The Christian Life: Union with Christ — Charles Hodge

Charles Hodge (1797-1878)

Charles Hodge,

“As Christ is our spiritual Head, eternal life which is in him, descends to all his members. It is not they that live, but Christ that liveth in them (Gal. 2.20). This doctrine of the representative and vital union of Christ and believers pervades the New Testament. It is the source of the humility, the joy, the confidence which the sacred writers so often express. In themselves they were nothing, and deserved nothing, but in Him they possessed all things. Hence, they counted all things but loss that they might be found in Him. Hence, they determined to know nothing, to preach nothing, to glory in nothing, but Christ and him crucified.”

— Charles Hodge, The Way of Life, 1841

Resolved 2011 Conference Sessions Available for Free Mp3 Download

Resolved Conference 2011 sessions are now available (HERE) for free Mp3 download

Palm Springs Convention Center (June 24-27, 2011)

Resolved 2011: Session #1 Rick Holland Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #2 John MacArthur Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #3 Al Mohler Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #4 John MacArthur Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #5 (coming soon) C.J. Mahaney

Resolved 2011: Session #6 Steve Lawson Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #7 Rick Holland Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #8 Steve Lawson Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #9 Al Mohler Audio (MP3)

Resolved 2011: Session #10 (coming soon) C.J. Mahaney

R.C. Sproul on What Christians Should Do When They Don’t “Feel” Forgiven

R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul,

What do you do with the person who says, “I’ve asked God to forgive me about this, but I still feel guilty”? I hear that statement over and over again. I usually say to these people, “If you still feel guilty, then pray to God again. But this time don’t ask Him to forgive you for the sin that is haunting you. Rather, ask Him to forgive you for insulting His integrity by refusing to accept His forgiveness. Who are you to refuse to forgive yourself when God has forgiven you? When God promises to forgive His people when they repent, He is not playing games. If He says He will forgive you, then He will forgive you. And if God forgives you, you are forgiven.”

(RT: Grace Quotes) (subheading: Guilt)

“Unsportsmanlike Conduct? Did we really blow the Rob Bell situation?” by Phil Johnson

This is excellent. Be sure to click on link to read the entire article.

Phil Johnson,

Last week on Tim Challies’ podcast, the guest was Kenneth J. Stewart, author of IVP’s Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition. Among other things, he claimed that the “uncoordinated . . . response of the conservative Reformed world” to Rob Bell’s Love Wins constituted “a display of our disunity. . . a display of our failure to coordinate.”

In Professor Stewart’s words:

What I think our constituency was guilty of in that case is overkill. There might have been select spokesmen put forward from within our constituency, and they would be told to go to it. But we had too many people on the attack; too many people going for the jugular, and our movement displayed its unlovely side.

Challies’ co-host, David Murray, quickly agreed, suggesting that once Challies and Kevin DeYoung had posted their reviews of the book, “all that needed to be said had been said.”…..[continue reading entire article at the Pyromaniacs blog]

J.C. Ryle on the Unbiblical Teaching of “Second Blessing” Christian Perfectionism

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

J.C. Ryle,

That there is a vast difference between one degree of grace and another–that spiritual life admits of growth, and that believers should be continually urged on every account to grow in grace–all this I fully concede. But the theory of a sudden, mysterious transition of a believer into a state of blessedness and entire consecration, at one mighty bound, I cannot receive. It appears to me to be a man made invention; and I do not see a single plain text to prove it in Scripture. Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness–all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible. I doubt, indeed, whether we have any warrant for saying that a man can possibly be converted without being consecrated to God! More consecrated he doubtless can be, and will be as his grace increases; but if he was not consecrated to God in the very day that he was converted and born again, I do not know what conversion means. Are not men in danger of undervaluing and underrating the immense blessedness of conversion? Are they not, when they urge on believers the “higher life” as a second conversion, underrating the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, of that great first change which Scripture calls the new birth, the new creation, the spiritual resurrection? I may be mistaken. But I have sometimes thought, while reading the strong language used by many about “consecration,” in the last few years, that those who use it must have had previously a singularly low and inadequate view of “conversion,” if indeed they knew anything about conversion at all. In short, I have almost suspected that when they were consecrated, they were in reality converted for the first time!

