Saturday Sampler: June 17 — June 23

Bows SamplerOkay ladies, summer has already made its grand entrance, bringing sizzling temperatures to a large portion of the United States. Hot weather, of course, ushers in the temptation to dress in ways that might not be honoring to the Lord. Kari Dent of living in paradise courageously writes Dear Sisters to speak frankly about our call to modesty.

Rarely can I curate an edition of Saturday Sampler without including something that Leslie A posts in Growing 4 Life. This week’s essay, Simply Broken or Thoroughly Dead? requires us to think Biblically about our relationship with sin and the current trend to call ourselves broken. As usual, you really shouldn’t miss this one!

Women struggle with improper thoughts as much as men do. In response to this reality, Amanda Walker shows strategies for Guarding Your Heart…On Purpose in her latest post for Bible Study Woman. Although her approach isn’t exactly novel, it reminds us to protect our minds from anything that distracts from the Lord.

We could all use the Evangelism Encouragement that Michelle Lesley offers. Praise the Lord for her Scriptural perspective on seeing results when we witness to unbelievers.

Elizabeth Prata, in The End Time, uses an Italian Renaissance painting to demonstrate that  Bad fruit is bad, thus warning us against false teachers. Okay, I’m a sucker for Italian Renaissance art, but Elizabeth’s essay really is worth reading whether you like art or not.

Happy Birthday to Two Faithful Preachers from Erin Benziger. To learn the identities of these two men, and how their ministries parallel each other, go over to Erin’s Do Not Be Surprised blog, which you should read regularly anyway.

Blogging for Stand to Reason, Natasha Crain provides A Parent’s Guide to the 5 Skeptics Who Want to Shame Your Kids for Being Christian. You don’t have to be a mom in order to benefit from Natasha’s counsel, however; each of us encounters these common objections to Christianity.

SlimJim, who blogs at The Domain for Truth, gets it right with Christians Must Grow Deeper In Biblical Doctrines. His assertion is near and dear to my heart. Please read his Scriptural reasoning for making this claim.

Yesterday I started to blog about the upcoming Revoice conference, but after reading As the Serpent Uncoils by Douglas Wilson in Blog & Mablog I’m glad I held off. Doug approaches the controversy with a fresh, but Biblical, perspective that needs to be considered as professing Christians demand to retain homosexuality as their identity.

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According To Scripture: Study #5 On The Resurrection

He Is Risen

Taking a two-week break from our Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15 couldn’t have been avoided, but I hope my truancy hasn’t caused any of you ladies to lose interest. We’ve still got over 40 verses to work through, and today we can only make it through four. So, rather than prolong this introduction, let’s quote our new section and then discuss verses 12-15.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. ~~1 Corinthians 1:12-19 (ESV)

As you’ll recall from the studies we’ve done so far, Paul began his defense of the doctrine of resurrection by listing all the eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection. Now, in verse 12, he pivots his argument, drawing a connection between His resurrection (which the Corinthian believers affirmed) and the general resurrection of believers (which some of them denied).

In light of the eyewitnesses who proclaimed Christ’s resurrection, Paul in fact finds it strange that some of the Corinthians denied the whole possibility of general resurrection. Indeed, the initial preaching of the apostles centered on the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, as evidenced by Acts 4:2.

As Gentiles, however, the Corinthians depended on human reason, and therefore had trouble believing the concept of the dead being raised (Acts 17:32; Acts 26:8). Greek philosophies that paved the way for Gnosticism, which taught that matter was evil, separate from anything spiritual. For that reason , the idea of physical resurrection would have been repulsive to them.

As a consequence of the Greek philosophies, some Corinthian Christians openly denied that the dead would be resurrected. Though it’s possible that Jews from the Sadducee party may have influenced the Corinthians, I doubt this theory based on 1 Corinthians 1:19-2:8, in which the apostle rebukes their infatuation with human wisdom. Thus Paul began his refutation of their unbelief by appealing to the eyewitnesses, who established Christ’s resurrection as demonstrable fact (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

Now, in verse 13, Paul moves his defense of the resurrection from the eyewitnesses evidence to the reasoning skills that so enamored the Corinthians in earnest. By reasoning that the impossibility of bodily resurrection leads to the conclusion that Christ couldn’t have been raised, Paul establishes the connection between Christ’s resurrection and general resurrection. He will demonstrate that connection more fully in verses 20-22 (also see John 14:19).

