DBG Christian Blogs and Sermons
Welcome to the DBG website for Christian blogs and articles written by Josh Buice.
Enjoy the following resources:
- Christian Blogs
- Christian Resources
- Theology Articles
- Preaching Resources
- Audio and Video Sermons
- Family Worship Recommendations
Providing Christian blogs, articles, and sermons on various topics from a biblical perspective.
- Expository Preaching
- The Exclusivity of Christ
- Dangers of the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Theology
- Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- Why the Church of Christ Will Prosper in an Age of Sexual Perversion
- Removing the Shame of Abortion
- Is Ignorance a Doorway to Heaven?
- Don’t Waste Your Worship
- Christian Persecution: The Danger of Following Jesus
- Rob Bell’s World and Why Inerrancy Matters
- The Duck Dynasty Gospel
- More Than Community: We Need The Church
Mark Dever answers the question, “Is Capitol Hill Baptist Church a replicable model of church life?” His answer is full of wisdom and worthy of your attention.
Oldest Living Human Prepared to Turn 117 – Italian Emma Morano was born in the 1800s and her life now spans three centuries.
Hillsong & Man – The series regarding Hillsong continues with a look into their doctrine of man.
A Plea to Pastors: Don’t Cancel Church on Christmas – This is a really good one from Kevin DeYoung. And yes, people really do cancel church on Christmas.
Are Chip and Joanna Gaines ‘Cultural Heretics’? – Once again, the cultural police are out to get the dangerous Christians.
Maximize Logos 7 with Our New Library Expansions – Another way to make Logos 7 better.
Are Non-Staff Elders Biblical? – A good thing to consider when thinking through biblical eldership.
3-Day Sale: 50% Off Reformation Study Bibles – Take advantage of these good deals from Ligonier.
Jesus accepts my true self – For those who think that Jesus just accepts us “as we are” with no strings attached.
Theology Word of the Week: Who is John Bunyan?
Bunyan, John (1628–88). A Bedford pastor and author, Bunyan may well have been the most influential English religious figure of his time. Some twelve and a half years in Bedford’s damp county jail awarded him the martyr’s laurel. His courageous refusal to accept freedom in exchange for silence placed him in the lineage of the apostles. The opportunity to prove himself came after his conversion and call to the ministry as he joined a non-conformist church which was congregational in polity and Baptist in its ordinances.
Bunyan is completely Calvinistic in his theology and is a prime exemplar of the Puritan marriage of doctrine with life. He is concerned in his sermons and writings to present the truth experimentally (i.e. experientially). Bunyan as a Spirit-led theologian had the gift of interpreting evangelical truth to the masses. His many and varied writings and sermons purposefully applied Scripture to everyday living. His biblical and often earthy preaching was Christ-centred, powerful, practical and life-changing.
Bunyan’s skill with the pen is surprising; though without formal education he produced some sixty-six works. These were widely circulated in cheap editions, few of which survived, for they were read until they disintegrated. Bunyan’s very human spirit and allegorical style contributed to the popularity of his books. The volumes with the greatest appeal are Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666), which recounts his conversion, and Pilgrim’s Progress (1682), which describes spiritual warfare. It was not merely Bunyan’s astounding allegorical expression which ensured his popularity, but rather his clear insight into mankind’s desperate plight and God’s redeeming, sovereign grace. For Bunyan justification, regeneration, mortification and sanctification are not theological pigeon-holes, but the substance of Christian experience.
We are impressed by Bunyan the preacher, pastor, evangelist and author but we are most moved by Bunyan the pilgrim, a man wrought upon by God, making his way to heaven’s gate.
- Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 117.
What differentiates one word from another – making one word a profane word while another is considered normative? Why is one “four letter word” different from another one? It’s not always based on the precise definition of a word. Instead, it’s based on how that word has been used in the culture.
Profanity Abuses Vocabulary
Grammar matters. How we employ vocabulary is important in spoken word conversations, social media conversations, and in more formal written forms. The use of profanity often involves ripping a word out of its context and intended usage. For instance, it’s possible to take a word intended to convey a really dark and horrid meaning and use it for something that’s far less worse than its original context. This happens when people use the word hell in the improper manner. When people say, “I had a hell of a time last night at the party” they’re intending to mean that they had a really good time. We can be sure of one thing, hell will not be a fun or delightful place for anyone to find themselves.
