Friday, September 4, 2015

Luther on the Prayer of Faith

“But in Extreme Unction as practiced in our day, there is no prayer of faith. No one prays in faith over the sick, confidently expecting their restoration. Yet James describes that kind of faith in this passage (in James 5)…. There is no doubt at all that if, at the present day, this kind of prayer were offered over the sick, i.e., by the older and graver men, men saintlike and full of faith, as many as we desired would be healed. Nothing is impossible for faith.”

Martin Luther: Selection from His Writings, John Dillenberger, ed. (New York: Anchor Books, 1962), 354.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Fullness of the Godhead

"While each person of the Trinity has his own distinct personality, each is also the whole Godhead. Thus Christ could say: 'I am in the Father and the Father in me.'"

BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY: An easier-to-read and abridged version of the classic "Institutes of the Christian Religion" by John Calvin first published in 1536.

Where is the fullness of the Godhead?  In Christ (Colossians 2:9).  It’s through our union with Christ that we receive the Father and the Holy Spirit.  If you have the Son you have the Father as well (1 John 2:23) and through the Son the Holy Spirit is given (Acts 2:33). 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!


A simple explanation of the biblical reasons for holding the eternal distinctions of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the person of God.

The passages that we have already cited [e.g., Zech. 13: 7] show that the Son has a character distinct from the Father, because the Word would not have been with God unless he were another than the Father, nor would he have had his glory with the Father were he not distinct from the Father.

Christ implies the distinction of the Holy Spirit from the Father when he says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father [John 15: 26; cf. ch. 14: 26]. He implies the distinction of the Holy Spirit from himself as often as he calls the Spirit “another,” as when he announces that he will send another Comforter [John 14: 16], and often elsewhere.

Calvin, John (1960-01-01). Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (The Library of Christian Classics) (Kindle Locations 4647-4649). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Two Prerequisites of a Good Prayer

“A good prayer that is heard by God has two prerequisites. First, we must consider God’s promise that he will hear us. By reminding him of his promise, we can dare to pray confidently.”

“Second, we must not doubt what the true and faithful God promises to do. He promises to hear our prayers—yes, he even commands us to pray. He promises this so that we might firmly believe that our prayers will be answered.”

Martin Luther in FAITH ALONE: A DAILY DEVOTIONAL, October 30

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Maturity

“To each one gifts are given.  The possession of spiritual gifts is therefore in no sense a measure of Christian maturity.  Spiritual gifts are received as presents from God by every Christian who will accept them in childlike faith.”

--from Arnold Bittlinger, GIFTS AND GRACE: A COMMENTARY ON 1 CORINTHIANS 12-14

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Reformation Principle

“For the Protestant even the empirical Church is an all too human institution. It is a common Protestant belief that human institutions are always in need of reformation, that human pride and sin pervert even our best efforts, and that the perversion of the best is the very worst. For that reason men must operate with a large margin for error. No man, even the finest Christian leader, is infallible, and no human institution is perfect. Methods must be built into the organizational structure of the Christian community that will tend to correct the errors that are certain to arise in every generation.

In other words, Protestants are well aware of the fact that the
Reformation is not merely something that was necessary in the
sixteenth century, but they realize and insist the the Reformation is a principle that must cleanse the Church again and again.”

From THE PROTESTANT FAITH by George Forell

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Protestant Faith: Grace and the Sovereignty of God

“The stress on God's grace and sovereignty means that Protestants assert that in the relationship between God and man it is God who takes the initiative. In this respect Protestantism differs from religion in general. Religion has often been defined as man's way to God, the result of human aspirations and human hopes.”

“Against this view, so very common in the world's religions,
one of the Protestant emphases ... is the conviction that man's salvation is the result of what God has done and not the result of anything man can do.”

From THE PROTESTANT FAITH by George Forell

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second-, Third-, Fourth-, or Fifth-Blessing Theology

In short, I see biblical support for the thesis that although all true believers have received the Holy Spirit and have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, nevertheless the Holy Spirit is not necessarily poured out on each individual Christian in precisely equivalent quantities (if I may use the language of quantity inherent in the metaphor of “filling”). How else can we explain the peculiar unction that characterizes the service of some relatively unprepossessing ministers? Although I find no biblical support for a second-blessing theology, I do find support for a second-, third-, fourth-, or fifth-blessing theology. Although I find no χσµα (charisma) biblically established as the criterion of a second enduement of the Spirit, I do find that there are degrees of unction, blessing, service, and holy joy, along with some more currently celebrated gifts, associated with those whose hearts have been specially touched by the sovereign God. Although I think it extremely dangerous to pursue a second blessing attested by tongues, I think it no less dangerous not to pant after God at all , and to be satisfied with a merely creedal Christianity that is kosher but complacent, orthodox but ossified, sound but soundly asleep.

Carson, D. A. (1996-08-01). Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14 (Kindle Locations 2654-2662). Baker Book Group - A. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Christ Redeemed All People

A key element in my sermon today is the teaching that Christ has redeemed all people (universal atonement).  Here’s an excellent summary of this teaching.

When Paul writes that Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25), he does not limit the redemption to the church, the believers, or the elect. Although it is true that these are the only ones who actually receive the benefit of Christ’s redemption, the Bible explicitly states that Christ redeemed all people. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:6). He reconciled the world to God (2 Corinthians 5:19). “All people” even includes those who are ultimately lost in hell. They were bought by Christ too (2 Peter 2:1). There is no human being that was overlooked; Christ tasted death for every person (Hebrews 2:9). Although there is no redemption for the fallen angels, there is a perfect redemption for all people, including the worst of them. The apostle Paul declares: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). All nations and races may gather under the cross of Christ and find redemption there.

Koehler, Edward W.A. (2006-06-28). A Summary of Christian Doctrine: A Popular Presentation of the Teachings of the Bible, 3rd Edition (Kindle Locations 2906-2909). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.