Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dr. Marty Foord on Biblical Masculinity

Probably the best treatment of the topic that I've come across.

Click here for Dr. Marty Foord's profile.

Lecture I (Be the Man - Ephesians 5:21-6:9):

Lecture II (Be the Man in the World - Titus 2:1-15):

Lecture III (Be the Man in the Church - 1 Tim 2:1-8):

The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation

By Alister E. McGrath.

I know, you're welcome. ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

John Owen and the Monstrosity of an Impersonal View of the Holy Spirit

"Now, I say that this appearance of the Holy Ghost in a bodily shape, wherein he was represented by that which is a substance and hath a subsistence of its own, doth manifest that he himself is a substance and hath a subsistence of his own; for if he be no such thing, but a mere influential effect of the power of God, we are not taught right apprehensions of him but mere mistakes by this appearance, for of such an accident there can be no substantial figure or resemblance made but what is monstrous." (John Owen, Pneumatologia)

If the Holy Spirit is not a person but a mere outworking of the power of God, representing that power by a dove (a thing of the substance "bird" and subsisting as each instance of a bird with dove properties) would have been very, very weird and out of accord with how God has chosen to reveal the created order to His image-bearers.

Imagine running on a treadmill and the energy you expended burning up calories suddenly becomes a hamster??!! LOL.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sex As a Foretaste of Heaven

I'm really grateful for the various Reformed resources that are made available for free on the Net. One of the premier ones are those courses on iTunes U that seminaries make accessible. Just recently, I was able to download courses off Reformed Theological Seminary's offering, one of which was Dr. Rod Mays' course on Pastoral Counseling. His lecture entitled, "Sexuality," was a veritable blessing.

One of the concepts that I found most beneficial was the idea of sex as a foretaste of heaven. Christ and the Church are united now, not physically, but mystically, a union wrought by the Holy Spirit. However, when Christ comes back for His bride, glorified bodies will be given those who have been in such a union. Then, Christ and the Church will be together, forever to enjoy each other's corporeal presence. This is man's telos, and it is his greatest pleasure. Is it any wonder, then, that sex, if meant to be a foreshadowing of the future heavenly pleasure of Christ's physical oneness with the Church, is arguably the greatest physical pleasure that is possible to a human being presently on earth? This has ramifications for how a Christian views and treats sex in the now.

This view of sex tells me how good God is. It tells me that God loves me so much that He has given a means for me to have a glimpse of heavenly pleasure through the physical union of my wife and I in a way that glorifies Himself by being a metaphor of the union between Christ and the Church. It tells me that sex is utterly holy, and that giving in to sexual sin of any sort is really taking God's precious gift of heaven and treating it like dung, a profane thing. It tells me that my wife is more precious than I previously thought, for through her, God gives me a sneak peek of heaven. It makes me long more for that day when Christ shall come back for His wife, to be one with her, when heaven, and all its pleasures, shall be enjoyed in a glorified body. Finally, it tells me why the people of God are not given over to marriage in glory. This is so because the substance and reality pointed to by marriage and sex are finally established—Christ and the Church are now together physically.

In the lifelong war against lust, a view of sex as a foretaste of heaven may just be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


It has been common practice among Calvinists to add a postscript of SDG or Soli Deo Gloria in their communications with each other, especially when a particular blessing has been received. I would like to propose a new expression—SBG or Suffering Before Glory.

One of the core tenets of the doctrine of union with Christ is that everything in the way of the Christian life that a believer receives or goes through in the application of redemption (ordo salutis) is predicated upon Christ having merited or gone through the thing bestowed or experienced, beforehand, in His accomplishment of redemption (historia salutis). This means that just as Christ suffered before He was received into glory, the one united to Him through faith must also suffer before he is glorified in the consummation.

While there is suffering that is the lot of every human being by virtue of subsistence in a fallen world, there is suffering that is unique to the Christian.

The world system, i.e., that philosophy of life that seeks to set man up as God, is hostile to the one who denies himself and lives a life of dependence on God—a life lived in light of the Creator-creature distinction.

Satan and his minions, they who seek to rob God of the glory that is due Him as the Sovereign Lord of reality, tirelessly go up against the children of God because they are the only ones, with the image of God restored in them, who are capable of redounding the glory of creation unto Him who is its Creator.

Finally, there is the self as considered with indwelling sin. This is the source of the Christian's greatest antagonism, and the cry of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 leaves no room for doubt as to the nature of the struggle that elicits such convulsions of soul.

