Tell Me Yours

Before we jump in together on this list, two things that inspired it and finally made me write it.

First, the album Crimson Cord by Propaganda has a song of similar style and idea. I know poetry isn’t my thing, so you get this instead. But if you want to know the soundtrack of my college years up until now, it’s probably every Prop album ever.

Second, there’s the painfully awkward moment after preaching where people tell you how good you did. It’s awkward because early on it feels like a tightrope between humility and arrogance, thankfulness and not wanting to take credit. I’ve learned to just say “thank you so much, glad you enjoyed it” but truth be told, I didn’t learn and grow up in a vaccum. So for every time I say “thank you” What I really mean is this:

I’m by no means looking for thank yous or high fives either, I didn’t earn them. I’m just a servant. But you can thank every person in every church my dad ever pastored. They put up with a smart mouth, Bible know it all, or so I thought. Thanks for the cool houses and for giving my parents a chance.

You can thank the city of Texarkana. The place where for the first year I hated because I was sick of moving as a kid. I remember not wanting to go to school, because I was socially awkward and didn’t know anybody. But even now it’s the city that beats my heart. You can thank every member of Richmond Road Baptist Church from 2000 until present day. I’ve only known love like that in maybe one other church in my whole life. You can thank John Lewis, who saw I had the ability to teach, and gave me opportunities to lead. It was the first time I realized I could preach the Gospel full time and still have fun.

You can thank Coach Bill Keopple and Kris Nichols. They are the meanest men I’ve ever known in my life, and I would even now run through a brick wall for either of them. Thank Audrey Wright for showing me what good writing was, and Matt Coleman for showing I could do it. These two English teachers showed me writing and reading will get you a long way in life. Thank Marsha Petty, who’s chemistry class I hated but she told every student that we were smart enough to succeed. I remembered that in college.

Go thank Dr. Porter and Dr. Slayton, who put up with my Cage stage Calvinism, and loved me enough to let me think I had it all figured out. Thank Dr. Jameson, who told me I was never wrong to ask questions, just wrong in the way I asked them. Go thank Dr. Thomas for telling me “you know how to preach” when I wasn’t so sure anymore. Please go thank Ann G and Corley. Thanks for giving me a radio show, I know that wasn’t easy. Thanks to Dr. New, who I should’ve paid much more attention to in class. Thanks to Nathan Brewer, Jose, Zach, David, Danny, Tyler, most people in my Bible classes. I appreciate the discussions. You guys were a huge encouragement. Thank Alex Geiger, who told me I was the wokest  Reformed guy he ever met.

Go thank Brooke and Maegan for breaking my heart. He whom God would use mightily, He wounds deeply. They were good knives of Soverign wounding. I would’ve never met Allyson, who looked me straight in my eyes in Kroger and said what those two never would: “I’m going with you no matter what happens.” She’s the steel in my spine when I don’t want to keep going. She’s taught me more about grace and love than anyone else. I love you babe.

Please go thank Donny Parrish, who called me a “preaching snob” for wanting the Gospel preached in Chapel. I decided to pick that badge up and wear it forever. That day I decided the Gospel was all I ever needed to be successful. Please thank who ever snitched me out and told the Church in Cassvile, MO I frequent bars. You guys changed my life for the better that day, though I didn’t know it then, I see it now. Thanks for showing me that the grass is greener in other pastures. Thank you.

Please thank Brent and Mack Nelson for giving me far more than a room to crash in for six months while I got my life back together. You’re the best friends I could have.

You can go thank Kevin Hale for kicking my butt, loving me like a brother, then repeating the process. Thank you for loving my arrogance out of me. Thank you for challenging me.

Go thank Lynn and Marilyn, CJ and Roland, Catie and Andrew, Bekah and John. Distance only makes the heart grow fonder. Thank Nathan, for always being my favorite pitcher, partner in crime, best heckler at games. You’re tough as nails, and no one can tell me otherwise. Play hard have fun.

