DBG Spotlight (10-20-17)

DBG Spotlight (10-20-17)

Take time to watch this short video that explains the theme of the upcoming 2018 G3 Conference.  Remember, this is a general conference designed for the local church as a whole.  Make your plans to attend—bring your spouse or your entire family.  We hope to see you in Atlanta in January.  Make your reservations online at G3Conference.com.

G3 Conference “Deal of the Day” — The G3 is providing a FREE resource to all who register for the G3 on each weekday leading up to Reformation Day.  If you share the information with hashtag #G3DOD you could be chosen to receive a free pair of tickets to the 2018 G3.  Today’s #G3DOD is “Dear Timothy” by Tom Ascol.  Another excellent opportunity will be presented on Monday, October 23rd.

Moms, Homes, Pinterest, and the Daily Struggle To Love God’s Word — “I read about King David’s desperation for the living words of God. A once smelly shepherd boy, David gets catapulted in the seat of being one of the most powerful men on earth, living the Israelite version of our American dream. He can have everything his heart desires, everyone his eyes lust after. And yet, all his gold, fame, and prestige couldn’t save this powerful man from a deep soul starvation. He possessed a soul that no gold coin, crown jewel, or beautiful woman could put life into.”

The Art of Godliness, Episode 6: Disability in the Church — A good conversation worthy of your time and extremely relevant for the life of the local church.

5 Reformation Bundles for at Least 60% Off — Some good resources for your Logos Bible Software library.

Vlog: The 5 Tests of False Doctrine — Another good one from Tim Challies.

Sermons about the Wrath of God — Some excellent resources from the ministry of Alistair Begg on the wrath of God.

Why Christians Should Sing with Their Spouse — “So love Christ by singing hymns together that spite the devil and forge your souls together with serious joy.”

Forgiveness does not restore credibility, and character must be seen as something that can be lost far easier than gained, much less restored.  —Albert Mohler

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Sola Gratia

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Sola Gratia

Today I’m continuing a short 5-part series on the five solas of the Reformation.  The five solas are specific Latin slogans that emerged from the Reformation era as a means of identifying specific doctrinal positions that stand in contrast to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  The slogans are:

  • Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  • Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  • Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  • Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  • Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)

How can the phrase, sola gratia (grace alone) be misunderstood and misapplied by Protestant believers?  In the attempt to stand in a continual protest of the works based salvation of the Roman Catholic Church, we must continue to point out that God saves sinners by grace alone—not based on the value of any works.  However, we must never diminish the need for good works to be present in the life of a child of God.

Defining Sola Gratia

When the Reformers used the phrase, sola gratia, they were insisting that God saves sinners based on God’s divine grace alone.  The idea was nothing new, in fact it was taken from the clear teachings of Scripture.  In Ephesians 2:1-10, the apostle Paul makes his point clear—salvation is by grace alone, apart from works, so that no one will be capable of boasting.  As the Reformers were protesting the selling of indulgences and various other practices of the Roman Catholic Church—their motivation in sola gratia was to point upward to God and make a clear point that God saves sinners by his grace and anything added to God’s grace is no longer grace.

Misunderstanding the Catholic Church

When people make the claim that the Roman Catholic Church does not believe in the saving grace of God, that actually is a misrepresentation of the Catholic’s position.  According to official Roman Catholic doctrine, they do embrace the teachings of salvation by the grace of God.  However, where the problem arises is when Protestants attach the word “alone” to the statement.  The Roman Catholic Church teaches that sinners are saved by the grace of God, but not all alone.  For instance, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1257:

“Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude . . . “

While it should be clear that baptism is a work of man in obedience to God’s command, sometimes it is overlooked because it’s one of the ordinances of the church.  However, if you continue to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2010, you will see these troubling statements regarding works:

”The specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation,”

At the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church made this frightening statement to anyone who embraced salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone:

“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema,” (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).

Misunderstanding Sola Gratia

Not only do people often misunderstand sola Scriptura, but they likewise misunderstand and misrepresent the intent behind sola gratia.  While we as helpless sinners are saved by God’s grace alone, the grace of God should never be alone in the life of a believer.  In other words, works do not save a sinner, but good works are present in the life of a believer as a direct result of the changed life by the grace of God.  Hear Paul in his letter to the church at Galatia:

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified (Gal 2:16).

The Judaizers had crept into the church in Galatia and were teaching a salvation by faith in Jesus, but they added circumcision to the equation.  Suddenly, it was no longer salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins.  They added works to the formula.  In doing so, they changed the gospel from God’s gospel to something else—and Paul gave a stern warning to such practices in the opening words to the church at Galatia (see Gal. 1:6-9).

As we turn over to James, we see language that perhaps seems to be contradictory.  James argues for works to be present and active in the life of a believer.  James writes, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).  James’ point is clear—the works of a person’s life reveals their true spiritual condition.  Faith without works is dead and lifeless which points to the reality of a person who has never experienced the grace of God.

Do you have good works that flow out of God’s grace in your life?  Charles Spurgeon once wrote the following statement, “Although we are sure that men are not saved for the sake of their works, yet we are equally sure that no man will be saved without them.” [1]

Don’t misrepresent sola gratia by denying the need for good works and a pursuit of holiness in the life of a child of God.  At the same time, never lean upon good works as a means of your salvation.

  1. Charles Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit, 4:265.
DBG Spotlight (10-18-17)

DBG Spotlight (10-18-17)

The G3 Conference is not until January, but the rates will increase on 10.31.17.  Make your plans now and register soon to save money.  Take time to listen to Dr. Steven Lawson explain why you should plan to be at the conference on discipleship.

10 classic Christian books for your Kindle or Smart Phone that are free on Monergism — Some good books at a really good price…$0.00.

The Swiss Giant: Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531) — The story of the Reformation involves more than Luther and you should get to know the other players in this whole gospel movement from the sixteenth century.

5 Reasons Jesus Doesn’t Want us to be Like the Good Samaritan — An interesting take on a well known story from the Scriptures.

Pastors’ Housing Allowance Tax Break Overturned — Local churches need to keep a close eye on this legal battle.

Spurgeon on the “reproach” of believer’s baptism — Spurgeon never liked being unclear about anything and here is a case where he was crystal clear about where he stood on the doctrine of baptism.

What Are the Best Reformation Biographies? — Some good picks here.

Washington Conference, JefftheGK and IFD, the Lollards — Some good stuff on the DL with James White.

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Sola Scriptura

Misunderstanding the Five Solas—Sola Scriptura

As we near the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I will be writing a 5-part series on the five solas.  However, it will not be a series that merely seeks to define the historic principles in an academic manner.  Instead, the series will focus on how easily it is to misunderstand and misrepresent the intention of the five solas that were birthed out of the Reformation era.

The five solas are specific Latin slogans that emerged from the Reformation era as a means of identifying specific doctrinal positions that stand in contrast to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  The slogans are:

  • Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  • Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  • Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  • Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  • Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)

The doctrines of grace, faith, Christ, and God’s glory all stand or fall based on their connection to Scripture.  This is why the five solas begin with sola Scriptura.  When we read creeds and confessions of church history, we notice that they often begin with an article on the Scriptures.  All doctrines and positions will emerge from a specific connection to the Scriptures.  Either they are coming out of the pure teachings of the Word of God or they are loosely connected and tied to both culture and the Scriptures at the same time.  The Reformers were champions of God’s Word and stood courageously upon the firm foundation of the Scriptures.

Defining Sola Scriptura

The idea of sola Scriptura was known as the formal cause of the Reformation.  The intended purpose of the statement points to the fact that the only infallible rule of faith and doctrine is God’s infallible Word.  For the Roman Catholic Church, faith and doctrine are governed by a three-fold system including the Scriptures, tradition, and the Magisterium.  The Roman Catholic Church’s tradition involved a body of beliefs and practices that were established as a direct fruit of the ruling office of the pope—the Magisterium.  Since the pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra as the one who is the successor of the Apostle Peter’s seat—all such decisions are right and good.

Man of history were raised up by God to stand in direct contrast to that type of teaching.  Since such ideas are found nowhere in the Bible—the Reformers believed them to be abusive in authority and to pervert the pure gospel of Christ.  Sola Scriptura points to the Word of God as the only infallible rule of faith and practice and the singular source whereby all other doctrines and practices must be judged.

Misunderstanding Sola Scriptura

If you haven’t ran into someone who claims that they can have a personal relationship with Jesus without the local church—give it time, you will run across such a personality in your lifetime.  Perhaps you’ve ran into the one who refuses to submit to God given authority in the local church suggesting that he doesn’t need to submit to pastors because he submits to God through the Scriptures.  Have you ran across someone who dismisses any need for creeds, confessions, and statements of faith?  Often you will hear that type of belief represented under the umbrella of a certain slogan that says, “No creed by the Bible.”

When we come to the idea of sola Scriptura, we must be clear—it in no way dismisses the value of creeds or diminishes the need for confessions.  When it comes to a creed or confession, the church or organization is drawing a line in the sand and stating with absolute clarity where they stand on important doctrines taught in the Bible.  It’s a way of being transparent and open rather than ambigous about the doctrinal convictions of a church or organization.

