I have been reading through Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth and the book has been focusing a lot on the doctrine of assurance and thought I would share some tid bits.
“This precious ruth thus proved, looks sourly and wishly upon all those that affirm that believers cannot in this life attain unto a certain well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness, as papists and Arminians; all know that know their writings and teachings, that they are in arms against this Christ-exalting, and soul-cheering doctrine of assurance. ‘I know no such thing as assurance of heaven in this life’, saith Grevinchovius the Arminian. Assurance is a pearl that they trample under feet; it is a beam of heaven that hath so much light, brightness, and shining glory in it, that their blear-eyes cannot behold it.”
“Arminians are not ashamed to say, that God may crown a man one hour, and uncrown him in the next.”
So we see in this excerpt from Mr. Brooks work that what the Arminian professes is actually antithetical to the gospel and brings if not bad news, then most certainly questionable news. From this we can see why the Roman Catholic church places such emphasis on purgatory; they have no hope of assurance without a meritorious work of penance that cannot ever be met since only Christ was sinless to pay the offenses against an infinite God would take an infinite amount of time to satisfy and that would never bet met and hence no hope at all.
What saith the scripture? In John 10:29, Christ says, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
Notice that Christ assures the believer that salvation is not dependent upon the believer in that God’s electing purposes take precedence over man’s efforts to earn salvation. This does not make man an autonomous robot requiring no action on his part; it just means that God’s grace is sufficient to secure the believers position in Christ.
Let the reader consider.
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5 (KJV)
Before I became a Christian I was a big heavy metal fan of Metallica and one of their songs off of their first albums, was a song titled, “Am I Evil?”
Years later, I am now a Reformed Christian and Calvinist and I thought that this song as bad as the lyrics are morally, does teach a fundamental Christian doctrine; Total Depravity.
So what is the definition of Total Depravity?
Former OPC pastor Jason Stewart decided to leave the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) as a pastor for full communion into the Roman Catholic Church. His blog post outlines his reasons and I must say they would not be surprising for someone that was raised Roman Catholic, but I find them untenable for a former pastor of the Reformed Faith.
Apostasy from the Gospel-Abrig: by John Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dr.Owen expounds all the dangers of apostasy from the Gospel as outlined in Scripture. He gives a particular emphasis on the Roman Catholic Church being the apex of apostasy within the Christian Religion along with good arguments.
View all my reviews
From Richard Baxter’s “A Christian Directory – Volume I:
A sound and well composed catechism studied well and dept in memory, would be a good measure of knowledge, to ordinary Christians, and make them solid and orderly in their understanding,
and in their proceeding to the smaller points, and would prevent a great deal of error and miscarriage, that many by ill teaching are cast upon, to their own and the churches grief!
We can see plainly that the a few of the sound benefits of committing a catechism that exhorts sound doctrine offers:
1. Ground Christians in the fundamentals of Christian doctrine.
2. Refutation of error introduced into the Church.
3. A continual means of growing in grace.
So what are some biblically faithful catechisms that you can use to commit to memory? Here are a few:
Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Heidelberg Catechism
The Catechism of the Church of Geneva
There have already been a number of blog entries on the James Macdonald/Mark Driscoll interview with T.D. Jakes on his supposedly now orthodox views on the doctrine of the Trinity. You can read the transcript here. I’m just going to address once specific statement that he made:
Driscoll: We all would agree that in the nature of God there is mystery. But within that, for you, Bishop Jakes, the issue is one God manifesting Himself successively in three ways? Or one God existing eternally in three persons? What is your understanding now? Which one?
Jakes: I believe the latter one is where I stand today. One God – Three Persons. I am not crazy about the word persons though. You describe “manifestations” as modalist, but I describe it as Pauline. For God was manifest in the flesh. Paul is not a modalist, but he doesn’t think it’s robbery to say manifest in the flesh. Maybe it’s semantics, but Paul says this. Now, when we start talking about that sort of thing, I think it’s important to realize there are distinctives between the work of the Father and the work of the Son. I’m with you. I have been with you. There are many people within and outside denominations labeled Oneness that would be okay with this. We are taught in society that when we disagree with someone in a movement, we leave. But I still have associations with people in Onenness movements. We need to humble both sides and say, “We are trying to describe a God we love.” Why should I fall out and hate and throw names at you when it’s through a glass darkly? None of our books on the Godhead will be on sale in heaven.
In a previous post I documented the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. As an addendum, I have created a version that you can view on your Kindle or E-Book reader. You can download the file here.
Resolutions 1 through 21 were written by in one sitting in New Haven in 1722.
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
From Greg Bahnsen’s “Van Til’s Apologetic”:
If the “facts” (external events or states of affairs) are completely a matter of “chance”- random and unconnected, having no rationale, no preestablished order,
no intended pattern or preceding interpretation, no necessity- then they are indeed “brute” or untamed, no subject to reason. In that case, speaking of something (e.g., “the horse”) as an instance of a class wherein members are connected or part of a definable order, and speaking of its relations or properties (“is a gray mare”) in general terms that are applicable to other particular things, would be contrary to the isolated and brute character of chance facts. Brute facts would have to be mute – that is, not subject to predication or communication.
Here we see that you can not separate the facts from the interpretation of those same facts. For example if you say that the human beings came into existence by the a process of N number of random mutations, but cannot justify the predication of the those mutations since the presupposition is that they (“the mutations”) have no relationship between one mutation to another since they are all random, you have failed to demonstrate a rational conclusion to the premise that human beings came into being through evolution. Or to put it into more simplistic terms, you have assumed what you are trying to prove.
I’m a big Jonathan Edwards admirer and one of his most practical works for Christians is his Resolutions that he made a point of reading every week. In Resolution #30 he states,
“Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before..”
So how does a 21st century grow in grace every week? There are some things that I have found to help with this. Here are a few suggestions:
Read Your Bible – I know this should not even need to be said, but the necessity to read the bible not once a week, but every day. Without this the whole deck of cards crumbles. Do not neglect so great a privledge.
Pray without Ceasing – This is another important means of grace that should never be neglected, but must be diligently pursued.
Devotional Reading – One of the great awakenings (No pun intended) is that there is a plethora of orthodox Christian books made available for free. Just do some searching for some solid reformers on Google Books.
Social Media – Social Media? Yes, but a great deal of discretion should be exercised. I have found most uplifting to engage fellow Christians and typically what happens are posts of uplifting messages and links to great Christian teachers and documents.
Podcasts – Even if you do not own a smartphone or an IPod-type device, you can use your PC to listen to Christian sermons and podcasts via digital audio. With great resources such as Sermonaudio, you could listen to more sermons than Calvin preached.
Finally, I highly recommend reading Edwards resolutions at least once a week. You can also either add to them or modify them to have a more contemporary context if that helps.