Strong Foundations Needed For A Weak And Superficial Church — Charles Spurgeon

“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.” — Luke 6:47-48

Spurgeon preaching at the Surrey Music Hall circa 1858.

Charles Spurgeon,

Beware of a religion without holdfasts. But if I get a grip upon a doctrine they call me a bigot. Let them do so. Bigotry is a hateful thing, and yet that which is now abused as bigotry is a great virtue, and greatly needed in these frivolous times. I have been inclined lately to start a new denomination, and call it “the Church of the Bigoted.”

Everybody is getting to be so oily, so plastic, so untrue, that we need a race of hardshells to teach us how to believe. Those old-fashioned people who in former ages believed something and thought the opposite of it to be false, were truer folk, than the present timeservers.

I should like to ask the divines of the broad school whether any doctrine is worth a man’s dying for it. They would have to reply, “Well, of course, if a man had to go to the stake or change his opinions, the proper way would be to state them with much diffidence, and to be extremely respectful to the opposite school.”

But suppose he is required to deny the truth?

“Well, there is much to be said on each side, and probably the negative may have a measure of truth in it as well as the positive. At any rate, it cannot be a prudent thing to incur the odium of being burned, and so it might be preferable to leave the matter an open question for the time being.”

Yes, and as these gentlemen always find it unpleasant to be unpopular, they soften down the hard threatenings of Scripture as to the world to come, and put a color upon every doctrine to which worldly-wise men object.

The teachers of doubt are very doubtful teachers. A man must have something to hold to, or he will neither bless himself nor others.

Bring all the ships into the pool; but do not moor or anchor one of them; let each one be free! Wait you for a stormy night, and they will dash against each other, and great mischief will come of this freedom. Perfect love and charity will not come through our being all unmoored, but by each having his proper moorings and keeping to them in the name of God. You must have something to hold to. (excerpted from: On Laying Foundations, Sermon #1702, delivered by C.H. Spurgeon at Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, January 21, 1883)

Above excerpt originally appeared at Pyromaniacs, titled: The Danger of Perpetual Uncertainty (one of Phil Johnson’s excellent Dose of Spurgeon posts). Phil Johnson is, himself, an excellent preacher and Bible teacher, ministering at GraceLife Fellowship (a ministry of Grace Community Church). I encourage you to check out his sermons at

Charles Spurgeon: On Earnestly Contending for the Faith

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

…We admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago. The past ages are a sort of bear-pit or iron cage for him. But such a man today is a nuisance and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin and their compeers had said, “The world is out of order. But if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.

Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps and the infectious bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it
was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man—where is the man for the day? We who have had the Gospel passed to us by martyr’s hands dare not trifle with it—nor sit by and hear it denied by traitors who pretend to love it but inwardly abhor every line of it…..Look you, Sirs, there are ages yet to come. If the Lord does not speedily appear, there will come another generation and another and all these generations will be tainted and injured if we are not faithful to God and to His Truth today. We have come to a turning point in the road. If we turn to the right, maybe our children and our children’s children will go that way. But if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word. I charge you, not only by your ancestry but by your posterity, that you seek to win the commendation of your Master—that though you dwell where Satan’s seat is—you hold fast His name and do not deny His faith.
(from: Holding Fast the Faith, Sermon #2007, Delivered on Lord’s Day Morning, February 5, 1888)

Glorifying God By Standing for Truth — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)

“We glorify God, by standing up for his truths. Much of God’s glory lies in his truth. God has intrusted us with his truth, as a master intrusts his servant with his purse to keep. We have not a richer jewel to trust God with than our souls, nor has God a richer jewel to trust us with than his truth. Truth is a beam that shines from God. Much of his glory lies in his truth. When we are advocates for truth we glorify God. Jude 3. ‘That ye should contend earnestly for the truth.’ The Greek word to contend signifies great contending, as one would contend for his land, and not suffer his right to be taken from him; so we should contend for the truth. Were there more of this holy contention God would have more glory. Some contend earnestly for trifles and ceremonies, but not for the truth. We should count him indiscreet that would contend more for a picture than for his inheritance; for a box of counters than for his box of title deeds.” (from Introduction to A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson)

♦ Thomas Watson was an English Puritan Minister and author. And one of the best. To learn more about him read Charles Spurgeon’s Brief Memoir Of Thomas Watson.

♦ Be sure to check out the Resource Page for Thomas Watson at Monergism, also The Thomas Watson Reading Room. One of the many excellent Hall of Church History: Featured Sites.

♦ I also recommend purchasing a copy of Meet the Puritans: With a Guide to Modern Reprints by Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson. A tremendous resource, not only for the biographical information, but also as a guide to choosing the best in puritan literature.

“Some Things Are True And Some Things Are False” – Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

Some things are true and some things are false…Believing, therefore, that there is such a thing as truth, and such a thing as falsehood, that there are truths in the Bible, and that the gospel consists in something definite which is to be believed by men, it becomes us to be decided as to what we teach, and to teach it in a decided manner. We have to deal with men who will be either lost or saved, and they certainly will not be saved by erroneous doctrine. We have to deal with God, whose servants we are, and he will not be honored by our delivering falsehoods; neither will he give us a reward, and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast mangled the gospel as judiciously as any man that ever lived before thee.” -C.H. Spurgeon

(Cited in, Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World, 3rd Edition, John MacArthur [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010], pgs, 269,270)

“Against Compromise” By John MacArthur

“Against Compromise”

John MacArthur

It was Martin Luther who said:

“The world at the present time is sagaciously discussing how to quell the controversy and strife over doctrine and faith, and how to effect a compromise between the Church and the Papacy. Let the learned, the wise, it is said, bishops, emperor and princes, arbitrate. Each side can easily yield something, and it is better to concede some things which can be construed according to individual interpretation, than that so much persecution, bloodshed, war, and terrible, endless dissension and destruction be permitted.

“Here is lack of understanding, for understanding proves by the Word that such patchwork is not according to God’s will, but that doctrine, faith and worship must be preserved pure and unadulterated; there must be no mingling with human nonsense, human opinions or wisdom.

