Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Free offer of grace?

In no instance does the word convey any thought of a mere "free-offer of grace."

When Jesus stood and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink," He no more invited the thirsty, than He invited the light when He said, Let there be light.

In the first place there is not a soul on the earth that does or can thirst for the living waters which flow from Him, until He quickens it, and makes it thirst, and when made to feel its thirst, and even when the tongue faileth for thirst, it can no more approach the living fountain than it can make a world, until Jesus applies, not the invitation, but the word, "Come unto Me." His words are spirit and they are life; and His sheep hear them, and they know His voice, and they follow Him; because they have no power or even disposition to resist their Shepherd's voice (John 10).

The calling of the saints is nowhere in the scriptures denominated an invitation. He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. If he only invited them they would have to get out themselves, or stay behind. But when he calls, the dead hear His voice, (not His invitation,) and they that hear shall live.

How would it suit the condition of a poor, lost, helpless soul, one that feels his poverty, inability and impotence, to read the word thus: The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall be invited to live, and they who accept the invitation shall live. And when He inviteth forth His own sheep He goeth before them, provided they accept the invitation.

It is perfectly in keeping with every feature of Arminianism for workmongers to talk of invitation of the gospel, because the very term implies the willing and the doing power to be in the creature. But it is neither in harmony with the doctrine of experience of the saints of God to so speak of His communications to them as to imply that He has yielded up the government to them; that He has hinged the effect and result of His communications on their will instead of His own will. It is derogatory to His character, it reflects on His wisdom, power, and grace.

Gilbert Beebe, July 15, 1846

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Charismatic and Reformed Churches preach the gospel

As we await ascension Sunday and Pentecost, I'm glad to introduce a witness from the Association of Charismatic/Reformed Churches. Learn more by going to
An excerpt from the above website from "Our History, Purpose and Vision for the Future" by  Pastor Kirk Wetsell, Jacksonville (Arkansas) Christian Fellowship, president of the Association of Charismatic/Reformed Churches

I continued to teach and preach, and to mature in my understanding of Reformation Theology. I still, however, was resistant on some points, particularly Limited Atonement. Then, somewhere in the early 90's, I read a book that absolutely turned my theology upside down! (It has almost been like getting saved all over again!) The book was entitled The Quest for Godliness, by J.I. Packer, which introduced me to the Puritans. Nothing has been the same since! The chapter, "Saved by His Precious Blood", was especially instrumental to my theological growth. It is actually an introduction that Packer wrote for a re-release of what I believe is one of the most important works ever written, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by Puritan John Owen.

These works by Packer and Owen were the straws that truly broke the camel's back. It was the last bit of weight that crushed any resistance I had to a full embracing of Reformation Theology. From them I learned that the Arminian way of thinking truly "limits" the Atonement! It limits it and makes it subservient to the supposed free will of man, which is thought to be able to actually trump the Sovereign will of an Omnipotent God! I also learned that while we do have a will, and we do make real decisions in our lives that have real consequences, our will is anything but free! It is in absolute bondage and slavery to sin - that apart from Grace, it has no chance of either understanding or desiring spiritual Truth!

I have further come to understand that this Limited or Effective Atonement is really "the Truth" that brings assurance and security to our hearts as Christians! We have security because the Blood of Christ was totally effective in securing all those that the Father intended it to secure. The Father, before the foundation of the world gave these "Elect" to the Son, and at that time their destiny was set. Therefore, it is Reformation Theology alone that can impart true faith through its teaching that God is Sovereign in every detail of our lives!

Another book that has been influential is No Place for Sovereignty, by R.K. McGregor Wright. In it he chronicles the history of the "Free Will" debate. I began to see that this struggle, bottom line, is simply a manifestation of the idolatry that exists in the human heart. We simply cannot bear the thought that our destiny may be in someone else's hands! Mr. Wright exposes this as the root of the current shift in evangelicalism towards the "Openness of God" theories.

As I was reading it, however, it dawned on me that this idolatry is also at the root of the "Word of Faith" heresy. In this movement there is great emphasis on our "taking of authority" and being able to control our own life and destiny. If this theology is true, my contention is, that, it actually produces fear and doubt, not faith! If I am in control of my own destiny, I'm in serious trouble! The only way this theology can produce something that even resembles faith is if we really believe we are capable of making decisions of eternal value, and that they are dependent on our will. This attitude is not however, real faith. It feeds on, and is, arrogance and pride. Again, I


Pastor Kirk Wetsell, Jacksonville Christian Fellowship

Association of Charismatic/Reformed Churches