Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 2


In Chapter 2 "The Scriptures and God" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink looks at how someone becomes a genuine child of God and identifies 7 spiritual effects of truly profiting from the Word.  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study.  You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here.

Mr. Pink outlines the monergistic work of God in salvation.  He states that "[a] supernatural God can only be known supernaturally (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart."  He uses a simple, yet effective, illustration: "Water, of itself, never rises above its own level.  So the natural man is incapable of perceiving that which transcends mere nature."  Therefore, "[e]ternal life must be imparted before the 'True God' can be known...an 'understanding,' a spiritual understanding, by a new creation, must be given before God can be known in a spiritual way."

So, how does this work of God happen in someone's life?  Mr. Pink continues, (emphasis mine), "[t]he supernatural experience of the Christian is seen in his attitude toward God.  Having within him the life of God...he necessarily loves God, loves the things of God, loves what God loves, and, contrariwise, he hates what God hates.  This supernatural experience is wrought in him by the Spirit of God, and that by means of the Word of God.  The Spirit never works apart from the Word.  By that Word He quickens.  By that Word He produces conviction of sin.  By that Word He sanctifies.  By that Word He gives assurance.  By that Word He makes the saint to grow."

An individual who truly and spiritually profits from the Word has a:
  1. Clearer Recognition of God’s Claims--"This is what true conversion is: it is a tearing down of every idol, a renouncing of the empty vanities of a cheating world, and taking God for our Portion, our Ruler, our All in all...It belongs to God as God to legislate, prescribe, determine for us; it belongs to us as a bounden duty to be ruled, governed, disposed of by Him at His pleasure...It is in them [the Scriptures], and in them alone, that the claims of God are revealed and enforced, and just as far as we are obtaining clearer and fuller views of God’s rights, and are yielding ourselves thereto, are we really being blessed."
  2. Greater Fear of God’s Majesty--"The man who lives in the fear of God is conscious that “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Pro 15:3); therefore is he conscientious about his private conduct as well as his public. The one who is deterred from committing certain sins because the eyes of men are upon him, and who hesitates not to commit them when alone, is destitute of the fear of God...Thus, just so far as we are awed by God’s awful majesty, are made conscious that: 'Thou God seest me' (Gen 16:13), and work out our salvation with 'fear and trembling' (Phi 2:12), are we truly profited from our reading and study of the Bible."
  3. Deeper Reverence for God’s Commandments--"A spirit of obedience is communicated to every regenerated soul...None of us keeps them perfectly, yet every real Christian both desires and strives to do so...Christ has redeemed His people from the curse of the Law and not from the command of it; He has saved them from the wrath of God, but not from His government...Just so far as our reading and study of the Scripture is, by the Spirit’s application, begetting within us a greater love and a deeper respect for, and a more punctual keeping of God’s commandments, are we really profiting thereby."
  4. Firmer Trust in God’s Sufficiency--"That which characterizes all the unregenerate is that they lean upon an arm of flesh. But the elect of grace have their hearts drawn from all creature supports, to rest upon the living God...Thus, as the Scriptures are pondered, and their promises received in the mind, faith is strengthened, confidence in God is increased and assurance deepened. By this we may discover whether or not we are profiting from our study of the Bible."
  5. Fuller Delight in God’s Perfections--"But the Christian delights in the wondrous perfections of God. Really to own God as our God is not only to submit to His scepter, but is to love Him more than the world, to value Him above everything and everyone else...Thus, to the extent that you are being weaned from the empty pleasures of this world, are learning that there is no blessing outside of God, discovering He is the Source and Sum of all excellency, and your heart being drawn out to Him, your mind stayed on Him, with your soul finding its joy and satisfaction in Him, are you really profiting from the Scriptures."
  6. Larger Submission to God’s Providences--"It is natural to murmur when things go wrong; it is supernatural to hold our peace (Lev 10:3)...Here, then, is another sure test: if your Bible study is teaching you that God’s way is best, and causing you to submit unrepiningly to all His dispensations, if you are enabled to give thanks for all things (Eph 5:20), then are you profiting indeed."
  7. More Fervent Praise for God’s Goodness--"Praise is the outflow of a heart which finds its satisfaction in God...The more we are 'increasing in the knowledge of God' (Col 1:10), the more shall we adore Him. But it is only as the word dwells in us richly that we are filled with spiritual songs (Col 3:16) and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. The more our souls are drawn out in true worship, the more we are found thanking and praising our great God, the clearer evidence we give that our study of His word is profiting us."
As I conclude this chapter, I would like to leave you pondering a serious spiritual self-assessment from A.W. Pink:  "Ah, my reader, if your heart has not been drawn out to love and delight in God, then it is still dead toward Him."