This suffering is glorifying, not just for the Christian in the conclusion of his pilgrimage, but presently to Christ, since it produces His image in the Christian sufferer and serves to increase His mediatorial glory. The one who proclaims allegiance to Christ but is not desirous of affording Him the glory that He rightly deserves will shrink away from suffering. Consequently, he will not be glorified at Christ's return.

May the following meditation from Herman Hoeksema in Peace for the Troubled Heart strengthen you for suffering. SBG!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Christology, Goodwin, Jones, and Sheen

Pastor Mark Jones' recent book, Antinomiansim, has made the rounds and it seems everybody has given it a high-five, and deservedly so. However, if there's just one thing about that book, and about everything from Pastor Jones that I've read and heard, that has had the most significant impact on me, I would say that that is his emphasis on Christology. In fact, a sound and robust Christology is the remedy that he proposes for antinomianism in the aforementioned book. Incidentally, he has this little book on Christology that I found enjoyable.

Pastor Jones is not shy about proclaiming to whom he owes the most for his love and knowledge of Christology.

While John Owen is certainly up there, as evidenced by this article and his having co-edited this book with Kelly Kapic (I bought it as a Christmas gift to myself), it is Thomas Goodwin who was influential enough to have prompted him to have the esteemed Puritan theologian as the subject matter of his doctoral dissertation (in a sermon of his, Pastor Jones remarked that his choice of Goodwin and Christology was brought on by the desire to be of more pastoral service to his flock, as opposed to topics that would not have true benefit to the church).

By a stroke of amiable providence, that document is available online:

Lest you think that I am wantonly sharing this without permission:

If Pastor Jones' Christology was shaped by Thomas Goodwin, it must follow that it would be a very good idea to read on the man himself. So I got myself the following and read:

- A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin (edited by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones)

- Christ Set Forth (Goodwin)

- The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth (Goodwin) *This was the most influential book, according to Pastor Jones

- The Trial of a Christian's Growth (Goodwin)

I encourage you to get on Goodwin yourself. Even Charlie Sheen agrees:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Long, O Lord?

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1:21-23)

"Let them complain of the brevity of this earthly life whose portion is below, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame. They have all their hope in the things of this world. Beyond the horizon of the things of this present time, even the vision of their hope perishes. In the world they prosper. With the world they seek to be satisfied. To the world they cling with all their might. This world they dread to leave. For them the way through this world is all too brief. They may complain that time hastens on and that the end approaches too fast, but I will not.


The end of my days on the earth, although it is the end of much in this earthly house that is dear to me, is also the liberation from all that is a cause of grief to the inward man. It is the end of the body of this death, the end of the law of sin in my members that takes me captive, so that I do not what I would and often find myself doing that which I hate. It is the end of all my connection with the world that is crucified to me and I to it— the world with its glitter and vainglory, its temptations and persecutions, its boast of victory, and its prospering in iniquity. It is the end of my being exposed to the temptations of the devil and his host, the end of death and of the suffering of this present time, the end of the battle, and the end of all apparent defeat.

How many, then, are the days of thy servant, the days of battle and of the suffering of this present time?

I long for the end of them, for that end marks the beginning of everything for which my soul longs.

Beyond that end, I know and am persuaded, lies the glory of the eternal inheritance. There I expect perfection, freedom, life, victory, and glory. There I know that I will be in God’s tabernacle and see him face-to-face, as here I cannot see him . There I will respond with my whole being— body and soul, mind and will, heart and all my desires; eye and ear, mouth, hand, foot, and all my members— eternally, perfectly, in a heavenly fashion and on a heavenly plane, to that perfect vision of God. There I shall know even as I am known.

Beyond that end is the perfect being and fellowship with Christ and with his saints.

There is the incorruptible and undefilable inheritance that fades not away.

There I expect the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness shall dwell.

How long, O Lord?"

(Herman Hoeksema, Ch. 14, How Long, Lord?, Peace for the Troubled Heart)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Donald Miller and the Unpardonable Sin

Many have already taken Donald Miller to task for his express marginalization of what he labels as the "traditional" way of "finding intimacy" with God through the church.

