Saturday, March 29, 2008

What! You're Reformed?

Well my dear readers I have been on vacation for Easter in the sunny state of New York, hence no Beer Review Monday this past week and no updates to the Pint. However my sister and I had a wonderful little conversation this past week about theology. She is from a more Wesleyan /Arminian tradition and I am as many of you know more reformed in my theology. She made a number of accusations against me which unfortunately are not true of reformed theology. Actually these comments are about something the reformed tradition considers heresy, that is hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism is not John Piper sitting at Starbucks after four espressos. However since there is much confusion about this subject let me list a definition of Hyper-Calvinism from the New Dictionary of Theology published by the IVP:
1. [Hyper-Calvinism] is a system of theology framed to exalt the honour and glory of God and does so by acutely minimizing the moral and spiritual responsibility of sinners . . . It emphasizes irresistible grace to such an extent that there appears to be no real need to evangelize; furthermore, Christ may be offered only to the elect.

2. It is that school of supralapsarian 'five-point' Calvinism [n.b.—a school of supralapsarianism, not supralapsarianism in general] which so stresses the sovereignty of God by over-emphasizing the secret over the revealed will of God and eternity over time, that it minimizes the responsibility of sinners, notably with respect to the denial of the use of the word "offer" in relation to the preaching of the gospel; thus it undermines the universal duty of sinners to believe savingly in the Lord Jesus with the assurance that Christ actually died for them; and it encourages introspection in the search to know whether or not one is elect. [Peter Toon, "Hyper-Calvinism," New Dictionary of Theology (Leicester: IVP, 1988), 324.]
This is not what I believe, this is not what the reformed tradition believes, this is actually a rejection of Historical, Augustinian Theology, and Calvinism. Thus when a Wesleyan rejects reformed theology on the grounds that we reformed do not see a need to evangelize they are actually rejecting hyper-Calvinism, something the reformed do as well. It is in ignorance that many of the Arminian tradition reject the reformed tradition. Therefore allow me to bring up a couple of her objections to which I will respond.

She said, "So you believe that you don't have to evangelize?"
This is not the reformed position at all, how else are men to come to Christ but through the foolishness of preaching the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 1:21) I do not know who the elect are so I must preach to all men (Matthew 28:19-20) that the Lord God might grant some repentance leading to the knowledge of the Truth. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

She said, "You believe that there is some reason you are better than others who are unsaved?"
Again this is not the reformed position, this is actually the Arminian position stating that they chose to follow Christ of their own accord, thus have something intrinsically better than those who reject Christ. The reformed position is that there is nothing intrinsically better in the believer than the unbeliever (Romans 3:9ff) and that the only reason the elect go to heaven and others go to hell is because of a five letter word called GRACE. (Titus 3:3-8)

She said, "You believe that God hates people?"
The only way I can respond to this is with scripture.
And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." - Romans 9:10-13
Yes God hates unrepentant, unregenerate sinners and prior to conversion we are enemies with God and He with us. (Romans 5:6ff; Isaiah 63:10)

She said, "You believe that some believers will fall away from the faith."
This is actually the fifth and final point of Arminianism, the reformed position is the Preservation of All Saints. This means that if you are truly a saint and have truly accepted the gift of God, by grace through faith, then you will preserver.
Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about Me, but you do not believe because you are not part of My flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one." - John 10:25-30

She said, "So you don't believe that Christ died for the whole world?"
Well that depends entirely upon what you mean, do I believe that Christ's death has benefited the whole world then yes, it has stayed the wrath of God against mankind so that Adam did not die the moment he partook of the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden, and all sinners since then. However if you do not believe in some sort of universalism, which would go against scripture, as scripture clearly states that some will be raised to the second death, (Revelation 21:8) then one must believe that God only died for those who will be saved or there is unjustice in God as both Christ and the sinner bear the eternal penalty for the same sin. The reformed position stems from Hebrews 10:14 "For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" which is often called limited atonement or particular redemption. This does not mean that Heaven will be close to empty as scripture clearly speaks against that as well. (Revelation 7:9) The question is did Christ through this offering fail to perfect some, or did He do the will of the One who sent Him as He clearly states:
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day...No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." - John 6:37-40;44
That is really what it all comes down to isn't it, did Christ actually accomplish all that He set out to do, or did He fail at all the points where sinners do not repent and come to Him? I believe that many today who claim to hold to an Arminian/Wesleyan Soteriology actually do not understand their own depravity or are actually reformed yet see hyper-Calvinism as the reformed position and as such side with the Arminian position in their ignorance of what both positions truly teach.

