f The Wittenberg Door: July 2014

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today in Church History: Edmund P. Clowney

On July 30, 1917, Edmund Clowney was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

After studies at Wheaton College and Westminster Seminary, Clowney was ordained by the Presbytery of New York and New England in 1942. He pastored Orthodox Presbyterian churches in Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey before joining the practical theology faculty at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. There he also served as the school's first President, from 1966 to 1982. During his 42-year tenure in the OPC, Clowney also served as an editor for the Committee on Christian Education (1948-1958), and he moderated the 25th General Assembly in 1958. In 1984 Clowney accepted a call as associate pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia, and transferred his ministerial credentials into the PCA.

Clowney was a towering figure among the ministers of the OPC's second generation. Under his leadership, Westminster Seminary underwent ambitious plans for expansion, including significantly higher student enrollments, multiple campuses, and a constituency that grew far beyond the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

- John Muether


Monday, July 28, 2014

Today in Church History: J. Gresham Machen

On July 28, 1881, J. Gresham Machen was born in Baltimore, Maryland.

The second of three sons born to Arthur Webster Machen and Mary Gresham Machen, Gresham was raised in an affluent Southern Presbyterian home, and his family attended Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, an influential Old School congregation. His upbringing nurtured him less in the “sentimental variety associated with Victorian Protestantism” than in “older forms of Protestant piety " the Bible, the Westminster Catechism, and Pilgrim's Progress,” according to biographer D.G. Hart. Machen's resistance to moralism would prompt his initial reluctance to enter the ministry after his education at Johns Hopkins University and Princeton Seminary. Eventually, his theological and cultural viewpoints would lead him to reject both theological modernism that he would condemn in Christianity and Liberalism and the “sickly interdenominationalism” of Protestant fundamentalism.

- John Muether


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 10 – Arminianism: Resistible Grace

In Part 9 of this series we considered the plight of man—how he is separated from God because of the fall. We also reflected upon the grace of God, His unmerited (unearned) favor—salvation is a free gift of God bestowed upon unworthy sinners.

In this post we’ll take a look at the work of the Trinity in saving men, and we’ll consider the gospel call.

The Trinity and Salvation

When thinking of the salvation of men, it is appropriate to step back and understand that salvation is the work of the Trinity. In eternity past, the Father marked out those who would be saved. This is referred to as “election” (see Part 6). At the appointed time, the Son came into the world and secured the redemption of His people (see Part 8). Finally, the Spirit, working through the Word, applies that redemption to the elect.

The Gospel Call

The general (or external) call. We find in Scripture that the gospel call is distributed indiscriminately. This call to repentance and faith goes out to all hearers. The great Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon was once asked why he didn’t preach to the elect only. His response was, as I recall, “Paint a yellow stripe down their back and I will.” The elect is known only to God. Thus those responding to the Great Commission proclaim Christ to all.

This external call includes (1.) A declaration of the plan of salvation. (2.) The promise of God to save all who accede to the terms of that plan. (3.) Command, exhortation, and invitation to all to accept of the offer mercy. (4.) An exhibition of the reasons which should constrain men to repent and believe, and thus escape from the wrath to come. All this is included in the gospel. For the gospel is a revelation of God's plan of saving sinners . . . This call is universal in the sense that it is addressed to all men indiscriminately to whom the gospel is sent. It is confined to no age, nation, or class of men. It is made to the Jew and Gentile, to Barbarians and Scythians, bond and free; to the learned and to the ignorant; to the righteous and to the wicked; to the elect and to the non-elect.

Charles Hodge (1797-1878)

For many are called, but few are chosen

Matthew 22:14

5) "The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.

6) "Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

7) "Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.

8) "Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "(G)He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

11) "Now the parable is this: (the seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:5-8, 11

The Effectual (or inward) call. For the elect, a special inward call from the Holy Spirit accompanies the general call. This call brings the sinner, who is dead in his sins (Gen. 2:16–17, 3:1–7; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 2:13), to life. By this work of the Spirit, through the Word, faith is granted to the sinner—he is enabled to believe all that is promised in the gospel.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

Ephesians 2:1

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

Ephesians 2:8

In my next post on this topic we’ll see what the Scriptures have to say regarding the efficacy and application of God’s grace.

