David Westerfield

Theology, Culture, Technology, Reviews, and Other Commentary

Tag: r.c. sproul

Even the Demons Believe – And Shudder

“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19 ESV) As R.C. Sproul has said, “Faith isn’t believing IN God, faith is believing God” (paraphrase). Faith is believing what God has said and done in history, written in Scripture for our salvation. As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 ESV) In true, real faith, there is an assured, hopeful, anticipatory rest in the promises of God. And this faith is a God-wrought work. A faith of our own making will not last, because you struggle in your own power to maintain your conviction. This cannot stand in the wake of the world’s belief systems. You need God to give you new life, to be born again, in which He grants this very divine faith that is of God, not yourself.

Ultimately, the promises of God have been fulfilled in history and will be brought to completion in the completed, finished work of Christ at His return; His perfect life lived, His perfect sacrificial death for us, and His resurrection, all for His glory and the salvation of His people. We wait, in faith, for His Day when He returns to consumate His Kingdom and bring judgment on His enemies. He is the King of kings, the Master of masters, who fulfills all in all. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36 ESV) What a joy and hope of salvation! And He imparts the faith necessary to be saved, the faith that holds these promises in assured hope. He receives all the glory and His people get to participate in His glory for all eternity!

Satan’s Subversion Tactics Haven’t Changed

In reading Genesis 3-5 today, I was reminded that Satan’s tactics haven’t changed one bit in how he deceives and subverts the church today, moving us off the mark of Christ-centeredness and promise faithfulness, causing us to ask the question, “Has God really said?” or as my son’s Jesus Storybook Bible says, “Does God really love me?” As R.C. Sproul has said, faith isn’t believing “in” God (for Romans makes clear everyone does), faith is believing God, believing what He says about Himself, us and salvation. Even the demons believe and shutter though. The question is, do you believe unto eternal life what Christ alone has said and done on behalf of His own in His life, death and resurrection, that is, by God’s power, not your own? A faith of our own making will ultimately fail (this is the essence of religiousity), where we struggle to hold onto doctrines we don’t really believe at our core and are instead just putting up a front. A faith that God creates, sustains and carries through to the end is a faith that lasts unto eternity. This is a faith that Satan himself can do nothing to undo, for it is God’s work in us. This is saving faith. However, we must never by unaware of Satan’s tactics to keep us from Christ. And he does this primarily by sowing unbelief in God’s word and causing us to question the Lord.

T4G 2010 Audio and Video

Session 1 – Mark Dever – “The Church is the Gospel Made Visible”

MP3 Audio

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White Horse Inn Interviews R.C. Sproul on Christless Christianity

Cursed is Everyone Who is Hanged on a Tree

“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God.” – Deuteronomy 21:22-23

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'” – Galatians 3:13

I came across this passage in reading Deuteronomy today (and thought about its fulfillment in Galatians 3:13) and it got me to thinking in light of the saddening and disheartening revelation concerning The Shack author William P. Young’s denial of substitutionary atonement: Did Jesus commit any crime punishable by death at all? No, we all say together, He was sinless. Yet He willingly gave Himself over to a criminals death based upon this passage in Deuteronomy, right? Right. So if He was sinless, why was He condemned to this awful punishment? It must be that it was for someone other than Himself, for there is no other explanation, other than those that fall infinitely short of a satisfactorily Biblical answer. For whose crime was He willingly entering into and suffering then? The undeniable answer of the Bible is He suffered for sinners who admit their guilt and believe in the only name of the Son of God, resting in His work alone on their behalf to save them. Romans 3:21-26 is the best place to see this great news.

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R.C. Sproul on Abortion, Voting and Christianity

“I’m reminded of the work of William Wilberforce in England. You may recall that in debate after debate after debate, and in election after election after election, Wilberforce was soundly and roundly defeated when he sought the abolition of slavery in the British Commonwealth. But if ever there was an exercise in perseverance, it was by Wilberforce. Wilberforce refused to give up. He simply would not walk away from being the conscience of the English nation. And he publicly testified that slavery was wrong and he promised to oppose it as long as he had breath in his body. And finally in the providence of God, Parliament woke up and abolished this unethical practice that was a plague on the English speaking world.

