December “Tabletalk”: Christology in Context – S.Nichols

TT - Dec 2014As we noted here last Monday, the December issue of Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional) is fittingly (for the season) centered on the doctrine of Christ. The theme is “Who Do You Say That I Am?: The Person and Work of Christ.”

Yesterday I read the second feature article on this subject, “Christology in Context”, by Dr.Stephen J. Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College and a Ligonier teaching fellow.

He takes us on a brief journey through the first four centuries of church history to show the ecclesiastical setting in which the Christological controversies took place. Revealing the errors of Docetism and Arianism (among others), Nichols reminds us of the great care the church took under the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures to set forth the truth concerning the Person and natures of Christ at Nicea (325) and Chalcedon (451).

If you have forgotten this part of your church history, this is a great article to review it and be reminded again of the importance of careful definition in theology. As in the vital importance of one vowel – “i” – in the Greek! Find out why by reading the article linked above. For now, here is a brief excerpt from it:

The bishops at Nicea concluded that homoousios alone measured up to the standard of biblical teaching. The Nicene Creed declares that Jesus is “very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.”

This creed is not uncovering new ground. Rather, it summarizes the massive swath of biblical material regarding the person of Christ. The author of Hebrews begins by declaring, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). Paul says rather directly that in Jesus “dwells the whole fullness of deity bodily” (Col. 2:9).

The Nicene Creed is a prime example of systematic theology at its best. Systematic theology seeks to organize and summarize, not add or detract from, the biblical teaching. Systematic theologians then teach this doctrine to the church. These bishops in the early churches were systematic theologians. The creed the bishops constructed at Nicea was their gift to the church.

At the center of church life is worship. And at the center of our worship is Christ. Every Christian should be asking, Whom do I worship? Who is this Christ at the center of my worship? The Nicene Creed gives us a biblically rich and true answer.

Premillennialism: Why a Reformed Critique?

StandardBearerIn the November 1, 2014 issue of The Standard Bearer professor emeritus (PRC Seminary) David J.Engelsma began a new series on premillennialism in connection with his rubric “Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass.” In pointing out the absurdity of dispensational premillennialism Engelsma raises the question whether it deserves serious attention from the Reformed camp. “…A Reformed teacher might be tempted to limit his critique to the bare statement that premillennialism is un-Reformed and ridiculous, or to ignore premillennialism altogether” (p.59).

But he goes on to show why we ought to consider it and critique it carefully, both biblically and confessionally. I give you here his first three reasons why Reformed Christians ought to and why, therefore, he intends to continue a lengthy series on this significant error.

First, premillennialism is a theological explanation of the thousand-year period of Revelation 20. A thorough study of the millennium, therefore, ought also to take premillennialism into account.

Second, by contrasting his amillennial belief with the premillennial error the Reformed Christian will better and more clearly understand the truth he confesses.

Third, even though premillennialism is un-Reformed from stem to stern and is not the internal threat to the doctrine of the last things for Reformed Christians that postmillennialism is, premillennialism is prevalent and popular in Christian circles. Likely, a majority of Christian churches today proclaim the gospel of premillennialism and entertain themselves of a Sunday evening by producing and studying elaborate premillennial charts. Multitudes of professing Christians believe, support, and witness to the premillennial gospel, making their ‘blessed hope’ (Titus 2:13) the rapture of themselves out of the world and its history at any moment.

Always Abusing Semper Reformanda – R. Scott Clark

Always Abusing Semper Reformanda by R. Scott Clark | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

Nov 2014 TTThe third featured article in the November Tabletalk is penned by Dr.R.Scott Clark, professor at Westminster Seminary in California. His article treats the various ways in which the motto semper reformanda has been abused in the history of the church. Especially does he single out the proponents of the Federal Vision movement (as in covenant theology).

This is another helpful article on what this slogan “really means.” I quote today from the end of his article, but encourage you to read it all at the Ligonier link above.

