Total Depravity Is A Deplorable Doctrine – I recognize the weight of the doctrine of “total depravity”, the first of John Calvin’s Five Points. It stresses the radical corruption of the human nature, rendering him incapable of exercising saving faith and repentance and obedience to God’s righteous commands. I understand it, and I hate it.
Christ Before Pilate – [Pilate] might have guessed that this carpenter from Nazareth could make a table or a chair, but it never entered his mind that “by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him, and for Him.” PDF Document
The Missing Ingredient In Many Sermons – I have seen this in some otherwise terrific sermons. Guys can be exegetically sound, communicate with clarity, illustrate with profundity, and then at the end of the sermon it tastes like grandma’s meatloaf: somewhat filling but not so memorable.
Five Truths About The Wrath Of God – We live in a day where we have set ourselves as the judge and God’s character is on trial. “How can hell be just?” “Why would God command the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites?” “Why does God always seem so angry?”
I am dying willingly for God’s sake, if you do not hinder it. I beseech you, be not an unseasonable kindness to me. Suffer me to be eaten by the beasts, through whom I can attain to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread of Christ…. I long for the beasts that are prepared for me, and I pray that that may be found prompt for me. I will even entice them to devour me promptly…. Let there come on me fire and cross and struggles with wild beasts, cutting and tearing asunder…. Cruel tortures of the devil, may I but attain to Jesus Christ. – Ignatius
The Doctrine of Hell: Apologetic Problems – For many people, the doctrine of hell presents an apologetic problem for Christians. Skeptics say that believing in hell is “morally reprehensible” and that the doctrine of hell makes God a “barbaric, moral monster, the worst being ever to exist.”
John MacArthur: The Infographic – Tim Challies has been releasing infographics for various topics which he calls Visual Theology. This one is an interesting one on the accomplishments of a servant of God.
The chief and principal ends for which the Holy Spirit is promised and received may be reduced to these four heads:—(1.) Regeneration; (2.) Sanctification; (3.) Consolation; (4.) Edification. There are, indeed, very many distinct operations and distributions of the Spirit, as I have in part already discovered, and shall yet farther go over them in particular instances; but they may be reduced unto these general heads, or at least they will suffice to exemplify the different manner and ends of the receiving of the Spirit. And this is the plain order and method of these things, as the Scripture both plainly and plentifully testifies: — (1.) He is promised and received as to the work of regeneration unto the elect; (2.) As to the work of sanctification unto the regenerate; (3.) As to the work of consolation unto the sanctified; and, (4.) As unto gifts for edification unto professors, according to his sovereign will and pleasure. – John Owen
The Beauty of the Impassible God – Critics often contend that the doctrine of impassibility depicts God as an emotionless rock. But to teach that God is impassible is not to deny that God has an emotional life with cares, joys, loves, and so forth.
I remember lecturing at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in this country. I was minutes away from beginning my lecture, and my host was driving me past a new building called the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts.
He said, “This is America’s first postmodern building.”
I was startled for a moment and I said, “What is a postmodern building?”
He said, “Well, the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.”
I said, “So his argument was that if life has no purpose and design, why should the building have any design?”
He said, “That is correct.”
I said, “Did he do the same with the foundation?”
All of a sudden there was silence.
You see, you and I can fool with the infrastructure as much as we would like, but we dare not fool with the foundation because it will call our bluff in a hurry.