“The Scriptures give us this rule: ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).”

It is interesting to speculate what the church would be like today if Martin Luther had been prone to compromise. The pressure was heavy on him to tone down his teaching, soften his message, stop poking his finger in the eye of the papacy. Even many of his friends and supporters urged Luther to come to terms with Rome for the sake of harmony in the church. Luther himself prayed earnestly that the effect of his teaching would not be divisive.

When he nailed his 95 Theses to the door, the last thing he wanted to do was split the church.

Yet sometimes division is fitting, even healthy, for the church. Especially in times like Luther’s–and like ours–when the visible church seems full of counterfeit Christians, it is right for the true people of God to declare themselves. Compromise is sometimes a worse evil than division. Second Corinthians 6:14-17 isn’t speaking only of marriage when it says,

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You. – © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved.

“Be All Things to All Men” by John MacArthur

John MacArthur

“I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9:22–23)

The primary purpose of Paul’s not taking full advantage of his Christian liberty was that [he] might win the more. He deeply believed that “he who is wise wins souls” (Prov. 11:30) and was willing to do anything and to sacrifice anything to win people to Jesus Christ. He would modify his habits, his preferences, his entire life–style if any of those things caused someone to stumble, to be offended, or to be hindered from faith in the Lord.

In summary, Paul became all things to all men, that he might by all means save some. He did not compromise the gospel. He would not change the least truth in the least way in order to satisfy anyone. But he would condescend in any way for anyone if that would in any way help bring him to Christ. He would never set aside a truth of the gospel, but he would gladly restrict his liberty in the gospel. He would not offend Jew, Gentile, or those weak in……continued at MacArthur New Testament Commentary page (Click here for link) – Be sure to listen to short audio and then there is a portion of commentary to read.

“Raising The Error-Alert” By John MacArthur

“Raising The Error Alert”

John MacArthur

Why do so many evangelicals act as if false teachers in the church could never be a serious problem in this generation? Vast numbers seem convinced that they are “rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing–and do not know that [they] are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

In reality, the church today is quite possibly more susceptible to false teachers, doctrinal saboteurs, and spiritual terrorism than any other generation in church history. Biblical ignorance within the church may well be deeper and more widespread than at any other time since the Protestant Reformation. If you doubt that, compare the typical sermon of today with a randomly chosen published sermon from any leading evangelical preacher prior to 1850. Also compare today’s Christian literature with almost anything published by evangelical publishing houses a hundred years or more ago.

Bible teaching, even in the best of venues today, has been deliberately dumbed-down, made as broad and as shallow as possible, oversimplified, adapted to the lowest common denominator– and then tailored to appeal to people with short attention spans.

Sermons are almost always brief, simplistic, overlaid with as many references to pop culture as possible, and laden with anecdotes and illustrations. (Jokes and funny stories drawn from personal experience are favored over cross-references and analogies borrowed from Scripture itself.) Typical sermon topics are heavily weighted in favor of man-centered issues (such as personal relationships, successful living, self-esteem, how-to lists, and so on)–to the exclusion of the many Christ-exalting doctrinal themes of Scripture. In other words, what most contemporary preachers do is virtually the opposite of what Paul was describing when he said he sought “to declare . . . the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Not only that, but here’s how Paul explained his own approach to gospel ministry, even among unchurched pagans in the most debauched Roman culture:

“I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Notice that Paul deliberately refused to customize his message or adjust his delivery to suit the Corinthians’ philosophical bent or their cultural tastes. When he says later in the epistle, “To the Jews I became as a Jew . . . to those who are without law, as without law . . . to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22), he was describing how he made himself a servant to all (v. 19) and the fellow of those whom he was trying to reach. In other words, he avoided making himself a stumbling block. He was not saying he adapted the gospel message (which he plainly said is a stumbling block–1:23). He did not adopt methods to suit the tastes of a worldly culture.

Paul had no thought of catering to a particular generation’s preferences, and he used no gimmicks as attention-getters. Whatever antonym you can think of for the word showmanship would probably be a good description of Paul’s style of public ministry. He wanted to make it clear to everyone (including the Corinthian converts themselves) that lives and hearts are renewed by means of the Word of God and nothing else. That way they would begin to understand and appreciate the power of the gospel message.
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You. – © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved.

“A Message Worth Fighting For” by Tom Ascol

“A Message Worth Fighting For”

by Tom Ascol

Paul’s letter to the Galatians is relentless in its insistence that there is only one, true gospel. Any subtraction from or addition to the saving message of God’s work in Jesus Christ renders the gospel impotent. That is why Paul so passionately pleads with the Galatians to hold unswervingly to the truth that he taught them, namely, that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Deviate from this, he warns, and you will miss God.To illustrate the seriousness of what is at stake Paul writes about a very public and potentially scandalous confrontation that he had with Peter in Antioch. By the time the gospel became established in Antioch God had made clear that the saving work of Jesus was not to be limited to the Jews. Peter’s vision of unclean animals and subsequent ministry at the home of Cornelius in Caesarea convinced him and others from Jerusalem that salvation had come to Gentiles (Acts 10–11).

It was not necessary to become a Jewish proselyte in order to be a full and faithful recipient of the new covenant blessings that Jesus secured by His sinless life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection. Furthermore, it was not incumbent on any new covenant believer to observe Jewish ceremonial laws as an expression of loyalty to Christ.

Because salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, a Jewish believer has no greater standing before the Lord than a Gentile believer. Such distinctions are made meaningless because of the unity that all followers have “in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

As Jews, both Peter and Paul understood this even though some of their fellow Jews did not. Because the gospel destroys ethnic and racial barriers, not only is it acceptable for Jewish believers to have fellowship with Gentile believers, it is commendable. Such loving relationships display the glory of God in His method of saving sinners — not on the basis of who they are or what they have done, but on the basis of sheer grace.