I frankly confess I prefer the old paths. I think it wiser and safer to press on all converted people the possibility of continual growth in grace, and the absolute necessity of going forward, increasing more and more, and in every year dedicating and consecrating themselves more, in spirit, soul, and body to Christ. By all means let us teach that there is more holiness to be attained, and more of heaven to be enjoyed upon earth then most believers now experience. But I decline to tell any converted man that he needs a second conversion, and that he may some day or other pass by one enormous step into a state of entire consecration. I decline to teach it, because I think the tendency of the doctrine is thoroughly mischievous, depressing the humble-minded and meek, and puffing up the shallow, the ignorant, and the self-conceited, to a most dangerous extent. (from: Introduction to Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, J.C. Ryle)

“Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 1” by John MacArthur

“Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 1”

by John MacArthur

John F. MacArthur

The tendency to venerate tradition is very strong in religion. The world is filled with religions that have been following set traditions for hundreds–even thousands–of years. Cultures come and go, but religious tradition shows an amazing continuity.

In fact, many ancient religions–including Druidism, Native American religions, and several of the oriental cults–eschewed written records of their faith, preferring to pass down their legends and rituals and dogmas via word-of-mouth. Such religions usually treat their body of traditions as a de facto authority equal to other religions’ sacred writings.

Even among the world’s religions that revere sacred writings, however, tradition and Scripture are often blended. This is true in Hinduism, for example, where the ancient Vedas are the Scriptures, and traditions handed down by gurus round out the faith of most followers. Tradition in effect becomes a lens through which the written word is interpreted. Tradition therefore stands as the highest of all authorities, because it renders the only authoritative interpretation of the sacred writings.

This tendency to view tradition as supreme authority is not unique to pagan religions. Traditional Judaism, for example, follows the Scripture-plus-tradition paradigm. The familiar books of the Old Testament alone are viewed as Scripture, but true orthodoxy is actually defined by a collection of ancient rabbinical traditions known as the Talmud. In effect, the traditions of the Talmud carry an authority equal to or greater than that of the inspired Scriptures….[continue reading at Grace to You]

“The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom” — A.W. Pink

Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)

A.W. Pink,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7). Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God’s majesty, that has had a vision of God’s awful greatness, His ineffable holiness, His perfect righteousness, His irresistible power, His sovereign grace. Does someone say, “But it is only the unsaved, those outside of Christ, who need to fear God”? Then the sufficient answer is that the saved, those who are in Christ, are admonished to work out their own salvation with “fear and trembling.” Time was when it was the general custom to speak of a believer as a “God-fearing man.” That such an appellation has become nearly extinct only serves to show whither we have drifted. Nevertheless, it still stands written, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him” (Psalm 103:13).

When we speak of godly fear, of course we do not mean a servile fear, such as prevails among the heathen in connection with their gods. No, we mean that spirit which Jehovah is pledged to bless, that spirit to which the prophet referred when he said, “To this man will I (the Lord) look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa. 66:2). It was this the apostle had in view when he wrote, “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (I Pet: 2:17). And nothing will foster this godly fear like a recognition of the Sovereign Majesty of God. (via: Arthur Walkington Pink Archive)

Resolved Conference 2011 will be Livestreamed: Begins Tonight (June 24-27)

Resolved Conference 2011 will be livestreamed (here). Schedule for sessions and speakers below as well as a promo. video. (NOTE: THE TIMES BELOW ARE PACIFIC STANDARD TIME)

2011 Schedule

8pm Rick Holland

9am John MacArthur
11am Al Mohler
5pm John MacArthur
7pm Panel Q & A

11am CJ Mahaney
7pm Steve Lawson

9am Rick Holland
11am Steve Lawson
5pm Al Mohler
7pm CJ Mahaney

Dr. Ron Gleason on the Advantages of Expository Preaching

Dr. Ron Gleason

Ron Gleason to young ministers,

Preach expository sermons from both the Old and New Testaments. The preacher’s foremost task is to preach the Gospel. Many voices in Christianity today tempt us to forget this. They encourage us to do what will attract the unsaved. Nevertheless, the pastor is primarily called to proclaim the riches of Christ through the preaching of the Word and the clear exposition of Scripture. In this manner, he both equips the saints and prepares them to present the true, pure Gospel to the lost. Expository preaching has three decided advantages for any pastor: First, it takes the congregation through a book of the Bible so that they are able to observe and understand the various covenantal themes contained in it. Second, this type of “series” preaching protects the congregation from the pastor’s “hobby horses.” Therefore, rather than preaching on a number of his favorite topics, he is bound by the text to preach and teach the variety of doctrines found in the Word of God. Moreover, in the history of preaching it has been this expository approach that has proven to be the most spiritually beneficial to God’s covenant communities. Third, this will solve the problem for the younger pastor of choosing a text every week. Being guided by the text and your exegesis, you know what you’re preaching on next week….[read entire article at the Ligonier homepage]

Ron Gleason is the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Yorba Linda, California. His most recent book is Herman Bavinck: Pastor, Churchman, Statesman, and Theologian.