We’ve gone through the same plague in the history of America, and thanks be to God slavery has finally been abolished in America. But I believe that slavery is the second most serious ethical issue that our country has ever faced. From my perspective the number one ethical issue that this nation has ever faced is the issue of abortion. Abortion is not a matter of private choice–not for the Christian who understands anything about the sanctity of life. The first century church made it very clear in their day, explicitly stating that abortion is murder.

I’ve written over 70 books. The book that had the shortest shelf life of all of my books was my book on the case against abortion. I talked to pastor after pastor and sought to understand why they weren’t using this material (for which we also made a video series). They told me, “Well, we agree with it but we can’t do it in our church.” And I said, “Why?” They responded: “It will split the congregation.” And I said, “So be it!” A million and a half unborn babies are slaughtered wantonly in the United States of America every year in the name of women’s rights. If I know anything about the character of God after forty years of study, I know that God hates abortion. And I could never vote for a candidate who supported abortion–even if I agreed with that candidate on every other policy position. If he supported abortion I would not vote for him and I urge you to do the same.

I know that abortion is not the number one issue in this campaign because it has become acceptable. Just like slavery became acceptable. But it cannot be acceptable to ethical people. The people of God have to rise up and say ‘NO’! We are not asking the state to be the church but we must say to the state, “Please be the state. God ordained you to protect, maintain, and preserve the sanctity of life, and you are not doing it.” So that has to be on your mind when you walk into that voting booth.”

Taken from this article: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/2008/10/pr … -text.html

R.C. Sproul on the Redistribution of Wealth, Voting and Christianity

“We have an income tax structure today that is inherently unjust. We almost never hear anybody discuss this injustice. But when God set up a system of taxation, He did things differently. God said I’m going to impose a tax on my people and it’s going to be ten percent from everybody: The rich man and the poor man are not going to pay the same amount. The rich man’s going to pay much more than the poor man, but they’re both going to pay the same percentage. They’re both going to have the same responsibility. That way the rich man can’t use his power to exploit the poor man, saying, “I’m going to pay five percent, but you’re going to pay fifty percent.” The rich weren’t allowed to do that. Nor were the poor allowed to say, “We’re going to pay five percent and the rich are going to pay fifty percent because they can afford it.” What that is ladies and gentlemen is the politics of envy that legalizes theft. Anytime you vote a tax on somebody else that is not a tax on yourself, you’re stealing from your brother. And though the whole world does it and though it’s common practice in the United States of America, a Christian shouldn’t be caught dead voting to fill his own pocketbook at the expense of someone else. Isn’t that plain? Isn’t that clear? And until we get some kind of flat tax, we’re going to have a politicized economy, we’re going to have class warfare, and we’re going to have the whole nation’s rule being determined by the rush for economic advantage at the polls. Don’t do it. Even if that means sacrificing some benefit you might receive from the federal government. Don’t ask other people at the point of a gun to give you from their pockets what you don’t have. That’s sin.

It is, of course, the American way. But we Christians should not be involved in that sort of thing. Rather we should be voting for what is right, what is ethical. And our consciences on that score need to be informed by the Word of God, not by our wallets. And so I plead with you: When you enter the voting booth, don’t leave your Christianity in the parking lot. And be bold to speak on these issues, even if it means somebody picks up a rock and throws it in your head. Because it is through tribulation that we enter the Kingdom of God. I pray for you, beloved, and for our nation in these days to come.”

Taken from this excellent article: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/2008/10/pr … -text.html

R.C. Sproul Interviews Ben Stein

Together for the Gospel – Day Two

Man, where do I begin? So much information. Basically all of the messages were their own keynote addresses, with tons of great information. I’ll just try to briefly go through each speaker, chronologically, and then give what I gleaned from each speaker. I was not “able nor willing” (yes, that’s a pun; will make sense in the next paragraph) to blog as frequently as I initially desired, 1) because there was no internet at the convention center, and 2) because I really wanted to spend my time absorbing all that was said. Tim Challies live-blogged the event, so if you want to get a different perspective from mine on this, check it out @ www.challies.com . Great stuff.