So, when Peter “drew back and separated himself” from his Gentile brothers out of fear of the “circumcision party” (Jews who believed that Gentiles had to be circumcised in addition to trusting Christ), Paul “opposed him to his face” (2:11–12). He charged Peter (and others who followed his poor example) with hypocrisy.

Paul rebuked Peter in the presence of Jewish and Gentile believers alike, not because he was primarily concerned that the latter might feel the sting of bigotry. Rather, he was concerned that Peter’s actions misrepresented the gospel of God’s grace and played into the hands of those false teachers who were trying to persuade the Galatians that not only must they trust Jesus Christ for salvation, they must also keep Jewish customs and laws in order to be right with God.

Paul could not turn a blind eye to conduct that “was not in step with the truth of the gospel” (2:14). Too much was at stake. Better to risk offending a prominent apostle than to allow God’s salvation to be undermined.

After describing this confrontation, Paul, for the first time in this letter, articulates the heart of the gospel message. “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (2:15-16).

Three times he affirms that justification before God comes through faith. A person is justified “through faith in Jesus Christ,” and because of that even Jews “have believed in Christ Jesus” so that they may be “justified by faith in Christ.”

To underscore his point, Paul also makes three denials that justification could ever be attained by keeping any laws. “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law.” Furthermore, he was convinced that he was justified “not by works of the law” because it is a universal truth that “by works of the law no one will be justified.” He could not say it more clearly.

The gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone not only teaches us that must we repent of our violations of God’s law, but that we must also turn away from resting in our best efforts to keep the Law. Our good works provide no foundation for gaining a right standing with God.

This is why Paul writes in Philippians 3:4–9 that all of the accomplishments he once regarded as praiseworthy he came to regard as “rubbish.” Only by doing so could he “gain Christ” and receive a righteousness that comes not from the Law but “through faith in Christ” (vv. 8–9).

God forgives and accepts sinners not because of what we do but because of what Christ has done. It is His work, not ours, that justifies us. His righteousness, granted by grace and received through faith, is what saves sinners.

That is the transforming, life-giving message of the gospel. It is worth fighting for — even with an apostle.

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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

“Should Christians Be Hospitable to Cult Members?” by John MacArthur

“Should Christians Be Hospitable to Cult Members?”

John MacArthur

In verse 10 John sets out one practical application of how to defend the truth: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house. Hospitality for traveling teachers was common in the culture (cf. Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-12). The prohibition here is not to turn away the ignorant; it does not mean that believers may not invite unbelievers—even those who belong to a cult or false religion—into their midst. That would make giving the truth to them difficult, if not impossible. The point is that believers are not to welcome and provide care for traveling false teachers, who seek to stay in their homes, thereby giving the appearance of affirming what they teach and lending them credibility

John’s use of the conjunction ei (if) with an indicative verb indicates a condition that is likely true. Apparently, the lady to whom he wrote had for whatever reason, in the name of Christian fellowship, already welcomed false teachers into her home. It was just such compassionate, well-meaning people that the false teachers sought out (cf. 2 Tim. 3:6); since churches were supposed to be protected by elders who were skilled teachers of the Word (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9), they should have been less susceptible to”continued at the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series, site…(click here for link). Be sure to listen to the short audio Q and A with John MacArthur.

“No Hope In Rome!” – Charles Spurgeon – Quote Of The Day

“There is no other present salvation except that which begins and ends with grace. As far as I know, I do not think that anyone in the wide world pretends to preach or to possess a present salvation except those who believe salvation to be all of grace. No one in the Church of Rome claims to be presently saved – completely and eternally saved. Such a profession would be heretical to them. Some few Catholics may hope to enter heaven when they die, but most of them have the miserable prospect of purgatory before their eyes. We see constant requests for prayers for departed souls; this would not be if those souls were saved and glorified with their Savior. Masses for the repose of the soul indicate the incompleteness of the salvation that Rome has to offer. Well may it be so, since papal salvation is by works. Even if salvation by good works were possible, no man could ever be sure that he has performed enough of them to secure his salvation.”

(Charles Spurgeon, Grace: God’s Unmerited Favor [New Kensington: Whitaker House] 1996) pgs. 99-100

“Is the Reformation Over?” By R.C. Sproul

“Is the Reformation Over?”

R.C. Sproul

Is the Reformation over? There have been several observations rendered on this subject by those I would call “erstwhile evangelicals.” One of them wrote, “Luther was right in the sixteenth century, but the question of justification is not an issue now.” A second self-confessed evangelical made a comment in a press conference I attended that “the sixteenth-century Reformation debate over justification by faith alone was a tempest in a teapot.” Still another noted European theologian has argued in print that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is no longer a significant issue in the church. We are faced with a host of people who are defined as Protestants but who have evidently forgotten altogether what it is they are protesting.

Contrary to some of these contemporary assessments of the importance of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, we recall a different perspective by the sixteenth-century magisterial Reformers. Luther made his famous comment that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls. John Calvin added a different metaphor, saying that justification is the hinge upon which everything turns. In the twentieth century, J.I. Packer used a metaphor indicating that justification by faith alone is the “Atlas upon whose shoulder every other doctrine stands.” Later Packer moved away from that strong metaphor and retreated to a much weaker one, saying that justification by faith alone is “the fine print of the gospel.”

The question we have to face in light of these discussions is, what has changed since the sixteenth century? Well, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that people have become much more civil and tolerant in theological disputes. We don’t see people being burned at the stake or tortured on the rack over doctrinal differences. We’ve also seen in the past years that the Roman communion has remained solidly steadfast on other key issues of Christian orthodoxy, such as the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and the inspiration of the Bible, while many Protestant liberals have abandoned these particular doctrines wholesale. We also see that Rome has remained steadfast on critical moral issues such as abortion and ethical relativism. In the nineteenth century at Vatican Council I, Rome referred to Protestants as “heretics and schismatics.” In the twentieth century at Vatican II, Protestants were referred to as “separated brethren.” We see a marked contrast in the tone of the different councils. The bad news, however, is that many doctrines that divided orthodox Protestants from Roman Catholics centuries ago have been declared dogma since the sixteenth century. Virtually all of the significant Mariology decrees have been declared in the last 150 years. The doctrine of papal infallibility, though it de facto functioned long before its formal definition, was nevertheless formally defined and declared de fide (necessary to believe for salvation) in 1870 at Vatican Council I. We also see that in recent years the Roman communion has published a new Catholic catechism, which unequivocally reaffirms the doctrines of the Council of Trent, including Trent’s definition of the doctrine of justification (and thus affirms that council’s anathemas against the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone). Along with the reaffirmations of Trent have come a clear reaffirmation of the Roman doctrine of purgatory, indulgences, and the treasury of merits.

