Friday, October 31, 2014

Dr. Ron Gleason and Reformation Day 2014

In the following video, taken at the Talbot School of Theology on the occassion of Reformation Day 2012, Dr. Ron Gleason (author of Herman Bavinck: Pastor, Churchman, Statesman, and Theologian) gives a good and solid lecture on the basic tenets that undergirded the Reformation.

However, what impressed me the most was what he said at the 7:15 mark:

"In 1980, the Lord called me to take the casket of my 4-month old son and put it into the ground as my last earthly duty as his father. And I recall going back to our home in the Netherlands, to a little village in Kampen, and literally just falling back on the bed and wiping the tears, and that verse came to my mind and I said, 'This, too, Lord?' And he said, 'Yes, this, too. This will mold you and shape you into a better person, a better Christian. This will conform you more to the image of Christ. You will be able to comfort others with the comfort with which I am going to comfort you.'"

I was reminded of an old post:

"John Calvin lost his wife and son.

John Owen had eleven children. All died in early youth, except one daughter.

Francis Turretin had four children. Only one survived."
(Underdog Theology: Personal Tragedy to Apostasy, Oct. 29, 2012)

Monday, October 27, 2014

H vs. H on the Imitatio Christi

"Michael Horton so wants his readers to focus on Christ instead of imitation that he encourages an emphasis on the wickedness of characters, running them through Romans 3. This is an important aspect of Christian interpretation, but it is not the only way in which the New Testament uses characters (indeed, a majority of references are not concerned to show 'all have sinned'). To fit the biblical data to his interpretation, Horton tries to downplay this emphasis in his interpretation of the more famous passages illustrating the use of characters as examples: 'The so-called ‘Hall of Heroes’ in Hebrews 11 is misnamed. The writer consistently mentions that they overcame by faith in Christ, not by their works.'[34] But faith is never pitted against works. Rather, Abraham and Rahab (to take two) are commendable because they had the sort of faith that worked. Their appearance in Hebrews parallels their appearance in James, where they are commended neither simply for what they believed, nor for what they did apart from faith, but for what was done on the basis of belief (Jas 2:14-16), since faith without works is worthless. Contra Horton, the heroes are held out as examples precisely because they acted in obedience and faithfulness on the basis of God’s character and in response to his promises and commands. These characters overcame and persevered by faith and by works.

We can contrast the biblical emphasis on finding Jesus and examples within Scripture with Horton’s puzzling comments that appear to limit the imitation of Old Testament characters to mere belief in Jesus and God’s promises. '[Abraham’s] willingness to sacrifice Isaac was not an example for us, but was an occasion for God to foreshadow Christ as the ram caught in the thicket so that Isaac—and the rest of us—could go free.'[35] Horton sets up a false dichotomy between two approaches to interpretation: the passage either points to Christ, or the passage shows us a faithful model. But what if the New Testament takes Genesis 22 in both directions? Should we not follow the New Testament’s approach? We certainly do not imitate Abraham by sacrificing our children. But as we have seen, imitation is not rote, indiscriminate mimicry, but 'creative imitation' informed by Scripture.[36] The New Testament authors use Abraham as a model of faith and obedience (not least in Gen 18:17-19; 22:1-24; Heb 11:17; Jas 2:14-26). Abraham does not merely believe. Trusting God to raise the dead, he acts in obedience (Heb 11:19).[37] What’s more, Abraham’s obedience is crucial to the original meaning of the text, given the role that it plays in describing the covenant relationship between himself and God (Gen 22:1, 16-17)." (Jason Hood, Imitating God in Christ: Recapturing a Biblical Pattern)

[34] Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), pp. 149-50. He adds on pp. 142-43, “The Old Testament saints were not heroes of faith and obedience but sinners who, despite their own wavering, were given the faith to cling to God’s promise.” Faith is a gift, but Horton’s approach veers in the direction of a monergistic approach to interpretation, where God’s work is all that counts and human work is downplayed, irrelevant or entirely negative.
[35] Ibid., p. 149.
[36] Vanhoozer, Drama of Doctrine, and Jimmy Agan, “Toward a Hermeneutic of Imitation: The Imitation of Christ in the Didascalia Apostolorum,” Presbyterion 37 (2011): 42-43.
[37] Michael Allen, “Imitating Jesus,” Modern Reformation 18, no. 2 (2009): 27-30, correctly sees that in Heb 11, saints from Abel to Jesus have their obedience “described in multiple ways. They are to be imitated as those whose belief impelled radical obedience (11:6).” Both Horton and his Westminster Seminary California colleague S. M. Baugh deny that characters in Heb 11 function as exemplars in any respect save for faith in a saving God; see Baugh, “The Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews 11,” Westminster Theological Journal 68, no. 1 (2002): 132. Contrast Calvin on Hebrews 11, Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, trans. William B. Johnston (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963), p. 187. I owe the Baugh and Calvin references and analysis to R. Michael Allen, The Christ’s Faith: A Dogmatic Account (New York: T & T Clark, 2009), p. 324 n. 794, who identifies Baugh’s argument as a “reductionistic” account that “creates fissures where none need exist.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tiptonian Recapitulation vs. Meritorious Republication (And the Effectiveness of Gesticular Pedagogy)

