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Archive for May, 2016

So You Want to Understand Impassibility

ImpassibilityMany of my readers will be aware that during the last few years a theological controversy has arisen over the doctrine of divine impassibility. Impassibility is the teaching that God, being perfect and immutable, cannot be moved. The idea is expressed within many of the Reformed confessions by the assertion that God is “without passions.” The idea is that God, who in his essence is perfectly blessed, can never suffer any loss. Therefore the experience of suffering is contrary to the divine nature; God cannot suffer. It is imprecise to say that God has no emotions; what in us may be called an emotion (such as love) is a virtue in God. However, whereas in us emotion involves fluctuation and change in our disposition, God is changeless. His love is like his power, his wisdom, and indeed his very being; it is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

In the Spring of 2014 the question of impassibility became the focus of an open debate within the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America when that association’s Theology Committee reported that one of the member churches evidently did not hold to the 1689 Confession’s teaching on impassibility. This was the result of an ongoing process in which the committee had been assigned to investigate the writings of one officer of that church. They had earlier found his writing contrary to the confession at two points (although he and his church had by 2014 come to a mutual agreement with the committee on the proper confessional expression of the other point). Rejection of the confession is grounds for exclusion of a church from ARBCA, and the association found itself at an impasse while some – but not all – argued that associational documents required that this action be taken.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Presbyterian (Finally) Gets Acts 2:39 Right

by Brandon Adams

In a previous post God’s Covenant Unfaithfulness? I demonstrated the error in the illogical claim that in the Covenant of Grace God promises the salvation of our children, concluding that “Physical heritage is irrelevant to God’s promise to save the elect.”

Advocates of the Federal Vision heresy have tried to take this false premise to its logical conclusion.

Steve Schlissel, pastor of the independent Messiah’s Congregation in Brooklyn, New York, wrote on a whiteboard during a colloquium on Federal Vision theology in August 2003 hosted by Knox Theological Seminary, “The children of believers are saved.”

(Evangelizing Our Children, 3)

Federal Visionist John Barach says

[T]here is an objective covenant made with believers and their children. Every baptized person is in covenant with God and is in union then with Christ and with the Triune God.

(Evangelizing Our Children, 2)

The obvious problem is that our experience and (more importantly) Scripture teaches us that not all of the children of believers are, in fact, saved. Federal Visionist Doug Wilson notes

In faith, we want to say that children of believers are saved. But we are not making a categorical statement of the “All P are Q” kind. We are saying that we believe God’s statements and promises concerning covenant children, and we think others should believe them, too. Now these promises (in all our theological systems) have apparent instances of non-fulfillment. How are we to account for this?

(Evangelizing Our Children, 3)

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Paul shows in Ephesians 4-8 how we are to make a right use of reason

PinkIn Ephesians 4:8, Paul quotes from Psalm 68:18, and then shows us how we are to make a right use of reason or to exercise the intellectual and moral faculties: “Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended?”: the exaltation of Christ presupposed a previous humiliation.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scripture

William Owen Carver

1868-1954

William O. Carver closely identified himself with the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He served on the Board for two three-year terms (1917-1923). At that same time, James Franklin Love headed the administration of Southern Baptist foreign mission strategy. Love’s basic premise was one of Anglo-Saxon supremacy, rooted in the idea that God had called Paul to go to Europe rather than to Asia. This mean for love that it was necessary for the white races to be Christianized first in order that they evangelize the world. Carver was quick to denounce Love’s policies, stating that it was necessary for Southern Baptists to move away from such enculturated mission policies, which were “a rationalized justification of the racial pride, the economic greed, and the ambition of power which are the unconfessed urges of imperialism.”

Carver was ecumenical in spirit and identification, and refused to confine his mission parameters to Southern Baptist parochiality.

Dale Moody regards Carver as a philosopher and theologian. To him (Moody) Carver was captive to God’s word that exhorted, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:21). Moody further characterizes Carver as having “too much integrity to be evasive and too much courage to be silent,” insisting that in any issue of significance, one might not know how this professor and personalist, was basically a biblical theologian, who focused strongly on the kingdom of heaven, and on the church as the body of Christ.

Carver opposed Landmarkism, Fundamentalism and Dispensationalism by his masterly biblical scholarship. Carver’s philosophy of life contributed to his interdisciplinary perspective of academics, making him possibly the greatest scholar Southern Seminary has ever produced.

Re-produced from “Baptist Theologians”, Timothy George and David S. Dockery

 

Source [Reformed Reader]

Sabellianism

by Charmley, Gervase N.

Introduction

In addressing what are called ‘the Great Heresies,’ it is important for us to recall that heresies usually represent what Alister McGrath has called ‘a failed attempt at orthodoxy,’ (Heresy [London, SPCK, 2009] p. 13) an attempt to make sense of the Bible that fails to take into account the full richness of the Biblical revelation; rather than being outright repudiation of the Bible. The result is that a part of the truth is treated as the whole of the truth, and thus becomes an untruth. The reason for this is not that the Bible itself is unclear, but that ‘untaught and unstable men’ twist it to fit their own worldly thinking.

To speak of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity is practically to invite misunderstanding, suggesting as the very phrase does that the Trinity is an invention of theologians. On the contrary, it must be emphasised that the New Testament is a fully Trinitarian document; as Leon Morris has put it, ‘the deity of Christ was held from a very early date. It is not to be regarded as the culmination of a process of slow growth and reflection’ (The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1959] p. 111). Despite the common accusation that the doctrine of the Trinity is the result of imposing an alien philosophy on the Bible, the reverse is the case; it is non-Trinitarian teachings that are the result of imposing alien philosophies on the text of Scripture. Orthodoxy came first, since it is the Scriptural teaching; heresy, the result most often of attempts to explain what cannot be explained, comes later, working on the Biblical revelation and distorting it. Orthodox theologians were then forced to go back and explain what the Bible actually says so as to refute false and distorted claims about the Bible’s teachings.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

God teaches us the truth that He alone is God by commanding us to look to Him alone for salvation, instead of a priest

Spurgeon 12. But the second thought is, the means of salvation. It is, “Look unto me and be ye saved.” You have often observed, I am sure, that many people are fond of an intricate worship-an involved religion-one they can hardly understand. They cannot endure worship so simple as ours. Then they must have a man dressed in white, and a man dressed in black; then they must have what they call an altar and a chancel. After a little while that will not suffice, and they must have flowerpots and candles. The clergyman then becomes a priest, and he must have a variegated dress, with a cross on it. So it goes on: what is simply a plate becomes a paten, and what was once a cup becomes a chalice; and the more complicated the ceremonies are, the better they like them. They like their minister to stand like a superior being.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Sovereignty and Salvation-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, January 6

Free Ebook- The Baptist Identity: A View From the Eighteenth Century

Michael A G. Haykin, who is Professor of Church History, at Heritage Baptist College and Theological Seminary, London, Ontario, examines the transformation in Particular Baptist identity that took place in the eighteenth century.

I. The Baptist Identity in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries

In the past century, there has been considerable debate as to the roots of the Baptist tradition. It has been argued by some scholars that Baptist origins should be traced back to the sixteenth-century Anabaptist movement on the European continent and its offshoots in England. On the other hand, there have been Baptist historians who have maintained that Puritanism and its struggle during the late 1500s and the first half of the 1600s…..

Download the ebook here. (Pdf)

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 22-Salvation and Rewards

CHAPTER 22-SALVATION AND REWARDS #Eph 2:8-10 Re 22:12

Introduction:

There is a necessary distinction between salvation and rewards. To ignore this distinction will lead to confusion and perversion of the gospel. Salvation is for the lost; rewards are for the saved. Salvation is for believers; rewards are for workers. Salvation is by grace through faith; rewards are for faithful service. Salvation is common to all the saints; one will be no more saved than another, rewards are proportioned to the work done. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (#Re 22:12). Salvation is a present possession; rewards are a future blessing. Salvation is received on earth; rewards are to be received in heaven. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (#Mt 5:12). Salvation is based on the sufferings of the Savior; rewards are based upon the suffering of the saint. Salvation is the result of Christ’s suffering for us; rewards are based upon our suffering for Him.

I have been both surprised and disappointed at the little literature on the subject of rewards. I searched here and there for some book in my library dealing with the subject and found practically nothing. I think first of all that we need the RIGHT ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE SUBJECT of rewards.

