John MacArthur sounds downright Clarkian when he writes that The Truth Is Rational.
There are very few books I can recommend without a single caveat or reservation. Richard Barcellos’ new book, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory, is one of them. Writing in an incredibly clear, straightforward style (unlike so many other theological works these days), Barcellos spells out exactly what his aims are in this book: to demonstrate how the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace to the faith of believers in Jesus Christ. He then proceeds to do exactly that, presenting arguments based on sound exegesis of several Scripture passages. He then turns to historical Reformed Confessions and Catechisms to show that he’s not presenting a novel idea, but rather perhaps reminding his readers of what has often been forgotten. Key points include the meaning of “communion,” how the Spirit applies Christ’s work to our souls, and how prayer (also a means of grace) is crucial to our understanding of the sacraments.
I heartily recommend this book for the following people: students, teachers, pastors, Baptists who want to understand historic Baptist doctrine, PCA members, Roman Catholics, students of biblical Greek, bloggers, anyone who wants to understand the distinction between an “ordinance” and a “sacrament” (it’s probably not what you think), and basically everyone else.
More than a mem’ry
Grace transcending time and space
All should read this book
You can (and should) purchase the book here!
Listen to an interview with the author (featuring me & Jonathan Tomes from The Confessing Baptist) here!
Dr. Robert Norris is Senior Pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD. In November of 2012, Fourth Pres hosted a men’s conference with the theme, “The Great Mystery Unfolded: Examining the Work of the Trinity in our Salvation…Experience…[and] Devotions,” during which Pastor Norris delivered three sermons, each focusing on the work of a particular person of the Godhead in the lives of believers. I have found them to be edifying, reassuring, and comforting, and I recommend them to you.
NOTE: When you click the links and then click the “DOWNLOAD” button, you will see a message that says the file exceeds the maximum size Google Drive will scan. It is okay to click the “DOWNLOAD ANYWAY” button.
Does the doctrine of God’s sovereign predestination mean it doesn’t matter how Christians live? Is holiness merely an option in the life of the believer? By whose power are we conformed to the image of Christ, the Spirit’s or our own? Sinclair Ferguson answers these questions and more in this sermon entitled Predestination and Sanctification.
Dr. Sam Waldron has been posting a thought-provoking series of blog entries dealing with the subjects of the Monarchy of the Father & the Eternal Generation of the Son. You can read them here:
I believe that (1) significant problems have developed among evangelicals since the Enlightenment on the doctrine of the Trinity, (2) these problems directly contributed to an egalitarian or equivalentist view of the Trinity, (3) an understanding of the historical Trinitarianism articulated in the Nicene Creed and its massive, abiding, biblical basis supports the doctrine of eternal generation, (4) the Nicene doctrine of eternal generation is the historical and biblical basis for holding what is (perhaps a little clumsily) called by recent theologians the eternal, functional subordination of the Son, (5) the eternal functional subordination of the Son is consistent with His full and undiluted deity, and finally (6) this Nicene doctrine of Trinity undercuts the fundamental premise of Egalitarianism that equality of nature and subordination of role are inconsistent.
The Nicene Creed asserts, of course, that there are three persons who are God. It also asserts that there is only one God. Thus, the deity of the Son and Spirit is identical to the deity of the Father. The Son is “of one substance with Father” and by implication so is the Spirit.
But when these two truths (that there is one God and that there are three persons who are God) have been stated, the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity has not yet been fully stated. The Creed is at pains to state with incredible repetition and emphasis what we call the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father. Unless we believe this doctrine, we do not believe the Nicene Creed; and we do not—by the standard of the Nicene Creed—hold to the Trinitarianism of historic Christianity. Modern evangelicals need to think about that!
I suspect that many evangelicals today would choke on the very first words of the Nicene Creed—if they are really thought about what they were confessing. Here is the first paragraph of the Nicene Creed: “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”
How far many of us have drifted from historic Trinitarianism is revealed by how queasy these words make us feel when we think about. “Surely,” we think, “The Son is also the Maker of heaven and earth. And does the Nicene Creed really mean to say that there is some distinct sense that we are to identify the Father as God? Does this imply that the Son and Spirit are not God?”
If these kinds of questions and concerns come to us when we really think about what we are confessing in the Nicene Creed, it should make us wonder if we have really understood and whether we entirely hold the historic Trinitarian creed. So what are we missing?