To be damned is a really horrible thing. To consider what it means to be damned by God is a bit overwhelming just by looking at the vocabulary words often associated with the judgment of God in Scripture (agony, darkness, fire, smoke, punishment, torment, weeping, gnashing of teeth, pain, and more). To be damned by God is to be cut off and sentenced to the eternal flames of hell where a sovereign God unleashes His holy wrath upon guilty sinners. Therefore, to use the word damn in a slang manner in response to accidentally spilling your glass of water at the supper table is to completely miss the true meaning of the word. This misuse takes something like the damnation of sinners which is so woefully beyond comprehension and raises it up to the level of spilling a glass of water at the supper table.
One additional example would be the way in which people use the name of God in vain through common everyday conversations. This is a common error that occurs when a person takes the name of God and flips it so that it’s used in a negative manner. People do this often with the name of God. When someone is frightened and they exclaim, “O Jesus, that scared the life out of me”— that individual is usually speaking to someone other than Jesus when making that statement. In other words, when one friend makes that statement while speaking to another friend, the name of our Lord (a glorious name that’s above every name – Acts 4:12) is being improperly substituted as a slang term. This same type of thing can show up in the use of text messages where people use OMG to refer to something really bad or really funny, when that certainly isn’t the proper usage of God’s name (Ex. 20:7).
Whatever your opinion is regarding the use of profanity, it’s clear that profane words often distort the proper definition and intended use of a word. It would be wise to make sure we’re using vocabulary properly in order to preserve the true meaning of such words.
Profanity Provides a Cultural Identity
Beyond the abuse of vocabulary is the cultural identity that’s attached to the use of profanity. This is where we move beyond morality to Christianity. The followers of Christ have been called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of God’s grace (1 Pet. 2:9). We should strive to base our lifestyle decisions on Scripture and move beyond the realm of cultural morality. Therefore, when we teach our children to refrain from using swear words (cuss words, profanity), we typically try to teach them why based on Scripture—not just because mom and dad said it.
- Christians should seek to be identified with Christ rather than the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
- Christians should not be people who use filthy or foolish language. Notice that Paul places this this warning in the same context where he issues warnings against sexual immorality. Ephesians 5:4 says, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
- Christians should maintain a certain appearance that honors Christ. Titus 2:10 says, “not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” On this subject, see also 1 Thess. 5:21-22.
- Christians should not be rude people. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reads, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
- Christians are called to build people up with language rather than tearing down with corrupt word choices. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
In our home we have a profanity filter on our television that (most of the time) prevents foul language from entering our living room. It’s not that Kari and I are seeking to be overly protective of our children or sheltering them from the real world. In fact, the propensity to use foul language is certainly in our children from conception, they simply haven’t learned the grammar until they grow and develop their vocabulary.
From time-to-time, my children will tell us that one of their friends used a “bad” word. We as parents try to explain why this is not wise and then point them in the right direction from a biblical context. Our goal is not straight and narrow moralism. Many people go to hell everyday who were morally decent and spoke with a clean tongue. We want so much more for our children than acceptable morality. We want them to grow to love Christ and to reflect the love and glory of Christ – not just with their worship and service, but also with their choice of vocabulary. We want our children to pursue holiness rather than the crudeness of our culture. While we know that the tongue cannot be tamed (Jm. 3:8), it’s our duty as Christians to exemplify a life that honors Christ, and that includes the way we speak. We must remember, our choice of language reveals much about the contents of our heart (Lk. 6:45).
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In the 2015 G3 Conference, Dr. Steven Lawson preached on the subject — “The God Breathed Word” as he explained how the Word of God came into existence.
How God Used Facebook to Give Me a Second Chance – “We only have a little more time left on earth, let’s strive to be the ones talked about in Romans 10:15; the ones with beautiful feet.”
U.S. Christians Brace For Brutal Onslaught Of ‘Happy Holidays’ Attacks – Worthy of a good laugh.
Interview: The Christmas Playlist by Alistair Begg – “This new book from Alistair Begg takes a look at the very first Christmas songs sung with joy and awe by Mary, Zechariah, the Angels, and Simeon. It gives a fresh glimpse of the greatness of God this season.”
Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory – Michael Kruger takes on an old nagging heresy that continues to pop up from time to time.
Hillsong & God – “At best, Hillsong’s God is a pale and incomplete shadow of the fullness described in Scripture. At worst, he’s a fraudulent idol, made in man’s image and incapable of providing the redemption and transformation that sinners so desperately need.”
A Congregant’s Guide to Preaching – Kyle Borg does a good job of explaining how the congregation should view the preaching of God’s Word.