--The Catechizer


Friday, July 18, 2014

Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 9 – Arminianism: Resistible Grace

In my last post on this topic, Part 8, we found that Christ died for the elect, those whom were given Him by the Father before the foundation of the world. Furthermore, we saw that Christ actually accomplished salvation for His people, not merely making it possible.

Now we’ll turn our attention to the Arminian doctrine of Resistible Grace. We’ll consider the question, “Does the Bible teach that God extends grace to all men, but men can resist that grace?” But first, we’ll consider the plight of man and the nature of saving grace.

Man’s Plight

Before considering the nature of saving grace, it’s appropriate to recall why saving grace is necessary:

Our first parents, through the instigation of the Devil (Rev. 12:9), chose to rebel against our most holy God (Gen. 3:1-6). The result of this rebellion was the entrance of sin into the world (Rom. 5:12-14). The nakedness for which Adam and Eve were ashamed extended far beyond mere clothing—they and their progeny were now separated from God and in need of reconciliation (Rom. 5:12-21).

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
Genesis 2:16-17

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one.”
Romans 3:10-12

Saving Grace

Grace (Latin: Gratia; Greek: Charis; Hebrew: Chen) refers to the undeserved favor shown from one to another, particularly from a greater to a lesser.

“. . .grace is an attribute of God, one of the divine perfections. It is God’s free, sovereign, undeserved favor or love to man, in his state of sin and guilt, which manifests itself in the forgiveness of sin and deliverance from its penalty. It is connected with the mercy of God as distinguished from His justice. This is redemptive grace in the most fundamental sense of the word. It is the ultimate cause of God’s elective purpose, of the sinner’s justification, and of his spiritual renewal; and the prolific source of all spiritual and eternal blessings.”

Louis Berkhof (1873-1957)

Man can do nothing to earn (merit) God’s grace. If he could, then it would be a wage not a gift, and would be grounds for boasting before God.

8) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9) not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Mankind has rebelled against God, and, as a result, stands condemned. But God, for His own good pleasure, chooses to spare some—to show mercy. By its very nature, grace does not come about by anything man does—we don’t pray our way into it, chose our way into it, or anything else. It is completely, from first to last, an underserved gift from God. Thus the appropriate response is to fall down before a gracious God who does not give us what we deserve.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness
Romans 1:18

When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”
Acts 11:18

When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
Acts 13:48

Note: Refer to Part 6 for further information related to God’s sovereign choice in election.

This message of grace, therefore, is essential to the gospel message, as Puritan John Owen explains . . .

Gospel promises then are: (1) The free and gracious dispensations; and, (2) discoveries of God’s good-will and love: to, (3) sinners; (4) through Christ; (5) in a covenant of grace: (6) wherein, upon his truth and faithfulness, he engageth himself to be their God, to give his Son unto them, and for them, and his Holy Spirit to abide with them, with all things that are either required in them, or are necessary for them, to make them accepted before him, and to bring them to an enjoyment of him.

John Owen (1616-1683)


Because of the fall man is separated from God. And left to his devices he’ll continue in his sin and rebellion. But God, in His great mercy, chooses to grant a stay of execution to some—not only that, He chooses to adopt the condemned! This message of God not giving us what we deserve should make us fall to our knees and sing along with John Newton . . .

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

In my next post on this topic we’ll see what the Scriptures have to say regarding the efficacy and application of God’s grace.

--The Catechizer


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today in Church History: Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was born on July 17, 1674, in Southampton, Hampshire, England.

The English nonconformist pastor of Mark Lane Chapel in London has been called the “Father of English Hymnody.” The publication of his Hymns and Spiritual Songs was influential in establishing the use of non-inspired song in Protestant worship. His many works include “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “There is a Land of Pure Delight.” He is best known for his Psalm paraphrases, which include “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” (based on Psalm 90) and “Jesus Shall Reign” (based on Psalm 2).