Observe Paul’s method of argumentation: If the dead in general could not be raised, how then did Jesus experience resurrection? Wasn’t His corpse buried and already rotting? Paul challenges the Corinthians to use the very reason that they prided themselves on having, convinced that it would lead them to acknowledge the general resurrection.

Paul intensifies his case in verse 14 by reminding them of the preaching they received from him as an apostle of Christ. The apostles appealed to Christ’s resurrection as validation for Christianity (Acts 4:33). Therefore, teaching Christ’s resurrection would have been teaching falsehood if the dead aren’t raised, making the preaching of the resurrection a false teaching. As a false teaching, the Gospel couldn’t offer any real salvation. Without Christ’s resurrection, the entire Gospel collapses, showing Jesus to be fraudulent and the apostles to be false teachers.

Because of this, if He really wasn’t raised, their preaching had no substance and the Corinthians believed for nothing. Since the Gospel depends on the resurrection, eliminating that element made believing in the Lord useless and absurd. If the foundational premise of Christ’s resurrection was false, how could anything the apostles preached be trusted? What was the point of believing a Gospel based on a fabricated event?

Verse 15 continues this train of thought by demonstrating that proclaiming Christ’s resurrection would have actually dishonored God. If the dead aren’t raised, the apostles lied about God’s actions, claiming He did something that He really didn’t. If they testified falsely that God raised Jesus from the dead, they consequently gave an erroneous representation of God. Doing so would indirectly dishonor Him. It would have been lying about Him, as well as accusing Him of raising up an impostor (Jesus).

If the dead aren’t raised, Paul reasons, Christ certainly wouldn’t have been raised either. Again, Paul emphasizes that the entire Gospel rests on the doctrine of resurrection.

Next Monday we’ll see Paul strengthen the connection between Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of believers. For now, however, I want to leave you with the thought that the Gospel absolutely depends on the resurrection. Although we tend to focus on Jesus dying for our sin when we proclaim the Gospel, writing this Bible Study has helped me see how foundational the resurrection is to that Gospel.

I’d love hearing what the Study taught you. Please feel free to use the Comments Section or The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook Page to tell me what stands out to you, to ask questions and to interact with each other. Together, we can rejoice that Jesus Christ has indeed risen from the dead. Hallelujah!

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Saturday Sampler: June 10 — June 16

Flower SamplerAnswering a question from one of her readers, Michelle Lesley writes The Mailbag: How can I grow to love Jesus more? As she says, more Christians should ask that question.

If you’ve ever tried raising questions about certain popular Christian teachers, you’ll quickly learn that they are The Untouchables. Criticism of them is simply not tolerated by their followers, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life testifies. She also has an important caution for those who follow Biblically sound teachers.

The purveyor of Biblical Beginnings writes Twisted Tuesday – Cosmic Child Abuse in defense of the doctrine of penal substantiation. I love her passion for the Gospel in this piece, and I wish more Christians would exhibit this kind of passion!

Writing for Unlocking the Bible, Brittany suggests 10 Practical Ways to Treasure Christ based on Psalm 119. Since John and I are currently going through this psalm together in our morning devotions, this blog post particularly interests me. Perhaps the Lord will also encourage you through her insights and ideas.

Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace absolutely nails in his piece, Why Electing a Woman as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention is a Bad Idea. It didn’t happen this year. Let’s pray it never does.

I must recommend a second Michelle Lesley post this week. In Basic Training: The Great Commission, Michelle walks us through a familiar Scripture passage to remind us of Christ’s command to His Church after He rose from the dead. Sadly, many 21st Century evangelicals don’t know what The Great Commission is. Take her poll and then refresh your memory by reading the rest of her article.

On the Ligonier blog, Sinclair Ferguson answers the question, What Is Discernment? I believe more people (particularly those who claim to be in discernment ministry) ought to read his words and give serious thought to them. As I’ve said numerous times, Biblical discernment extends far beyond exposing false teachers.

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Saturday Sampler: June 3 — June 9

2006_0719DownTownCrossJuly060006We Christians can be a sneaky bunch, as evidenced by Doug Wilson’s short article, Calling It Something Else in Blog & Mablog. I hate to admit it, but he’s right.