There is much truth in the slogan the church reformed, always reforming, but it was never intended to become a license for corrupting the Reformed faith. We should understand and use it as a reminder of our proclivity to wander from that theology, piety, and practice taught in Scripture and confessed by the church. Certainly, our confessions are reformable. We Protestants are bound to God’s Word as the charter and objective rule of Christian faith and practice. Should someone discover an error in our theology, piety, or practice, we are bound by our own confessions and church orders to hear an argument from God’s Word. Should that argument prevail, we must change our understanding or our practice. But we should not, under cover of this late-seventeenth-century slogan, subvert what Scripture teaches for a continuing, never-ending Reformation that leads us away from the heart and soul of what we confess.Ÿ

Election of Grace – Augustine

SB-Oct15-2014-AugustineThe above title heads one of the articles found in the new Reformation issue of The Standard Bearer (October 15, 2014), a Reformed semi-monthly magazine published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association. This special issue is devoted to the church father Augustine, and includes a treatment of “Augustine’s Doctrine of Predestination” (the sub-title) by Rev.William Langerak, pastor of SE PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

I pull a snippet from his fine article, so that you may have a taste of why Augustine too has been called the “theologian of grace”.

In other words, although they (the semi-Pelgians -cjt) championed grace in salvation, it was defective—merited, dispensable, subsequent, common, and resistible grace. Sound familiar?

Against this, Augustine champions grace as free, antecedent, particular, irresistible, and efficacious. Importantly, he doesn’t do this merely by arguing the nature of grace directly. Rather, he grounds grace in predestination. Why? He believed their errors regarding grace were because “they are in darkness…concerning predestination” (Predestination, 2, 498). This darkness was partly that they limited predestination to foreknowledge, and charged Augustine’s teaching was fatalism, rendered God unjust, abolished free-will, and was contrary to sound doctrine. Besides, preaching it would drive men into indifference or despair (Introductory Essay, lxiv). They also claimed predestination contradicted the “will of God to save all men” and the death of Christ for all. Sound familiar?

Augustine, of course, refutes them, especially with copious quotes from Scripture. He dismisses the cavil of fatalism by appeal to the determinative will of God and demolishing the underlying premise of free will. “The human will does not attain grace by freedom, but rather attains freedom by grace” (On Rebuke, 17, 478). Against a “will of God to save all men,” he explains this is impossible because “man’s will cannot withstand the will of God;” also “all” in 1Tim. 2:4 may be understood as “all the predestinated …because every kind of men is among them,” (On Rebuke, 44-45, 489).

Augustine also defends preaching predestination. To oppose it was to oppose the preaching of Christ and apostles; saying it rendered useless exhortations and rebuke, was to indict Scripture (Perseverance, 34, 538). It didn’t hinder progress or perseverance of faith, but rather promoted them (Perseverance, 36, 540). “Although…we say obedience is the gift of God, we exhort men to it” (Perseverance, 37, 540). “Predestination must be preached, that God’s true grace…may be maintained with insuperable defense” (Perseverance, 54, 548).

Strikingly, Augustine rarely argues predestination for its own sake, or even because its biblical. His basic, underlying, purpose is always to teach predestination because grace is dependent upon it—if grace is divorced from election, grace is no longer grace. Augustine knew this from experience, for it was his error at one time. “I thought…faith whereby we believe on God is…in us from ourselves… and to consent when the gospel was preached to us…was our own doing…[because] I had not as yet found what is the nature of the election of grace” (Predestination, 7, 500). So he argues vigorously that “God’s grace…is given according to the good pleasure of His will…The grace of God, which both begins a man’s faith and…enables it to persevere unto the end…is given according to His own most secret…righteous, wise, and beneficent will” (Perseverance, 33, 538). “This is the predestination of the saints—nothing else, to wit, the foreknowledge and the preparation of God’s kindnesses” (Perseverance, 35, 539).

 

For information on how to receive this issue or to subscribe, visit the Standard Bearer website.  Or you may visit this news item about it on the PRC website.

Two “New” and Noteworthy Books: “Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel” and “Believing Bible Study”

In this post I wish to highlight a couple of “new” books that have come into our Seminary library and which are of interest to our audience. I put “new” in italics because both of these titles are reprints of previous editions, with one being updated and revised once again.

PrintThat title is David J. Engelsma’s Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel: An Examination of the Well-Meant Offer of the Gospel (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1980, 1994, 2014; 224 pgs.). As you will note, this is the third edition, and this edition contains further additions and enhancements (such as pictures and descriptions of those whose positions are stated in the book). In his preface to this edition Engelsma sets forth the continued need for this book after thirty years:

Does it still address a significant, lively issue in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches and among theologians who regard and present themselves as Calvinists?

