This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: doctrine (Page 1 of 2)

Announcing Audio Readings of Christian Writings

If you’ve read any of the David’s Digest blog posts, you would see many references to Puritan writings, including Thomas Manton, the latest from Thomas Brooks, etc. I have put these out because I have believed they are important topics for those who take the name of Christ to be exposed to.

The reason I have known about them myself is because I have read the printed volumes from which they come, and the Lord has very much blessed me through them.

There are many things from them I would really like to put out on the blog, but then I would be often just posting whole sermons and books. 🙂

But, I thought that, given the easy availability of digital media, and the convenience and preference for some to be able to listen while doing other things, I would just start reading these publications while recording them, and then post them on our website.

And so, I have begun to do just these things, which are now available on any page of our blog on the right side under the “Soul Info” section (or at the bottom on any mobile device) and the link Audio Readings of Christian Writings.

I’ve currently started Thomas Manton’s Commentaries on James and Jude, Thomas Brooks’ “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” (from which I did my last Digest blog posts), and Thomas Watson’s “10 Commandments” book. If you’re interested, please feel free to check in on the page for the latest readings as we plan to continue to put more out as they get done, as the Lord wills.

It is our prayer that God bless these to someone, bring them to Him in salvation, and/or grow them in truth and holiness. May He grant the hearers ears to hear and by His graces apply His word to the hearts of the listeners, and may the name of the Lord be glorified and magnified!

— David

David’s Digest: Complete Christian Comfort

It seems to me that Christians find most if not all of their Christian comfort from the fact that the Lord Jesus has forgiven them their sins. But complete comfort comes from not only being justified before God, free from the guilt and pollution of our sin by Christ, but also comes from obedience to the commands of God, in Christian graces existing in our hearts and acted out, and mortification of the carnal man, in a sanctified life.

Christ bought sanctification through His atonement, and thus, it is required for the full effect of Christ’s work for us in our Christian lives.

We can draw comfort from the propitiation for our sin, and it seems to me many do, but complete comfort must also include a sanctified, holy life.

I would suggest that, a person who believes they are Christian but does not have the desire for, nor the evidence of, the sanctification process in their life, does not have grounds for Christian comfort.

The following is from Puritan Thomas Manton regarding this topic, in volume 18 of his works, in a sermon on Acts 10:34-35:

[1.] How much they are mistaken who think sanctification hath no influence upon our comfort and peace. Some good people are overtender in this point; they pretend they would fetch all their comfort immediately [directly] from Christ. And is Christ the less author of it because sanctification is the matter of it? As if sanctification were not from Christ as well as justification. He is both to us: 1 Cor. i. 30, ‘He is made unto us of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’ But they think this is to fetch comfort from something more in ourselves than justification is; for the one is an adherent privilege, as the other an internal qualification.

True; but though it be in us, it is not of us. It floweth from the same grace of God, and the same power and merit of the Lord
Jesus
. And something there must be in us, or how shall we make out our title and claim, or know that the grace of God belongeth to us? If we look only to justification, and suspect all comfort that is elsewhere derived, we are in danger of falling into the gross part of the error of Poquinus and Quintinus, who in Calvin’s time asserted it to be the only mortification to extinguish the sense of sin in the heart. But this is not to mortify sin, but to mortify repentance and holiness, to crucify the new man rather than the old, not to quiet conscience, but outface it. Surely where there is sin there will be trouble. Sanctification is one means of applying the grace of God, as well as justification; and we must look to both benefits, and the mutual respect they have to one another.

But because this prejudice is drunk in by many not ill-meaning people, let us a little dispossess them of this vain conceit.

(1.) As to Christ. It is certain that a sinner can have no hope of acceptance with God but by Christ : 1 Tim. i. 15, ‘Christ came to save sinners;’ and Mat. i. 21, ‘He shall save his people from their sins.’

(2.) It is as true that ‘whosoever is in Christ, he is a new creature’, 2 Cor. v.. 17. So that the dispute will lie here; to clear up our interest in Christ, whether we are new creatures; for till that be determined, we can have no solid peace and comfort within ourselves,

(3.) None is a new creature but he who feareth God and worketh righteousness; for that is the description of a new creature, that all old things are passed away, and all things are become new; a new heart, a new mind, and a new conversation [behavior]; for a new heart is only sensibly discovered by newness of life, Rom. vi. 4. Well, then, our proposition is fully reconcilable with the grace of Jesus Christ.

[3.] With respect to the Spirit, who is our sanctifier and comforter. First a sanctifier, and then a comforter, and therefore a comforter because a sanctifier. Otherwise the Spirit would cause us to rejoice we know not why, and the comforts of a christian would be fantastical and groundless; at best we should rejoice in a mere possible salvation. But holiness is God’s seal and impress upon us: Eph. i. 13, ‘In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.’

