Monthly Archives: July 2013

Oh This Looks Good Doesn’t It?

Zwinglius Redivivus

Who Do People Say I Am?  Rewriting Gospel in Emerging Christianity

rewritingA robust yet accessible study of how early Christians viewed Jesus’ divinity

Spanning early Christian writings from the Gospel of Mark to the Acts of John, this book by Vernon Robbins explores the various ways early Christians explained their understanding of the special nature of Jesus beyond the canonical Gospels.

Who Do People Say I Am? shows how second-and third-century Christian authors of additional Gospels and Gospel-like writings expanded and elaborated on Jesus’ divinity in the context of his earthly existence. According to Robbins, these Christian authors thought that the New Testament Gospel writers could and should have emphasized the divinity of Jesus more than they did.

Throughout the book Robbins asks and answers questions such as these:

  • If Jesus introduced new beliefs and practices, what did second- and third-century believers find unresolved in the New Testament Gospels about…

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44 Facts About The Death Of The Middle Class That Every American Should Know

What is America going to look like when the middle class is dead? Once upon a time, the United States has the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world. When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was “middle class” and it was very rare to hear of someone that was out of work. Of course life wasn’t perfect, but most families owned a home, most families had more than one vehicle, and most families could afford nice vacations and save for retirement at the same time. Sadly, things have dramatically changed in America since that time. There just aren’t as many “middle class jobs” as there used to be. In fact, just six years ago there were about six million more full-time jobs in our economy than there are right now. Those jobs are being replaced by part-time jobs and temp jobs. The number one employer in America today is Wal-Mart and the number two employer in America today is a temp agency (Kelly Services). But you can’t support a family on those kinds of jobs. We live at a time when incomes are going down but the cost of living just keeps going up. As a result, the middle class in America is being absolutely shredded and the ranks of the poor are steadily growing. The following are 44 facts about the death of the middle class that every American should know… (Read More….)

Continuing to Live in Christ

The challenge for Christians, both new and old, is to continue to follow Christ long after our initial profession of faith in Him. This must be hard because thousands of books have been written about how to faithfully follow Jesus as a disciple.

The apostle Paul gives us a big clue about how we follow Christ in his letter to the first-century church in Colossae. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him…” (Colossians 2:6a NIV).

In other words, Paul says, we follow Jesus in the same way we came to him. The question then is, “How did we receive Christ?” Here’s my take on what it means to continue to live in Christ just like we began with him:

1. Like the Colossians, we don’t trust the popular gods of our culture.

Roman culture in the first century…

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The real secret of keeping millennials in the church

I want to let you in on a secret: I know the reason millennials are leaving the church—and you probably do, too.

… is the answer to make church a place where it’s okay to have questions? Sure, as long as you’re asking them with the expectation of getting an answer.

Is it to make the church a place that isn’t tied to a particular political party or nation? Definitely, as long as we’re not afraid to speak up about tough topics like abortion for fear of being seen as being “too political.”

Is it make the church a place where LGBT friends feel warm and welcome? Yes, as long as we’re not too timid to tell the truth about what the Bible says about all sexual sin, including homosexuality.

But here’s the thing: doing any of these things (which, for what it’s worth, is what the vast majority of churches already do) isn’t going to make millennials suddenly want to come back to church.

Why? Because they’re not really the reason they’re leaving.

Do millennials have doubts that go beyond pat answers? Yep. Do they have a hard time with the biblical view of sexuality? Absolutely. Do they really struggle with what the Bible says about how the world came to be? Totally.

But the real reason millennials are abandoning the church isn’t because they’re dissatisfied with the answers to any of these questions. And it’s not because they can’t find Jesus in the typical evangelical church.

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Confession statement 37

Reformedontheweb's Blog

Published in 1646

The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.

CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

XXXVII. THAT the ministers lawfully called, as aforesaid, ought to continue in their calling and place according to God’s ordinance, and carefully to feed the flock of God committed to them, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.

Heb.5:4; John 10:3,4; Acts 20:28,29; Rom.12:7,8; Heb.13:7.17; 1 Pet.5: 1.2,3.

The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46


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9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

This month marks the 88th anniversary of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, a famous legal case in 1925 in which a high school teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. Here are nine things you should know about this infamously misunderstood case.

