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Did Jesus Have a Wife? | Via BiblicalTraining.org (Bill Mounce)

The following is an excerpt from BIBLICAL TRAINING

Peter Williams, the Warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge, England, just sent out this evaluation of the manuscript discovery that to some people suggests Jesus was married. It also includes the evaluation by Dr. Simon Gathercole, another expert in these matters. Dr. Darrell Bock has also weighed in on this issue.

The Web is by now awash with stories of an ancient text in which Jesus says ‘my wife’. The story which broke yesterday in the New York Times and some other sources, is being carried today by outlets too numerous to list. Some of the reporting is responsible, but not all. Consider this extract from The Daily Mail:

“If genuine, the document casts doubt on a centuries old official representation of Magdalene as a repentant whore and overturns the Christian ideal of sexual abstinence.”

We are of course in a context where there is so much ignorance of basic facts about Christianity that even when the media properly relay facts they get completely distorted and misunderstood in popular perception. This can be seen in the way derivative media put spin on the story and in the online comments below the news items.

THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE AT BIBLICAL TRAINING’S SITE

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All of Grace | by Charles Hadden Spurgeon

OF the things which I have spoken unto you these many years, this is the sum. Within the circle of these words my theology is contained, so far as it refers to the salvation of men. I rejoice also to remember that those of my family who were ministers of Christ before me preached this doctrine, and none other. My father, who is still able to bear his personal testimony for his Lord, knows no other doctrine, neither did his father before him.

I am led to remember this by the fact that a somewhat singular circumstance, recorded in my memory, connects this text with myself and my grandfather. It is now long years ago. [click to continue…]

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My brother in Christ, Eddie Dalcour, Ph.D. of Christian Defense Ministries has prepared a good response to the issue of the latest SBC Resolution on the Sinner’s Prayer.  I will be posting a line-by-line response soon and Lord willing, we will be answering this and other issues in a public venue.  Please find Eddie’s words and contemplate them in line with the word in your heart and the spirit in your mind:

“Recently, a doctrinal lightning bolt has struck the Southern Baptist Convention. It centers on the open declaration of some Arminian SBC members affirming their doctrinal position and thus openly denying the doctrinal position of the Calvinistic members of the SBC—namely, denying Four of the Five Points of Calvinism[1] or, what is called, the doctrines of grace. Headed by Pastor Eric Hankins of FBC Oxford, MS, a statement of faith entitled, “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” was developed by a number of pastors and professors within the SBC. It consisted of Ten Articles of Faith affirming Arminian doctrines and denying Calvinistic ones. A Petition was attached for SBC members to sign. As expected, Arminian concepts and texts (esp. John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9; etc.) are merely cited in the Articles with its “traditional” understanding assumed. Ironically, Article Three uses the phrase (in agreement) “penal substitution.” But this is completely inconsistent—for this phrase is a borrowed phrase from the Reformers and thus a decidedly Calvinistic concept.

Undeniably, the Southern Baptists have enjoyed a long history of biblical scholarship; scholarship, however, which has been purely Calvinistic in soteriology. Josh Buice, pastor of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA, rightly asked: “Have we forgotten our history as Southern Baptists where we had Calvinists such as Lottie Moon, James P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, A. T. Robertson, John A. Broadus, and many others who served in our convention along with those who were less Calvinistic (Reformed) in their doctrine? They didn’t fight over it, throw mud, and pull out the heresy sword to use on one another.”[2] For decades SBC Calvinistic and Arminian pastors have co-existed with no problem. Now, by aggressively promoting this anti-Calvinistic Petition, the promoters of the Articles are causing a divisive and an unnecessary fraction within the SBC.

Sinner’s Prayer?
In the same Arminian pool, at this year’s SBC the so-called “sinner’s prayer” was happily “affirmed,” but not by all. The Calvinists have always seen the “sinner’s prayer” and its theological “implications” as a departure from the biblical view of salvation by grace-alone. For those not completely familiar with the “sinner’s prayer,” it is usually a prayer of repentance and “inviting Christ into your heart,” which is led by the evangelist/ minister/pastor in which the “unbeliever” (i.e., the “sinner”) is instructed to repeat. This has been the standard and traditional method at most evangelical events/revivals. However, as many have pointed out, not only is the traditional “sinner’s prayer” a relatively recent part of contemporary evangelism, for there is simply no historical evidence for it (or the accompanied so-called, “alter-call”) before the eighteenth century, but, there is absolutely no biblical evidence supporting the concept of it.
Proponents of the “sinner’s prayer” typically point to Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:13-14; and Rom. 10:9-10 to make their case. However, none of these resemble in any way, shape, or form the traditional “sinner’s prayer.” Also note, the words in this “prayer” are not the words of the unbeliever, but rather, they are the words of the minister, which are repeated by the unbeliever as directed. In response to the lack of biblical proof, some proponents will argue that just because it is not in Scripture or a recent method, it doesn’t make it invalid or wrong. True, but the real concern is not the lack of biblical (or historical) evidence, thus being “non-biblical,” rather, it is the “un-biblical” (contrary to Scripture) implications of the “sinner’s prayer” that is the heart of the issue. There is a difference between something “non-biblical” and something “un-biblical,” that is, something that opposes Scripture.
The Erroneous Implications of the “Sinner’s Prayer”