During Watts' lifetime, nonconformity would drift toward Unitarianism, and Watts himself displayed anti-trinitarian tendencies, though generally not in the hymns he wrote. Altogether, 41 of his hymns found their way in the first edition of the Trinity Hymnal and 36 in the second edition.

- John Muether


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 8 – Arminianism: Unlimited Atonement 2

In my last post on this topic, Part 7, we saw that Unlimited Atonement carries with it certain doctrinal consequences. In this post we'll consider the Scriptures that address the questions, “For whom did Christ die?” and “Did Christ actually save anyone? Or did He simply make salvation possible?”

Scriptural Considerations

Christ Came to actually save men . . .

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Luke 19:10

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
1 Timothy 1:15

Also consider: 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:3-4; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 3:18

Christ actually reconciled His people to God through His death . . .

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:10

18) Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,

19) namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

21) And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,

22) yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach
Colossians 1:21-22

Christ accomplished justification for His people . . .

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus
Romans 3:24

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
Romans 5:8-9

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE
Galatians 3:13

Also consider: 1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:13-14; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 2:24

Christ secures regeneration and sanctification for His people . . .

For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake
Philippians 1:29

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption
1 Corinthians 1:30

3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

4) just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love
Eph. 1:3-4

Also consider: Acts 5:31; Titus 2:14, 3:5-6; Eph. 5:25-26; Heb. 9:14, 13:12; 1 John 1:7.

As a matter of fact, the Scriptures do not speak of Salvation in tentative terms. Instead, salvation is spoken of as being accomplished by Christ, not merely as being made possible by Him. That’s why on the cross he proclaimed “it is finished,” not “it is possible.”

The Good Shepard

We’ve seen thus far that Christ was successful in his mission. Consider John 6:35-40, where Christ declares that “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” He further promises that He’ll lose none and that He’ll raise them all up on the final day. A good Shepard indeed!

In the tenth chapter of John we learn more of our good Shepard. For instance, we learn that he laid down His life for His sheep. He also promises that His sheep will hear His voice. Moreover, He explained to the unbelieving Jews that the reason they didn’t believe is “because you don’t belong to my sheep.”

What are we to make of this? Christ died for His people—the sheep—not the goats. Furthermore, He declared that His sheep will hear His voice, meaning that His elect will respond to the gospel call. Finally, the reason the unbelievers are unbelievers is because they are not His sheep. Consequently, Christ’s death was not for everyone, but for His elect (sheep) only—not a drop of Christ’s blood was wasted!

Also consider: Mat. 1:21, 20:28, 26:28; Rom. 8:32-34; Heb. 9:15, 28.


Many more Scriptures could be cited, such as Christ’s high-priestly prayer in John 17, where He prays “not for the world,” but “for those whom you have given Me.” Even though this is but a brief survey, the Scriptures are clear: Christ died for the elect, those whom were given to Him by the Father before the foundation of the world. Furthermore, Christ actually accomplished salvation for His people, not merely making it possible. Once again, as Christ said on the cross, “It is finished!”

In our next installment, we’ll consider the Arminian doctrine of Resistible Grace.

--The Catechizer


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 7 – Arminianism: Unlimited Atonement

In Part 6 we learned that, despite the teaching of Arminianism, God grants salvation to those whom He chooses; and that His choice is not based upon any foreseen faith or works, but on His own sovereign will and gracious good pleasure.

In this installment we’ll consider the Arminian doctrine of Unlimited Atonement. According to this teaching, it was God’s intention to save every person without exception, even though the application of Christ’s death is made to believers only. Furthermore, Christ death did not actually save anyone; it just made salvation possible.

Conceptual Problems

The doctrine of Unlimited Atonement runs into various conceptual issues. The following are just a few:

Problem One: Universalism or Failure
If God intended for every person to be saved without exception, then every person would be saved. In Eph. 1:11 Paul tells us that God “works all things according to the council of His will.” Furthermore, Daniel tells us that nothing can keep God from accomplishing His intentions:

. . . He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand…
(Daniel 4:35 )

Arminians reject Universalism—they do not believe that all are saved, even though God wanted to save all men. But what can we say about a god who wants to accomplish something but can’t because his creation won’t let him? Indeed, the god who emerges from this view is not a sovereign god whose hand can’t be restrained, but one who is impotent to accomplish His intentions.