Grace and Peace.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Testimony of Paul Washer

This is the testimony of Paul Washer, a great Christian Preacher speaking about his conversion to Christianity. It is scary how much his parallels mine. Enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beer Review Monday - Smithwicks Irish Ale

On this fine St. Patrick's Day what better to do than review an Irish Ale. Smithwicks is a wonderful dark ale which is copper in color and has a full head though it dissipates rather quickly, unfortunate for an ale brewed by the producers of Guinness. The aroma is a very roasty caramel malt. The flavor is somewhat sweet with very roasty caramel following the aroma. Unfortunately this ale is a bit on the light side, so it makes a wonderful beer for the warmer months of the summer, think of this as Guinness light. The carbonation is right on and while this is not the best beer out there, for its price it is wonderful.

The Christian Pint Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Commercial Description:
Smithwick’s is Ireland’s number one ale. Its exceptional taste, distinctive colour and purity of ingredients make it unique. Its rich, satisfying taste has earned it five gold medals in the famous Monde Selection Beer Tasting Competition. Smithwick’s is produced using the finest hops and special roasted, malted barley. In 1998 a new enhanced draught product with improved head retention was launched along with redesigned glassware.

As always remember do not become drunk on wine (beer) but be filled with the Holy Spirit, and do not cause your brother to stumble. (Ephesians 5, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8)

Thank God for St. Patrick

It is a very unfortunate day when the world begins to believe that Patrick is the patron Saint of Leprechauns and Green Beer. While there is nothing inherently wrong with either to reduce what God did through this man for both Ireland and the world is something that sickens me. This is as horrible as reducing St. Nicholas to Santa Clause, St. Valentine to Cupid, and almost as grotesque as reducing Easter and Christmas to days about fuzzy animals and simple presents. It is a mockery.

St. Patrick's story is one of the Gospel. Patrick an unbelieving Roman born in Britain who was taken into slavery by the invading Irish Celts. It was in Ireland that God found Patrick and after six years of slavery as a shepherd, God allowed Patrick to escape and return to Britain. There he joined the church and began to study the Word of God. Feeling God calling him to return to Ireland to take the Gospel of Christ to the Irish people, his capturers. In one dream he heard God say, "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more." In 433 AD he did just that.

Thinking he would convert his old master for whom he was a shepherd to his new Master for whom he remained a shepherd under the tutelage of the Great Shepherd, he returned to the place of his former bondage. Unfortunately due to the pagan influence upon Patrick's former master caused him to commit suicide and destroy his lands. Patrick horrified by this superstition began to minister to the pagan Celts.

At the druidic festival Beltane, a yearly ritual of fire, Patrick began his ministry. The ritual was commenced by the King lighting the first fire of ritual from whence all other fires in the Kingdom would be lit. Patrick on an opposing hill light his Easter fire prior to the King's. This was blasphemy against the druidic gods. Seeing this fire the druids told the High King, that were that fire not quenched prior to the rising of the Sun it would never be put out. Therefore the King sent druids and soldiers to put out Patrick's fire.

Like Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Patrick mocked the druids, and the more they tried they could not quench the fire. At this sight the King accepted Patrick and allowed him to preach the Gospel in his lands. Later the King became a believer. After this time the Gospel flourished throughout Ireland. This is the reference of where Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, driving the druidic paganism out of Ireland.