We use the term “implications” in order to draw a distinction between something that is comprehensibly promoted and something that is indirectly promoted or supported. With that said, some of the main biblical defects associated with the “sinner’s prayer” (in terms of its implications) include:

1) Decisionism. Decisionism is the teaching that one’s “decision” causes regeneration, that is, it is the cause of one being “born again.” It teaches that when an unbeliever makes a decision to accept Christ as his or her Savior, God then responds by regenerating him or her (bear in mind, theologically,regeneration is not justification, which is through, not as the cause of, faith). The idea that man does his part (the faith-act) and “after,” God does His part indicates man cooperating with God in salvation (i.e., synergism). It places a work (viz. the decision or faith-act) as a contributing work in addition to the work of Christ. Hence, it becomes (by implication) a grace + works system. This concept is also called “decisional regeneration,” which is similar to Rome’s doctrine of “baptismal regeneration,” where the act of water baptism is said to be the necessary cause (laver) of regeneration.

In contrast, Scripture teaches that regeneration is the gracious act of God alone—not God’s grace “and” man’s work (faith-act, decision, etc.). It is God alone who justifies and makes alive the spiritually dead unregenerate man (Rom. 8:29-30, 33; Eph. 2:1-3)—through the preaching of the gospel as normal means (Rom. 1:16). It is this act of God, then, that is the cause of one being born again in which, as a result, the now regenerated person believes by which is “declared” righteous (justified). Thus, man’s faith in Christ (which is grated as a grace-gift; see Acts 13:48; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29) is the result, not thecause, of regeneration—without the corporation of man as Rome teaches.

2) The “sinner’s prayer” opposes the biblical teaching: Regeneration precedes Faith. Passages such as John 1:13; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Thess, 2:13; 1 John 5:1; etc., teach exegetically that regeneration comes before faith. Before any unbeliever is regenerated, he does not naturally want to make a decision to believe or seek for God; he does not have the ability to have faith/belief in Christ—he only “loves darkness” (John 3:19), for he is a slave to sin, spiritually dead, radically deprave.

3) The “sinner’s prayer” presents a false view of the state of the unregenerate. Scripture teaches that because of the Fall of Adam, man has lost hisability to make spiritually good choices (John 6:44; 8:34-47; Rom.3:10-18; 8:7-8); the unregenerate man can-not[3] come to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65); he is spiritually dead—not sick (Eph. 2:1-3); thus, his will is not free, rather, it is a slave to sin (John 3:34, 36); it wills (thelō) to “do thedesires” [epithumia, lit., “lust”] of the devil (John 8:44); it is “held captive by him [the devil] to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26). The unregenerate man, then, has no ability or desire to submit to or please God. Paul said in Rom. 8:7-8 that “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”[4] Paul also affirmed that “there is none righteous,” none “who seeks for God,” none “who does good”—“not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12).

Therefore, the concept of the “sinner’s prayer” where an unregenerate person does righteous “good” acts such as repenting and “inviting Jesus to come into his heart, thus pleasing God and submitting to Him[5] while “in the flesh” is clearly an unbiblical idea. Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing”! (John 6:63) and “this ‘nothing’ is not a little ‘something’” (Luther). Only if God, by His grace alone, first regenerates (makes alive), through the gospel, the spiritually dead, “in the flesh,” sinner, granting him faith and repentance, will he then choose to believe and come to Christ. It was “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God. . . .” (Rom.5:10). While traveling on the road to Damascus, Saul was not “seeking” God nor was contemplating Steven’s message—for he hated Christ! It was when Christ first appeared to him, thus making him spiritually alive, that he asked: “Who are You Lord?” and then obeyed Him forever more. Thus, it is entirely by God’s grace alone that He regenerates anyone.

4) The “sinner’s prayer” introduces the idea of a “second” mediator—namely, the minister becomes the “mediator” by directing the unbeliever to repeat after him the “sinner’s prayer” to God consisting of repentance and inviting Christ into his heart. As a result, the minister becomes the “go-between” mediating between the “sinner” and God in the prayer. Passages such as 1 Tim. 2:5 show this Romish idea as patently false—God needs no “assistance” from a minister to help get Jesus in one’s life.