John Owen (1616-1683) provides us with the only logical options:

Christ either paid for . . .

  • All of the sins of all men (Universalism)

  • Some of the sins of all men (no one would be saved on this view, for God requires perfect holiness, Mat. 5:48)


  • All of the sins of some men (we’ll consider the Scriptures for this view in the next post)

Problem Two: Hell
Supposedly, the divine intention behind Christ’s death was to save every man, woman, and child who ever lived. The problem is, Christ’s death occurred 2,000 years ago. What about the people who lived in the preceding millenniums?

At the time of His death there were already millions, if not billions, of people in Hell. What about them? Did Christ die with the intention of saving the unsavable? He must have if the Arminian claim were true.

A common Arminian retort is that Christ made a post-crucifixion appearance in Hell where He offered them salvation. Apparently, though, they chose to stay in torment rather than accepting an invitation to paradise (I guess the rich man changed his mind, Luke 16:19-31).

Problem Tree: The Unjust Judge
One of the main problems with the Arminian view is that it makes God an unjust judge. Here's why: Say you are about to be sentenced for a crime you've committed and a man steps forward and says that he'll take your punishment upon himself. The judge agrees to accept the substitute and punishes the man accordingly.

What if, however, after punishing the substitute, the judge then exacts the same punishment upon you? Would that be just? Of course not. But this is exactly what Unlimited Atonement teaches—Christ paid the price for the unrepentant sinner, which God accepts; then, upon the man's death, he punishes the man for the same crimes already paid for by Christ. God wouldn't be a just judge, but a devil!


As we've seen so far, Unlimited Atonement carries with it serious doctrinal consequences. In my next post in this series we'll consider the Scriptures that address the questions, “For whom did Christ die?” and “Did Christ actually save anyone? Or did He simply make salvation possible?”

--The Catechizer


Monday, July 14, 2014

Who is Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 6 – Arminianism: Conditional Election

As we discovered in Part 5, man is dead in his sins and unable—and unwilling—to seek after God. Now we'll turn our attention to the Arminian doctrine of Conditional Election.

The doctrine of Conditional Election states that God “elects” men based upon His foreseeing their free-will choices. The following is typical of how Arminians explain this doctrine:

God looks down the corridor of time and sees who will choose Him. It's like a man peering out of a window in a tall building watching a parade pass below. He can see the parade from beginning to end. Likewise, God sees from the beginning of time until the end, and so He “elects” men based on what He sees them do.

Terms Considered

Is it true that “election” means that we “choose” our way into God's good graces? Consider the following:

  • Illustration One: The Adoption
    A couple goes to an orphanage to adopt a child. They pick one, sign the necessary legal papers, and collect the child.

    Did the child choose the parents? Did the parents make their choice based upon their knowledge that the little girl would choose them?

  • Illustration Two: The Politician
    How about a man running for office: what if, instead of being elected by his constituents, he elects himself.

    Was he really elected? Or did he seize power?

Indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere in Scripture where men elect themselves to something. Just like how the term is used today, someone else always does the electing.

Tactical Note: The above illustrations employ a tactic called reductio ad absurdum (reduce to absurdity). In this tactic you assume your opponent's premises and then follow the logic of the premises to their absurd conclusion. In this case, we assume the Arminian definitions of “election” and “choice” and discover that they've changed the meaning of the terms to something nonsensical.

Who Chooses Whom?

The question is who does the choosing: God or man? Consider the following passages:

28) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

30) and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

(Romans 8:28-30)

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love.

(Ephesians 1:4)

13) But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

14) It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

Also consider: Due. 10:14-15; Psm. 33:12, 65:4, 106:5; Mat. 11:27, 22:14; Mark 13:20; Rom. 11:28; Col. 3:12; 1 Thes. 5:9; 1 Pet. 2:8-9; Rev. 17:14.

Is the Choice Based Upon Foreseen Faith or Acts?

