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A Study of the Ordo Salutis Calvinistic ordo salutis Arminian ordo salutis Calling: External (universal / resistible) Internal (limited / efficacious) Prevenient Grace (universal / resistible) ↓ ↓ Regeneration / New Birth (passive / monergistic) Calling: External (universal / resistible) ↓ ↓ Conversion: Faith & Repentance ↓ The Gifts of God Conversion: Faith & Repentance ↓ Freedom of the Will ...Read More

Physicists and cosmologists are ever in search of what they call 'a theory of everything,' or a T.O.E., a hypothesis that is all-encompassing in its explanatory power, a theory that can account for both the sub-atomic world of particle physics and the galactic expanse of supernovae and black holes. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, is the author of a fascinating book entitled, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions...Read More

It is important to point out that Calvinists and Arminians share a considerable amount of common theological ground, even when it comes to the issue of salvation. Perhaps the most important issue on which they agree is anthropology, or the doctrine of man or human nature. Both camps acknowledge that fallen human beings are born with a corrupt and depraved nature, in bondage to sin, utterly unable to do anything pleasing to God. Both camps agree that unregenerate human be...Read More

Authority and Method in Theology: Theological ProlegomenaRead More

The Dangers of Intimacy with GodRead More

The Divine Decrees: The Lapsarian DebateRead More

What are the sources for theology? By what means may we know God? In answering this question, theologians regularly speak of general revelation and special revelation. By the former is meant that non-redemptive knowledge of God to be found in creation and conscience, a knowledge that is universally accessible (hence, “general”). By the latter is meant that redemptive knowledge of God as revealed in the person of Christ, the living Word of God, and in the Bibl...Read More

1. I would despair of my eternal destiny. I would have no assurance of salvation. Knowing the depravity of my soul, I would most certainly apostatize were it not for God's sovereign preservation of me (cf. Rom. 8). 2. I would be terrified of all suffering, with no confidence that God can turn evil for good and bring me safely through. Cf. Rom. 8:28 and relation to vv. 29-30. 3. I would become manipulative and pragmatic in evangelism, believing that conversion is altoge...Read More

Individual Eschatology: The Destiny of the Believer Read More

Millennial Madness is Driving me Nuts!: A Meditation on the Eve of Y2K Read More

The foundation for a relationship of passion is a heart of purity. Sin kills intimacy.   Isaiah 1:13-15 Isaiah 59:1-2 Jeremiah 7:16 Jeremiah 14:10-12 Psalm 5:4-6 Psalm 15 Psalm 66:18 Proverbs 11:20 Proverbs 12:22 Proverbs15:29 Proverbs 28:9 Matthew 5:8 John 14:21,23 Hebrews 12:14     It follows, therefore, that perhaps the greatest obstacle to a vibrant and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is the failure or refusal to repent. &nbs...Read More

(Col. 1:28-2:3)     (1) The two greatest obstacles to my ultimate goal are that people are uninformed and disconnected. The former limits their passion for Jesus and the latter limits their compassion for people.       (2) The primary way (Col. 1:28) to overcome these obstacles is to teach them (that they might have understanding of the "treasures of wisdom and knowledge" [Col. 2:3] that are in Christ alone) and admonish them (that t...Read More

Prayer and the Power of Contrary Choice: Who Can and Cannot Pray for God to Save the Lost? Read More

Pss. 80:14,18-19; 85:4-7; 119:25,37,149; Isa. 63:15-64:12. When I was growing up, the word Revival meant one thing: going to church on weeknights and listening to a man "Yell!" his sermons. All of us have probably faced the struggle of overcoming caricatures of revival. I had to face the fact that no matter what my experience had been early in life, it was wrong of me to equate revival with an evangelistic campaign. There is nothing wrong with evangelistic campaigns, or...Read More

The doctrine of man's total moral depravity, the bondage of the will, the teaching of Scripture on faith and repentance as God's gifts to his elect, as well as the doctrine of grace, all suggest that regeneration is prior to and therefore the cause of faith. What follows is a brief discussion of two passages in the Gospel of John that have great relevance for this issue (see also Titus 3:5; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3,23-25; 1 John 5:1). 1.     &nbs...Read More

