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 »
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 »
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)
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 »
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 »