The next question we must consider is whether or not God's choice is based upon foreseen faith or upon foreseen works. Consider the following passages:

11) for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

12) it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER."

13) Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED."

(Romans 9:11-13)

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

(Romans 9:16)

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity

(2 Timothy 1:9)

Also consider: Ex. 33:19; Acts 13:48, 18:27; Rom. 11:7; Phil. 1:29, 2:12-13; 1 Thes. 1:4-5; James 2:5


As we've seen above, the Scriptures are clear: God grants salvation to those whom He chooses. His choice is not based upon any foreseen faith or works, but on His own sovereign will and gracious good pleasure.

Stay tuned for Part 7 where we'll consider the Arminian doctrine of Unlimited Atonement.

--The Catechizer

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today in Church History: John Calvin

John Calvin was born on July 10, 1509, in Noyon, Picardy, France.

Born the second of five sons to Girard and Jeanne Cauvin, the young Calvin received a humanistic education through the influence of which he converted to Protestantism, despite what he would later describe as the “obdurate attachment to papistical superstitions” of his youth. Recognized as the “Father of Reformed Theology,” Calvin's most famous work, his Institutes of the Christian Religion, was among the first comprehensive statements of Protestant theology, growing from six chapters in the first edition (1536) to 79 chapters in four books in the final edition (1559). Calvin's teaching on the sovereignty of God, the doctrines of grace, and covenant theology found development and expansion in the Reformed confessions of the 16th and 17th centuries.

When he visited Geneva in 1536, Calvin was persuaded to help the struggling church there. Under his leadership, Geneva became a center of Reformed Protestantism, developing Presbyterian forms of government, worship, and discipline that would spread throughout Europe, the British Isles, and eventually in North America.

- John Muether


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Today in History: Liberty Bell

Tradition says that on July 8, 1776, the Liberty Bell rang from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) as it summoned Philadelphians to hear Col. John Nixon give the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the 2,000-pound bell from London in 1751, specifying that it bear an inscription from the Bible: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10 KJV). It arrived in Philadelphia the next year but cracked on the very first test, probably due to a flaw in its casting, so it was melted down and recast twice to make a new bell

Over the years the bell rang often to call people for announcements and special events. It pealed in 1765 for Philadelphians to discuss the Stamp Act, in 1774 for the First Continental Congress, and in 1775 after the battles of Lexington and Concord.

At some point—no one is certain when—the bell cracked again. On February 22, 1846, during a ringing for Washington’s birthday, the crack grew so much that the bell became unusable. It no longer rings, though on special occasions, such as the Fourth of July, it is gently tapped On June 6, 1944, when Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, officials struck the bell and broadcast its tone across the nation.

Today the Liberty Bell sits near Independence Hall in a pavilion known as the Liberty Bell Center. Lines from the old poem capture Americans’ attachment to the venerable icon:

The old bell now is silent,
And hushed its iron tongue,
But the spirit it awakened
Still lives—forever young.

American History Parade

1776 - The Liberty Bell rings for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

1853 - Commodore Matthew Perry sails into Tokyo Bay seeking diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and Japan.

1889 - The first issue of the Wall Street Journal is published.

1932 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls to 41.22, its lowest closing of the Great Depression.

1950 - General Douglas MacArthur is named commander of United Nations forces fighting in Korea.

The American Patriot's Almanac: Daily Readings on America

Today in Church History: Jonathan Edwards

On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” in Enfield, Connecticut.

Seeking to stir the hearts of a congregation that had yet to experience the Great Awakening, Edwards' series of images of the wrath of God prompted cries from his listeners so loud that it prevented him from finishing the sermon. The most memorable part of this famous sermon was Edward's analogy of the spider:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

- John Muether


Monday, July 07, 2014

Who is Sovereign in Salvation?- Part 5 – Arminianism: Free Will with Partial Depravity

In our last post on this topic we took a look at two analogies (one from Billy Graham and the other from Hank Hanegraaff) that are pressed into service on behalf of the Arminian Free Will with Partial Depravity position. We also considered an excerpt from George Bryson written as part of a Christian Research Journal debate he had with Calvinist James White.

In this post we’ll take a closer look at the two analogies by comparing them to Scripture.


  • Illustration One: Take and Drink
    A man lies terribly ill in a hospital room. Next to him on a table is a medicine that will cure him. All he must do is take the vile, put it to his lips, and drink and he’ll be made well.

  • Illustration Two: The Beggar and the King
    A beggar sits at the side of the road as the king's procession approaches. When the king draws near, he, the king, extends his hand to the beggar and reveals a precious gift. All the beggar must do to avail himself of the treasure is to reach-out and take hold.

The question is, do the above illustrations truly represent the plight of fallen man? Is it the case that man is simply spiritually impoverished or just very ill? To answer these questions we must consider the extent and the result of the Fall.

Guilt Imputed. Corruption Imparted

In the third chapter of Genesis, we read of our first parents’ sin. Because Adam represented us as our federal head, we all sinned in him (Rom. 5:12–19). The resulting corruption is passed on to us all, and its extent is total—every aspect of our being has been affected:

  • Our heart (emotions and affections)—Rom.1:24–27; 1 Tim. 6:10; 2 Tim. 3:4

  • Our mind (thoughts and understanding)—Gen. 6:5; 1 Cor. 1:21; Eph. 4:17

  • Our will (constitution and moral vitality)—John 8:34; Rom 7:14–24; Eph.2:1–3; 2 Pet. 2:19

Furthermore, Scripture teaches that Adam’s sin brought spiritual death to us all (Gen. 2:16–17, 3:1–7; John 11:24-26; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 2:13). As a result, men are spiritually deaf, blind, and completely corrupted (Ecc. 9:3; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14); also, men are slaves of sin (John. 8:34; Rom. 6:20; Tit. 3:3) and children of the devil (Eph. 2:1–2; 2 Tim. 2:25–26; 1 John 3:10).


As we have seen, man is not simply ill or spiritually impoverished—he’s dead. Dead men cannot “take and drink” or accept a free gift from a king, not unless they are first made alive. Crassly put, dead men do what dead men do—they rot; they don’t search for God.

as it is written,

(Rom. 3:10–12)

In the next post in this series we’ll take a look at the Scriptures Mr. Bryson used to support his position to see if they make the case for Free Will with Partial Depravity (i.e., Even though fallen, man can, with God’s help, freely choose Christ) and thus trump the above case made for Total Depravity.

--The Catechizer

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Friday, July 04, 2014

The Fog of Providence

On August 20, 1776, British General William Howe moved his troops, approximately 20,000 strong, into Long Island. Although already under intense fire, Washington’s troops, about 23,000 (mostly militia), were caught off guard by the move. Washington’s men were trapped and being brutalized by the Hessians who took no prisoners, preferring instead to stab the surrendering Americans with their seven-inch bayonets.

Washington’s only hope was to evacuate the American army to Manhattan. The British, however, had already anticipated this move and were prepared to send five warships up the East River to block the retreat. Knowing full well that the American‘s push for independence lay in the balance, Howe ordered an attack on August 23. It looked as if the American cause would be ended here, only a month after independence had been declared.

The Night of August 29

Washington knew that his situation was untenable—it was only a matter of time before Howe would have his victory, and the cause of independence would be lost. That’s when the miraculous happened: the wind shifted. The contrary wind meant that the British ships would not be able to come up river and cut off his retreat. Also, a thick fog rolled-in providing the cover necessary for keeping the retreat from the British high command.

Coolly and decisively, Washington ordered the seafaring Marbleheads of Massachusetts to ferry his troops from Brooklyn. The American army would live to fight another day—and the cause of independence was saved—thanks to a providential change of weather.

Of Nations and Men

On this day, the day that we celebrate the cause of freedom that resulted in the founding of this nation, let us not forget that it is God, and not we ourselves, Who controls the destinies of nations and men.

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings

Acts 17:26

And let us give Him thanks for the freedoms we enjoy, and for the brave men and women who have fought—and are fighting—to protect us and our freedoms. May God preserve and protect this great Union. Amen.