This is not original with me, but it is good nonetheless.
Upon some points the believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks the most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, "It is I, be not afraid." He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not arise. He can say, "If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it." "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet: the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, "send me what thou wilt my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children."
"Say not my soul, 'From whence can God relieve my care?' Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere. His method is sublime, his heart profoundly kind, God never is before his time, and never is behind.
I recently wrote this letter to encourage a friend who had recieved news of a fellow believer who had recently fallen into disobedience. When I think of my own sin, I am comforted by the truth of God's sovereignty. I pray that this will be a blessing and encouragement to every believer who reads it to pick themselves up when they sin by basking themselves in the debt they have to God's grace. May we dig ourselves deeper into this debt, because it is the only way we can do right. I took the names out to keep it generic, and to not hinder those who don't know the situation.
"Friend, I don't know what happened with D___, and I am not sure that it is healthy for me to know. But something that helps me when I think of what it means to glorify God in all circumstances, both good and bad, is to remember Romans 8:28 which says that all thing always work together for good to those who love God. It is further explained by saying that this is for those who are the called according to His purpose. And then of course is the promise that these people are the ones who will become conformed to the image of Christ.
"What this tells me is that God is sovereign in every circumstance, divinely working each one in love to make me like Christ. I have this assurance that everything that happens--everything--is purposed by God and will become good in that it makes me more like Christ. This does not mean that the circumstance itself is necessarily good. The circumstance very well may be bad and very painful...but in each and every case for each and every believer, each and every circumstance will have its final end in the believer's Christlikeness.
"Something also of comfort is that this is not ever in any circumstance a conditional promise. It is unconditional. Some people may take this promise and think that when they have a high level of love for God, they will have a high level of their circumstances working out for good, and when they have a low level of love for God, they will have more of their circumstances working for bad. That is wrong thinking. God never imposes that on this passage. Notice that if a person is called according to God's purpose (which all believers are) he automatically is one who loves God. The loving of God is the natural response of a person who has been made alive by God.
"The way this plays itself out has application for both you and D___. For you, you are right now being driven to your knees, you are crying out in dependence to God, you are seeking Him earnestly as the hart pants after the water brooks, you are desiring His presence, and you are being comforted by the Holy Spirit who alone knows your hurt greater than anyone else. He alone can provide the wisdom, comfort, and assurance you need, and He is kind. This is the kind of worship that God desires from us continually--and the bottom line is that sometimes it takes great pain to drive us to that place of dependence.
"And if D___ is truly a believer, this promise is for him also. That means that this circumstance, whatever his sin is, will work out for his good in driving him into greater Christlikeness.
"I think this happens this way: God knows D___ far better than any of us do; He is D___s' Father. God will break him. God pursues His children unto sanctification. Because of our sin, we come to know our need for God in a greater way. When I think of my own sin, I realize the magnitude of God's forgiveness. While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. If D___ is truly a believer and truly God's child, and if God allows him to live, God will chasten him, and D___ will learn what it means to be a son. Being chastened by God is a beautiful thing, because although it hurts, it drives us to Him. Thus, D___ will be brought closer to God as a result of sin. Isn't that beautiful? What Satan means for evil, God uses against him. Satan is sitting back chuckling, and then God overcomes him again.
"Christ is the greatest example of this. I often imagine Christ hanging on the cross in agony, and Satan gleefully rubbing his hands together assuming that he had triumphed because he had coerced the people into slaying the Son of God. And then I hear Christ on the cross cry "IT IS FINISHED!" He just accomplished redemption for me!! This is Christ's proclamation of triumph. Satan, horrified, realizes that all his work to tempt the crowd in to deceitful and bloodthirsty riot and even murder of the Messiah was designed by God to accomplish salvation. God uses sin to bring his children to Himself. If I had never known my sin, would I know God's grace so deeply?? The one who loves deeply is the one who realizes that he has been forgiven much.
"I have to constantly remind myself of these truths. God's promises are for all of His children. The unconditional promise of Romans 8 is true for you and it is true for D___. I think the best way to glorify God in this situation is to embrace the fact that He is driving you into dependence on Him, then to seek to restore Dennis with a Spirit of gentleness and bear his burdens (Galatians 6:1), and realize that God is refining D___ and will accomplish D___s' Christlikeness if D___ is truly God's child.
We had a wonderful getaway last weekend and were able to take some great pics, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to post. I'm sorry to say that this is only the second time I have posted since the inception of this blog, but without internet at home, it makes it a little difficult. Anyways, we were able to go to Nellysford (near Charlottesville) to visit Rob's Aunt Gayle. She lives in a beautiful deck house on the side of a mountain. With the leaves changing in the valley, it gives you a gorgeous view. It's always so relaxing to go to their place - they like to cook, chat, show us their garden, listen to music, play games....all that stuff that makes you just forget about the hectic lifestyle back home. Anyways, we had a great time and are so thankful the Lord allowed us to get away for a little break before we hit the really busy time of the semester.
