Notes on Hebrews 4:3-10

For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest1: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works2. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God3. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

  • 1. Ps 95:11
  • 2. Gen 2:2
  • 3. Matt 11:28-29

Contextual Background: The author is here writing to Hebrew Christians who are in a very real danger of turning from their Christian profession back to Judaism. Additionally, the preceding argument from Chapter 3 is that many Israelites died in the wilderness, not seeing the promised land, because they were mere professors of faith, but did not have true saving faith – “we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb 3:19). This should cause us to take some time for self reflection – “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb 3:12). How do we know that we have true saving faith? We are told that “we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb 3:14).

Furthermore, the author is continuing his theme of how the New Covenant is superior to the Old. These verses are in the midst of the larger argument begun in chapter 3 in which the writer is providing evidence about how Joshua led his people into a temporary rest, but Christ, has already entered the eternal rest, and will lead his people into it.


literally: if they shall enter into my rest…

  • This means “they shall NOT enter into my rest” (Hebrew elliptical oath)
    • Who did God say would not enter his rest in Ps 95:11? According to Heb 3:11, they were those that had “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God”.

…although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

  • God finished His work of creating on the seventh day and rested (Gen 2:2)
  • This rest was commemorated by Israel in its weekly Sabbath. (Ex 31:17)
  • The author is reminding us that although the seventh day is ‘a’ rest of God mentioned in the Bible, it is not ‘the’ rest of God that was offered to the Hebrew people after the Exodus (and which is the present focus). This Old Covenant rest of God, which the Hebrews rejected through unbelief, was a rest from slavery and war in the land of Canaan
  • This promised land rest was that referred to in chapter 3, and, which is used as a type here of the future eternal rest of God in Heaven – “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (verse 9)

they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief…

The word “preached” here means “evangelize.” The same root word is rendered “gospel” in verse 2. This shows us, First, that God has employed only one instrument in the saving of sinners from the beginning, namely, the preaching of the gospel, cf. Galatians 3:8. Second, that the demand of the Gospel from those who hear it is faith, taking God at His word, receiving with childlike simplicity and gladness the good news He has sent us. Third, that “unbelief” shuts out from God’s favor and blessing. …Solemn warning was this for the Hebrews whose faith was waning. (AW Pink)

For if [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God

  • The author of Hebrews always makes contrasts between the old and new covenant (better covenant, better promises, etc). Here he is presenting a better rest than that enjoyed under the Old Covenant
  • When Ps 95 (the chapter the author is here explaining) was written, the Israelites were enjoying rest from their enemies in their own land. The author here reminds his readers that this was only a temporary and typological rest, which only points to the better and eternal rest yet to come
  • [The Jews had] external types to guide them; not so have we, nor have we indeed any need of them, for the naked truth itself is set before our eyes. …Christ [does not] extend his hand to us, that he may conduct us by the circuitous course of types and figures, but that he may withdraw us from the world and raise us up to heaven. Now that the Apostle separates the shadow from the substance, he did so for this reason, — because he had to do with the Jews, who were too much attached to external things. (Calvin)

  • There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God
    • The Jews enjoyed a type of rest in their own land
    • Believers experience, in this life, a rest from slavery to sin.
    • However, there remains a future promise of eternal life in peace and rest

For he that is entered into his rest he also hath ceased from his own works, as God from His

  • “…rest is not enjoyed till work is ceased from. This world is full of toil, travail and trouble, but in the world to come there is full freedom from all these.” (Pink)
  • Many commentators (Pink, Calvin, Gill) take the “he” here to mean Christ. They understand this to mean that Christ has finished his work on the earth (John 19:30) and has entered His rest, just as the Father finished his work on the sixth day of creation and entered His rest. Evidence of this is seen in verse 11, where the emphasis is then shifted from the ‘he’ of verse 10, to ‘us’

Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
(Matt 11:28-29)

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Notes on Hebrews 4:1-3

Let us therefore fear1, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it2. For unto us was the gospel preached3, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it4. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest5: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

  • 1 Phil 2:12
  • 2 Heb 3:12
  • 3 Rom 10:17
  • 4 Eph 2:8-9
  • 5 Ps 95:11, Heb 3:11

This is a continuation of the argument begun in Hebrews 3:7, which is an exposition and application of Psalm 95. “Thus far we have had Christ’s superiority over the prophets, the angels, [and] Moses. Now it is the glory of Christ which excels that attaching to Joshua” (AW Pink).