The truth defended in the book is sovereign, particular grace in the preaching of the gospel. The book contends that this truth is fundamental to the theology of the Reformed faith in its entirety, that is, to scripture’s gospel of salvation by grace alone and to the authoritative confession of the gospel by the Reformed creed, the Canons of Dordt.

The charge against the truth, by nominally Reformed theologians and churches, that the book refutes is hyper-Calvinism. This is the charge that the doctrine of particular grace in the preaching of the gospel is, or necessarily leads to, the error of preaching only to the elect, including calling only the elect to repent and believe.

The heresy that the book exposes and condemns is the teaching that the promiscuous preaching of the gospel with its unrestricted call to all hearers to repent and believe is, in fact, the saving grace of God to all who hear the preaching, reprobate ungodly as well as elect. It is the false doctrine of universal, impotent, saving grace with its concomitant error that the efficacy of the saving grace of God in the preaching, and therefore the salvation of sinners, depend not on the grace of God made effectual by the Holy Spirit, but on the acceptance of an offered salvation by the sinner himself.

The heresy that the book exposes  parades shamelessly in the Reformed community of churches, seminaries, and book stores, like a brazen whore in the seductive ‘come hither’ scanty garb of the well-meant offer of salvation.

It is my conviction, as evidently that also of the publisher, that the truth defended by the book continues to call for defense in 2013 (xv-xvi).

This edition also contains the Foreword of Dr.John H. Gernstner found in the previous edition. You are encouraged to obtain this new edition and to read and study carefully its apologetic. Not only if you are a PRC member who needs to be informed again of this essential element of our Reformed faith, but also if you are a Reformed Christian who needs better to understand the nature of the preaching of the gospel, especially because of the rampant error of the free offer and its counterpart, hyper-Calvinism.

BelievingBible Study-EFHills-2014-front_Page_1The second book of note in this post is one we received as a gift from Russell H. Spees, friend of the PRC Seminary and of the late Dr.Ted Letis, and President/Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies. The book is titled Believing Bible Study (3rd ed., Christian Research Press, 2014) by Dr. Edward F. Hills (1912-1981), who served as a mentor to Dr.Letis and from whom Letis grew in his passion for and defense of the Traditional text (textus receptus, or “received text”) in the church. Hill was also an ardent defender of the King James Version (Authorized version) of the Bible as the best English translation for the church today (See his The King James Version Defended: A Christian View of the New Testament Manuscripts, 1956).

In his cover letter with the book, Spees states:

IBTS was pleased to work with the Hills family (Christian Research Press) to provide a digital reprint of Dr. Hills’ sequel to his “King James Version Defended.”

We thank the Hills family for faithfulness in keeping Dr.Hills in print. We acknowledge Mr.Paul Watson for his design of the book cover. We thank our supporters for prayer support and certainty of God’s hand in the project. We thank our Sovereign God for preserving his Holy Word to and for us.

To get a taste of Hills’ starting point in this work I quote his opening paragraphs in chapter 1, Believing Bible Study, Old Testament”:

The man who is well pleased with himself, with his prospects, and his whole manner of life will never read the Bible believingly. His entire outlook must be changed before believing Bible study becomes possible. For this reason God often uses the hard experiences of life to prepare His children for believing Bible study. Bereavement, childlessness, loneliness, longings that have never been satisfied, ambitions that have never been fulfilled, vain regrets over lost opportunities, the severe limitations of poverty, the pain and weakness of sickness, and the approach of death – these are the things that bring men low. These are the harrows which God uses to soften hardened hearts. These are the hammers with which He is wont to bend proud necks and make men willing to read His holy Book believingly.