Whatever you do, go thank Tanya. She always taught me how to be responsible. Who listened to the same Peter Pan movie day after day. Go tell her “you did it”. She drove me crazy during my teen years, but all she ever wanted was for me to be a man. Thanks, Mom.

But please, go grab Jerry. Get some salsa, or whatever else he’s making and thank him for teaching me about humility and strength. Thank him for all the Razorback games, all the music he ever sang. Thank him for showing me that manhood is not what feats you can accomplish, the the reputation of your name. Thank him for showing me the only way one stands in the pulpit is humbly. Thank him for all the jokes, the impressions, and movies that bust my sides each time we get together. Thanks for loving me enough to share the Gospel with me so I finally got it. You’re who I’ve always wanted to grow up to be.


The God of Boring Conversions

Maybe it’s my Evangelical, Missionary Baptist upbringing, but I’ve always loathed my boring testimony.  When I was a pre-teen, I went to church camp pretty regular. Every night there was some sort of late night activity: movie night, skit night, musical night, etc. But one year, we were greeted with “testimony night”. What happens is people get up, and in front of everyone , tell about who they were before getting saved and who they are now. This by the way is what introverts think of when they imagine what Hell will be like. Either publicly confessing all your sins so that every stranger in a crowded room of peers and adults know your darkest secrets or an eternity of Stand and Greet Your Neighbor Time and you don’t know anyone.

I never got up. Not just because it’s terrifying but also because I didn’t have a very good testimony. It’s boring. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely come to a place where I’ve realized that I am a sinner and without Christ, lost without hope. I’m just saying if you are asking for a total black and white transformation I don’t think I can promise you that.

Because I’ve always been in the church.

My parents raised me in a Christian home where we always prayed, we always heard the Gospel. We went to church every Sunday without fail. I don’t remember a time not knowing I was a sinner. Seriously, I’ve always understood that Christ died for me. I made a profession of faith at seven. Seven year olds don’t usually have radical stories of transformation when they’ve grown up in the Church. Sure, I coveted my friend’s Veggie Tale collection, but I by no means was a pagan. And because of that background, my teen years weren’t this rebellious time of hedonism. Again, by no means was I perfect. My parents will be the first to tell you I wasn’t. But I also wouldn’t call my Christian walk a radical transformation.

Flash forward to my Bible college years, and I’m in my bedroom my junior year, sitting there in the near dark thinking, “Am I really a Christian? Has Christ really saved me? I know I’m a sinner and I have nowhere outside of Christ to go. But this radical transformation thing? I don’t have it. I’ve always been here.”

Here’s what I was missing: God is a God of boring salvation too. Yes, there are times when He redeems people like He does Paul (Acts 9); a great black and white difference. He shows up on the Damascus road, rocks our world, shows us our sin and that Christ died for us and keeps us by faith. Sometimes, salvation comes out of nowhere and people are radically changed. And for these we should be grateful. They are great stories of God who goes and saves His people out of their bondage.

But sometimes, God is a God to us and to our children. Sometimes, He is just keeping His covenant promises. He doesn’t need a Damascus road but, rather puts us in families where, like Timothy, we’ve always known the Scriptures. I was born into a family where I would always hear the Gospel. That wasn’t chance, God is sovereign in His redemption. Instead of saying, “Oh He is a great redeemer!” I’m rather struck by looking back and seeing His strong arm to protect me. I could marvel forever at His ongoing faithfulness to keep me when I do sin. As the hymn Abide With Me says,

“Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.”

So if you, dear Christian, would doubt God’s faithfulness to you on the grounds that your conversion isn’t flashy enough, let me encourage you. God saves the rebel. He most certainly does. But He also saves His covenant children. You don’t need get a better story, but to get one more look at Christ.