Remember that flesh-pleasing is a great contempt and treachery against the soul. It is a great contempt of an immortal soul, to prefer its corruptible flesh before it, and to make its servant to become its master, and to ride on horseback, while it goes, as it were, on foot. Is the flesh worthy of so much time, and cost, and care, and so much ado as is made for it in the world, and is not a never-dying soul worth more? Nay, it is a betraying of the soul: you set up its enemy before it; and put its safety into an enemy’s hands; and you cast away all its joys and hopes for the gratifying of the flesh. Might it not complain of your cruelty, and say, Must my endless happiness be sold to purchase so short a pleasure for your flesh? Must I be undone for ever, and lie in hell, that it may be satisfied for a little time? But why do I speak of the soul’s complaint? Alas! it is of itself that it must complain! For it is its own doing! It hath its choice: the flesh can but tempt it, and not constrain it: God hath put the chief power and government into its hands, if it has determined to sell its own eternal hopes to pamper worm’s meat, it will act accordingly. You would not think very honourably of that man’s intelligence or honesty, who would sell the patrimony of all his children, and all his friends that trusted him therewith, and later sell their persons into slavery, and all this to purchase for himself a delicious feast, with sports and entertainment for a day! And is he wiser or better that selleth (in effect) the inheritance of his soul, and betrayeth it to hell and devils for ever, and all just to purchase the fleshly pleasure of so short a life? – Richard Baxter
The sermon I have chosen to share, I’m afraid, would more than likely get the Prince of Preachers booted out from behind the pulpit of most churches today. I hear many people talk about Spurgeon and the fact that he was a great preacher, but then I hear their doctrine, and have to think to myself, they only say that Spurgeon was a great preacher based on reputation, not because they read his sermons and know what he taught. For if they did happen to read just 15 or 20 of Spurgeons sermons, and there are over 3000 to choose from, I think they would find that their own views of Doctrine are vastly different that what Spurgeon believed. I love to read Spurgeons sermons and I think he was a tremendous preacher and theologian. I don’t believe this because of his reputation for packing out a church Sunday after Sunday, I believe this because his sermons make me angry; they cut me; they make me take a look at the absolute sovereignty of God. Hebrews 2:9-10 –
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
God, was for a short time during His incarnation, made a little lower than the angels, but as the verse above states, ALL things flow from Him and ALL things belong to Him. That, my friend, is a sovereignty that none of use can claim. Until we learn that God is sovereign in all things, and that is a process that will continue until we are perfected in glory, our theology, our doctrine, our beliefs are beneath what they should be.
So, with that, I share the following:
NOS. 41, 42
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, SEPTEMBER 2, 1855,
BY THE REV. C H. SPURGEON,
AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK.
“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14.
IF there were no other text in the Sacred Word except this one, I think we would all be bound to receive and acknowledge the truthfulness of the great and glorious Doctrine of God’s ancient choice of His family. But there seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this Doctrine—and although most other Doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure—this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded! In many of our pulpits it would be reckoned a high sin and treason to preach a sermon upon Election because they could not make it what they call a, “practical” discourse! I believe they have erred from the Truth of God. Whatever God has revealed, He has revealed for a purpose. There is nothing in Scripture which may not, under the influence of God’s Spirit, be turned into a practical discourse—“for all Scripture is given by Inspiration of God and is profitable” for some purpose of spiritual usefulness. It is true, it may not be turned into a free will discourse—that we know right well—but it can be turned into a practical Free Grace discourse. And Free Grace practice is the best practice when the true Doctrines of God’s Immutable Love are brought to bear upon the hearts of saints and sinners! Now I trust, this morning, some of you who are startled at the very sound of this word will say, “I will give it a fair hearing. I will lay aside my prejudices. I will hear what this man has to say.” Do not shut your ears and say at once, “It is high Doctrine.” Who has authorized you to call it high or low? Why should you oppose yourself to God’s Doctrine? Remember what became of the children who found fault with God’s Prophet and exclaimed, “Go up, you bald-head! Go up, you bald-head!” Say nothing against God’s Doctrines, lest haply some evil beast should come out of the forest and devour you, also! There are other woes beside the open judgment of Heaven—take heed that these fall not on your head. Lay aside your prejudices—listen calmly, listen dispassionately—hear what Scripture says! And when you receive the Truth, if God should be pleased to reveal and manifest it to your souls, do not be ashamed to confess it! To confess you were wrong, yesterday, is only to acknowledge that you are a little wiser today. Instead of being a reflection on yourself, it is an honor to your judgment and shows that you are improving in the knowledge of the Truth of God! Do not be ashamed to learn and to cast aside your old doctrines and views. But take up that which you may more plainly see to be in the Word of God. And if you do not see it to be here in the Bible—whatever I may say, or whatever authorities I may plead—I beseech you, as you love your souls, reject it! And if from this pulpit you ever hear things contrary to this Sacred Word, remember that the Bible must be first—and God’s minister must lie underneath it!
We must not stand on the Bible to preach—we must preach with the Bible above our heads. After all we have preached, we are well aware that the mountain of Truth is higher than our eyes can discern—clouds and darkness are round about its summit and we cannot discern its topmost pinnacle. Yet we will try to preach it as well as we can. But since we are mortal and liable to err, exercise your judgment—“Try the spirits, whether they are of God”—and if on mature reflection on your bended knees, you are led to disregard Election—a thing which I consider to be utterly impossible—then forsake it! Do not hear it preached, but believe and confess whatever you see to be God’s Word. I can say no more than that by way of introduction.
Now, first. I shall speak a little concerning the truthfulness of this Doctrine—“God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Secondly, I shall try to prove that this Election is absolute—“He has from the beginning chosen you to salvation,” not for sanctification, but, “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Thirdly, this Election is eternal because the text says, “God has from the Continue reading →
I recently had the opportunity to listen to two sermons by Paul Washer on the book of Ephesians. As usual, they have challenged me to rethink how I think about God and who He is. I’ve included a partial transcript I made of the second sermon. I’ve included the audio files of both sermons and you can listen to them by clicking on the links provided at the bottom of this page.
From Ephesians 1, Part 2:
When does God get scandalous for man? When does God become scandalous for man? When we talk about His love? No. When we talk about His mercy? No. When do people get angry when we talk about God? When we talk about His righteousness. Now think about that. When you say that God is righteous, men get angry. Now why would men get angry at the idea of a righteous God? Because man is not righteous.
What is the great scandal about the Law of God? When I’m speaking, especially at universities, I hear people say all the time – “I don’t want to hear about the Law of God!” “Why, I ask?” “Because it suppresses me, it oppresses me and holds me down.” I had a student actually stand up and say that one time. I asked him, in front of the entire audience, please explain to me which law is oppressive? Which one do you hate? Is it ‘love your neighbor as yourself?’ Is it ‘you shall not lie or bare false witness?’ Is it ‘you shall not commit adultery and steal another mans wife or that you should not reduce another human being to an object to be used for your sexual pleasure?’ Exactly which law is it that oppresses you and if God’s law does oppress you, then what does that say about you?
You see, the reason why men are hostile towards God is this, God is good, and men are not. When we talk about this mass of humanity we are talking about a mass of people given over to corruption, hostile towards God and hostile towards His law. But also we are talking about a humanity that loves evil and refuses reconciliation. Now think about that, a humanity that not just loves evil, but a humanity that refuses reconciliation.
Humanity cannot come to God. Men cannot come to God on their own. When I say that people respond, “Well, if men cannot come to God on their own, then God is wrong in judging them in the same way we would be wrong for judging a man who was blind for not being able to read a sign on the road. What do you mean, man cannot come to God?” I mean that because Jesus said that. But what is the explanation and why is such a man held guilty? Man cannot come to God because man will not come to God and he will not come to God because he hates Him. He hates Him because He is good.
Have you ever seen an old lady whose face is etched with bitterness and you say to her, “Ma’am, you must forgive your husband.” She responds, “I cannot forgive him.” Now, she speaks the same language as her husband and they live in the same house. She is not saying she cannot, she is saying she will not and why will she not? Because of her hostility towards her husband.
What about a political prisoner who is in chains? The king comes down to the dungeon and says, “I will throw open the door, all you have to do is bow your knee to me and acknowledge my sovereignty.” The prisoner leaps up, grabs the door, slams it closed and says “I would rather rot in prison than bow my knee to you.”
That is man.
Jesus said this in John 3:19-20:
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
Light came into the world. I’m always hearing people say that if the believers would just live like Jesus then people would be converted. No, you would have a lot of believers crucified. Jesus came into the world and what did the world do? They crucified him! Why? He gives us the reason:
…that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
Jesus said in John 6:44:
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
In John 6:65:
And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
I want to read a paragraph that I have written here in my notes to make myself as clear as possible.
When the scriptures speak about election, it is not in the context of a mass of humanity victimized by the devil, that wants to be saved, but lacks the faculties to do so. That is the way, a lot of times, men are presented; victims. No that is not the context. The context is this. It is in the context of a mass of humanity that is morally corrupt, hostile towards God, that rejects every offer of redemption and that would rather spend an eternity given over to corruption and the misery’s of hell than to be subject to God in heaven.