As she often does, Leslie A tells it like it is in Is the Lord Still Speaking? She understands that many may disagree with this post in Growing 4 Life, but she risks unpopularity for the sake of God’s Word.  Furthermore, she makes her case by leaning entirely on careful reasoning from Scripture, showing how Scripture changed her thinking on this issue.

IMG_0795John MacArthur’s essay simply titled Judge Everything appears on the Grace To You Blog as a healthy challenge to practice discernment. He draws an important distinction between the type of judging prohibited in Scriptures like Matthew 7:1 and the type of judging that God commands believers to exercise. As false teaching multiples within evangelical circles, we desperately need to make Biblical judgments.

For his latest contribution to The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge recounts An Encounter With a Mother-God Cult Evangelist that ministers to my insecurities about witnessing to cult members. Perhaps the Lord will embolden you through his words.

General WashingtonWith boldness and a reliance on both church history and God’s Word, Elizabeth Prata makes A Comment to the Snowflake Society in The End Time. She writes in response to Tweets Beth Moore made a couple weeks ago, having taken time to formulate her thoughts about the matter. In waiting, she balanced passion with reason, providing a much needed example of temperance in handling social media. While I recommend her blog post for that reason, I recommend it even more because her message desperately needs to reach Christian women!

IMG_3134Writing at Renewed in Truth, Lara d’Entremont affirms that Being Filled With the Holy Spirit isn’t the mystical experience that some would have us believe it to be.

I love the way Michelle Lesley reasons from Scripture! Her timely blog post, Solving Misogyny — You’re Doing It Wrong, minces no words in confronting the latest push for women to have unbiblical positions of church leadership. Thankfully,  Michelle relies solely on God’s Word to make her case and offer godly solutions to a very real and serious problem within the Church.

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Saturday Sampler: May 20 — May 26

Boston July 26 2010 005

Custom Tower & Old State House

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? What did you think of Bishop Curry’s sermon? Garrett Kell, in All Things for Good, asks a more accurate question with What Would Jesus Say About Bishop Curry’s Royal Wedding Sermon? I heartily agree.

Unbelievers sure love discounting the veracity of the Bible, don’t they? SlimJim, who blogs at The Domain for Truth, writes Bible Contradiction? Did Jesus perform many signs and wonders? He has a running series responding to alleged contradictions in Scripture; this is the first installment I’ve read, and it’s an excellent example of why context matters.

The apostle Paul, says Jordan Standridge, was Obsessed with the Gospel. His piece, appearing in The Cripplegate, draws from Paul’s letter to the Philippians to challenge us in our response to persecution.

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Swan Boat at Boston’s Public Garden

The sister in Christ who blogs at Biblical  Beginnings takes on the popular false teaching associated with John 10:10 in her essay, Twisted Tuesday — The Abundant Life. I appreciate her encouragement to study God’s Word carefully and with discernment.

How could the doctrine of total depravity possibly encourage Christians?  In his post for Parking Space 23, Zach Putthoff answers that question. You might find yourself rejoicing as you read Total Depravity & the Christian Life.

Boston Adventure July 25 2012 013

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

I never expected to read The Master’s Seminary Blog, but The Wretched Art of Loveless Discernment by Reagan Rose caught my eye. His points convict me to continue discernment blogging, but to make sure I do so from right motives and with a godly attitude. Anyone interested in discernment ministry needs to take this article to heart.

Like Michelle Lesley, I belong to a church within the Southern Baptist Convention. And like her  church, the church I belong to has strong leanings toward Reformed Theology, for which I praise God! Yet, as I read about the denomination as a whole, I must agree with her that It’s Time for a Reformation in the SBC – 3 Issues We Need to Set Right.

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Massachusetts State House

Praise the Lord that Phil Johnson has revived Pyromaniacs, one of the blogs God used to bring me to Reformed Theology a decade ago. His post, The Root of the Matter, identifies the serious problems creeping into Reformed circles lately. Again, praise the Lord for Johnson’s faithfulness to stand against worldly compromise for the sake of the Gospel.

Photos of downtown Boston sites taken by John Kespert

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Saturday Sampler: May 6 — May 12

Flower Sampler

Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women responds Biblically to the latest Beth Moore stunt in her piece, The Mailbag: What did you think of Beth Moore’s “A Letter to My Brothers”? This thoughtful analysis covers a wide range of Moore’s remarks while pleading with Moore (and her followers) to repent.

The woman who writes at Biblical Beginnings examines a popular false teaching in Twisted Tuesday — First Born by showing us how context interprets a phrase in God’s Word. What a wonderful demonstration of correct Bible Study methods producing good discernment!

Doug Wilson of Blog & Mablog expresses his Gratitude & Update to those who prayed about his cancer surgery.

The Ligonier blog features Sinclair Ferguson’s wonderful ruminations on The Gracious Work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation process. I particularly love the way he connects the Holy Spirit with the Word of God.

Cale Fauver’s article, Christian, Don’t Follow Your Heart, appears in For The Church to address a very common problem in society at large and among evangelicals in particular. Of course, evangelicals should know better. Pastor Fauver’s reminder cannot be repeated too often!

My regular readers know how adamantly I advocate for reading the Bible in context. So they’ll understand why I appreciate Alan Shlemon of Stand To Reason for writing Double the Trouble if You Ignore the Context.

Why would Leslie A of Growing 4 Life open a blog post talking about how mice infiltrate houses? Read The Smallest Crack for her accurate and convicting spiritual application.

Inspired (in a strange way) by the frustration that many women feel in response to Proverbs 31, Steven Ingino of The Cripplegate offers perspective and encouragement with Studying Proverbs 31…the right way. Ladies, although our husbands will benefit from reading this piece, enjoy the refreshing words for yourselves.

How can a blog post about hell end on a positive note? Allen Nelson IV, blogging for Things Above Us, answers that question with The Overwhelming, Never-ending, Reckoning Wrath of God. The post, as an extra bonus, gives us a couple verses to use in witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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Throwback Thursday: A Question Of Choice

Originally published on September 28, 2016.

cropped-cropped-cropped-img_4654.jpgGenerally, evangelism should present evidence of a person’s need for salvation, followed by an explanation that Jesus died as a substitute for that person, rising again as a guarantee of eternal life for those who would believe in Him. From there, evangelism should instruct the person to repent of their sin and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have little doubt that I’ll write future blog posts elaborating on these points.

Neither John nor I came to faith as a result of such a presentation, however. Yet the Holy Spirit exposed us to Scripture, and worked through that Scripture to give us saving faith (please see Romans 10:17). I believe our rather unconventional conversions each testify to God’s Irresistible Grace.

An updated phrase for Irresistible Grace (and a phrase I used yesterday) is effectual call.” Both terms emphasize the idea that the people God elects for salvation will respond to Him. Obviously, I can’t type out all the verses and passages that substantiate this doctrine, but OpenBible.info provides this helpful compilation.

Our Armimian brothers and sisters, many of whom genuinely know and love the Lord, argue that Irresistible Grace violates the doctrine of free-will. I agree! The Bible, even in the verses that appear to teach free-will, consistently affirms the ultimate sovereignty of God. Therefore, He gives us a willingness to choose Him as a result of our regeneration.

In addressing the matter of the effectual call, it follows, we must maintain that the doctrine of free-will suggests that God is at the mercy of human choice. Arminians believe that God’s foreknowledge of who would respond to the Gospel determined who He included as His elect. I certainly used to embrace that theory. But eventually He confronted me with Ephesians 1:3-10.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (ESV)

Notice verse 4, which says that the Father chose us. It gives absolutely no indication that He looked helplessly down the “corridors of time” to see who would decide to follow Jesus. This passage depicts a God Who fully controls redemptive history (and all history, for that matter) according to His plans and purpose.

Making the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth dependent on whether or not or not we choose to be saved erodes His sovereignty. As a matter of fact, the doctrine of free-will pretty much transfers sovereignty to us. Isn’t that essentially blasphemous? I think so!

Additionally, the doctrine of free-will assumes that human beings possess an ability to choose to follow Christ. I’ll remind you, in considering this point, of Ephesians 2:1-3.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  (ESV)

These verses describe unregenerate people. In other words, this is who you and I were prior to becoming Christians (and who you are if  you don’t yet have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ). Our physical bodies functioned, but we had no capacity or desire to  respond to the things of God. We lacked any ability to come to Him on our own volition (consider Romans 3:10-18). Consequently, we can only choose to follow Christ after the Holy Spirit does His regenerating work in us.

Of course, entire books devote themselves to refuting the doctrine of free-will, beginning with Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will (which I’m currently slogging through), so I hardly think that this minuscule article  will settle the question. But I wanted you to see the Scriptures that have most helped me work through this objection to Irresistible Grace.
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