Archive for the ‘Darrin’ category

The Sole Cause of Salvation

September 30, 2009

 I trust it’s alright to use excerpts from a recent post on another blog below, with just a few comments of mine interjected. I felt that these thoughts from Steve Camp’s blog are interesting and relevant.

Steve posted a quote from an unknown author which speaks of the biblical concept of God’s “grace alone” as the cause of our salvation. This also means that Christ is Lord of everything, even the conversion of sinners. I’ve tried to use quotation marks properly to show which words are not mine. I believe the concepts expressed are important, not too difficult, and well worth the time to read and consider thoughtfully.

“Lordship Salvation emphasizes that a love for Christ springs from our new nature (granted freely by God) which desires to believe the gospel as well as submit to Jesus Christ as Lord over one’s life. Both faith and obedience are the result of God’s invincible and indelible grace, not the cause of it.”

The author speaks of those who “mistakenly ascribe belief in Christ as something within the ability of the old nature… This is where they fall off the horse away from historic Christianity by rejecting the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. By not giving glory to God for their faith they add conditions for their salvation.”

The writer sees that this approach is problematic mostly due to the “misapprehension of the work of the Holy Spirit in giving rise to our faith and affection for Christ. For how can an unregenerate man see Christ’s beauty, excellence or anything to desire in Him at all? One must have a new heart and the mind of Christ in order to understand and love spiritual things.”

Issue is taken with this synergistic viewpoint (God + man accomplishing regeneration) also because of the problem of “making faith itself a contribution to the price of their redemption. i.e. grace + faith.”

This is an excellent point, in that there is a danger in viewing “grace + faith” as separate components of salvation, whereas the Scriptures teach that it is “by grace through faith”. Perhaps a seemingly subtle, but truly a very important difference. All flows from God’s grace; faith is the means through which He bestows the grace of regeneration (new life) upon us. All good things come from above.

“[We] believe faith and obedience are the result, not the cause of the new birth. Unless the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our hearts from hostility to affection for Christ, no one would exercise saving faith. Any ‘faith’ which exists apart from the work of the Spirit is spurious and of the flesh (Luke 8:4-15) [the parable of the sower]. God alone does the work of regeneration which infallibly gives rise to a spiritual faith that desires to obey and commit itself to Christ. In this case God gets all the glory.”

However, the alternate, “no-Lordship” position “would have us believe that one could produce faith from our unregenerated human nature. The question is, why do some believe and others resist? Are some more wise or humble? Isn’t it grace itself which makes us wise and humble? The Scripture says, ‘What do we have that we did not receive?’. So, in fact, the ‘no-Lordship’ position is admirably attempting to protect the doctrine of ‘faith alone’, but in the process it has cast aside the biblical doctrine of ‘grace alone’. ‘No-Lordship’ may believe in a salvation by grace, but not salvation by grace alone (sola gratia).”

“[To say] that man must somehow cooperate with God to be born again, as they hold, is to say that some men innately have the natural capacity to believe, independent of God’s action of grace, while others do not. How is this different than salvation by merit? So in reality the burden of proof to explain belief apart from grace alone is on those who hold to ‘no-Lordship’. Different understandings of the work of the Holy Spirit in our regeneration is the key to the debate.”

Indeed, a study of the Spirit’s role in man’s conversion is surely one that appears worthwhile.

High Holy Days

September 18, 2009

 

This evening at sundown begins the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, or the Feast of Trumpets. It is traditionally a time of celebration and prayers for the coming year, and a time of repentance through the next ten days leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The realizations of God’s judgment and of atonement are strong through these days. As believers in Christ, we are thankful for God’s provision of His Son and His forgiveness of all the sins of His people. 

One tradition many Jews hold to on Rosh Hashanah is casting pieces of bread, or pebbles, etc., into naturally flowing water. This is symbolic of the casting off of sin, and originally based on the concept of God graciously taking our sins away such that they are gone forever. The use of water is based on the passage from Micah 7,

“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

These days are yet another great opportunity to reflect on our spiritual status, to consider where we have failed in sin and to repent, and also to praise Him for the blessings and victories He has given us.

Though the waters ahead are as yet uncharted by us, we press on with sober resolve to walk closer to the Lord, who knows all and holds all things in His sovereign, mighty, blessed hands.

Happy New Year.  Grace and peace to you.

Bibles for Tuva

February 17, 2009

A slight change of topic here.  Back in 2007 this site posted a reference to the missionary endeavor of the Slawson family in Russia HERE. Tom Slawson is yet another whacky Calvinist who is nevertheless devoted to missions. :)

Anyway, recently at his Tominthebox News Network (“religious satire” blog), Tom posted info about a current effort he is involved with HERE. The Bible is being translated into Tuvan, the language of this small region of Russia, and the hope is to put a copy of scripture into each household in the region.

You can also get info from his ministry blog HERE, and his wife Cristy also has a blog HERE

So visit, pray and contribute to this ministry as you are led. And be encouraged about what God is doing.

Your Election Ballot

January 26, 2009

No, this is not regarding the presidential election, but our own election to eternal life.

ballot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image from a Bible Institute Colportage Association (now Moody Bible Institute) tract, from about a century ago, pretty well displays the view of salvation popular during that revivalist era, but more importantly is still representative of the misconceptions of the precious doctrine of election today. (more…)

The Gift of Faith

January 8, 2009

A question at the crux of one’s view of God’s work in salvation is, “Where does faith come from?” In this post, which in a sense follows a prior post HERE, I would like to address this issue specifically. I expect that some readers will find this piece terribly elementary, though others may think it completely ridiculous. Yet may our gracious God use something presented for His purposes.

