Sunday, November 27, 2011

Unintended description of our world today?

This is the phrase used in a commercial for one of the latest electronic devices... though obviously unintended, it seems to describe one of the big problems that we face in these days of rampant technology.

"Getting lost in the things we love has never felt quite like this."  iPad2

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Election, an incentive to evangelism!

(A sizeable excerpt from “Election: Friend or Foe of Evangelism? By Bill Boekestein)

The Outlook, March 2007, Volume 57, No. 3, pp. 9-10 at

How is election an incentive to evangelism?

First, election should promote evangelism because it guarantees results. Our only hope of seeing anyone converted to Christ is rooted in His eternal unconditional election. Consider the alternative. "If the depravity of man is such that no sinner, of himself, will repent and believe the gospel, then, unless God has determined to bring some to repentance, all will inevitably perish." Without election missions would be a hopeless activity.

Isn't that what Paul might have thought as he ministered in Corinth? "God, you want me to minister in this city! What for?" If any city in the New Testament world appeared to be God-forsaken, it was Corinth. Yet Christ said, "I have many people in this city!" Imagine the perspective that this gave Paul as he ministered in Corinth for the next eighteen months.

Commenting on this passage J. I. Packer summarizes that, "...the sovereignty of God in grace gave Paul hope of success as he preached to deaf ears, and held up Christ before blind eyes, and sought to move stony hearts."

Notice how this same doctrine is cited in Acts 13:48: "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." Only because of election was the Apostle's preaching in Antioch (and Corinth) one hundred percent effective!

Second, election keeps our eyes humbly focused upon God in our evangelism. Paul's success in Corinth led him to rely more and more on the sovereign purpose of God to save men. When he wrote back to the Corinthians he told them that while he had planted and Apollos watered, it was God who gave the increase (I Corinthians 3:6,8). This is encouraging because there will not always be a visible increase. Thankfully, a firm belief in election also comforts us in our evangelistic "failures."

Third, election gives a sense of purpose to our mission. When Christ commissioned Paul to be an evangelist he did so by closely connecting Paul's mission with his own calling and election. "[Paul]," said Christ, "is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15). Significantly, this "predestined commission" was not only given to Paul and to the other apostles. The Apostle Peter links the election of all of God's people with evangelism. He calls God's people a chosen (elect) generation. Flowing out of this election is a purpose, namely "to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9).

When opponents charge that the doctrine of election makes evangelism unnecessary they betray an ignorance of the purpose of election. The election of the saints is their divine commission to evangelize. This doctrine affords the believer courage knowing that his name is written in the book of life. It also removes any ulterior motives from the evangelistic efforts of the Calvinist. He has no reason frenetically to engage in evangelism as if he himself is responsible for the "decisions" of others.

Finally, election is an incentive to evangelism because it intrinsically requires the use of means. God could have decided to convert sinners without means, but He has not. Instead, He has determined that "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). The Canons of Dort, a thoroughly predestinarian document, highlights the importance of the means of gospel communication already in its third paragraph (1.3). If you believe in election then you also believe in the need for Christians to communicate the gospel.

Still, the proper use of means without the blessing of God will be ineffectual. Not all of those who heard Christ Himself preach were converted. There must be more than the proper use of means. There must be a divine work of God that begins in His decree of election.

So we end where we began. It is indeed, only the unchangeable decree of election that renders the salvation of the elect completely certain. This certainty, however, far from being a discouragement is actually "the only ground of encouragement to preach the gospel to sinners." Election does not make evangelism unnecessary, rather election demands evangelism.

Mr. Bill Boekestein is a Senior at the Puritan Reformed Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a member of the United Reformed Church in Dutton, Michigan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thoughts from Martin Luther on the Roman Catholic priesthood and mass

(The following from Luther is not to say that there is no such thing as pastors who are called to lead the flock, serve spiritual needs and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper--that's clearly not what he intended. Instead, he’s showing that the teachings of Roman Catholicism on the priesthood and the so-called sacrifice of the mass are without proof of any kind in the Bible—strictly man made. On the otherhand, the Bible is clear Who the real Priest is and what that means for all true Christians.)

First, let us deal with the priesthood. Every true Christian really ought to know that in the New Testament there is no outward, visible priest, except those whom the devil has exalted and set up through human lies. We have only one single priest, Christ, who has sacrificed himself for us and all of us with him. Peter speaks of this in 1 Peter 3:18: “Christ died once for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us—dead in the flesh but alive in the spirit—to God.” And Hebrews 10:14 says: “For by a single offering he has finished and perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

This is a spiritual priesthood, held in common by all Christians, through which we are all priests with Christ. That is, we are children of Christ, the high priest; we need no priest of mediator other than Christ. “Every priest (Hebrews 5:1) is appointed to order that he might pray for the people and preach.” Thus every Christian on his own may pray in Christ (the high priest) and have access to God (Romans 5:2) as Isaiah has proclaimed in chapter 65:24: “It shall come to pass that before they call I will answer, and while they are speaking I will hear them.”…Hence it comes that Christ says in John 6:45: “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’”

…Go to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves build up on him, to be holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5).” And a little further on (1 Peter 2:9): “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy people, dearly bought, that you may declare the might of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Let this be the first assault on the fictitious popish priesthood: how strong and mighty an assault it is, let every pious Christian judge. Here all the splendor and pomp of the popish mass comes to naught (nothing)…For the priesthood and law change together (Hebrews 7:12). If now the priesthood and the law are nothing, then the sacrifices and the works which are supposed to take place through the priest…are even less. From this it follows that the pope’s law is sheer deceit and falsehood; the papal priesthood is nothing but a mask and outward show, and the papists’ mass, which they call a sacrifice, is idolatry and a shameful misuse of the holy sacrament.

Pages 138 – 142 Luther’s Works Vol. 36 Word and Sacrament, The Misuse of the Mass