We may be troubled by passages that identify the Father as “the one true God.” Historic Trinitarianism was not. This was because it understood the doctrine sometimes called the monarchy of the Father. While each of the persons of the Trinity possess the entire divine essence and are from their standpoint of their essence self-existent, the same thing is not true for the persons of the Trinity. Each person is eternal but in Nicene Trinitarianism the persons of the Son and Spirit originate from the Father. Thus, later in the Creed it is affirmed that both the persons of the Son and Spirit eternally come from or are derived from the person of the Father. Of the Son it is affirmed that He is “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.” Of the Spirit it is affirmed that He “proceedeth from the Father.” This Nicene doctrine is sometimes called the monarchy of the Father. The term, monarchy, has a meaning which is a little foreign to us. It is Greek and is derived from two words: monos = one or sole and archei = origin or ruler. The Father is one origin of the persons of the Trinity. Thus, the unity of Godhead has a twofold basis. It is grounded both in the unity of the divine essence and in the eternal derivation of the other divine persons from the Father.
If all this seems strange and “Eastern,” it should not. It was the doctrine of Calvin himself.
The immediate objection which students of mine have made to this doctrine over the years is that it implies that the Son is not eternal. They have difficulty putting the concepts of derivation and eternity together. However we may further respond to this natural objection, it is clear that the Nicene Creed had no difficulty in putting these two concepts together. It does so explicitly in the words which follow those we have been discussing: “begotten of the Father before all worlds.” The intent of these words is to stress that the generation of the Son is not temporal (taking place in time), but eternal (taking place before all worlds—the ages of space-time existence.)
All Christians, including Erickson and the Egalitarians, believe that there is subordination in the economy of redemption. We may call this economic subordination. Their mistake is that they think there is only one other kind of subordination—subordination of essence or essential subordination. While they correctly see this kind of subordination to be wrong and false, they do not realize that this is not the kind of subordination implied in the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed actually teaches a third kind of subordination. It is neither economic nor essential subordination. It is the subordination of the persons of the Son and Spirit to the Father. Since the Greek word used to describe a real, personal distinction in the Trinity is hypostasis, we may call this personal or hypostatic subordination. Personal or hypostatic subordination is entirely different than the essential subordination of the Logos Speculation or Logos Christology.
What is a “seal” of a covenant? What was the seal of the Covenant of Works made with Adam? What (or Who?) is the seal of the New Covenant? To whom was circumcision a seal? What did circumcision mean to Abraham and his descendants? In his book, The Divine Covenants, A.W. Pink explores these questions:
“We will now consider the seal which the Lord God made upon the covenant into which He entered with the federal head of our race. This is admittedly the most difficult part of our subject, and for that reason, the least understood in most circles today. So widespread is the spiritual ignorance which now prevails that, in many quarters, to speak of “the seal” of a covenant is to employ an unintelligible term. And yet the seal is an intrinsic part and an essential feature in the various covenants which God made. Hence, our treatment of the Adamic covenant would be quite inadequate and incomplete did we fail to give attention to one of the objects which is given a central place in the brief Genesis record. Mysterious as that object appears, light is cast on it by other passages. Oh, that the Holy Spirit may be pleased to guide us into the truth thereon!
“In discussing the character of the Bible, it is but natural to assign the first place to that great and all-controlling principle of which our Confession says:
We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter saith. And that afterwards God, from a special care which He has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants, the Prophets and Apostles, to commit his revealed Word to writing; and He himself wrote with his own finger the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures” (Art. III, Confessio Belgica).
“The Bible is divinely inspired – that is the one great principle that controls Hermeneutica Sacra. It cannot be ignored with impunity. Any theory of interpretation that disregards it, is fundamentally deficient, and will not be conducive to our understanding of the Bible as the Word of God.
“But the assertion that the Bible is inspired is not sufficiently definite. The meaning of the term “inspiration” is rather indefinite, and requires greater precision. By inspiration we understand that supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Holy Spirit, by virtue of which their writings are given divine truthfulness, and constitute an infallible and sufficient rule of faith and practice. It means, as Dr. Warfield expresses it, that the writers did not work on their own initiative, but “as moved by the divine initiative and borne by the irresistible power of the Spirit of God along ways of his choosing to ends of his appointment.” And when it is said that the writers were guided by the Holy Spirit in writing the books of the Bible, the term “writing” must be taken in a comprehensive sense. It includes the investigation of documents, the collection of facts, the arrangement of the material, the very choice of words, in fact all the processes that enter into the composition of a book” (Principles of Biblical Interpretation, pp. 40-41. Emphasis in italics is Berkhof’s. Emphasis in bold is my own.).