The tulip

October 15, 2007


The Five Points of Calvinism are easily remembered by the acrostic TULIP



Total Depravity (Total Inability)

Total Depravity is probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism. When Calvinists speak of humans as “totally depraved,” they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality — his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.

The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called “Total Inability.” The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God’s making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). Read the rest of this entry »

What is sin?

October 12, 2007

I think it’s important (and helpful for evangelism) to think about a correct understanding of sin. While we can refer to breaking the commandments of God as sin (murder, idolatry, etc.), it is probably more correct to consider these active manifestations of our rebellion against God as “sins”. Where “Sin” is the condition or state in which the human race is in since the fall of Adam and Eve, “sins” are the various manifestations of this condition that naturally flow from our fallen condition. Paul talks about the two states or conditions in which people are before God in Romans 5:12-21: We are either “in Adam” and thus condemned by the Law and under God’s judgement and wrath; or we are “in Christ” and free from the condemnation that the Law brings and we receive Christ’s righteousness as a free gift accepted by faith. The Law of God, as this website correctly asserts, was introduced by God to expose the state of Sin. The Law does this by showing us our various and many “sins”. We need to have the right distinction in our minds when explaining the gospel. There is Sin (our sinful condition) and there is sin (the various manifestations of our sinful condition). Read the rest of this entry »

Humanity’s radical corruption

October 6, 2007

My current goodnight book is What is Reformed Theology? by RC Sproul. Its very enjoyable and constantly challenges my dodginess. RC has shown me how RT puts God at the centre, is based on God’s Word alone, is committed to faith alone, devoted to Jesus Christ and structured by three covenants. I am currently reading RC’s first point regarding the tulip and I am yet again blown away. Here is a taste of how I am being refined in theological position:

Romans 3:9-18 “For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin …There is none righteous, no, not one. …There is none who does good, no not one.”

…To be under sin is to be controlled by our sin nature. Sin is a weight or burden that presses downward on the soul. In bringing the whole human race before the tribunal of God, Scripture indicts us all without exception, save for Jesus.

…How are we to understand this? Is it not our daily experience that many good deeds are performed by pagan people? The reformers wrestled with this problem and acknowledged that sinners in their fallen condition are still capable of performing what the Reformers called works of “civil virtue.” Civil virtue refers to deeds that conform outwardly to the law of God. Fallen sinners can refrain from stealing and perform acts of charity, but these deeds are not deemed good in an ultimate sense. When God evaluates the actions of people, he considers not only the outward deeds in and of themselves, but also the motives behind these acts. The supreme motive required of everything we do is the love of God. A deed that outwardly conforms to God’s law but proceeds from a heart alienated from God is not deemed by God a good deed. The whole action, including the inclinations of the doer’s heart, is brought under the scrutiny of God and found wanting.

(p. 119, 120)

Theology on Fire – conference notes

October 5, 2007

As faithful evangelists we want to have a good grasp on theology. Here are Nathan’s notes from the Theology on Fire conference which he attended this year. It is hoped that by reading these notes you can get inspired by what the conference was all about.

Theology on Fire
Preaching the Living Word into the 21st Century
SMBC Biennial Preaching Conference – May 7-10, 2007

“This generation is profoundly Biblically illiterate”

“Good preaching is when God is central and not us” – Jenny Salt

“The preacher must also live what he believes – people need to see how he lives and do it”

Dr. Dale Ralph Davis

Joshua: Picking up Principles

– Joshua 21:43-45 Sums up everything so far.
– Usual OT pattern: Grace then demand for obedience
– Use the OT to interpret the OT (Josh 1; 7:21, 24-26)
– Accept the stress – Get the point of what the writer is saying. What’s his point? What’s he saying? (Joshua 2)
– Doctrinal bones covered with narrative flesh (See how to preach OT narrative).
– Go slow: Josh 3-4 – The writer wants us to savour the event, like eating a delicious dessert. We need to enjoy it and remember it. God’s finest works take time.
– Keep your eye on the odd God: God is the most interesting character of the Bible. He’s amazing! God surprises us, shocks us (eg. grace: salvation of von Ribbentroff, Hitler’s foreign minister “I’ll see you in heaven”). God does “insane” things to prove a point – that it’s his doing, that he does what we don’t do, that he does the impossible.
– Josh 5:11-12 God provides – be thankful even in the ordinary everyday things
– Josh 9:18-21 God’s people are sometimes called to live obediently and submissively amongst their own folly. Eg. don’t divorce even if your marriage was a mistake – stay obedient even amongst your own folly. Read the rest of this entry »

The Holy Spirit convicting the world of guilt

September 9, 2007


A light bulb flashed on for me during tonight’s sermon.