The Lord’s Table is not only one of the most intimate and exhilarating times of worship for the local church, it’s also one of the most controversial. As we look back through church history, we see that John Rogers and other Puritans were burned at the stake for their view of the Lord’s Supper. Jonathan Edwards was fired because of his position on the Lord’s Supper that caused a rift in his church. Doctrine matters.
As we look back to Paul’s day, we see people in the church of Corinth who were suffering under the judgment of God (sickness and death) as a result of their perversion of the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 11:29-30). Doctrine matters, but so does our practice of doctrine. This history can sometimes move people beyond self-examination to self-excommunication from the Lord’s Table. This self-excommunication should not be viewed as a badge of honor. The practice of self-excommunication from the Lord’s Table should be resisted.
Self-Examination is Essential Prior to Observing the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is one of the most intimate times of worship among the gathered church. We should never approach the observance of the Lord’s Supper in a flippant and loose manner. This high view of the Lord’s Table begins with the pastors of the church. How the Lord’s Table is fenced and how the elements of the Lord’s Supper are distributed sets the bar for the rest of the church. Any proper fencing of the table will encourage the congregation to engage in a time of self-examination in preparation for worship.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, he writes, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28). The word translated examine is the Greek term, “δοκιμάζω” carrying the meaning “to make a critical examination of something to determine genuineness, put to the test, examine.”  In the examination process, we should look at our lives vertically, horizontally, internally, and externally.
- In a vertical manner, we examine our relationship with God. Are we in real intimate communion with Him or do we see a separation due to sin (James 4:8)?
- In our horizontal examination, do we find any division between us and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 4:32)?
- In our internal examination, do we find unconfessed sins, idols of the heart, or private sins that we keep hidden from the public (1 Corinthians 11:28; 1 John 2:15)?
- In our external examination, do we find anything that’s preventing us from engaging with our church to reach the neighborhoods and the nations with the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20)?
James Montgomery Boice writes:
At the heart of the present significance of the Lord’s Supper is our communion or fellowship with Christ, hence the term “communion service.” In coming to this service the believer comes to meet with Christ and have fellowship with Him at His invitation. The examination takes place because it would be hypocrisy for us to pretend that we are in communion with the Holy One while actually cherishing known sin in our hearts. 
Self-examination is demanded of God’s children, but this examination must accomplish its intended purpose which is repentance and unity that leads to the observance of the Lord’s Supper rather than self-excommunication.
Why Self-Excommunication from the Lord’s Supper is a Bad Idea
When the Reformers were coming out of the Roman Catholic Church, they insisted that the Church at Rome was not a true church. Their passionate preaching and writing resulted in a very important question: What then constitutes a true church? The response to this question, although varied to some degree among different theologians, resulted in three essential marks of a true church. Those marks are:
- The right preaching of the Word of God.
- The right administration of the sacraments (ordinances).
- The practice of biblical church discipline.
Much emphasis is often placed on the right preaching of the Word while less emphasis is placed on the not-so-right practices of the Lord’s Supper. Sometimes you see the Lord’s Supper observed at weddings, in college dormitories, and even among volunteers in the church nursery—and sometimes you hear about people who bar themselves from the Lord’s Table due to a guilty conscience. When considering the responsibility and privileges of the Lord’s Supper, we must refrain from barring ourselves by becoming an intentional absentee (not attending the evening service if it’s observed in the evening services) or by intentional excommunication (due to a guilty conscience regarding our sin). Consider the following points.
- Refusing to eat the Lord’s Supper and worship Christ is sinful (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
- We are members of a local church under authority – not self-autonomy (Hebrews 13:17).
- We are commanded to eat and remember (1 Corinthians 11:28).
- We are never called to excommunicate ourselves (notice that in Matthew 5:23-24 the man left his offering emphasizing that he would return shortly).
- The Lord’s Supper demands examination and restoration rather than excommunication (the idea of examination is designed for the opportunity of immediate repentance rather than a delayed response. This is perhaps the closest thing we have to an altar call in the entire Bible).
- The devil is the accuser of the brethren and we can expect him to remind us of our past sins which should never be the cause of self-excommunication. The devil delights in dividing the church from worship at the Lord’s Table (Revelation 12:10; 1 Peter 5:8).
Consider the words of J. C. Ryle as he comments on Matthew 26:26-35:
Let us leave the passage with serious self-inquiry as to our own conduct with respect to the Lord’s Supper. Do we turn away from it, when it is administered? If so, how can we justify our conduct?—It will not do to say it is not a necessary ordinance. To say so is to pour contempt on Christ Himself, and declare that we do not obey Him.—It will not do to say that we feel unworthy to come to the Lord’s table. To say so is to declare that we are unfit to die, and unprepared to meet God. These are solemn considerations. All non-communicants should ponder them well. 