One of the reasons why certain people have so much difficulty with election and they have so much difficulty with hell is because they think man is good, that there is something good in man that wants God. There is a little spark, there is a little something, there’s got to be some goodness in there somewhere. Therefore they say hell is immoral, how could God throw man in hell? What you need to understand is that that is not true. Hell is moral because man is immoral. The only reason they may look a little moral in the context of present society is because the grace of God is restraining their evil. But if God where to pull back, man would become monsters of iniquity. So every time you see some vile crime that comes out on the local news, or some atrocity committed by some government that is beyond the mind to comprehend, realize that that is you apart from the grace of God.
“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.” So wrote the agnostic British philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1967. The idea of eternal punishment for sin, he further notes, is “a doctrine that put cruelty in the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture.”
His views are at least more consistent than religious philosopher John Hick, who refers to hell as a “grim fantasy” that is not only “morally revolting” but also “a serious perversion of the Christian Gospel.” Worse yet was theologian Clark Pinnock who, despite having regarded himself as an evangelical, dismissed hell with a rhetorical question: “How can one imagine for a moment that the God who gave His Son to die for sinners because of His great love for them would install a torture chamber somewhere in the new creation in order to subject those who reject Him to everlasting pain?”
So, what should we think of hell? Is the idea of it really responsible for all the cruelty and torture in the world? Is the doctrine of hell incompatible with the way of Jesus Christ? Hardly. In fact, the most prolific teacher of hell in the Bible is Jesus, and He spoke more about it than He did about heaven. In Matthew 25:41–46 He teaches us four truths about hell that should cause us to grieve over the prospect of anyone experiencing its horrors.
1. Hell is a state of separation from God.
On the day of judgment, Jesus will say to all unbelievers, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (v. 41). This is the same sort of language that Jesus uses elsewhere to describe the final judgment of unbelievers (see 7:23).
To be separated from God is to be separated from anything and everything good. That is hard to conceive because even the most miserable person enjoys some of God’s blessings. We breathe His air, are nourished by food that He supplies, and experience many other aspects of His common grace.
On earth even atheists enjoy the benefits of God’s goodness. But in hell, these blessings will be nonexistent. Those consigned there will remember God’s goodness, and will even have some awareness of the unending pleasures of heaven, but they will have no access to them.
This does not mean that God will be completely absent from hell. He is and will remain omnipresent (Ps. 139:7–8). To be separated from the Lord and cast into hell does not mean that a person will finally be free of God. That person will remain eternally accountable to Him. He will remain Lord over the person’s existence. But in hell, a person will be forever separated from God in His kindness, mercy, grace, and goodness. He will be consigned to deal with Him in His holy wrath.
2. Hell is a state of association.
Jesus says that the eternal fire of hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). People were made for God. Hell was made for the Devil. Yet people who die in their sin, without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, will spend eternity in hell with the one being who is most unlike God. It is a tragic irony that many who do not believe in the Devil in this life will wind up spending eternity being tormented with him in hell.
3. Hell is a state of punishment.
Jesus describes it as “fire” (v. 41) and a place of “punishment” (v. 46). Hell is a place of retribution where justice is served through the payment for crimes.
The punishment must fit the crime. The misery and torment of hell point to the wickedness and seriousness of sin. Those who protest the biblical doctrine of hell as being excessive betray their inadequate comprehension of the sinfulness of sin. For sinners to be consigned to anything less than the horrors of eternal punishment would be a miscarriage of justice.
4. Hell is an everlasting state.
Though some would like to shorten the duration of this state, Jesus’ words are very clear. He uses the same adjective to describe both punishment and life in verse 46. If hell is not eternal, neither is the new heaven and earth.
How can God exact infinite punishment for a finite sin? First, because the person against whom all sin is committed is infinite. Crimes against the infinitely holy, infinitely kind, infinitely good, and infinitely supreme Ruler of the world deserve unending punishment. In addition to that, those condemned to hell will go on sinning for eternity. There is no repentance in hell. So the punishment will continue as long as the sinning does.
The dreadfulness of hell deepens our grateful praise for the salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Hell is what we deserve. And hell is what He experienced on the cross in our place.
Believing the truth about hell also motivates us to persuade people to be reconciled to God. By God’s grace those of us who are trusting Christ have been rescued from this horrible destiny. How can we love people and refuse to speak plainly to them about the realities of eternal damnation and God’s gracious provision of salvation?
Clearer visions of hell will give us greater love for both God and people.