The Eucharist   The word “sacrament” is derived from the Latin sacramentum which had two general uses: (1) It referred to the sum of money deposited by contending parties involved in a court proceeding. The amount subsequently forfeited by the loser was often applied to sacred purposes. The verb sacrare meant to dedicate or allot something to a god. (2) It was also used in military circles for the obligation of a soldier to his leader or country and la...Read More

The Eucharist   E.         The Sacramentalism of the Roman Catholic Church   McGiffert provides this helpful summary:   “The significance of the sacraments for the life of the Christians of the Middle Ages is impossible to exaggerate. They were not mere isolated rites; they were bound together by their common quality as signs and vehicles of divine grace. They constituted the very heart of Christianity. B...Read More

There is no more critical issue in theology than that of authority: by what standard, on what grounds, from what source, and for what reasons do we believe something to be true and therefore binding on our conscience (beliefs) and conduct (behavior)? Donald Bloesch put it this way:   “Is authority to be placed in human wisdom or cultural experience, or is it to be located in an incommensurable divine revelation that intrudes into our world from the beyond? D...Read More

A.        The Roman Catholic Doctrine of Scripture and Religious Authority Rome differs from the Protestant view of Scripture principally on three issues.   1.         The Extent of Scripture – What actually constitutes inspired Scripture, says Rome, is determined by the conciliar consensus of the church or by papal edict. Thus, the apocrypha was officially introduced into the canon ...Read More

The Doctrine of Complete Inerrancy   Contrary to the perspective of limited inerrancy, the Bible makes no distinction between inspired and uninspired texts or topics nor does it place any restrictions on the kinds of subjects on which it speaks truthfully. See esp. Acts 24:14; Luke 24:25; Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11. The word “infallibility” comes from the Latin infallibilitas = the quality of neither deceiving nor being deceived. “Inerrancy”...Read More

The question before us is simple, but the answer is not:   "How does the Bible function in Christian counseling?"   Others have phrased the question in a slightly different form:   "Is the Bible sufficient for Christian counseling?"   However the question is stated, the practical side of the issue reduces to this:   "Does the Bible address every problem and every issue Christians face?"   If by the word "address" one means "the B...Read More

3 Myths about Friendship (1)       The first myth is that cultivating close, intimate friendships is primarily, if not exclusively, for weak and immature people who are emotionally needy; friendship exists only for those who need to have their sagging spirits bolstered; only for people with feelings of insecurity. Does that sound like Paul to you? (2)       The second myth is that friendship is for those who a...Read More

    We must begin by distinguishing between baptism in the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit:   1)         Spirit-baptism is a metaphor that describes our reception of the HS at the moment of our conversion to Jesus in faith and repentance. When we believe and are justified, we are, as it were, deluged and engulfed by the HS; we are, as it were, immersed in and saturated by the Spirit. Results: a) we...Read More

    It is common for believers to experience post-conversion encounters or experienceswith the Holy Spirit that are related to but not identical with infilling:   a)         The impartation of revelatory insight and illumination into the blessings of salvation. See Eph. 1:15-23. See Isa. 11:2. The point is that "Paul is herewith praying that God will gift them with the Spirit yet once more, and that the Spirit in...Read More

Jesus the Healer Luke 4:38-41   Here are 12 principles that reveal the nature of healing in the ministry of Jesus and the importance he placed on it.   1.         Jesus healed hundreds, if not thousands, of people. See especially Mt. 4:23-24. Some have argued that Jesus healed only a "few dozen" (Philip Yancey), whereas the gospels indicate that he healed multitudes. Healing was a common feature of his earthly minist...Read More

Humanity in the Image of God   There are a number of textual indicators in Genesis 1-2 that point to the special significance of the creation of male and female in the image of God (I'm indebted to Bruce Ware for these observations):   It is only after God has created man that he says of all he has made: it is "very good" (1:31). This is not simply because God's creative task is finished but because mankind is the pinnacle of all he has made   ...Read More

