Saturday, March 31, 2012

unconditional and effectual

Nathan Bingham posts Charles Spurgeon on Calvinism - Unconditional Election which is an adaptation of an excerpt from Steven Lawson's The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon.

Charles Spurgeon tenaciously held to the doctrine of unconditional election. By necessity, this biblical truth flows from belief in human depravity. Because the will of man is utterly dead and cannot choose God, God must exercise His sovereign will to save. Out of the mass of fallen humanity, God made an eternal, distinguishing choice. Before the foundation of the world, He determined whom He would save. Spurgeon contended that were it not for God’s choice of His elect, none would be saved.


Like all the doctrines that Spurgeon held, he believed this truth because he was convinced it is rooted and grounded in the Bible: “Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it.” In his sermon titled “Election,” preached on September 2, 1855, Spurgeon read many passages that unmistakably teach this doctrinal truth. Among the texts he cited and explained were Luke 18:7; John 15:16; 17:8–9; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29, 33; 9:11–13; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:26–29; Ephesians 1:14; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13–14; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1–2; and 2 John 1. In this exposition, Spurgeon stated:
In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long ere the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being—when the ether was not fanned by an angel’s wing, when space itself had not an existence, when there was nothing save God alone—even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His bowels moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul.
Spurgeon further asserted, “God from the beginning chose His people; when the unnavigated ether was yet unfanned by the wing of a single angel, when space was shoreless, or else unborn, when universal silence reigned, and not a voice or whisper shocked the solemnity of silence, when there was no being, and no motion, no time, and naught but God Himself, alone in His eternity.” In eternity past, God sovereignly set His affections on a particular people and predestined their salvation. Moreover, sovereign election, Spurgeon affirmed, was based not on divine foresight but on divine foreordination: “‘But,’ say others, ‘God elected them on the foresight of their faith.’ Now, God gives faith, therefore He could not have elected them on account of faith which He foresaw.”

Spurgeon further denied that election can be dismissed as the choice of nations rather than individuals. He declared:
It is the most miserable shift on earth to make out that God hath not chosen persons but nations… .If it were not just to choose a person, it would be far more unjust to choose a nation, since nations are but the union of multitudes of persons, and to chose a nation seems to be a more gigantic crime—if election be a crime—than to chose one person. Surely, to choose ten thousand would be considered to be worse than choosing one; to distinguish a whole nation from the rest of mankind, does seem to be a greater extravaganza in the acts of divine sovereignty than the election of one poor mortal, and leaving out another.
Because God’s sovereign election of individual sinners is clearly taught by Scripture, Spurgeon insisted that it must be preached: “God gave me this great book to preach from, and if He has put anything in it you think is not fit, go and complain to Him, not to me. I am simply His servant, and if His errand that I am to tell is objectionable, I cannot help it. Let me tell you, the reason why many of our churches are declining is just because this doctrine has not been preached.” Spurgeon recognized that a refusal to preach the truth of sovereign election is a hindrance to the growth of the church. Such preaching is necessary if sinful men are to receive the seed of the gospel.

Moreover, Spurgeon maintained that withholding this great truth is a grievous offense against God:
Some of you have never preached on election since you were ordained. “These things,” you say, “are offensive.” And so you would rather offend God than offend man. But you reply, “These things will not be practical.” I do think that the climax of all man’s blasphemy is centered in that utterance. Tell me that God put a thing in the Bible that I am not to preach! You are finding fault with my God. But you say, “It will be dangerous.” What! God’s truth dangerous? I should not like to stand in your shoes when you have to face your Maker on the day of judgment after such an utterance as that.
From a positive perspective, Spurgeon boldly declared that preaching unconditional election is evangelistic. He said, “I have never preached this doctrine without seeing conversions, and I believe I never shall.” When people asked him how he reconciled preaching election with extending the gospel, he asserted, “There is no need to reconcile them, for they have never yet quarreled with one another.” He was right. Divine sovereignty and gospel evangelism go hand in hand, the former preparing the way for and ensuring the success of the latter.

While all in heaven are there by God’s choice, Spurgeon said, those in hell are there by their own choice. He testified: “From the Word of God I gather that damnation is all of man, from top to bottom, and salvation is all of grace, from first to last. He that perishes chooses to perish; but he that is saved is saved because God has chosen to save him.” In other words, salvation is possible only when God’s will liberates the human will from its bondage.

Friday, March 30, 2012

homosexual change

Great post by Alan Shlemon: Can Homosexuals Change Their Orientation?

You may have seen the sign, “Some people are gay. Get over it!” But I’d like to change it: “Some people used to be gay. Get over that.”

Many people don’t believe it, though. They believe the discussion is over. The “experts” have spoken. Sexual orientation is an inborn and immutable trait like eye color. Change is not possible. Case closed.

But this is an incredible assertion. If it can be demonstrated that just one person has changed, it would falsify the claim. It turns out that not only is change possible, but there are multiple and independent lines of evidence to warrant such a belief.

First, it should be noted that people reported change was possible thousands of years ago. The sixth chapter in the biblical book of 1 Corinthians states that some of the inhabitants of the city of Corinth were homosexuals. But the passage goes on to say, “Such were some of you…” indicating that some of them were able to change (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

I realize that some people will dismiss this account, claiming they don’t believe the Bible is the word of God. But one doesn’t have to believe in the divine authorship of scripture in order to accept this account of changed lives. The epistle to the Corinthian church is, at the very least, a first century letter to a community of people in a city which still exists in modern Greece. It is a historical correspondence between Paul of Tarsus and the Corinthians. It is highly unlikely that Paul could get away with making false claims about the changed lives of people who live in the city where the letter was publicly read.

Second, many reputable scientists who are experts in the field have testified that change is possible. Dr. Robert Spitzer, who has been called the most influential psychiatrist of the 20th century (more than 275 publications to his credit), published a peer-reviewed paper in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The purpose of his study was to evaluate the claim that homosexual orientation is immutable and, consequently, change is impossible.

