The Five Solas in Light of the Modern Evangelical Church 

Yeah okay, I know I blog about Grace Alone a lot. But it seems to be the forgotten doctrine in our age. So here it goes ... So many fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will gladly confess the doctrines spoken in the Five Solas of the Reformation, possibly without understanding the implications of some of them, namely Grace Alone (Sola Gratia), of which Martin Luther said was of the most importance in denying the Roman Catholic Church doctrine of salvation = Christ + works (which amounts to you save yourself, as opposed to the Gospel which says God Saves Sinners). These great Reformation doctrines have a logical flow to them that is important to understanding what is at stake in the whole of the message, namely the last point, the glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria). It goes like this: salvation is by Grace Alone (Sola Gratia) through Faith Alone (Sola Fide) in Christ Alone (Solus Christus) revealed by the Scriptures Alone (Sola Scriptura) all to the Glory of God Alone (Soli Deo Gloria).

Many pastors, teachers, and lay people it seems will say they believe these while neglecting the first one, Grace Alone, with its immense implications on the rest. They will say we are merely saved through faith in Christ, to which I agree, obviously. But it seems the modern day "Solas" (as opposed to the Reformation Solas) are Four Solas: that we are saved by Faith Alone in Christ Alone revealed in the Scriptures Alone to the Glory of God Alone, while ignoring the first doctrine, Grace Alone. So what's the problem? The problem is that they aren't necessarily adding anything to the message of the Gospel, they're just omitting an essential first part and then in many cases criticize those who spend time on that first part because it's hard to hear. If in a mathematical equation you start at the second step while neglecting the first, you will wind up with a very different answer than if you had started at the beginning. So also, by omitting Grace Alone from the message of the Gospel, many pastors and teachers, and as a result, lay people, are missing a gigantic, hope-giving, holiness-producing portion of that message (and many are missing the whole message altogether as a result because they see Christ as simply some coach who helps them save themselves through being moral). One example of someone who seemed to not get this point and has now abandoned the evangelical church to become Roman Catholic is Francis Beckwith. Yes we are saved through Faith Alone in Christ Alone, I'm not arguing that, we all agree on that as evangelicals (I would hope). I gladly confess this ... but there's more!

Why did you believe while another rejected? This is pivotal to giving God all of the glory for your salvation, every step, from beginning to end. Many will simply say, well I just believed in Jesus, that's why I'm saved. So your belief in Christ originated from yourself, from your spiritually dead, evil nature that was turned away from God? The Scriptures beg to differ (Romans 3:9-20). This is boastful at best, glory suppressing at worst. Is this not taking credit for something you did instead of something God did? When I was saved, I saw that God had turned my evil, wretched, rebellious heart to believe in Him and thus be saved. What in the world did I do to make myself believe the foolishness (in the world's eyes) of the Gospel message? This is why I cried tears of thanksgiving that wondrous night, because God spoke and made me alive. How does God receive any glory in a message that states, "I just believed by myself"? I cannot see that He does.

It is only by the Grace of God, nothing you did, that made you see the truth and beauty of Christ in the work of His life, death, and resurrection, and thus you believed because, well, how can you deny something you see so clearly? Yes, faith in Christ is necessary to be saved. But even before that, you must be spiritually raised from the dead (born again) just as Jesus told Nicodemus (which is why he was so shocked in that passage). To be saved, you must be born again. Regeneration, the new birth, precedes faith. Jesus calls, and when He calls, dead men live. Just as God created the universe from nothing, so also He creates new life in the hearts of those He has determined to save. The raising of Lazarus is an excellent picture of the salvation of men. This is my story, and I would hope all professing believers' as well. I take no credit for my belief in Christ. I do not believe, nor have I ever believed that it originated in myself. "What have you that you have not received?" (1 Cor. 4:7) I see that which is outside of me (the crucified, risen Christ who suffered on my behalf), only because the Holy Spirit revealed it to me (John 6:44).