My mother tells me that a theology blog can get a little heavy at times. While we understand that our theology must drive every aspect of our lives and we love what we are learning, here is an update on what is going on in our lives.
As you can see from previous blogs, we bought a house this summer. God has been so gracious to provide for us in this purchase. He has used many friends and family members to accomplish this, and we are grateful for their help. We continue to stumble through the process of learning what it means to be homeowners, but the Lord has been graciously guiding us providing for us every step of the way while making sure to keep us dependent on Him.
Julie is working at a music school called The Music Staff. She runs the office and teaches quite a few piano students, besides teaching Kinder Music--a program designed to introduce small children to musical foundations. We have developed a good relationship with the boss/owners of The Music Staff, Maryanne and Roger Medlin, who sort of look after us like another set of their kids. They were the ones who helped us find the house we purchased (Roger works in real estate).
I am working at HSBC part time. The Lord has blessed there with a good atmosphere, a good manager, excellent benefits, and a measure of success in my position. God takes all of the credit for that. I am taking ten hours at Central Seminary right now, and I am loving my classes. I have found that my professors have gracious spirits and discipler's hearts. My greatest goal in these classes is to come to walk with God more in every aspect of my life. I am hoping to graduate in May of 2008 with a Master of Divinity Degree.
We remain members at Colonial Baptist church. The Pastors and leadership of CBC is made up of godly men who love Christ. I appreciate them, and in this area I wish to follow in their footsteps. Both of us are involved with discipleship ministries in the Colonial Youth Group. We have come to love the many families in our church, and we count it a privilege to be able to minister their children.
As to the future after graduation. Only the Lord knows. We have many desires, among them being post graduate studies. But both Julie's and my greatest desire is to know God deeply. We know that He will guide our steps in the future as we seek to enjoy His presence right now. This continues to be our pursuit; we trust God for what will follow.
Each head is set up with the doctrine explained followed by a rejection of errors associated with the doctrine. I have found that the rejection of errors is just as valuable as the explanation because it further clarifies the doctrine.
Some of these caused a spontaneous reaction in me of worship and praise to God for His sovereign work of accomplishing my redemption. May the reader be blessed as I was.
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine concerning election and reprobation having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 1. Who teach[RH1] : That the will of God to save those who would believe and would persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire decree of election, and that nothing else concerning this decree has been revealed in God's Word.
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures, which declare that God will not only save those who will believe, but that He has also from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom, above others, He will grant in time, both faith in Christ and perseverance; as it is written "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. (John 17:6). "and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)". And "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph 1:4)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH [RH2] 2. Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive, and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive, and absolute. Likewise: That there is one election unto faith and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation. For this is a fancy of men's minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Rom 8:30)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH [RH3] 3. Who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which Scripture makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not consist in this, that God chose certain persons rather than others, but in this, that He chose out of all possible conditions (among which are also the works of the law), or out of the whole order of things, that act of faith which from its very nature is undeserving, as well as it incomplete obedience, as a condition of salvation, and that He would graciously consider this in itself as a complete obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of Christ are made of none effect[RH4] , and men are drawn away by useless questions from the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture, and this declaration of the apostle is charged as untrue: "who has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace[RH5] . This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim 1:9)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 4[RH6] . Who teach: That in the election unto faith this condition [RH7] is beforehand demanded that man should use the light of nature aright, be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election were in any way dependent.
For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle when he writes: "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph 2:3-9)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 5. Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion, holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness, and godliness; and that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who is chosen is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable election to glory does not occur[RH8] .
This is repugnant to the entire Scripture[RH9] , which constantly inculcates this and similar declarations: Election is "not by works but by him who calls (Rom 9:12)." "And all who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48)." "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4)." "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (John 15:16)." "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works (Rom 11:6)." "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (1 John 4:10)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 6. Who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish.
By this gross error[RH10] they make God be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches that the elect can not be led astray (Matt 24:24), that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him (John 6:39), and that God also glorified those whom he foreordained, called, and justified (Rom 8:30).
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 7. Who teach[RH11] : That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness of the unchangeable elect to glory, nor any certainty, except that which depends on a changeable and uncertain condition.