St. Patrick is credited with explaining the Trinity to the Gaelic culture through the use of the shamrock, an herb used in many druidic rituals. He often held one up and asked if the shamrock was one leaf or three, to which the common reply was, it is both one leaf and three. Patrick concluded to them so it is with God. Of course the pagan mind cannot comprehend the things of God so Patrick was sure to emphasize to the pagan mind that the Christian belief was not that of polytheism.

With the Christianizing of Ireland Patrick set up monastery after monastery, through out Ireland and these Irish monks would take what little money they had and bought the classic works of antiquity and copied them in their monasteries. This became very important after the fall of Rome to the barbarians. The barbarians torched most of the written works in the Roman empire. Had it not been for Patrick we would not have many of the works of antiquity. Therefore even if you do not believe the Christian Gospel you must at least than Patrick for his roll in preserving the works of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and many others. Therefore today when drinking a pint of Guinness remember to thank God for St. Patrick and his contribution to the world we live in.
Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


It has been said that the listening of a language even without understanding it will help in the acquisition of that language. As Hebrew has been difficult to pick up I've started to listen to Shma-Israel Radio, it's an internet radio station that puts the Psalms to music in the original language, Hebrew, it is a wonderful resource if you are trying to pick up the Hebrew language, and even if you are not it does display the beauty of the Psalms as they were meant to be, sung to the Glory of God. Anyways here is the link if you are interested.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Faith & Works - James vs. Paul

There are many people today who do not understand what is written in the bible, mainly because they read it through a certain lens and do not believe Paul when he wrote, “all Scripture is breathed out by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) If we as Christians are to believe that Scripture is the Words of God in written form, as Paul suggests then there should be no contradictions correct, as “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” (Numbers 23:19) However there appears to be just such a contradiction between two of the writers of the New Testament. Both Paul and James paraphrase Genesis 15:6 which states that Abraham “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Yet both apostles take this to different ends, James says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24) Paul holds to something appearing to be totally different, “to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

Well that proves it, the Bible is not inspired right? Well being a bible believing Christian I don’t think so. We must look at the texts more closely along with Paul’s other writings. If scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) then these two must coincide somehow. Both James and Paul quote Genesis 15:6 thus we must ask if James is correcting Paul, or if he is correcting an abuse of Paul. These are two very different things, yet if we are to believe that both what Paul and James wrote was scripture and breathed out by God then we must state that the latter is true, which scripture agrees with.

Paul was not a foolish man, he understood that His teaching of grace alone would be abused and twisted by some false brothers. This is why he wrote in Romans 3:8, “And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.” And Romans 6:1,2 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!

In Galatians 5:13 Paul tells us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Does this mean that we are justified however we must work to be justified? Is grace simply the starting point from which we work to be fully saved? Is that what Paul meant?

No, if we look back a few verses to Galatians 5:6 we see James and Paul in harmony “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Note that it is not the works that count for anything but the faith working through love. It is not faith plus works rather it is the correct type of faith that counts with God. What is the correct type of faith, the faith that justifies? Faith from which love flows.

That is what James was trying to correct in the churches he was writing to. Faith without love is useless, it is the sort of faith that at best the demons have. James 2:14, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” Note the concern of James is not the works, but the faith. If I simply believe yet do not love can I be saved, as James later asks, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (v.15;16) According to James such faith is dead, as it does not work through love. James addresses this dead faith in other ways, those with perfect doctrine such as the demons (v.19) and useless faith that is empty (v.20). These passages agree with Paul that faith that does not work through love is dead, useless, and cannot justify anyone as it has no life.

As I previously stated both Paul and James quote Genesis 15:6 (cf. James 2:23, Romans 4:3), both state that it is the belief, the faith that is reckoned as righteousness. However James also makes reference to where Abraham’s faith is tested on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22:1ff, stating that if your faith does not work through love and you simply have correct doctrine, the faith of the Demons, dead faith, that which does not work through love, and useless faith which is idle, empty, or ineffective it will not stand God’s testing of faith. However one must understand what was being tested; it was the faith of Abraham. This was not where Abraham was justified though, that was back in Genesis 15:6.