Religious Excitement or the Real Fruit of the Spirit? — J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle,

It is easy to get crowds together for what are called “higher life” and “consecration” meetings. Anyone knows that, who has watched human nature and read descriptions of American camp–meetings and studied the curious phenomena of the “religious affections.” Sensational and exciting addresses by strange preachers or by women, loud singing, hot rooms, crowded tents, the constant sight of strong semi–religious feeling in the faces of all around you for several days, late hours, long protracted meetings, public profession of experience—all this kind of thing is very interesting at the time and seems to do good. But is the good real, deeply–rooted, solid, lasting? That is the point. And I should like to ask a few questions about it.

Do those who attend these meetings become more holy, meek, unselfish, kind, good–tempered, self–denying and Christ–like at home? Do they become more content with their position in life, and more free from restless craving after something different from that which God has given them? Do fathers, mothers, husbands and other relatives and friends find them more pleasant and easy to live with? Can they enjoy a quiet Sunday and quiet means of grace without noise, heat and excitement? Above all, do they grow in charity, and especially in charity towards those who do not agree with them in every jot and tittle of their religion?

These are serious and searching questions and deserve serious consideration. I hope I am as anxious to promote real practical holiness in the land as anyone. I admire and willingly acknowledge the zeal and earnestness of many with whom I cannot cooperate who are trying to promote it. But I cannot withhold a growing suspicion that the great “mass–meetings” of the present day, for the ostensible object of promoting spiritual life, do not tend to promote private home religion, private Bible reading, private prayer, private usefulness and private walking with God. If they are of any real value, they ought to make people better husbands and wives and fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and masters and mistresses and servants. But I should like to have clear proofs that they do. I only know it is far easier to be a Christian among singing, praying, sympathizing Christians in a public room, than to be a consistent Christian in a quiet, retired, out–of–the–way, uncongenial home. The first position is one in which there is a deal of nature to help us: the second is one which cannot be well filled without grace. But, alas, many talk nowadays about “consecration,” who seem to be ignorant of the “first principles of the oracles of God” about “conversion.” (from: Extract from Ryle’s Preface to the 1879 Enlarged Edition of Holiness in Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle, An Appreciation by J.I. Packer, pp.91-92)

“Twilight of the Idols” by R.C. Sproul

Great article by R.C. Sproul,

The motto of the United States is e pluribus unum. However, since the rise of the ideology of pluralism, the real Unum of that motto has been ripped from its foundation. What drives pluralism is the philosophical antecedent of relativism. All truth is relative; therefore, no one idea or source can be seen as having any kind of supremacy. Built into our law system is the idea of the equal toleration under the law of all religions. It is a short step in people’s thinking from equal toleration under the law to equal validity. The principle that all religions should be treated equally under the law and have equal rights does not carry with it the necessary inference that therefore all religions are valid. Even a cursory, comparative examination of the world’s religions reveals points of radical contradiction among them, and unless one is prepared to affirm the equal truth of contradictories, one must not be able to embrace this fallacious assumption….[read entire article at the Ligonier homepage]

“Why Halt Between Two Opinions?” by Archibald Alexander

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851)

Archibald Alexander,

Between truth and error, light and darkness, there is a perpetual conflict. Every human soul experiences something of this. Evidence is always on the side of truth; but by the mind blinded by prejudice and passion, the evidence of truth is not seen, or not perceived with sufficient clearness to give it efficacy. A mind under the influence of depraved dispositions is incapable of judging impartially of the nature and evidence of truth; it is strongly biased by inclination to sinful indulgence, and by a fixed aversion to everything which tends to restrain the evil desires of the corrupt heart. Yet some rays of light will at times dart into such a soul, and awaken serious reflection; and conscience cannot be easy when the obligation of duty is felt, and the course pursued is seen to be a series of transgressions of God’s holy law. Conscience asserts the rightful authority of God, and testifies against known sin.

The sinner is brought to a pause. The thoughts of death, judgment, and eternity, are dreadful. He begins to think of a reformation, the necessity of which he cannot doubt; but some darling lust puts in its plea and solicits indulgence. The deceitful heart promises, that if now indulged, it will consent to forsake the beloved sin at some future time—perhaps it promises never to solicit for indulgence again. “This once only” has been the plea which has often decided the eternal destiny of an immortal soul.

