Saturday, 3 December 2011

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


I venture to say that a sinner justified by God stands on even a surer footing than a righteous man justified by his works,.......when God himself justifies, and the Holy Spirit bears witness thereto by giving us peace with God, why then we feel that the matter is sure and settled, and we enter into rest. No tongue can tell the depth of that calm which comes over the soul which has received the peace of God which passeth all understanding.


Fight a common disjunction (the 'critical' vs the the devotional reading of Scripture)
"My response, forcefully put, is to resist this disjunction, to eschew it, to do everything in your power to destroy it ... when you read 'devotionally', keep your mind engaged; when you read 'critically' (ie with more diligent and focused study, deploying a panoply of 'tools'), never, ever forget whose Word it is. The aim is never to become a master of the Word, but to be mastered by it." (91)
That is SO true. One of the biggest problems with theological education in the last fifty years is that too often we have failed to help our students to "get" this. We've allowed them to develop schizophrenic lives where intellectual understanding and lived faith fail to meet. And that has been killing churches

Friday, 14 October 2011


Kevin Lane criticized my handling of Gods word and suggested that my approach to exergesis could lead to error. I am happy to have my errors in interpreting Gods word exposed, but in saying that he was implying that Jesus in John 6 did not present his teaching clearly enough to explain itself and it need’s recourse to other passages to interpret it.

I hold to the reformed understanding of the interpretation of scripture, which is where we allow the clear teaching passages (Jn6) to interpret the less clear. John 6 is clear in my view and I allow Jesus to speak for himself. The onus is on the non-reformed side to explain how THIS passage supports the idea of man’s sovereignty (his ability to come without being drawn) as against the Calvinist view as expressed in John 6 of Gods freedom to choose and draw as well as secure the salvation of believers. This clear passage is a stumbling block to non-calvinists,

61But Jesus, knowing within Himself that His disciples were complaining and protesting and grumbling about it, said to them: Is this a stumbling block and an offense to you?

I will once again, briefly, set out my understanding of John 6:37-71.
Jesus teaches whilst being surrounded by those who would not believe,

36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.

41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?

64But some of you fail to believe and trust and have faith. For Jesus knew from the first who did not believe and had no faith and who would betray Him and be false to Him.

65And He said, This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father.

Why did Jesus tell them that they couldn’t come to him unless “granted him by the Father”. Because of there unbelief.

Gods plan of salvation is expressed clearly in the following verses,

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

The Father " gives" is mentioned three times, the Father " drawring" is mentioned once. The one who gives to the Son and the one who draws is the Father ie Gods sovereignty (freedom).The object of the giving and drawring is those who come. Clearly not all are drawn, as Kevin Lane believes, in the context of this passage. The comers ie believers i'n Christ are then assured of eternal life.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


This was an answer i gave recently to someone who was asking the question "Why bother to evangelise if God has already chosen his elect for salvation"
Hi Pete, firstly calvinists dont know who the elect are so they preach the gospel to all men. Your description of someone who see's the inevitability so then throws his arms up in the air and says, "why bother" is hyper-calvinism and as such unbiblical.
The second part of your question, "what happens if nobody witnesses to them" is easily answered.We beleive biblically in Gods absolute sovereignty in salvation. The bible is clear that God decrees what will happen and it happens. Gods plan in salvation the certainty of that plan is clear in John 6:37,
"All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away"
These words illustrate Gods sovereignty as well as the certainty of his work.
Calvinist'S rightly believes from the bible that God has decreed everything that comes to pass which includes salvation. The storey of Joseph and his brothers is one amongst many texts that illustrate the fact that Gods plans come to fruition,
"But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them"
Joseph saw the over-riding hand of God in his rescue where God took something that his brothers saw as evil and brought Good out of it.Peter you said,
" Or can I thwart the will of God?"
The answe is NO! Nobody can thwart Gods will.
Another illustration of God's plans coming to fruition is obviously the cross of Christ. Jesus taught His disciples that it was necessary that He go to Jerusalem and die (Mark 8:31), this was Gods plan , his decree not an after-thought and so its the same with salvation. Gods decree is that his elect will be brought to glorey, his means is the gospel.
Once again i emphasise that i stand in exactly the same position as you Peter, i dont know who the elect are so i preach the gospel to all men. The only evidence of my election,like you, is did i believe in the name

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Faith, a word used in everyday life, at home amongst friends and in the workplace, and understood so clearly except when it  come to the subject of religion. Whole forests have been sacrificed in an attempt to define "faith". The bible is clear as to the primacy of "faith" , as John 3:36 explains it,

                              "He that Believeth on the Son hath everlasting life"

So the bible tells me that to gain eternal life all i need to do is to believe. Sounds so simple does'nt it? Well not if you listen to the debates raging;  particularly between the "Lordship Salvation" people such as John Macarthur who load up the word faith with extra baggage so it becomes faith-plus; or those in the free grace movement (like anybody it seems from Dallas Texas) who i believe are closer to the biblical understanding of "faith/trust/believe" than those in the "Lordship" camp. Are these debates healthy? Do they edify or build up the saints? Well yes and no! The questions that these discussions raise are many and varied; such as "have i really believed?", "Is my faith real?", "Does the sin in my life negate my faith?" or " am i fooling myself, am i really saved?". The main problem that these questions illustrate is that of trying to take the focus of the object of our faith, that is Christ, and instead looking inwardly and self examining our faith. Is this healthy? I say no!

Lets take a look at a real person with real faith. Abraham was the father of faith, he is our example of what faith looks like in real life.

 8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

 Romans 4:3 tells us that Abraham trusted in God and that trust was credited to his account as righteousness. Abraham was 75 years old when God promised that he would become the father of a great nation Gen 12:2, yet he waited 25 years before his wife Sarah bore him a son. Abrahams faith was such that he was fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep his word and do what he promised sarah. Abraham and Sarah did not focus on there shortcomings but instead focused and trusted in Gods faithfulness. That is faith! Rom 4:20 says,

 "No belief or distrust made him waiver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave glory to God. Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep his word and to do what he promised"( Amp. bible).

Charles C Bing in his book "Simply By Grace" defines faith as believing or being "convinced or persuaded that it is true.......When it comes to salvation, we must believe that Gods promise is true, that if we simply and only believe in his Son and what he has done for us (died for our sins and rose from the dead), He will give us eternal life." Ahmen to that!

I will now use Spurgeons "All Of Grace" chapters 8-12 as a background text and as we look further into the subject of faith. Keep in mind the description of faith as it related to Abraham above in Romans,

                                        "By grace are ye saved by faith" Eph 2:8

Spurgeon believed that faith was "the simplest of all things; perhaps it is the more difficult to explain because of its simplicity". Faith, to Spurgeon, was made up of three things : knowledge, belief and trust (in that order).
Romans 10:14 tells us that we need to hear first before we can believe. Thats where knowledge comes in. So what is the content of the saving message which we need to know?  "Know the gospel" says Spurgeon. He then sets out three basic area's a person needs to know. Know about the sacrifice of Christ. 2 Cor5:19 tells us that,

" God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting peoples sins against them.(as Paul says) This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others"

 Galations 3:13 tells us that Jesus was made a curse for us. Know also that Jesus was our substitute he was,

      "the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ" 2 Cor 5:21,

This was Spurgeons gospel message to the unsaved, explain there sickness and introduce them to the doctor. Before we swallow the medicine we need to know we are sick, it is hard to convince a healthy man that he needs a doctor, yet a sick man who is convinced of his illness will readilly accept the medicine.
"The mind (then) goes on to believe that these things are true. Like Abraham who was,

Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep his word and to do what he promised

Firmly believe that "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin "( 1 JN 1:7). so that he who believes in Jesus is not condemned (JN 3:17-18)".  As Spurgeon goes on to write "the difference between ordinary faith and saving faith lies mainly in the subjects in which it is placed."
When describing faith the Puritans used the word "recumbency", which meant to lean upon something with your whole weight. You could just as easily use the terms "cast yourself" or "rest in him", the image invokes trust;  trusting in the one who you leaning upon.
Do we need to understand every doctrine of the bible to be saved? Not according to Spurgeon who claimed that,

"The poorest real faith actually at work is better than the best ideal of it left behind in the region of speculation...A hungry man eats even though he does not understand the composition of food, the anatomy of his mouth, or the process of his digestion. He knows that he lives because he eats......There are no doubt many in hell at this hour who understood the doctrine of faith but did not believe it."

Spurgeon goes on to describe a simple faith which he calls a "Clinging Faith", which is itself  a word picture of that faith which Spurgeon likens to a limpet which clings to rock as a sinner clings to Christ. The "clinging faith" would  "know enough to cling to Jesus with all there heart and soul, and this suffices for present peace and eternal safety".

About two thousand years ago a jailor asked the apostle Paul "What must i do to be saved?", Pauls answer "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Simply Grace!

Monday, 3 October 2011


"God from all eternity decrees some to election and positively intervenes in their lives to work regeneration and faith by a monergistic work of grace. To the non-elect God withholds this monergistic work of grace, passing them by and leaving them to themselves. He does not monergistically work sin or unbelief in their lives. Thus, the mode of operation in the lives of the elect is not parallel with that operation in the lives of the reprobate. God works regeneration monergistically but never sin." - R.C. Sproul

This doctrine has been debated for 400 years, since the reformation, and will continue to be debated among followers of Christ until the Lord returns. As a contrast C S Lewis in his book "Mere Christianity", writes,

"The sin, both of men and of angels, was rendered possible by the fact that God gave them free will: thus surrendering a portion of his omnipotence because he saw that from a world of free creatures , even though they fell, He could work out a deeper happiness and a fuller splendour than any world of automata would admit"

A reformed believer would see Lewis's use of the word "automata" as being a caricature or misunderstanding of the "T" in "TULIP", i.e total depravity. This would be the common arguemnt of those who do not have a clear understanding of reformed theology. The calvinist would argees's that man is free, as free as anybody who lives as a slave could be. Was'nt it Jesus who said we were slaves to sin (jn 8:34) and nobody can come to the Son unless the Father draws them (jn 6:44)?

SPURGEON in his autobiography talks about faith and human inability,

Could the Saviour, therefore, have died because I had faith, when I myself was not yet born ? Could that have been possible ? Could that have been the origin of the Saviour's love towards me ? Oh ! no ; my Saviour died for me long before I believed. " But," says someone, " He foresaw that you would have faith ; and, therefore,Could the Saviour, therefore, have died because I had faith, when I myself was not yet born ? Could that have been possible ? Could that have been the origin of the Saviour's love towards me ? Oh ! no ; my Saviour died for me long before I believed. " But," says someone, " He foresaw that you would have faith ; and, therefore, He loved you." What did He foresee about my faith? Did He foresee that I should get that faith myself and that I should believe on Him of myself? No; Christ could not foresee that, because no Christian man will ever say that faith came of itself without the gift and without the working of the Holy Spirit. I have met with a great many believers and talked with them on this matter; but i never knew one who would put his hand on his heart, and say " I believed in Jesus without the assistance of the Holy Spirit"
I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing.

Once again i remind folk that this doctrine is a family secret as J I Packer puts it. It's a discussion that takes place within the family. To unbelievers we proclaim the good news and the command to "believe" on the name of our Lord Jesus and you WILL BE SAVED!!.