Spitzer indicated that of the 200 people in the study, many of them increased in the frequency and satisfaction of heterosexual activity. He also noted that, “Almost all of the participants reported substantial changes in the core aspects of sexual orientation, not merely overt behavior.” More significantly, 11% of the men and 37% of the women reported complete change. Spitzer said that these results go beyond, “anecdotal information and provide evidence that reparative therapy is sometimes successful.” Moreover, he concluded that, “This study provides evidence that some gay men and lesbians are able to also change the core features of sexual orientation."

But what about the claim that this kind of therapy is harmful? According to Spitzer, there wasn’t evidence of harm. “To the contrary,” he said. The participants reported that therapy, “Was helpful in a variety of ways beyond changing sexual orientation itself.”

The obvious response would be to dismiss Spitzer as an anti-gay homophobe. But this is a man who has fought for homosexual causes. Spitzer was the architect behind the movement in 1973 to remove homosexuality as an illness from psychiatry’s manual of mental disorders (referred to as the DSM). This was a monumental milestone in the history of gay rights spearheaded by Spitzer himself.

Dr. Nicholas Cummings is another researcher who affirms that change is possible. He was the past president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and served as Chief of Mental Health at Kaiser Permanente for 20 years. While serving in that capacity, he personally saw over 2,000 patients with same-sex attraction (SSA) and his staff saw another 16,000. You can read more about his impeccable credentials here. I met him in November 2011, where he told an audience of clinicians that he personally saw hundreds of people change their sexual orientation and estimated that 7% of the 16,000 patients his staff saw experienced successful reorientation. Many of them went on to marry and live heterosexual lives.

Dr. Cummings is another clinician that can’t be dismissed. He has been a champion of gay rights and, while serving as President of the APA, appointed the APA’s first Task Force on Lesbian and Gay Issues.

But these two researchers are just the tip of the iceberg. There have been clinicians and other scientists who have known that change is possible and have been reporting it for over 100 years. Jean-Martin Charcot, known as the father of modern neurology, wrote about how “the homosexual became heterosexual” through his treatments back in 1882. Sigmund Freud would later report change in sexual orientation using psychoanalysis in the 1920s. Researchers continued to report these findings throughout the 20th century: Wilhelm Stekel in the 1930s, Frank Caprio and Albert Ellis in the 1950s, Russell Monroe and Edward Glover in the 1960s, Irving Bieber in the 1970s, Karolynn Siegel in the 1980s, and Houston MacIntosh in the 1990s to name just a few.

With this long history of evidence, it’s not surprising that a recent psychiatry textbook, Essential Psychopathology & Its Treatment, concluded that homosexual orientation can be changed and that therapy isn’t necessarily harmful. The section addressing this topic states:

While many mental health care providers and professional associations have expressed considerable skepticism that sexual orientation could be changed with psychotherapy and also assumed that therapeutic attempts at reorientation would produce harm, recent empirical evidence demonstrates that homosexual orientation can indeed be therapeutically changed in motivated clients, and that reorientation therapies do not produce emotional harm when attempted (e.g., Byrd & Nicolosi, 2002; Byrd et al., 2008; Shaeffer et al., 1999; Spitzer, 2003).

Given the existence of this clinical research, it would follow that there should be thousands of people who have reported change. And there are. Every year more individuals come out and publicly declare that although they lived as homosexuals for significant periods of time, they no longer are today. This might not constitute peer-reviewed research, but it is worth noting the sheer number of people who claim they have changed.

How can anyone deny that change is possible given all the evidence from psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, peer-reviewed studies, and personal testimonies? I’ll tell you how. One would have to believe that every clinician who treated homosexuality during the 19th and 20th centuries has lied about their professional work and deceived the readers of their published studies. Therapists around the world who treat homosexuality today would also have to be dishonest about their patient outcomes. Every religious and secular organization that provides counseling to homosexuals would be fraudulent about their results. Every homosexual – thousands of them around the world – who is now living as a heterosexual is just faking it. And every friend and person I’ve met over the years who has claimed to have changed has been misleading me. This would entail a massive and well-orchestrated scheme to deceive vast numbers of people around the world. One would have to believe all that deception is occurring in order to believe that homosexuals can’t change.

Does everyone who tries to change succeed? No. In fact, many people fail. Is it an easy process for those who achieve a measure of change? Absolutely not. Does change always entail complete transformation? Rarely. Do some people return to homosexuality? Of course. But this is the case with treating any condition (depression, alcoholism, personality disorders, etc.). The question, however, is whether it is possible for some to experience substantial and enduring change? The answer is a definite yes. That’s good news, given that there are many people with unwanted SSA. They have hope.

The bad news is that there are many advocates that are extremely hostile towards these change efforts and would deny some homosexuals the right to self-determination. These are the same people who allegedly champion diversity. But ironically, not only do they deny that change is possible, they deny those who have changed even exist.

Though homosexuality is nothing new, neither is the ability of some people to change. I’m not suggesting we try to change every homosexual, but we can give hope to those with unwanted SSA. It’s a hope that many have realized and, as a result, have turned to others who want to change and offered them the truth and compassion they desperately need.

pope in cuba

Great snaps of the Pope in Cuba at The Big Picture. I dig his red shoes ... wish I could rock those ...

doin' the stuff

John Wimber on doing the stuff!

When I first came to Christ, I came to Christ visa vie  a Bible-study in which Jesus Christ was presented to me not only as a historical personage and as the living Christ today but as the person through whom and by whom I was to receive life and operate from that day forward. I came to Christ mountain style - no holds barred - everything given to him at one time. I knew that if I came to Christ it was the end of me and the beginning of Him. That's the way it was presented.

I was to come to Jesus and to walk with Him. Over the weeks and months that I studied the New Testament I studied it with the understanding that coming to Jesus meant giving away all that I ever was, all that I ever hoped to be, and coming to Jesus in totality and following Him the rest of my life.

As I read the New Testament, I fell in love with Jesus. Didn't you? I liked Him. I liked what He was like. I liked the things He did. I liked the things He said. Didn't you like those things? I thought that stuff was hot. I liked it when He multiplied the bread. Did you like that one? And the fishes? You know the sardines ... I always picture sardines ... I liked that stuff!