When the truth is heard from the pulpit, the sinner is often brought to a stand. He is convinced that his course of life is wrong, and that if persisted in, it must end in ruin. For a moment he hesitates—halts between two opinions—between truth and error, between duty and transgression, between the choice of life or death; but too often the pause is momentary, the hesitation which is painful is brought abruptly to a close.

The young man just entering on the path of sinful indulgence, whose conscience is not yet seared, and who has some knowledge of the truth–has to pass through many a tremendous struggle with his own conscience before he can go on in his sinful course without opposition. Often is he brought to halt between two opinions. Often does he resolve to break the chains of iniquity which begin to entwine around him; but these resolutions are like the cords on Samson’s arms—under the power of the next temptation, they are like thread when it touches fire. Repeated efforts proving ineffectual, the vanquished soul gives itself up a willing captive to Satan. All serious opposition ceases. And now the sinner begins to justify his course by error and infidelity. He becomes ingenious in finding out arguments in favor of his licentious course. Hereafter there is no more halting between two opinions; he is carried down the strong current, until he plunges into the abyss of perdition!

The prophet addressed the idolatrous Israelites with the question, “How long will you halt between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The object of Elijah was to bring them to a decision, one way or the other. Nothing is more unreasonable than hesitation in a matter so important, and where the duty and interest of those addressed were so manifest. But still they are left to choose. If they are willing to serve God, well; if not, choose whom you will serve. Only halt no longer. God hates this perpetual vacillation. “I wish that you were cold or hot,” says Christ. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of my mouth.”

Sinner, make up your mind. You are left at perfect liberty. There is no constraint, no coercion. God will have none but willing servants. But know, that if you make a wrong choice, if your mind adopt a wrong purpose, and determine to follow an evil course, you will have no one to blame but yourself (via: Grace Gems)

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) was an American Reformed Presbyterian theologian. He was the first professor and principal, from 1812-1840, at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. He was staunchly orthodox and a true man of God

God’s Mercy to Outcasts — Charles Spurgeon

“God chose what is low and despised in the world.” — 1 Corinthians 1:28a (ESV)

Walk the streets by moonlight, if you dare, and you will see sinners then. Watch when the night is dark, and the wind is howling, and the picklock is grating in the door, and you will see sinners then. Go to yon jail, and walk through the wards, and mark the men with heavy over-hanging brows, men whom you would not like to meet at night, and there are sinners there. Go to the Reformatories, and note those who have betrayed a rampant juvenile depravity, and you will see sinners there. Go across the seas to the place where a man will gnaw a bone upon which is reeking human flesh, and there is a sinner there. Go where you will, you need not ransack earth to find sinners, for they are common enough; you may find them in every lane and street of every city, and town, and village, and hamlet. It is for such that Jesus died. If you will select me the grossest specimen of humanity, if he be but born of woman, I will have hope of him yet, because Jesus Christ is come to seek and to save sinners. Electing love has selected some of the worst to be made the best. Pebbles of the brook grace turns into jewels for the crown-royal. Worthless dross he transforms into pure gold. Redeeming love has set apart many of the worst of mankind to be the reward of the Saviour’s passion. Effectual grace calls forth many of the vilest of the vile to sit at the table of mercy, and therefore let none despair.

Reader, by that love looking out of Jesus’ tearful eyes, by that love streaming from those bleeding wounds, by that faithful love, that strong love, that pure, disinterested, and abiding love; by the heart and by the bowels of the Saviour’s compassion, we conjure you turn not away as though it were nothing to you; but believe on him and you shall be saved. Trust your soul with him and he will bring you to his Father’s right hand in glory everlasting. — Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Morning devotion for December 7 in Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Not Corrupting the Word — J.C. Ryle [AUDIO]

Not Corrupting the Word was an address given by J.C. Ryle to a gathering of ministers in England in August of 1858,

“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 2:17

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

“…we corrupt the Word of God when we make defective statements of doctrine. We do so when we add to the Bible—the opinions of the Church, or of the Church Fathers, as if they were of equal authority. We do so when we take away from the Bible, for the sake of pleasing men. We do so when from a feeling of false liberality, keep back any statement which seems narrow, and harsh, or hard. We do so when we try to soften down anything that is taught about eternal punishment, or the reality of hell. We do so when we bring forward doctrines in their wrong proportions. We all have our favorite doctrines, and our minds are so constituted that it is hard to see one truth very clearly without forgetting that there are other truths equally important. We must not forget the exhortation of Paul, to minister “according to the proportion of faith.”