***
"Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.  My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever," (Psalm 73:25-26).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 1

In Chapter 1 "The Scriptures and Sin" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink looks at the wrong motives for studying the Bible and presents 7 true purposes for reading God's Word.  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study.

Individuals profit from the Word of God through:
  1. Conviction of Sin--"Such conviction that brings home to the heart the awful ravages which sin has wrought in the human constitution is not to be restricted to the initial experience which immediately precedes conversion."
  2. Sorrow for Sin--"Do you, my reader, know anything of such an experience? Does your study of the Word produce a broken heart and lead to a humbling of yourself before God? Does it convict you of your sins in such a way that you are brought to daily repentance before Him?"
  3. Confession of Sin--“'He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy' (Pro 28:13). There can be no spiritual prosperity or fruitfulness (Psa 1:3) while we conceal within our breasts our guilty secrets; only as they are freely owned before God, and that in detail, shall we enjoy His mercy.  There is no real peace for the conscience and no rest for the heart while we carry the burden of unconfessed sin. Relief comes when it is fully unbosomed to God."
  4. Deeper Hatred of Sin--"'Ye that love the Lord, hate evil' (Psa 97:10). 'We cannot love God without hating that which He hates. We are not only to avoid evil, and refuse to continue in it, but we must be up in arms against it, and bear towards it a hearty indignation' (C.H. Spurgeon, 1834-1892)...In Proverbs 8:13, we read: 'The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.' This godly fear comes through reading the Word."
  5. Forsaking of Sin--"The more the Word is read with the definite object of discovering what is pleasing and what is displeasing to the Lord, the more will His will become known; and if our hearts are right with Him the more will our ways be conformed thereto...Here is another important rule by which we should frequently test ourselves: Is the reading and studying of God’s Word producing a purging of my ways?"
  6. Fortification against Sin--"The Holy Scriptures are given to us not only for the purpose of revealing our innate sinfulness, and the many, many ways in which we “come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), but also to teach us how to obtain deliverance from sin, how to be kept from displeasing God...Yes, we are to anticipate the future and be fortified against it, by storing up the Word in our hearts for coming emergencies."
  7. Practicing the Opposite of Sin--"Thus, sin is rebellion against God, the determination to have my own way (Isa 53:6)...Are my thoughts being formed, my heart controlled, and my ways and works regulated by God’s Word?...'We need not only light to know our way, but a heart to walk in it. Direction is necessary because of the blindness of our minds; and the effectual impulsions of grace are necessary because of the wickedness of our hearts. It will not answer our duty to have a naked notion of truths, unless we embrace and pursue them' (Thomas Manton)."
I was struck by the following quote from A.W. Pink under the sixth purpose of fortification against sin.  I was especially convicted by Thomas Manton's imagery of the Word soaking from the ear down into the heart (emphasis mine):

"So the more Christ's Word dwells in us 'richly' (Col. 3:16), the less room will there be for the exercise of sin in our hearts and lives. It is not sufficient merely to assent to the veracity of the Scriptures, they require to be received into the affections. It is unspeakably solemn to note that the Holy Spirit specifies as the ground of apostasy, 'because the love of the truth they received not' (2 Thess. 2:10). 'If it lie only in the tongue or in the mind, only to make it a matter of talk and speculation, it will soon be gone. The seed which lies on the surface, the fouls in the air will pick up. Therefore hide it deeply; let it get from the ear into the mind, from the mind into the heart; let it soak in further and further. It is only when it hath a prevailing sovereignty in the heart that we receive it in the love of it--when it is dearer than our dearest lust, then it will stick to us' (Thomas Manton). Nothing else will preserve from the infections of this world, deliver from the temptations of Satan, and be so effective a preservative against sin, as the Word of God received into the affections."

Mr. Pink ends this chapter with the following application questions:

"Has your study of the Bible made you more humble, or more proud—proud of the knowledge you have acquired? Has it raised you in the esteem of your fellow men, or has it led you to take a lower place before God? Has it produced in you a deeper abhorrence and loathing of self, or has it made you more complacent? Has it caused those you mingle with, or perhaps teach, to say, I wish I had your knowledge of the Bible; or does it cause you to pray, Lord give me the faith, the grace, the holiness Thou hast granted my friend, or teacher? 'Meditate upon these things: give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear unto all' (1Ti 4:15)."

If you are interested in the book and/or study guide, you can freely download them at chapellibrary.org.

I will continue my look at Profiting from the Word in future posts.

Soli Deo Gloria!

***
"Now ye are clean through the word which I [Jesus] have spoken unto you," (John 15:3).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Lord's Supper Examined

Many of the books that I review on my blog come through crossfocusedreviews.com. As part of receiving the free book, I agree to post my review on my blog as well as on amazon.com. Occasionally, I will receive feedback from my blog readers, but most of the negative comments I receive are responses to my book reviews posted on the Amazon website. Therefore, I have a series of blog posts that I've labeled Countering Criticism where I evaluate the validity of the negative feedback I receive. Today, I would like to look at a comment from a poster named B.J. Foxx regarding my book review on The Christian Life. You can read my original review here.

On October 6, 2015, B. J. Foxx says:

"You misunderstood his ideas about the Lord's Supper. From Wikipedia: 'Lutherans explicitly reject transubstantiation [86] believing that the bread and wine remain fully bread and fully wine while also being truly the body and blood of Jesus Christ.[87][88][89][90] Lutheran churches instead emphasize the sacramental union[91] (not exactly the consubstantiation, as is often claimed)[92] and believe that within the Eucharistic celebration the body and blood of Jesus Christ are objectively present "in, with, and under the forms" of bread and wine (cf. Book of Concord).[87] They place great stress on Jesus' instructions to "take and eat", and "take and drink", holding that this is the proper, divinely ordained use of the sacrament, and, while giving it due...'"

I am aware that, as a rule, Lutherans believe in consubstantiation and Roman Catholics believe in transubstantiation.  From wikipedia.com:

"Consubstantiation is a theological doctrine that attempts to describe the nature of the Christian Eucharist in concrete metaphysical terms. It holds that during the sacrament, the fundamental "substance" of the body and blood of Christ are present alongside the substance of the bread and wine, which remain present."

"Transubstantiation is, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the change by which the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as a sign or a figure, but also in actual reality the body and blood of Christ."

In his book, Mr. Hein described the Lord's Supper as "God bring[ing] the forgiveness of sins through consecrated bread and wine and tell[ing] you that as you are eating and drinking this bread and wine, you are actually eating and drinking Christ's body and His blood," (Kindle location 357).  Based on his description, he aligned his belief of  the Lord's Supper more with the Roman Catholic mindset of transubstantiation.  Since the author did not use either term (transubstantiation or consubstantiation) and stated that "you are actually eating and drinking Christ's body and Christ's blood", I critiqued his belief based on what he wrote and not what Lutherans in general believe.

Neither consubstantiation nor transubstantiation is an orthodox view of the Lord's Supper.  Protestantism completely rejects the teaching that the bread and wine used during the Lord's supper literally or spiritually turns into the body and blood of Christ. Jesus was sacrificed once on the cross: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all," (Heb. 10:10).

In the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 30, para. 2: "In this ordinance [the Lord's Supper] Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the quick or dead, but only a memorial of that one offering up of himself by himself upon the cross, once for all; and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same.  So that the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, injurious to Christ's own sacrifice the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect. (Heb. 9:25,26,28; 1 Cor. 11:24; Matt. 26:26,27)."


***
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit," (1 Peter 3:18).
 

Ecumenical Disharmony

Many of the books that I review on my blog come through crossfocusedreviews.com. As part of receiving the free book, I agree to post my review on my blog as well as on amazon.com. Occasionally, I will receive feedback from my blog readers, but most of the negative comments I receive are responses to my book reviews posted on the Amazon website. Therefore, I have a series of blog posts that I've labeled Countering Criticism where I evaluate the validity of the negative feedback I receive. Today, I would like to look at a comment from a poster named B.J. Foxx regarding my book review on The Christian Life. You can read my original review here.

On October 6, 2015, B. J. Foxx says:

"The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith on baptism is not going to agree with the Lutheran confession of faith. Since the author is a Lutheran, that should be expected. Lutherans believe 'He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.' (Titus 3:5-8)"

First, I would like to point out that Mr. Hein did not promote his book as a Lutheran resource; he promoted it to Christians in general.  In addition, as a Christian, I am not required to read The Christian Life based on the theological view of the author.

As I've stated before on my blog, I don't have to conform my beliefs to the author's definition of terms in my reviews, but I can compare and contrast what is written to the Bible and to what others have written regarding the same subject.  I meet the author on his own terms when I quote his writing, then I make my assessment based on what God's Word says.  I also contrast the author's propositions to The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith because it succinctly states and biblically supports the points I am trying to make.  My review is based on the author's biblical arguments, not his Lutheran label.

***
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," (2 Tim. 2:15).

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Closer Look at Limited Atonement

Many of the books that I review on my blog come through crossfocusedreviews.com.  As part of receiving the free book, I agree to post my review on my blog as well as on amazon.com.  Occasionally, I will receive feedback from my blog readers, but most of the negative comments I receive are responses to my book reviews posted on the Amazon website.  Therefore, I have a series of blog posts that I've labeled Countering Criticism where I evaluate the validity of the negative feedback I receive.  Today, I would like to look at a comment from a poster named Hilasmos regarding my book review on Honest Evangelism.  You can read my original review here.

On October 8, 2015, Hilasmos said:
"As a former Calvinist, I should point out that Calvinism teaches that Jesus' sacrificial atonement (propitiation) on the Cross was SUFFICIENT for ALL, but EFFICIENT for SOME."

The major tenets of Calvinism are shown in the acronym TULIP:

T--Total Depravity
U--Unconditional Election
L--Limited Atonement
I--Irresistible Grace
P--Perseverance of the Saints

Hilasmos is confused about the Calvinistic definition of Limited Atonement.  Limited Atonement means that Christ shed His blood and died for all of the sins of God's elect.  Jesus' propitiation is "limited" to those given to Him by God the Father (John 6:37, 17:2,7,9,11,24). It does NOT mean that Christ's death was sufficient for all, but efficient for some.  If Christ's death was sufficient for all, then all sins would be covered and all men would be saved.  This is the basis for the unbiblical doctrine of universal atonement.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Ch. 8, para. 5 states that: "The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father has given unto Him, (Heb. 9:14, 10:14; Rom. 3:25, 26; John 17:2; Heb. 9:15)."

Arminianism is based on the Five Articles of Remonstrance (which were countered by the Calvinist in 5-point response now known as TULIP).  The second Article states:  "The Atonement is qualitatively adequate for all men, "yet that no one actually enjoys [experiences] this forgiveness of sins, except the believer ..." and thus is limited to only those who trust in Christ."  Therefore, the idea that Christ's death on the cross was sufficient for all, but efficient for some aligns more with Arminianism.  The Arminian view of salvation is that Christ died for everyone, so all can come to Christ, but only those that "choose" to come and "accept" Jesus can be saved.  This unorthodox view means that even though Christ died for everyone's sin, He was not powerful enough to save everyone; thus, some of His blood was shed in vain.  This idea is blasphemous.

There are many labels that Christians can identify themselves with, but it's more important to actually understand what those labels mean.

***
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent," (John 17:1-3).