Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

Stephen Smallman. What is True Conversion?  Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, February 18th 2005.  32 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Westminster Amazon

As a Pastor I regularly keep my eye out not only for large academic work but also smaller practical booklets for a lay audience that would be beneficial for discipleship and biblical counseling.  I picked up this booklet, What is True Conversion? with that in mind and I used it as a tool for my pastoral care with those who attend our church that I wanted to discuss assurance of salvation with.  I also used this booklet as something I read along with one of the special needs attendee in our church in which we read through each section very slowly and discussed it together.  The following are my thoughts of the book.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Have you ever heard of the “Scarlet Thread through the Bible?”  Its the idea that the theme of the blood of Christ runs through the entire Bible including the Old Testament.  Studying Scripture and its typology is beautiful and boosts one’s faith in the Word of God.  The famous preacher W.A. Crisswell has preached a famous sermon with the same title which has been also made into a book that’s available for free on PDF if you click HERE.

My mother in Law shared with me over email about the scarlet thread throughout the Bible and it got me thinking.  Have you ever realized there is a scarlet thread through soteriology (the doctrines of salvation)?

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Saved without a Doubt

 Purchase: Amazon

I appreciated this book by John MacArthur on the topic of the Christian assurance of salvation. This book is biblical, pastoral and practical; it will certainly help the believer understand the Gospel better and applying it to the subject of assurance. The book is divided into three parts: After establishing the biblical warrant for the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints, part two feature 11 tests on whether or not one is a believer according to 1 John followed by part three that ties the loose ends: Dealing with doubt, adding virtue which thereby adds more assurance of one’s salvation and biblical encouragement to persevere. I particularly enjoy chapter 7, “Adding Virtue upon Virtue” which is an exposition of 2 Peter 1, with MacArthur’s insight into the Greek terms and what it means. MacArthur does a masterful job of encouraging the believer with the reality of what God has done and promise to do. I recommend it to every believer whether they are struggling with whether or saved or whether they are already assured.

Read Full Post »

Catholic

Please see the last post on the series, “Doctrine of Salvation,” Doctrine of Salvation: Conversion.

As more and more confusion arises concerning the beliefs Roman Catholicism during these dark times, I think that it is important that I interact with Roman Catholicism’s view on salvation.  Christianity and Catholicism are not the same and those in the evangelical world that consider the Roman Catholic Church to be a Christian church should be ashamed of themselves. Basically they are undermining the Reformation and ultimately the authority of the Bible.

Roman Catholicism is a religion that is significantly different from Christianity because they do not believe in salvation as the Bible states.  But because there are so many differences in regards to Roman Catholicism, we will cover only a few areas that I think has major implications.  In order to effectively deal with it, I will cover their view concerning sola Scriptura and sola ecclesia/magisterium. With that said, let’s first cover the Roman Catholic definition of the magisterium.

The Latin word magister for the English word magisterium means, “master.”  The meaning master is not only in the sense of “teacher” but it also means in the broader sense, someone who possesses authority or mastery in a particular field.  In the contemporary Roman Catholic usage, this term basically means that the teaching is reserved exclusively for the office of the pope and bishops.  It is important that we consider the topic of the magisterium, because without it, we would not be debating the subject of tradition versus Scripture in the first place.  In regards to the magisterium, the Catholic Church considers themselves the master or the entity that possesses the authority—whether it be the written Word of God or in the form of tradition.  The concept of the Roman Catholic Church being the master dates back to the fourth session of the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D.  For example, in the first decree of the Council of Trent, it states that the Old and New Testament were not the only inspired source, but the traditions concerning faith and morals are also inspired because the Roman Catholic Church believes it came from the mouth of God; and it believes that it is preserved by the Holy Spirit in continuous succession in the Catholic Church.

