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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Do You Feel Loved by God?

John PiperJohn Piper:

“Do you feel loved by God because you believe He makes much of you, or because you believe He frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of Him?”

The Heresy of Semi-Pelagianism

Augustine and the Pelagian ControversySemi-Pelagianism teaches that man cooperates with the grace that God gives before his conversion, and he has the power to choose grace, contrary to the teachings of Augustine (and more importantly the Apostle Paul). The Semi-Pelagians, in order to align themselves theologically with Christ’s and Paul’s clear teaching on the sinfulness of man, wrote that man was not dead in his natural state, merely sick and he needed some form of Grace and help from God as a prerequisite for salvation. Even though man is fallen and sick, he still has an island of righteousness within him to choose the help of God. Therefore, God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort to keep the law, but rather the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The Semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will.

Semi-Pelagianism destroys God’s grace. Biblical grace must be completely unmerited. It is the freely given favor of God. If man must invite God in before conversion, then God would be responding to the good work of asking Him in. This would be God’s response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace. It is a payment of benefits to the person who has chosen to believe in God by his own free will instead of God’s initial effective call.

THE COUNCIL OF ORANGE (529 AD) asserted in Cannon 5 concerning the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians:

If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

Christ and Practical Logic

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

The behavior of those of whom we read in the Gospels was a rational one. They heard that Christ had healed many, and their practical logic was, “Let us be healed too!” Where is he? Let us reach him. Are there crowds about him? Let us jostle one another, let us force our way into the mass until we touch him, and feel the healing virtue flowing from him. But now men seem to have taken leave of their reason. They know that the blessing is available, an eternal blessing not to be weighed with gold, nor compared with diamonds; and yet they turn their backs upon it! Selfishness usually attracts men to places where good things are to be gained; but here is the best thing of all – the possession of a sound soul, the gaining of a new nature which will enable a man to share eternal glory with angels of light -which is freely available, yet man, being untrue to himself, does not even let a right-minded selfishness govern him, turns away from the fountain of all goodness and goes into the wilderness to perish of eternal thirst. (Advice for Seekers)

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