Reader, if you are perishing in the furnace of affliction, or if you are walking in darkness with no light, or if your heart i s fretted with anxieties and corroding cares, or if your will is bound under wretched slavery to sinful lusts, or if your soul is chilled with the fear of death and the unknown, then the Bible is the Book, the only Book for you. For the Bible will show you how your sins may be overcome by the power of Christ and how you may enter into everlasting life through the door of hope and obtain your inheritance in the everlasting glory. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgives us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

I include here the cover (front and back) because of the information about the book and its author which may be found there. A search revealed that the book is not yet available on the IBTS website or Amazon. But it may be ordered  through this address (Christian Research Press, P.O. Box13023, Des Moines, IA 50310-0023; phone: 515-249-4304) or by emailing: email@kjv-ibts.org or Christianresearchpress@yahoo.com.

BelievingBibleStudy-EFHills-2014-back_Page_1

 

Have You Heard About the British Reformed Journal?

While Missionary-pastor Martyn McGeown was in the U.S. on vacation, he stopped by the Seminary a couple of times. He is a avid reader and always eager to review new books, which I truly appreciate! I was able to set him up with some good books for Standard Bearer reviews, so both of us are happy.

BRFellowship image

He also asked me to promote the British Reformed Journal, a solidly Reformed journal published by the British Reformed Fellowship (see link below). From its website we learn this about the magazine:

The British Reformed Journal (BRJ) is the publication of the British Reformed Fellowship, usually with contribution from members, and currently published biannually. It contains doctrinal articles aimed at the propagation of the Reformed faith throughout the British Isles, Europe and abroad.

Currently, only a small selection of the past articles are available online. However, we are working on making all past issues available online free of charge for members of the public.

Rev.McGeown also sent me this note of information and invitation for your benefit:

Rev. McGeown invites you to subscribe to the British Reformed Journal, of which he is the editor. Recent articles have included “A Double Minded God Is Unstable In All His Ways;” “D.A. Carson’s Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God;” and “Hypercalvinist: A Response to Phil R. Johnson’s Primer on Hyper-Calvinism.”
Subscription for 4 issues is 20 USD.

If you would like to subscribe, please mail a check payable to Mary Stewart with your name and address to Mr. Fred Hanko, 2315 Chippewa St, Jenison, MI 49428

For more information, see http://www.britishreformed.org/
It would be well worth your time to check out the website, browse a few of the intriguing and edifying articles, and then sign up to receive this fine Journal. The BRJ would make a great addition to your theological reading!

When Is It Right to Separate from People in the Church? – Sinclair Ferguson

Guidelines for Separation by Sinclair Ferguson | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT June2014As we continue to review the June Tabletalk, we come to the next main feature article on the theme of separating from other Christians and churches (“Guilt by Association”). Dr.Sinclair Ferguson penned the next article titled “Guidelines for Separation”, and it too is very helpful in drawing some important lines (principles) for going about such a painful process.

For our purposes today we will quote the part of Ferguson’s article where he treats separation within the church (He also addresses our spiritual separation from the world – the antithesis just prior to this.). I encourage you to follow the Ligonier link to read all of his worthwhile article.

Second, there is a separation out of the church of false teachers, denying them spheres of influence. Second John 7-11 counsels believers to beware of anyone who teaches a false view of Christ. We are to separate them from any assistance and support. John has in view itinerant teachers who by definition needed welcome and hospitality to further their “ministry.” Notice, again, that this is balanced intriguingly by John’s warning against the false separation exercised by Diotrephes, who “refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church” (3 John 9-10). Separation here involves the preservation of the church, but not our separation from it or our domination over it.

Third, there is a separation from the church of those who pollute or threaten to destroy it. Evident sin in the believer must be met by ongoing efforts to effect repentance (Matt. 18:15-18). Personal admonition is first; if that fails, admonition in the presence of one or two others; if that fails, admonition by the church. And only when there is obstinate resistance throughout these three stages is a member to be regarded as “a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Only where there is flagrant, public sin that brings public shame on the congregation are these steps collapsed into one (as apparently in 1 Cor. 5:1-5). Even then, the goal of the actions is always restoration (1 Cor. 5:5Gal. 6:1). The purpose of surgical amputation is to save, not to destroy. Again, we find a complex statement: when major spiritual surgery is necessary, the patient must be protected from the infection of despair (2 Cor. 2:5-11). When tough action is required, it is to be done by men who are Jesus-like, characterized by meekness and gentleness (2 Cor. 10:1Gal. 6:1).