The next time you enter the sanctuary of your local church and see the Lord’s Table ready for distribution, just remember, this is one more opportunity to unite with your church family in an intimate time of worship. This is likewise one more precious opportunity for repentance given to you by the Lord Himself. If you feel unworthy and inadequate to observe the Lord’s Supper, that’s normal and it’s one of the goals of the ordinance. Anyone who feels worthy and adequate is one who should not partake because that person is most likely not a true child of God. We approach the Lord through the Lord’s Supper as unworthy sinners who cling to Christ alone as our only hope now—and forever.
Therefore, the Lord Himself commands that we eat and drink and remember His work – His sacrifice – our salvation that comes through Him.
- William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 255.
- James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith-Book I, (Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 603.
- J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 360.
Yesterday, I preached from Ephesians 3:1-6. Often times when statues are unveiled, it brings about a great deal of excitement among the people who are there for the ceremony. In cases of military leaders or royal figures, family members or perhaps close intimate people are there to see it unveiled and witness the standing memory of their father, husband, or friend. In the case of the church and the mystery of the Gentiles being included in the salvific plan of God, it was met with the opposite of enthusiasm. It was met with fierce opposition.
Paul had been saved on the Damascus road and commissioned as the apostle to the Gentiles. Now, while in prison, he was writing a letter that would be used to clear up some massive problems between Jews and Gentiles that was creating division among the church. In this section of verses, Paul pointed out his ministry and the mystery of the Christ and His church.
The Ministry of Paul to the Gentiles
Paul had been commissioned as the apostle to the Gentiles and as a result, the Jews hated him. Paul had been arrested as a result of two false accusations made against him which is recorded in Acts 21-22. Paul was accused of violating the Gentile boundaries in the temple and he was falsely accused of preaching against the Jewish law. Both were not true. He had not taken any Gentile into the temple area reserved for Jews and he had merely told the truth about Jesus tearing down the wall of division between Jew and Gentile. For that, he was the prisoner of Jesus Christ on behalf of the Gentiles as the first verse of chapter three records.
It should be pointed out that Paul believed that Jesus was sovereign over all things – including imprisonment. Not only is He sovereign over disease, weather, and eternal life – but he’s also sovereign over the imprisonment of His children. Paul was not the prisoner of Nero, but he was the prisoner of Christ. This not only brought Paul comfort, but it likewise clears up some issues pertaining to the present day false teaching of Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen known as the prosperity gospel. How much more dedicated and strong in the faith could anyone be in comparison to the apostle Paul?
The Mystery of the Church
The word used by Paul here is translated – mystery (μυστήριον). It literally means, “The unmanifested or private counsel of God (God’s secret). The word used here doesn’t always translate into English well. When we think of a secret or a mystery, we think of it is unsolved. The word used here that’s translated mystery actually refers to the information about God’s saving grace that was made known – only to a select group of people. In Colossians 1:26, we read the following: “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.”
Paul had learned of this truth regarding the Gentiles not by his own investigative skills, but according to divine revelation given to he and the other apostles. According to Ephesians 3:6, the Gentiles are “fellow heirs,” “members of the same body,” and “partakers of the promise of Christ” with the Jews. This was what Paul had been arrested for preaching, but here he writes it again – even risking his life – in order to make this critical truth known.
What lessons can we learn today?
Here we are at the end of eight years of our first African-American president in the history of the United States of America, and yet, we as a people are more racially divided than we were before Barak Obama took office. The divide is not much better in the evangelical church. The most segregated hour in our entire week is 11:00am on Sunday morning.
We need to stop trying to make the gospel a “white” gospel or a “black” gospel for the “white church” and the “black church.” Why do we have so many different types of churches in our cities? Some are devoted to different nationalities and others to certain socioeconomic demographics. And now, a popular thing in rural areas is the “cowboy church.” We would do well to stop trying to make the gospel a “country” gospel or a “city” gospel, because it’s the gospel of God and it’s not reserved for a certain color of skin — it’s the Revelation 5 gospel — and it’s for the whole world.
During the 2003 Ligonier National Conference questions & answers session, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, John MacArthur, Douglas Wilson, and R. C. Sproul engaged in helpful discussions on biblical theology and practical ministry questions.