We do so when we exhibit an excessive concern to fence, and guard, and qualify such doctrines as justification by faith without the deeds of the law, for fear of the charge of antinomianism; or when we flinch from strong statements about holiness, for fear of being thought legal. We also do this when we shrink back from the use of Bible language in giving an account of doctrines. We are apt to keep back such expressions as “born again,” “election,” “adoption,” “conversion,” “assurance,” and to use a roundabout phraseology, as if we were ashamed of plain Bible words. I cannot expand these statements because we are short of time. I am content with mentioning them and leave them to your private thought…” — J.C. Ryle

Entire address may be listened to below:

“Substitute Anything for Christ, and the Gospel is Totally Spoiled!” — J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

J.C. Ryle,

You may spoil the Gospel by substitution. You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith,—Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place,—the Church, the Ministry, the Confessional, Baptism, or the Lord’s Supper, and the mischief is done. Substitute anything for Christ, and the Gospel is totally
spoiled! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

You may spoil the Gospel by addition. You have only to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honour, and the mischief is done. Add anything to Christ, and the Gospel ceases to be a pure Gospel! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

You may spoil the Gospel by interposition. You have only to push something between Christ and the eye of the soul, to draw away the sinner’s attention from the Saviour, and the mischief is done. Interpose anything between man and Christ, and man will neglect Christ for the thing interposed! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

You may spoil the Gospel by disproportion. You have only to attach an exaggerated importance to the secondary things of Christianity, and a diminished importance to the first things, and the mischief is done. Once alter the proportion of the parts of truth, and truth soon becomes downright error! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical. (from: Evangelical Religion, J.C. Ryle)

Renewing the Mind by Meditating on God’s Word — Dr. Richard Mayhue

Dr. Mayhue,

To hear something once for most people is not enough. To briefly ponder something profound does not allow enough time to grasp and fully understand its significance. This proves to be most true with God’s mind in Scripture. Psalm 119 testifies to the importance and blessing of lingering long over God’s Word.

The idea of meditating sometimes lends itself to misunderstanding. Meditation involves prolonged thought or pondering. The American figure of speech for meditating is “to chew” on a thought. Some have likened it to the rumination process of the cow’s four stomach digestive system.

The most vivid picture comes from a coffee percolator. The water goes up a small tube and drains down through the coffee grounds. After enough cycles, the flavor of the coffee beans has has transfered to the water, which is then called coffee. So it is that Christians need to cycle their thoughts through the grounds of God’s Word until they start to think like God and then act godly.

Scripture commands that believers meditate in three areas:
1. God Ps 27:4; 63:6
2. God’s Word Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2
3. God’s works Ps 143:5; 145:5

All 176 verses of Psalm 119 extol the virtue of knowing and living out the mind of God. Meditation is mentioned at least seven times as the habit of one who loves God and desires closer intimacy with Him: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day….My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (vv. 97, 148; see also vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 99).

Meditating on God’s Word will cleanse away the old thoughts that are not of God because meditation places and reinforces new thoughts from Scripture. Also, it puts a protective shield around the mind to block and reject incoming thoughts that contradict God. That is the Scriptural process of renewing the mind. A part of Eve’s fall can be attributed to her failure to adequately meditate upon God’s clear and sufficient Word (Gen 2:16-17).

Taken from Think Biblically: Recovering a Christian Worldview by John MacArthur (general editor), © 2003, pp. 49-50. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

Dr. Richard L. Mayhue is Executive Vice President and Dean of The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California, and serves there also as a professor of both theology and pastoral ministry (read full biography at The Master’s Seminary homepage).

Ten steps to becoming a “Pragmatic Church” — John MacArthur

John MacArthur on the dangers of worldly, pragmatic church methodologies:

John MacArthur

Ten steps to becoming a “Pragmatic Church”

1. “Easy-believism” gospel.

2. Place emphasis on some “work” for salvation and not the need to recognize and approach a holy God.

3. Teach half-truths.

4. Teach that grace replaces (instead of produces) holiness.

5. Teach that love and truth are opposed and obedience is legalism or optional.

6. Use fleshly things to attract unbelievers for evangelism and teach them that carnal, worldly lifestyles are acceptable.

7. Avoid the Biblical teachings that create humility in man and exalt God.

8. Teach the means of grace are optional.

9. Be “seeker-friendly” and avoid being “offensive.”

10. Place being “relatable” above “biblical accuracy.”

— John MacArthur

Does the Truth Matter Anymore? Video Tape Series.

(via: Grace Christian Quotes)