Woke up after getting a good nights’ sleep (definitely providential that God would get my mind ready for the onslaught of amazing sermons yesterday). The first guy to get up there was John MacArther. MacArther gave an excellent, Biblically-cited dissertation of the doctrine of Total Human Inability, that is that man, in himself, is incapable of doing anything good that is pleasing to God. Obviously, this is not to say that man does no good to his fellow man, but it is to say that even in those good works, if they are not done in faith, they do not only displease God, but they further incur wrath upon the sinner. The writer of Hebrews states that, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Paul states, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8) This doctrine could not be clearer and those who would seek to snuff out this blatant language of Scripture oppose Christ Himself who makes utterly clear that, “No one can come to [Him] unless the Father who sent [Him] draws him (the person).” (John 6:44) Jesus also makes plain that, “… Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) And finally, Paul’s crescendo of his statements in Romans 1-3 summed up in Romans 3:9-18. This could not be clearer.

MacArthur spoke on this topic in particular to show how if you try and water-down this point, this central, fundamental starting point of the message of the Gospel, the rest of it will make no sense. He stated that if you don’t preach or teach on the severity of this point, and if people will not accept and own this point themselves, all of the other points of the Gospel will neither make sense nor will they be able to understand why God had to go to such great lengths to bring us to Himself through the sacrifice of His own Son at Calvary. So in essence, if this point is either not emphasized at the beginning of presenting the Gospel to someone or if they totally reject it as nonsense, then you have nothing else to discuss with them. As I previously said about Ligon Duncan’s sermon, this to me was another “Amen!” sermon where we affirm and totally agree with everything he said pertaining to this doctrine. I think for a majority of people in the room, it was just great to hear a good, Biblical reiteration of this central truth of the Gospel for our own hearts, for both in our teaching and to personally apply to our own hearts in humility.

The next speaker was Mark Dever. Whereas MacArthur before him spoke of a solid truth that we know well in the Reformed tradition, at the very least as a stated doctrine (though by no means do we know it in our hearts as we should, don’t get me wrong), Dever spoke in such a way so as to provoke new thinking as it pertains to the Gospel itself and the resulting effects of it. More specifically though as the main point, he showed how we must be very careful not to confuse the two. Many nowadays, in attempting to make Christianity palatable to a culture that embraces uncertainty, would make the results of the Gospel the gospel itself and remove the offense of the cross in an attempt to win people for the Gospel. However, history shows this never works. “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” As Dever pointed out, this is a fatal error and is exactly what theological/religious liberal scholars and preachers did in the 19th and 20th centuries before us. I assume he was obviously speaking of emergents in particular. However, I can also clearly see this in the marketing movement within the church (who ironically the Emergents oppose with a vengeance), where the Rick Warren’s of the world seek to make their primary aim in preaching, teaching and ministry, the outworking effects of the Gospel as the gospel itself (though not stating it so overtly). And it is clearly made apparent simply by their way of doing preaching, teaching and ministry.

But, as stated so clearly in all of these sermons, our primary goal in the church itself (though not in anyway excluding our obligation to reach the world in local and global missions) is to faithfully proclaim the Gospel itself and let it function as the fundamental catalyst for producing all of the other effects of it. Does the latter take work and effort? Absolutely, and we should give it our all. But we should be doing it in order to bring a pure, clear Gospel message, not making it the outflow of the Gospel the end itself. Even philanthropic atheists make this their end with no reference to God at all. Our end as believers though is proclaiming and heralding the Gospel in all contexts for the glory of God. Our end is the glory and uplifting of the grace of Christ in His cross-work and doing exactly that through the faithful and clear proclamation of the Gospel. And I would say that if the church is floundering in its reach to a lost world, that it has lost the core message of the Gospel and thus the power of it to not just transform the culture around us, but mainly bring glory to God for the salvation of lost souls that He brings about, as He sees fit. So in summing up in one sentence, the main point that I found most interesting and thought-provoking was that we must dare not confuse the effects of the Gospel with the Gospel itself. This is vital for a healthy ministry.

After that was a panel discussion on what both MacArthur and Dever spoke about. The panel discussions are always awesome and really help clarify statements or bring certain aspects into greater focus. For the time being, I won’t go into those as awesome as they were.