At a discussion among leading theologians over the issue of the continued relevance of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, Michael Horton asked the question: “What is it in the last decades that has made the first-century gospel unimportant?” The dispute over justification was not over a technical point of theology that could be consigned to the fringes of the depository of biblical truth. Nor could it be seen simply as a tempest in a teapot. This tempest extended far beyond the tiny volume of a single teacup. The question, “what must I do to be saved” is still a critical question for any person who is exposed to the wrath of God.

Even more critical than the question is the answer, because the answer touches the very heart of gospel truth. In the final analysis, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed at Trent and continues to affirm now that the basis by which God will declare a person just or unjust is found in one’s “inherent righteousness.” If righteousness does not inhere in the person, that person at worst goes to hell and at best (if any impurities remain in his life) goes to purgatory for a time that may extend to millions of years. In bold contrast to that, the biblical and Protestant view of justification is that the sole grounds of our justification is the righteousness of Christ, which righteousness is imputed to the believer, so that the moment a person has authentic faith in Christ, all that is necessary for salvation becomes theirs by virtue of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. The fundamental issue is this: is the basis by which I am justified a righteousness that is my own? Or is it a righteousness that is, as Luther said, “an alien righteousness,” a righteousness that is extra nos, apart from us — the righteousness of another, namely, the righteousness of Christ? From the sixteenth century to the present, Rome has always taught that justification is based upon faith, on Christ, and on grace. The difference, however, is that Rome continues to deny that justification is based on Christ alone, received by faith alone, and given by grace alone. The difference between these two positions is the difference between salvation and its opposite. There is no greater issue facing a person who is alienated from a righteous God.

At the moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, she denied the gospel and ceased to be a legitimate church, regardless of all the rest of her affirmations of Christian orthodoxy. To embrace her as an authentic church while she continues to repudiate the biblical doctrine of salvation is a fatal attribution. We’re living in a time where theological conflict is considered politically incorrect, but to declare peace when there is no peace is to betray the heart and soul of the gospel.

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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.


“Confounding the Postmodern Mind” by Gene Veith

by Gene Veith

Back in the last century, lots of churchmen were intimidated by modernism — with its triumphant science, dogmatic rationalism, and trust in progress. They figured that if Christianity is going to survive, it has to adapt to the times and to the new cultural climate. So modernist theologians jettisoned the supernatural claims of Christianity, from the miracles of Scripture to the resurrection of Christ.

Such teachings, they assumed, were old, the products of a less-enlightened way of thinking, and were not credible to “modern man.” Thus, Christianity needed to be updated, recast so as to accord with modern science and progressive ideas. After this modernist makeover, Christianity looked pretty much like what non-believers believed in. Churches taught the same things the non-Christians taught. Since there was little difference between the church and the world, “modern man” — far from flocking to these newly relevant churches — decided, quite properly, that since these churches had nothing to offer other than what he already had, he might as well just sleep in on Sunday mornings.

Those who opposed the modernist theologians were the “fundamentalists,” those Christians who defended the fundamentals of the faith. The modernists did manage to give the term “fundamentalist” a negative connotation. But in reality, the fundamentalists won. Supernatural Christianity did not die out, as the modernists assumed it would. Though the fundamentalists had their missteps and insecurities, they transmuted into “evangelicals” who have come to reign ascendant in American Christianity.

Today, the very tenets of modernism that gave it vast authority, are now thoroughly critiqued and ridiculed. Science? A cultural construction that rapes the environment. Rationalism? An illusion, based on the assumption that there is only one truth. Objectivity? Impossible to achieve, since all meaning is slanted. Progress? A claim of cultural imperialism made impossible in light of our modern wars and systems of oppression.

Postmodernists counter with the claim that truth is not a discovery, but a construction. Our thoughts are determined by our culture, and since there are many cultures — and even more individual constructions — there are many truths. To try to persuade anyone is to impose one’s own construction of reality on someone else, which no one has the right to do.

Postmodernists also dislike “fundamentalism,” but not for the reasons modernists did. Postmodernists dislike fundamentalists not for believing in the supernatural, holding to irrational notions, believing in things they don’t understand, or living in the past. Postmodernists are against fundamentalism for “believing in only one truth.” Thus, postmodernists often accuse modernists of being “fundamentalists.”

Here is the great irony: Many of today’s evangelical theologians, the heirs of the fundamentalists, are now embracing postmodernism. Why? Because they think this new ideology will free them from the challenge of modernism. Not realizing that particular war is over, many evangelical theologians are enlisting postmodernism as an ally. In doing so, of course, they also have to reject, though for a different reason, the fundamentals of orthodox Christianity.

The desire for God to be “open,” the insistence that Scripture is indeterminate and open to infinite interpretation, the teaching that no one is damned, that there are multiple paths to God, that followers of other religions can be saved, are all manifestations of postmodernism in contemporary evangelical theology. So are evangelical feminism, calls to tone down biblical morality, “the emerging church,” and the notion that our positive thoughts can create a new reality.

The most common assertion of postmodernist evangelicalism is that “postmodern persons [they can’t say ‘man’ anymore] are unable to accept ready-made religious doctrines.” The emphasis on believing objective Christian doctrines is too “modernist.” Rather, Christians are to be encouraged to cultivate their own subjective spirituality, based on their personal experiences of the “mysteries” of faith.