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of the consciousness of their election rejoice with the apostle and praise this favor of God (Eph 1); who according to Christ's admonition rejoice with his disciples that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20); who also place the consciousness of their election over against the fiery darts of the devil, asking: "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (Rom 8:33)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 8. Who teach: That God, simply by virtue of His righteous will, did not decide either to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state sin and condemnation, or to pass anyone by in the communication of grace which is necessary for faith and conversion. For this is firmly decreed: "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden (Rom 9:18)." And also this: "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them (Mat 13:11)." Likewise: "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes , Father, for this was your good pleasure (Mat 11:25-26[RH12] )."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 9. Who teach[RH13] : That the reason why God sends the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and solely the good pleasure of God, but rather the fact that one people is better and worthier than another to which the gospel is not communicated. For this Moses denies, addressing the people of Israel as follows: "To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today (Deu 10:14-15)." And Christ said: "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Mat 11:21)." [RH1]Yes, there is no choice on the part of God in this teaching, there is only a human response. [RH2]Yes. [RH3]Agree. This teaching is a works salvation. If this were true, salvation would be to my own praise, because God thought I was so awesome in my act of faith that He wanted to grace me with salvation. [RH4]So true!! [RH5]Praise God!! I would be eternally lost without this, because I have no light within myself to illumine my mind to Christ--apart from the Holy Spirit’s regeneration; which is God’s work first, not mine. [RH6]Paragraph 4, when read through carefully with the Scriptures open, causes spontaneous worship. I praise God for this response. Realizing the depth of my sin and the estranged and unregenerate condition my sin had placed me in, I can only glory in the cross of my Redeemer and in God’s sovereign purpose that bestows this grace on me. How I thank God for this, because it pulled me out of the depths of my sin and established my feet. God puts a new song in my mouth when I read this. [RH7]Yes, election is in no way based on the merits of the elect. God did not choose us because we were searching for him. [RH8]Yes!! We must reject this teaching. Again and again, election is based on God’s good pleasure to do so, not on my own merit. How could one believe that there is something resident within himself that causes God to smile on him? If God based election upon His foreknowledge of my choice of Him, I would never have been elect, because I never would have chosen Him. [RH9]True [RH10]A good summation of this view. If God elects, God will keep as well. Eternal security for those who are truly elect. Praise God the He perseveres us, because again, if it were up to me to maintain an election, I would lose it. Those who are elect will and must persevere because God causes them to do so. This is evidenced by love and devotion to Him, springing, not from within the elect sinner, but from the Holy Spirit who resides in the elect sinner. [RH11]If I understand this right, this is a rejection of the teaching that you cannot know you are elect. [RH12]While this one may grate against me, I cannot deny the Scriptural evidence. I do not believe, however, that a doctrine of Reprobation equals a doctrine of double election. [RH13]It is obvious why this one is incorrect.
I am working through the canons of Dort right now because I have been challenged not to reduce my theology to a flower, but to see the full field. I love the beauty of God's glory found in redemption, and I know that my walk with God will deepen as I search out these mysteries more and more.
My pastor has been very strong in exhorting me not to fall into the ditch of ascribing to something that I only partially understand. I respect and embrace his advice, and so I have committed to read through these and comment on my affirmation or denial of them.
Here are my thoughts. For those who silently read this blog, please feel free to challenge me whether in person or on the blog. I crave the mentorship and discipleship of godly men.
First Head of Doctrine. Divine Election and Reprobation
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH1] 1. As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle: "that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." (Rom 3:19). And: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom 3:23). And: "For the wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH2] 2. but in this the love of God was manifested, that He "sent his one and only Son into the world, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (1 John 4:9, John 3:16).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH3] 3. And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tiding to whom He will and at what time He pleases; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom 10:14-15).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH4] 4. The wrath of God abides upon those who believe not this gospel. But such as receive it and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living faith are by Him delivered from the wrath of God and from destruction, and have the gift of eternal life conferred upon them.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH5] 5. The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through Him is the free gift of God, as it is written: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:8). Likewise: "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil 1:29).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH6] 6. That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from God's eternal decree. "For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18 A.V.). "who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (Eph 1:11). According to which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men equally involved in ruin[RH7] ; or that decree of election and reprobation[RH8] , revealed in the Word of God, which, though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest it to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH9] 7. Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call an draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious [RH10] grace; as it is written "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Eph 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Rom 8:30).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH11] 8. There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the Old and New Testament; since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which He has chosen us from eternity, both to grace and to glory, to salvation and to the way of salvation, which He has ordained that we should walk therein (Eph 1:4, 5; 2:10).