Sometime this past year, I came across the following on a Southern Baptist church’s website, in their beliefs under the heading of Salvation:

“Due to our sinful nature, mankind can do nothing to earn God’s favor or salvation, other than accept Jesus as Savior.”

According to this statement, accepting Jesus is the one thing we can do to earn God’s favor and salvation.

My desire is not to pick at this wording, and it is quite possible that it comes across in a way that was not intended by the writer(s). However, I think it serves as a good picture of a very real perspective prominent in the SBC today.

We know that faith is essential for us in order to be partakers in the redemption and salvation procured by Jesus Christ. The basic question here is whether faith itself is something given to us or something we ourselves generate and offer of our own natural ability.
(more…)

Man’s Condition

December 1, 2008

 

This was just intended to be a response to Andrew’s previous post, but as it grew a bit lengthy, I thought to generate a follow-up post regarding Dr. Patterson’s comments about total depravity at the “John 3:16 Conference”. I hope that SBF readers may find something useful for contemplation here as well as in the fine observations Andrew is providing. I know that we both encourage further discussion and civil debate among readers.

 

Man’s depravity according to Dr. Patterson is not total, and so he should not refer to it as such. If we can hear and appreciate the preaching of the gospel (the “helicopter blades” in the analogy), our intellect is not fallen, and if we desire to be saved from our condition (the sea), then our will is not fallen. So then the fall and thus our depravity are not total. It is of concern to see leaders in the SBC desiring to hold on to some language which appeases Baptists’ sense of man’s misery in sin and the need for God’s grace, but then muddying the issue with an unbiblical elevation of fallen man’s abilities. As Calvin said of early church fathers who erred regarding free will:

To avoid delivering any principle deemed absurd in the common opinion of mankind, they made it their study, therefore, to compromise between the doctrine of the Scripture and the dogmas of the philosophers.

 

One huge problem with the sailor analogy is that it’s quite obvious to the sailor that he’s in danger and needs saving. However, in the spiritual realm, the natural man has no sense of this. He “loves the darkness”, and spiritual things are “foolishness to him”. It was said that he can just barely hear, and so he can respond. That concept does not appear to be biblical. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” seems more appropriate. When God opens ears, the message is loud and clear, and is embraced by the hearer; when He doesn’t, he remains completely deaf.

 

It is awful to use the scripture about Abraham’s age and feebleness, which was in regard to fathering children, as a case for the ability to believe despite spiritual deadness. I appeal to any who use this reference as such to please stop such an embarrassing misuse of scripture. Further discussion could be provided, but really should not be necessary in this case. It’s an absurd argument.

 

Dr. Patterson apparently claimed that we are not guilty except through our own transgression. What then does it mean that we are “by nature children of wrath”? Why did David say “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”?

 

Our guilt was imputed to us before we did anything. One of the best ways to see this truth is to examine the “as” and “just as” comparisons in Romans 5. Of course, merely a reading of 5:18 shows us “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” Does condemnation not imply guilt?

 

But beyond that, back to the direct comparison the scripture is drawing: In Christ, the second Adam, are we righteous by our actual deeds? No. Was the righteousness passed down to us via our lineage? No. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us – we are declared righteous – even though still sinners, as Luther observed. So likewise, Adam’s guilt is not ours only when we actually transgress, nor was it merely passed down through our ancestors, but it was imputed to us as a direct consequence of Adam’s sin. Simply stated, all men in their natural state are declared guilty by God due to the guilt of Adam, and all of God’s elect are declared righteous due to the righteousness of Christ. This is quite surely the biblical perspective, and very different from that presented at this regrettable conference.

 

Darrin

Happy Reformation Day

October 31, 2008

May the Lord bless you on this special day and make his amazing grace even more greatly impressed upon our minds. What a rich heritage we have been blessed with in enjoying the ongoing effects of the Protestant Reformation, often marked by this day in 1517. Aside from the tremendous impact this period had in shaping our western culture, leading to freedom politically, economically, etc. – this movement was truly a recovery of the gospel from the darkness characteristic of medieval times. As was said of this era - “After darkness, light”. 

Today I am thankful to be able to wear a shirt I recently ordered which quotes Luther’s observation, “Simul justus et peccator” , that is, “Justified and a sinner at the same time”. What an important truth that we are not inherently righteous, nor even yet made righteous, but we are declared righteous by God due purely to the righteousness of Christ. As Augustine observed over a millennium before the Reformation, any good within us is of God, whereas any evil is of ourselves. How appropriate for us to be humbled under the continual sin that troubles us, breaking down our pride, and to give all glory to God for counting us righteous due only to the righteousness and atonement of His holy Son! He saved us purely of His own good pleasure!

We are thankful for our inherent inability, because in us the glory and power of God can be made known. 

And so with the brothers of old, we say:

1) Grace alone! (What a precious truth! All praise and glory to our Maker for His underserved favor in choosing and saving us.)

2) Faith alone! (… and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. God has given us faith, of His own free will!)

3) Christ alone! (The only way! This also reminds us that the gospel of Christ must be preached – the internal saving call is accompanied by the external call of the gospel! God has ordained not only the ends but the means of salvation!)

4) Scripture alone! (We still appreciate and find great help in the creeds and confessions of the historic church, but the Word of God is our final rule and authority for God’s revealed truth. Praise Him for it, and let’s continue to be in the Word all the more!)

5) The glory of God alone! (This is what life is all about! As His dear children He graciously allows us to enjoy His glory forever, but He is the only one worthy! We must always point to His glory and nobody else’s.)

Grace – all of Grace! 

Happy Reformation Day.

Darrin


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