In capitulating to postmodernism, these churchpeople are ending up in the same place as those who capitulated to modernism. They preach an eviscerated Christianity that is incapable of changing lives or saving the lost. Trying to be relevant, they make themselves irrelevant. Trying to get people to come to church, they only succeed in giving them reasons to stay at home.

Believers in Christianity’s fundamentals can agree with the modernists that reason, science, and objectivity have their place. They can also agree with the postmodernists that reason has its limits, that human ideologies are tainted not so much with other political ideologies as with sin, that mysteries do abound.

Christians dare not succumb to either rationalism or relativism; rather, because of our mind’s limits and our sins, we must be dependent on revelation. The Word of God breaks into our narrow, human minds with God’s judgment and His grace, confounding both the modernists and the postmodernists, as well as whatever will come next.
From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

“The Time for Truth” by John MacArthur

“The Time for Truth”

2 Peter 1:19-21, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Hebrews 1:1-2

John MacArthur

The following is adapted from John’s book, The Truth War (Nelson: Spring 2007).

This is by no means the first time the Truth War has intruded into the church. It has happened in every major era of church history. Battles over the truth were raging inside the Christian community even in apostolic times, when the church was just beginning. In fact, the record of Scripture indicates that false teachers in the church immediately became a significant and widespread problem wherever the gospel went. Virtually all the major epistles in the New Testament address the problem in one way or another. The apostle Paul was constantly engaged in battle against the lies of “false apostles [and] deceitful workers [who transformed] themselves into apostles of Christ”

(2 Corinthians 11:13). Paul said that was to be expected. It is, after all, one of the favorite strategies of the evil one: “No wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness” (vv. 14-15).

It takes a willful naïveté to deny that such a thing could happen in our time. As a matter of fact, it is happening on a massive scale. Now is not a good time for Christians to flirt with the spirit of the age. We cannot afford to be apathetic about the truth God has put in our trust. It is our duty to guard, proclaim, and pass that truth on to the next generation (1 Timothy 6:20-21). We who love Christ and believe the truth embodied in His teaching must awaken to the reality of the battle that is raging all around us. We must do our part in the ages-old Truth War. We are under a sacred obligation to join the battle and contend for the faith.

In one narrow respect, the driving idea behind the Emerging Church movement is correct: The current climate of postmodernism does represent a wonderful window of opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ. The arrogant rationalism that dominated the modern era is already in its death throes. Most of the world is caught up in disillusionment and confusion. People are unsure about virtually everything and do not know where to turn for truth. However, the absolute worst strategy for ministering the gospel in a climate like this is for Christians to imitate the uncertainty or echo the cynicism of the postmodern perspective–and in effect drag the Bible and the gospel into it. Instead, we need to affirm against the spirit of the age that God has spoken with the utmost clarity, authority, and finality through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). And we have the infallible record of that message in Scripture (2 Peter 1:19-21).
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved.

“Mo and PoMo, Part 3” by John MacArthur

John MacArthur


The church today is filled with people who are advocating post-modern ideas. Some of them do it self-consciously and deliberately, but most do it unwittingly. (Having imbibed too much of the spirit of the age, they are simply regurgitating worldly opinion.) The evangelical movement as a whole, still recovering from its long battle with modernism, is not prepared for a new and different adversary. Many Christians have therefore not yet recognized the extreme danger posed by post-modernist thought.

Post-modernism’s influence has clearly infected the church already. Evangelicals are toning down their message so that the gospel’s stark truth-claims don’t sound so jarring to the post-modern ear. Many shy away from stating unequivocally that the Bible is true and all other religious systems and world-views are false. Some who call themselves Christians have gone even further, purposefully denying the exclusivity of Christ and openly questioning His claim that He is the only way to God.

The biblical message is clear. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The apostle Peter proclaimed to a hostile audience, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” The apostle John wrote, “He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Again and again, Scripture stresses that Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation for the world. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Only Christ can atone for sin, and therefore only Christ can provide salvation. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Those truths are antithetical to the central tenet of post-modernism. They make exclusive, universal truth-claims declaring Christ the only true way to heaven and all other belief-systems erroneous. That is what Scripture teaches. It is what the true church has proclaimed throughout her history. It is the message of Christianity. And it simply cannot be adjusted to accommodate post-modern sensitivities.

Instead, many Christians simply pass over the exclusive claims of Christ in embarrassed silence. Even worse, some in the church — including a few of evangelicalism’s best-known leaders — have begin to suggest that perhaps people can be saved apart from knowing Christ.

Christians cannot capitulate to post-modernism without sacrificing the very essence of our faith. The Bible’s claim that Christ is the only way of salvation is certainly out of harmony with the post-modern notion of “tolerance.” But it is, after all, just what the Bible plainly teaches. And the Bible — not post-modern opinion — is the supreme authority for the Christian. The Bible alone should determine what we believe and proclaim to the world. We cannot waver on this, no matter how much this post-modern world complains that our beliefs make us “intolerant.”
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. The picture was included in the original article at Grace to You.

“Making Atheism Enchanting” by Gene Veith

“Making Atheism Enchanting”

by Gene Veith

The old atheists maintained that belief in God is not true. The new atheists maintain that belief in God is not good. The atheists’ problem, though, is that however much they attack belief in God, their own worldview lacks all appeal. They get hung up on the last remaining absolute: Atheism is not beautiful. It is so depressing .

If there is no God and this physical realm is all there is, life is pretty much pointless. A person might believe such a bleak worldview, but no one is going to like it. The old atheists, to their great credit, usually faced up to the implications of their disbelief. Walter Berns, writing in The Weekly Standard (February 4, 2008), sums up the worldview of Albert Camus, as expressed in his novel The Stranger :

Meursault, its hero (actually, its antihero), is a murderer, but a different kind of murderer. What is different about him is that he murdered for no reason — he did it because the sun got in his eyes, à cause du solei — and because he neither loves nor hates, and unlike the other people who inhabit his world, does not pretend to love or hate. …As he said, the universe “is benignly indifferent” to how he lives. It is a bleak picture, and Camus was criticized for painting it, but as he wrote in reply, “there is no other life possible for a man deprived of God, and all men are [now] in that position.