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH12] 9. This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the prerequisite, cause, or condition of which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: "For he chose us (not because we were, but) in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Eph 1:4). FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH13] 10. The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which does not consist herein that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation, but that He was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to Himself, as it is written: "Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she (Rebekah) was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'" (Rom 9:11-13). "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH14] 11. And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled, or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH15] 12. The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God—such as, a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH16] 13. The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children of God additional matter for daily humiliation before Him, for adoring the depth of His mercies, for cleansing themselves, and rendering grateful returns of ardent love to Him who first manifested so great love towards them. The consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging remissness in the observance of the divine commands or from sinking men in carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual effects of rash presumption or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH17] 14. As the doctrine of election by the most wise counsel of God was declared by the prophets, by Christ Himself, and by the apostles, and is clearly revealed in the Scriptures both of the Old and the New Testament, so it is still to be published in due time and place in the Church of God, for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence, in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God's most holy Name, and for enlivening and comforting His people, without vainly attempting to investigate the secret ways of the Most High (Acts 20:27; Rom 11:33f; 12:3; Heb 6:17f).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH18] 15. What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election is the express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only, are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible, and unchangeable good pleasure, has decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but, permitting them in His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last, for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation, which by no means makes God the Author of sin (the very though of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous Judge and Avenger thereof.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH22] 17. Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy (Gen 17:7; Acts 2:39; 1 Cor 7:14).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE [RH23] 18. To those who murmur at the free grace of election and the just severity of reprobation we answer with the apostle "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" (Rom 9:20), and quote the language of our Savior: "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own?" (Matt 20:15). And therefore, with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim in the words of the apostle: "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?' 'Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory [RH24] forever! Amen." (Rom 11:33-36). [RH1]Agree – this is total depravity, the total inability, the lack of desire for God upon the depraved individual. [RH2]Yes – God shows his love in giving His son. [RH3]Yes – Secondary causation. God uses men to accomplish His purposes. This is evangelism. God sends messengers to share the news. No room for a non-evangelistic Calvinism here. [RH4]Yes – responsibility of men. There is a conscious choice on the part of the believer. However, his choice of God follows God’s gracious, effectual call (logically speaking). [RH5]Yes, God is able to hold men responsible for sin, yet only God is held responsible for salvation. [RH7]There is nothing special about the elect that causes God to chose them, He does it of His own good pleasure. [RH8]Reprobation is for those who are passed over, it is not a double election, but a wholly separate decree. [RH9]Yes!!!! [RH10]Salvation is for the purpose of bringing glory to God. Therefore if you feel that the Word of God is the story of His salvation, it is also the story of His glory. God loves His own glory before He loves us. [RH11]Yes, although I don’t really understand the need for this statement. [RH12]Yes, foreknowledge is cognitive, not causative. [RH14]Yes, a logical conclusion based on the decree of God, His Sovereign ability to preserve those whom He chooses, and His unchanging nature. [RH15]Yes, the true faith in Christ being the first evidence. [RH16]Yes, perseverance. This is our goal [RH17]Yes, although I wonder what is meant by the “secret ways of the most High.” Why are they not to be investigated? [RH18]Not a double predestination, but a decree of reprobation. [RH20]I agree with this. Basically, those who have not obtained perfect holiness, but have a desire to be right with God, should not worry about being reprobate just because they are not holy, because sanctification is a process. [RH22]I don’t think that I fully agree with this. I do think that we should not worry about those who die in their infancy. However, I do not believe that they are saved just because their parents were. This is where I would differ with something like the covenant of grace, which would include the children of the elect. There does not seem to be any support for inclusion of the children because they have not come to a personal faith in Christ – which God says is necessary for salvation. Sola Fide. This is something I choose to leave in that realm of the mystery of God. [RH23]Yes!!! [RH24]To emphasize redemption is to emphasize God’s glory.
Sorry about the long wait on these. We have finally gotten around to taking some post renovation pictures. I have provided before and after photos so you can see the difference. Sorry that some of them are so dark...the house really isn't that dark. I guess if you really want to see what it looks like you can come and visit.
Our bedroom (notice the flashlight down next to the bed on the right side; that was our light in the room for a while) before:
an angle of the living room coming from the hallway before:
again the living room before:
Now this is my favorite. This is probably the most drastic change; we have the kitchen before:
This is also the kitchen looking from the living room in towards the sink before:
You can see how we totally changed the layout of the kitchen. We are thankful for God's provision to get these project done.
Up to this point we have knocked out the wall between the kitchen and living room to create a feeling of more space (with the help of Eric Lee); changed some of the wiring (thanks Jared); moved the washer dryer hookups; re-plastered the walls/ceilings; painted the walls/ceilings; installed new ceiling fans; installed new light fixtures; gutted the kitchen; and put new sink/faucet, cabinets, countertops and bar (high counter) in the kitchen (besides miscellaneous projects around the yard). Our next project will be the floors - we plan to tile the kitchen, and refinish the oak floors in the living room and dining room. In the hopefully not so distant future we would like to paint the exterior, redo the bathroom, and add central AC. Along the way, our plan has been to invest money in these projects, thereby increasing the value of the house for resale when we leave.