I liked all that stuff. I liked it when He walked by the fig tree and said, "meh" ... and it died. Can you picture Him doing that? I liked all that stuff. I like "come forth!" ... that's a biggie. I mean that's hot! There are not many guys doing that "come forth!" thing telling anybody to come up from the dead. I like all that stuff.

And when I became a Christian I thought that's what I was going to do. I spent several weeks reading the New Testament and talking with these people and I thought is great. You know - I'm going to join-up. I want to do this stuff.

And so I remember the frustration of attending Church the first few times. Do you know what I thought they did at Church? Now this is how stupid I was. I thought that people gathered at the Church, had a good time together, sort of divvied up the land, and then everybody went out and healed a few and cast out a few demons and won a few people to Christ before lunch.

And so the first few times I went to Church I went prepared with the idea that I'm going to go take Anaheim, the deepest, darkest pagan Anaheim. Over there by DisneyLand - that's where I want to go. Because that's where I was raised.

And when they didn't do it I was disappointed. And I remember one day asking a guy about it. I said, "When do we go out and do it?" He said, "What?" I said, "When do we go out and do it?" He said, "Oh you don't have to do it, you just have to believe it was done once." Now that's pathetic. Isn't it?

I found out over the next year or two that we cried about it, we sang about it, we preached about it, we prayed over it, we gave to it, but we never did it.

We never got to go do the things that Jesus did. And I grew disillusioned in the process. Now you know, when I worked for the devil he let me do his stuff. Did he let you do his stuff? He let me do his stuff. But when I came to work for Jesus, they didn't want to let me do His stuff. And to tell you the truth, I joined up to do the stuff [pointing to the Bible]. Did you?

You see it's doing the stuff that's going to change the world. It's not knowing it was done once. It's not knowing that it's important. It's doing it that's going to change the world. Somewhere some place somebody has got to start believing this book and acting on it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

annihilating will

God’s sovereign grace does not annihilate man’s will: it overcomes his unwillingness. It does not destroy his will but frees it from sin. It does not stifle or obliterate his conscience but sets it free from darkness. Grace regenerates and re-creates man in his entirety, and in renewing him, causes him to love and consecrate himself to God freely.


With Apple's continued success, it may be time to revisit this great idea ...

spurgeon on definite atonement

Nathan Bingham posts Charles Spurgeon on Calvinism - Definite Atonement. The post is an excerpt adapted from Steven Lawson's The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon. I find the language a bit harsh but I align with the ideas put forth.

Charles Spurgeon strongly affirmed the doctrine of definite atonement. This truth teaches that Christ died exclusively for those chosen by the Father and, thus, actually secured the salvation of all those for whom He died. Such a definite redemption stands in contrast to the Arminian view, which claims that Christ did not actually save anyone in particular by His death, but merely made salvation possible for everyone. Spurgeon adamantly rejected this vague position: “A redemption which pays a price, but does not ensure that which is purchased—a redemption which calls Christ a substitute for the sinner, but yet which allows the person to suffer—is altogether unworthy of our apprehensions of Almighty God.” Such a nebulous belief, he insisted, grossly dishonors God, especially His justice, and distorts the saving purpose of Christ in His substitutionary death.

With clear thinking, Spurgeon summarized the unbiblical, illogical Arminian position with these words:
The Arminian holds that Christ, when He died, did not die with an intent to save any particular person. And they teach that Christ’s death does not in itself secure beyond doubt the salvation of any one man living. They believe that Christ died to make the salvation of all men possible; and that by the doing of something else, any man who pleases may attain unto eternal life. Consequently, they are obliged to hold that if man’s will would not give way and voluntarily surrender to grace, then Christ’s atonement would be unavailing. They hold that there was no secure particularity and specialty in the death of Christ. Christ died, according to them, as much for Judas in hell as for Peter who mounted to heaven. They believe that for those who were consigned to eternal fire, there was as true and real a redemption made as for those who now stand before the throne of the Most High.

Spurgeon strongly denied the idea that Christ died for all men: “If it were Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed!” He added: “Some insist that Christ died for everybody. Why, then, are not all men saved? Because all men will not believe? That is to say that believing is necessary in order to make the blood of Christ efficacious for redemption. We hold that to be a great lie.” Elsewhere, he wrote: “Some say that all men are Christ’s by purchase. But, beloved, you and I do not believe in a sham redemption which does not redeem. We do not believe in a universal redemption which extends even to those who were in hell before the Savior died, and which includes the fallen angels as well as unrepentant men.” Such a defeatist view of Christ’s death had no part in Spurgeon’s gospel preaching.

To the contrary, Spurgeon held that Christ accomplished the saving mission for which He came into the world. He believed that Jesus came to save a definite number of sinners, namely, those the Father chose and gave to Him before time began. Spurgeon insisted that Jesus was not frustrated at the cross. In other words, Christ did not die in vain for any who die in unbelief. Rather, Spurgeon said, Jesus died triumphantly for all whom the Father had given Him:
We hold that Christ, when He died, had an object in view; and that object will most assuredly and beyond a doubt be accomplished. We measure the design of Christ’s death by the effect of it. If anyone asks us, “What did Christ design to do by His death?” we answer that question by asking him another—“What has Christ done?” or, “What will Christ do by His death?” For we declare that the measure of the effect of Christ’s love is the measure of the design of the cross. We cannot so belie our reason as to think that the intention of Almighty God could be frustrated, or that the design of so great a thing as the atonement, can by any way whatever, be missed.
It is clear that Spurgeon understood that the intent of Christ’s death defined its extent. He explained: “Christ came into this world with the intention of saving ‘a multitude which no man can number;’ and we believe that as the result of this, every person for whom He died must, beyond a shadow of a doubt, be cleansed from sin, and stand, washed in the blood, before the Father’s throne.” He added: “What! Did Christ at one tremendous draft of love drink my damnation dry, and shall I be damned after that? God forbid! What! Shall God be unrighteous to forget the Redeemer’s work for us and let the Savior’s blood be shed in vain?” Jesus did not die in vain, for none for whom Christ died will ever perish in hell.


