Divine Purpose, Pleasure, and Praise in Predestination
Paul beautifully lays out this complex doctrine in the first chapter of Ephesians, reminding us several times over that: 1) God specifically chose those he wanted to be in his family and to share in his inheritance before he even created the world; 2) this predestination fulfilled the divine plan which he purposed in himself, after the counsel of his own will; and 3) this divine plan both pleased and glorified God.
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. (Ephesians 1:11)
Paul opens this letter to the church at Ephesus in praise to God for having “chosen us in him before the foundation of the world… according to the good pleasure of his will [which he purposed in himself] to the praise of the glory of his grace,” (vs. 3-6). He then reiterates, “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, that we should be to the praise of his glory,” (vs. 11-12).
The depths of divine mystery surrounding the doctrine of predestination are well beyond the scope of human comprehension. It is, as Fulgentius defines, “a preparation of the works of God, which in his eternal counsel he decreed to do to show his mercy or his justice in.”
And yet Paul beautifully lays out this complex doctrine in the first chapter of Ephesians, reminding us several times over that: 1) God specifically chose those he wanted to be in his family and to share in his inheritance before he even created the world; 2) this predestination fulfilled the divine plan which he purposed in himself, after the counsel of his own will; and 3) this divine plan both pleased and glorified God.
It is a staggering truth that before time began God purposed to restore harmony to a world and a people that what would soon be riddled with sin and death. And more specifically, as Paul explains in these verses, he purposed that you and I should have a part and a place in that redemption, “in whom also we have obtained an inheritance.”
Imagine… in eternity past God included you and me in the counsel of His own will! He not only conceived the plan of redemption; he saw us in it. God’s children have always been in his mind and on his heart. We are there now because we were there then, “before the foundation of the world.”
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True Friends in MinistryBy Matthew Adams — 2 months ago
We see Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah standing the test of time. They are wise and godly. When they needed to stand in the face of temptation, they stood while everyone else bowed. Together they kept the faith, even in the middle of Babylon.
Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.Without counsel plans fail, but with many counselors they succeed.(Proverbs 15:21-22)
Throughout the Proverbs, the author urges us to seek wisdom. We could even say that repeatedly wisdom “calls out” to us so that we might gain knowledge and understanding (Prov. 1:20-22).
Why do we need wisdom? Why do we need knowledge and understanding? The answer is simple: so that we might live to the glory of God. Therefore, the Proverbs speak about several practical aspects of our daily lives. They talk about the incentives of living wisely concerning wealth, power, and social status. However, at the same time, they teach us about wisdom concerning more intimate matters like familial and friendly relationships. I want to focus on this idea of friendships, especially regarding pastors and ministry leaders.
Often the temptation for ministers is to be stubbornly individualistic. We are good at keeping our heads down and our hands on the plow. We are, probably more than we like to admit, wading through rough and rugged waters while thinking, “I will do this on my own, and I will do it my way.” Besides, wasn’t this how the Apostle Paul “did” ministry? No, it was not how the Apostle planted churches, evangelized, preached powerful sermons, and the like. Paul wisely surrounded himself with godly friends. One New Testament scholar has pointed out that Paul identifies more than 65 people as friends in ministry or members throughout his letters. This can be seen in the closing remarks of his letters, as he repeatedly makes mention of men and women with whom he enjoyed gospel partnership and deeply committed friendship.
If you reread the above proverb, you will notice that it bluntly states that those who seek to go their own way, the stubborn individualistic minister, is one who “lacks sense.” However, the one who surrounds himself, like Paul, with godly counselors has understanding, walks intentionally forward, and finds success.
Why is it considered wise to have godly friends as a host of counselors in ministry? Here are three reasons:
They stand as an encouragement against temptation and sin.
Evangelical authors have spilled much ink regarding the hardships of ministry; therefore, I do not feel the need to spend much time convincing you of that truth. Nevertheless, with trials and tribulations comes overbearing temptation. Our great enemy, Satan, knows it is the opportune time to attack when we are at our lowest points. Therefore, he moves swiftly and convincingly, attempting to bring shame and despair into the minister’s life.
I think about Christ as the Spirit drives him into the wilderness. There he spends forty days and forty nights fasting and praying. Matthew 4:2 says that Jesus was “hungry.” What an understatement! Jesus was physically exhausted, and in his flesh, he was low. It was then, in this moment of weakness, that the tempter came to him.
That is the scene that I am painting for the minister, too. When we are at our lowest point, the spiritual battle rages. We must, like Christ, always be ready. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we often do not look to Christ when Satan tempts us to despair and tells us of the guilt within. Instead, we find ourselves looking to our circumstances; we look for instant gratification. In the low points of our ministry, we long to feel acceptance, success, and affection. Therefore, when temptation comes, we are often weak.
The PCA’s Overture 15 Must Be AdoptedBy Peter Jones — 7 months ago
The authors of Overture 15, Westminster Presbytery, argue that ministers of the gospel are to be above reproach in their Christian character and self-conception and that a man would disqualify himself from ordained office in the PCA if he identified himself in terms associated with the LGBTQ+ movement or has a Gay self-conception.
I have been asked to write on why the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) presbyteries should formally vote to include the new paragraph, Overture 15 in the Book of Church Order 7-4:
Men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct, are disqualified from holding office in the Presbyterian Church in America.
With my wife Rebecca, we were one of the first three missionary families sent out by the first General Assembly (GA) of the PCA in Birmingham, AL, in 1973. Thus, I was greatly moved by the GA speech of Palmer Robertson, a fellow missionary professor and a long-term friend, of around my age, who has been noting the growing and unique emphasis on homosexuality that he has seen in so many cultural expressions like television and public life. Like him, my conviction is that the issue will become the cause of serious Christian persecution. Clearly, we have to get this right—for ourselves and for the next Christian generation we are raising.
I will argue that presbyteries must vote in Overture 15 for two reasons: 1. For the integrity and purity of the ordained ministry; 2. for the clarity of the Gospel message we bring to the world and especially to the youth in our churches.
For the integrity and purity of the ordained ministry
We charge new candidates for ministry to “adorn the profession of the Gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the church” (BCO 24-5-4).
One cannot help but compare this to the words of TE Greg Johnson:
…you wanna know about my sexual brokenness? I am happy to talk to you about what I talked about in the pulpit two weeks ago, and that I think is relevant to this conversation. I am a pornography addict. I have had a pornography addiction for 15 years. that pull is still as strong as it was. I’ve mortified this for 15 years and it still, you know, I see a computer terminal unmonitored and immediately my mind thinks, I want to look at porn. Fifteen years of strangling this thing, and it doesn’t die, it doesn’t go away…
I know that if I look at one image, I’m going to look at a thousand. I know I’m not going to come up for air for hours.
The authors of Overture 15, Westminster Presbytery, argue that ministers of the gospel are to be above reproach in their Christian character and self-conception and that a man would disqualify himself from ordained office in the PCA if he identified himself in terms associated with the LGBTQ+ movement or has a Gay self-conception. Johnson’s “gay self-conception” is indicated by the small but significant detail that the spine of his book, Still Time To Care features the gay rainbow.
Some admire Johnson’s honesty and oppose Overture 15 because it is unfair that homosexuals alone be targeted since there are many other sinful conditions that need to be addressed that tempt ordained ministers. This year I was asked to evaluate a Ph.D. thesis by Jeffery Adams Moore whose very well argued and exegetically supported thesis is that there are three sins that Scripture specifically highlights as the most significant: the three are: “abortion, [and] assisted suicide [forms of murder]…and homosexuality. These sins “oppose the one-man, one-woman multiplication of humanity for earthly rule under the triune God’s heavenly rule. Such sins are inversions of the created order and resist the spreading of God’s image for his glory.” Though a Baptist, soon-to-be Dr. Moore identifies among others John Calvin, Francis Turretin, Charles Hodge, Herman Bavinck, and Louis Berkhof as theologians adopting this conclusion. The gravity of this sin must also be understood in terms of its role in our present godless culture.
For the clarity of the Gospel message that we bring to the world and especially to the youth in our churches.
A second major issue regarding homosexuality, sometimes called “sexual androgyny” [the mixing of male and female] since it includes transgenderism, transvestitism, bi-sexuality, agenderism, drag, and cross-dressing, is not only whether it is, as such an immoral way of behaving but in what way does it deeply and fully express the worldview of paganism and thus has an important ideological status. In other words, without practicing androgynous sexuality, can one affirm it as valid, and thus be just as pagan as the small percentage of actual practitioners.
The paganization of Western culture began with the invasion of Eastern spirituality in the Sixties when people discovered personal, New Age “spirituality.” But for progressives that individual experience had to become a Western worldview, and some of the leaders knew what to do. The Jungian/Gnostic, June Singer, in 1977 made a programmatic statement that others are now putting into practice. Have you ever wondered why recently the LGBTQ agenda is now everywhere, being promoted as the great issue of contemporary social and moral rights, as professor Palmer Robertson pointed out at the GA? Why must children be taught to think this way in schools? Why is Disney committed to promoting it, at the expense of losing many parental customers? Why Drag Queens must be reading in happy hour to children in public libraries? Why has transexual Adm Rachel Levine, an overweight middle-age man and father of a number of children, appointed the 17th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Sam Brinton, appointed as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy for the Department of Energy, shows up to work in the White House and in Paris in heels and a short dress and make-up and stiletto heels, and who boasts about his involvement in “puppy play,” that is, grown men putting on dog masks and behaving like submitted animals for sexual stimulus—why have these two been sent to represent the US government at the celebration Bastille Day at the French Ambassador’s residence?
Sam Brinton wrote a scathing rebuke of federal law enforcement agencies for raiding Rentboy.com, a now-defunct website that reportedly ran an illegal prostitution ring that often sold the sexual services of young boys to much older clients. He stated: “The raid on its headquarters has thrown many gay, bisexual, and transgender young adults into turmoil as their main source of income has been ripped, away due to irresponsible and archaic views of sex work.”
The short-term answer to these questions is the Biden administration’s radical commitment to LGBTQ ideology. The long-term answer goes back to 1977 when June Singer asked: “Can the human psyche realize its own creative potential through building its own cosmology and supplying it with its own gods?” The new cosmology would include, as Singer said, “the longed-for conjunction of the opposites,” and “a new androgynous sexuality.”The spirituality of the Sixties, she declared programmatically:
…[since] we have at hand…all the ingredients we will need to perform our own new alchemical opus…[the great work, a term from satanist traditions]… [we will] fuse the opposites within us: “the archetype of androgyny appears in us as an innate sense of…and witness to…the primordial cosmic unity—functioning to erase distinction…this was nearly totally expunged from the Judeo-Christian tradition…and a patriarchal god-image.
“Primordial cosmic unity” eliminates the very notion of a distinct divine creator, thus eradicates the biblical revelation of God. Singer understood that the spiritual Age of Aquarius had to become the Age of Androgyny, that the “new humanism” predicted by Carl Jung required the full acceptance of “androgynous sexuality.
This term, androgyny, is employed in a significant way by the great expert in the history of religions, the Romanian, Mircea Eliade who argues that androgyny is a religious universal or archetype of pagan priests or shamans that appears virtually everywhere and at all times in the world’s religions. Mircea Eliade explains the spiritual meaning of androgyny as “a symbolic restoration of chaos, of the undifferentiated unity that preceded the Creation.” The androgynous being thus sums up the very goal of the mystical, monistic quest, whether ancient or modern:
…androgyny in many traditional religions functions as “an archaic and universal formula for the expression of wholeness, the co-existence of the contraries, or coincidentia oppositorum . . . symboliz[ing] . . . perfection . . . [and] ultimate being. . . .
Modern witches call for “a nonbinary look at Source itself,… finding our power as we reweave ourselves back into the reflection of god-herself, as the divine-androgen.  The androgyne is thus the physical symbol of the pagan spiritual goal, which is the merging of two seemingly distinct entities, the self and god, and a mystical return to the state of godhead prior to creation, which is the essence of idolatry.
This is the very same logic that Paul employs in Romans 1:18-27. The homosexual act exchanges the worship of God for the worship of creation. In creation, homosexuality is an inversion of God’s design for one-man, one-woman “fitted” sexual intimacy with openness to procreation. In redemption, same-sex sexuality fails to herald and signify the sacrificial redemptive relationship between Christ, the Bridegroom, and his bride, the church, as two distinct bodies united by grace.
That the pagan priesthood would be so identified, across space and time, with the blurring of sexual identity via homosexual androgyny indicates, beyond a doubt, the enormous priority paganism has given, and continues to give, to the undermining of God-ordained monogamous heterosexuality, and the divine image, and the enthusiastic promotion of androgyny in its varied forms.
Chapter 7 of the PCA Book of Church Order affirms that “teaching elders [must be] specially gifted, called and trained by God to preach…” If ever was needed this kind of worldview preaching and teaching it is surely now.
Are pastors who accept Side B thinking about homosexuality able to help students navigate through the worldview of androgynous sexuality as a fundamental opposition to biblical orthodoxy. Taking Greg Johnson as an example, he boasts, as a gay, celibate man, that not experiencing marriage in this life, is a foretaste of heaven. He sees celibacy as an “intrusion ethic,” an in-breaking of the ethics of the coming age into our present era, since in heaven “none of us will be married.” This is not strictly speaking true. Though he holds up his life of celibacy as a sign of selfless Christian sacrifice, one may wonder if, in as subtle way, he uses celibacy not, as it should be, as a unique divine mission but, as, in a certain way, of maintaining his single homosexual lifestyle. Perhaps a better way would be for Rev. Johnson to marry a godly Christian woman to better understand the importance of biblical heterosexual marriage. For Johnson, the mystery that moves him is that Jesus took him on “as his little brother,” not his bride. For Paul, the profound mystery that God’s establishment of marriage in Genesis 2:22-25 expresses, is Christ, the bridegroom’s love for church. (Eph 5:31-2). In this sense, marriage will go on forever.
I end with a citation of my final paragraph of my review article of Greg Johnson’s book, Still Time to Care. “The call for cultural apologetics is not an appeal to pastors to preach politics! It is a matter of understanding the implications of our theology so we all can understand and live out those implications through the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit. A solid understanding of worldview is an increasingly great need in our nation’s churches and pulpits, which are abandoning orthodoxy in favor of cultural myths. They are turning away from God the Creator and Redeemer to celebrate depraved forms of pagan living. May we all speak clearly and boldly to Christians and non-Christians alike, with grace, humility, clarity, and power—following the example of the Apostle Paul.”
Dr. Peter Jones is scholar in residence at Westminster Seminary California and associate pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church in Escondido, Calif. He is director of truthXchange, a communications center aimed at equipping the Christian community to recognize and effectively respond to the rise of paganism. This article is used with permission.
 Jeffery Adams Moore, “Greater Sins: Are Certain Violations of God’s Moral Law Weightier Than Others?” A Dissertation Submitted to The Faculty Of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary In Candidacy For The Degree Of Doctor Of Philosophy (Kansas City, Missouri May 2022), p. 301
 Ibid., p. 20.
 June Singer, Androgyny: Towards a New theory of sexuality (London: Routledge and Kegan, 1977), 237. Incredible, and never dying, this book is just as relevant today as it was initially. For Singer, there is no greater deed of mankind than to accept and integrate our opposites within. To know the androgyne is to unify the self.
 See the title of Singer’s book, Androgyny: Towards A New Theory Of Sexuality.
 Singer, Androgyny, 207.
 Mircea Eliade, “Androgynes,” The Encyclopedia of Religion, 154.
 “Getting Straight with Spirit,” Tommie StarChild, (PantheaCon 2020 conference agenda, workshop description), p.34.
 Still Time to Care, 100, 158
 I am thankful to Rev. Also Leon for this insight.
 Op.cit., 241.
 Peter Jones, Still Time to Care About the Whole Gospel – TruthXchange (March 2, 2022).
Christian CharacterBy Mike Ratliff — 1 year ago
If we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand of sanctification, we will submit to those whom God wills. We will worship Him instead of self. We will walk by faith not by sight. That means that temptations to not be honorable can be defeated and left powerless because they depend on our functioning within our flesh and pride.
18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. 19 And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:18-21 (NASB)
R.C. Sproul shared the following story in the September 2007 issue of Tabletalk magazine. “Several years ago I was participating in a discussion with some business men in Jackson, Mississippi. In the course of the conversation, one of the men made reference to a man who was not present at the meeting. He said, ‘He is an honorable man.’ When I heard this comment, my ears perked up as I thought for a moment I was hearing a foreign language being spoken. I realized that I was in the middle of the Deep South where customs of old had not entirely been eradicated, yet I still could not get over that somebody in this day and age was using the word honor as descriptive term for a human being.”
Is the term ‘honor’ as a descriptive term for a human being out of place in our day and time? If we look up ‘honor’ in our dictionaries we will find that its chief synonym is ‘integrity.’ Before we begin to determine the lack of this characteristic in the current body of Christian believers, especially among its leadership, let us define what we mean. Integrity describes one who has an uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles. It describes one who possesses soundness of character. There are many more definitions, but this is enough for now. A honorable person is a man or woman of principle. He or she puts principle ahead of personal gain. Also, they do not compromise their principles. That would mean that once they grasp the truth they would never let go, no matter the cost.
One of the major attacks against my posts on the doctrines of grace over the last several years was that I presented them as truth. Sometimes, this aroused some very ugly attacks because I did not say what I presented could possibly be wrong and the opposing views could be right. If I believed that then I wouldn’t have bothered posting them. What sort of truth is it that we can say, “this is the truth, but I could be wrong and your view could possible be true too.” That’s not standing on principle. That’s called compromise. Some would call it political correctness. This is why I despise our political system in the United States. Politicians must often compromise everything, including their principles in order to function. That is not right. That is why I could never hold public office.
Compromise is with us wherever we go. It seems that our entire lives are challenges to our principles. Those of us who are Christians experience this on an even higher plane. I promise you, the world system is anti-everything that God tells us from His Word that should makeup genuine Christian character.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.