Thanks to all of the friends who have helped with this so far.
In Pursuit of Purity is a book on the history of Fundamentalism in the United States. David O. Beale spends 37 chapters laying out this history from a scholarly view point. This paper will give an overview of the chapter content of the book, followed by a summation of the book’s strengths and weakness.
Overview of the Book This book is divided into five parts. Part one is “The Fountainheads of Fundamentalism.” In seven chapters, Beal attempts to define Fundamentalism, and then to describe the early stages of the movement, including the controversy of the day and the need for such a movement. Beal is content to define the ideal Fundamentalist as one who “desires to reach out in love and compassion to people, believes and defends the whole Bible as the absolute, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God, and stands committed to the doctrine and practice of holiness” (3). He further elaborates by stating that the essence of Fundamentalism as “the unqualified acceptance of and obedience to the Scriptures.” These are the definitions that will govern the entire rest of the book.
The remainder of the first section is spent in tracing the roots of Fundamentalism. Beal goes into great detail mentioning the people and events that elicited a need for this movement. Chapter seven is titled, “Transdenominational Responses to Liberalism”, which sums the purpose and aim of early fundamentalism in forming conferences that brought together those who wished to respond to liberalism. These conferences and the subsequent cooperation of those wishing to identify liberalism within the denominations resulted in the formulations of works such as The Fundamentals and The Scofield Reference Bible.
The second section titled “Presbyterian Fundamentalism to 1930” gives a history of Presbyterianism in America. Starting with theological controversies in the first chapter of this section, the second chapter moves through the establishment of schools of theology such as Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, McCormick Theological Seminary, Lane Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary. An entire chapter is given to a discussion of the rise of Princeton and its champion, B.B Warfield. Another chapter is dedicated to the fall of Princeton and the subsequent establishment of Westminster Theological Seminary. This section also covers heresy trials within the denomination over liberalism and the controversy the tolerance of modernists such as Harry Emerson Fosdick brought to the table.
The third section is devoted to the rise of fundamentalism among the Baptists in America. Much of the controversy revolved around liberalism within the Northern Baptist Convention which seemed to be doomed from its inception. Some of the Baptists withdrew from the convention, while others stayed in an attempt to purge the convention. Beale points out how eschatological views were not an issue of separation in early Baptist fundamentalism.
Some of the results of Baptist fundamentalism were several fellowships and conferences that were organized to bring unity to the Fundamentalists. It seems that the Baptists considered fellowships and conferences their primary weapon in contending with Modernism. These had their start in the National Federation of Fundamentalists of the Northern Baptists which was started in Buffalo, New York. In these meetings, men attempted to identify modernism and combat it. Subsequent to these meetings were many other gatherings intent on girding the commitment to the movement. This section does take the time to mention the controversial actions of J. Frank Norris, and the poor eye from the public that Fundamentalism received subsequently.
The fourth section is dedicated to a shift in the Fundamentalist movement that began in the 1930’s. Separation was the key doctrine that governed this time period. Apparently, up to this point, Fundamentalist were considered to be non-conformists who remained within their denominations. But after this, they felt the need to make a clear and definitive separation from all they considered to be unholy. Beale does point out that many of the Bible conferences of this time were transdenominational. These moves resulted in associations such as the National Association of Evangelicals. Beale also mentions the rise of New Evangelicalism, a response to the separatism of Fundamentalism. Beale states that there are factions of this that are essentially identical to the historical expression of fundamentalism in theology, but who “refuse to regard the militant defense of the faith and the full doctrine and practice of holiness as intrinsically fundamental” (268). Some of these at the time were Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, John MacArthur, Jay Adams, Charles Ryrie, Charles Feinberg, and others.
Beale also uses this section to describe the rise of the General Association of Regular Baptists and the part that Robert Ketcham played in its founding. This section also covers the life of W.B. Riley and his contribution in founding the Minnesota Baptist Convention which led to the establishment of schools such as Pillsbury Bible College and Central Baptist Theological Seminary. This section also covers the founding of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, considered still the major Fundamentalist voice, and Methodist Fundamentalism.
The last section is titled “Fundamentalism Today.” This section goes into some detail in describing the Christian School movement, which is considered to be one of the most effective tools for continued Fundamentalist discipleship. This section clearly reveals Beales sympathies and devotion. In this section he also makes an appeal to the fundamentalist of the future to continue to pursue purity and holiness, which is the holy ideal and light of Fundamentalism (359).