When his sanctifying work is interrupted, so is his comforting work disturbed also, Eph. iv. 31. David’s bones were broken, and he lost his joy, when he fell into great sins, Ps. li., and Ps. xxxii. And it is true in others, who, when they have been lifted up to heaven in comfort, have fallen almost as low as hell in sorrow, trouble, and perplexity of spirit, when they grew remiss, negligent, and disobedient to the motions of the Holy Ghost. If we intermit a course of holiness, the frowns of God will soon turn our day into night; and the poor forsaken soul, that was feasted with the love of God, knows not whence to fetch the least support. Such is the fruit of our careless and loose walking.

May God sanctify us by His Spirit because of Christ; may He grant us a desire to be obedient and live holy lives, including obedience to His commands in living out the graces of His Spirit and mortification of the carnal man and a putting away of things in this world that feed it; and may we diligently ask Him for these things to be put in our hearts.

You can read excellent writings about sanctification and mortification in Mount Zion’s “Free Grace Broadcaster” publications on sanctification and mortification.

— David

David’s Digest: Distance & Difference

I believe it is all too easy to forget who God really is and become too familiar with Him. And we can end up thinking that God is like us. And although the Bible refers to Him as a friend of Christians, and that man was originally made in His image, which is what is restored, over time and finally in heaven, in those He saves, we are quite far and quite different from Him, a gap that is impossible to overcome in and of ourselves.

However, thanks be to God for making a Way to close on those, which is through Christ! The fact that it took a mediator at all, and that it took Christ — God taking on the nature of man to Himself — to accomplish this, should evidence the distance and difference between God and man.

Puritan Thomas Manton discusses this in his works vol xviii, sermon upon 1 Cor viii 6. You can read the entire sermon here.

I believe it is important to understand this distance and difference, to put us in our proper perspective to ourselves, so we have a proper one of God — that in essence He is infinitely far and different from us; to elevate Christ that much more in the great love and condescension of God toward us; and to give us great hope and love returned, that God, who is so far and different, would bother to deal with sinners thus.

From Thomas Manton:

I. The necessity of a mediator in this lapsed and fallen estate of mankind. Two things infer and enforce this necessity — distance and
difference. Distance by reason of impurity, and difference by reason of enmity; both these occur in the case between God and men. God
is a God of glorious majesty, and we are poor creatures. God is an holy God, a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and we are sinful creatures.
As creatures, we are unworthy of immediate access to God; as lapsed, and under the guilt of sin and desert of punishment, and unable to deliver ourselves, we cannot draw nigh to him with any comfort.

1. Our distance, which is so great that it is a condescension for God to take notice that there are such creatures in the world: Ps. cxiii. 6, ‘Who humbleth himself to behold the things which are in heaven and earth.’ The excellency and majesty of God is so great that either angels or men are unworthy to approach his presence. Now, as inferior and mean people dare not approach the presence of a great prince but by some powerful friend and intercessor at court, so our distance produceth our fears and estrangedness, and backwardness to draw nigh unto God, and so hindereth our love and confidence in him. Well, then, to depend upon one so far above us, that he will take notice of us, take care of us, relieving us in our necessities and straits, and help us out of all our miseries, and finally save us, requireth a mediator; one that is more near and dear to God than we are, which can be no other than Jesus Christ, as I shall show by-and-by. When a sinner looketh only at God as in himself, he is confounded and amazed, as quite out of the reach of his commerce.

2. Difference. A mediator is chiefly one used between disagreeing parties: Gal. iii. 20, ‘Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.’ There must be two parties, and usually two differing parties. There is God angry, and man guilty. Conscience of guilt presents God terrible, and taketh away all confidence from the guilty sinner, so that of ourselves we cannot approach in a friendly manner to an offended and provoked God: Heb. xii. 29, ‘For our God is a consuming fire;’ and ‘Who can dwell with devouring burnings?’ Isa. xxxiii. 14. Who shall interpose and stand between God and us, the power of his wrath, and our weakness and obnoxiousness [liableness] to his righteous vengeance.

II. That none but Christ is fit for this high office, that, though God be high, and just, and holy, yet poor creatures and sinners may have access to him. A mediator must be one that can take off the distance, and compromise the difference between us and God: ‘that there were,’ saith Job, ‘a day’s-man between us, that might lay his hands upon both!’ Job ix, 33. Now, considering this, Jesus Christ is the only fit interposing party; therefore he is called ‘the Mediator of the new covenant,’ Heb. xii. 24, ‘And to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant,’ and ‘The Mediator of a better covenant,’ Heb. viii. 6.

1. As to the distance; so in his person he is God-man. Our mediator must be one in whom God doth condescend to man, and by whom man may be encouraged to ascend to God. Now in Christ God is nearer to man than he was before, and so we may have more familiar thoughts of God. The pure deity is at so vast a distance from us while we are in the flesh, that we are amazed and confounded, cannot imagine that he should look after us, concern himself in us and our affairs, love us, show us his free grace and favour. Now it is a mighty help to think of God manifested in our flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16; ‘The Word made flesh,’ John i. 14. So that while we are here in the flesh, yet we may have commerce with God. It is a mighty encouragement to consider how near God is come to us in Christ, and how he hath taken the human nature into his own person; for surely he will not hide himself from his own flesh, Isa. Iviii. 7. He came down into our flesh that he might be man, and familiar with man. This wonderfully reconcileth the heart of man to God, and maketh the thoughts of him comfortable and acceptable to us, so that we may encourage ourselves in free access to God.

2. As the person of the Redeemer, so his work; which is to take away the difference and quarrel between us and God. To understand this, observe, that the mediation between the two differing parties must be carried on so that God, who is the supreme and offended party, may be satisfied. Now God stood upon these terms that the honour of his governing justice should be secured: Rom. iii. 25, ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins.’ And that the repentance and reformation of sinful man should be carried on: Acts v. 31, ‘Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.’ These must be done, otherwise man must lie under his eternal displeasure. If the one be done and not the other done, no reconciliation can ensue. Therefore we must not look to Christ’s mediation with God so as to overlook his work with man, nor so look to his work with man as to overlook his mediation with God: Heb. iii. 1, ‘Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Jesus Christ.’ We have both here. The work of an apostle lieth with men; the work of an high priest with God. He hath an office with God and man, and both are necessary to bring about our salvation. And Christ cannot be a complete Saviour without doing both. To be barely a prophet would not serve the turn, but he must be a priest to satisfy God’s justice also by the merit of his sacrifice. In short, his work with God is that of a priest; his work with man is that of a prophet and king.

[1.] His work as a priest is to pacify God’s wrath, procure his grace, love, and favour for us; and this he doth under two relations — as a sponsor and intercessor.

(1.) As a sponsor and surety. He was the surety of a better testament: Heb. vii. 22, ‘By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament’ So –

(1st.) By way of satisfaction, he undertook something to be paid and performed for us. He undertaketh to satisfy God’s justice by the sacrifice of himself, and so make way for his mercy on easy terms. The pacifying of God’s justice was a great part of his mediation: Heb. ix. 15, ‘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;’ that is, that penitent and believing sinners might be acquitted from the curse due to them by the first covenant, and so made capable of eternal life. What they owe he hath paid.

(2d.) By way of caution, undertaking for those whom he reconciled to God that they shall perform what God requireth of them in the new covenant. Having purchased the Spirit, he hath enabled them to repent, and believe, and mortify and crucify the flesh, and obey the gospel: Rom. vi. 6, ‘Knowing that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.’

(2.) As an intercessor. He is in heaven dealing with God in our behalf. He hath not cast off his relation or affection to his people upon his advancement: Heb. viii. 2, ‘A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.’ In all his glory he is the church’s agent, appearing for us as our attorney in court, Heb. ix. 24; pleading for us, and answering all accusations as our advocate: 1 John ii. 1, ‘And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ And maintaining a correspondency between us and God, as an ambassador between two states, promoting our desires and prayers: Rev. viii. 3, ‘And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.’ And obtaining all necessary graces for us.

[2.] His work with men, as a prophet and king.

(1.) As a prophet, and so as a messenger of the covenant, Mal. iii. 11. He showeth us the way how we may be reconciled with God, persuading us also to be so reconciled to God. For we are ignorant and obstinate, loath to part with sin and submit to God’s terms; therefore he revealeth, and persuadeth us to accept, the conditions of the new covenant, and to cast away all our rebellion against God, and enter into his peace: 2 Cor. v. 20, ‘Now then we are ambassadors for Christ; as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’ They plead in his name, and by virtue of his power.

(2.) As a king and lord; so he maketh these terms part of the new law for the remedying of lapsed mankind: Heb. v. 8, ‘Though he were a son, yet he learned obedience by the things he suffered.’ And not only so, but he subdueth us to himself,’ Luke xi. 21; by strong hand rescueth us out of the power of the devil, and giveth us grace to serve him acceptably, Heb. xii. 28; and taketh us into his care, and ruleth us and protecteth us, till we enter into everlasting life. His lordship is a great part of his mediation.

Thanks be to God for His great condescension, love, mercies and graces! May Christ increase, and we decrease, and may we worship the Lord forever for who He is and what He has done!

— David

David’s Digest: Charity and Its Fruits, Part 2

The Lord graciously granted that as a group we finish a study that has been extremely beneficial to me — Jonathan Edwards “Charity and Its Fruits.” I can’t tell you how important I believe this study is, and probably something that should be re-studied at times.

We posted the first 8 parts here, and now here are the last 9 parts, part 16 broken up into two parts:

Charity and Its Fruits, by Jonathan Edwards

Chapter 9: The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of an Angry or Wrathful Spirit

Chapter 10: The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of a Censorious Spirit

Chapter 11: All True Grace in the Heart Tends to Holy Practice in the Life

Chapter 12: Charity, or a Christian Spirit, Is Willing to Undergo All Sufferings in the Way of Duty

Chapter 13: All the Graces of Charity Connected

Chapter 14: Charity, or True Grace, Cannot be Overthrown by Opposition

Chapter 15: The Holy Spirit Forever to be Communicated to the Saints in the Grace of Charity, or Divine Love

Chapter 16: Heaven a World of Charity, or Divine Love, Part 1

Chapter 16: Heaven a World of Charity, or Divine Love, Part 2

One thing that stuck out to me was the idea Edwards mentions that a Christian needs not only the LIGHT of truth and understanding, but the HEAT of Christian love in their hearts as well:

From Chapter 1, Charity, or Love, the Sum of all Virtue:

“(1 ) That love is an ingredient in true and saving faith, and is what is most essential and distinguishing in it. Love is no ingredient in a merely speculative faith; but it is the life and soul of a practical faith. A truly practical and saving faith is light and heat together, or light and love. That which is only a speculative, is only light without heat. But in that it wants spiritual heat or divine love, it is vain and good for nothing. A speculative faith consists only in assent; but in a saving faith are assent and consent together. That faith which has only the assent of the understanding is no better faith than the devils have, for the devils have faith so far as it can be without love. The devils believe and tremble. Now the true spiritual consent of the heart cannot be distinguished from the love of the heart. He whose heart consents to Christ as a Savior loves Christ under that notion, viz. of a Savior. For the heart sincerely to consent to the way of salvation by Christ cannot be distinguished from loving the way of salvation by Christ. There is an act of choice or election in true and saving faith, whereby the soul chooses Christ for its Savior, and accepts and embraces him as such. But as was observed before, election whereby it chooses God and Christ is one act of love. It is a love of choice. In the soul’s embracing Christ as a Savior there is love.”

We somewhat recently had a small ice storm roll through here, and when the sun shone again, and the ice started melting, I thought it was an interesting example of what happens when the heat of Christian love, from the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), is there:


The verse I mention in the video is 1 Cor 1:8: “Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Here is Puritan commentator John Gill on that verse:

Now as touching things offered unto idols
This was another of the things the Corinthians wrote to the apostle about, desiring to have his judgment in; it was a controversy that had been before moved, whether it was lawful to eat things that had been sacrificed to idols. This was considered in the council at Jerusalem, ( Acts 15:28 Acts 15:29 ) and it was agreed to, for the peace of the churches, that the Gentiles, among other things, be advised to abstain from them; which, it seems, the church at Corinth knew nothing of, for the controversy was now moved among them: some that were weak in the faith, and had not, at least, clear notions of Gospel liberty, thought it very criminal and sinful to eat them; others that had, or boasted they had, more knowledge, would not only eat them privately at home, having bought them of the Heathen priests, or in the common meat markets, where they were exposed to sale, and at public feasts, to which they were invited by their friends; but would even go into an idol’s temple, and sit and eat them there, to the great grief and prejudice of weak Christians; and what they had to plead in their own defence was their knowledge, to which the apostle here replies:

we know that we all have knowledge;
said either affirmatively and seriously; and the meaning is, that the apostles and other Christians knew, and were conscious to themselves of their light and knowledge, and were assured, and might affirm with confidence, that they all, or the most part, only some few excepted, see ( 1 Corinthians 8:7 ) had the same knowledge of Christian liberty as they had; knew that an idol was nothing, and that eating meats offered to them could not defile, or do them any hurt; for they were very sensible there was nothing common or unclean of itself, and yet did not think fit to make use of their knowledge to the grieving and wounding of their fellow Christians: or else this is said ironically, we are wise folks; you particularly are men of knowledge, and wisdom will die with you; you know that you know; you are very knowing in your own conceits, and very positive as to your knowledge. It was the saying of Socrates, that that this one thing he knew, that he knew nothing; but men wise in their own opinions know everything:

knowledge puffeth up;
not true knowledge; not that which comes from above, which is gentle and easy to be entreated; not sanctified knowledge, or that which has the grace of God going along with it; that makes men humble, and will not suffer them to be puffed up one against another; but a mere show of knowledge, knowledge in conceit, mere notional and speculative knowledge, that which is destitute of charity or love:

but charity edifieth;
that is, a man that has knowledge, joined with love to God, and his fellow Christians, will seek for that which makes for the edification of others; and without this all his knowledge will be of no avail, and he himself be nothing.

And of course, in the 1 Corinthians 13 text we’re studying, vs 2: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

All of these examples show, and Edwards says it directly, that it’s possible to have light — even true doctrine — without the Spirit savingly being there (like the devils that believe and tremble), as the sun can shine while everything remains frozen. But we know His Spirit is in our hearts by His fruit, summed up in Christian charity, being in hearts as well, evidencing itself as charity does, in the ways the Scriptures mention, and Edwards expounds upon, here in 1 Corinthians 13. This is why I believe this sermon series is so critical.

May the Lord grant us His light and heat, and we pray He mix His charity, in all of its forms, in all of our hearts, thoughts, words and actions, for His glory.

— David

David’s Digest: Charity and Its Fruits, Part 1

The latest sermon series our group has been going through is Jonathan Edwards’ sermon series on “Charity and Its Fruits.” I had originally thought it might be a good series to go through as a group, but as we got into it, to me it is a most critical topic to be covered by anyone who claims to follow Christ.

Initially, we started listening to an audio version of the series I had found online, but sadly the speaker spoke way too fast, and it was very difficult to keep up. And so, I thought, hey, even I can read it; so I set out to find it in print online. I did find a print version, and started reading it to the group over a couple of weeks, but eventually discovered that what I was reading was just a small 18-page encapsulation of the whole sermon series, which was actually a 16 chapter book! And so, we started the series over, this time reading from the full chapters.

After chapter one, someone suggested we record them; and I figured, why not, since it was being read anyway. And so, here are the first eight parts that we’ve gone through (I had to go back and record chapter one, and then re-record chapter two because the printout I was reading from had some typos that made it difficult to get through — now I’m reading from an actual book version):

Charity and Its Fruits, by Jonathan Edwards

Chapter 1: Charity, or Love, the Sum of all Virtue

Chapter 2: Charity More Excellent Than the Extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit

Chapter 3: The Greatest Performances of Sufferings in Vain Without Charity

Chapter 4: Charity Disposes Us Meekly to Bear the Injuries Received from Others

Chapter 5: Charity Disposes Us to Do Good

Chapter 6: Charity Inconsistent With an Envious Spirit

Chapter 7: The Spirit of Charity Is a Humble Spirit

Chapter 8: The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of a Selfish Spirit

I can’t tell you enough how beneficial this has been to me, of course a lot of that uncovering my lacking, and learning about Christian charity in a much deeper and prayerfully more meaningful way. It is my prayer that God indeed grant us this Christian charity, for His glory and the benefit of His Church, and that we be in continual prayer for it.

The rest of the series is now available at “Charity and Its Fruits, Part 2.”

— David

David’s Digest: God is an Extremist

In this day and age, the word “extremist” has been turned into a pejorative by tying it to terrorists, and by today’s apostate “Christianity” against those who hold strongly to biblical doctrine and so as to not offend or supposedly detract from being as attractive to an ungodly world as possible (whereas the Bible promises that the world will hate the followers of Christ, not be attracted to them!) Generally, if you believe what is not mainstream, you often get labelled an extremist.

But what does God have to say about extremism?

First, God by His very nature is extreme. He is perfectly and infinitely holy, righteous, wrathful, loving, gracious, merciful, forgiving, etc. — all of these attributes and traits are extreme to their fullest (and even beyond that). In God there is no darkness (none at all), and only light (1 John 1:5), and the extreme shining forth of light. To deny this is to deny God Himself.

Secondly, God evidences His extremism by His acts. In 2 Kings 19:35, God had an angel kill 185,000 people in one night. That’s pretty “extreme.”

And God killed everyone on the earth (maybe billions) with the flood, saving only eight people. Wow, now that’s “extreme”!

Then, because of one sin, all mankind fell completely, being charged with the guilt of that sin (see the doctrine of original sin), and from then on carried only a sin nature (the spiritual nature and image of God being lost in total), losing all spiritual life as well; and all of mankind was condemned to eternal punishment and death. Now that’s really “extreme”!

And finally, in His wisdom, the only way God’s wrath would be satisfied and holiness maintained in reconciling with Himself some of those lost creatures — so that they would enjoy Him for eternity, which is part of why man was created — was for His only begotten Son — God Himself — to die at the hands of creatures, with Him bearing the full wrath of God His people deserved. Now that’s the ultimate in “extremism”!

Satan loves the grey, as it confuses the white in its purity and holiness. Compromises, “little” sins, lack of doctrinal purity, synchretism with the world, slothfulness in duties, making fearing the Lord in obedience to ALL of God’s commands a “light” or common thing — these are his lies which he uses to keep people from the Light. Remember, in God’s eyes there is no grey — because He is absolutely pure and holy: you are either “white” — pure and holy (by Christ’s righteousness alone) or you are “black” — completely impure and unholy…period. Awfully “extreme.”

Some will say, but what about God’s extreme grace? Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, do we sin (with even “little ones,” or by disregarding some of God’s commands about how we live our lives that are throughout the Bible because we are “under grace”) that grace may abound? He says, “God forbid”!

Are you living like the world and part of it; by the world’s rudiments (Col 2:8); unconcerned with living a separate and holy life, spiritually and physically from the world; serving mammon most days; not thinking of your sin and its offensiveness to God; not examining yourself whether or not you have a true faith, believe in the true Christ, and believe a true Gospel; or are ok with disregarding some of God’s commands? If so, then God has a word for you:

Rev 3:16 – “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

God is an extremist, and those that are His should be too — in their spiritual lives and beliefs, and in how they live their earthly lives in obedience unto Him.

— David

David’s Digest: Doctrines of Grace Decade

Around 10 years ago and a couple of months, Sue and I were attending a post-modern, seeker-sensitive church; and we were both heavily involved. I was at a place in life where to me things weren’t as they seemed. I had been recently then reading a site that talked about secret societies and how the elite rules the world from behind the scenes. As part of that, I was curious as to where we were technology-wise toward things like what I thought would be “the mark of the beast” (which I thought at the time might be chip implants, etc.), and so from that web site I bought some technology tapes which were talks from a fellow named Michael Bunker. I watched the videos, which were quite interesting. On the videos were printed his web site, but for some reason during those couple of months, I never visited the site, even though I did web application development for a living.

Well, one day, in August, 2002, I thought, hey, I should check out this guy’s web site. Looking back, I find it interesting that there was a delay in visiting his site, but now I figure that it just wasn’t time in God’s plan for me to find what I was going to find there…

I started reading his articles, and wow! What was all of this about God’s sovereignty in salvation — election, predestination, etc.? Here are some of the first articles I remember reading: (original links no longer work)

The God of Your Mind
Gospel of Satan
Born Dead

I was blown away. Could this all be true? I think along my “Christian” upbringing I had run across election somewhere, but nothing of substance, and certainly not in the charismatic church I had gone to (that I remember anyway). Reading these and trying to get a mental grip on God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility and how all of this fit together turned me into a mental zombie for a couple of weeks.

But at the end of that, it was a Sunday night, I believe, where I was reading Romans 9:

1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

It MUST be true — God sovereignly decides on whom He will have mercy and on whom He will not, and even those whose hearts He will harden. At that point, I had a decision to make: either believe this to be true, because it’s right there in the Bible, or cut this part out of the Bible because I don’t want to believe it; and if I’m going to do that, I might as well throw out the whole Bible and all of my Christianity, because you can’t just pick and choose from the Bible. The Lord, in His graces and mercies, granted I choose the former and not the latter.

Well, suddenly, my entire religious belief system was 180 degrees from what it was. Once again, things weren’t as I had thought they were.

Sue and I were seriously dating at the time, and she believed as I had believed before this, and so I knew I was eventually going to have to bring this up with her. I figured I would try to study some more; and when I understood things hopefully a little better, I would try to start talking to her about it all. It was only a few days later, after noticing something wasn’t right with me, she asked me what was going on, and not knowing exactly what to do, I said, “Here, read this,” and handed her some of the articles from Mr. Bunker’s site. Interestingly, this sent her also into about a two-week period of the similar mental gyrations I had gone through, probably because we were brought up similarly in religion.

Thankfully, the Lord graciously granted her light as well, and she also began to see that these doctrines must be true.

Today is Sue and my nine year anniversary, and I am so very grateful to the Lord for the gift of the godly woman of Sue that He has granted me. A lot has happened in nine years, as anyone who has read our blog from the beginning can tell; and we are thankful for the Lord’s guiding and growth in Him He has granted. Over the years, I’ve continued to discover that just about every idea I have had about anything has been backwards to the truth. It has been 10 years of we pray being transformed by the renewing our minds, by God’s graces and mercies.

I believe it was after I had read Romans 9 that one night that I compiled a list of questions I had been storing up in hopes of sending them to Mr. Bunker that he might hopefully answer them. I recently went back to look at them, and lo and behold, I had sent them to him exactly one year before the day Sue and I got married! I found that quite interesting. Mr. Bunker did graciously answer them; and I thought I would include them here, given the significance of the date, and in hopes they might benefit someone:

Some questions asked, and hopefully answered:

“If eternity is set ahead of time for people, what hope do the non-elect have? What is the purpose of witnessing then? How do you witness to them? Are you saying by witnessing to them we are acting to be God’s intervention in their lives to call them? How do you answer a non-Christian the elect concept, or it isn’t our place to try to “get” people to “want” to believe — that’s strictly up to God (ie. if they don’t like the fact that God’s sovereignty rules and therefore don’t believe, then that’s not our issue, it’s God’s. Is that correct?)”

Bunker – God has not chosen to show us who the elect and the non-elect are other than by their subsequent belief and by their fruit. We are only told to “preach the gospel to all creatures”. When God uses us to call one of His elect to Himself, it magnifies His glory that He utilizes the foolishness of preaching and foolish men to show his power, grace and mercy to those on whom He chooses to show mercy.

In fact, only the concepts of election and predestination cause “evangelizing” or “witnessing” to make any sense. Since I believe that in order for a man to believe, He must be inclined towards God by God’s sovereign grace, and it is not of man to incline himself towards God, then I also realize that ANY person that God is going to reach is going to have to have his will overturned and violently overcome by God. So I can freely pray for the lost, hoping that God will overcome their corrupt and fallen wills, and that He will cast down their unbelief and call them to Himself. However, i f we DON’T believe that God should overcome peoples wills, and that they must use the “free will” to come to Christ – then what exactly would we be praying for? Wouldn’t it violate their will for God to woo them to Himself? So the question is, why do ARMINIANS witness, when they have chosen to handcuff God in the saving of the sheep?

We must tell the Non-Christian the truth, that men are fallen corrupt and spiritually dead. That they are totally dead in trespasses and sins, and that the commandments of God are violated by them every day out of rebellion and the workings of mans evil and pernicious heart. We must tell the lost that without the Cross, they are lost and without hope in the world, incapable of doing that which is good in God’s sight. We must tell them that they are deserving of everlasting hell, and that hell is their natural abode, and it is only God’s mercy that has kept them from already traveling to where they should naturally reside. We must tell them that since God would not have any of His children perish, He has with great longsuffering allowed the rebellion and corruption of man to continue, that He might patiently call all of His sheep, the residue of men, to Himself. We must tell the Non-Christian that if they recognize that they have sinned and offended a Holy and Righteous God. If they recognize that they are in utter peril, rushing forwards to the wrath that is to come upon all that deny the reality of a Sovereign and Just God. If they truly desire to flee that wrath that is to come, then it is because God has called them to Himself, and they must merely cast themselves upon Him because He has promised that for all those that flee to Him from destruction, He will in no wise cast them out. It is the Shepherd that calls the sheep, and they hear His voice, and they follow Him. If the Non-Christian hears his voice, and “chooses” to follow Him, then it is not of their flesh that they do so, because “he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world KNEW HIM NOT. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to THEM GAVE HE POWER to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born NOT OF BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, but of God.” (John 1:10-13)

“What about Rom 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”? Doesn’t this show some sort of willful action on our part? It’s not that our action saves us, but it asks God to save us. How about Rom 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” We a sk God to save us after recognizing our wretched state and that we cannot save ourselves — is that correct?.”

Bunker – You ask if these scriptures show some “willful” action on the part of man. Surely they do. Those who hold to the Doctrines of Grace certainly do not deny that there is a will, and that this will is enacted when it is disposed towards God. We hold that the will, as part of the soul, is corrupted and fallen as the Bible clearly shows, and that it is naturally inclined AWAY from God and not towards Him. So how could the fallen will choose to “confess with the mouth”, or “believe in the heart”? How can the fallen man “call upon the name of the Lord” in order to be saved, if the natural and inevitable direction of the fallen will is AWAY from God and Hellward? Well, the will is Sovereignly moved upon by the sole Grace of God as he calls His sheep to Him self. Clearly those that confess the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart are only those upon whom God has chosen to move! Is it not God who calls? If God calls, and we are the responder – then How then can we leave God’s calling out of the equation in these verses? No man “chooses” from his own flesh to be inclined towards God, and to recognize his own lost state. The veil must be lifted. The scales must come off. The ears must be made to hear, and the eyes must be made to see.

“Is current sin *choosing* to disobey? How does current sin play into all of this? If it’s the will of God that determines if we are called or not, (as shown by the following: if nothing happens that isn’t a part of God’s will, then people not becoming Christians must be a part of His will), is *every* decision anyone makes part of God’s will (ie. I want to go for a jog. Am I doing that because God willed it? If not, wouldn’t the idea that someone becoming a Christian is their decision? Maybe after God taking them to a point where they realize they need Him?”

Bunker – We must delineate between the DECREED will of God, and the Command of God. These are difficult concepts, but they can be plainly shown in the scripture. It is here that the Jesuit short-robes like Dave Hunt choose to attack God’s Sovereignty. First of all, no man must “choose” to disobey, in that the natural predisposition of all of Adam’s progeny is disobedience. That God withholds with His mighty hand, certain sins, and allows others is what we see manifest as “the will” on the planet. Our natural predisposition is to total disobedience and rebellion. Disobedience and rebellion are as predictable as the earth traveling around the sun (which God also decrees and holds in his hand). God commanded that Pharaoh let his people go (Exodus 5:1) and this was a “thus saith the Lord”. But God DECREED that Pharaoh would NOT let the people go (Exodus 4:21), as God would not allow Pharaoh to do that which God had commanded. So it is in life. God has decreed from before the foundation of the world, all that which will come to pass. But God is not the author, nor the causer of sin. That we sin is of us (and the devil), WHAT SIN WE SIN is of God. God chooses to withhold us from sinning certain sins (Gen. 20:6 and many others), while he clearly allows other sins to be committed unhindered. Psalm 139:16 is a very illustrative passage, for God declares that all my members (days, histories) were written in his book when as yet there were none of them. Read all of Psalm 139 for an idea of how God controls every element of your life! The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23). Psalm 119 is a good study. There are two ways: Sin will have dominion over you, OR, God will direct all your steps. I finish this answer with Psalm 16:9 because it explains the difference between how life APPEARS and how it is: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”

“Is it correct that our “willful” actions are simply the fulfillment of God’s will?”

Bunker – Everything that comes to pass, even the Crucifixion of Christ, is the fulfillment of God’s decreed will.

“Can God’s will be resisted? Or is it true that if His will is *done*, then His will *will* be done?”

Bunker – God’s commands are resisted every day. But his will is done and cannot be resisted, as sayeth the scripture: “and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to HIS WILL in the army of heaven, AND among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou.” (Daniel 4:35)

“Is it perhaps that His will is that we make a choice for Him and that He requires that choice from us?”

Bunker – Although it is God’s command that we make a choice for Him, and that He requires that choice from us – this command does not change the fact that God has decreed from all eternity what shall come to pass, and that our perceived choices do not trump God’s decreed events. Just as He commanded all men “thou shalt do no murder”, and thou shalt not bear false witness, He also decreed to Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly”, and explained the event to us by saying of Jesus: “Him, being delivered by the DETERMINATE COUNSEL AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:23). So, we make our perceived choices, but if one of those choices has been to love God and to have an overriding affection for Him and His ways, then you can be assured that those desires are not of you, but of God who is the author and finisher of all faith. Give Him the Glory for his manifest power in overcoming your corrupt nature, and for violently throwing down your rebellion against Him.

“Do our prayers affect who are God’s elect? (praying that God would overthrow their wills. ie. can we sway God?) Also, by praying that way, doesn’t that imply a will? But it’s just not going to turn itself over (due to our fallen state) *without* God directly intervening — is that correct?

Bunker – Once again, we have wills. The lost man has a will corrupted and dead, as he is a slave and bondservant to sin and the devil. As a born again Christian, purchased, redeemed, we become bondslaves to the risen Christ – and our wills are sold into slavery to Him with which we have to do. Praying does not change eternity or the reality of God’s eternal decrees. God is the author of spiritual prayer, as He has claimed, “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we KNOW NOT WHAT we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be utttered.” That prayer which is not SPIRIT does not ascend to God (who is Spirit). That prayer which is SPIRIT, authored by God and ascends to Him (as the Bible says FROM faith TO faith). PRAYER CHANGES YOU, NOT GOD.

“Why have kids? What if they aren’t a part of God’s elect?”

Bunker – Do that which God has commanded. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” God is Sovereign, and YOU are responsible. Trust that God is sovereign, and know that there will not be one person in heaven who isn’t supposed to be there, and there will not be one person in hell who isn’t supposed to be there. God is not just merciful and just, but He is also good. I am certain that God has motivated you to pray for your children. Do that which God requires of you, and do not doubt that God is just and God is also willing to give you the DESIRES of your heart. Not the product of your desires, but the “will” to desire that which He has before decreed for you.

“If a person doesn’t understand about God’s elect & sovereignty, does that necessarily mean they aren’t saved?”

Bunker – Ignorance is one thing, a blatant disregard for the truth, rebellion against it , or the teaching of false doctrines to others is another. There will be many ignorant folks in heaven (us for instance), but those who teach others to stumble will receive a judgement that ought to cause them to shudder.

“Does God love everyone?”

Bunker – God clearly does not love everyone. His eternal hatred for some will be before their eyes for all eternity as they face the fires of hell. It is ludicrous for some to teach that God “loves” everyone, but He will still send them to eternal perdition, pain and suffering. As the Jesuit liar Dave Hunt would say, “What Love is This?”. God is not passionate. His “love” and his “hate” are not human emotions. They are the action of his will towards those he chooses to show mercy, and upon those he chooses to show justice. Imagine a bumper sticker on the side of the ark, “Smile, God loves you” as billions perish beneath the waves.

“What do you say to someone when they say “Oh, it’s a translation issue.
My translation says …”? (ie. the JWs)

Bunker – I do my best not to say anything to them, other than to pronounce their utter peril if they continue to slight the word of God.

“What is dispensationalism?”

Bunker – That is a huge topic, and an important one. Please go to this link and read the treatise by A.W. Pink on dispensationalism: http://home.earthlink.net/~dddewber/pinkdisp.htm [This link no longer works, but you can read it currently at http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Dispensationalism/index.htm — David]

“It seems to me that there was a point where I had to decide whom I was going to follow, and that God mercifully took me to that point, offering me a way back to Him. Or is that He mercifully took me to that point to get me to come back to Him? How does this fit into some of things you talk about regarding choice, experience and relationship with God? I know you said the Bible doesn’t talk about a “personal relationship”, and I couldn’t find it either :-), but isn’t there some sort of relationship going on? Did not Christ personally relate with His disciples?”

Bunker – Would you say that God brought you to that point, the point of your “decision” without knowing and decreeing for what purposes He engaged in the endeavor? Or would you say that it is fair to say that since you are 3D and must progress forward in linear, temporal time – that to you this event seemed like a choice that could go either way, but to God, who is eternally outside of time, not affected by linear events, and able to see all of time at one time – that you were brought to this point so that his eternal decree that you should be one of HIS SHEEP and one of HIS FLOCK and forever be in HIS PRESENCE, would come to pass?

I know those are a lot of questions. Thank you very much for any time you
might spend on this.

Bunker – They are important questions, and I will share them and my answers with many more who might be benefited by them. Thank you for your heartfelt questions and may God be glorified by our exchange.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

Michael Bunker

Amen!

Finally, back a long time ago, I put together a document of scriptures that reveal the doctrines of grace, God’s sovereignty, the particular redemption of a certain people by Christ Jesus, etc.; and you can view that document from our web page called Election, Atonement, and Other Interesting Verse Sets.

Sue and I are very grateful to the Lord for granting His Word and Light, and for granting the teachers to us He has in those preachers of the past and present, including Mr. Bunker; and it is our prayer that the Lord Christ mold us in His image, that He protect us from deception, and that He glorify Himself through our marriage, wherever that might lead.

— David

« Older posts