When defining their source of authority, the Roman Catholic Church continues by saying, “The totality of the Bishops is infallible, when they, either assembled in general council or scattered (has to be unanimously agreed by the bishops) over the earth, purpose a teaching on morals as one to be held by all the faithful.”  That is a dangerous teaching because only God and the Bible is infallible.

Moreover, the pope, who is part of the magisterium and who is the icon of the magisterium is believed to be infallible when he defines doctrines concerning faith and morals.  To question the pope in matters of infallibility is to second-guess him.  The so-called divine promise given to him through the succession of Apostle Peter, concerning the pope’s definition of doctrine concerning faith and morals cannot be revised or altered.  For example, papal infallibility in the area of making saints is final and irrevocable.  The pope who is the iconic leader of the magisterium can speak ex-cathedra, which means, that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the Pope speaks without error.  Next we will cover the Roman Catholic Church so-called proof that the Magisterium has divine authority.

For the Roman Catholic Church, this is more than apostolic succession, but it is the gift of inspiration itself.  Here is what the Roman Catholic Church says concerning the very gift of inspiration itself being passed down to them, “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handling over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’”  Dei Verbum 8 says, “This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything…”

Because apostolic succession is key to this belief of authority, let’s take a look at how the Roman Catholic Church validates this claim.  For example, they try validating their claim by using the apostles as an example to validate apostolic succession.  They claim that all of the activities such as delegating authority (2 Cor. 3:5-6; 5:18-6:1; Eph. 6:28) in matters such as the proper interpretation of the Gospel (2 Peter 2:20-21), the norm of sound teaching (2 Tim. 1:13) that is to be found with the apostles, the eye-witnesses of Christ and His resurrection (Luke 24:47-48; Acts 1:8-9; Jn 20:31; 1 John 1:3; 4:16), delegated authority to others within the church of God.  The leaders appointed by the apostles within the church, that received delegated authority from the apostles (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:22; cf. Titus 1:6-9) would assume the tasks such as teaching and government duties in the church of God.  This thinking results in the logic that the Catholic Church too received delegated authority that was passed down to the bishops of the church.  The biggest proof they have in order to validate the infallibility of the magisterium is Apostle Peter.  They believe that their apostolic succession came from the line of Apostle Peter.  Because Christ promised that Hades will not prevail against the church that is founded on the faith of Peter (Matthew 16:18); and that God will remain with the successors of the apostles to the end of time (Matthew 28:20), then the magisterium can be reliable and will never lead the church into doctrinal error.  Another major issue is their view of tradition.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that tradition is everything that contributes to the holiness of life and the increase of faith of the people of God.  Tradition is key to Catholics because the Bible would not be understood rightly if we limit it to sola Scriptura.  They will go on to say that the church’s history and experience cannot be excluded if the Bible is to be rightly understood.  According to Vatican II Council, the Catholic Church believes in the unity and consistency of Scripture because tradition and Scripture are closely connected.  Scripture and tradition are illustrated as the two streams flowing from the same divine well-spring; and they actually merge together.  They say the apostles handed down the traditions to them.

Another category that is important when it comes to the Vatican view of tradition is the context of locations or loci of tradition.  There are four loci of tradition: rite of baptisms accompanied with prayers, repetition of the Eucharist, the writings of the church fathers, and the life of the church.

The loci of tradition in the area of liturgy for example such as baptism, imparts a sense of the universal need for redemption and the removal of sin by grace; and the Eucharist, together with the elevation of the consecrated elements impresses a realization of the real presence of God.  Church Fathers are also important sources of tradition, because they are believed to be the one’s who established the canon of Scripture, articles of the creed, the basic dogmas of the faith, the basic structures of the church, and also the essential forms of the liturgy.  The last location of tradition, which is the life of the church, is key, because the Roman Catholic Church believes that the Holy Spirit gives inspiration to the church in producing faithful members a sense of what is agreeable and disagreeable when it comes to salvation.  Vatican II says this about the faithful members of the church, “The sense of the faithful is not a totally autonomous source of doctrine, since it depends in part on the other bearers of tradition and overlaps with them, but it can often help identify the true content and meaning of tradition, especially when it confirms what is also attested by other sources.”

The Roman Catholic Church also contests that traditions are important.  For example, they believe that Paul spoke about tradition when he wrote to the Corinthian Church (1 Cor. 11:2).  However, they Roman Catholic Church misinterpreted that passage.  The Catholic Church traditions are unbiblical and different from what Paul is referring to.

It is clear that the Roman Catholic Church sees that tradition, the magisterium, and Scripture cannot be without the other.  They have a problem with the idea of sola Scripture.  They are three reasons why the Catholic Church rejects the doctrine of sola Scriptura: the Bible does not argue for the doctrine, the Bible teaches the authority of tradition, and the Bible cannot be interpreted correctly without tradition.  In light of their unbiblical foundation, there are negative implications on salvation.  Salvation can only be rightly understood through sola Scriptura.

Read Full Post »

st-paul-conversion

Please see the last post on the series, “Doctrine of Salvation,” The Gospel/General Call and Effective Calling

Conversion is an important term and the exact naming convention does not always appear in other translations of the Bible.  In the OT, it is directly related to the Hebrew sub, which is a frequently used verb that conveys the idea of turning back, to go back, come back, or to return.  It is also related with the Hebrew niham, which means that a person is sorry or has regret.  In the NT, there are two principle words that must be considered.  The two key words or terms are: epistrepho (“to turn” ).  The other word is metaneo.   The cognate of metaneo indicates a change of mind, a renewal of mind, heart, and a heartfelt repentance.

The word conversion can be defined as the willingness of a sinner to respond to the gospel call, in which he genuinely repents of his sins and places faith in Christ for salvation.

Examples of conversion can be found in various passages of Scripture (see Acts 15:3; 1 Thess. 1:9).  One particular passage that needs some attention is Luke 15:11-32 (Prodigal Son).  In that passage, there is an awareness of sin, a lost condition, a confession of sin, and an acknowledgement or unworthiness of oneself, and a desire to return home to his father.  That is how sinners should respond.  The prodigal son is a good example of what conversion looks like.  This is a great story to share when evangelizing or counseling a professing Christian.

Faith and repentance must be addressed too because they are often confused.  Before we get into the details concerning the relationship of faith and repentance, let us first cover the definition of repentance.  Repentance is the negative aspect of salvation because it refers to one hating, despising, and abandoning his or her once enslavement relationship to sin.

In the OT, the verb repent (niham) that occurs about thirty-five times is usually used to signify a contemplated change in God’s dealings with men for good or bad according to his judgment (1 Sam. 15:11, 35; Jonah 3:9-10); and it also is used to signify that God will not swerve from his announced purpose (1 Sam. 15:15:29; Ps. 110:4; Jer. 4:28).  In the NT, the word for repentance is metanoia which means “a change of mind.”  That word metanoia appears around twenty-three times in the NT.  What is unique about the word metanoia is that it goes beyond the meaning of having an inner change, but it also involves a turn in direction in one’s life.  In other words, it involves a 360-turn in one’s life.  You turn because your mind has turned.  Grudem defines repentance as follows, “Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ” (Systematic Theology, 713).  In other words, genuine repentance will result in a changed life.

What also must be understood what repentance is not.  Repentance is not just feeling bad or sorrowful for the sin one commits, but a sorrow that is according to the will of God that leads to repentance.  In other words, when one understands that his sin is against God, he will repent.  But one who has the sorrow of the world may feel bad for the mistakes he made in life, but he will not feel bad that he sinned against a holy God.  And a person who has the sorrow according to the will of God does not regret the sin he has left.  A person who has regret about leaving his sin, shows that the reigning idol in his heart is pleasure.  The idol to exalt one’s pleasure and to satisfy one’s pleasure has prevented many from repenting from his or her sins.  If a person sees God as his greatest joy, he will have godly sorrow and will truly repent.  Please see 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 for more details concerning sorrow of the world and the godly sorrow that is according to God’s will that leads to repentance.