I would liken Dr. Lane Tipton's lecture (entitled "Redemptive History, Merit, and the Sons of God") at the 2014 Reformed Forum conference to Dream Theater's stint at the Budokan—technical, precise, and O, so nice!

He invoked nuanced readings of portions of Meredith Kline's last published work, "God, Heaven, and Har Magedon," to bring home the point that Israel's role in the Mosaic administration of the Covenant of Grace as the typological son of God (contrasted with Adam as protological and Christ as eschatological) was not grounded on a republication of a meritorious Covenant of Works but a recapitulation of Adam's sin, fall, and exile, acting pedagogically to further manifest the utter necessity of the appearance of the eschatological Son of God!

"There's a distinction between the recapitulation of the sin-fall-exile of Adam on the one side and the republication of a merit principle for maintaining the land in Canaan on the other side...The problem with Israel was not that it violated a republished Covenant of Works that was given to Adam, nor was it that Israel violated a covenantal arrangement totally devoid of grace at the national level. The problem lies in the fact that Israel reenacts the sin and fall and exile of Adam by apostasy from the Covenant of Grace." (Lane Tipton, 'Redemptive History, Merit, and the Sons of God')

Abraham typified Christ positively by virtue of the reward of a holy people on account of the former's evangelical obedience.

Israel typified Christ negatively by virtue of the forfeiture of the holy land on account of the former's lack of evangelical obedience.

As the substance, Christ's person and work merited a holy people and a holy land, i.e., the glorified elect living in a New Earth.

What does all of this mean to me, this side of Christ's resurrection and ascension? It does highlight the fact that evangelical obedience, as incumbent upon the people of God and far from being an affront to the all-sufficiency of Christ's person and work, is actually a natural outworking of my union with Him.

It also means that when D. G. Hart mockingly refers to the "Obedience Boys," he actually honors them. Hehehe.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Zwingli the Flattener

"The death of Adam is not only a bodily death, even though that also came with time, for the passage 'then you will certainly die' means the following: the loss of the grace and friendship of God, the loss of the indwelling, ruling or leading of the spirit of God, the loss of the perfect order of human nature, and the fall into sin." (Huldrych Zwingli, Short Christian Instruction [1523], emphasis mine)

You can't lose what you didn't have prior.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grace in Turretin's CoW

Dr. J. Mark Beach of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, in his PhD dissertation (undersigned by Dr. Richard A. Muller) presented to Calvin Theological Seminary, finds grace in Francis Turretin's conception of the Covenant of Works.

What now??!! LOL.

Christ and the Covenant: Francis Turretin's Federal Theology As a Defense of the Doctrine of Grace, pp. 86-90

Prelapsarian Grace in the CoW—A No Tread Zone?

Was there an element of grace in the CoW? If, as John Owen states, Adam had the Holy Spirit, was not this an indication of grace? Does this view constitute a "flattening of the COW and COG [that] will actually get you somewhere... where Christians should never tread"? What if divine grace was actually part of God's essential attributes? Should Christians really not go there?

Let's allow Dr. Richard A. Muller to provide some precision here:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What Do Calvin, Owen, and Hodge Have in Common Regarding Hair-Trigger Schism?

They are all against it!