Therefore in James 2:21 which states that Abraham was justified by works, James means something different from when Paul denies that man is justified by works (Romans 3:28; 4:2; 4:5) If asked the following question, does the ongoing and final reckoning of Abraham’s righteousness depend on works as the evidence of true faith? Both James and Paul would answer the same way. Yes. However if you asked how an ungodly person become justified and receive the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus as a gift? Both would answer as James did in James 2:23 “believe God, and it will counted to him as righteousness" (paraphrase mine)

To ask if justification is dependent upon works of love in order to have a final right standing with God, Paul will answer no, if by works of love you mean anything done to show that we deserve God’s blessings. James will answer yes, if by works you mean evidence of faith or fruit such as that Abraham’s obedience showed on Mount Moriah.

Thus for Paul justification by works means gaining a right standing with God based upon the merit of our works, Paul rejects this notion. James on the other had when speaking of justification by works means maintaining a right standing with God by faith alone with the evidences of faith, works of love. However based upon each others definitions they would agree.

We are justified by faith alone but Christ works in us through that faith to make us a new person, a new creation that is works through love. Paul describes this relationship of faith and works in Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Beer Review Monday - Killians Irish Red

This is a good beginners beer for those just starting out and beginning to take an interest in beer drinking. It is a sweet beer with a little white head. A weak aroma caramel accompanies this brew. There is a mild hoppiness mixed with a light caramel in this beer but not a lot of after taste. The good thing about this beer is it is best chilled but not cold. a little warmth brings the flavor right out so a new drinker can enjoy this beer for quite some time and still get full flavor out of it. Like most beers this is best on tap.

The Christian Pint Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Commercial Description:Rich amber color and a thick, creamy head. Introduced into the U.S. in 1981. Gold medalist (amber lager) at 1998 World Beer Cup.

As always remember do not become drunk on wine (beer) but be filled with the Holy Spirit, and do not cause your brother to stumble. (Ephesians 5, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Richard Baxter - The Reformed Pastor

The work of any Pastor is never complete until he has been called home and gives an account of those whom he was called to shepherd. As one called to such a commission Richard Baxter presents the roll of what a true pastor should look like in his classical work The Reformed Pastor.
While this book is an older work on the subject of overseeing God's flock, it is still very relevant today. Pastors are called to know their congregation on a personal level and instruct them in such a way as to leave no reason for them to be of unsound doctrine and faith. Things often missed in the current era of mega Churches and televangelists. While neither of these things are inherently evil, they do fail to oversee souls biblically.
I urge any who are thinking they are called to be a pastor, as well as all current shepherds of God's flock to read this book. It is an asset to the library of all Overseers of Souls.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. - Hebrews 13:17

Grace and Peace.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Beer Review Monday - Guinness Draught

A friend of mine suggested that I begin to review beers I have tried here so I'm going to start posting reviews of beers starting off with one of the best. The Famed Guinness Draught, what else did you expect?

If there ever was a man's beer this is it. A dark medium body and a creamy full head, and a delectable aroma of coffee and chocolate. It drinks with a creamy malty texture that drinks almost like a meal. This beer as most beers is best from the tap yet with that is not an option the bottles and cans do make a decent substitute.

The Christian Pint Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Commercial Description:Available in cans, kegs and bottles with nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Pasteurised. Usually called Draught; sometimes called Cold or Extra Cold - same beer, but served colder.`Launched in 1961.
Ingredients: Pale ale malt, about 25 to 30% flaked barley, and about 10% roasted barley, with no other grains or sugars; several hop varieties, mainly Goldings (pellets and isomerized extract); a flocculent head-forming ale yeast.

As always remember do not become drunk on wine (beer) but be filled with the Holy Spirit, and do not cause your brother to stumble. (Ephesians 5, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Prosperity Gospel

A short message from John Piper on the Prosperity Gospel and how it should sicken Christians. Please do not buy into the lie of the Prosperity Gospel.

I pray that you consider Dr. Pipers words.
If you cannot see the video click here.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul