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Reformed Theology

14 Questions to Ask During Bible Study (Reformed & Presbyterian)

Is there a principle to follow?

A principle in the Bible is a timeless truth tightly stated. It is a short, pithy, practical statement of truth drawn from a passage and used to guide our lives. Principles are broad statements of truth that universally apply to every situation we face. For example, Joshua led the children of God in a march around the city of Jericho, giving a shout of victory as they trusted God to fight for them. The principle is that we should worship before we do anything else. We should praise God in the face of the impossible and watch Him act on our behalf.

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What Day is Evangelism Day?

March 26th, 2017 By now you have been through a blitz of various holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years –  and now you’re looking towards Easter. But when is Evangelism Day? The obvious answer is: every day is Evangelism Day, because we have an opportunity to celebrate the grace, forgiveness and salvation the Lord has…

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A Place Prepared for the Devil — Revelation 20:7-10


A Place Prepared for the Devil -- Revelation 20:7-10 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

What is the Lake of Fire? The Sea of Fire is a place so big, that there are no shores. No islands of refuge. No stable footing and no reachable surface. There is sulfur. Gunpowder is made with sulfur to increase the heat and explosive nature of the compound. Sulfuric acid has lots of sulfur. Sulfur boils at 850 degrees.

Ancient civilizations understood that volcanoes have lots of sulfur in the magma. The Old Testament tells us that God rained down brimstone, which is a synonym for sulfur, on Sodom and Gomorrah.

So God is asking for us to imagine a sea of boiling sulfur into which the Devil is cast and sinks. That’s not a comforting thought, unless you hate the Devil.

And this experience of the Devil is permanent. There’s no end to his torment. He is lost under the billowing waves of God’s wrath. He will forever feel like he is burning up. He will forever feel like he is drowning. He will be forever lost to God’s love.

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California Makes It Illegal to Try and Convert Gays Under the Age of 18


Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed SB 1172 which prohibits sexual orientation change efforts for anyone under 18.

Conservative religious groups and some Republicans have argued that banning conversion therapy would hinder parents’ right to provide psychological care for children experiencing gender confusion.

The Encino, Calif.-based National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality said in August that the bill was a case of “legislative overreach,” and Lieu’s claims of harm to children were based on politics, not research.

The effect of the law, in brief, makes it illegal to try and convert any gay person under the age of 18 if your goal is to free them from the sin of homosexuality.

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Do Rocks and Fossils Take a Long Time to Form?


From grade school to college, we are taught that rocks and fossils take a very long time to form and that they are proof that the earth in hundreds of millions of years old. Part of the process of creating fossils is for the soil, dirt or sand surrounding the object to harden into rock.

According to evolutionists, it takes a very very long time, thousands to millions of years for the rocks and fossils to form, or does it?

How long does it take? Can they form quickly? Are there any examples of rocks and fossils forming quickly?

Let’s take a look and see:

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The Powerful Legacy of William Tyndale


A hundred years ago a comet made of frozen gas entered our atmosphere and made impact in Russia, in a swampy forest in western Siberia. When an ice comet travels through Earth’s atmosphere, the friction melts and atomizes the frozen gas into a trail of flammable vapor that spreads from the Earth’s crust all the way back to the highest parts of our stratosphere. When the explosion happens on the surface of the earth, the fire ball has the potential to reach thousands of miles high with the explosive power of a thousand atomic bombs.

The shock wave from that explosion flattened 80 million trees over 800 square miles. The center of the impact left all the trees standing straight up with no branches.

The fireball stretched back into the outer atmosphere, as high as there is burnable oxygen to ignite the trial of gas left in the wake of the comet’s path. This produced so much light that a day later Londoners could read their newspapers under the night sky.

The comet struck at 7:17 am on June 30, 1908. Just over a hundred years ago.

But the energy from that event pales in significance to another explosion that happened 500 years ago in London, an explosion of light that set the world ablaze, and still shines today. That light is the glory of the Son of God shining forth from the pages of Holy Writ. That light wasn’t shining very well for a thousand years before Tyndale.

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Why Does the Apostle's Creed Think Pontius Pilate is Central to our Faith? — Luke 1:1-4


When the early church pieced together the Apostle’s Creed, they were using the baptismal formulas previously in use by the actual Apostles. We don’t know which Apostle coined each phrase of the Apostle’s Creed, but one of the twelve was baptizing converts in the name of Jesus Christ who suffered under Pontius Pilate.

Which begs the question, “why are we confessing anything about a secular Roman governor?” This morning I am going to explain why Pilate’s name is in the creed, and I am going to suggest that it is necessary for a sound faith.