Strengths of the Book This book finds its strength in three areas. First it is historically thorough. Beale goes to great lengths to show the different sections of Fundamentalism’s part in the battles that were fought. He goes into the not just the fundamentalist history, but the American history of the Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists to show their roots. He speaks of the impact the awakenings had on the controversy from the revival era of Finney and its watered down Calvinism that gave way to the entrance of Liberalism. Beale approaches the early historicity of the movement in a very scholarly fashion that shows the depth of study he has put into this subject.
Along with the book’s historical thoroughness comes a second strength; Beale documents his work very well. The reader is inundated with a flood of resources that provide pathways for future study. These resources may prove to be the value of the book.
Finally, Beale’s historical thoroughness sets up the fact that there was a need for the movement in its early stages. He presents the material in such a way as to show the danger of the rise of liberalism and the consequences it would have held for Christianity. In this way, the reader is able to come to a true and better appreciation for the work and tenacity of the early fundamentalists.
Weakness of the Book While the scholarly strength of this book represents itself easily in the thoroughness and accuracy of the research, the weakness comes more from the inherent writing presuppositions that Beale very clearly communicates as his book unfolds. The first weakness that can be observed is that Beale gives Fundamentalism a faulty premise. He reveals this in his very first chapter in which he attempts to define fundamentalism and gives a pathway for his book to follow. Regarding his theme, Beale states, “The second and central theme of this study is that, while Fundamentalism has always embraced and defended the cardinal doctrines of traditional Christianity, the movement has been characterized by an emphasis on the doctrine and practice of holiness.” He goes on to state, “In both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the word holiness, or sanctification, carries the basic idea of separation” (6). Apparently, Beale feels that these statements validate his presupposition of holiness without the need for a textual argument. From here, Beale equates holiness, sanctification, and separation without regard to the context of the passages that would give a biblical theology of holiness and sanctification. This is the attitude that governs the rest of the unsavory light in which Fundamentalism is cast. A biblical theology of holiness throughout Scripture would reveal that holiness is more about a relationship with God that produces an image of Christ, which will be very distinct. But it is not about placing the “sword into the enemies’ bosoms” (357).
Flowing out of this first weakness is a second, Beale is very one-sided. He does not present the issues and problems of infighting over petty issues with the later generations of Fundamentalism. He does not even mention these. A book such as this needs to give an accurate representation of these. Rather, much of his language sounds rather like a fundamentalist propaganda presenting the movement as perfect. This is particularly true in chapter 36. The whole movement, warts and all, needs to be presented for proper evaluation.
A third weakness is that this book is dated. It is twenty years old, and the face of fundamentalism has changed much in the last twenty years. It may be helpful for someone to do a scholarly updating of this book with a chapter evaluating the last twenty years of fundamentalism with the new problems the current generation is facing.
Conclusion This book is a good read for any who need to know about the early roots of Fundamentalism. It is thorough and mentions many of the men who were instrumental in standing up for the truth of orthodox Christianity. However, the reader must be cautioned that the presuppositions that Beal reveals in his first chapter are to govern the rest of the book. With this in mind, the reader can benefit from this book and come to a greater appreciate of the work that was done in the struggle against a liberal ideal.
A Time of Tension The mid to end of the second century was a time ripe for a schismatic such as Montanism to come on the scene. The events in church history leading up to this time period had created a tension that would cause a person with radical ideas such as Montanus to be welcome to those who may be have been confused about the mixed messages that were pervasive during this time period. The locus of these mixed messages centers around the work of the Holy Spirit, and specifically His gift of prophecy; the way this issue had been dealt with up to the time of Montanus, although with good intentions, had not addressed the topic in a systematic manner that, while addressing the problems, would clearly emphasize the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
Church writers during this time period were reactionaries. They addressed a need as it came up; Tillich observes that the theologians of the time period developed their systems in opposition to heresies, “The greatness of theologians like Irenaeus and Tertullian is that they saw this danger, and used the Logos doctrine to develop constructive theological ideas in relation to the religious movements of their own period.” While Tillich is noting the strength in this, there is an inherent weakness as well in that the tendency is to only address the wrong and not to clearly lay out what is right. In the midst of the confusion, Montanus finds his place in during this time in church history.
