Ligon Duncan on the Resurgence of Calvinism

Nine Factors Contributing to the Resurgence of Calvinism:

1. Three Preachers: one from the 19th Century, one from the middle of the 20th Century, one who is still preaching today: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John MacArthur. A Baptist, a Presbyterian, and a Dispensationalist.

Amazing the variety of preachers you find who will recommend the works of Charles Spurgeon.

Spurgeon has consistently across this century introduced generation after generation of Bible preachers to Calvinism.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, of whom J. I. Packer says “the greatest preacher I have ever heard and the greatest man I have ever known.” His impact is staggering on 20th century evangelicalism. His influence on Tyndale House, Intervarsity. His Studies in the Sermon on the Mount impacted pastors who had never read anything like this kind of exposition. His book Preaching and Preachers, and Spiritual Depression – a massive impact on this generation. A masterful expositor of Scripture. He was empahtically a Calvinist, from the Welsh-Methodist Church brought sound, reformed theology in the language Scripture into every sermon he preached. Would preach an evangelistic sermon every Sunday evening.

John MacArthur from a dispensational, Bible Church background, yet so committed to the word of God he was willing to go wherever that word took him and it took him right into the doctrines of grace.

2. Books. The grandfather of them all: The Banner of Truth Trust. Established by Lloyd-Jones and Iain Murray for the preservation of reformed, Puritan writings. Published systematically and carefully, sound solid Puritan preaching. Precious remedies against Satan’s devices. Led to a deepening of a grasp of spiritual truth. Spawned many other publishers of many good books.

3. An Evangelist. The idea of a Calvinistic Evangelist would not have struck anyone as surprising in the 16th, 17th, 18th, or 19th Century. Somehow in the 20th Century, perhaps because of the pragmatic revivalism that resulted from the second great awakening, Calvinism became disassociated with evangelism. Whitefield read Matthew Henry four times on his knees in order to help him in his preaching. Matthew Henry was the great English non-conformist Calvinist.

Along comes a man named D. James Kennedy who was a passionate Calvinist who was a committed evangelist. We may question some of his methods, but we cannot question his commitment to the gospel. After Dr. Kennedy it became impossible to say that Calvinists can’t evangelize because of their theology. He dispelled the myth that Calvinism was anti-evangelistic.

4. The Battle for the Bible. The greatest theological controversy of the late 20th Century that stretched across denominations. There were many prominent non-Calvinists that took a stand, the great names associated with the defense of Scripture: R. C. Sproul, Packer, Boice, Roger Nicole, are all Calvinists. Sproul and Packer wrote the affirmations and denials adopted by the  Council on Biblcal Inerrancy. Calvinism was spread through the denial of the inerrancy of Scripture by theolohical liberals as God raised up men to stand against them.

5. Two Church Controversies, in the old Presbyterian Church and in the Southern Baptist Church. The father of L. Nelson Bell, the father of Ruth Bell Graham, the father-in-law of Billy Graham, former missionary to China who returned from the field to confront the theological liberalism in his denomination in 1940. In 1973 fifty thousand people left that old church to establish the Presbyterian Church – the largest conservative Presbyterian church in the English speaking world.

At the same time in the 1970s there was a conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. Since R. Albert Mohler became the president of Southern Seminary, there has been a revival of the Calvinism of the Abstract of Principles.

6. A book and an Anglican. The book: Knowing God. The Anglican: J. I. Packer The book that put him on the landscape is Fundamentalism and the Word of God, no finer defense of the authority and inspiration of Scripture. That evangelical Anglican, because he was trusted by the larger evangelical world – endorsed by Billy Graham – introduced a whole generation to a sovereign God and the doctrines of grace. His introduction to John Owen’s Death of Death has been influential in the lives of many .

7. A Theologian Philosopher who can popularize: Robert Charles Sproul. For a half century faithfully laboring teaching church history and philosophy to thousands through his radio ministry.

8. A force of nature named John Piper. John Piper is transfixed and intoxicated by Jonathan Edwards and he channels him every time he preaches. What sets Piper apart: All unction about God’s truth comes from God. Theological precision meeting up with life consuming passion.  A woman who sat under Piper’s preaching said, “The first time I sat under his preaching I was terrified, and then I realized I had never known the God of the Bible. Then I fell down and worshipped this God.”

9. The decline and death of liberalism. Liberalism is either dead or dying in our culture sustained only by the life support of endowments. The nominalism of days past is now in a hostile, secular environment. The rise of secularism and the decline of Christian nominalism has caused a generation of young people to rise to find something they can pin their lives on – they have looked to the Calvinists. These young people were drawn to Piper, Mohler, and others because they were being told the truth and not merely what they wanted to hear.