Black Friday Book Deals:
Black Friday Savings: Get up to 60% off Select Lexham Press Titles – Logos Bible Software has some good deals to offer.
$5 Black Friday: Over 60 Resources on Sale for $5 – Massive deals from Ligonier that you don’t want to miss today.
Kindle Deals – Tim Challies has a page dedicated for special offers for your Kindle. Check it often as it will be updated.
DBG Weekend Spotlight:
How to Actively Serve in Worldwide Missions Where You Are in Your Local Church. – Something good for all Christians to remember.
Do You Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness? – R. C. Sproul points out the need for true believers to hunger and thirst for righteousness rather than the world.
Do You Get Nervous Before You Preach? – H. B. Charles Jr. answers a question that all preachers know the answer to, or at least should.
Are We Overdoing the Anti-Prosperity Gospel Theme? – John Piper addresses this question in an interview.
500th Anniversary of the Reformation Tour – As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is celebrated in 2017, it’s important to know and appreciate your history. Join me and James White for a tour through Europe next year as we celebrate and learn the important steps of Luther and the Reformers.
Today marks the annual Thanksgiving Day celebration throughout the United States. Many people will cross all diet boundary restrictions, watch parades, visit family and friends, and watch football. As we engage in the annual traditions of our culture and remember the purpose of Thanksgiving Day – we should likewise take a moment to thank God for the church and the many blessings that come to us as members of a local church.
Thankful for Preaching
In an age of confusion regarding the voice of God, we must not forget that our God speaks today. Our God is the speaking God and He continues to speak to us through His Word. If we want to hear the voice of God, we do so clearly through His Word. It’s through the preaching of God’s Word that the gathered church hears the voice of God and submits to Him.
The right preaching of God’s Word that minimizes man’s opinions and elevates the Word of God line-by-line is the key to hearing God’s voice clearly. As we assemble in a long line of God’s people throughout church history, we continue to hear God’s voice spoken to us through His unadulterated Word. It’s not through mystical experiences and strange phenomenons that we come to hear God’s voice. It’s through the faithful preaching, (I believe expository preaching is the truest definition of faithful preaching), of His Word that we hear God speak.
Thankful for Prayer
Prayer is one of the great privileges of God’s people. God’s people have the privilege of prayer and can boldly access the throne of grace in private, but there is something unique and special about the gathered church coming together in prayer. Paul urged the church at Ephesus to be constantly praying for all the saints (Eph. 6:18). Colossians 4:2 speaks of being “steadfast” in prayer. Jesus instructed us on how to pray in Matthew 6:5-15. One of the great truths of the Christian life is that we as God’s children have access to the Father by the Spirit (Eph. 2:18). Alistair Begg has written:
Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total… Yet many of our church prayer meetings have dwindled in size and influence. Ultimately, the explanation can be traced to spiritual warfare. If, as the hymn writer says, Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees,” then we may be sure that he and his minions will be working hard to discredit the value of united prayer. The Evil One has scored a great victory in getting sincere believers to waver in their conviction that prayer is necessary and powerful. 
Thankful for Singing
The true child of God has a reason to sing. Consider what happened immediately after the children of Israel were brought across the Red Sea. They sang a song (Ex. 15:1-18). Then Miriam sang, “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea” (Ex. 15:21). The church is pictured as a singing church in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. The church assembled will sing – not based on preference and style – but based on truth and genuine desire to exalt Christ. One of the most important things a church does is sing the gospel. David penned these words in Psalm 9:11 – “Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!” Something unique happens when the gathered church sings the words to Isaac Watts hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Thankful for the Ordinances
The ordinances of the church are intended for two purposes—praise and worship of our God. We praise Him through the waters of baptistry as we identify with Christ as our Savior and proclaim His resurrection to those who witness. We praise God through the Lord’s Supper as we remember the very body and blood of Christ that was given as a substitutionary atonement in order to satisfy the holy justice of God. These ordinances are designed to be observed with the assembled church – not as fragmented groups on the beach, in a dorm room, or with a single family in an empty room. We gather together as a church to worship God and He has designed the ordinances to serve that unique purpose of praise.
Thankful for Discipline
Any church that refuses to practice biblical church discipline as mandated by Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20 forfeits the title of a biblical church. Contrary to popular opinions, biblical discipline is the loving thing to do. Jonathan Leeman writes, “Churches should practice discipline for love’s sake: love for the sinner, love for weaker sheep who can be led astray, love for non-Christian neighbors who need to see a holy Christian witness, and love for Christ and His reputation.”  The idea of discipline being a necessary mark of the church is rooted in Jesus’ words and historic confessions such as the Belgic Confession from 1561. Beware of any church that allows people to live loose lives of sin under the banner of “love” and a refusal to be judgmental. That’s not true love.