When God calls a sinner (through the general preaching of the Gospel to all), an effect is produced, namely, faith in the heart of the sinner to be saved ... eyes are open, ears unplugged, hearts softened, scales falling from the eyes (Paul?) to see and hear the wonderful and glorious Christ, and thus believe! God is sovereign in salvation (Grace Alone), saves who He wants, and bases His choice of who to save in no way upon the creature (Romans 9), otherwise this would be the beginning of salvation by works (where God saves you because of something you've done, like the foreseen faith position on election). If God chose me because He saw I would believe, 1) what kind of an authentic choice is that on God's part? God's choice is then constrained by what the sinner does or doesn't do. But God answers to no one. He is free in regard to the creature. But 2) you have something to boast about. It would go something like this, "Lord, I am here before you because I believed while this guy, Charlie over here, didn't. I heeded the call by my own strength." That is the message I hear communicated from pulpits so often nowadays and it is a dangerous, faulty message. 3) If faith originates in the believer and is not a work of God in the heart, then why in the world do we need to pray for anyone to be saved? What exactly are we asking God to do when we ask Him to save someone who is hard-hearted, rebellious, and wants nothing to do with Christ? Are we not asking God to perform a decisive, all-powerful, supernatural work (raising them from spiritual death) in order that they will believe the message of the Gospel and be saved?

By the modern church omitting something so essential (albeit hard to wrestle with), they have opened up a gigantic door for salvation by works to slip in the back door, and so it is happening it seems in many quarters. In so many churches I've heard messages from, even somewhat decent ones, this message is not preached and needs to be. If we sacrifice this wonderful truth, more and more of the Gospel will become eclipsed by man-centered doctrine. This is exactly what Satan wants and he is crafty to disguise himself as an angel of light in the form of "protestant" teaching (at least that is labeled that). Let us return to the sovereign Christ who saves sinners, not with a weak-willed "sit and wait" sort of stance, but with a power, might and determination that gets the job done. This is the Lord Christ I believe in. When Christ called the disciples, Paul, Lydia, the Ethiopian, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, my dad, Ryan McCarthy, Jon Dansby, Ted Kitchens, me, we dropped what we were doing just as the disciples were who were fishing, and followed Him; not because of our strength, might and power to raise ourselves from spiritual death to believe the "foolish" message of the Gospel (1 Cor.), but because God did this in great mercy toward us wrath-deserving sinners. Dead men live when God Himself effectually calls a sinner to be saved through the preaching of the Gospel to all.

More info on the Five Solas ...

http://www.monergism.com/directory/link ... ive-Solas/
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The Counterpoint to Doubting Your Election 

http://www.westerfunk.net/publicsermons ... 0Grace.mp3

This isn't a really long thought, just a short point Piper made in the sermon above that I was listening to today when running, concerning those who don't know whether or not they are elect and are fearful God may have passed over them. Many will reason that because God chooses by sheer grace alone as clearly shown in the Scriptures (John 6:44, Romans 9, Romans 8:28-30, Romans 11:1-6, Ephesians 1:4, etc), and that His choosing of who to save is in no way based in the wrath-deserving sinner (by works or foreseen faith as many presuppose), they have not been chosen because of circumstances in their life (their sin, trials, etc). Piper states in this sermon that the person has no reason to think they have not been chosen either because, again, the point has to be reiterated: God doesn't choose who to save because of anything we do at all, but His choice is based in His unfettered, sovereign purpose from all eternity. Our only hope of seeing the risen Christ as who He truly is (the Son of God in glory) so that we may believe in Him and His work and be saved, is for God to open our hearts, eyes, ears, and minds to be able to respond to the spoken message of the Gospel in faith. As the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals state, "Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature." No rather, God does a decisive work which infallibly brings about faith in the sinner to be saved. So the point still stands to all, have you abandoned all hope of saving yourself and trusted in the risen Christ? Are you pursuing Him without any excuse to give for your negligence to this end? You cannot use the misinterpretation of election (hard determinism - that God will do what He wants to do anyway, so why try?) as an excuse to not pursue salvation and sanctification in the risen Christ. God is sovereign, man is responsible. Those are the truths we have in Scripture and must leave it there. We cannot understand how the two reconcile, because God is bigger than our limited understanding, so don't you think he has a few things orchestrated that are beyond comprehension?

That aside, I just love this quote:

"How may I know I have understood the gospel and that I am elect? 'First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced. Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition. Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope. Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it. Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness. Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative."