Some deny the doctrine, claiming all Christians will be equal in heaven. One will have no more than another. But this is to flatly deny the scriptures. If rewards are based on works, and they are, then the works of all would be the same if there is no difference in rewards. If rewards are based on works and suffering, what believer is there today who can expect the reward of the apostle Paul?

Some ignore the doctrine, do not deal with it, simply neglect to say anything about it. This is evident from the small amount of literature on the subject. Some despise the doctrine, having no interest in rewards. Salvation is all they want. Keeping out of hell is as far as their interest goes. They will be satisfied to be saved by the skin of their teeth.

Others say the doctrine of rewards is inconsistent with the motive of love in our works. They say we should work from love and not for pay. But if our Lord promises pay or reward we would not love Him much if we did not appreciate and strive for the reward he offers. Is it inconsistent with love for its father, for the child to appreciate and strive for reward offered by its father? I think not. Is the father afraid the child will not love him if he offers reward for faithful service? I think not.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

The Anatomy of a Hybrid Constituency: Billy Graham

Billy-Graham-300x214by Tom Nettles

(This post is the latest installment in a series on Billy Graham. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

Billy Graham’s strong affirmation of biblical authority, his clear proclamation of the objective truths of the gospel, and his perseverance in the calling of evangelism gave him comprehensive credibility among evangelicals, including conservative Southern Baptists. Accompanying these strong traits, however, were a few convictions that gave some of the main-line, more liberal-leaning Protestants, and the more moderate wing of Southern Baptists, room to approve of Graham and, thus, find a point of positive contact with their conservative detractors. The two religious persuasions that proved to be a bridge to an uncomfortable unity were the priority of religious experience and an affirmation of biblical truth that transcended any critical engagement with supposed difficulties in the biblical text.

It could be suggested that Graham’s experiential persuasion of Christianity’s truthfulness is simply a rock-solid engagement with the Reformed doctrine of the internal witness of the Spirit—or as Jonathan Edwards expressed it as “sensible” knowledge of sin and of the excellence of Christ. By the same token, one could look upon Graham’s unswerving commitment to the message of the Bible as another application…

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Does Teaching Someone the Bible Make Them a Christian?

by Brandon Adams

Someone recently sent me the following argument from a paedobaptist and asked me to respond.

Obviously, if you hold to credobaptism, you won’t agree with this conclusion on it’s face, but I’d love to hear some thoughtful non-defensive responses. There is an explicitness to the gospel that is only communicated and received with a certain level of mental understanding. Which leads a lot of people to say that we can’t say someone is a Christian until they are able to grasp and profess belief in this message. I get that. But… as a worldview, as a moral basis, as a way of life, Christianity is something that is practically lived in as well. A baby born into a Christian family, from day one is given a Christian worldview. They are certainly not being trained to be atheists or pagans. Nobody exists without a worldview, and if the worldview you’re being taught is the Bible, then you are a Bible believer by default. The Jews didn’t have to debate this issue because it was so explicitly commanded that they should raise their kids as Jews. But Judaism wasn’t a religion that lacked anything Christianity does, in fact it is the same religion. It had laws that were to be obeyed with gratitude, it demanded faith in God and his promises, it threatened those in the religion not to turn away… so what changed? My argument is that nothing has changed, and in practice, we all know it. Are we not required to raise our children as Christians? “Well it depends on what you mean by Christian”. But does it? Do we tell our kids to obey God’s law? Why? To be justified? No… because they are required to. Why? If it isn’t for their justification, then why? It’s because we recognize that they are under the authority of Christ by virtue of being in your home. If we require our children to obey God’s law, with threats of discipline if they fail, yet we do not recognize them as Christians, we are demanding that they rely on their flesh to obey God’s law… this is hypocritical. For some reason this line of reasoning confuses people and makes them think I’m saying Baptists don’t raise their kids in the faith. I’m actually saying the exact opposite. They do raise them in the faith, while also saying they are not in the faith. [For the record: This is a tension I held all my days as a credobaptist. Even when I was the most conviced of the position, I couldn’t reconcile this issue.]

This is a typical paedobaptist collectivist mindset. It’s what allows them to think that entire nations can be part of the church, as the magisterial reformers practiced. Entire nations became Protestants “at the blast of a trumpet” (the governing authorities’ declaration). They ridicule baptists for being too individualistic, but we merely recognize that believing the gospel is an individual matter. Collectives (families, nations) are not saved. Individuals are.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.