Christocrat 2: No, Taxation isn’t Theft


I get it. As someone who used to consider myself a libertarian at one point, I get where you’re coming from. You don’t like paying taxes, and the government shouldn’t force you to pay them. And I know it’s edgy and cool for the memelord libertarians to remind everybody of what they think about our current tax structure; especially considering that everybody is focused on paying their taxes right now. But as far as those Christian brothers and sisters who consider themselves libertarian, we need to chat. Because I don’t think you can prove your “taxation is theft” Biblically. In fact I think if you take your premise to its furthest conclusion, you’ll find that your statement is far from what is Biblically acceptable.

First off, let’s just start with the obvious: Scripture doesn’t say that it is. Nowhere in Scripture are taxes equated with theft. They just aren’t. Often in Scripture other sins are equated with another. Hated is equated with murder. Lust is equated with adultery. But never do we see taxation as equated with theft. In fact when asked “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar,” Christ has a chance to outright condemn it. Here it is. Black (or Red) and white for all of us to know for sure. But Christ doesn’t condemn taxation. Rather, He calls for His believers to “render unto Caesar.”

Now of course some will say, “But how much is Caesar’s? What’s the percentage?” But listen to the heart of the question. The heart is not concerned with obedience to God and submission to the governing authorities that He has set in place. Rather it is like the nervous high school student during a True Love Waits lesson in Wednesday Night Youth lesson: What can I get away with? This is not what we are called to practice. Rather, it is putting our political desires above the Word of God.

Not only is Scripture silent on the morality of taxation itself, it does not condemn those tax collectors who collect fairly. Stick with me, we’re about to connect the dots real quick. Let’s assume the Libertarian manta is Biblically true. I’m going to give you this as a test of validity: Taxation is theft. What does that make tax collectors? Thieves. That’s the simple answer. Now we have an instance (Luke 3:12) where Tax collectors come to John the Baptizer and ask him, “What should we do?” or to modernize it, “How should we live?” So here it is, the thieves have come to John and asked them what to do. But John doesn’t tell them, “Get a new job” but rather to collect only what is owed. Don’t lie or swindle people to line your own pockets. So does John excuse sin? Does he advise people to willfully continue breaking the Ten Commandments? Christ does a similar thing in Luke 19:1-10. He doesn’t admonish the tax collector to leave his job. Rather he says that salvation has come to his house. Does Christ excuse or justify blatant sin? Either taxation is theft or Christ is OK with sinners continuing to sin. You decide how you want to answer that question.

Until then, Paul writes to us to pay our taxes because God has placed the government over us (Rom 13:7) I know that’s not fun for the libertarian to hear. I know it’s hard. The mantra is dead. Taxation isn’t theft. Maybe it’s time we give it up for a more Biblical understanding of our duty to each other.

Resources for “God’s Spirit-filled Church”


As some of you may know, I have endeavored to preach through the first five chapters of Acts at my church, Mount Carmel CP Church. So, I thought I would give a short word about the resources that I’ve been using to help me tackle this endeavor.

Acts for Everyone, Part One: Chapters 1-12 by N.T. Wright
This has been a tremendous resource for me. N.T. Wright has firm grasp on the history of the first century church. It’s almost as if he puts you there in the upper room with the followers of Jesus as they decide how they’re going to proceed with picking a replacement for Judas Iscariot.

I realize that Wright has his naysayers among the Reformed community for his views on Justification, but whatever. If you can’t enjoy the truth that he brings to the table without tossing out the parts where he’s off then you’re pretty much like a kid who has to eat McNuggets all the time cause he’ll choke on a chicken leg from Popeye’s.


Exalting Jesus in Acts by Tony Merida


It doesn’t matter what book it covers, the Christ-Centered Exposition series is a commentary set that’s made by the preacher for the preacher.

These commentaries, particularly the one over Acts, will help you break down a text in a digestible way so that you’re not giving people a bulk of information and no way to process it.

Forgive the second food reference, but it’s like giving someone a huge steak and telling them that they have to eat it with their hands in two bites. The Christ-Centered Exposition series gives you a knife and fork to work with so that you can break down the text and see the Gospel clearly on each page.