- A .W. Pink
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The Death of the Adult - Excellent Cultural Analysis 

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Useful Protocol-Intelligent Javascript Code (Update 3) 

Well, in this third installment of "Useful Protocol-Intelligent Javascript Code," (not intending it to become a series, ha) I was sent a link by Matt Hinze where someone has already written some code that will do this exact thing, particularly for Google analytics js code. Take a look:

<script type="text/javascript">
document.write( '<scr'+'ipt type="text/javascript" src="' );
if( document.location.toString().indexOf( 'https://' ) != -1 ) {
document.write( 'https://ssl' ); } else { document.write( 'http://www' ); }
document.write( '.google-analytics.com/urchin.js"><\/scr'+'ipt>' );
</script>

<script type="text/javascript">
_uacct = "UA-XXXXXXX-X";
urchinTracker();
</script>

<script type="text/javascript">
document.write( '<scr'+'ipt type="text/javascript">' );
if( document.referrer.toString().indexOf( 'www.westerfunk.net' ) ==-1 ) {
document.write( 'urchinTracker(document.referrer);' ); }
document.write( '<\/scr'+'ipt>' );
</script>

I have set this up on Westerfunk.net and will see what the results look like tomorrow, to see if the code is actually rendering properly. So far it appears it is actually making the calls out to google on every page hit, but only G-analytics results will shed light on this theory.

Blog entry where the code came from:

(Original): http://www.reubenyau.com/google-analyti ... rrer-only/
(Archived): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/tech ... er%20Only/


Update:
-------------------------------------------------------------

This appears to be working very well and all my stats look back to normal on google-analytics. So this code is good ...
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Gospel/Christ-Centered Teaching Philosophy 

Great quote by Tim Keller:

"At the heart of Redeemer's ministry and its philosophy of preaching to post-modern audiences is the conviction that 'the gospel' is not just a way to be saved from the penalty of sin, but is the fundamental dynamic for living the whole Christian life--individually and corporately, privately and publicly. In other words, the gospel is not just for non-Christians, but also for Christians. This means the gospel is not just the A-B-C's but the A to Z of the Christian life. It is not accurate to think 'the gospel' is what saves non-Christians, and then, what matures Christians is trying hard to live according to Biblical principles. It is more accurate to say that we are saved by believing the gospel, and then we are transformed in every part of our mind, heart, and life by believing the gospel more and more deeply as our life goes on."
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Useful Protocol-Intelligent Javascript Code (Update 2) 

Well after coming across some issues with the last version of code (i.e. when visiting the website, it wasn't always rendering the google analytics javascript like it should have been, as reflected in the reports on google's site). For the past two days, it only showed two hits. So I have now reverted back to my original if/else js code. I guess maybe it was getting cached or not finishing on some browsers or something. Strange ...
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White vs. Bryson: Debating Calvinism (John 6:44) 

When sticking with this one verse (Jesus' own statement) you cannot escape the conclusion: No one comes to Jesus, believes in Jesus, cares anything about Jesus, unless the Father who sent Jesus draws that person to Him, and the one who comes to Christ in faith will be raised on the last day. Which comes first, the giving of the person by the Father to Jesus, or the person coming to Jesus? This verse is clear. The Father does something that has an effect. Regeneration (the new birth) precedes and gives rise to faith, monergism. Bryson attempts to reconcile his free-will theology with what is plainly stated in this verse.


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"I''ve Had it Up to Here with all of the Cross-Centered Books, What About the Resurrection?" 

I have heard this statement from a few people I know (who weren't Reformed and didn't really understand Christ/Cross/Gospel-centered teaching), but now it has come from my pastor. I don't normally talk negatively about sermons at CCBC, and in fact I rarely speak about them at all on my blog here. I refrain from doing so because, well, I agree with them for the most part. I have had times where I disagreed on content as well as tactics and methodology, but have chosen to stay silent for the sake of Christian charity and fellowship, and all this for the glory of God (though I have blogged on eschatology issues during the Revelation series). I respect Ted and care about him very much as a brother in Christ. I love him as my pastor. I value his opinion on so many things as well as his preaching on so many aspects of Christian life and teaching.

But I cannot escape the statement he made on Sunday (in the 5 o'clock service in particular, that wasn't stated the same way in the other services apparently, according to the audio). And I cannot help but think it was an intentional jab at us in the Reformed camp (one of many jabs in the past year) who emphasize the work of Christ in the cross as the means to thorough change and conformity to Him (Gospel-healing). His statement went something like this, "I don't know about you, but I've about had it up to here with all the cross-focused books! There's another piece to the puzzle! What about the resurrection?" (If I'm wrong on the statement, by all means, re-quote it. But that is what I heard.) Okay, I can understand and appreciate what he is saying. I think it is, "Let us not forget the resurrection." To that I can agree. Yes, do not forget this, because we have been raised with Him! How glorious! He is risen indeed and is alive and well and has made us alive through death, burial and resurrection!