In addition, I also read “When God Goes Missing” – a fine article about what can often be absent when today’s church worships – and in our own worship! Read it and be challenged to make sure God is present in your heart and mind when you stand in His presence!

Here’s just a little snapshot:

When I discover that my approach to God in the assembling of His people is “casual,” I cannot blame it on an effort to be authentic or on my informal surroundings. If I am honest with myself, I must confess that I have forgotten the primary purpose of my attendance. I have forgotten His presence and His true identity. Sometimes, the blindness and deafness that once kept me from seeing and hearing Him partially returns and prevents me from perceiving His nearness and His character.

Rev. John P. Sartelle is assistant minister at Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oakland, Tennessee.

Why Should Christians Separate from One Another? – Carl R. Trueman

Reasons for Separation by Carl R. Trueman | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT June2014The June issue of Tabletalk is devoted to the subject of separation, that is, when it is right (and when is it wrong) for Christians and churches to separate from other professing Christians and churches (See last Tuesday’s introduction to this matter.)? Under the theme “Guilt by Association”, the June “TT” addresses this subject with carefulness and completeness.

Writing the second main article on this subject, Dr.Carl R. Trueman speaks to the reasons for separating, and offers several principles for consideration. While you may not agree with all that he writes, his thoughts help us think through the issues involved and how we ought to deal with the issue of separation.

I post the heart of his thoughts here and encourage you to read his full article at the Ligonier link above.

How is the Christian to approach the issue of separation in the current heated and complicated context? It is difficult to give a one-size-fits-all list of guidelines in a short article, but here are some of the basic principles that must be addressed in thinking about biblical separation.

First, while much modern discussion has tended to focus on doctrinal deviation as the basis for separation, we must remember that the Bible teaches that practical immorality is also a basis. First Corinthians 5 makes this abundantly clear: a person committed to a path of sexual immorality has no place in the Christian fellowship and is to be expelled from it.

Second, while the idea of separation can sound to us like something oppressive or pharisaical, we should realize that those who are theologically or morally deviant are the true agents of separatism. In Romans 16:7, Paul talks about those who are divisive because they have deviated from the true doctrine, and he urges the believers in Rome to keep away from them. Notice the order: the deviants have divided themselves from the people of God by their actions; we might perhaps describe the faithful believers’ reaction to be that of simply acting in such a way that the existing divisiveness of the unfaithful is made manifest.

Third, we need to make a distinction between different degrees of fellowship and separation proper. I write as a Presbyterian. I cannot serve as a pastor or elder in a Baptist church. Nor can a Baptist serve as an officer in my church. Yet, I can enjoy fellowship with many Baptist friends in numerous settings, some more formal and some less. I have close friends in ministry who are Baptists. I have shared conference platforms with Baptist speakers. I have had Baptist friends preach at my church. In short, while I am not able to enjoy full, institutional fellowship with Baptist friends, I am not separated from them as if we held to completely different systems of belief.

By the way, there is also a fine article for women by Susan Hunt under the rubric “Heart Aflame”. I encourage you ladies to read “The Goodness of Gender” at the link provided here.

Introducing the June 2014 “Tabletalk”

Contending for Peace and Purity by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

This past weekend I opened and began reading the June issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’ devotional magazine.

Let me start by pointing out that the daily devotions (the heart and soul of the magazine) continue with the book of Romans, covering the precious eighth chapter this month. One of the things I started to do this year is memorize the suggested Bible passage for the week. This first week of June it is Romans 8:1. Why not join me in doing that?! It is a wonderful verse to take with us this week!

TT June2014Second, the theme this month is on a significant and sensitive subject – the Christian’s associations with other professing believers and churches. The title the editors have given to this subject is “Guilt by Association”. In the article linked above, editor Burk Parsons introduces this subject pointing out the tension in our calling: we are to contend for both peace and purity in the church.

Here are a few of his opening thoughts:

For nearly twenty years, I have seriously considered his words and the principles of separation that he instilled within me. Both then and now, I have found that I am more aligned with the principles of separation and association with J. Gresham Machen than anyone else. Dr. Machen pursued right association for the sake of the unity and peace of the church with as much earnestness as he pursued necessary separation for the sake of the purity of the church and the gospel. For there cannot be true peace and unity in the church without purity. God calls us not only to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3) but to eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). Both are necessary, but it takes wisdom from above to do both in a biblical way that glorifies God.