During this time period in Rome there were mystical religions that taught a variety of strange ideas. These false religions didn’t claim their teachings were real in a historic or scientific sense, but their teachings were spiritually real.

Lots of Christians understand their own faith within this context. My sermon will try to convince you otherwise.

Let me illustrate this with a true experience of mine. I visited a seminary in the late 1990’s where I considered enrolling. Before I enrolled I wanted to discern what kind of an education I would receive so I asked a professor this question. “Do you think the virgin birth really happened historically or is it just spiritually real?” The teacher knew what I was asking. I wasn’t being a smart-aleck. I was trying to size up the orthodoxy of the school.

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Jesus told Mary, "I am Not Yet Ascended" — Didn't He Already Go to Heaven?


Jesus makes two ascents. Take a moment to think this through. There are two events when Jesus ascends into Heaven.

First, after His death on the Cross Jesus immediately ascends into the congregation of the saints in heaven. Jesus told the thief hanging next to Him that they were both going to heaven.

This answers the question, “Where was Jesus during the three days His body was in the grave?”

The second ascent is recorded in the Bible in Acts 1:3-11. This is called the Ascension.

The difference is that in the first ascending of Jesus in Heaven He does so as a Man. He joins with the saints for three days without a resurrected body. He then goes back and forth to heaven for 40 days with a resurrected body.

The Ascension is different entirely. In the Ascension God answers Jesus prayer in John 20:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

This is why Mary couldn’t cling to Jesus and keep Him for herself. He wasn’t yet fully ascended.

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Louisiana College Wins Legal Battle for Inerrancy — Lessons for the ARP Maybe?



Liberal professors “candidly testified [before the court] that their errant view of the Bible was in conflict with the inerrant beliefs of the [school] administration.”

The professors filed suit in 2005 against the school amid a growing furor over the school’s movement away from Baptist doctrine. The professors fueled the controversy with statements they made during class, including voicing skepticism over the bodily resurrection of Jesus and Mary’s virginity, school President Joe Aguillard said.

In response to complaints from parents and students about how liberal the small college in Pineville, La., had become, the Louisiana Baptist Convention appointed a new slate of conservative trustees to oversee operations, Aguillard said: “Their goal was to bring the college back to its biblical roots.”

They have now won the mandate to finish those goals.

Result? During the last five years enrollment has grown by 89 percent.

What are the lessons for the ARP?


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Should We Still Believe in a Historical Adam?


 

by Bryan D. Estelle

My thesis is simple: by questioning the historicity of Adam, one must revise the doctrine of original sin with serious modifications. Even recent purveyors of theistic evolution, who question the historicity of Adam, recognize this to be the case.(1)  

In fact, one Christian scholar goes so far as to say, “Once the doctrine of original sin is reformulated, the doctrine of the atonement may likewise be deepened.”(2)

Such serious modifications will carry entailments for other areas of theology as well. Here I want to take up the question of history and Old Testament exegesis.

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"All Mankind, Descending from Adam" . . . Is It a Necessary WCF Doctrine?


by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development [i.e., that the descent of all human beings from Adam has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians] and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.

The title above, as many readers will recognize, is from answer 16 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (and Larger Catechism 22). It expresses a central truth of Scripture and reflects the universal confession of the church about Adam.

Why then the added question mark? Not because non-Christians widely reject this truth, as they have for a long time, but because more recently it has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians. Moreover, they are persuaded that their doubts about this truth should be accepted as compatible with their Christian commitment.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss.

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"All Mankind, Descending from Adam" . . . Is It a Necessary WCF Doctrine?


by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development [i.e., that the descent of all human beings from Adam has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians] and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.

The title above, as many readers will recognize, is from answer 16 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (and Larger Catechism 22). It expresses a central truth of Scripture and reflects the universal confession of the church about Adam.

Why then the added question mark? Not because non-Christians widely reject this truth, as they have for a long time, but because more recently it has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians. Moreover, they are persuaded that their doubts about this truth should be accepted as compatible with their Christian commitment.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss.

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The Six Day Creation Debate Just Heating Up in the PCA


The Progression of the PCA Creation Debate — Told with 6 Recent News Stories

What Does The Westminster Confession Mean By ‘In The Space of Six Days’by R. C. Sproul

“…In the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” (WCF IV=1)

In the Genesis account of creation, we read; “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5). This narrative proceeds from the first day to the sixth, each time referring to “the evening and the morning” and numbering the day. On the seventh day, God rested (Gen. 2:2).

In our time a considerable number of theories have arisen denying that the creation, as we know it, took place in twenty-four hour days. Common to these theories is the acceptance of the dominant scientific view that the earth and life on it are very old. Many consider the biblical account to be primitive, mythological, and untenable in light of modern scientific knowledge.

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A Primer on the Ten Commandments: The Broken Law Magnified and Made Honorable – By Ebenezer Erskine


By Ebenezer Erskine
The select writings of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine: Doctrinal sermons, Volume 1

There’s a variety of opinions within the ARP regarding Sabbath keeping.

Reverend Tony Locke preached a very liberating sermon on the Sabbath while preaching through the Ten Commandments. He posted his sermon online.

His view was blasted by other ministers who used the historical position of the Puritans, like this article from Ebenezer Erskine. This debate is far from over.

This post is intended to resource the Church to have an educated debate.

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Commissioned to Share the Gospel

By Rev. John Kimmons   “Theology is worthless unless we live it.” Erick Metaxas says he learned this in his study on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was from a wealthy family of prominence and chose to go against popularity and the liberal theologians of his day. “The Cost of Discipleship for resisting Nazi…

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What Day is Evangelism Day?

scroll all the way down for the answer =) By now you have been through a blitz of various holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years –  and now you’re looking towards Easter. But when is Evangelism Day? The obvious answer is: every day is Evangelism Day, because we have an opportunity to celebrate the grace,…

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Sowing the Seed for Church Growth

Rev. Sam Roper   Jesus teaches about the kingdom of God, using two parables. We see Jesus employing farming imagery in order to teach us that the kingdom of God is a growing kingdom. The kingdom of God on earth is imperfect and incomplete, so growth is very important. The analogy of farming, then, is…

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God CAN'T Leave Your Salvation to Chance


God can’t keep Himself from knowing the future and determining it’s outcome. It’s an unstoppable consequence of His sovereign power and omniscience.

And don’t begrudge God’s electing love. Don’t criticize God’s sovereign mercy which saves.

Without God we won’t come to faith. God makes the difference. We should thank Him, not criticize His choices.

Christians need to stop grumbling about election.

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Is Inerrancy A Bible Doctrine?


Inerrancy is not an intellectual construct that we build in our mind after we make a careful analysis of the data. Jesus considered the Bible to be without error. Inerrancy is a Bible doctrine.

To not embrace the doctrine of inerrancy is to pervert the Gospel and put your soul in danger.

We do not prove the Bible to be God’s word by labeling it inerrant as a matter of reason or logic. The Bible claims this for itself.

We should close the debates and refocus our collective energies.

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Why Use the ESV Bible?

From WTSBooks.com   The ARP Denomination has selected the English Standard Version (ESV) as the translation of choice for Synod Christian Education materials. The First Presbyterian Church of Tucker has also embraced this Bible version. Below is a page from http://www.wtsbooks.com/content/about_esv which explains the benefits of this English version. Blessings to you as God transforms your life with His…

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Presbyterian Election Explained

Sovereign Grace and the Glorious Mystery of Election by C. J.Mahaney Download this as a PDF First Impressions Author James Cantelon presents this moving and insightful remembrance of his conversion experience: “First impressions are lasting impressions.” So goes the old saying, and I suspect in most cases it is true. My first impression of God is with me to this day.…

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Why do we use the ESV Bible?

The ARP Denomination has selected the English Standard Version (ESV) as the translation of choice for Synod materials. The First Presbyterian Church of Tucker has also embraced this Bible version. Below is a page from http://www.wtsbooks.com/content/about_esv which explains the benefits of this English version. Blessings to you as God transforms your life with His sacred Word. The English Standard…

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God Doesn’t Do Anything Random, Because He CAN'T — John 6:37-44

Election should steal from you the idea that you saved yourself with an act of faith. You don’t get the glory for being saved. God gets the glory. Your faith isn’t salvific – a good work.

Election doesn’t diminish the “Whosoever will may come!” part of the Bible. Our part is believing. We still have to confess faith in Jesus or we are not obeying the command to believe.

Election doesn’t paint God as mean by sending people to Hell. Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Election doesn’t diminish the power of grace. God family isn’t a exclusive club of saved people. Election creates a large inclusive family like the sands in the sea and stars in the night sky.

Why does election save more people than sin damns?  Because grace is greater than sin. Sin bruises the heel, grace crushes the head. Sin brings people to hell on a wide path, like a group event, or like a city wide revolt away from God into Hell.

Going to heaven is a narrow path for the few who find it. This means that faith is a one on one encounter with Jesus. Going to Hell is a group event. This does not mean that more people are in Hell than in Heaven. I believe grace will get the upper hand numerically too. God’s magnanimous love is proven by election. There will be more people in Heaven than Hell. It is God’s doing.

Let me wrap this up. Don’t begrudge the role God plays in your salvation. Trust God to be good in the use of that mighty power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely . . . for humans, but not God.

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Can We Feel Predestination? — Romans 8:28-9:33

There is an amazing Bible topic called Predestination. It answers some pretty important questions about God and our salvation. Specifically, predestination is suppose to make us feel certain things in our heart and in our faith about God and about our salvation.

I know most people think of predestination as a painful journey in Calvinistic theology, but, God doesn’t handle it that way in the Bible. God doesn’t think this doctrine is hard. To God this doctrine is meant to be a huge blessing. We aren’t suppose to think it first; we are to feel it.

So what are we suppose to feel?

First, we are to feel wrapped up in the everlasting arms of our heavenly Father who is in complete control of everything. Romans 8:28 reminds us that the roller-coaster ride we call life never catches God by surprise. Even sad events are used by God to build our character, return us to prayer and test our submission to the will of God. Predestination means that we can be at peace with our tomorrow because God controls our yesterday, today and tomorrow. Can you feel that? It’s the steady hands of the Lord leading you forward.

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What does Reformed mean?

Our minister preaches and explains the Gospel within a Reformed and Presbyterian theological context. Reverend Locke’s understanding of the Bible is best understood through the word: MONERGISM. How is the Gospel understood from a Monergistic point of view and why does it matter? Monergism: In regeneration, the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ independent of any cooperation from…

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Is FAITH the Good Works Necessary for Heaven? — John 6:22-40

Everyone has an inner desire to draw near to God, but not everyone is drawn by faith. The people in our passage were drawing near to Jesus to get food for their stomachs. Like Simon the magician in Acts 8, they wanted to be a part of the spectacle. John 6:26 Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

Why do we draw near to God? Is it because we think church attendance will magically make our life better? Many people who used to go to church can tell you that isn’t true.

Do we seek God so He will bless our business, our family, our marriage, and our life? Are we seeking the blessing or are we seeking to draw near to Jesus?

Going to church to seek a better life for yourself will leave you empty and cynical. I know this from personal experience while in college. John 6:27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.

Jesus is stamped with the Father’s own divine seal of approval. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Believing and living for Jesus constitutes doing the work of God.

This is a broad definition and very liberating. Everyone can do God’s work wherever they find themselves. We seek Jesus first, and then in faith we do our labors in this world as unto the Lord and not unto men. Our own talents and interests lead us into our hobbies and employment, but our faith in Jesus enables us to do these things for God’s glory and not our own.

My dad used to tell his three sons, “find what you love and learn to make a living at it.”

Jesus would say, “find what you love and by faith glorify and enjoy God with it.”

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Jesus Suffered, But You Are Not Allowed to See!

Jesus cried out “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” And in those three hours of total darkness on the cross Jesus went through what we would have suffered if we had gone to Hell.

He is the only person to ever go through Hell on earth. We must believe this or we miss the message of the Gospel. If Jesus didn’t go through Hell for us then our Hell remains unpaid.

The Gospel says that there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – for Jesus took it all. There is no wrath remaining – for Jesus drank it all.

The Apostle’s Creed includes this theological statement to explain what really happened just before Jesus dismissed His spirit. If it speaks to nothing more than His death and burial then it is redundant. This is the position of John Calvin and the church since the Reformation.

Confessing that Jesus descended into Hell tells us what really happened in the darkness. It is the real story told from God’s perspective. We will never be allowed to peer into this mystery of our salvation because Hell is not for us if we are in Christ.

In Jesus the darkness has lifted. The curse is gone. Death’s stinger broke off inside the flesh of Jesus. The grave holds no victory dance over the dead body of a saint. Hell is not for us.

For on the cross Jesus descended into Hell. Praise His name forever.

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Stories of Faith (Nicodemus) — John 3:1-15

The Bible is filled with people who are apart of God’s redemptive story. What is your story? Do you see yourself in this book? Are you born into God’s family? Are you part of His new creation that He began in the resurrection?

Maybe you have been churched your whole life but never repented and trusted Jesus to save you. Maybe you harbor self-reliance in your heart because of your own good works or religious activities that you hope will be enough to get you into heaven. This false security is no security at all, but rather religious pride. How would you know if you are good enough to see God? When is being good, good enough? When will you be as good as God? Never.

Stop trusting yourself. Jesus has done enough for you to be forgiven. Trust His redemptive work alone.

You don’t need to remain unsure today about your eternal destiny. John the Apostle says that the Bible was written that we might know that we have eternal life. God wants you to know.

Begin your life of faith right now. Say, “Lord, I believe! Help me to believe more.” Chose today to trust the work of Christ to make you ready to live in His heaven forever more. This will be the beginning of your faith story as your life is united with God’s story of redemption.

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