"Our indulgence ought to extend much farther in tolerating imperfection of conduct. Here there is great danger of falling, and Satan employs all his machinations to ensnare us. For there always have been persons who, imbued with a false persuasion of absolute holiness, as if they had already become a kind of aerial spirits—as if they had bean some angels of Paradise, spurn the society of all in whom they see that something human still remains. Such of old were the Cathari and the Donatists, who were similarly infatuated. Such in the present day are some of the Anabaptists, who would be thought to have made superior progress. Others, again, sin in this respect, not so much from that insane pride as from inconsiderate zeal. Seeing that among those to whom the gospel is preached, the fruit produced is not in accordance with the doctrine, they forthwith conclude that there no church exists. The offence is indeed well founded, and it is one to which in this most unhappy age we give far too much occasion. It is impossible to excuse our accursed sluggishness, which the Lord will not leave unpunished, as he is already beginning sharply to chastise us. Woe then to us who, by our dissolute licence of wickedness, cause weak consciences to be wounded! Still those of whom we have spoken sin in their turn, by not knowing how to set bounds to their offence. For where the Lord requires mercy they omit it, and give themselves up to immoderate severity. Thinking there is no church where there is not complete purity and integrity of conduct, they, through hatred of wickedness, withdraw from a genuine church, while they think they are shunning the company of the ungodly. They allege that the Church of God is holy. But that they may at the same time understand that it contains a mixture of good and bad, let them hear from the lips of our Saviour that parable in which he compares the Church to a net in which all kinds of fishes are taken, but not separated until they are brought ashore. Let them hear it compared to a field which, planted with good seed, is by the fraud of an enemy mingled with tares, and is not freed of them until the harvest is brought into the barn. Let them hear, in fine, that it is a thrashing-floor in which the collected wheat lies concealed under the chaff, until, cleansed by the fanners and the sieve, it is at length laid up in the granary. If the Lord declares that the Church will labour under the defect of being burdened with a multitude of wicked until the day of judgment, it is in vain to look for a church altogether free from blemish (Mt. 13)." (Institutes 4.1.13)

"And, to speak plainly, among all the churches in the world which are free from idolatry and persecution, it is not different opinions, or a difference in judgment about revealed truths, nor a different practice in sacred administrations, but pride, self-interest, love of honour, reputation, and dominion, with the influence of civil or political intrigues and considerations, that are the true cause of that defect of evangelical unity that is at this day amongst them; for set them aside, and the real differences which would remain may be so managed, in love, gentleness, and meekness, as not to interfere with that unity which Christ requireth them to preserve." (A Discourse Concerning Evangelical Love, Church Peace, and Unity)

Charles Hodge on Conscience

Friday, June 6, 2014

Gaffin and Marshall Give MJ the High Five

I realize the dust has settled on the recent so-called "sanctification debate," and it is not my intention to cause further ripples in already placid waters. What I'd like to do is just post a couple of quotes that I hope would tend to the appreciation that Dr. Mark Jones' position on sanctification, as it relates to final salvation, is actually of rich, Reformed pedigree (if this has not been proven already!).

Friday, May 23, 2014

The "The Puritans Are Not the Bible" Card

"If someone could point me to one passage in the Bible that says...AND DON'T POINT TO SOME OBSCURE PURITAN WHO GOT IT WRONG, OK?!...that actually says explicitly that the Law itself generates love for God and neighbor, I will listen." (Tullian Tchividjian, Chris Rosebrough Interview)

I think this was in reaction to this:

"But what of Tchividjian's claim that these false teachers assume 'that the law (in all of its uses) [has] the power to produce what it demands'? Would anyone argue such nonsense? Well, I do know of some ministers - in fact, even some who were responsible for crafting the Westminster Confession of Faith - who have argued that after Adam's fall, 'God therefore set forth a copy of his law in his word, which is the means of sanctifying us; and sanctification itself is but a writing of that law in the heart' (Thomas Goodwin). Likewise, Anthony Burgess argued that God's commands not only inform us of our duty, but are also 'practical and operative means appointed by God, to work, at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' Samuel Rutherford said essentially the same thing in his disputes against the antinomians because they denied that the law was a true instrument of sanctification.

We all know that apart from the Holy Spirit we can do nothing. And we all know that God's commandments do not have the power, in the abstract, to 'produce what they demand.' (In fact, even announcements of God's saving power in Christ have no effect apart from the Spirit's application.) But, it should be noted, the faithful preaching of God's commands in the context of a faithful gospel ministry can produce real change in a sinner's life because God has ordained his commandments to work, 'at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' In other words, failing to preach God's commandments robs Christ's sheep of a true means of sanctification, and thus they may be - ahem! - less holy as a result. We preach God's commandments to God's people because God has promised to bless such preaching with the Holy Spirit." (Mark Jones, Tullian's Trench)

I had a hunch that TT would be pulling out the "The Puritans are not the Bible" card in the event the proposed debate with Mark Jones materializes. The quote above was a foretaste. At any rate, MJ's explanation of how the Law—as blessed by the work of the Holy Spirit and not taken abstractly—is indeed a means of sanctification pretty much lays that point by TT to rest.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Confused About the Tullian Tchividjian Thingy?

If so, the following couple of resources should serve to enlighten you on what the so-called "Contemporary Grace Movement" is and why many of the Reformed servants of the Lord have taken up arms, as it were, against TT's take on sanctification and why he got ejected, ironically, from the "Gospel Coalition."

A brief, critical explanation by Ligon Duncan:

A more thorough and passionate explication by Rev. James Barnes:

Alternative link: Critique of the Contemporary Grace Movement

Monday, May 19, 2014

Goodwin and Owen on Christ's Pity and Patience

"There is comfort concerning such infirmities, in that your very sins move him to pity more than to anger. This text is plain for it, for he suffers with us under our infirmities, and by infirmities are meant sins, as well as other miseries, as was proved; whilst therefore you look on them as infirmities, as God here looks upon them, and speaks of them in his own, and as your disease, and complain to Christ of them, and do cry out, ‘miserable man that I am, who shall deliver me?’ so long fear not. Christ he takes part with you, and is so far from being provoked against you, as all his anger is turned upon your sin to ruin it; yea, his pity is increased the more towards you, even as the heart of a father is to a child that has some loathsome disease, or as one is to a member of his body that has the leprosy, he hates not the member, for it is his flesh, but the disease, and that provokes him to pity the part affected the more. What shall not make for us, when our sins, that are both against Christ and us, shall be turned as motives to him to pity us the more? The object of pity is one in misery whom we love; and the greater the misery is, the more is the pity when the party is beloved. Now of all miseries, sin is the greatest; and whilst yourselves look at it as such, Christ will look upon it as such only also in you. And he, loving your persons, and hating only the sin, his hatred shall all fall, and that only upon the sin, to free you of it by its ruin and destruction, but his bowels shall be the more drawn out to you; and this as much when you lie under sin as under any other affliction. Therefore fear not, ‘What shall separate us from Christ’s love?’" (Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ Towards Sinners on Earth)

"A soul acquainted with the gospel knows that there is no property of Christ rendered more glorious therein than that of his patience." (John Owen, Overcoming Sin & Temptation, eds. Kelly Kapic & Justin Taylor [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006], 204)

What a glorious and comforting picture of one of the reasons why the Eternal Son of God had to assume human nature upon Himself, i.e., "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:14-18).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Van Til and His Rollie

"When I think what an aid tobacco is to friendship and Christian patience, I have sometimes regretted that I never began to smoke." (J. Gresham Machen)

Seems Cornelius Van Til didn't suffer through such a regret.

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Manliness of Puritanism

*The following is excerpted from J. I. Packer's A Quest for Godliness, as found here:

Anyone who knows anything at all about Puritan Christianity knows that at its best it had a vigour, a manliness, and a depth which modern evangelical piety largely lacks. This is because Puritanism was essentially an experimental faith, a religion of ‘heart-work’, a sustained practice of seeking the face of God, in a way that our own Christianity too often is not. The Puritans were manlier Christians just because they were godlier Christians. It is worth noting three particular points of contrast between them and ourselves.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Holy Spirit As Eschatological Reward

Adam's failure to keep the stipulations of the CoW meant that the Holy Spirit withdrew from him and from the whole created order. If the Spirit is the Person of the Trinity that perfects all of God's external acts, this withdrawal seems to explain the Curse. In the CoG, the Holy Spirit restores this perfection in both man and the world, to be fully realized in glory.

It also appears that eschatological reward is the fullest reception of the Spirit that is possible. Adam forfeited this potential; but Christ, as the Last Adam, has received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), and therefore, those united to Him shall enjoy perfection in the outward man even as they are now being perfected in the inward man.

"And thus Adam may be said to have had the Spirit of God in his innocency. He had him in these peculiar effects of his power and goodness; and he had him according to the tenor of that covenant whereby it was possible that he should utterly lose him, as accordingly it came to pass. He had him not by especial inhabitation, for the whole world was then the temple of God. In the covenant of grace, founded in the person and on the mediation of Christ, it is otherwise. On whomsoever the Spirit of God is bestowed for the renovation of the image of God in him, he abides with him forever. But in all men, from first to last, all goodness, righteousness, and truth, are the 'fruits of the Spirit,' Eph. v. 9." (John Owen, Pneumatologia)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dignity Beyond Dust

Secular materialism, in its hubris, celebrates the ignominy of being merely dust. Christianity, on the other hand, in its humility, depends on the Spirit of God to breathe the image of God into dust so that man may gain a dignity beyond it.

"So is God, the great demiourgos, the universal framer of all, represented as an artificer, who first prepares his matter, and then forms it as it seemeth good unto him. And this is mentioned for two ends:-- First, To set forth the excellency, power, and wisdom of God, who out of such vile, contemptible matter as a heap of dust, swept as it were together on the ground, could and did make so excellent, curious, and glorious a fabric as is the body of man, or as was the body of Adam before the fall. Secondly, To mind man of his original, that he might be kept humble and in a meet dependence on the wisdom and bounty of his Creator; for thence it was, and not from the original matter whereof he was made, that he became so excellent." (John Owen, Pneumatologia)

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.
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