—Ligon Duncan

Via: God and Culture Blog

Your Redeemer

One of the sweetest statements from the lips of Jesus in the New Testament is this: “‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'” (Matt. 25:34b). There is a plan of God designed for your salvation. It is not an afterthought or an attempt to correct a mistake. Rather, from all eternity, God determined that He would redeem for Himself a people, and that which He determined to do was, in fact, accomplished in the work of Jesus Christ, His atonement on the cross. Your salvation has been accomplished by a Savior Who is not merely a potential Savior but an actual Savior, One Who did for you what the Father determined He should do. He is your Surety, your Mediator, your Substitute, your Redeemer. He atoned for your sins on the cross.

—R.C. Sproul
The Truth of the Cross

Punishment and Righteousness

This is the true gospel.

God requires two things of us: punishment for our sins and perfection in our lives. Our sins must be punished, and our lives must be righteous. But we cannot bear our own punishment, and we cannot provide our own righteousness. Therefore, God, out of His immeasurable love for us, provided his own Son to do both. Christ bears our punishment, and Christ performs our righteousness. And When we receive Christ, all of his punishment and all of his righteousness is counted as ours.

—John Piper
This Momentary Marriage

Via: Of First Importance

What Is a Presbyterian?

What is a Presbyterian? What comes to mind when you hear that word (other than a name that is difficult to spell!)? It might surprise you to know that it is a word that is both biblical and historical in nature.

Presbyterian is biblical in that it refers to a form of church government in which the overseeing (or the “shepherding”) is done by elders. In fact, “Presbyterian” comes from a Greek work that simply means “elder.” When the Council of Jerusalem is called in Acts 15, those who attend are apostles and elders (Acts 15:6). After spending considerable time in the city, Paul delivers a farewell address to the elders in Ephesus, warning them to watch over their flock, the church (Acts 20:17-31). Titus is instructed to appoint elders where there are churches (Titus 1:5). And Timothy was ordained to the ministry by a group of elders (literally, a “presbytery” or “body of elders”; see 1 Timothy 4:14). These elders are godly men who watch over the church and are concerned with the spiritual needs of the members, committing themselves to prayer and the word in order to lead God’s people. The name “Presbyterian” simply reflects the way God has established, through His word, the way He desires for His people to be watched, guarded, and feed.

Presbyterian is also an historical term. It is most closely associated with John Knox, the great Scottish Reformer. Knox was greatly influenced by John Calvin, including the theology which brought about the Protestant Reformation – the recovery of the gospel (“good news”) of salvation by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. When Knox returned to Scotland in 1559, he brought with him a biblical form of church government (which was dubbed “Presbyterianism”) derived from the teachings of Calvin. In 1560, with the adoption of the Scottish Confession of Faith, Presbyterianism became the official church (or “kirk”) of Scotland. Presbyterianism was further solidified nearly a century later with the Westminster Confession of Faith, completed in 1648. Presbyterians were among those who traveled to the New World and helped colonize what would become the United States. In fact, the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church dates back to the beginning of the United States, having been established in 1782, after the end of the Revolutionary War.

So the next time someone asks you about Presbyterianism, be sure to tell them it is both biblical and historical. While it is important that a Christian denomination has its roots in history, it is even more important that it has its origin in the word of God. And Presbyterianism is the best of both worlds.

—Pastor Tim Phillips

Via: Tim Phillips

Carson on Why Jesus Came to Die

Jesus came to complete the work that his Father gave him to do (John 17:4).  We so often think that the ultimate motivation behind the cross is God’s love for us.  I do not want to downplay the importance of that love…But we must see that in John’s Gospel the motivating power behind the entire plan of redemption was the Father’s love for his Son and the Son’s love for his Father.  When Jesus found himself in an agony in Gethsemane, he did not finally resolve to go through with the plan of redemption by saying, “This is awful, but I love these sinners so much I’ll go to the cross for them” (though in a sense he might have said that), but “Not my will but yours be done.”  In other words, the dominating motive that drove him onward to perfect obedience was his resolution, out of love for his Father, to be at one with the Father’s will.  Though we poor sinners are the unfathomably rich beneficiaries of God’s plan of redemption, we are not at the center of everything.  At the center was the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father.

—D.A. Carson

Via: James Pruch

The False Gospel of Prosperity

In light of this article titled “Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich” on the front page of the New York Times, I thought I would re-post this video of John Piper addressing the so-called “Prosperity Gospel.”

Please pray that the light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ will shine forth in this world and that Jesus will not be seen as the means to the end – but the end itself.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—Matthew 6:19-21

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.

—Matthew 9:16-23

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

—Matthew 16:24-28

Behold the Cross of Christ

Are you living in any kind of sin? Are you following the course of this world, and neglecting your soul? Hear! I beseech you, what I say to you this day: “Behold the cross of Christ.”

See there how Jesus loved you! See there what Jesus suffered to prepare for you a way of salvation! Yes: careless men and women, for you that blood was shed! For you those hands and feet were pierced with nails! For you that body hung in agony on the cross!

You are they whom Jesus loved, and for whom He died! Surely that love ought to melt you. Surely the thought of the cross should draw you to repentance. Oh, that it might be so this very day!

—J.C. Ryle
Old Paths

Via: J.C. Ryle Quotes