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But what is more especially found fault with, in the singing that is now practised, is making use of hymns of human composure. I am far from thinking that the book of Psalms should be thrown by in our public worship, but that it should always be used in the Christian church to the end of the world: but I know of no obligation we are under to confine ourselves to it. I can find no command or rule of God’s word that does any more confine us to the words of the Scripture in our singing, than it does in our praying; we speak to God in both. And I can see no reason why we should limit ourselves to such particular forms of words, that we find in the Bible, in speaking to him by way of praise, in metre, and with music, than when we speak to him in prose, by way of prayer and supplication. And it is really needful that we should have some other songs besides the Psalms of David. It is unreasonable to suppose that the Christian church should for ever, and even in times of her greatest light, in her praises of God and the Lamb, be confined only to the words of the Old Testament, wherein all the greatest and most glorious things of the gospel, that are infinitely the greatest subjects of her praise, are spoken of under a veil, and not so much as the name of our glorious Redeemer ever mentioned, but in some dark figure, or as hid under the name of some type. And as to our making use of the words of others, and not those that are conceived by ourselves, it is no more than we do in all our public prayers; the whole worshipping assembly, excepting one only, makes use of the words that are conceived by him who speaks for the rest.
Second. The Psalms themselves call us to sing “a new song” (e.g. Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1). I have heard that some say that this “new song” refers to a new song in the Psalms. But, Psalm 149:1, at the end of the Psalter could not refer to this. Songs are responses to what God has done or will do, as prayers are words of communication springing from the heart to God. We have a lot of prayers in the Bible, but we do not confine ourselves to their wording, so why should we do so for songs? John Gill, commenting on Psalm 149:1, says:
sing unto the Lord a new song; for a new mercy received, a new victory obtained, or a new salvation wrought; more particularly the new song of redeeming grace through Jesus Christ, the song of the Lamb, in distinction from the old song of Moses and the children of Israel at the Red sea, on account of their deliverance, which was typical of salvation by Christ, the oldest, being the first song we read of; but this is a new one, which none but the redeemed of the Lamb can sing; a song suited to Gospel times, ...
The Controversy Over Free Will
Although read in Dutch I’ve was motivated to get this work by watching RC Sproul’s teaching series on the book called Willing to Believe. It helped understand the issues surround the question of human freedom and sovereignty. I remember that it was not much later than that I was studying Jonathan Edwards’ The Freedom of the Will, which was somewhat difficult.
In this great work this master theologian gives a historical theological study of important theologians throughout the history of the Christian church on the question of human freedom. He goes through some Christian heroes and giants of the faith like Augustine, Edwards, Luther and Calvin. Also some who were non-Christian and anti-Christian in their theology and thinking like Charles Finney and Pelagius. Lastly, theologians who belong more to the in house debate between Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism and Calvinism, like Jacob Arminius himself.
Pelagius was a British monk living in the fifth century and he is known to have a huge dispute with Augustine on the nature of man and free will. Pelagius reacted to a seemingly harmless prayer of Augustine which said: Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire. Harmless doesn’t it? Well, that’s not what Pelagius thought. He thought it outrages, because it showed man’s total dependence on God to graciously grant the ability to obey Him. Pelagius believed that commandment presupposes ability. What many nowadays believe. He said that God would never command something that man was not able to do. Therefore, everything that God commands man is able to do. So, away with Romans 8:7-8.
He further taught that Adam was in no sense the federal head of the human race. Adam was created mortal and would have died even if he didn’t sin. All men are born in the state that Adam was in. Adam gave man bad influence, not a sinful nature otherwise known as Original Sin.
He taught that the nature of man was basically good and that sinning didn’t effect that basic goodness of man.
Man has a free will to do good or evil and to obey God in all things.
Jesus’ death was not substitionary, but it was as an example for us.
People can live sinless lives, and in fact some have lived sinless lives.
The grace of God is important, but not essential. What I mean is that it would be awesome if one uses the grace of God for obedience, it will make things much easier, but it is even possible to obey without the grace of God.
This among other things are the things that he believed. I think, for any serious Bible student, they must conclude that this places him outside of Christian orthodoxy. Pelagius and his teachings were condemned in 418 and you would think that it will be the last thing heard of Pelagius, but then arises Charles Finney many centuries later in America.
Charles Finney taught things very similar to Pelagius. In fact, he was more Pelagian than Pelagius.
He rejected the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which is the heart of the Gospel message.
He rejected the penal substitionary atonement of Christ in place of the believers. He posed the Governmental and Moral Influence theories of the atonement. He taught that all that was needed for conversion was good argumentation and persuasion. His influence is seen in the decisional evangelism/regeneration of our day, when peopl...