But besides the fact he plainly got upset about the whole thing (which I'm still failing to understand the very nature of his problem with this particular literature - out of all the other awful literature out there - and the mis-characterization of those who write cross-centered books), why the seemingly intentional jab at us Reformies? Seems there is an assumption being made here, that those who focus on the cross as the means to change never even consider the resurrection, or have moved on past it. I'm sorry, that is non-sense. Many within the Reformed camp have written entire, lengthy, scholarly books dedicated just to the resurrection and what it means for the believer, as well as thorough apologetic defenses of it. I guess I just don't get what the problem is.

Where do we get the cross-centered message and methodology from? The Scriptures. Paul says something that gives us the backdrop of where we're coming from, which Piper expounds upon. "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." What's the message here? Boast only in the cross. A cross-centered life is a God-centered life, because God's glory shines the brightest in (namely) the crucifixion of the Son of God. John Piper calls the cross, "the blazing center of God's glory." I agree. So does Paul. Was Paul ignoring the resurrection in such a statement? No. He was making the point that if he boasts in anything, may it be a boasting in the cross of Christ. If we rejoice in our faith or in anything we do or possess, may it be a rejoicing in the cross. If we rejoice in food, may it be a rejoicing in the cross, because every good thing we experience, every bad thing turned for good, every sunrise we watch, and the rejoicing in our very salvation, may it all be a rejoicing in the cross of Christ, because that is where all these things were purchased.

It is in this frame of mind that we pursue God, on the basis of the work of Christ on the cross, where Christ satisfied the demands of the law, where the wrath of God was absorbed by Christ for those who believe, where He purchased everything necessary to bring us to Himself, and where He granted to us His very righteousness. Praise God for the cross! There is a good reason we focus in on the cross; because so many aren't, and so many don't understand why it is necessary to do so. Many believers consider Christianity to be something where you believe the Gospel initially (elementary stuff), and then try your hardest to pursue God on your own power. Error. The Gospel is not just an upfront thing for beginners, but a continual and central thing to Christianity itself. The Gospel should encompass our entire lives, not just the beginning. It is the means to change and growth in Christ The Gospel is the good news about radical, progressive, and eternal life change, both in our individual and communal lives!

We return to the work of the cross everyday because that is where we are healed. The blood of Christ is what heals our wounds. Atonement. All of Isaiah 53 iterates this very thing. The prophecy does not focus in on the resurrection (as important as it is, not negating its invaluable importance, hear me out). However, it focuses primarily on the work of Christ on the cross! This is vital because the OT Scriptures point to the value of the cross by going into detail about what was accomplished there for those who believe. When we look at Revelation 5:12, the hosts of heaven declare, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" The work of Christ on the cross is the theme in heaven. Yes, the risen Christ is exalted, but they are even more specific: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!" Christ-crucified is who is exalted in heaven.

As I said before, I love Ted, but this got under my skin a little bit on Sunday (as you can tell). This isn't the only jab though. Other jabs came during the Revelation series. One in particular had to do with amillennialists specifically (who for the most part come from the Reformed camp). Out of all the other eschatological views on the millenium, he picked the one that happens to be a majority reformed. Another jab had to do with the "Rapture" which I won't go into. I guess I'm just not understanding what problem he might have with us, maybe?

Here are some articles and sermons pertaining to Christ/Cross/Gospel-Centered teaching and why we Reformed people believe this methodology is the best for teaching people:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibr ... the_Cross/
http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/theo ... y%20-%201/
http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/theo ... y%20-%202/
http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/theo ... y%20-%203/

(Update) -----

Here is an example of a Reformed guy defending the resurrection. The defense of this wonderful, historic act is highly critical to showing the validity and truthfulness of Christianity.


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Useful Protocol-Intelligent Javascript Code (Update) 

Thanks to the help of a friend named Matt Hinze, this javascript code can be simplified. Here's the code:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">

var url = window.location.protocol == 'https:' ? 'https://ssl.google-analytics.com/urchin.js' : 'http://www.google-analytics.com/urchin.js';
document.write('<scr'+'ipt src="' + url + '" type="text/javascript">');
document.write('<scr'+'ipt src="/google.js" type="text/javascript">');

</script>
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Does James Contradict Paul? 

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