The Reformers never intended anyone to use sola Scriptura against the use of rich confessions of faith that act as a spotlight to inform people about specific doctrinal convictions that are based on the clear teachings of the Word of God.  The Reformers did intend for all such statements, creeds, confessions, and church practices to be judged by the clear teachings of God’s Word.  While theologians may be quoted in sermons and books may be collected in a church’s library for use by the members—no scholarly voice or body of writing should transcend higher than God’s Word.  They may be useful and profitable in many ways, but never higher in authority than God’s infallible Word.

James White, in his excellent book titled, Sola Scriptura, writes the following:

Sola scriptura literally means “Scripture alone.”  Unfortunately, this phrase tends to be taken in the vein of “Scripture in isolation, Scripture outside of the rest of God’s work in the church.”  That is not its intended meaning; again, it means “Scripture alone as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church.” [1]

  1. James White, Scripture Alone, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2004), 27-28.
Celebrating 175 Years

Celebrating 175 Years

Yesterday we gathered for a special day of worship and fellowship with our church as we celebrated the 175th anniversary of our church.  Often when I travel, people ask about our church.  When I tell them the name, they hear it and automatically think I’m saying “Praise Mill” or “Pray Mill” and when I let them know that it’s Pray’s Mill—Pray with an apostrophe “s” — they look at me with a confused stare.  Allow me to explain the history of our church.

In 1842, a man named Ephraim Pray settled here in Douglas County on 202 acres on Dog River which is located a little more than 2 miles south of our church’s campus.  He arrived here with inheritance money from his father and setup a grist mill and a saw mill on the river.

Soon, he became burdened that there was no church in this area. The closest one was a good distance by horse and buggy—it was about 12 miles across to a neighboring town.  Mr. Pray decided that he would donate the lumber and the land to establish a place of worship and to plant a new church in this area.

On November 11th 1841, a group of people gathered for worship at his home.  They invited a missionary to the Cherokee Indians named Rev. Humphrey Posey to come and preach on that occasion.  On that day, 16 new converts were baptized in Dog River and the groundwork was established for a new church.

A few months later in January of 1842, the 16 new converts were added to a group of 23 believers who constituted a new church.  Some suggested that the church be named after Mr. Pray, but he rejected that idea. As you drive these old roads around this area – you see names such as Daniel Mill, Phillips Mill, Pool Mill—roads that would pass by known mills in this area. These mills served as popular landmarks in their day. So, the church was named after Ephraim Pray’s mill—Pray’s Mill Baptist Church.

As we celebrated the 175th anniversary yesterday, we were privileged to have Dr. Steven Lawson with us to proclaim the message from God’s Word on this historic occasion.  His text was Acts 2:42-47, and he pointed out that all good things in the life of a healthy church stand upon the firm foundation of solid biblical preaching.  We also had the Foto Sisters with us, a trio of classically trained musicians who did a tremendous job.  It was a joyful day of worship that began with 4 baptisms and concluded with the addition of 2 new families and a fellowship meal with our church.

May the Lord be gracious to our church and allow us to continue to serve Him as we desire to attempt great things for His glory.

DBG Spotlight (10-13-17)

DBG Spotlight (10-13-17)

At the 2017 G3 Conference, Todd Friel sat down with Nathan Busenitz to talk about the Roman Catholic Church and the exaltation of Mary.

The Christian’s Duty to Hold Firm — “In our day, where pluralism reigns in the culture, there is as much satirical hostility to the idea of one God as there was in Nietzsche’s satire. But today, that repugnance to monotheism is not a laughing matter.”

You Were Created for More Than Motherhood — A helpful article for mothers.

John Calvin in 200 words — This is a good summary of Calvin and his work in the Swiss Reformation.

Why Churches Should Have Meaningful Membership — Far too many churches and church members have a low view of church membership.

Local Man Not Ashamed Of The Gospel As Long As It Agrees With Modern Culture — If you’re not following the Babylon Bee, now would be a good time to start.  It’s a satirical site that always makes you think and laugh, but in all of the laughter there is a nugget of truth.

Soli Deo Gloria: Heart and Soul of the Reformation — “God works every dot on the timeline of history for his glory. Nothing stands outside the scope of his plan to bring fame to his name, for the joy of his people.”

Prosperity Theology Tells Us to Live Now as Kings, Not Servants — Randy Alcorn says, “This philosophy teaches that the more money you give away, the wealthier you will become. Following God through giving and other forms of obedience becomes a formula for abundant provision and the celebration of prosperous living. This is, in essence, a Christianized materialism.”

It is only an infinite God, and an infinite good, that can fill and satisfy the precious and immortal soul of man. —Thomas Brooks