The confusion of this time period can be demonstrated through observing several facets of the church up to the time Montanus came around. Hopefully, these will clearly illustrate the tensions of ideas. First, there was an awareness of problems with abuse of the gift of prophecy. Evidence from early on shows that there were false prophets going around attempting to promote themselves and deceive the people among whom they “ministered.” The Didache demonstrates this problem in XI:2, “But if the teacher himself being perverted teaches another teaching to the destruction [of this], hear him not, but if [he teach] to the increase of righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord.” In this section the writer is attempting to provide an objective way of determining whether or not someone was a false prophet. While at the point of the writing of the Didache (somewhere between 70 and 110 A.D.), they could not declare that there was no longer a gift of prophecy because all of the apostles had not yet passed off the scene, they felt that they had to do something to combat the abuses of those who would deceive people with their “prophetic” messages. The Didache places us into the situation between the church polity of the Pastoral Epistles and the establishment of Episcopacy, or between St. Paul and Ignatius of Antioch. The Apostolic government was about to cease, and the Episcopal government had not yet taken its place. A secondary order of Apostles and Prophets were moving about and continued the missionary work of the primitive Apostles.
A second demonstration that helps to build the tension is the heresy of Gnosticism. Flourishing between the first and third centuries, Gnosticism made its assertions based on secret traditions that were in opposition to biblical writings. Some believe that Paul himself was combating early forms of Gnosticism as early as the writing of Colossians. While it is not the purpose of this paper to outline the beliefs of this heresy, it is interesting to observe as does Tillich that, “The problem which the Gnostics posed for the church was in the realm of authority, the question whether the Holy Scriptures were decisive over against the secret teachings of the Gnostics.” Tillich goes on to observe that the Gnosticism of the day was reacted against so strongly that the church was pushed into a more rigid expression and the work of the Holy Spirit was thereby minimized. Anything that smelled like a special work in an individual, (the gnosis) was looked at with suspicion. Thus, this set the scene up for a suspicion and depression of any work of the Holy Spirit that would be considered special. The heresy of Gnosticism was prior to and contemporary with Montanism, and Tillich concludes that Montanism was a reaction against the rigid development of the spirit of order.
Third, the Apostle John had passed off the scene less than one hundred years before this. His words freshly written in his gospel and Revelation were still ringing in the ears of the early church. While modern theologians would view John’s promise of the Paraclete as having been fulfilled after Pentecost in Acts 2, it may be that the believers, not having access to all Scriptural documents of the first century, were looking for the promised Paraclete with which John laces his gospel. Not only that, but the eschaton would have been on their minds as well as they read about Christ from John’s book of Revelation. Groh notes, “Christianity in Asia Minor had long treasured the Gospel of John with its promise of the Paraclete, and was the setting for the eschatological prophecy of the Book of Revelation.” With the expectation of the coming of the Lord having been disappointed, the apostolic fathers began to establish this order mentioned above, thus a tension is acknowledged in the second century, and Montanus comes on the scene to answer the questions.
The Beginning of Montanism Montanus came from the village of Ardabau in Phrygia, an area in Asia Minor. Frend suggests that he was possibly a priest of Cybele, a goddess of nature and fertility. While there is no clear testimony to Montanus’ prior involvement in the religion of Cybele, it is of note that Phrygia was known for its frenzy and fanaticism in worship of Cybele, because similar practices are found in Montanus’ teachings later on. In fact, Boer asserts that Montanus, “expressed his new religion in the old religious manner. It was thus natural for him to emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit.”
The writings of Eusebius state that Montanus was converted to Christianity, and shortly after his conversion he began to babble and prophesy in a manner contrary to what had been accepted in the church thus far. Burgess observes that Montanus claimed to be the inspired organ of the Holy Spirit, and describes Epiphanius as accusing Montanus of claiming to have a fuller revelation of the Spirit than the church possessed. There is a controversy over the exact dating of these events. Some would place it at 155, while others would place it around 170. With either date, the movement is seen to have begun in the mid to late second century A.D.. Montanus' form of religion was to take over the area of Phrygia and dominate it.
Before long, Montanus was joined by two women who had abandoned their husbands to follow Montanus and prophesy with him. Their names were Priscilla and Maximilla. They took up the same ecstatic behavior that Montanus had manifested, and all three continued their work together under the umbrella of a claim to the Paraclete, Montanus even in his ecstasy denying his humanity and claiming to be God. Montanus taught that through him the age of the Paraclete had come. He taught that this was the beginning of the New Prophecy that would accompany the eschaton, which would culminate in the Parousia coming down in the village of Pepuzza near Philadelphia.
Montanist Teachings The Montanists believed their prophecy was exclusive and was the final revelation to man. Additional Montanist teachings alongside the claim to new revelation from the Paraclete and the coming down of the Parousia in Pepuzza include the teaching that Christians should not avoid persecution, the teaching that any type of remarriage is sinful, the teaching of strict asceticism, including dietary rules, and the teaching that certain sins could not be forgiven after baptism.
