret will that brings everything to pass (Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11). I can only pray along with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the collect for Morning Prayer:

The second Collect, for Peace.
O GOD, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom; Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The third Collect, for Grace.
O LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day; Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, to do always that is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.(See also:  Heidelberg Catechism:  Lord's Day One).
If you are in a similar situation, I pray that God will provide for your needs as well.  Ultimately, however, God will meet all of our needs in eternity.  

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with 1body and soul, both in life and death, 2am not my own, but belong 3unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious 4blood, hath fully 5satisfied for all my sins, and delivered 6me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me 7that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair 8can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be 9subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me 10of eternal life, and makes 11me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.

Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?

Answer: Three; 12the first, how great 13my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered 14from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude 15to God for such deliverance.

1 1 Cor. 6:19-20

2 Rom. 14:7-9

3 1 Cor. 3:23

4 1 Pet. 1:18-19

5 John 1:7

6 1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14-15

7 John 6:39; John 10:28-29

8 Luke 21:18; Matt. 10:30

9 Rom. 8:28

10 2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5

11 Rom. 8:14; Rom. 7:22

12 Luke 24:47

13 1 Cor. 6:10-11; John 9:41; Rom. 3:10, 19

14 John 17:3

15 Eph. 5:8-10;

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