The False Gospel of Prosperity

In light of this article titled “Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich” on the front page of the New York Times, I thought I would re-post this video of John Piper addressing the so-called “Prosperity Gospel.”

Please pray that the light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ will shine forth in this world and that Jesus will not be seen as the means to the end – but the end itself.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—Matthew 6:19-21

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.

—Matthew 9:16-23

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

—Matthew 16:24-28

Behold the Cross of Christ

Are you living in any kind of sin? Are you following the course of this world, and neglecting your soul? Hear! I beseech you, what I say to you this day: “Behold the cross of Christ.”

See there how Jesus loved you! See there what Jesus suffered to prepare for you a way of salvation! Yes: careless men and women, for you that blood was shed! For you those hands and feet were pierced with nails! For you that body hung in agony on the cross!

You are they whom Jesus loved, and for whom He died! Surely that love ought to melt you. Surely the thought of the cross should draw you to repentance. Oh, that it might be so this very day!

—J.C. Ryle
Old Paths

Via: J.C. Ryle Quotes

The Intention(s) of Christ in the Atonement

Christ died for the elect in a way that he did not for the non-elect. It could be argued that there are at least two intentions in Christ’s work of the atonement. The first one is for the elect, in whom God has decreed that the atonement is certain and eventual, therefore it is necessary that it will be applied on His people at a time of the Spirit’s choosing. The second is for the non-elect, who receive non-redemptive benefits. These may include not immediately receiving (a putting off of) God’s just wrath, but the redemptive benefits of the atonement will only be hearlded in the divine command but never actualized in the non-elect. This is why the Bible proclaims that we freely hold out the gospel to all unbelievers and tell them that Christ died, not for all men, but for all sinners who would believe (John 3:16). The redemptive benefits are only for believers. All who believe will have the benefits of the atonement applied to them and be justified, but since no one naturally fits this description, the only persons who come to Christ are those who are God’s elect, regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto faith. This means that we are wholly dependent on the work of Christ for our redemption, which includes our ability to have faith in the Redeemer. Since we do not have the power in ourselves to do anything apart from the work of God’s Son on the cross, He also gives, as one of its benefits, the Holy Spirit for our conversion (1 Pet 1:3). God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Our redemption in Christ is the wellspring out of which flows regeneration, faith, repentance, justification and sanctification. So although the atonement may have more than one intent, its central purpose is for the redemption of elect (Titus 2:14). In other words, Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect.

Those who say they believe the doctrines of grace, but not particular redemption, carve out the Person, heart and source of grace in these doctrines. For without the particularly of the death of Jesus Christ, all of the other doctrines of grace become mere impersonal abstractions. Jesus Christ must be at their center or not at all. What do I mean by this? For example, if one claims the the atonment is not particular, but that irresistible grace is, then where does the grace come from which makes irresistible grace particular? From Christ or from some generic grace apart from Christ? If from Christ then you already affirm particular redemption and the impersonal abstraction of four-point calvinism is overthrown. If not from Christ, do you then believe there are redemptive benefits to be had apart from Christ? It is impossible, in other words, to believe in irresistible grace without acknowledging that all spiritual/redemptive blessings (including irresistible grace) flow from one source: Christ.

To show that this doctrine has biblical authority have a look at the following: The Jewish high priest in the Old Testament prayed for the Israelites on the Day of Atonement. He approcahed the Lord wearing the names of the twelve tribes when bringing the sacrifice. Likewise, before His death on the cross, Jesus also prays a “high priestly prayer” for His people in John 17. Notice that in verse 9, Jesus (as high priest) prays an exclusive prayer for certain people and not others: ‘I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours.” Then soon after in verse 19 when praying for the same persons the Father has “given” Jesus, He prays: “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” So Jesus only sanctifies Himself for those the Father has given him, meaning these are the very ones He dies redemptively for. In short, Jesus prays for the same persons He dies redemptively for. Only those God has elected in Christ from eternity are given the grace of regeneration that they might believe. And this regeneration is among the redemptive benefits of Christ given to the elect alone – for he purchased with his blood people OUT OF every tribe, nation, tongue and people (Rev 5:9).

—John Hendryx

Via: Reformation Theology