While these teachings appear to be very legalistic, Montanism still was attractive for two reasons. First, it offered a vibrant work of the Holy Spirit in contrast to the perceived deadness that an anti-Gnostic orthodoxy was spawning; second, the rules combated the perceived sinful excesses that that this anti-Gnostic orthodoxy was spawning. This was so influential, that around the year 207, Tertullian converted to Montanism. Much of what is known about the teachings of the Montanists comes from the writings of Tertullian.
Some of those who opposed Montanism were Irenaeus, and Eusebius. While these men came from a tradition that did not deny the existence of prophecy or its exercise in the church, they reacted strongly against the way it was exercised by Montanus and the authority Montanus placed upon his prophecy as superseding that of the apostles and even Christ. Another who opposed Montanus from a standpoint of an end of prophecy with the death of the last apostle was Hippolytus of Rome. These men and their views will be discussed in a later chapter in this paper.
The Decline of Montanism The Montanist movement continued on with force in Phrygia. However, as time progressed, the promised Parousia did not come. The Montanists organized a church to rival their opponents, but found themselves guilty of the same orthodoxy with which they would accuse their opponents. They continued on in weakness until the sixth century when they were exterminated by the church under Justinian. The rise and fall of this movement can be seen to be prescriptive of a cycle of action and reaction in the church. The best way one can learn from this event is to study the ensuing reactions and observe how to remain in a state of delicate balance on a firm foundation when excesses reveal themselves.
Paul Tillich, A Complete History of Christian Thought (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1968), 37.
Philip Schaff, The Oldest Church Manual Called the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles: The Didache and Kindred Documents in the Original (London: Pendleburys Church House, 2001 [reprint of the 1885 edition]), 64.
Stanley M. Burgess, The Holy Spirit: Ancient Christian Traditions (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984), 35. J.B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1879),74. Tillich, A Complete History of Christian Thought, 38.
Sorry for the very few updates on the blog lately. Julie and I have been very busy in getting started with the new semester. We love all of our family and friends who have heard little from us lately.
I plan to post some pictures of our post renovation dwelling soon, but until then, I thought I might share some of my research lately. Please don't feel like you have to read the entire text (as if anyone every felt that way). But please do feel that I want interaction and contstructive criticism.
For any of my friends who are willing to contribute:
I am doing research on early church pneumatology in light of modern cessationism/continuationism controversies for a seminary class I am taking on early church history. This has been a topic I have wanted to research for several years now, and I now have a good excuse to do so. I would be open to suggestions as to books, journal articles, and magazines that would shed light on how either side would use church fathers to support their view.
Warfield, Lloyd-Jones, Grudem, Fee, and Williams are on my list of writers to explore. To be honest, at this point in my research I am not running across any continuationists that address church fathers or issues of a closed canon early in church history. I know there must be some, but I need help finding them so that the paper is well rounded and not ignorant.
I welcome any suggestions that would help my research to be the most informed it can be. I do not want to neglect any writers coming from either side.
Tim Baylor tagged me to answer these questions. I am normally repulsed by chain emails and things like them, but this one seems profitable. By the way, this one disclaimer - just because I list it here as a book that I like does not mean I am in full agreement with everything in the book :)
1. One book that changed your life Life Change is something that is happening every day, so some of these I have read a long time ago, and others just recently. Besides the Bible, I think I would have to say Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges. I would add to that Future Grace by John Piper, and The Passion of Christ, by John Piper.
I would also add God's Empowering Presence by Gordon Fee. I was doing some study on the work of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8 at the time I read the book, and boy, what an encouragement and support to the grace of God and gospel for everyday life!
2. One book you’ve read more than once Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island I think I'd want my Reformation Study Bible.
4. One book that made you laugh Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
5. One book that made you cry Can't think of any off the top of my head, although I'm with Baylor on D J Kennedy's Why I Believe. That part about proof for the existence of hell based on near death experiences really got to me. Also, I would add Criswell's Guidbook for Pastors.
6. One book you wish had been written A Theology of The Church as the Unified Body of Christ from a First Century Perspective. I think in many ways we have come far from what the church is supposed to be both in form and function. I pray that individually I can study this topic and apply it to my life, and then represent it accurately and biblically to whatever local assembly God may be pleased to allow me to grow with in the future.
7. One book you wish had never been written Dave Hunt's What Love is This?
8. One book you’re currently reading Brothers We are Not Professionals by John Piper. I am very challenged by the call to non-secular, Christ centered ministry.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read The Works of Jonathan Edwards, and anything by John Owen. He did some foundational works in Christology and Pneumatology. Also A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson.
10. Tag 5 others Julie Hall, Phil Hall, Stephen Branine, Kit Johnson, (if he had a blog), Jordan Heijermans (if he had a blog), Brian Morgan.
11. I am adding my own 11th question - a book you started, put down, never finished, but wished you had Calvin's Institutes. I will finish them some day.