Previously I have felt a bit ashamed to speak too much about sin and guilt when presenting the gospel.  I have tended to want to major on “the positives” e.g.  adoption into God’s family, new life and eternal life.

Tonight’s sermon by Pastor John de Boer was titled “The Holy Spirit – Our Roommate”.
One of the points brought out was that the work of the Spirit is like a spotlight directed at Christ. One of the bible texts used was John 16: 8 – 11.

Unless I go away, the Counsellor (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

As I read “when He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement…”  it occurred to me that I have not seen the significance of exposing sin for what it is, or as I should have been seeing it.

There is a great temptation to play down the harsh offence of the cross, and make it more appealing.
This text shows that people can’t see their need for Christ till they are convicted of guilt.

The Bad News and the Good News (Gift of the Gospel – week 2)

September 1, 2007

…for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.
Romans 3:10-23
So What?
Looking in the mirror of scripture (James 1:22-24) what an ugly image we see reflected back. A miserable, mean, cruel, good hating creature that speaks evil, thinks evil and acts evilly in every way is before us, indeed is us. We are born in this state and without divine intervention in our lives this is the way we will be when we leave this life and face the good, righteous, just and holy God – a God who is angry with us for what we have done and who we have been all our lives (Psalm 7:11)

If you think you can make good with God by renovating your life, keeping the law to save yourself, then think again for you just read “ by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Indeed even if you could keep the law, which you can’t, you don’t and you won’t keep, you still owe God an eternal debt for all the times you broke His law in the past.

Your only hope, your only way to get right with God and avoid His judgment and punishment (Hell) is to have faith (v.22) in the sin offering, the sacrifice made by the one who is the revelation of God’s righteousness (perfect, holy and sinless) Jesus Christ. If you don’t enter the path to heaven by the door of complete faith in Jesus Christ’s person and atoning work and utter dependence on Him to make you righteous and good before God then you don’t enter the path to heaven at all. Jesus was emphatic “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Not a monk, not a minister, not anyone, no matter how nice they are, can get to heaven on their own merit.

Repent and believe in the sin offering. See your sin and your sinful condition for what it is – horrible and hateful to God, yourself and others around you. Stop trying to save yourself by being a better person. Turn to Jesus Christ and believe that He is who you need to pay for your sins and present you faultless before the just God of the universe. And then live. Live a life of thankful obedience to God’s word – listening to the voice of the Saviour, being empowered by the Holy Spirit and loved by God the Father. And have peace, hope and joy. Be eternally at peace with God, look forward in certain hope to eternal life with Him and being made like Him (1 John 3:1-3), and experience the joy of knowing that you possess more than all the money in the world could ever buy (Romans 8:18) – forgiveness and life.

A Walk in the Park

August 26, 2007

Arrived at the park today to find Daniel already in conversation with a lady Agalaia? sitting at a park bench. As I walked into the action, Daniel had opportunity to explain why we were meeting together in the park and what we were doing. This led to questions about her experience and knowledge of God, the Bible and Christianity and some lengthy discussion about whether she knew and cared about her sinful condition in relation to the Law of God.

She admitted she was sinful but thought it didn’t really matter that much because she wasn’t as bad as everybody else at which point we took the time to explain that Jesus said it did matter and that according to God’s standard a lustful look and a hateful thought are as bad before God as the acts of adultery and murder that can follow them.

She was sure that her asking for forgiveness each night would make her right with God and I asked her why she thought God would cancel her debt … if He’s a just God He can’t just ignore her sin and offence … just because she wanted Him too … she had no bargaining power with the God she had offended. I then explained that when a Christian prays, they have to acknowledge that they can only come to God “through Jesus” as their representative, acknowledging by faith that they need His righteousness and His payment for sins to be theirs. This seemed to sink in a little. I also explained that the fact that she prayed to God each night was of no use unless she came to the Father through faith in the Son … she might think she was praying to a God that would forgive her because “she wasn’t that bad” and they “were only little sins” but that to pray to a God in that way was only to pray to a God of her imagination. To pray to the holy, just and living God she needed to come through the person and work of Jesus. She accepted tracts and a Bible and seemed genuinely interested in hearing the gospel.

Read the rest of this entry »