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Human Inability

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

οὐδεὶς δύναται ἐλθεῖν πρός με ἐὰν μὴ ὁ πατὴρ ὁ πέμψας με ἑλκύσῃ αὐτόν, κἀγὼ ἀναστήσω αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. (John 6:44 NA28)

No one is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me should draw him, and I will raise him up in the last day. (John 6:44 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the last several posts we have been looking at the nature of the unregenerate person prior to salvation and what has to take place in order for that person to respond to the Gospel. To be honest, I was not really prepared for some of the pushback I received on this being that the arguments were so “old” and already dealt with here.  Instead of addressing those arguments myself in this post, I will, instead, post a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon titled “Human Inability” preached March 7…

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New Research Shows That Christians Are Harassed More than Muslims or Jews

Zwinglius Redivivus

With thanks to Jon Merritt for pointing this out




And there you have it, by the numbers. Jews are harassed far less than either Muslims or Christians. And Christians are harassed far more than members of both those major religions.

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Disconnecting Our Doctrine (via Affected By Truth)

In part 2 of his interview with Tim Challies, Paul Washer identifies some concerns he has regarding younger Christians who’ve rediscovered the biblical doctrines of the Reformation – each of them involve a “disconnect” (my word) between those doctrines and their necessary application in faith and practice.

Three of Washer’s concerns, in particular, stood out to me.

#1 Embracing Reformation doctrines without letting go of unbiblical models of church life:

We must realize that much of what is wrong with current evangelical practices has to do with a departure from the biblical theology that was set forth in the Reformation. If we truly grasp these doctrines, especially Sola Scriptura, then it demands that we conform our organizational structures and methodologies of ministry to the Scriptures, not the other way around.

#2 Comprehending Reformed and Puritan theology without practicing its piety:

Their prayer closets were just as familiar to them as their libraries. They longed to be conformed to the image of Christ. They were by no means perfect men, but they painstakingly sought to conform every aspect of their lives to the dictates of Scripture. The transformation in their theology produced a transformation in their doxology and praxis.

#3 Attempting to appear contemporary, hip or cool:

This flirtatious relationship with culture is dangerous, and it makes it very difficult for the world to take the minister or his message seriously.

Read the entire interview (& part 1).

I am grateful that Washer identified these three concerns. They are pressing in my own life and also seem to me quite conspicuous in our generation. There are many “disconnects” between our biblical doctrine and our church life, our devotional life, and our relationship with the world. We may love the doctrines of the Reformation, but do we love what they must mean?

You cannot marry Sola Deo Gloria and the man-centered consumerism assumed by most within the average evangelical church. It’s impossible to reflect on the theology Calvin’s Institutes in the morning and then peruse Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Church in the afternoon, while assuming yourself to be consistent. Many try this, but there’s no middle ground between the two – the foundational presuppositions of modern evangelical (“it’s all about keeping you happy and entertained”) pragmatism are at odds with the doctrines of God’s grace.

Neither can one say with integrity that they love the theology of God’s sovereignty and glory in Romans 9 without being led to the doxology of Romans 11:33-36. The Reformation was more than an ideology for intellectuals, it was a pastoral movement for Christian piety.

And there’s a reason that the Reformers and Puritans were despised, forsaken, and rejected by men – just like the Apostle Paul (2 Cor 4:8-10) – because the doctrines of grace assault man’s pride (1 Cor 1:26-31). If the world loves your hip “relevance” (see Luke 6:26; John 15:19; 1 John 2:15; Jas 4:1; et al), it may be because you have not consistently applied these doctrines to their humbling end – “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:30).

Do not resist believing doctrines of grace. And also do not resist applying their necessary and biblical implications to our churches, our lives and our relationships.

If you’re interested in more from Paul Washer on how to connect our doctrine to our practice, I would recommend reading his booklet, Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church. (There’s also a free Kindle version).

But let me warn you that it is well-titled. And it is indicting!


Who Am I to Judge? The Pope, the Press, and the Predicament

In his latest blog essay, “Who Am I to Judge? The Pope, the Press, and the Predicament,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. brings clarity to Pope Francis’s recent comments regarding homosexuals, correcting the reaction of the press and calling evangelical Christians to remain faithful to Scripture on this issue for the sake of the Gospel. You can read Dr. Mohler’s full essay here.

Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World – We are living through one of the largest persecutions of a religious group in history.