But although Camus may have aniticipated the mindless, non-reflective godlessness of our culture, his world-view has little to commend it. By his own admission, throwing out God also throws out meaning, joy, and everything that makes life worth living.

Enter Philip Pullman, the British author of children’s stories. Out of his hatred for C. S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia,” Pullman resolved to write a fantasy series that would do for atheism what Lewis’ fantasy series did for Christianity. Thus was born the trilogy “His Dark Materials.”

The first volume, The Golden Compass , was recently made into a movie, which, despite its elaborate and expensive special effects, bombed at the box office, illustrating what he is up against. But the trilogy is enormously popular, especially among teenagers and young adults, having sold some fifteen million copies.

The story has to do with multiple worlds, marvelous adventures, and an epic conflict between good and evil. Except that, in line with the new atheism, God is the evil one and Satan is the good guy.

Pullman, as in the old Gnostic texts, portrays God the creator as a cruel, tyrannical “Authority”; Satan is the liberator; and Adam and Eve were right to eat the forbidden fruit. In Pullman’s fantasy, the church, headed by Pope John Calvin, is all about black-robed clerics sneaking around establishing inquisitions and spoiling everyone’s fun.

The books, though, are imaginatively stimulating. The fantasy is exciting, well-written, and pleasurable. And, as with other fantasies, the story is idealistic and even inspiring.

Here, in a quote from the second volume of the trilogy, The Subtle Knife , is how Pullman portrays the virtue of Satan’s rebellion and of the cosmic struggle against the Authority:

There are two great powers…and they’ve been fighting since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn by one side from the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.

The prose evokes a stirring heroism — again, like traditional fantasies — but the enemy of knowledge, wisdom, and decency in this anti-Narnia is God and His evil minions in the church!

The central image of the Pullman books is the “dark materials,” a term taken from Milton, whose Paradise Lost the author turns upside down. This “dust” is the stuff of love and consciousness. In fact, it turns out that everything is made out of this dust, which is the essence of both spiritual and physical existence. This is true even of the Authority, who turns out to be just another physical being, an old, senile relic who dissolves back into dust once he is dragged into the light.

This is nothing more than classic materialism, of course, which insists that matter is all there is, so that everything that exists is made out of particular tiny bits of matter called atoms. Pullman glorifies and mystifies this “dust.” How wonderful it is to have evolved into so many wonderful things! And when we die, we go back to dust. As Pullman puts it in the last volume, The Amber Spyglass , when people die “all the atoms that were them, they’ve gone into the air and the wind and the trees and the earth and all the living things. They’ll never vanish. They’re just part of everything. And that’s exactly what’ll happen to you.”

Pullman mystifies materialism and turns atheism into an actual religion. In doing so, however, he does what the old atheists have always falsely accused believers of doing: indulging in irrational wish-fulfillment and constructing an escapist fantasy.

We Recommend
Atheism Remix Article by Keith Mathison
Be Prepared Article by Philip Ryken
The True Face of Evil Article by David Robertson

From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

“Judging Others: The Verse Pagans Love to Quote” – John MacArthur

It should be noted that this passage has erroneously been used to suggest that believers should never evaluate or criticize anyone for anything. Our day hates absolutes, especially theological and moral absolutes, and such simplistic interpretation provides a convenient escape from confrontation. Members of modern society, including many professing Christians, tend to resist dogmatism and strong convictions about right and wrong. Many people prefer to speak of all-inclusive love, compromise, ecumenism, and unity. To the modern religious person those are the only “doctrines” worth defending, and they are the doctrines to which every conflicting doctrine must be sacrificed.

The entire thrust of the Sermon on the Mount is to show the complete distinction between true religion and false religion, between spiritual truth and spiritual hypocrisy. Jesus places God’s perfect and holy standards beside the unholy and self-righteous standards of the scribes and Pharisees and declares that those who follow those unholy and self-righteous standards have no part in God’s kingdom (5:20). No more controversial or judgmental sermon has ever been preached.

If this greatest sermon by our Lord teaches anything, it teaches that His followers are to be discerning and perceptive in what they believe and in what they do, that they must make every effort to judge between truth and falsehood, between the internal and the external, between reality and sham, between true righteousness and false: righteousness-in short, between God’s way and all other ways.

Krino (to judge) means basically to separate, choose, select, or determine, and has a dozen or more shades of meaning that must be decided from the context. In our present passage Jesus is referring to the judgment of motives, which no mere human being can know of another, and to judgment of external forms. Paul says, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13).

The Bible consistently forbids individual or vigilante justice that assumes for itself the prerogatives of a duly established court of law. It also consistently forbids hasty judgments that do not have full knowledge of the heart or of the facts. “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). Sometimes what appears to be wrong is nothing of the sort.

It is significant that, though God is omniscient, He gives us many examples of the care we ourselves should take before making judgments, especially those that involve serious consequences. Before He judged those who were building the tower of Babel, “The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built” (Gen. 11:5). Before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah He said, “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know” (Gen. 18:21).

What Jesus here forbids is self-righteous, officious, hasty, unmerciful, prejudiced, and unwarranted condemnation based on human standards and human understanding. He gives three reasons why such judgment is sinful: it reveals an erroneous view of God, an erroneous view of others, and an erroneous view of ourselves.

Unrighteous and unmerciful judgment is forbidden first of all because…..continued at MacArthur New Testament Commentary page (link here), and be sure to listen to the audio portion which is the best place to start with this one, actually.

John MacArthur: Love Speaks The Truth….But Speaks It In Love….But…

“For the Love of the Truth”

John MacArthur

To acknowledge that the church often needs to fight for truth is not to suggest that the gospel–our one message to a lost world–is somehow a declaration of war. It most certainly is not; it is a manifesto of peace and a plea for reconciliation with God (2 Corinthains 5:18-20). Conversely, those who are not reconciled to God are at war with Him all the time, and the gospel is a message about the only way to end that war. So ironically, the war to uphold the truth is the only hope of peace for the enemies of God.