Like Machen, Francis Schaeffer, who early in his ministry was part of the Bible Presbyterian Church, taught that the church should practice two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of visible community. As we strive for both, God calls us to contend earnestly on our knees in prayer and to stand up and speak the truth in love for the sake of the name of Christ and the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church of Christ.

I also read the first main article on this theme, “Degrees of Separation”, a helpful article by Dr. David Murray. I include the link here so that you too may begin reading on this subject as you have time. To get you started, this is how he begins his article:

One of the most difficult challenges to address in the Christian life is our relationships with other Christians. It’s like walking a tightrope with heavy weights on each end of our pole. On the one side is the biblical command to unite with professing Christians, while on the other is the biblical demand to separate—at times—from professing Christians.

Unite!” and “Divide!” Complicated and challenging, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could just choose one or the other? Some do. They decide to separate from everyone who does not agree with them on everything, producing sinful schism and division in the body of Christ. Others decide there is virtually nothing that justifies separation from anyone and unite in unholy alliance with anyone who says he is a Christian, no matter what he believes.

But both of these are unbiblical extremes that throw us off balance, tipping us into dangerous and damaging sin. Although we might prefer a simpler life, God calls us to walk this precarious tightrope carrying both weights on the ends of our pole.

Biologos, Theistic evolution, and the Pelagian heresy – creation.com

Biologos pelagian heresy – creation.com.

“The Aquila Report” carried this powerful article as one of its “top 10″ this past week (April 1, 2014), but I also went to the original source, which is Creation.com (cf. the link above).

creationvsevolutionThere you will find the complete article, “BioLogos, Theistic Evolution, and the Pelagian Heresy”, written by Richard Fangrad, CEO of Creation Ministries International-Canada. Fangrad makes a significant connection between the old heresy of Pelagianism and the “new” one of theistic evolution, especially that part of “TE” that now wants to deny the historical reality of our first parents, Adam and Eve.

I give you a portion of his article here; read the rest at this link.

May Fangrad’s thoughts show us even more clearly why we must reject all forms of evolutionism, root and branch. Not to do so leads one to forfeit the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, it IS that serious.

Today we Christians find ourselves at an interesting place in Church history. Although Scripture has been with us for 2,000 years (and is sufficient for determining how and when God created), we now have decades of research that supports what the Bible has always said. Today we are blessed with mountains of scientific evidence supporting the biblical record of a recent creation followed by a global flood and all humans originating with Adam and Eve. Despite all of this, aspects of an old heresy relating to the creation account are increasingly infiltrating the Church. This is the falsehood known as Pelagianism.

No Adam: no original sin, no need for the cross

The heresy of Pelagianism (see the box below for details) asserted that Adam’s sin had no effect on the human race, that we have not inherited a sin nature from Adam, and that all humans are born with the ability to live a sin-free life. This renders the work of Christ on the cross superfluous. If we can achieve Heaven without any work of God whatsoever (that is, if we have no sin) then there is no need (it is even nonsensical) for God to bear the penalty for our sin. The reality is that at the cross Christ died for us as a substitute. He paid the penalty that we incurred, in our place and simultaneously transferred His righteousness to us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes this double transfer. The sinless Christ pays for our sins in our place (so that we don’t have to!), and His righteousness is transferred to us. That single verse is Paul’s simple one-sentence summary of the Gospel. The whole Gospel message is contained in outline in those words and is, of course, detailed throughout the rest of Scripture.

Bible scholars at the time of Pelagius recognized the contradiction between his teachings and Scripture. As a result, Pelagianism was condemned as heretical at many church councils including the Councils of Carthage (in 412, 416 and 418), the Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Orange (529). The intervening 1600 years have merely strengthened and further refined the biblical truth confirming that Pelagianism is heretical. This rich history of the battle for truth is a great advantage for us today. When Pelagianizing tendencies infiltrate the church today we should simply look back at that history, remember the error of the past, and avoid repeating the same error. Unfortunately, Pelagianism is alive and well today. One of its modern forms, mutated and renamed, is called ‘theistic evolution’.

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