Few people realize that we are today living through the largest persecution of Christians in history, worse even than the famous attacks under ancient Roman emperors like Diocletian and Nero. Estimates of the numbers of Christians under assault range from 100-200 million. According to one estimate, a Christian is martyred every five minutes. And most of this persecution is taking place at the hands of Muslims. Of the top fifty countries persecuting Christians, forty-two have either a Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations.

The extent of this disaster, its origins, and the reasons why it has been met with a shrug by most of the Western media are the topics of Raymond Ibrahim’s Crucified Again. Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow of the Middle East Forum. Fluent in Arabic, he has been tracking what he calls “one of the most dramatic stories” of our time in the reports and witnesses that appear in Arabic newspapers, news shows, and websites, but that rarely get translated into English or picked up by the Western press. What he documents in this meticulously researched and clearly argued book is a human rights disaster of monumental proportions.

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How, As A Scholar, To Sell Books (And Sell Out)

Zwinglius Redivivus

bell1- Write unorthodoxly. Unorthodoxy sells, especially if you can work in denigration of faith or Church.
2- Misrepresent the scholarly consensus.
3- Pretend that your 2nd or 3rd century heretical notion is actually your own modern insight.
4- Put glitzy covers on your books, along with weird pictures of you posing on the back dust jacket.
5- Pander to the basest aspects and curiosities of human nature.
6- Hire an agent.
7- Eisegete, eisegete, eisegete.
8- Ignore historical theology.

heldIf you follow those eight steps, you’ll sell your book. In fact, following those eight steps you don’t even have to pretend to be a scholar (because you no longer are), you can just be what you have become: a sell out.

[There are several exemplars available to guide you through the process.  Just follow in their footsteps, even if they all can’t really be considered scholars by any stretch of…

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What Is Sanctification?


Here are two good answers.

First, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (question 35) answers that sanctification is:

 the work of God’s free grace [2 Thess. 2:13] whereby we

  • are renewed in the whole man after the image of God [Eph. 4:23-24], and
  • are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness [Rom. 6:4, 6; 8:1]

Anthony A. Hoekema (1913-1988), in Saved by Grace, defines it as follows:

That gracious operation of the Holy Spirit,

involving our responsible participation,

by which he

  • delivers us from the pollution of sin,
  • renews our entire nature according to the image of God, and
  • enables us to live lives that are pleasing to him.

And here is a helpful chart from Andy Naselli’s helpful Let Go and Let God? showing a bit of the diversity of the way the concept is understood in the NT:




Initial sanctification (occurs simultaneously with justification and regeneration) Progressive sanctification Perfect, complete, or final sanctification (i.e., glorification)
“I am (or have been) sanctified.” “I am being sanctified.” “I will be sanctified.”
Sets a believer apart positionally from sin’s penalty and/or experientially from his “old man” in Adam (Rom. 6; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11; Heb. 10:10, 14) Sets a believer apart from sin’s power and practice (John 17:17; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1; Phil. 1:6) Sets a believer apart from sin’s presence and possibility (Rom. 8:29-30; Phil. 3:21; 1 Thess. 3:12-13; Jude 24)

Can You Explain How and Why Christ Is One Person with Two Natures?

Here is a lecture Fred Sanders gave for laypeople at the 2013 G. Campbell Morgan Theology Conference, sponsored by Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute. One of his teaching tools, which combines historical and systematic theology in a chart, is the “Chalcedonian Box”:

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Does God Author, Cause, or Permit Sin?

These excerpts from John Frame’s The Doctrine of God (P&R, 2003)—a book I highly recommend—provide an accessible and thoughtful analysis of how to talk about God’s sovereignty over sin:


How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian?

1. Assurance of Salvation—Is It Possible?

It is possible, indeed normal, for the Christian to experience assurance of salvation.

It is possible, indeed normal, for a non-Christian to have a false assurance of salvation.

2. Having Doubts about Your Salvation

It is possible, indeed normal, for Christians to have occasional doubts about their salvation.

Doubting assurance is not unbelief.

The causes of doubt are many:

  • Spiritual immaturity may contribute to doubts about assurance.
  • Sensitivity to sin may cause confusion about assurance.
  • Comparison with other Christians may cloud assurance.
  • Childhood conversion affects the assurance of some.

3. The Basis of Assurance

The assurance of salvation rests primarily on

  • the character of God
  • the works of Jesus Christ
  • the truth of God’s promises

4. An Inner Confirmation

Assurance may be experienced partly through the inner confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

How does the Holy Spirit give Christians this assurance?

  • He opens our minds to understand the Bible in ways that give us assurance.
  • He guides our thinking about the biblical marks of salvation in our lives.
  • He brings Scripture and its truths to our minds in various ways that assure us.
  • He causes an inner sense of assurance without words.

5. Signs of Eternal Life

Assurance may be experienced partly through the presence of the attitudes and actions the Bible says will accompany salvation [1 John].

  • Do you share the intimacies of the Christian life with other believers?
  • Do you have a deep awareness of your sin against the word and love of God?
  • Do you live in conscious obedience to the word of God?
  • Do you despise the world and its ways?
  • Do you long for the return of Jesus Christ and to be made like him?
  • Do you habitually do what is right more and sin less?
  • Do you love other Christians sacrificially and want to be with them?
  • Do you discern the presence of the Holy Spirit within you?
  • Do you enjoy listening to the doctrines the apostles of Jesus taught?
  • Do you believe what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ?

6. A Spiritual Mind-set

Only those who are spiritually minded are Christians.

You are spiritual minded when you think about the things of God:

  • spontaneously and without external causes
  • more than anything else
  • with more delight and enjoyment than anything else.

You are not spiritually minded if “God is not in all [your] thoughts.”

7. Things That Erode Our Assurance

A true Christian may lose a sense of assurance of salvation because . . .

  • he or she refuses to deal with known sin
  • of spiritual laziness
  • of satanic attacks
  • of trials or harsh circumstances
  • of illness or temperament
  • God seems to withdraw a sense of his presence and blessing.

8. Common Problems with Uncertainty

Those converted as children may experience special difficulties with assurance.

Those who remember little else besides following Christ sometimes have doubts that those with adult or dramatic conversions do not.

Concrete childhood thinking differs from more abstract adult thinking.

An awareness of the Lordship of Christ must expand to cover all the ever-expanding circle of life that comes with maturity.

Stay-at-home mothers of young children may experience special difficulties with assurance.

True assurance won’t lead to spiritual carelessness.

Those worried about the unforgivable sin have not committed it.

9. False Assurance of Salvation

Sources of a false assurance of salvation

  • A public commitment or outward response to the gospel
  • Baptism
  • Involvement with church
  • A strong Christian family heritage
  • An abundance of good deeds
  • An extraordinary experience
  • A dramatic personal or lifestyle change
  • Material blessing and financial security
  • A false understanding of God
  • A false understanding of sin and hell

Characteristics of the falsely assured

  • They are either unconcerned or angry when warned about false assurance.
  • They are either legalistic or loose with spiritual disciplines and duties.
  • They are either very weak in or very confident of their Bible knowledge.
  • They have either a vicarious Christianity or an overly independent spirit.
  • They may be constantly resisting the truth or never able to come to the truth.

10. What to Do If You’re Still Not Sure

Don’t take for granted that you understand the gospel.

Think deeply about the gospel.

Repent of all known sin.

Submit everything to the Lordship of Christ.

Meditate much on 1 John.

Don’t doubt the promises of God.

Believe as best you can and pray for greater faith.

Practice the spiritual disciplines.

If you really love God, take assurance because non-Christians don’t love God passionately.

If you hate your sin, take assurance because non-Christians don’t hate sin deeply.

If you’ve never been baptized, present yourself as a candidate in obedience to Christ.

Don’t neglect the Lord’s Supper.

Don’t compare earthly fathers to your Heavenly Father.

Seek godly counsel if the doubts persist.

Pray for assurance.

Wait patiently upon God to give you a fuller experience of assurance.


Do You Pray?

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  -Luke 11:9, NIV

Do you pray?


J.C. Ryle, a prominent Anglican clergyman in 19th-century Britain, said that there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer. I’m sure that many of us would agree; of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is often the hardest habit to form and one that is most quickly broken. However, we should strive to pray regularly, because prayer is incredibly important.

Here are 5 of Ryle’s reasons for why prayer is such a crucial habit for you to establish:

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Let Not Sin Reign

Let Not Sin Reign (via

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your…

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