Background on Joshua

  • Joshua was a great prophet like Moses (Joshua 1:5)
  • Joshua was to lead the people of God to their rest (Joshua 1:6)
    • “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. (Joshua 1:5-6)
  • See Josh 1:12-15, where possession of the Promised Land is called the ‘rest’ promised by God. See also Joshua 22:4, and 23:1
  • Although most of the original generation that left Egypt died in unbelief, their descendants did enter God’s earthly rest for the Hebrew people.
  • God fulfilled his promise land rest for the people of God. This rest is typical of the greater rest for the people of God that Jesus, of whom Joshua is a type, will lead His people into
    • “And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:43-45)
    • For if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God (Heb 4:8-9)
  • When Messiah comes, there will be a greater rest for the people of God: “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” (Is 11:10)

The “rest” of Hebrews 3:11-4:11 refers to Canaan, and though Joshua actually conducted Israel into this rest, yet the apostle proves by a reference to Psalm 95 that Israel never really (as a nation) entered into the [final] rest of God. Herein lies the superiority of the Apostle (Heb 3:1) of Christianity; Christ does lead His people into the true rest. Such, we believe, is the line of truth developed in our passage.

(adapted from AW Pink)

Let us therefore fear

  • therefore… Chapter 3 ends with the solemn warning that the Hebrews who left Egypt “could not enter in because of unbelief.” Chapter 4 begins with a warning: therefore, in light of that, let us fear…
  • us – The author applies this admonition to himself and all believers.
  • Fear
    • Phil 2:12 – “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
    • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs)
    • Fear the Lord (Mt 10:28)
    • Do not be high-minded, but fearful (Rom 11:20)
    • Pass your time in fear (1 Pet 1:17)
    • etc.
  • This fear is not a lack of confidence in God’s ability or willingness to save. Rather, let us fear our own frailty and unbelief. Our sinful nature deceives us and leads us to place our confidence in ourselves and makes us vulnerable to temptation and sin. This “evil heart of unbelief” leads one to apostatize from Christ (Heb 3:12). The fear of apostasy and unbelief should cause us to be on guard against being deceived by sin, because “we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.
  • “But the fear which is here recommended is not that which shakes the confidence of faith but such as fills us with such concern that we grow not torpid with indifference. (John Calvin)

lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

  • What are we to fear? Not taking hold of the salvation which is freely offered us because of unbelief
  • The Hebrews left Egypt with great excitement and hope, but they did not have faith in God’s ability and willingness to keep his promise.
  • See Matthew 13:20-22. It is not our start, but our perseverance that witnesses our faith and salvation.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

  • God’s method of dealing with men has always been through the preaching of the gospel
  • Rom 10:14 – how can a man believe without preaching?
  • Faith comes by hearing (Rom 10:17) the gospel, but it is not the hearing alone that saves (Ja 1:22). The hearing must be mixed with faith
  • “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)
  • “the Gospel is as food, and faith is the hand that receives it” (Gill)
  • For whom does the gospel work effectually? It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth (Rom 1:16)
  • The gospel preached to the Hebrews: “The good news which was announced to the first-century readers of this epistle was that of a spiritual rest in Messiah. The good news given to the generation which came out of Egypt was that of a temporal, physical rest in a land flowing with milk and honey, offered to a people who had been reduced to abject slavery for 400 years… (Wuest)

For we which have believed do enter into rest…

  • The writer does NOT say that we HAVE entered into that rest, but rather that we DO enter that rest
    • vs 1 calls the rest for the people of God a promise (a future rest)
    • vs 9 states – “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God…” (a future rest)
    • vs 11 states – “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest” (a future rest)
  • Eph 1:13 – “After that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise”. See also 2 Tim 1:12

“The absolute safety, the fixed and unchanging portion of the chosen people of God can never be doubted. From the eternal, heavenly, divine point of view, saints can never fall; they are seated in heavenly places with Christ; they are renewed by the Spirit, and sealed by Him unto everlasting glory. …. From our point of view, as we live in time, from day to day, our earnest desire must be to continue steadfast, to abide in Christ, to walk with God, to bring forth fruit that will manifest the presence of true and God-given life. Hence the apostle, who says to the Philippians, ‘Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Heb. 1:6), adds to a similar thought in another epistle, ‘If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.’ … For it is by these very exhortations and warnings that the grace of God keeps us. It is in order that the elect may not fall, it is to bring out in fact and time the (ideal and eternal) impossibility of their apostasy, that God in His wisdom and mercy has sent to us such solemn messages and such fervent entreaties, to watch, to fight, to take heed unto ourselves, to resist the adversary”

(Adolph Saphir)

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

(Matt 13:20-23)

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Notes on Hebrews 3:15-19

While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts1, as in the provocation2. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses3. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?4 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief5.

  • 1 Rom 2:5
  • 2 Ps 95:8
  • 3 Dt 1:19-40
  • 4 Num 14:29
  • 5 Heb 4:6

The writer continues his exposition of Psalm 95.

While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

    • While it is said… What God has spoken, He continues to speak
    • Two things are impressed upon men:
      1. “hear his voice”
      2. “harden not your hearts”
    • This duty is to be performed promptly: today
    • To day” As each day is a new today, so God calls us *daily* to respond in faith and grow in grace
    • On the hardness of heart:
      • John 12:40 – “[The Lord] hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
      • Rom 2:5 – “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
    • Hardness of heart is always tied to unbelief: Mark 3:5, 6:52, 8:17, 10:5, 16:14

Alas, by nature we are hard-hearted: and what we call good and soft-hearted is not so in reality and in God’s sight When we receive God’s word in the heart, when we acknowledge our sin, when we adore God’s mercy, when we desire God’s fellowship, when we see Jesus, who came to save us, to wash our feet and shed His blood, for our salvation, the heart becomes soft and tender. For repentance, faith, prayer, patience, hope of heaven, all these things make the heart tender: tender towards God, tender towards our fellow-men… (Adolph Saffir)

For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

  • provocation is the act of inciting anger
  • Provocation here refers to the murmuring and lack of faith of the Hebrews in the Wilderness. Because of their lack of faith, none of those that left Egypt, except for Caleb and Joshua, were permitted to enter the promised land (Dt 1:19-40).
  • …howbeit not all… Caleb and Joshua are the pattern of the man of faith who follows God’s Word in spite of opposition

But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

  • He refers to their dead bodies as “fallen carcases” to show God’s utter contempt of them for their lack of faith
  • The people’s chief sin was unbelief. All their other sins (murmuring, idolatry, lust) flowed from that
  • The destruction of that generation serves as an example to us: 1 Cor 10:5-11

And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

  • to them that believed not (τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν). ἀπειθέω means “to be disobedient, refuse compliance” (LSJ), “not to allow one’s self to be persuaded, to refuse or withhold belief, to refuse belief and obedience” (Thayer)
  • ἀπειθέω – see Rom 2:5, 10:21
  • Perhaps translated “unbelievers” here because of what follows…

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

“The apostle does not single out the sin of making and worshipping the golden calf; he does not bring before us the flagrant transgressions into which they fell at Beth-peor. Many much more striking and to our mind more fearful sins could have been pointed out, but God thinks the one sin greater than all is unbelief. We are saved by faith; we are lost through unbelief. The heart is purified by faith; the heart is hardened by unbelief. Faith brings us nigh to God; unbelief is departure from God”
(Adolph Saffir>

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (Heb 3:12)

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Some Notes on Atonement

I took a few notes during the communion service today and thought I’d post them here.  The topic is timely for Palm Sunday…


Atonement is reparation for an offense.