There are many other theological problems associated with the concept of the “sinner’s prayer,” however, these above suffice. Again we are not suggesting that all who practice the traditional “sinner’s prayer” and the Charles Finney[6] “alter-call” deny salvation through faith alone or promote the Roman Catholic doctrine of “another” mediator other than Christ. Nor are we saying that genuine salvation has not occurred at revivals that include the “sinner’s prayer.” Butanyone that confesses (believes in) Christ in a biblical sense has already been saved, thus, no need for a subsequent “sinner’s prayer.” We are simply saying that whether or not something seems “to work,”[7] if it is based on teachings or concepts that are unbiblical, it should not be practiced—“Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

“Believer’s Prayer” of Thanks Giving!

So, how are we to record new converts for the purpose of follow-up at evangelical events? Answer: Turn the unbiblical “sinner’s prayer” to a “believer’s prayer” of celebration or thanks giving prayer. In other words, at a revival during the close—after the clear preaching of the gospel—the question that can be asked, should not be, “Who wants to invite Christ into your heart?” but rather, “Who here based on proclamation of the gospel, put their faith in (believe) Christ for the very first time?” (or something similar). Then, any following prayer is for “new believers” thanking God for saving them, making them alive, giving them faith, sending Christ to die for them, etc. This way, it glorifies God in that it publically proclaims: “It is His doing you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30) and by “grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). It also affirms the gospel as “the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1:16) and correctly acknowledges the total inability of man due to the inherent effect of sin, thus openly affirming that salvation is exclusively by God’s grace alone.”

—-CITATIONS/FOOTNOES—-
[1] The Five points of Calvinism are 1) Total depravity/inability, 2) unconditional election, 3) limited or definite atonement, 4) irresistible or efficacious grace, and 5) perseverance of the saints (note, point 5 is not disputed in the Articles).
[2] As reported in christianpost.com.
[3] The Greek term translated “can” in John 6:44, 65 (“No one can come.”) and 8:43 (“It is because you can-not hear My word”) is dunamai meaning “ability,” not “choice.” In these passages, the term refers to unregenerate man’s spiritual inability to come to (believe in) Christ and hear His words (see also Rom.8:7-8).
[4] As with John 6:44 and 8:43, the term “even able” in Rom. 8:7 (“for it is not even able to do so”) and “can” in the next verse (“and those who are in the flesh can-not please God”) isdunamai meaning “ability,” not choice. Thus, because of his nature, the unregenerate has no spiritual “ability” to come to Christ; to hear His words; to please or submit to God; he is “not even able to do so”—unless God first makes him alive, thus changing his enslaved will.
[5] The idea of “inviting Christ into one’s heart” has absolutely no biblical support. It is he who truly believes/has faith in Christ as a result of regeneration that has an intimate relationship with all three Persons in the Trinity.
[6] Charles Finney was a revivalist in the 19th century who popularized the “alter-call” method. However, Finney is rightfully labeled as a heretic for denying many essential Christian doctrines such as that the sole ground of justification is the righteousness of Christ, thus denying justification through faith alone. Finney also denied original sin and substitutionary atonement, to name a few.
[7] Although, as many have shown (e.g., D. A. Carson), statistically of those who came forward at a typical alter-call after praying the “sinner’s prayer,” less than 2-4% were attending a Christian church five years later. In other words, the artificial method of alter-calls and “sinner’s prayers” at evangelical revivals are not working—2-4%! This shocking statistic shows the very high number of false conversions utilizing these unbiblical methods.

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Preaching is God’s Natural Means to a Supernatural End

Recently the discussion of preaching has been in my ears and before my eyes.  Sadly, like most pastors and church goers, preaching has taken a back seat to “felt needs”, humanism and pragmatic comedy and proverbial enlightenment.  Creativity has taken the place of awe of the Creator and application has replaced worship.

Much needs to be said, however, much has already been said for thousands of years on this topic.  Sadly, the debate will continue and many will dismiss the reality of the present state of the church as “where we are” and try to fix it by continuing down the path of a reducing the Word of God to a plan apart from a Person who is Jesus Christ our KING!