What must be noted; and may be self-explanatory to you, is whether repentance is part of saving faith.  Scripture puts repentance and faith together as different aspects of the one act of coming to Christ for salvation or what some call: two sides of the same coin.  In other words, the two sides are different, but belong to the same coin and same act.  So it is not about whether one person repents then turns in faith to God, but repentance and faith occur at the same time.  So when a person turns to Christ for salvation, he is simultaneously repenting and placing his faith in God.  In other words, he is turning from his or her sin and is turning to Christ for the forgiveness of sins because the sinner trusts that God will forgive.  Scripture gives abundant proof concerning repentance.

John the Baptist preached repentance (Matt. 3:2; 4:17), Jesus came to call sinners to repent from their sins (Luke 5:32), and God commands sinners to repent (Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30; Acts 26:20).  Also for scriptural proof of repentance and faith being used simultaneously, please see these following passages: 1 Thess. 1:9 (turning to God is faith and turning away from idols is repentance); Mark 1:15 (“repent and believe the good news”), etc.

Moreover, repentance is a gift from God (Acts 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25).  Let us now move briefly through the topic of faith.  We already have a good understanding that faith and repentance occur simultaneously when one comes to God for salvation.

Faith is defined as the positive aspect of conversion in which one believes and trusts in the promises of God and the work of Christ.

In terms of the language of faith, there are two key terms that must be understood: pistis and pisteuo.  Let’s first deal with the verbal usage of pistis and pisteuo.  Pistis means “faith,” “trust,” and “belief.”  Pisteuo means to “believe in” and to “have faith in,” and “entrust.”  As for the noun pistis and the verb pisteuo are used around 240 times in the New Testament.  If we are to summarize faith, we could see it in three elements.  Just like repentance, faith too, affects the intellect, emotion, and will.  It must also be mentioned that faith does rest in blind faith, but involves the belief in something true and also includes the idea of personal trust.  We place faith in truth (Hebrews 11:1).  The atheist, on the other hand, who says we believe in blind faith, is contradicting himself because he is the one that has blind faith.  What he believes in is a figure of his imagination.  In his world, he tries to deny God which is impossible (Psalm 14:1).  His denial of God is as if he was denying the law of gravity.  He has no proof to deny God’s existence.  The methods of his attack could be compared to as a vapor.  Going back to the three elements that faith affects – I will just piggy-back off of that and also give you the reformer’s terminology of faith: notitia, assensus, and fiducia.  Nottia signifies an awareness of the facts of the Gospel; assensus signifies the belief that the facts were true; and fiducia signifies a personal confidence and trust.  The first two conveys the idea of facts being true and the last term emphasizes faith in God personally.  Also, just like repentance, faith is also a gift (Eph. 2:8; 1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Tim. 1:14; Heb. 12:2).

Also we must address the the non-lordship camp that believes: to include repentance in the Gospel message, is adding works.  This issue is not something new and was advocated men like Zane Hodges and Charles Ryrie.  In response to their claim that including repentance is adding works, we must go to Scripture (Matt. 7:21; 21:29ff.; Luke 6:46).  Doing the will of God is a result of repentance.  They also need to go to the passage concerning the Rich Young Ruler.  Jesus used the concept of repentance by indicating that he needs to have a willingness to lay aside what he loves much that stands in the way of his relationship with Christ.  I would love to discuss this topic in more detail, but I will reserve that for our future post.

Read Full Post »

These are short Q&A with the children. It always bless my soul to listen to children asking such questions. And John MacArthur answers them short, precise, Biblical and fatherly.

  1. Where did the races come from?
  2. Where did God come from?
  3. When I talk to my friend about Jesus, she doesn’t seem interested. What should I do?
  4. How do you know if you’re a Christian or not?

Read Full Post »