Though some call this doctrine “limited atonement,” Spurgeon insisted that both Arminians and Calvinists limit the atonement. Those who teach that Christ’s death made salvation possible limit its effect, while those who believe in a definite atonement limit its extent. Put another way, the former see an unlimited extent but a limited effect. The latter see a limited extent but an unlimited effect. Spurgeon explained it this way:
We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question—Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer “No.” They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say “No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if”— and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.” We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.

Summing up his reasons for holding to definite atonement, Spurgeon said, “I would rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of men be joined with it.” Simply put, he held “that Christ came into the world not to put men into a salvable state, but into a saved state.” Spurgeon believed that the atonement was accomplished by an utterly triumphant death.

the view is not my view

Kathy Norquist posts Women Need Support and the Truth, Not Abortion. I love her response to the comments made on The View. I'm also amazed at how easily our society creates and accepts the kind of thinking put forth by Behar and Walters. These women sound kind and caring yet as a Christian we must recognize this deception and confront it with truth in love. Here's Norquist's post ...

Recently a Texas judge upheld a law that requires a woman to be shown an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion. His decision was discussed on The View and Joyce Behar and Barbara Walters made the following stunning statements:

Joyce Behar: “It's very totalitarian in my opinion. I mean, it smacks of forcing somebody to confront something that they have already decided they don't want to deal with.”

So if a person doesn’t want to deal with something (in this case, someone), you just avoid it? Can you imagine applying this principle to other situations in your life? “I don’t want to deal with the fact that my daughter has been molested, so I’ll just ignore it.” “I don’t want to deal with my child being bullied at school, so I’ll just ignore it.” Countless people suffer tremendously because they don’t deal with the truth but disregard it. Ignorance is not bliss. Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” It is very disrespectful to women to withhold truth from them. They need to know facts and see their unborn baby before they make a decision that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Women need support, not abortion.

Barbara Walters: “I think that in order to even think about having an abortion, to give up a child that is obviously unwanted, that's why you're doing it, it is such a tremendous decision, it's involved with so much fear of what you're doing, and guilt.

Then to have to go and be forced to hear, to see the fetus, to hear the heartbeat, to put more guilt on you, I think is heartbreaking.”

So it’s all about how the woman feels, not about bringing harm to someone else? Notice her reference to “a child.” That’s no longer in question like it used to be. Now people admit it’s a child. They have to because it’s so clearly proven by the in utero technology we now have. But that doesn’t seem to matter. The message given on The View is that what really matters is what the woman wants. What selfishness! As a woman, I take great offense at these statements because they imply that what’s most important to a woman is how she feels, not what is true. “She shouldn’t be given all the facts, because that might make her feel guilty. After all, we must avoid guilt at all cost!” This undermines the strength of a woman and her ability to deal with what is true and to make wise choices in light of that truth.

And why is this such a “tremendous decision”? Why does it involve fear and guilt? Because this isn’t just another medical procedure like having your gall bladder removed. It involves another human being, a life that God ordained from the beginning of time. “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13).

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39). It is always in the best interest of the woman to give life and to love another human being. That love might be expressed in the form of relinquishing her baby for adoption into a loving home or choosing to parent. But it will never be expressed by taking the life of her unborn child.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Prov. 3:7).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Some great snaps of the Iditarod at The Big Picture.

Alaska ... where men are men and women win the Iditarod.

delighting in god

Ray Ortlund posts the following:

Richard Baxter, in A Christian Directory (Ligonier, 1990), page 140, lists seven benefits of delighting ourselves in God. Updating the language a little:

  1. Delight in God will prove that you know him and love him and that you are prepared for his kingdom, for all who truly delight in him shall enjoy him.
  2. Prosperity, which is merely the small addition of earthly things, will not easily corrupt you or transport you.
  3. Adversity, that is, the withholding of earthly delights, will not much grieve you or easily deject you.
  4. You will receive more profit from a sermon or good book or conversation you delight in, than other people, who don’t delight in them, will receive from many such opportunities.
  5. All your service will be sweet to yourself and acceptable to God; if you delight in him, he certainly delights in you (Psalm 149:4; 147:11; 1 Chronicles 29:17).
  6. You will have a continual feast with you, to sweeten all the crosses of your life and provide you with joy greater than your sorrow in your saddest condition.
  7. When you delight in God, your created pleasures will be sanctified to you and warranted in their proper place, which in other people are idolatrous or corrupt.

Lord, “you are good and you do good” (Psalm 119:68).


CS Lewis from God in the Dock:

If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad. Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable… The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic.

osteen on calvinism

Your best Calvinism now ...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

perseverance of the saints

John Flavel in The Fountain of Life:

The fatherly care and tender love of our Lord Jesus Christ was eminently revealed in this pleading prayer he poured out for his people at his parting with them. “Having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

What an evidence of his tenderness to you, that he should so intently plead your concerns with God at such a time as this. A world of sorrow encompassed him on every side; a cup of wrath was mixed and ready to be delivered into his hand; the clouds of wrath grew black. One would have thought all his care and thought would have been on his own sufferings. No, he does as it were forget his own sorrows, to mind our peace and comfort. O love unspeakable!

If Christ so eminently showed his care and love for his people in this his parting hour; then we conclude: the perseverance of the saints is unquestionable.

Do you hear how he pleads! how he begs! how he fills his mouth with arguments! how he chooses his words, and sets them in order, how he winds up his spirit to the very highest pitch of zeal and fervency? and can you doubt of success? Can such a Father deny the pleading of such a Son? Oh no, it can never be.