In this, for those who desire to truly know, Spurgeon has a few thoughts on preaching.  Historically, he has been entitled as the “Prince of Preachers” so it would do us well to hear what he has said.  It would also do everyone well to visit 2 Timothy 4

[4:1] I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. [5] As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

In light of this, the command PREACH THE WORD is enforced by the amazing reality that God in His awesome power and purpose in Christ has come and His Kingdom is established through through His glory therefore, Jesus will judge all creation and one can be certain He will judge preachers according to James 3:1.  Thus, preaching is required of pastors, it is required of those who are called by God, not to deliver man’s creative exploits as derived from the scriptures, but with complete patience one must reprove, rebuke and exhort through teaching of the Apostle’s writing as it was intended to be read and understood.  Many will not approve of such things in the name of “church growth” but Paul addresses that as well, that the time has come where people will not endure the truth.

Look at what Spurgeon had to say in line with this: [click to continue…]

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Unsinkable Faith of John Harper | Titanic Anniversary

What a beautiful expression of God’s faithfulness.  If only we all could have the opportunity, maybe we should just take our lives as we live them and as we are going to share our faith.

For His Glory by His Grace

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T4G | Together 4 the Gospel 2012 Main Session Vids/Notes

Here are the notes and videos from the T4G 2012 Main Sessions courtesy of www.t4g.org and Justin Taylor. I would highly recommend taking a few weeks and perusing them.  With permission I have provided a PDF of all Justin’s notes from the main sessions for download.

For His Glory, Pastor James.

T4G 2012 Notes download as PDF, the links next to the titles take you to the specific posts on the blog

John Piper, Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy: Notes / Video

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A Few Thoughts on Worship Through the Scripture

 Worship

Worship is one of the wonders of the Christian life creating awe, an opportunity of expression and a sense of overwhelming joy that is unsurpassed.  This joy is fully known because of Jesus Christ, the One and only Son of the living God who created all that exists for His glory.  Jesus, in His glorious and triumphant life, death and resurrection, has secured the eternal forgiveness and life for all who believe.  Because of this great work, God is revealed to the lost sheep that they might be saved.  From the beginning of time, God has established Himself as the object of great worth, praise, adoration and reverence.

Though our current attitude toward worship changes from season to season and generation-to-generation, the scriptures teach us all that is needed in order to understand worship, participate in worship and celebrate Christ who is the object of our worship.  Worship, in a nutshell, is praising something because of its worth.  As the church, we understand that the only one who is worth anything in this universe is the one who created it all, the Lord God Almighty who has made Himself known through His Son, Jesus the Holy Anointed One of God.  These lessons will engage the mind and the heart in the action of worship and allow the learner to look deep into the cavern of their soul and discern what is the greatest joy and affection found.  They will be able to see clearly God’s plan for worship through His creation, His holiness, His worthiness, His character, His justice, His mercy and His love toward His children.

Paul says in the book of Romans chapter 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.[1]  Therefore, we must now take time, to view scripture through two lenses:  a lens of theological truths, and a lens of consequences of worship.  Then we will understand the great God worthy of great worship!

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What John 3:16 Really Says…

We hosted this panel in California and Dr.s Dalcour and Downing give a wonderful exposition on this text.  Please watch and listen several times.  We’ve posted this also on the church site, feel free to share it.

TRANSCRIPT

What John 3:16 Really Says

“Dr. Downing”

A literal translation [click to continue…]

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Are You Born Again? | by JC Ryle | A True Test of New Birth

Are You Born Again?

This is one of life’s most important questions. Jesus Christ said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It is not enough to reply, “I belong to the church; I suppose I’m a Christian.” Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us—many listed in the First Epistle of John.

No Habitual Sinning

First of all, John wrote: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9). “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not” (5:18).

A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.

If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (1 John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appearing in both his words and his actions. He knows that “in many things we offend all” (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow, and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again? [click to continue…]

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The Prince’s Poison Cup | Ligonier.org

This book is one that moves me to the core with the gospel. It is informative and solid in describing substitutionary atonement to children. I just bought a couple more as it is listed on the $5 Friday.

Get your Ligonier $5 Friday Items

Summary

With The Prince’s Poison Cup, Dr. R. C. Sproul continues his series of books designed to present deep biblical truths to children on their own level. In this work, he focuses in on the atonement to show that Jesus had to endure the curse of sin in order to redeem His people from their spiritual death.

When Ella gets sick and has to take yucky medicine, she wonders why something that will help her get well has to taste so bad. When she puts the question to Grandpa, he tells her the story of a great King and His subjects who enjoyed wonderful times together—until the people rebelled against the King and drank from a forbidden well. To their horror, they found that the beautiful water in the well made their hearts turn to stone. To reclaim His people, the King asks His Son, the Prince, to drink from a well of horrid poison. The poison will surely kill the Prince—but He is willing to drink it to please His Father and help His people.

Richly illustrated, The Prince’s Poison Cup will help children appreciate the great love of God for His people and the awful price Jesus had to pay because of sin. A “For Parents” section provides assistance in unfolding the biblical elements of the story.

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