Perhaps one critical aspect of Miller's "personal preference" that has not yet been addressed is its relationship to the so-called unpardonable sin. Thomas Goodwin, in The Trial of a Christian's Growth has this to say on the matter:

"Or else, as was said, they of their own accord 'forsake the assembly of the saints.’ The Apostle makes this a step to the sin against the Holy Ghost, Heb. x. 25. He saith, that when men forsake the assemblies and company of the people of God, public and private, and love not to quicken and stir up one another, or begin to be shy of those they once accompanied, they are in a nigh degree to that which follows in the next verse, 'to sin wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the truth.’...And if any soul begin to forsake the assemblies of the saints, or be cast out from them, let him look to himself lest he wither in the end, and be twice dead, and so he never come to have life put into him again; that is, repent and return again. And know this, that if you, being, cast out by the church and people of God, break your hearts, so that you mourn for your sin, as the incestuous Corinthian did, it is a sign you are such branches as God will yet make fruitful; but if, being cast out, you begin to wither, as here, the end will be burning." (emphasis mine)

Imagine a hand saying to the rest of the body, "I don't find satisfaction in being attached. You, arm, you're such a bore. All of you, you stifle me! I want to be free." Detached from the arm and the rest of the body, this "postmodern" hand, cut off from the nourishment of a consistent blood supply, soon decays and dies—nothing fit for it then but to be thrown into the fire.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

John Owen Contra Tullian Tchividjian

In his latest blog post, Tullian Tchividjian states:

"Redeeming unconditional love alone (not law, not fear, not punishment, not guilt, not shame) carries the power to compel heart-felt loyalty to the One who gave us (and continues to give us) what we don’t deserve." (emphasis mine)

Square that with John Owen's statement in his commentary on Hebrews:

"Motives unto a due valuation of the gospel and perseverance in the profession of it, taken from the penalties annexed unto the neglect of it, are evangelical, and of singular use in the preaching of the word. Some would fancy that all threatenings belong unto the law, as though Jesus Christ had left Himself and His gospel to be securely despised by profane and impenitent sinners; but as they will find to the contrary to their eternal ruin, so it is the will of Christ that His ministers should let them know it. These threatenings belong to the gospel, they are recorded in the gospel, and by it His ministers are commanded to make use of them (Matt. 10:28; 24:50-51; 25:41; Mark 16:16; John 3:36; II Cor. 2:15-16; II Thess. 1:8-9), and other places innumerable."

TT is an antinomian, not in the sense that he rejects the law as the guide and rule of the Christian's life, but in the sense that he does not see and acknowledge that even the Gospel itself pronounces warnings and threats upon professors who do not live sanctified, obedient lives, albeit imperfectly.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pastors, You Are Not Professionals

This article by Pastor Mark Jones has reminded me once more of the fact that pastors are called to die. Indeed, every Christian is called to imitate Christ in His example of self-denial; dying to self should mark everyone who names the name of Christ. However, the degree to which the pastor is called to this is of a depth that certainly reflects the consequential caution of the third chapter of the book of James, i.e., not many of you should become one. As John Piper would say, "Brothers, we are not professionals."

Read the article. It has John Owen in it. Hehehe.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Trueman on Warfield on Christology

Evangelical Library (London) Lecture, 4 June 2001
An address on "The Glory Of Christ: B. B. Warfield on Jesus of Nazareth" given by Dr. Carl R Trueman

When B.B. Warfield died eighty years ago, in 1921, J Gresham Machen, his Princeton colleague, commented that old Princeton had indeed passed away with him. It is arguable that this was not much of an exaggeration, such was the stature of a man whose scholarship had been recognized in the award of an honorary degree from the University of Utrecht, who had been on personal terms with such luminaries as Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck, and whose writings, at both popular and academic levels, had influenced a generation of Christians in the church and in the academy. Yet, it is true to say that Warfield is little known today outside of the narrow confines of the evangelical world, that his piety is appreciated far more than his scholarship is understood, and that his wide-ranging theological contributions are not appreciated even by those for whom he symbolizes theological orthodoxy. Indeed, when we ask the question, For what is Warfield known today? we are likely to elicit responses which focus on his articulation of biblical inspiration and authority, his arguments for the cessation of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, or his cautious arguments in favour of theistic evolution. Yet, as even a glance at the ten volume selection of his writings which were published by Oxford University Press in the early part of the twentieth century reveals, his range was much broader than these three narrow foci would suggest. [1]

For example, he also wrote on church history, producing essays on Tertullian, Augustine, and Calvin which still have merit today. He also engaged in extended study and refutation of perfectionism, providing the church with one of the most comprehensive historical and theological analyses of holiness teaching ever produced. In addition, he also found time to write reviews on many of the significant theological books of his time, continental as well as Anglo-American, revealing not only extensive linguistic competence but also a thorough and accurate understanding of the liberal positions which he rejected. Indeed, it is, I suspect, true to say that Warfield read his liberal opponents with more care, courtesy, and all-round theological learning than liberals have, over the years, applied to his own work. To reduce Warfield’s significance to a few doctrinal topics is thus to miss the real greatness of the man whose life was driven far more by a desire to restate the classic Reformed faith in an articulate and intelligent manner than simply to focus on one or two controversial points. [2] Indeed, his greatness is captured neatly in a recent comment from the pen of Mark Noll and David Livingstone:

