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Hoeksema: Man’s Coming and God’s Drawing May 21, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Calvinism, Herman Hoeksema.
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I’m currently reading Herman Hoeksema’s “Whosoever Will”. I found this paragraph from his chapter on Man’s Coming and God’s Drawing to be interesting. While there is obviously no guarantee that people do not pray that way, his Arminian prayer definitely doesn’t sound right.

“He that comes to Jesus experiences in this act of coming that drawing of the marvelous and efficacious grace of God, and that, too, in such a way that the latter is first and is the cause of the former. One that is saved will surely acknowledge this. Never will a regenerated child of God present the matter of his salvation as having had its initiative in him. Never will he say that anything on his part preceded the operation of God’s grace in him, that he first willed to come and God’s grace thereupon enabled him to come, that he first accepted Christ and thereupon Christ received him, that he first opened his heart and thereupon Christ entered it. An unmistakable proof of this may be found in the prayer of one that is saved. Here all Arminianism, all boasting of free will in the matter of salvation, is silenced. The reason is that in prayer one speaks to God. Before men one may talk of coming to Jesus as if it were in the power of the sinner to come or to refuse to come. But as soon as one places himself before the face of God all this is changed. Then all is attributed to divine grace. Before the face of God there is no Arminian. Or whoever heard anyone utter an Arminian prayer like this: “I thank thee God that Thou didst wait until it pleased me to come, and that Thou didst knock until I was good enough to open my heart for Thee, and that Thou gavest me grace when I decided to receive it ?” Yet why should not a man express before the face of God what he loudly and boldly proclaims to man? The simple answer is: because before God we cannot lie! Hence, in prayer a saved sinner will attribute all to God and none to self. He will cease speaking about the free will of man, and say: “I thank Thee that Thy irresistible grace overpowered all my resistance, that Thou didst open and enter into my heart, that Thou didst draw me that I might come!” And this is the heart of the assurance and boldness of the sinner as he comes to Jesus. The very fact that in his coming to Jesus the sinner experiences the drawing of the Father is his guarantee that he will surely be received.” (bold mine)

The complete book is available online.


Machen: The Christian Reformed Church & Christian Education May 13, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Blog Spotting, Christian Education, Christian Parenting, J. Gresham Machen.
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Genva Redux posts some of Machen’s thoughts on the CRC from back in 1936. Unfortunately, much has changed in the denomination and its schools.  Yet there is much to consider from these characteristics. I was especially appreciative of the last section on Christian education:

They love God and love their children too much to allow Christian instruction to be tagged one day in seven as a kind of excrescence upon an education fundamentally non-Christian.  They have tried to make the education of their children Christian throughout.  God has wonderfully blessed them in that effort.

A good note of encouragement to a parent who has just decided to invest in Christian Education for his children.

Belcher: Arthur W. Pink – Born to Write May 4, 2009

Posted by heldveld in A.W. Pink, Book Reviews.
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I picked this biography of A.W. Pink up at a used book sale for $.50.  I really enjoyed reading it, while Pink’s life was certainly not ‘action packed’ his trials and triumphs can serve to edify, challenge and instruct the reader.

Pink had a very unique personality and seeing how he dealt with the various events of his life is very interesting.  The author does good job digging up the details of his entire life even though it is clear that for certain periods little or nothing is known. We find that one reason for this is because of Pink’s humbleness and desire for all of the glory to go to God.

Much of the biography naturally relates to the ‘Sovereignty of God’, both Pink’s teaching on the doctrine and it’s effects on his life. At times we see Pink accepting and searching for God’s sovereign will in his life and at others almost pushing against it. In relating the events at the end of Pink’s pastorate in South Carolina Belcher brings forth the insight:

“That seems to be a problem in many areas of theology–we can learn the doctrine in its definition, but then the practical learning of applying it to real life is not so easy”

How very true and challenging. We also see sovereignty in play in his ministries in Australia leaving him at odds with both Arminian leaning believers and Hyper-Calvinists.

I also found Pinks views on education and finances to be edifying. Pink had no formal Bible/Seminary training and was a bit antagonistic toward it. While I am not against toward it in anyway, I think sometimes higher education can discourage lay people from deep reading of the scripture on their own or lead to acceptance of teaching based on credentials and not Biblical authority. As to finances Pink lived on a tight budget and never asked for money to support his ministries at times he even told people not to send money. How important it is for all Christians to examine the role of money in their lives.

It is sad to see the hurt that Pink dealt with in his failures to receive calls to pastor and preach in conference ministries. His isolationism and overly harsh critiques of organized religion are definitely not a proper reaction, but in returning to God’s sovereignty we see how it contributed to an increase in his written ministry. A ministry that continues to this day. The relation of the last week of Pink’s life is very encouraging as we see a man relying completely on Christ for his salvation and joyously looking forward to going to God’s kingdom.

For those who have read Pink I highly recommend this book.

It can be purchased from Richbarry Press

Bahnsen: Keeping Covenant With God in the Education of Our Children April 30, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Christian Education, Christian Parenting, Greg Bahnsen.
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I am still doing a lot of thinking regarding Christian education as I have to make a decision regarding my son’s education for next year.

In the process, I found a short but helpful article by Greg Bahnsen at the CRTA (Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics) site.  The article itself can be found here.

Genuine knowledge of any subject whatsoever begins with reverence and submission to God (Prov. 1:7), particularly the fundamentals and philosophy which adhere to the Lord Jesus Christ rather than the fallen world or human traditions (Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:20). It is the word of God which sets apart His people in the truth (John 17:17). Thus neutrality in education is not only impossible (Matt. 12:30), but immoral (Jas. 4:4). Accordingly, the aim of Christian parents must be to encourage their children to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), “in whom are deposited all the treasures of wisdom and knoeledge” (Col. 2:3), Only if they are first disciples of Christ will they know the truth and enjoy real freedom (John 8:31-32).

Frame: Toward a Theology of the State April 17, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Christian Education, Christian Reconstruction, John Frame, Two Kingdoms.
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An interesting article by John Frame (Toward a Theology of the State) that traces the Biblical development of government and then explores the relationship of religion and the state.

The picture to this point, then, is that as Israel developed from nuclear family to extended family to clan to nation,  family authority became more elaborate and complicated. In time, God introduced new institutions. The heads of extended families were no longer exclusively responsible for prophetic and priestly ministries as were the patriarchs. Rather, God relieved them by assigning many religious duties exclusively to the priests, Levites, and prophets.

As the above quote shows Frame sees government developing out of family authority. Which leads him to draw the following conclusion:

I conclude, therefore, that state authority is essentially family authority, developed and extended somewhat by the demands of number and geography. Thus I believe we may eliminate from our consideration the views of the Lutherans and Meredith Kline, as well as others, who see the state as a distinct institution ordained by God, with powers and responsibilities different from those of the family.

I had never thought about government in this way (developing out of family authority) but Frame’s case makes sense and appears to do a good job of tracing the Biblical development of government.

Following his tracing of the development of the “state”, he then examines the relation of religion and the state. Among his insights:

God calls all human beings to repent of sin and to put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those who have believed in Jesus are to do all things to his glory (1 Cor 10:31; cf. Rom 14:23; 2 Cor 10:5; Col 3:17, 24). Anything the believer does,
therefore, must be done according to God’s standards and out of a motive of love for him. This principle certainly bears on any human associations, whether for business, education, charity, worship, art, recreation, study, government, or whatever. The believer must press the royal claims of Christ in all areas of life. And to do that is, of course, to work toward Christian standards and practices in all those associations, so that there will be Christian businesses, Christian schools, Christian media, Christian charities, Christian churches, Christian art, Christian recreations, Christian scholarship, and, of course, Christian government. Why should government be any different from any other project in which the believer is involved? If we promote Christian schools because Christ is to be Lord of all of life, doesn’t the same argument apply to government? And once Christian standards become the norm in such institutions, why should that institution not formally recognize that commitment by confessing Christ?

He makes additional points on education and religious expression among others. I found the article helpful and encourage you to read it in it’s entirety.

Bavinck: The Law-Gospel Distinction and Preaching April 3, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Herman Bavinck, Law/Gospel, Theology.
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I been thinking about the law and how it relates to both the believer and the unbeliever following the last few episodes of the Narrow Mind podcast (#953/#954). In attempting to educate myself a bit more on the subject I found some thoughts from Herman Bavinck available online.

Click here to find Paragraphs 520-521 of Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde Dogmatiek which are available on Auxesis.net

The full article is very helpful but here are some quotes that I found insightful:

This freedom of faith, however, does not invalidate the law, but establishes it (Rom.3:31), since its legal requirement is fulfilled precisely in those who walk according to the Spirit (Rom.8:4). After all, that Spirit renews believers so that they delight in God’s law according to the inner man and inquire as to what God’s holy will is (Rom.7:22; 12:2; Eph.5:10; Phil.1:10), while they are spurred on through various impulses — the great mercy of God, the example of Christ, the costly price with which they have been purchased, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, etc. — to the doing of God’s will.

Although they overlap to the extent that they both have God as author, both speak of one and the same perfect righteousness, both are directed to man, to bring him to eternal life, yet they differ in that the law proceeds from God’s holiness, the Gospel from His grace; the [works of the] law [are] known from nature, the Gospel only by special revelation; the law demands perfect righteousness, the Gospel bestows it; the law leads to eternal life through works, the Gospel makes works proceed from eternal life bestowed through faith; the law currently condemns man, the Gospel acquits him; the law is directed to all men, the Gospel only to those who live under it; etc.

The Gospel is temporary, but the law is eternal and is restored precisely through the Gospel. Freedom from the law consists, then, not in the fact that the Christian has nothing more to do with the law, but lies in the fact that the law demands nothing more from the Christian as a condition of salvation. The law can no longer judge and condemn him. Instead he delights in the law of God according to the inner man and yearns for it day and night.

Phillips: Zechariah – Reformed Expository Commentary February 12, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Book Reviews, Reformed Expository Commentary, Richard Phillips, Zechariah.
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I have now read three of the volumes in the Reformed Expository Commentary each by a different author. This one on Zechariah is the first on an Old Testament book. Like the others the content was enlightening, while not being too scholarly.  In The first chapter Phillips explains his four fold approach in writing the book; examining Zechariah historically, Christologically, doctrinally and practically. I found this approach to be extremely helpful in coming to a better understanding of the book as it really draws out all aspects of the text. I must admit that after reading through Zechariah in preparation, my interest grew as I didn’t understand much of what I had read.

Reading this book really opened up Zechariah for me. I found it very helpful how Phillips give brief descriptions of the common meaning of elements of the visions (ex. horsemen = wealth and power). This information will be a good reference tool in reading any OT prophecy. He draws out the themes of repentance and sacrifice as well as God’s omniscience and sovereignty. He applies these themes doctrinally and practically to the life of the Christian, as promised by his approach to study. Most importantly he always mentions Christ and his work as it is for shadowed.

There is so much gospel in Zechariah that I found it surprising for an OT commentary, though I really shouldn’t have for all scripture is about Christ. Phillips identifies the angel/man on the horse from the visions as the preincarnate Christ and supports this conclusion well. The chapter on Zechariah 3 where the high priest Joshua is given clean garments is an especially comforting reminder of the gospel and what God has done for us.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For those looking to get more into the Old Testament, Zechariah is a great place to start. By reading commentaries from the Reformed Expository series, as well as attending a church with expository teaching, I am really seeing the importance of good Bible teachers in helping lay Christians understand the text. I began with next to no knowledge of this book and left with a great sense of its meaning and a wonder at how beautifully it points to Christ.

It is available from Reformation Heritage Books

Pink: The Extent of Our Depravity January 30, 2009

Posted by heldveld in A.W. Pink, Antithesis.
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The natural man has not one iota of holiness in him; rather he is horn with the seeds of every form of evil, radically inclined to sin. In our nature we are vileness itself, black as hell, and unless a miracle of grace is worked in us we must inevitably be damned for all eternity. It is not a case of man’s having a few imperfections; he is altogether polluted. “an unclean thing” with “no soundness” (Isa. 1:6). Not only has man no holiness, but his heart is inveterately averse to it.

The solemn doctrine of total depravity does not mean that there are no parents with genuine love for their children, and no children who respectfully obey their parents; that there are none imbued with a spirit of benevolence to the poor and kind sympathy for the suffering; that there are no conscientious employers or honest employees. But it does mean that, where the unregenerate are concerned, those duties are discharged without any love for God, any subjection to His authority, or any concern for His glory. Parents are required to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and children are to obey their parents in the Lord (Eph. 6:1, 4). Servants are to serve their masters ‘’in singleness of heart, as unto Christ.’’ Do the unconverted comply with those injunctions? No, therefore their performances not only possess no spiritual value, but are polluted. Every act of the natural man is faulty. “The plowing of the wicked is sin” (Prov. 21:4) because it is for selfish ends. Then is it better not to plow at all? Wrong, for slothfulness is equally sinful. There are different degrees of enormity, but every act of man is sinful.

A.W. Pink
The Doctrine of Human Depravity
Complete Book is Available Online

I thought it interesting that he does not take about ‘goodness’ but rather ‘holiness’ in regard to our depravity. When most people consider themselves or others ‘good’, what standard do they use? Not God’s perfect holiness but rather their own arbitrary standard. He also shows how it is the heart and not the action that matters to God, for the unregenerate perform their works “without any love for God, any subjection to His authority, or any concern for His glory” and that makes them sinful.