After lunch, we started the afternoon session off with a masterful sermon by R.C. Sproul entitled the Curse Motif. This struck at how many times within a Gospel presentation in preaching, exhorting, teaching, whatever the situation, we ignore the Scriptural fact that Jesus became the curse Himself on the cross, taking on the full measure of the wrath of God in His body on the tree. The text he used to demonstrate this truth was Galatians 3:13 which says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'” He then took us on a Biblical journey through the Old Testament to show us how this unfolded throughout history, and starting with Moses he worked his way forward, bringing it to its climax in the person and work of Christ Himself. What really struck me was how he contrasted the blessings of God and the curse of God. To demonstrate the stark contrasts and level of intensity within each of these actions of God, Sproul used Numbers 6:24-26 which says, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” I believe it was the first half of his sermon in essence that he honed in on this. There is no greater blessing that to be favorably looked upon by the very One who gave you life and breath to begin with. And then half-way through his sermon (maybe a little more than that) he turned his attention from the ultimate of blessings of God (namely the enjoyment and delight in God Himself) to show that the curse of God is the antithesis of Numbers 6:24-26. This could seem like, well yeah, that makes sense.

But to really grasp and feel the weight of the contrast between the two is to gain a greater grasp upon the very Gospel itself because in it we see Christ taking that curse in Himself and in fact becoming the curse for us. Sproul did a wonderful job of displaying this by taking the verses of numbers and reversing the meaning in curse-language, “May the Lord curse you, and abandon you; May the Lord keep you in darkness, and give you only judgment without grace; May the Lord turn His back upon you, and remove His peace from you forever.” Man. This is what awaits all those outside of Christ and what should be me. That is frightening. How frightening! But Sproul’s main point was not to discuss the judgment upon those who refuse the Gospel, but to emphasize that it was that very curse previously quoted that Christ willingly and voluntarily took in Himself upon the cross. Consider that the God of the universe, who united Himself to us, took in Himself this very curse. When you really ponder and meditate upon that reality, that the Son was cut from the Father in a way none of us can even begin to understand or peer into, it strikes you in the core of your being (at least it should in some manner if you confess Christ as your ransom) to what lengths He went to not only rescue His mercifully chosen people from damnation (i.e. the curse) but also to bring us to God that we may enjoy the opposite of the curse, namely, His blessings! OH the glories of the cross and the confirmation of what took place there in His resurrection! How wonderful a truth. This really fed my soul. There is nothing like Gospel-feasting, because in it we encounter Christ Himself, our supreme joy, the end for which He came!

The last message of day two was given by Al Mohler entitled, Why Do They Hate it So? The Doctrine of Penal Substitution. Mohler, as usual, going on about 24 tracks and wave-lengths at the same time in his thinking (something that was joked about throughout the conference), Mohler brought citation after citation of scholars, priests, clergy, and others within Protestantism (which entails both liberals and, unfortunately, now many evangelicals) who are either deliberately seeking to diminish or subtly lighten this doctrine because of its offense and (seeming) foolishness. Mohler made clear that he was not primarily speaking about the unregenerate who reject it, but those who claim the name Christian, as well those who claim the name evangelical. The one citation he gave that was really gut wrenching of someone doing this was a person (unknown at the moment) who stated that child abuse in the West is a direct result of the historic Christian doctrine of substitutionary atonement, because in it (according to this guy at least) God is portrayed as the one who takes delight in sadistically abusing His Son. Ugh. You could feel the whole room groaning inwardly after hearing their Savior’s work slammed by this guy in the quotation in such a specifically Satanic way. However, this doctrine must be contended for if the Gospel is to remain ablaze in the West. Otherwise, we risk the Gospel slipping back into the darkness, similar to that of the Dark Ages and Medevil times, prior to the Reformation (i.e. the recovery of the Gospel), the very thing we were there celebrating together. We must contend for and refuse to back down on substitutionary atonement though the world hates it so. It is at the heart of the Gospel message we proclaim. Diminish it, dampen it, water it down, take out the violent images of blood-sacrifice and dark, fearful wrath, and risk losing the only thing by which people may be saved: the very Gospel itself.

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