Even in the long line of outstanding conservative theologians from Old Princeton that stretched from Archibald Alexander…to J Gresham Machen…Warfield stands out. In that distinguished company, he was the most widely read, had the greatest skill in European languages, displayed the most patience in unpacking arguments, and wrote clearly on the widest range of subjects. [3]

Today, therefore, I want to break with the traditional canon of evangelical topics upon which Warfield is consulted and look instead at a handful of writings from his pen devoted to Christology, the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the words of John Murray, ‘There is no subject on which Warfield’s master mind showed its depth and comprehension better than on that of the person and work of Christ.’ [4] And, we might ourselves add, there is no subject which stands more central to Christian orthodoxy than Christology. All great theologians have wrestled with the person and work of Christ, and the greatest theologians are those who have offered the most penetrating insights into precisely this area of doctrine. Thus, if we are to appreciate Warfield’s contribution to the Christian church in all its fulness, we need to develop some comprehension of his work on Christ.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Condecency of Redemption

You may hear people, especially those of the Calvinistic bent, making the following comment in an effort to uphold the sovereignty of God in the administration of the state of affairs: "God would've been perfectly just in condemning every single human being to hell."

While the statement is not theologically aberrant per se, it, however, does not fully encapsulate the telos behind God's "ad extra" acts, namely, His glory. If God did consign every human being to destruction, in a necessary turn of events, the whole earthly created order would've had to be destroyed as well. Why so? Because if there was no human being left in the world, there would be no agent for the redounding of glory unto God through the created objects of the world. A majestic Siberian Tiger does not give God the glory that He desires without an image-bearer, in holiness and righteousness, to ascribe the excellencies of that animal to its Creator.

Hence, John Owen, states [all quotes henceforth from Christologia (Kindle version)]:

"Three things God designed in this communication of his image unto our nature, which were his principal ends in the creation of all things here below; and therefore was divine wisdom more eminently exerted therein than in all the other works of this inferior creation.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thomas Goodwin Contra a Speech Act Theory of Justification

If you haven't gotten a load of the very enriching discussion between Dr. Lane Tipton and Dr. Michael Horton on "union with Christ" over at the Reformed Forum, you can get it here.

Dr. Horton's position, as ably analyzed and recognized by Dr. Tipton, owes much, if not primarily, to a sort of "speech act theory" applied to justification wherein God's illocutionary act of declaring the sinner as justified is the "ontological ground" of the subjective perlocutionary effect in the believer. Contra this position, Dr. Tipton argues that the sole ground of the believer's justification is not a floating fiat but union with Christ. In other words, the application of redemption in a believer's present, time-and-space existence (ordo salutis) is founded upon (or united to) the accomplishment of said redemption by Christ in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension (historia salutis).

Justification was the point of discussion, and so it must be said that as Christ Himself was justified, so the sinner, united to Christ by faith through the Spirit, is also justified through the imputation of the former's righteousness.

We can see, clearly evinced, in the Puritan Thomas Goodwin the same kind of aversion to a notion of "speech act theory" and an exaltation of the person and work of Christ in the following:

We must conceive, that the promises of forgiveness are not as the pardons of a prince, which merely contain an expression of his royal word for pardoning, so as we in seeking of it do rest upon, and have to do only with his word and seal, which we have to show for it; but God’s promises of pardon are made in his Son, and are as if a prince should offer to pardon a traitor upon marriage with his child, whom in and with that pardon he offers in such a relation; so as all that would have pardon, must seek out for his child; and thus it is in the matter of believing. The reason of which is, because Christ is the grand promise, in whom, ‘all the promises are yea and amen’ (2 Cor. 1:20), and therefore he is called the Covenant (Isa. 49:8). So that, as it were folly for any man to think that he has an interest in an heiress’s lands, because he has got the writings of her estate into his hands, whereas the interest in the lands goes with her person, and with the relation of marriage to her, otherwise, without a title to herself, all the writings will be fetched out of his hands again; so is it with all the promises: they hang all upon Christ, and without him there is no interest to be had in them. ‘He that has the Son has life’ (1 John 5:12), because life is by God’s appointment only in him (v. 11). All the promises are as copyhold land, which when you would interest your selves in, you inquire upon what lord it holds, and you take it up of him, as well as get the evidences and deeds for it into your hands; the lord of it will be acknowledged for such in passing his right into your hands. Now this is the tenure of all the promises; they all hold on Christ, in whom they are yea and amen; and you must take them up of him.
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