I do agree that usually it is far better to be gentle than to be harsh. Peacefulness is a blessed quality (Matthew 5:9); pugnaciousness is a disqualifying character flaw (Titus 1:7). Patience is indeed a sweet virture, even in the face of unbelief and persecution (Luke 21:19). We always ought to listen sufficiently before we react (Proverbs 18:13). A kind word can usually do far more good than a curt reaction, because “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)–and any person who delights to stir up strife is a fool (v. 8).

Furthermore, the fruit of the Spirit is a catalog of antitheses to a bellicose, aggressive, warlike attitude: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). So our first inclination when we encounter someone in error ought to be the very same kind of tender meekness prescribed for anyone in any kind of sin in Galatians 6:1: “If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” It is the duty of every Christian “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we oursleves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:2-3). And that attitude is a particular duty for those in spiritual leadership. Brawlers aren’t qualified to serve as elders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3). Because ” a servant of the Lord must not quarrell but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

All those principles should indeed dominate our dealings with others and our handling of disagreements. And if those were the only verses in Scripture that told us how to deal with error, we might be justified in thinking those principles are absolute, inviolable, and applicable to every kind of opposition or unbelief we encounter.

But that’s not the case. We are instructed to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). Immediately after the apostle urged Timothy to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11), he exhorted him to “fight the good fight of faith” (v. 12), and to guard what had been committed to his trust (v. 20).

The love promoted by the New Testament is not a free-styled, all-embracing, blind acceptance of every wind of doctrine for the sake of conversation. It is, in fact, just the opposite. Biblical love always goes hand in hand with truth. That’s why false doctrines and those who teach them are condemned in no uncertain terms.

Jesus said: Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Paul said: If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Peter said: It has happened to them [false teachers] according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

John said: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

Jude said: But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.
Adapted from John’s new book, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore.
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved.

“Roman Catholicism” – John Gerstner

“Roman Catholicism”

from John Gerstner

(This is the fifth part of John Gerstner’s Primer on Justification. In this article he discusses the Roman Catholic understanding of justification)

Faith + Works → Justification

This was the great issue of the Reformation. Romanism and Protestantism were agreed on the other great essentials of faith: the Trinity, deity of Christ, His vicarious death, even the necessity of faith in Christ. The great and crucial difference came in answer to the question, “How is the sinner justified by Christ?” Romanism said, “By our works which flow from faith in Christ.” Protestantism said, “By faith in Christ alone.”

As you can see from the formula, Rome has all the right ingredients of justification: faith, works, justification. No italics. No minuses.

Note the “faith.” This means that the sinner must believe in the Christ who was incarnate by the Virgin Mary and was a sacrifice for our sins. Rome is quite orthodox here. Though her faith is too purely intellectualistic, and not clearly fiducial, it is, as liberalism’s is not and neoorthodoxy’s is not, directed to the one and only true object.

Rome’s “works,” too, are essentially sound. They include obedience to the Ten Commandments and the new commandment of Christ as well. There is no essential error in this area. To be sure, Rome adds duties not in the Bible, such as confession to a priest, conforming to a penitential system, observance of holy days; but what the Bible does require, she, too, apart from Sabbath observance, also requires. Rome’s “justification” (“second justification’’) is fatally faulty. The Bible’s justification is a reckoning or imputing of the righteousness of Christ to the believer. Rome’s justification is an infusing of righteousness into the believing worker who thereby becomes righteous. It was the desperate, but futile, effort of the monk Martin Luther to achieve justification this way that led him to realize that justification is a gift from God and not an achievement of man. He realized that no one could ever achieve the justification that Romanism mistakenly taught as Christian doctrine. Rome’s most obvious error, implicit in her false doctrine of justification, is the position of the works before and not after justification. There is no “minus” before works; that is good. But there are works before justification, and that is fatally bad. Works have become the foundation of justification. How so? Justification is by faith, says Rome, attempting to be loyal to Scripture. Faith is the radix or root of justification according to her Council of Trent. That means that true faith leads to good works (which is a correction of the antinomian error); but, alas, the good works become the title to etemal life.

In other words, through Christ the believer is enabled to achieve his own justification. That teaching is absolutely false in two ways. First, it depreciates the perfection of the atonement. By insisting on our works as the title to justification, it denies it to Christ’s work alone. Second, supposing that our works could ever entitle us to eternal life grossly overestimates our most perfect works—if we could do such, which we cannot. Christ, in the parable of the worker in the field who then serves his master in the house (Luke 17:7ff.), accentuates this point. If a man served his heavenly Master perfectly all the time he should say, “I am an unprofitable servant. I have only done my duty.” Man’s obligation is to be perfect. For so being, he would not even deserve thanks, much less a reward, not to mention an eternal reward. Yet Rome, turning her back on the all-sufficiency of the work of Christ for everlasting felicity, trusts in the works of men who could not earn thanks if they were perfect. (Incidentally, if he as a person thought he were perfect, he would, as John said, deceive himself and could not pray, as his Lord tells him, “Forgive us our debts.”)

So all Rome’s error is in putting works before justification, but how fatal the error! The theological cart is hopelessly before the theological horse. Neither works nor justification can function. Meritorious works are no works and an achieved justification is no justification.

“Evangelical Catholic” (that contemporary expression) is a contradiction in terms. If evangelical, one cannot be (Roman) Catholic; if Catholic, one cannot be evangelical. Is a Catholic evangelical a happy inconsistency? It is an inconsistency, but not a happy one. A person never has a right to be inconsistent. If a Roman Catholic who is evangelical sees that he is inconsistent, then he must, of course, stop his inconsistency. An inconsistent person is a dishonest person. He is saying one thing and doing another thing. In this particular case, a Roman Catholic, by virtue of his affiliation, says that he believes justification is brought about by the works he does. At the same time, he professes to be an evangelical, which means that he believes justification is not brought about by works, but purely by the work of Jesus Chris and is received by faith alone. So an evangelical Catholic is a dishonest Catholic or a dishonest evangelical. Either his evangelicalism is true and his Catholicism is false, or his Catholicism is true and his evangelicalism is false. He must make up his mind. He cannot say both of those things at the same time. Let him decide whether he is indeed Roman Catholic and repudiate his evangelicalism, which may God forbid, or let him decide that he is truly evangelical and repudiate his Catholicism, which may God grant. A Benedictine monk heard me deliver a half-hour address on justification following the formulae of this booklet. After the address, he said, ‘‘Dr. Gerstner, I’d like you to know that I agree with everything you said.” I was delighted and asked if that included my critique of his own church’s doctrine and defense of the evangelical. He said that it did.