"All that we spiritually know of ourselves, all that we know of God, and of Jesus, and His Word, we owe to the teaching of the Holy Spirit; and all the real light, sanctification, strength and comfort we are made to possess on our way to glory, we must ascribe to Him. . . . Where He is honoured, and adoring thoughts of His person, and tender, loving views of His work are cherished, then are experienced, in an enlarged degree, His quickening, enlightening, sanctifying and...Read More

A.        The Event vv. 1-13 When did this event occur? "Pentecost" = lit., 50th, because it fell on the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover. Where did this event occur? According to v. 2, they were in a "house" (cf. Acts 1:12-26). What exactly happened? There were 3 signs or sensory phenomena that pointed to the Spirit's arrival: sound, sight, speech (they heard something, saw something, and said something): 1.   ...Read More

    The ultimate goal of theology is not knowledge, but worship. If our learning and knowledge of God do not lead to the joyful praise of God, we have failed. We learn only that we might laud. Another way of putting it is to say that theology without doxology is idolatry. The only theology worth studying is a theology that can be sung. Jonathan Edwards put it this way:   "Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at that glory he has displayed? An un...Read More

A.        Six reasons why Christians avoid deliverance ministry   1.         Christians avoid deliverance ministry because they have been offended by those who have taken it to unbiblical and damaging extremes.   2.         Christians avoid deliverance ministry because they wrongly believe that deliverance is a special ministry for special peop...Read More

    In continuation of Part 1 . . .   E.         Encounters with the Demonic and Deliverance in the Book of Acts   See Acts 5:16; 8:5-8; 13:6-12; 16:16-18; 19:12   Acts 19:13-17 is worthy of special note.   ·      Acts 19:13 contains the earliest known occurrence in Greek literature of the word "exorcist" (exorkistes) and the only occurrence of it in the NT. H...Read More

            My purpose here is not to address the question of whether those who have fallen should be restored to ministry. Rather, I want to speak to those who are suspicious of prophetic ministry because of the failure of one of its more gifted individuals. When someone in ministry falls, we often respond in one of two ways. Some experience excessive bitterness, refuse to forgive, and vow never to trust religious l...Read More

    Who was responsible for the death of Jesus? Who was responsible for the nails that tore into his flesh and for the crown of thorns that pierced his brow? Who was responsible for the humiliation and ridicule to which he was subjected? Who killed Jesus?   One way to answer this question is by pointing the finger at either the historical or the heavenly cause of his death. Looking at his death from a purely historical perspective one might conclude th...Read More

Worldviews: What are They and Where do They come from? Read More

Part One “We live in a post-vocational age. Without any theology of vocation we lapse into debilitating alternatives: fatalism (doing what is required by ‘the forces’ and ‘the powers’); luck (which denies purposefulness in life and reduces our life to a bundle of accidents); karma (which ties performance to future rewards); nihilism (which denies that there is any good end to which the travail of history might lead); and, the most common a...Read More

Part Two There is a crucial need for clarity on the nature of vocation and the criteria by which one determines if he is subject to it. Following are five criteria, each of which must work in concert with the other four. (1)            Constraint – The word “constraint” is not intended to suggest an unwillingness on the part of the individual, as if he pursues ministry due to external coercion. R...Read More

Part Three There are a number of obstacles that potentially might hinder someone from pursuing pastoral ministry as vocation. These also account for the high percentage of those who either drop out of seminary or leave the pastorate prematurely. If we are to succeed in our efforts to direct people into vocational ministry it is essential that these barriers be identified and addressed. (1)       One of those obstacles is the changing natur...Read More

How shall we define “original sin”? The term has been used in any one of three ways: (1) to refer to the “original” original sin, i.e., the first sin of Adam; (2) to refer to “inherited” sin, i.e., that corruption of nature and guilt with which all are born; and (3) the causal relationship, if any, between Adam’s sin and our sin. Calvin focused his definition on (2). In the Institutes (II:1.8) he writes: “Original sin, the...Read More

It would appear that Paul accounts for human corruption and our propensity for evil by appealing to the fall of Adam. But is it in fact true that all are born “in sin” in the sense that all inherit from birth an evil disposition and a proclivity for rebellion and unbelief? What evidence is there that all humanity is born morally corrupt and spiritually dead, deserving of divine judgment? One approach taken by Jonathan Edwards is to demonstrate the propensit...Read More

(For those not familiar with the term Postmodernism or its fundamental ideas, I encourage you to visit the Historical Studies section on the website and click on Historical Theology. Session 38 is devoted to a brief description of the primary characteristics in the postmodern perspective. After first studying that material, I think what follows in this and the second lesson in this series will prove helpful.) Postmodernism would appear to be self-referentially incohere...Read More

Perhaps the most extensive interaction with and response to postmodernist reader-response criticism and the principles of deconstruction is Kevin J. Vanhoozer’s book, Is There a Meaning in This Text? The Bible, the Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 496 pp. What follows is a brief summary of Vanhoozer’s conclusions. The question that Vanhoozer seeks to answer is this: “Is there something in the text [any te...Read More

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32)   “Most of the ground that Satan gains in the lives of Christians,” wrote Neil Anderson, “is due to unforgiveness” (Bondage Breaker, 194). I couldn’t agree more. It isn’t hard to figure out why, once we realize that unforgiveness breeds bitterness, resentment, anger, unkindness, and even despair. Nothing i...Read More

George Frideric Handel is generally regarded as one of the greatest composers who ever lived. Although born in Germany, he spent most of his adult life in England and eventually was made a citizen of the British empire. His father was a physician and had hoped that George would follow in his steps. But his interest in music was simply too overwhelming. He proceeded to write over 20 oratorios, more than 40 full operas, as well as numerous concertos, cantatas, anthems, and...Read More

B.        Our Redeemer - 5:1-14 1.            the Scroll - v. 1 G. B. Caird argues convincingly, in my opinion, that "the content of the scroll is God's redemptive plan, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, by which he means to assert his sovereignty over a sinful world and so to achieve the purpose of creation. John proposes to trace the whole operation of this plan from its beginn...Read More

"But if I say, 'I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,' then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it" (Jeremiah 20:9) What follows in these three brief articles is a word especially aimed at pastors and teachers and preachers. I hope everyone will take time to read them and heed them, but above all else I pray that those who have been entrusted with the sacred calling of...Read More

The Necessity of Biblical Preaching 8 Reasons In the previous article I tried to explain why there is so little biblical preaching. Here I want to focus on why it is so critical that pastors be committed to the exposition of the Word. (1)       We must preach because of the power of the Word of God to change human lives and to transform the experience of the church. Tragically, although they would hardly admit it openly, many preachers ...Read More

Is any one way or style or method for preaching superior or more biblical than another? My personal conviction is Yes. Allow me to put forth a case for Expository Preaching. By "expository" or "expositional" or "exegetical" preaching I have in mind a particular style or method in preaching. As Sinclair Ferguson explains, in expository preaching "the explanation of Scripture forms the dominant feature and the organizing principle of the message. All preaching should be ...Read More

Reflections on 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Let’s admit it: Protestants aren’t the most knowledgeable about the Eucharist and are actually somewhat uncomfortable with my use of the word because of its association with Roman Catholicism. Don’t be afraid. It comes from the Greek verb eucharisteo and simply means “to give thanks”. The noun form, eucharistia, means “thankfulness,” “gratitude,” “thanksgiving,” and ...Read More

Recently a friend of mine asked my opinion of the meaning of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11, specifically, what the apostle had in mind when he spoke of receiving the elements of the Eucharist in an “unworthy manner” (11:27; ESV). The question drove me back to the study I did on this passage several years ago. I hope you find helpful what I discovered in my analysis of Paul’s words: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of...Read More