Jews having fun ... the festival of Purim at The Big Picture ...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

tab benoit - medicine

I really enjoy Tab Benoit's music ...

our rest

JC Ryle in Heaven writes:

There is such a place as heaven. No truth is more certain in the whole of Scripture than this – there remains a rest for the people of God. This earth is not our rest – it cannot be – there breathes not a man or woman who ever found it so. Go, build your happiness on earth, if you are so disposed; choose everything you can imagine would make life enjoyable – take money, house, and lands; take learning, health, and beauty; take honor, rank, respect, and many friends; take everything your mind can picture or your eyes desire. Take it all, and yet I dare to tell you, that even then you would not find rest. I know well that in a few short years, your heart’s confession would be – “It is all hollow, empty, and unsatisfying! It is all weariness and disappointment! It is all vanity and frustration!” I well know that you would feel within a hungering and famine, a leanness and barrenness of soul; and ready indeed would you be to bear your testimony to the mighty truth, “This earth is not our rest!”

Friday, March 23, 2012

homosexuality is not normal

I found this post by Alan Shlemon at Stand to Reason to bold, truthful, sensitive, and caring.

People who engage in homosexual behavior are normal in many ways. Like anyone else, they have friends and family, they work and play, they love and hate, and have fears and dreams. But it seems strange to admit that everything about homosexuality is normal. Indeed, it’s hard to say any class of people is normal in every way.

For example, I’m Assyrian. My people are normal in many ways, but there are also many things about us that are abnormal (or just downright weird). We have genetic differences – we are a Semitic people. Our language is extremely uncommon. We have an over-active hair hormone (much to the chagrin of female Assyrians). Our food is strange to my friends and when people see my relatives talk, they think we’re shouting at each other (which we are, but that’s how we talk). We’re not normal in every way.

The same is true of homosexuals. They are normal in many ways, but there are also things about them that are not. They just occur in different categories than those of Assyrians or other groups of people.

At the outset I want to make it clear that by saying that homosexuals are not normal in every way, I’m not saying that they are deranged or inferior. I believe that men and women who identify themselves as gay are, like other people, intrinsically valuable. As fellow human beings, they are the pinnacle of God’s creation, deserving of dignity and respect. Nothing they or anyone can say or do can diminish their value – not even in principle. And we should treat them as such.

But the question of whether homosexuality is normal hinges on what is meant by the term. If normal refers to the frequency or rate at which it occurs in the population, then homosexuality is not normal in that sense. As I’ve mentioned before, homosexuals represent approximately 1 – 3% of the population. Clearly, the number of people who have sex with the same gender are far fewer than those who do it with the opposite gender.

Perhaps the term “normal” refers to homosexual behavior. But whether you think God made humans or believe they evolved, our bodies are made to function in a heterosexual way. A basic course in anatomy and physiology reveals that male and female sex organs not only fit together, they also function together (in multiple ways). In fact, they work in concert with one another to such a degree that they can produce another human being. This is unmistakable evidence of the complementarity of male and female bodies and their ability to work together towards a common end.

Homosexuals can’t use their body parts in this (reproductive) way. Though their sexual organs are designed to function with the opposite sex, they have a proclivity to use them with the same sex. This prevents them from using those parts for that purpose. They are never able to use the full function of their sexual anatomy.

Not only that, they use some body parts in a way that violates their intended design. The recipient of male homosexual sex uses part of his anatomy in a way that mimics the female reproductive organ. This becomes a problem because it lacks certain anatomical features that make it well-suited for sexual acts. So homosexual sex eschews the intended function of human anatomy and replaces it with a behavior that violates the design of other parts. That is not normal.

And when parts are used in a way that they’re not designed, this leads to damage. It’s like riding a bicycle without tires on the rims. You might get somewhere, but you’ll damage the wheel rims and are more likely to crash. That’s because you’re using the parts of a bike in a way they’re not designed to be used.

The same is true with homosexual sex. Because body parts are being used in a manner inconsistent with their design, homosexual behavior leads to a disproportionate danger of getting a life-threatening disease. The chances of acquiring HIV are increased because of the damage that occurs to body parts that aren’t designed for sex.

Dr. Amy Lansky, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated that men who have sex with men get AIDS at a rate of more than 50 times than that of non-gay men and women. To give a comparison, the CDC warns that men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who don’t. But they’re 50 times more likely to get HIV/AIDS if they have sex with another man. This is a staggering statistic and hardly a normal health risk.

But does this higher risk result in increased infections? Unfortunately, it does. The CDC published an analysis of gay men in 21 cities and found that 1 in 5 of them had HIV. And nearly half of them were unaware of it. This is just sad news.

Look, people are free to live how they want. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to behave in their bedroom. But we have to be honest about homosexuality. It’s uncommon, goes against the design of the body, and carries with it serious health risks. That’s not normal.

So should our response to homosexuality be hostile? No. Even though we’re often tempted to get angry with attempts to normalize homosexual behavior in our culture, we should resist that urge. Knowing these truths about homosexuality should not lead us to contempt, but rather to compassion. When we find out the potential harm that homosexuals face (and the many other hardships that come in their lives), it should drive us to care for them more than the culture does.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

love your wife

This post is not about divorce and remarriage. But I'm think that bridge would need to be crossed less if we embraced these thoughts by Jason Helopoulos.

[T]he Christian husband does not have the freedom to “fall out of love” with his wife. This just isn’t an option.

In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul tells husbands to love their wives six times in eight verses. You would almost think Paul is trying to make a point! The evangelical world has twisted itself in knots about the verses just prior to Paul’s admonition to husbands in which the wife’s responsibility to submit to her husband is commanded. And yet Paul spends only three limited verses on that subject, but devotes fully nine verses to husbands loving their wives. We spend too little time thinking, teaching, and encouraging Christian husbands to love their wives.

Every Christian husband knows that in Ephesians 5 the husband is exhorted to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. What many of us need to hear, especially in Western modern culture, is that an aspect of Christ’s love for the Church is that it endures. Christian husbands must take note that Christ’s love for the Church is not momentary or even for a season. It is a love that continues. It is steadfast and true. And these qualities are to mark a husband’s love for his wife.

There is no other option. In verses 28 and 33, the Apostle makes this point strongly. He says husbands “must” love their wives. For the Christian husband, loving his wife is behind door number one, number two, and number three. Whichever way he turns in his relationship, he knows that this is to be his manner, mindset, and pursuit. He has no freedom to do anything else.

And what is the primary reason for this? Well, we often make the mistake of talking about Christ’s relationship with the Church as comparable to our marriage relationships, but that is not what Paul says in Ephesians 5. He says that Christ’s relationship with the Church is the substance and our marriage relationships are just a reflection of that. Therefore, our marriages either rightly or poorly reflect the relationship between Christ and His Church. This means that for the Christian husband, he knows that he cannot and will not fall out of love with his wife, because that would speak falsely about His Savior. He knows that within his marriage, there is an even higher calling in loving his wife, and that is the glory of God.

Therefore, the Christian husband gazes upon his wife and knows that no matter how difficult, how trying, or what temptations are offered that he must persevere in loving her. Why? Because the Christian man, who has been bought with a price, is a bondservant of Christ Jesus, and a son of God, wants above all else to give glory to his God. So what does a Christian husband do when he is tempted with giving in to “falling out of love” or something similar? He is to remind himself that he is a member of the bride of Christ. And so Christ’s love for the Church is not only the example, but the means by which he must and will continue to love his own wife until death do they part to the glory of God. He knows there is no other option for him under the sun.

writer's block

As you can see, I am not creative. Very little to none of the content in this blog was created by me ... yet I like to pass along good stuff. This one speaks to my life-long writer's block ...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

japanese water

Some water snaps at The Big Picture ... looks like the Japanese are having a lot of fun ...


Signs of Spring at The Big Picture ... see more ...

glow with love

Augustine, quoted by Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang in Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful ...

Christ came chiefly for this reason: that we might learn how much God loves us, and might learn this to the end that we begin to glow with love of him by whom we were first loved, and so might love our neighbor at the bidding and after the example of him who made himself our neighbor by loving us.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

already and not yet of hell

We live in the Church age. There are currently two Kingdoms in conflict. Dave Dorr sheds light on an oft overlooked aspect of this tension. Here is his post ...

I am tired of preaching the gospel as good news for your death. The gospel IS good news for your death. But people don't think about their death as much as they think about their life. (Isn't that true of you? It is certainly true of me).

And the gospel is great news for your life. Isn't that what the whole gospel-centered movement is really about? The gospel makes a difference for your life right now, both at conversion and then everyday afterwards.

And that is incredibly motivating.

Here's why: When we become a Christian we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13). So in just a little way, the kingdom of God is present wherever we are, because we are a part of that kingdom. But, of course, the opposite is also true. The kingdom of darkness was present wherever we were before our conversion. We were unwittingly doing our part of bringing the kingdom of darkness on earth as it will be in hell.

It is the "already and not yet" of hell.

But when the gospel is believed all of that changes. And believing the gospel is stopping the advance of hell right now, not just making sure people don't go to hell when they die. Satan is bringing hell to earth and Jesus is bringing heaven to earth. Satan has his people and Jesus has His.

And what's incredible is Jesus wins even in our defeats. That is what it means to be more than a conquerer (Romans 8:37). Even our suffering serves us and the present advance of the gospel. As Paul later said, "My imprisonment has resulted in the whole praetorium guard hearing the gospel and the emboldening of other gospel preachers (Philippians 1:13, paraphrase)."

So maybe this helps strengthen your motivation for evangelism -- don't just preach the gospel so that people won't go to hell when they die. Preach the gospel so hell will not have one more inch of ground today.

bound for glory

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Bound for Glory ... oh yeah ... I feel I'm bound for glory ...

Monday, March 19, 2012

thorn on theology

In Note to Self, Joe Thorn writes, "Theology is a way for you to know and respond to God. It is something you tether to God, not something you tether God to." This is further explored in chapter 10 of his book based on 1 Peter 5.5 ...

The more robust, the more detailed your theology, the more humble you should become. Why? Because you did not figure God out; he revealed himself to you. Don’t you remember the words of Jesus to Peter when the disciple correctly acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah? “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17) The theologian owes his knowledge to God himself, who has not only made himself known in creation and Scripture but has also opened our eyes to understand and embrace the truth.

The proud theologian has somehow convinced himself, or at least acts as if, he discovered God. But you understand that you did not uncover the truth of God like some kind of rock star archeologist. He sought you, caught you, and gave you sight, knowledge, and life. Humility should be borne out of your theology because you are so entirely dependent on God for it.

You must also remember that your theology is not your own. Rather you are following in the steps of generations before you who have worked hard at knowing and making known the one true God. If you are a good theologian, part of that is because good theologians have gone before you and made a path for you to walk.

scripture stands over us

In Reformed Dogmatics, Herman Bavinck wrote:

It remains the duty of every person, therefore, first of all to put aside his or her hostilitiy against the word of God and “to take every thought captive to obey Christ” [2 Cor. 10:5]. Scripture itself everywhere presses this demand. Only the pure of heart will see God. Rebirth will see the kingdom of God. Self-denial is the condition for being a disciple of Jesus. The wisdom of the world is folly to God. Over against all human beings, Scripture occupies a position so high that, instead of subjecting itself to their criticism, it judges them in all their thoughts and desires.

on the kingdom

Keith Mathison writes:

One of the most significant elements found in the prophetic message of salvation is the establishment of God's kingdom through a descendant of David, a Messiah.xxv The roots of the messianic idea are found in several texts in the Pentateuch (Gen. 17:6, 16; 35:11; 49:10; Num. 24:17; Deut. 17:14–20). The primary foundation of this concept, however, rests in the covenant God made with David (2 Sam. 7). According to the prophets, the coming Messiah will establish God's kingdom, transforming creation and bringing blessing to all the nations, thereby fulfilling the purpose of God's covenant with Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:3; Ps. 72:17).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

are homosexuals going to hell?

[W]e don’t get to make the rules for reconciliation. God does. So being a “good person” doesn’t matter. Seeking to be “sincere” is irrelevant. Trying to be “true to yourself” won’t help. It’s God’s Kingdom: He’s the King and it’s His domain. He decides the terms for acquittal.

He also shows no partiality towards whom He pardons. A churchgoer has no advantage over a homosexual. Each has an equal chance at forgiveness no matter what they’ve done.

This is great news.

Fead the full post by Alan Shlemon here.

love one another

John Piper in Bloodlines:

God has told us not to murder (Ex. 20:13). He has told us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev. 19:18; Gal. 5:14)—including the neighbor who is an enemy (Matt. 5:44). He has told us to do good to everyone (Gal. 6:10)—including those who hate us (Luke 6:27). He has told us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) and to treat others the way we would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12).

He has revealed to us that every human is created in the image of God (James 3:9). He has shown us that we all have the same human father and are therefore kinsmen by blood (Acts 17:26). And he has made clear that, when his Son died on the cross for our sins, he “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).


Joe Thorn in Note to Self on Psa 30.4:

It is one thing to tell the world of God’s work of redemption in Jesus; it is another to sing of it. Anyone can parrot truth, but to sing of it—from the soul—reveals how you feel. Song is the natural and appropriate response to the gospel, because singing is one of the highest expressions of joy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

missional skills

To be missional, one needs only a couple of basic skills. First - know where the sinners are. Second - ask the right questions (look closely at this one).

Friday, March 16, 2012

the catechism on homosexuality

The following is by Kevin DeYoung on the Heidleberg Catechism relative to homosexuality.

The Heidelberg Catechism intends to condemn homosexuality in Question and Answer 87. It is true that Q/A 87 makes no explicit mention of homosexuality. The new joint CRC-RCA version is accurate: “No unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like will inherit the kingdom of God.” This is an obvious references to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. And yet, unlike Paul, the Catechism does not mention homosexuality. Is this because Ursinus wanted to be open and affirming? Or is something else at work?

Interestingly, the 1962 translation of the Catechism by Allen Miller and Eugene Osterhaven (longtime professor at Western Theological Seminary) includes “homosexual perversion” in the list of sins mentioned in Answer 87. Miller and Osterhaven understood that Answer 87 is a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Hence they included the full Corinthians text from the New English Bible in their translation. Admittedly, this is poor translation practice, which is why the new CRC-RCA translation simply translates the German word unkeuscher with “unchaste.” But in keeping with their own stated translation purposes Osterhaven and Miller were trying to capture the authorial intent behind the text. The translation is poor, but they were right about the meaning.

In summarizing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Ursinus (Heidelberg’s chief author) does not include every sin in the vice list. Most notably, he leaves out several terms related to sexual immorality. This is certainly not because Ursinus and the reformers were ambiguous in their assessment of homosexuality. The reason no explicit mention is made of homosexuality in Answer 87 is because it was considered inappropriate and obscene to even mention such deeds. This is why the Catechism includes the phrase “or the like” (the German text of the Catechism contains no ellipsis as in the old RCA edition). We are meant to fill in the blanks with the rest of the text, the part of the text not fit to be printed for all to see. As Robert Gagnon, one of the world’s foremost scholars on homosexuality and a member of the PCUSA, points out, when Calvin comments on Romans 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9, and Jude 7 in his commentaries he mentions homosexuality only obliquely, referring to the actions and desires as “monstrous,” “polluted,” “most filthy and detestable,” and “the most abominable.” Gagnon also notes that as late as the early 20th century the standard edition of ancient Greek texts published by Harvard University Press “would routinely render Greek classical texts into Latin rather than English whenever coming across favorable discussions of homosexual practice.” To talk or write openly about homosexuality was, for many, simply impolite.

Furthermore, we must remember that Frederick’s first purpose in commissioning the Heidelberg Catechism was “that our youth may be trained.” The Catechism was meant first of all for children, and children, it was thought, should not be corrupted by exposure to such unnatural behavior. Adults would have understood that Answer 87 forbids all the vices mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, including the ones left out or too unseemly to mention.

Clearly, Ursinus believed homosexual behavior to be a sin. In his Commentary on the Catechism, he defines marriage as “a lawful and indissoluble union between one man and one woman, instituted by God for the propagation of the human race” (592). Just as importantly, he says with regard to the seventh commandment: “The first class or kind [of lust] are those which are contrary to nature, and from the devil—such as are even contrary to this our corrupt nature; not only because they are corrupt and spoil it of conformity with God, but also because this our corrupt nature shrinks from them and abhors them. The lusts of which the Apostle Paul speaks in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, are of this class, as the confounding of the sexes, also abuses of the female sex” (591). Not only do we see here an unmistakable rejection of homosexual behavior, we also see Ursinus’ reticence to talk of it in frank terms, referring to such behavior as “the confounding of the sexes” and “the lusts of which the Apostle Paul speaks in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans.”

There is inescapable evidence, then, that the chief author of the Heidelberg Catechism thought homosexuality a sin (which should come as no surprise since every Reformer would have assumed as much). We also have good evidence that Christians of the sixteenth century, not to mention Ursinus himself, were embarrassed to openly name the act of same-sex intercourse. We also have evidence in the words “or the like” that we are meant to fill in the blanks with the rest of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 referenced in Answer 87 (see also Q/A 109). All of this leads to the strong conclusion that while Osterhaven and Miller may have been wrong, from the standpoint of translation philosophy, to insert words in the Catechism that weren’t there in the original, they were not wrong to think that the words they inserted (e.g., “homosexual perversion”) captured the spirit of the Catechism and the true authorial intent of the text. The “unchaste person” or “fornicator” in Answer 87 includes those engaged in same-sex behavior.

scripture and christ

Herman Bavinck in Reformed Dogmatics:

The believer’s confidence in Christ increases along with their confidence in Scripture and, conversely, ignorance of the Scriptures is automatically and proportionately ignorance of Christ.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

missionary fish


I think this time-lapse footage of Yosemite is beautiful ...

the inner teacher

As we cannot come to Christ unless we are drawn by the Spirit, so when we are drawn we are lifted up in mind and heart above our understanding. For the soul, illumined by him, takes on a new keenness, as it were, to contemplate the heavenly mysteries, whose splendor had previously blinded it. And man’s understanding, thus beamed by the light of the Holy Spirit, then at last begins to taste those things which belong to the kingdom of God, having formerly been quite foolish and dull in tasting them…. Indeed, the Word of God is like the sun, shining upon all those to whom it is proclaimed, but with no effect among the blind. Now, all of us are blind by nature in this respect. Accordingly, it cannot penetrate into our minds unless the Spirit, as the inner teacher, through his illumination makes entry for it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

small group paradise

Small Group ... get sum ...

bread of life

JC Ryle in Consider Your Ways:

Christ is the bread of life. Let us feed on Him day by day, as Israel on the manna, and not on our own experiences. Let Christ become more and more all things to us! His blood our peace, His intercession our comfort, His Word our authority, His grace our strength, His sympathy our support, His speedy coming our hope. Let others spend their time on new books if they will, let us rather study to learn Christ. We know a little of Christ as our Savior, but oh!, how small a portion have we seen of the fulness that is in Him!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

liberal church

In Christianity & Liberalism, 1923, J. Gresham Machen wrote words that sadly still ring true today:

In [the modern liberal church], heaven has little place, and this world is really all in all. The rejection of the Christian hope is not always definite or conscious; sometimes the liberal preacher tries to maintain a belief in the immortality of the soul. But the real basis of the belief in immortality has been given up by the rejection of the New Testament account of the resurrection of Christ.

And, practically, the liberal preacher has very little to say about the other world. This world is really the center of all his thoughts; religion itself, and even God, are made merely a means for the betterment of conditions upon this earth.

... the Christian man believes that there can be no applied Christianity unless there be “a Christianity to apply.” That is where the Christian man differs from the modern liberal. The liberal believes that applied Christianity is all there is of Christianity, Christianity being merely a way of life; the Christian man believes that applied Christianity is the result of an initial act of God. Thus there is an enormous difference between the modern liberal and the Christian man with reference to human institutions like the community and the state, and with reference to human efforts at applying the Golden Rule in industrial relationships. The modern liberal is optimistic with reference to these institutions; the Christian man is pessimistic unless the institutions be manned by Christian men. The modern liberal believes that human nature as at present constituted can be molded by the principles of Jesus; the Christian man believes that evil can only be held in check and not destroyed by human institutions, and that there must be a transformation of the human materials before any new building can be produced. This difference is not a mere difference in theory, but makes itself felt everywhere in the practical realm. It is particularly evident on the mission field. The missionary of liberalism seeks to spread the blessings of Christian civilization (whatever that may be), and is not particularly interested in leading individuals to relinquish their pagan beliefs. The Christian missionary, on the other hand, regards satisfaction with a mere influence of Christian civilization as a hindrance rather than a help; his chief business, he believes, is the saving of souls, and souls are saved not by the mere ethical principles of Jesus but by His redemptive work. The Christian missionary, in other words, and the Christian worker at home as well as abroad, unlike the apostle of liberalism, says to all men everywhere: “Human goodness will avail nothing for lost souls; ye must be born again.”

church meetings

Sadly true and more sadly not limited to "church meetings" ...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

attributes of scripture

Interesting post by Tim Bertolet:

Commonly there are four attributes described about special revelation. I always remembered them by the helpful acronym NAPS. We say Scripture is necessary, authoritative, perspicuous and sufficient.

Necessary: If we are going to know anything about God, He must reveal Himself to us. Calvin famously remarked that when God speaks, he condescends to us and lisps baby talk. For me to know anything about God, He must speak to me. Therefore we say that the Bible is necessary.

Authoritative: Because God is the ultimate author of Scripture, the Word of God is 'God-breathed'. Because it is God's Word, it is authoritative. He bears the authority of the author because He is the one who has spoken it, ordaining that it should be our guide and authority in all matters of faith and practice. As authoritative, it is our ground because God is revealing to us what He wants us to know.

Perspicuous: This means that the basic doctrines and teachings of Scripture are clearly expressed. This is not to deny that certain passages are hard (2 Peter 3:15-16). Neither does this mean that we will necessarily come to understand all the things in Scripture. But what it does mean is that the basic message is easily discernible. It is true that we cannot discern it without the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). Because of our hardness of heart, we suppress the truth of God when we encounter it. But despite the problem that resides in us, the basic message in and of itself is sufficiently clear. God spoke in plain language. There are not tricks or confusion, nor do we need a magisterium, committee, or publication to understand what is in the Word of God.

Perspicuity is a sometimes forgetting doctrine, especially when we consider the issues of hermeneutics and post-modern literary theory. Nevertheless the Word of God is basically clear in the core things we need to know. Thus it is sufficient and clear enough to hold us accountable if we reject it. A person will not be able to stand before God at the judgment and claim 'I read it but I couldn't see it was from you.' The reality the person say and had all the evidence and clarity in front of them, their heart suppressed the truth and rejected it.

Sufficiency: The Scriptures are sufficient. God has given us what we need to know and all we need to know in and for this life. The sufficiency relates to the doctrines and teachings in the Word of God. It does not mean Scripture tells us everything. For example, Scripture does not tell me how to repair my car. But Scripture is sufficient to make we wise for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).

This also means that our doctrine can be derived from Scripture. We do not need philosophy to come to the aid of our theology. This is not to denigrate philosophy but it is to say that a Christian does not need to be a philosopher to understand the things of God (one potential danger of philosophy is the use of human wisdom to get to God or to understand God's revelation--and to the extent that this detracts from God's wisdom in the cross the two agendas can be antithetical-1 Cor. 1:18-31).

Sufficiency is another doctrine that gets short shrift. Today the church often lacks a practical reliance on the Word of God as sufficient for ministry and transformation. The reality is that the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God as His Sword. How often do we run the risk of trying to do things under our own strength and our own ability rather than letting the Word of God lose and trusting its sufficiency.

So next time you are thinking about the attributes of Scripture think about NAPS. We are grateful for the Word of God that God has blessed the church with so that we might know him. He has given us revelation in His Word. It truly is a precious treasure.

Hopefully in follow up post will talk about how God's two other means of revealing Himself (general revelation and Christ the Logos) also share these characteristics of necessary, authoritative, perspicuous and sufficient.