The Age of the Spirit by Phyllis Tickle

ageofthespiritAlthough this isn’t a commentary over Acts, Phyllis Tickle, and her co-author, Jon Sweeney, do an excellent job of documenting the controversy surrounding the deity of the Holy Spirit, and how not much as changed over the last hundreds years.

This has been a helpful resource to me as someone who is trying to communicate the ancient truth about the Holy Spirit into a post-modern culture that only thinks of the Holy Spirit as some kind of impersonal force or power that was harnessed by the mystics of old.

As a couple of honorable mentions, I would like to also briefly talk about Jesus Continued by JD Greear and Rediscovering the Holy Spirit by Michael Horton. Horton’s book is easily 10x more academic than JD’s, but both are very helpful in understanding the deity and purpose of the Holy Spirit. I would say that JD’s book is more for someone who is new to the faith and would like more than just a base knowledge of the Holy Spirit, and Horton’s book is for the academic looking for something to mentally wrestle with, but all in all, I highly recommend both and find both of them helpful in articulating the importance of viewing the Holy Spirit correctly through the lens of Scripture.

Of course, there’s been some other sources that I’ve been using online such as, but those have been my “go to” books for this series, and if you plan on preaching or studying through the book of Acts I hope you’ll find these resources just as useful as I have.

Dynamic? Yes. Pastor? No


While I can appreciate Logan taking up the topic of women in ministry, I found his arguments to be lacking. Do understand, he is my friend and we write together frequently. He told me what he was going to do and as the new Lead Contributor I would not be accused of censoring my friends. The beauty of Late Night Theology is that we all come from different backgrounds and there is room to peacefully disagree. I’m not saying this for his sake (he knew I was going to respond) but rather for yours, dear reader. Don’t think that disagreements mean that everything’s splitting up; this is just an exercise. A good sparring match does the body good.

But I cannot agree with him here. We could not be more different.

Logan contends that women should be allowed to the pastorate for three reasons.

  1. There were dynamic female leaders in Scripture
  2. There were dynamic female leaders in Church History.
  3. We can raise up dynamic leaders in the church today.

These are all interesting points and I’ll say this much: He’s not wrong on the premise. Yes, all three of these are true. Yes there have been dynamic female leaders in the Scriptures. Yes Phoebe, Priscilla, Lydia, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of Christ, Junia, Deborah, the Psalm 31 woman, Esther, Sarah, and Rahab all were faithful dynamic women in the Scriptures. To say otherwise is to ignore what Scriptures says. This is why I don’t understand those who would say that Scripture oppresses women. It does not treat these women as if they are “lesser”. To say so is to flat deny what Scripture plainly says.

And yes, there have been dynamic women in Church History. Katherine von Bora, Idelette Calvin, Fanny J Crosby and so much more were bulwarks in their own theological right. To say otherwise would deny the historical reality that we know to be true.

And of course, we can raise up dynamic female leaders today. Yes there should female theologians. Yes there should be female thinkers and doers. Yes women are fully capable to lead and serve the Church in grandiose and dynamic ways. To say otherwise is to treat our sisters as incapable. I cannot stand when pompous seminarians and Bible majors talk down to women in their classes. Most of my theology classes at CBC had women in them. Yes, they were brilliant. Yes they had a different view on niche, open handed discussions. Different isn’t bad. One of my first sermons as a Presbyterian, I asked a woman in the congregation what she thought about a certain line. She helped me clarify a point in my sermon. If we don’t listen to women in our churches we are ignoring possibly half of our congregations.


Those dynamic women in Scripture weren’t pastors or preachers. Yes they were helpful, dynamic, and led in serving the Church. That doesn’t make them pastors and doesn’t justify doing so. Scripture doesn’t give us that room. To ignore what Paul writes in Timothy is foolish. What else will we choose to ignore? Or will we let culture be our guide? Away with this! Reformed theology hangs on the doctrine of the authority of Scripture.

1 Corinthians 12:14–25

[14] For the body does not consist of one member but of many. [15] If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. [16] And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. [17] If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? [18] But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. [19] If all were a single member, where would the body be? [20] As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

[21] The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” [22] On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, [23] and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, [24] which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, [25] that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (ESV)”

We cannot say that we don’t need women in the church. That is foolish. But there is a liberty to serve. If a woman wants to serve the Church, she should be praised. But one does not need a title in order to serve. The title does not make the work more or less important. The pastor is not more important to the body as those who serve in the nursery.

So yes we should raise up dynamic female leaders. Yes we should encourage their giftings. Absolutely, we should encourage them to wrestle with the same theological truths. But we should not ignore the Scripture’s prohibition of women pastors just to give women a place to lead

Free Will: A (Brief) Theological Discourse

Free Will

The argument often goes a little something like this: “Calvinists can’t believe in free-will because humans are just robots.” But is this a proper understanding of free will? In this article I intend to highlight and explain three points: 1) the freedom of the will pre-fall  2) the freedom of the will post-fall and 3) the logical conclusion of the Reformed understanding (in contrast to that of the Arminian/Traditional understanding)

The Freedom of the Will Pre-fall

Man was created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” among the other implications of being made in the image of God, mankind was made with a will that was “good and well-pleasing to God, but yet unstable, so that he might fall from it.” (LBCF 9.2) This will is the primary thing that distinguishes humanity from animals and the rest of creation. By this will Adam and Eve were able to be obedient to their Creator, and ultimately they could have obtained an eternal, perfect standing by their obedience. But you will notice the last phrase of the above quoted portion of the London Baptist Confession, “but yet unstable, so that he might fall from it.” Adam and Eve had the complete, unhindered ability to obey God and all of His commands, but consequently they also had the ability to disobey God– and that is exactly what they did.

For the sake of argumentation, I would like to point out one thing: if Adam and Eve were not created with a will that was “unstable” then they would in that case be nothing more than robots. But God, in His perfect knowledge, created man with a will that was initially pure and appeasing to Him yet was free to rebel against what He had commanded.

Exercising their free will they blatantly disregarded God’s command to not eat of the tree of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:6). Doing so they plunged themselves and all of future humanity into a state of spiritual deadness. They made the most costly mistake that any human could ever make: they rejected God in favor of sin. Immediately after they sinned, Adam and Eve experienced the punishment for their wrong-doing. “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” (Genesis 3:7) As soon as they ate of the fruit their eyes were opened, they knew they were naked and God banished them from the garden. Even amid the fall of mankind there was mercy.

The Freedom of the Will Post-fall

I noted earlier that when Adam and Eve sinned, they plunged all of humanity into a state of spiritual deadness. This is why Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.” At this point we must clarify what is meant by the term “free will”. I have no doubt that every evangelical Christian will agree that Adam and Eve were created with a free will, the debate arises when we talk about the state of their will after the fall.
So what do I (and other Reformed believers) mean when we speak of having (or not having) a free will? The London Baptist Confession, the Westminster Confession, Savoy Declaration, and the Philadelphia Confession all state the same thing concerning the state of man’s will. It goes as follows: “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto” (9.3). At this point let’s clear something up. Reformed theology does not teach that after the fall mankind was stripped void of their free will. Rather the proper understanding is stated clearly in the Second Helvetic Confession of Faith,

To be sure, his reason was not taken from him, nor was he deprived of will, and he was not entirely changed into a stone or a tree. But they were so altered and weakened that they no longer can do what they could before the fall. For the understanding is darkened, and the will which was free has become an enslaved will. Now it serves sin, not unwillingly but willingly. And indeed, it is called a will, not an unwill (ing). [Etenim voluntas, non noluntas dicitur.]”

So after the fall man was enslaved to sin. Mankind still has a will, an altered and weakened will. This is evidenced by the fact that even unregenerate people still do good deeds. What sinful man can’t do is save himself. That is the heart of the argument. Free-will Baptists and other Arminian/Arminian-leaning groups embrace (whether explicitly or implicitly) a line of thought that says that man contributes at least something to his salvation. This is known as synergism. The counter-point is known as monergism. Monergism is the line of thought that says that God is the sole contributor to the salvation of mankind. This is the logical conclusion of Ephesians 2:1. As cliché as it is, dead men can not choose.

The Logical Conclusion of the Reformed Understanding (in contrast to that of the Arminian/Traditional understanding)

This may seem like a dark, sad and gloomy concept but seen in the proper light and context, it is actually a very glorious thing. Calvinism is most basically summed up in the acrostic T.U.L.I.P. Because of the fall of Adam, sin’s effect extends to the last particle of man. We are totally depraved.

Due to us being totally depraved and unable to save ourselves God must do the saving. God does this by electing, unconditionally, certain individuals. We see this most clearly in Romans 9:11-12 when Paul recounts the Old Testament story of the birth of Jacob and Esau in order to illustrate the doctrine of divine election. Paul says that this election done before either were born and wasn’t based on their works. This then contradicts the false notion that God looked out into the future to see whether or not certain individuals would choose Christ and then God bases His election on that decision. Because we are totally depraved the election of persons must be unconditional, otherwise salvation would be works-based.

If we are totally depraved, it follows that election must be unconditional. With election being unconditional it then follows that the atonement must be limited. There is a substantial amount of people who claim the title “Calvinist” who hold to what is sometimes known as Amyraldism, or four-point Calvinism (for more on this view you can read this article). If Christ died for all men, but not all men are saved, then did Christ fail? What about if Christ’s death made everyone “savable” (like Amyraldism argues) but still not everyone is saved, did Christ fail? Universalism does not satisfy the Biblical testament because we all know of people who rejected Christ until their last fleeting breath. Amyraldism also doesn’t satisfy because it poses a hypothetical redemption that, given God’s character as revealed in Scripture, is a logical fallacy. It is illogical to think that the God who meticulously and sovereignly orchestrated every single detail of time would suddenly become lax when it comes to salvation. However, the Reformed doctrine of Limited Atonement not only flows flawlessly with the other four points of TULIP, but more importantly it is consistent with the Biblical testament.

It is here that I would like to interject that the term “limited atonement” is not the most helpful term. I believe that most people who disagree with this point of the TULIP do so not because they disagree with what is actually meant, but that they don’t fully understand what is meant because the term is a bit vague. I personally prefer the term definite atonement (others would prefer particular atonement) . Please don’t misunderstand me, “limited” is a very valid and useful term and the atonement is limited in its effect and scope– to the elect. Both Matthew 1:21 and John 10:15 convey the idea that Christ died for a particular people. In Isaiah 53 the prophet speaks of “God’s people” and bearing the sins of “many”. Perhaps the biggest problem that any view of the atonement, aside from Limited Atonement, must address is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Would Christ become sin for people who would never profess His name? I think not! Therefore, the atonement must be limited.

If we are totally depraved and election is unconditional, the atonement is limited then God’s grace must be irresistible. At this point some people contend that Calvinism at this point presents a God who forces humans into salvation. This, however, is not the case. Because of our spiritual deadness we need God to soften our hearts– and that is exactly what Irresistible Grace is. If you remember Saul’s conversion story, you’ll remember just how hard his heart was. He was undeniably opposed to the God of Christianity. But something spectacular happened to him. On his way to Damascus God showed up. After that brief encounter, Saul left a changed man. When a sinner encounters God the only option is change. The Spirit draws those whom the Father has called and who Jesus died for. This is plain Biblical teaching. In John 1:13 we are taught that rebirth is not by “the will of the flesh” with the point being that regeneration is only done by the working of the Spirit.

The key to all of this is recognizing our state and our need for salvation. The purpose of this post is to defend a Biblical understanding of free will, and this point is where this excurses on TULIP comes to a climax. If the understanding that sinful men can “choose” Christ is true, then the opposite is true– a regenerate man could become “unregenerate”. Doesn’t this fly directly in the face of passages that speak of security? Let us now turn our thoughts towards the last letter of the acronym.

As we have seen, the first four points of Calvinism are each links in a chain that logically fit together in order. The last point is Perseverance of the Saints. Perhaps the most explicit text in defense of this doctrine is John 10:28 (for a great expositional sermon on this text, listen to this sermon by my pastor). Believers are secure in the hands of the Father. Nothing, not famine, not tribulation, or distress, nothing at all can separate us from Christ! Because believers are elected in Christ, and Christ purchased the salvation of the elect, the elect are secure! If it were left up to sinful men, not only would men choose to forsake God for the sinful desires of their hearts, they would live their lives daily in rejection of God. We need God to hold us tightly in His hands.


As we have seen, man was created in the image of God which included a will completely free, yet mutable. As a result of this freedom man chose sin over obedience. This choice cursed all of creation and damned every future human soul. It is completely by grace that any human is pulled from the fiery pits of hell and shown mercy! If it were not solely of grace, every human would be destined for hell. Calvinism, in my estimation, presents a robust and thoroughly biblical lens by which to properly understand the doctrine of free will. Free will is intrinsically tied to soteriology, and as such the way you understand one will determine the other. No matter where you fall on the soteriology/free will spectrum, whether you are an Arminian, Calvinist, Molinist or some other -ist, the words of my pastor are profoundly useful: “It is ok to let the tension of Scripture stand.”- Dan Smetana

At the end of the day every believer can give a hearty “amen” to the Psalmist when he says “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Psalms 3:8).

There Is A River: One of Spurgeon’s Gems in the Treasury of David


“There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.”
– Psalm 46:4, NKJV

The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon is laced with many a gem. The following is once such a gem in commentary over the 46th psalm.

There is a river. Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilising, full, and never failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers. This is the river of the water of life, of which the church above as well as the church below partakes evermore. It is no boisterous ocean, but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it follows its serene course without disturbance. Happy are they who know from their own experience that there is such a river of God. The streams whereof in their various influences, for they are many, shall make glad the city of God, by assuring the citizens that Zion’s Lord will unfailingly supply all their needs. The streams are not transient like Cherith, nor muddy like the Nile, nor furious like Kishon, nor treacherous like Job’s deceitful brooks, neither are their waters “naught” like those of Jericho, they are clear, cool, fresh, abundant, and gladdening. The great fear of an Eastern city in time of war was lest the water supply should be cut off during a siege; if that were secured the city could hold out against attacks for an indefinite period. In this verse, Jerusalem, which represents the church of God, is described as well supplied with water, to set forth the fact that in seasons of trial all sufficient grace will be given to enable us to endure unto the end. The church is like a well ordered city, surrounded with mighty walls of truth and justice, garrisoned by omnipotence, fairly built and adorned by infinite wisdom: its burgesses the saints enjoy high privileges; they trade with far off lands, they live in the smile of the King; and as a great river is the very making and mainstay of a town, so is the broad river of everlasting love, and grace their joy and bliss. The church is peculiarly the City of God, of his designing, building, election, purchasing and indwelling. It is dedicated to his praise, and glorified by his presence. The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. This was the peculiar glory of Jerusalem, that the Lord within her walls had a place where he peculiarly revealed himself, and this is the choice privilege of the saints, concerning which we may cry with wonder, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” To be a temple for the Holy Ghost is the delightful portion of each saint, to be the living temple for the Lord our God is also the high honour of the church in her corporate capacity. Our God is here called by a worthy title, indicating his power, majesty, sublimity, and excellency; and it is worthy of note that under this character he dwells in the church. We have not a great God in nature, and a little God in grace; no, the church contains as clear and convincing a revelation of God as the works of nature, and even more amazing in the excellent glory which shines between the cherubim overshadowing that mercy seat which is the centre and gathering place of the people of the living God. To have the Most High dwelling within her members, is to make the church on earth like the church in heaven.

Here we see that the city of God is Christ’s Church, and the river of God is God’s Spirit. The Spirit gladdens the Church just as the river gladdens the city.