Their Worm Does Not Die And Weeping
The Lord Jesus speaks about the worm not dying in the fire, which He borrows from Isaiah 66:24. The Lord Jesus describes Hell as a place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). Even the worm, which is so fragile, will not die in the unquenchable fire, i.e., it will not cease to exist, how much more the wicked? The worm will always have something to feast on. The Pulpit Commentary says: “The metaphor is very striking as well as awful. Ordinarily the worm feeds upon the disorganized body, and then dies. The fire consumes the fuel, and then itself expires. But here the worm never dies; the fire never goes out.” Robert A. Peterson says that the Lord Jesus “points to the activity of worms and fire in this life to teach figuratively about the life to come. All maggots die when they consume their prey and exhaust their fuel. All fires go out when they run their course and exhaust their fuel. Jesus says that the worms and fires of hell, by contrast, will never run out of fuel; the worm of the wicked is undying and the fire of hell is not quenched. That is, hell knows no end.”
The condition of those in Hell is also described as those weeping and gnashing their teeth (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). The first expresses their pains and sorrows, and the second their rage and anger because of these pains. This is the experience of those in Hell. It is not the experience of annihilation, but of continued pain in the place where the fire does not go out (Mark 9:43). These verses indicate that their continued existence is that of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Charles J. Ellicott notes on Matthew 8:12 that ‘Both words in the Greek have the emphasis of the article, “the weeping” par excellence...In their literal meaning they express that intensest form of human anguish in which it ceases to be articulate. The latter word, or rather the cognate verb, is used also to express rage (Act. 7:54). Their spiritual meaning we naturally connect with the misery of those who are excluded from the joy and blessedness of the completed kingdom, and that is, doubtless, what they ultimately point to.’ Albert Barnes likewise writes on the same passage: “The image expresses the fact that the wicked who are lost will be shut out from the light of heaven, and from peace, and joy,...
This faith is worked in us through the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who regenerates us and gives us new life (John 3:5-8) by which faith comes (1John 5:1). Regeneration precedes faith. The Spirit uses the Word of God preached to us in the Gospel. The Gospel proclamation goes out and the Spirit uses the Gospel proclamation to draw the elect to the Son (John 6:44, 63). 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says that God called us through the Gospel. The Lord did not merely elect a people and leave them. No, He goes out and through the Gospel preachers/witnesses draws them to the Son in faith and repentance. Peter writes:
1Pet 1:22-23 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
It is through the Word of God that regeneration came and we became Christians. It is not without the Gospel that we became Christians. But it is through the Spirit of God working on our hearts in many ways through Bible reading, discussions and the proclamation of the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation among other things that God saves us. Peter says that "this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1Pet. 1:25). It is through the Gospel that the Sovereign Lord chooses to work.
Means Appointed For the Strengthening of our Faith
It is common sense and obvious I believe that things like Bible reading/study, the ordinances, namely—the Lord's Supper and Baptism, prayer, fellowship with other believers are means through which our faith grows stronger. Bible reading, Bible study, the preaching of the Word are obviously the highest means which God has appointed and given to us for the strengthening of our faith. As we know more and more about the God who loves us, saved us and preserves us, and see His faithful dealings with people of the past, our faith and trust becomes stronger in the God whom we love. We will learn how to practice our faith and depend on Him as ones like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, Peter, Paul and so on. In the Lord's Supper (chapter 30) we come to remember what Christ the Lord has done for our salvation. That He died on the cross to take away our sin from us and give us His righteousness. He left us a sign and a remembrance of His offer on the cross. As we participate in the Lord's Supper, we are then spiritually and by faith communing with the living Christ. It is not possible to commune with the living Christ through faith and yet our faith remain unchanged. In baptism (chapter 29), we declare that we are unashamed followers of the Lord Christ. We make it our aim to obey and please Him by doing ...
God orders every event in such a way that He is sovereign over every step, yet at the same time, the second cause agent is not being coerced to do anything against their desire, but out their own desires and freedom carries whatever God has from all eternity decreed. We may not understand how this is done, but I believe that such is the testimony of Scripture. It is not for me to understand how the two work together, rather, it is for me to believe that it is such if I see both in Holy Writ. On a personal level, there is no truth that I cherish more than knowing the Triune God and knowing Him as the only Sovereign. It is not merely “in the head” doctrine, but it is a doctrine that I praise God for, cherish and find comfort in daily.
Some years ago, I came across the Doctrines of Grace through the Facebook page called Reformed Memes Daily and I remember seeing something from Romans 9:18. I was amazed that the Bible had such things to say and wanted to study this issue. Apparently, I had not read that passage before. It was not easy, but I promised God that I would believe anything that His Word teaches, no matter how painful. Through my study, I tried to collect as many verses as possible in regard to God's sovereignty as are relevant and that I could find from daily Bible reading and other books. More about my journey can be read here. The document where I put these verses was the reason that this website was made; it is found here.
What I will seek to provide below is a case for God's absolute control of everything, thus justifying paragraph 1 of this chapter. Here we will touch on issues which are relevant to chapter 5, Of God's Providence, but we will direct the interested reader from chapter 5 back to paragraph 1 of chapter 3. Under the section General Sovereignty, I will deal with texts which speak of God's sovereignty over history and His counsel. Under Particular Sovereignty, I will try to deal with God's sovereignty over specific things such as evil and human actions. By no means is this an extensive case or discussion of God's absolute sovereignty, but I believe that it is nonetheless a decent biblical case for it.
First, let's start with verses about God’s Lordship over the world.
Neh. 9:6 You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, t...