Thankful for Fellowship
God’s people need the church. For people to view the church as a burden, apparently they have no idea what it means to be a member of a local church. God never intends his people to be “lone ranger” believers who sail out on the high seas alone. God intends for His children to be identified with a group of people who live life together, worship together, engage in mission together, pray together, serve together, and fellowship together. God’s very best place on planet Earth is the church of Christ. It’s within the realm of the church that we should have our deepest relationships and it’s within these friendships that we laugh, weep, eat, and sharpen one another in the faith through biblical discipleship (Acts 2:42-47; Titus 2; Prov. 27:17; Heb. 10:24-25). Charles Spurgeon once said, “Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.” 
As we spend our time thanking God for all of the blessings of this life, don’t forget the enormous blessings that God showers upon us as members of His church manifest through our membership in a local church. Thank God for the church!
- Alistair Begg, Made For His Pleasure, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 52.
- Jonathan Leeman, Reverberation, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011), 188.
- Charles Spurgeon, Sermons, 30.597
In the 2007 Ligonier National Conference, Contending for the Truth, Albert Mohler preached on the subject of the “Authority of Scripture.”
Francis Schaeffer’s ‘How Should We Then Live?’—40 Years Later – Mohler writes, “How should we then live? That question which troubled Schaeffer so much in 1976 troubles all of us now. We’re about to find out if Christians in this generation are going to believe and to live authentic biblical Christianity. How will we live now?”
What Is Thanksgiving Day? – “Thanksgiving is an American holiday that stretches all the way back to a time long before America became a nation. The Pilgrims landed in 1620. They faced brutal conditions and were woefully unprepared. Roughly half of them died in that first year. Then they had a successful harvest of corn. In November of 1621 they decided to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving.”
Made for Another World: Remembering C.S. Lewis – “For a growing number of us, Lewis occupies a class to himself. Few, if any, have taught us so much about this world, and the next, save the Scriptures…His writings are pervasively thoughtful, engaging, provoking, and rewarding. He will not disappoint.”
9 Things You Should Know About C. S. Lewis – Another reminder of the influence and value of C. S. Lewis’ writings.
Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith – This article from Tim Challies is a must read for all parents.
Parents: It’s Time to Wake Up About Pornography, Sexting, and Your Children – Much wisdom here from Randy Alcorn.
8 Theses That Helps Us Think Biblically about Transgenderism – Michael Kruger writes, “I am thankful for RTS Charlotte’s Dr. James Anderson, associate professor of theology and philosophy. In the video below, Dr. Anderson addresses our students at a lunch-time conversation on the issue of transgenderism. It is a wonderfully clear and concise treatment of this important subject.”
Last week, I was interviewed by Chris Arnzen on his radio show, Iron Sharpens Iron, on the subject of hyper-Calvinism. It caused me to think about this subject and the importance of using vocabulary properly. As the father of a type 1 diabetic, I spend much of my time explaining to people in random conversations that type 1 diabetes (T1D) is not the same thing as type 2 diabetes (T2D). Therefore, let me begin by clearly stating this point—Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism. When I engage in conversation with people who want to discuss Calvinism, I’m happy to do so, but I want to be sure that we’re using the same dictionary.
What is Calvinism?
Calvinism is a system of theology that seeks to systemize the teachings of Scripture on the subject of salvation. What is the relationship between the absolute sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man? This is the central issue of Calvinism. It takes the name of the Reformer John Calvin, who was a passionate preacher of Scripture in the Sixteenth Century in Geneva, Switzerland. During the Protestant Reformation, the Reformers were seeking to unleash the true gospel from the intense strangle hold of the Roman Catholic Church. It was through this period of time that the Bible was being printed in the common language of the people and was simultaneously being proclaimed expositionally.
A group of followers of Jacobus Arminius who studied under Theodore Beza (a disciple of John Calvin) drafted a document known as the Remonstrance. It was a detailed refutation of the sovereignty of God in salvation. It elevated the free will of man above the sovereign initiative and power of God. These people were known as Arminians. Their doctrine would eventually become known as Arminianism.
An official meeting, known as the Synod of Dordt, was held in 1619 in order to respond to the submission of the Arminians in their Remonstrance. The overall conclusion was that the Remonstrance was incorrect and that the biblical view of salvation teaches that God is the author and finisher of saving grace. The “five points” of Calvinism came as an answer to the unscriptural five points authored by the Arminians in 1610 me eventually were organized with an acronym T.U.L.I.P. To explain the key teachings.
Historical Timeline Surrounding the Doctrines Known as “Calvinism”
440 Bishop Leo of Rome becomes “Bishop of Bishops.” Asserts Primacy of Rome over the Church; Dark Ages Begin.
1382 John Wycliffe translates Bible.
1384 John Wycliffe martyred by Rome.
1439 (Approximate) Printing press invented.
1517 Luther Nails 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church Door; The Reformation begins (Post Tenebras Lux).
1522 Luther’s New Testament.
1526 Tyndale’s New Testament.
1536 William Tyndale Martyred by Rome; Institutes of the Christian Religion (John Calvin).
1553 Bloody Mary becomes queen of England and restores power to the RCC. During
Mary’s reign, more than 300 Protestants are burned. John Rogers (publisher of the Matthew’s Bible) is the first to be burned at the stake. Many Protestants flee from England to Geneva.
1559 Calvin opens his college in Geneva. Within five years the college would have over 1500 students.
1560 The Geneva Bible is printed. It was the first Bible with verse references and sold over one million copies between 1560 and 1640. John Foxe publishes Foxe’s book of Martyrs.
1561 Belgic Confession (Guido de Bres).
1563 Heidelberg Catechism (Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus).
1564 John Calvin Dies.
1571 The Synod of Emden (birth of the Dutch Reformed Church).
1609 Jacobus Arminius dies.
1610 Remonstrance (Arminians or Remonstrants led by Johannes Uytenbogaert).
1611 Counter-Remonstrance (led by Pieter Platevoet).
1618 Opening of the Synod of Dort & Opinions of the Remonstrants.
1619 Synod Dismisses the Arminians & Adopts the Canons (AKA – 5-Points of Calvinism).
The system known as Calvinism is really five counter points to Arminianism. Years later, Wesley adopted the Arminian position and thus the Methodist movement was born. Although there are certain exceptions, historically, Baptists and Presbyterians have been more Calvinistic and opposed to the doctrines of Arminianism while the Methodists and groups such as the Assemblies of God have embraced the doctrines known as Arminianism. Today, Calvinism is sometimes known by titles such as Reformed theology and the doctrines of grace.
What is Hyper-Calvinism?
Hyper-Calvinism is not a term used for those who are overly passionate about Calvinism. That’s actually what we refer to as “cage stage Calvinism.” When understood properly, hyper-Calvinism is a technical term for an extreme and unbiblical view that rejects any need for Christians to engage in missions and evangelism. Simply put, hyper-Calvinists forbid the preaching of the gospel and the offer of salvation to the non-elect. Such people believe that God has chosen people in Christ in eternity past and will bring about His results without the help of His people. Hyper-Calvinism is heresy and must be rejected.
To illustrate the views of hyper-Calvinism, consider what happened during a pastors’ meeting years ago. A man named William Carey wanted to organize an effort to get the gospel to what he called heathen nations. Carey stood up and addressed the crowd by requesting that they discuss “the duty of Christians to attempt to spread the gospel among the heathen nations.” Mr. Ryland, and older minister, exclaimed loudly, “Sit down, young man! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.” Carey did not stop. His allegiance was to Christ – not Mr. Ryland. Carey went to India and proclaimed the good news of Christ.
Carey would write a book titled – An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of Heathens. He would argue his case that we should use means to reach heathens – contrary to what Mr. Ryland – the elder minister said in his meeting as he scolded the young Carey for bringing up the subject.
William Carey, in his Enquiry, wrote: “It seems as if many thought the commission was sufficiently put in execution by what the apostles and others have done; that we have enough to do to attend to the salvation of our own countrymen; and that, if God intends the salvation of the heathen, he will some way or other bring them to the gospel, or the gospel to them. It is thus that multitudes sit at ease, and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry.”
It must be pointed out that William Carey was a Calvinist. Although William Carey had only a grammar school education – he would shake the world with the gospel. Carey once preached a sermon where he stated – “Expect Great Things – Attempt Great Things.” It was later added – “Expect Great Things From God – Attempt Great Things For God.” That’s exactly what he did as he proclaimed the true gospel of King Jesus. India would never be the same. The world would never be the same. The way the church viewed missions would never be the same – because of this Christ-exalting Calvinist that has become known to us as the “father of modern missions.”
What’s the Difference?
The difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism is the distance between heaven and hell. Calvinism is full of life and passion for God and desires to make God’s glory shine among the nations. Hyper-Calvinism is lifeless heresy that damns people to hell, kills evangelism, and ruins churches. Take a good look at the missionary movement of church history and you will see Calvinists leading the charge. Men like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Charles Spurgeon were all Calvinists. Many people overlook the missionary heart of John Calvin himself. He trained and sent out many missionaries who passionately preached the truth. Many of these men were martyred for their faith.
The next time you’re talking to someone with type 1 diabetes, just remember—it’s not the same thing as type 2 diabetes. Also, the next time you’re talking to a Calvinist, remember, Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism. To call faithful Calvinistic Christians hyper-Calvinists is to consign a massive number of people from church history to the flames of hell (including people like Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, Martin Luther, Andrew Fuller, Adoniram Judson, and George Whitefield). What’s the difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Calvinism proclaims the true gospel while hyper-Calvinism proclaims no gospel at all.
Iron Sharpens Iron Radio show – Tuesday (11-15-16)
Yesterday, I preached from Ephesians 2:11-22. There is much to learn and apply to our own divided world in our present church context. Our world is filled with walls of division. From divorce courts to racial divisions, we’re constantly bombarded with divisive attitudes and ideas. In recent days, Donald Trump has stirred up the political pot with his idea of a southern border wall along the Mexican border. In ancient days, walls and fences were a normal thing. You can still see old ruins of walls that separated royalty from the common people. Palaces and castles often had large walls that kept one class of people separated from others. You can still see that type of thing in our day in places like England where the royal family is kept secure behind large fences.
As Paul wrote Ephesians, his desire was to make it known to the Gentiles that they were not to be kept outside the dividing wall any longer. They were to be considered one with their Jewish brothers and sisters through the blood of Christ. This divisive mentality was thick among the Jews who considered the Gentiles to be savages and outcasts. Paul began in verses 11-12 by reminding the Gentiles of their past. One way to be filled with joy as a Christian is to be reminded of where you were when God came seeking you.
Paul explained that they were:
- Called the Uncircumcision
- Separated from Christ
- Alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel
- Separated from the Covenants of Promise
- Without hope
- Without God
What a gloomy picture. They could not understand God’s love and mercy to the Israelites. They were cut off from God and could not understand the language of grace. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explained, unbelievers can’t understand the things of God:
They can read their Bible and it does not move them. They can look at these ‘exceeding great and precious promises’ and say: To whom does this apply, what is all this about? They are strangers; they are like people from another country; they do not understand the language. 
Then, as Paul continued, he turned to encourage them regarding their position in Christ. Before Christ saved them, they were lost and without hope. Now, as Paul explains, they have hope and in this hope comes access to God through the blood of Christ. It was through the blood of Christ that they who were far off were brought near to God.
In the Jewish temple, the centerpiece of worship life for Jews, there were specific courtyards designated as boundaries for certain people. At the top was the Court of the Priests. Only male Jews of the tribe of Levi were permitted to enter this courtyard. As one traveled away, he would come to the Court of Israel where only male Jews were permitted to enter. Further back was the Court of the Women where any Jew was permitted, including women, but the women could not go beyond this point.
At this point, moving down one would travel down a section of five stairs to a five foot high stone boundary. This boundary circled the entire temple. On it was written these words, “No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”  Still moving down another set of stairs, fourteen to be precise, one would finally reach the Court of the Gentiles. This was the boundary for all Gentiles – set on a much lower place – and cut off from the rest of the Jewish temple and worship area.
Paul explains that this was the way the Gentiles were before Christ saved them, but now they have access to God and unity with the Jews. Although they were once strangers and aliens to the covenants of promise, now they are included and have access to God. This was hard for the Jews to grasp, especially since they viewed Gentiles as being created to fuel the flames of hell. Yet, Paul was making it clear that the walls of division were abolished by Christ.
We can all expect the world to be harsh and abrasive to Christians. The world hates Christ and His church. Therefore, the followers of Christ should come into the church community with love and peace toward one another and seek to be an encouragement and support for one another along the journey of faith. Any attitude and motive of division in the church is unbiblical and labors against the unity that Christ established through His work on the cross.
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Way of Reconciliation: Studies in Ephesians, Chapter 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972), 170.
- See J. H. Iliffe, “The ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ Inscription from Herod’s Temple: Fragments of a Second Copy,” Quarterly of Department of Antiquities in Palestine VI (1938), pp. 1 ff.