“Good,” I replied. “Then you will join with us.”

‘No,” he surprisingly answered.

“Then,” said I, ‘‘you really don’t agree that your church is in error and evangelicalism is the true gospel, do you?”

“Yes, I do,” was his even more surprising reply, “but we have changed!’’

That surprised me even more, and I reminded him that Roman Catholicism was supposed to be “semper idem” (always the same) and her dogmas “infallible” and “irre-formable.” He responded simply, but apparently puzzled, ‘‘I will have to think about that.’’

Every ‘‘evangelical Catholic” will have to think about that. If he does, he will have to be one or the other. He cannot honestly be both. May he come with evangelicalism saying, ‘‘The just shall live by faith.”


Excerpted from Primitive Theology by John H. Gerstner.

So far in this series Dr. Gerstner has provided an Introduction and has written of the Liberal View of Justification, The Neoorthodox Way of Justification and The Antinomian Way of Justification.

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Justification by Faith Alone Message by R.C. Sproul
Basking in the Benefits Article by Kim Riddlebarger
When Wright Is Wrong Article by Keith Mathison
From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: | Phone: 1-800-435-4343


“Avoiding Empty Philosophies; Tearing Down Strongholds” – John MacArthur

From the commentary

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:4–5)

To successfully fight the spiritual war requires weapons from the heavenly arsenal. Only those divinely powerful weapons are suited for the destruction of the enemies’ fortresses. That term would convey to the New Testament reader the thought of a formidable stronghold. Corinth, like most major cities in Greece, had an acropolis. Located on a mountain near the city, the acropolis was a fortified place into which the inhabitants could retreat when attacked. Ochuroma (fortresses) was also used in extrabiblical Greek to refer to a prison. People under siege in a fortress were imprisoned there by the attacking forces. The word was also used to refer to a tomb.

Fleshly weapons cannot successfully assault the formidable strongholds in which”…..continued at the MacArthur New Testament Commentary site. (link here)

“Is Truth Worth Fighting for?” – John MacArthur

“Is Truth Worth Fighting for?”

Matthew 3:7-10, Galatians 2:11-14, 1 Kings 18:27, 1 Corinthians 4:8-10

John MacArthur

No idea is more politically incorrect among today’s new-style evangelicals than the old fundamentalist notion that truth is worth fighting for–including the essential propositions of Christian doctrine. In fact, many believe that arguments over religious beliefs are the most pointless and arrogant of all conflicts. That can be true–and is true in cases where human opinions are the only thing at stake. But where God’s Word speaks clearly, we have a duty to obey, defend, and proclaim the truth He has given us, and we should do that with an authority that reflects our conviction that God has spoken with clarity and finality. This is particularly crucial in contexts where cardinal doctrines of biblical Christianity are under attack.

Incidentally, the core truths of Scripture are always under attack. Scripture itself clearly teaches that the main battleground where Satan wages his cosmic struggle against God is ideological. In other words, the spiritual warfare every Christian is engaged in is first of all a conflict between truth and error, not merely a competition between good and wicked deeds. The chief aim of Satan’s strategy is to confuse, deny, and corrupt the truth with as much fallacy as possible, and that means the battle for truth is very serious. Being able to distinguish between sound doctrine and error should be one of the highest priorities for every Christian–as should defending the truth against false teaching.

Take such a stand today, however, and you will be scolded by a cacophony of voices telling you that you are out of line and you need to be quiet. The “war” metaphor simply doesn’t work in a postmodern culture, they insist. Postmodern epistemologies start and end with the presupposition that any question of what’s true or false is merely academic. Our differences are ultimately trivial. Only the tone of our discussion is not trivial. Every hint of militancy is considered inappropriate in these sophisticated times.

Taking a stand for the truth was equally unpopular in the first century. But that didn’t stop the apostles from confronting error head on.

Take the apostle Paul for example. Paul was certainly fair with his opponents in the sense that he never misrepresented what they taught or told lies about them. But Paul plainly recognized their errors for what they were and labeled them appropriately. He spoke the truth. In his everyday teaching style, Paul spoke the truth gently and with the patience of a tender father. But when circumstances warranted a stronger type of candor, Paul could speak very bluntly–sometimes even with raw sarcasm (1 Corinthians 4:8-10). Like Elijah (1 Kings 18:27), John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7-10), and even Jesus (Matthew 23:24), he could also employ derision effectively and appropriately, to highlight the ridiculousness of serious error (Galatians 5:12). He was a sacred-cow tipper in the mold of Moses or Nehemiah.

Paul didn’t seem to suffer from the same overscrupulous angst that causes so many people today to whitewash every error as much as language permits; to grant even the grossest of false teachers the benefit of every doubt;and to impute the best possible intentions even to the rankest of heretics. The apostle’s idea of “gentleness” was not the sort of faux benevolence and artificial politeness people today sometimes think is the true essence of charity. We never once see him inviting false teachers or casual dabblers in religious error to dialogue, nor did he approve of that strategy even when someone of Peter’s stature succumbed to the fear of what others might think and showed undue deference to false teachers (Galatians 2:11-14).

Paul understood that truth is worth fighting for. He stood for the truth even when it was unpopular to do so.

Excerpted from The Jesus You Can’t Ignore.
© 2009 by John MacArthur.

This article here originally appeared at Grace To You. – © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved.