Friday, 31 August 2012

Natural or spiritual? C H Spurgeon

‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ 1 Corinthians 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 1:15–2:6

The same power which raised Christ Jesus from the dead must be exerted in raising us from the dead; the very same omnipotence, without which angels or worms could not have had a being, must again step forth out of its privy-chamber, and do as great a work as it did at the first creation in making us anew in Christ Jesus our Lord. There have been attempts at all times to get rid of this unpleasant necessity. Constantly the Christian church itself tries to forget it, but as often as ever this old doctrine of regeneration is brought forward pointedly, God is pleased to favour his church with a revival. The doctrine which looks at first as though it would hush every exertion with indolence, and make men sit down with listlessness and despair, is really like the trump of God to awake the dead; and where it is fully and faithfully preached, though it grate upon the carnal ear, though it excite enmity in many against the man who dares to proclaim it, yet it is owned of God. Because it honours God, God will honour it. This was the staple preaching of Whitefield. He was always great upon that which he called the great R—Regeneration. Whenever you heard him, the three Rs came out clearly—Ruin, Regeneration, and Redemption! Man ruined, wholly ruined, hopelessly, helplessly, eternally ruined! Man regenerated by the Spirit of God, and by the Spirit of God alone wholly made a new creature in Christ! Man redeemed by precious blood from all his sins, not by works of righteousness, not by deeds of the law, not by ceremonies, prayers, or resolutions, but by the precious blood of Christ! We must be very pointed, and very plain about regeneration, for this is the very pith and marrow of the matter—‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’

For meditation: Man ruined (Titus 3:3), man regenerated (Titus 3:5), man redeemed (Titus 2:14). Have you experienced all three points or just the first?
Sermon no. 407
1 September (1861)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Casual Christianity?

Does such a thing exist?  Well, sadly, it does; and is growing by the day.  It is the kind of Christianity that takes everything with decreasing seriousness so that those involved in this religion have a 'good time.'  Our appearance in the Lord's house is like going to the seaside for the afternoon.  Our presentation in the pulpit is akin to going to a sporting event.  The language we use is all lovey-dovey, and the way we present ourselves before the Lord is as casual as going to the cinema.

Christian faith seems for a great many professors of religion to be no more than an add-on, similar to the kind of thing you can buy for your mobile phone.  You add this religion on to your otherwise very full life without allowing it to push out the more important things in your life.  It's another accessory like ear-rings, and flesh piercing things.

It's an evangelical app.  It is something you take up that authenticates you as a believer, and keeps you in with the right people. 

But it must never become so big a thing that it demands attendance at both services on a Sunday, or that you are a Christian at work as well as at church.  It must not be allowed to affect how you do your business, for example.  Once that begins to happen, religion is becoming fanatical; and we can't have that, can we?

No, what is wanted and desired today is a Christianity that is casual enough to look like the real thing yet sufficiently informal to allow you to so as you please.

But is that biblical Christianity?

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Five Points About Calvin's Atonement Teaching.

I think it is important that we do not deliberately misunderstand the great Geneva Reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564).  So let me propose these five points to help you understand him better with regard to his thinking on the extent of the atonement, which I came across yesterday (25th August, 2012).

1.  The medieval scholastics, almost to a man, believed in a limited atonement but John Calvin was not impressed either with them or with their theological beliefs which tried to present that particular teaching.

2.  When Calvin was replying to the Council of Trent doctrines, it is very interesting to note, and this is very important, that he refuted every proposition one by one until he came to the point that taught that Christ died for all men.  Each proposition was taken to task by this able biblical theologian but on this one he had no comment to make whatever.  Some might say that this means that he neither agreed nor disagreed with this point; but that is to do despite to the great Calvin's ability to argue his case coherently.  This ought to make limited atonement people question and reconsider their position.  That Calvin taught a universal redemption is beyond question, except by those whose minds are closed to the data.

3.  Calvin's view that Christ is the 'mirror' of our election quite definitely adds up if Christ died for all.

4.  On many occasions, Calvin equates "many" with "all."  This was a conscious departure from those such as Luther who equated "many" with the "elect."

5.  Calvin's interpretation of Heb.9:15 is that the "called" does not refer to the "elect."  This was another departure for Calvin from the classic 'Calvinists' who interpreted it differently from the Reformer.

Calvin's teaching on universal redemption was carefully considered and expressed by this great theological mind to teach the essential nature and design of the atonement. 

May I ask you to check up these facts as presented for yourself.  Do not take my word for it; go straight "to the horse's mouth."  Read Calvin for yourself, and don't accept blindly what Calvinists teach about the Reformer's theology.  This is essential for those who are concerned about understanding what the Bible has to teach about the Gospel.  Evangelists also need to understand this central teaching.