    • Old Testament History
      • Meaning: to purge, cleanse, make appeasement for a broken relationship
      • Day of Atonement
        • See Leviticus 16
        • Before Day of Atonement, blood sprinkled before curtain
        • On Day of Atonement, blood sprinkled on the mercy seat
          • Ark of the Covenant had two parts: (1) chest with contents and (2) the cover (or mercy seat)
          • God’s special glorious presence dwelt between the cherubim above the mercy seat (or atonement cover)
        • The two goats:
          • First: sacrificed and blood sprinkled before the mercy seat — Atonement
          • Second: sins confessed over and it was sent away into the wilderness: the scape goat — Expiation
    • Christ’s Atonement
      • “Once for all…” (Heb 7:27, 9:12-10:10) – not a repeating sacrifice; contrast Catholicism and Judaism
      • Christ’s New Covenant Atonement is the anti-type of the Old Covenant Atonement
        • Christ himself is the high priest who offers the sacrifice (Heb 2:17)
        • Christ himself is the very sacrifice: “but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb 9:26)
        • Christ himself is the altar on which the sacrifice was made. (Heb 13:10)
        • Christ himself is the mercy seat on which the blood was poured (compare Rom 3:25 with Heb 9:5, 11-15)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
(Rom 3:24-26)

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Happy Reformation Day 2014!

95ThesenOn this day in 1517 Martin Luther tacked the 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the initial blow in what eventually led to the Protestant Reformation.

During the Reformation, the Bablyonian captivity of the church was broken, the power of anti-christ was weakened, and the Word of God was given back to the people of God.

The Protestant Reformers fought for the following 5 ideals, referred to as the 5 Solas:

1) Scripture Alone
2) Faith Alone
3) Grace Alone
4) Christ Alone
5) Glory to God Alone

Each year on Reformation Day, I write up a short bio on one of the heroes of the Reformation. This year our annual Reformation Day series will focus on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer – reformer of the English church. This history of the English reformation has particular interest for Baptists, as it is a distant part of our own history. During the 16th Century, those within the Church of England that were frustrated with the slow pace of reform were called Puritans. Those Puritans that separated from the CoE were called Separatists, Independants, and Congregationalists. It is from this Puritan-Separatist movement that our early Baptist forefathers sprang. In a certain sense then, the history of the English Reformation is the history of the Baptists.

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Fred Malone on the Biblical Covenants

On January 8-10, Pastor Fred Malone will be teaching on Covenant Theology at Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary in Owensboro, KY. Clink the following link for the class syllabus: Link to Covenant Theology Syllabus.

Click the image below to listen to an interview between Dr. Sam Waldron, the academic dean of CBTS and Dr. Malone on the Confessing Baptist Podcast.

The course will follow the following outline:

I. Hermeneutics for the study of God’s Covenants
II. The Definition of a Divine Covenant
III. The Divine Covenants in Scripture
A. The Counsel of Redemption
B. The Covenant of Works in Adam
C. The Covenant of Grace in Christ
1. The Covenants of Promise
a. Noah
b. Abraham
c. Moses
d. David
e. The New Covenant Promises
2. The New Covenant of Fulfillment
a. Old Testament Prophecy
b. Instituted by Christ
c. Membership
d. Blessings
IV. The Implications of Covenant Theology for Baptists
A. Justification and Evangelism
B. Sanctification
C. Ecclesiology and Sacraments
D. Eschatology

Dr. Fred Malone has served as Pastor of First Baptist Church in Clinton, Louisiana since 1993, following eleven years as founding pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas. He holds a B.S. from Auburn University, an M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Malone has served as a board member of many organizations including Founders Ministries, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Administrative Council of the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America and the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary in California.

Click the link below to hear a preaching series by Pastor Malone on the Covenants at


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John Erskine’s “The Nature the Sinai Covenant”

Originally posted on Contrast:


Owen’s work on the Mosaic Covenant is tremendous. He was bold enough to recognize that the Old Covenant was separate from the Covenant of Grace (New Covenant), that it was made with the nation of Israel, that it was based upon works, and that it was limited to temporal life in the land (not eternal life).

However, when it comes to the question of what type of obedience was required, I think Owen can be improved upon. He noted:

owenThis is the nature and substance of that covenant which God made with that people; a particular, temporary covenant it was, and not a mere dispensation of the covenant of grace.

That which remains for the declaration of the mind of the Holy Ghost in this whole matter, is to declare the differences that are between those two covenants, whence the one is said to be “better” than the other…

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The Aim of the Atonement, part 3

There are generally two primary views on the Atonement in Protestant Evangelical circles: (1) that the aim of the atonement was to make all men savable, and (2) the aim of the atonement was to save some men. Theologian Louis Berkhof frames the issue this way:

The question with which we are concerned at this point is not (a) whether the satisfaction rendered by Christ was in itself sufficient for the salvation of all men, since this is admitted by all; (b) whether the saving benefits are actually applied to every man, for the great majority of those who teach a universal atonement do not believe that all are actually saved; (c) whether the bona fide offer of salvation is made to all that hear the gospel, on the condition of repentance and faith, since the Reformed Churches do not call this in question; nor (d) whether any of the fruits of the death of Christ accrue to the benefit of the non-elect in virtue of their close association with the people of God, since this is explicitly taught by many Reformed scholars. On the other hand, the question does relate to the design of the atonement. Did the Father in sending Christ, and did Christ in coming into the world, to make atonement for sin, do this with the design or for the purpose of saving only the elect or all men? That is the question, and that only is the question.

In discussing these issues with folks who have a high view of man, you hear it stated that the Calvinist view is based purely on inference and logic and has no Biblical support. My intention here is not to cover everything the Bible says about Atonement, there are too many quality works that do that, but rather to provide a handful of Biblical passages that assert that Christ’s First Coming and Death had a definite purpose.

God Has a Purpose

The first thing, in my opinion, that must be dealt with is the understanding that God has an eternal plan and purpose for the things that happen in this world.

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will... (Eph 1:11)

What things does God work according to his will? All things. What about bad things or things we don’t like? Well, the Scriptures teach us that God is good and that He doesn’t like bad things either. But, either bad things happen because they are a part of God’s larger plan for good, or they happen randomly, without purpose, and not in accordance with God’s purpose and plan. When we come to the realization that God is God and that His authority and purpose rules sovereign over all things, it transforms the way we see God, Scripture, and ourselves!

The People Christ Redeemed (Purchased) Are His Elect

Who does god justify? Those who He has predestinated. And for those he will provide everything essential to their salvation and sanctification.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
(Rom 8:29-32)

Continuing with Romans 8, we that Christ died for, loves, keeps, and makes intercession for us believers.

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution...

The Good Shephard lays down his life for his sheep.

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep ...As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:11-15)

Christ gave Himself for the church.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:25-27)

Christ gave Himself for Believer’s Sins

[Christ] gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father (Gal 1:4)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Rom 5:8-9)

[Christ] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Tit 2:14)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15-13-14)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor 5:21)

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1 Pet 3:18)

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (Gal 3:13)

[Christ] bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Pet 2:24)

The Definite Scope of Christ’s Priestly Work

The priestly role of Christ is not limited only to providing a sacrifice, but also providing intercession. For whom does Christ intercede?

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Rom 8:33-34)

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. ...I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. ...Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. ...Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word... (John 17)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)


Several verses in the New Testament appear make applicability of Christ’s atonement to the world, but there are many that specifically limit it to ‘many’.

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mt. 20:28)

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Mt 26:28)

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. ...So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Heb 9:15-28)


Perhaps the Arminian would not be convinved by these arguments, clinging tenaciously to 1 Jn 2:2 as overthrowing all, at least let him not say we have no Scriptural basis for our argument. I found these in about 15 minutes of work. MUCH more could be said, but this should be sufficient for the present cause.

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Did A.W. Pink Agree w/ 1689 Federalism?

Andrew Suttles:

Some good thoughts here from Brandon Adams on AW Pink’s Federalism. I especially appreciate his summary statement “Perhaps if modern baptists had read Pink more carefully, we would have re-discovered this view (the Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen view, recently called 1689 Federalism) sooner.”

Originally posted on Contrast:


A.W. Pink’s covenant theology came up recently in a Facebook discussion. It was being questioned if Pink held to 1689 Federalism or “20th Century Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology. (Federalism is just an old word for covenant theology)

First, here is a summary of 1689 Federalism:

By rejecting the notion of a Covenant of Grace under two administrations, the Baptists were in fact rejecting only half of this concept: they accepted, as we have previously seen, the notion of one single Covenant of Grace in both testaments, but they refused the idea of two administrations. For the Baptists, there was only one Covenant of Grace which was revealed from the Fall in a progressive way until its full revelation and conclusion in the New Covenant… If the Westminster federalism can be summarized in “one covenant under two administrations,” that of the 1689 would be “one covenant revealed progressively…

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George Barna’s Attack on the Church of Christ

Celebrity Christian speaker George Barna is the featured speaker at a local event sponsored by several local churches and para-church organizations. I’ve been asked by several folks about my opinion on attending and I must say that I CANNOT endorse the ministry of George Barna. He is very sound in his focus on strong and authentic Christian living, but his methods are sketchy and some of his teachings are very grievous to the Christian church!

I call upon all men of discernment to check the facts for yourself and to exercise discretion!


George Barna was born into a devout Catholic family in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston College and majored in Sociology. After college, Barna went into politics in the Democratic party in Boston. His political work sparked an interest in marketing, polling, and market research, so he returned to graduate school to earn degrees in Urban Planning and Political Science.

During his time on the East Coast, Barna became dissatisfied with the Roman Catholic church, but was unable to find an agreeable Protestant church to join in fellowship. After leaving political work, he moved to the West Coast to perform consulting work, plying the skills he learned as a pollster and market researcher. In California, like on the East Coast, Barna could not find a church that suited his tastes and did not attend church.

Later, Barna found himself in Chicago working in the same field and was connected with the famous Willow Creek Community church and Bill Hybels. Barna joined Hybels in crafting the new movement known as the seeker sensitive church movement. The movement sought to throw out everything associated with traditional church worship and to use market surveys and polls to craft a seeker-sensitive and market driven approach to church growth. The results of this movement have given rise to the doctrinal softening and all forms of weirdness and heresy in the “at-large” Evangelical church today.

Back in California, Barna started applying his market research skills to write books on the habits and trends amongst American Christians. Barna has used this popularity to write soft doctrinal and practical (and alarmist!) books about the Christian life – all based on his knowledge of the desires and trends of young people (most of whom are unregenerate pagans!).

Questionable Methods

Barna calls himself the most quoted man in Christendom, but some question whether Barna’s numbers should be trusted at all. In an open letter to George Barna, Pastor Frank Turk (of Pyromaniacs fame), exposes barna as manipulating statistics to support his own agenda. You can read his open letter HERE.

As every armchair politician knows, the results of polls can be manipulated based on how questions are framed and based on the definitions of words. Additionally, we all know what Mark Twain famously said about statistics. Consider the work of Bradley Wright, a sociologist at UConn wrote (THIS BOOK), which (in part) explores “several Barna studies and explains the shoddy and sloppy work and interpretation done” (quote from review of Wright’s book).

One of Barna’s primary contentions in his books (to be discussed further below) is that the modern church does not work, has no Biblical basis, and should be abandoned! He supports this dangerous and faulty thesis using the results of polling work. Polling work that is skewed to assist Barna to have the results he needs to justify the subject matter of his books. For more on Barna’s views on the local church read on below…

Questionable Doctrine

My concern would not be so deep if it was simply based on Barna’s pragmatism. Barna is simply an ENEMY of the local church. According to his book Revolution, Barna believes that one can be a “God-exalting Christian without any formal involvement in or connection with the [local] church” (Sam Storms). According to Sam Storms, Barna believes that for some believers, “a genuine, thriving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is only possible only by forsaking membership in, support of, and allegiance to a local congregation of believers.

Some quotes from Barna –

  • ““whether you become a Revolutionary immersed in, minimally involved in, or completely disassociated [sic] from a local church is irrelevant to me (and, within boundaries, to God)” (Barna Quoted by Sam Storms
  • Believers “distancing themselves from formal congregations does not reflect a willingness to ignore God as much as a passion to deepen their connection to Him” (Barna Quoted by Sam Storms)
  • “Christians who are involved in local churches are actually less likely than Revolutionaries to lead a biblical lifestyle” (Barna Quoted by Sam Storms)
  • “‘the [local] church’ is a human construct that was neither dictated by God nor described or found in the Bible.”(Interview)

In place of the local church, Barna advocates for informal “boutique churches” that reflect the customized experiences and personal preferences of worshipers (Sam Storms). Pastor Frank Turk (linked above) calls Barna’s methods and theology “half-baked” HERE and claims that Barna is simply “not credible”.

According to fellow blogger Five Solas Guy, “The only keys [Barna’s Book The Rabit and the Elephant] has to offer, sadly, are the keys to heresy and unbiblical practices and stumbling blocks and false converts.” (book review).

A simple google search will reveal many such quotes from conservative Bible believing, Christ exalting pastors and theologians!! For example, the Gospel Coalition (which has members: Voddie Baucham, Alistair Begg, Don Carson, Bryan Chapell, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Kent Hughes, Albert Mohler, John Piper, etc. ) posted the following book review of Barna’s book: Pagan Christianity:

  1. The church should not contain any hierarchy at all.
  2. The senior pastor is actually an obstacle to the fully-functioning body of Christ.
  3. The idea of a sermon in a church gathering is pagan (after all, that brings about a clergy/laity distinction).
  4. Church buildings take away from the biblical teaching that the Church is a people.
  5. Any routine in worship is wrong. All liturgy, whether Protestant, Catholic or free church is misguided and stifling to the Holy Spirit.
  6. Dressing up for church is a leftover from paganism and hypocritical for Christians.
  7. No one should lead in singing. To have a worship leader picking songs is an affront to freedom in Christ.
  8. Tithing is completely unbiblical and now serves to prop up the unbiblical institutionalized church and the salaries of unbiblical clergy.
  9. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper have been coopted by pagan mysticism.
  10. Christian education doesn’t work because everything is mind-focused. Discipleship should be an apprentice-ship, not just filling the head with information.
  11. The Bible needs to be read in context, not as a jigsaw puzzle.
  12. We need to be like Jesus – revolutionaries who are ready to turn aside all tradition.

There are actually some crumbs of truth in some of Barna’s points, but the overall tenor and goal in his writing, but the most dangerous lie is always the one wrapped around a kernel of truth! Barna, in many of his writings, is starting to sound less seeker sensitive and more like heretical cult leaders (think Jim Jones, Harold Camping, Joseph Smith, etc) who have said similar things and have led thousands out of the doors of sound Bible believing local churches!

Questionable Discernment

What I have said above should be enough to alert any Bible believing Christian to be cautious about Barna. Is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or just badly errant and in need of church discipline – an enterprise not possible with the un-churched Barna. An additional concern is Barna’s own questionable discernment. He wrote the book Pagan Christianity with Frank Viola, who is noted for his mysticism, approved of the heretical book The Shack, is emergent, and has many other doctrinal deficiencies including opposing local churches in favor of “open participation” meetings without elders or leadership. In this Interview, Barna lists the following men as those that inspire him most: Matthew Barnett and Andy Stanley. Matthew Barnett is a charismatic TBN regular and pastor of the Los Angeles Dream Center. Andy Stanley, of course, is a doctrinally shallow mega-church pastor who has recently come under fire for his weaked stances regarding infallibility and homosexuality.

Several of Barnas other co-authors and conference co-speakers are troublesome as well, but I spare you. Do your own research into the matter.


Why has George Barna become such a famous name in Christendom? I think it is because of a tendency toward hero-worship in Evangelicalism at large combined with a general lack of Bible knowledge and discernment. Additionally, Barna’s research gives pastors the ammunition to say the things they want to say in the pulpit, but with an air of authority. Also, Barna gives young Millennials the permission (rather praise) to skip church on Sunday (what with all the preaching, discipline, fellowship, and giving) and instead spend the time golfing or hanging out at a coffee shop. Tell me that philosophy doesn’t sell books! (and if you think I’m kidding, read reviews of his book Revolution)

Could Barna have many helpful things to say in his presentation here in a few weeks? Of course! But I simply cannot support the methods of a shallow, market-driven pragmatist, who has undermined the role and structure of Christ’s body. The enemy of the body of Christ is the enemy of Christ. Barna is playing with fire and I, for one, do not want to stand close.


Having said all this, I also collected a number of other book reviews and Barna links with the heretical emergent church, but I’ve decided to end this here. Originally this section of the post contained links to dozens of internet articles and calls to repentance, but instead, I’ll leave it to you to do your own research.

I leave you to remember the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy (possibly the pastor of the local church in Ephesus):

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim 4:1-4)

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