- Blessed LORD I thank you from my heart and soul to be together with you all I am doing better getting better every day with strength and prayers. You all are so special to the family and prayers for all that is needed for this time in need.Love you all God Bless Us All Peace be with the World! Prayers for gratitude to our TROUPES FIRST RESPONDERS TEACHERS CHURCHES ECT. THANK YOU SWEET JESUS CHRIST IN YOUR NAME I PRAY AMEN
- Praying for Strength God Blesses Us with for your recovery of sight as well as for Bill and families love you lots
- Thank you, Anna (and all of our other GSPC friends) for your prayers. In spite of a bit of inflammation for a few days, my eyesight seems to be doing pretty well. I will still have to wear glasses because of an astigmatism, but that’s okay. Love you!
- That's great news we miss you and Bill. We love you lots God Bless Us All Peace be with the World!
Please pray.Thank you all for your help in making Gordon's day a special day; glory to God! Please keep these notes in your prayers and calendars Anna Manuel was being released when we called earlier today; God willing she is home and recovering. Please pray. This Sunday, the 2nd of February, immediately following the luncheon at 1: PM, we will help Dianne and Jim Campbell celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary with a renewal of their vows. Please stay to witness so glorious a celebration. Pray for Marie who is coming home this weekend after knee surgery and recovery. Pray for Marlene Taube, who is having cataract surgery this Thursday. Pray for Irma, who is having a knee replacement operation on the 17th of February. We are having a church work day on the 15th of February, as well as a church outing/excursion (more info to follow). Pray for Deanna still as we await test results. To God alone the glory Pastor Hartley
- Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church published a newsletterReadThe Doctrines of GraceT. U. L. I. P.The Beauties of Grace
One of the first games some children learn is how to pluck the petals of a daisy while reciting the phrase, "he loves me, he loves me not," however, no one uses tulips to play the same game. Those who plant tulips highly prize and value them and would never waste them on a meaningless child's game. The tulip is a beautiful flower whose glory fades with the loss of each petal. Daisies line the roadside and are quickly trampled underfoot. The doctrines of God's sovereign grace are priceless like the tulip, while the common man centered presumptions of the Arminian doctrine are as worthless as the daisy.
Someone has jokingly said, "The Arminian flower is the daisy." It symbolizes the uncertainty of salvation. As you pick the pedals, you can say, 'He loves me, He loves me not," paralyzed in fear awaiting the answer, never certain of God's capricious answer. In the Arminian theology of free will, little is lost when the petals of incoherent doctrine are plucked away, but when the biblical doctrines of grace are separated from one another, the very heart of the truth of sovereign grace is destroyed and trampled underfoot.
There is great beauty in the tulip of grace. Each petal is vital to its splendor and each fold is like a shroud hiding the beauty of Christ, which blossoms when the flower of grace unfolds its petals. One cannot separate the varying aspects of the sovereign grace of God in salvation. We may isolate them in order to study each aspect of grace, but we cannot deny any essential part. Any attempt to do so is a dreadful deed that makes the flower wilt, and the awesome beauty of true grace is lost.
One of these prized leaflets of grace in the TULIP is the I, which stands for the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. This doctrine holds that the elect of God are certainly and irresistibly drawn to salvation by the Spirit's effectual application of God's word in the dead soul unto life. The I represents one of the most cherished petals of God's glory; it is the emblematic leaf of His unrelenting affection, manifested in His mesmerizing call for His beloved. Irresistible grace is that doctrine that may be the least noticeable of the five points of Calvinist doctrine, but is sure to be found as the most cherished of them all.
It has been my experience that often in one’s early encounters with the anachronism TULIP, one has to be reminded what the I in TULIP represents. If asked to expound upon its meaning many surely would fail to give a cogent, or fitting, reply. Even though their theology is seasoned with grace and they understand the issue of salvation by grace alone, still there remains an inescapable ignorance of the importance of this doctrine. Yet it cannot be overlooked. As the tulip is known for its effulgence and brilliance, so irresistible grace must be revisited for our renewed amazement.
Our depravity we know. Our sinfulness is a resounding reminder of the depths and betrayals of our revolting blackened hearts. Sin's poisonous flower is never far from our attention. But grace? Divine grace? Sovereign mercy? An irresistible pledge of God's unfeasible predilection. If sin's knowledge is ever a useful reminder for our sobriety, how much more then shall the truth of irresistible grace serve to remind us of our certain favored status forever with our Beloved? God's eternal favored nod toward us is heralded throughout Scripture, a most necessary truth revealed that we might be induced to reciprocal passions?
Divine election is God's whispered desire for our nuptial union, irresistible grace is the Spirit's sealing in our hearts of God's spoken favor. A whisper of rapacious favor from the Sovereign Lord is heard echoing from deep within the halls of heaven's exalted palace in the work of irresistible grace. Together, the inseparable petals representing the doctrines of God's sovereign grace are brought together to form a flower of unmatched beauty.
Consider how the Arminian doctrine mutilates the flower, mollifies God's unequaled mercy and grace, by placing it in the hands of fickle sinners. Robbed is the Divine King of His right to maternal selection, leaving Him emasculated and unimpressive in His person. King Ahaseurus displayed his authority, benevolence, and splender in the sovereign selection of an undeserving, common woman, only to magnify it in her as he decreed the crafting of Esther into a refulgent queen of unmatched beauty.
Without each of these petals of sovereign grace the TULIP fashioned in divine grace becomes no better than a common daisy; a cheap, divisible, and quickly trampled flower absent value. Take away sovereign grace from the gospel and you have taken away the beautiful brilliant glory of the eternal plan of God's redemption, replacing it the wilted flower of the Arminian heresy.
There is the Arminian who speaks readily of grace and salvation, but in his theology he knows nothing of grace. He has a portion of the recipe for gospel stew, but lacks the sweetener necessary for the porridge. Every pot of grace he cooks up is bitter to the taste as he adds an ingredient not called for by the recipe, that bitter herb ‘the human will.’ Added to the pot it is poison. Whenever credit is given to man for his salvation the gospel is cheapened.
We need a balanced pot of gospel stew, for if grace becomes resistible, it is no longer grace, and if grace becomes diminished, law abounds. In this article we shall seek to understand this flower and what are the doctrine of God's grace; hopefully, the reader will come to cherish and appreciate it more fully. In so doing, let us learn to keep the spoiling ingredients out of our stew and to spot the weeds that will spoil our garden. Let us first learn to recognize sovereign grace.
II. What is Sovereign Grace?
Sovereign grace is the doctrine that declares our utter and total dependence upon God for our accomplished salvation:
- It is the acknowledgement of the truth Christ spoke when He said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
- It is the lost sinner's cry of helplessness and the saint’s shout of glory to God in the highest. Irresistible grace teaches man is wholly lost and incapable of either willing or effectuating his repentance apart from saving grace.
- It teaches that apart from efficacious (or irresistible) grace a sinner can never turn from his sins.
- It is a work wrought by the Spirit of God that gives men the ability and desire they lack to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. God then draws helpless sinners through an internal work of His Spirit, regenerating them, and sealing them unto Himself.
- It is done apart from any merit or effort of men.
The prophet Zechariah can help us to visualize this doctrine of God's sovereign grace. In his prophecy, we find the High Priest Joshua standing before the throne of God.. There stands the helpless sinner. Satan flanks him, his now silenced accuser, and near him is his advocate, who is the only man speaking before the great tribunal. He is the advocate Jesus Christ our Lord, who commands the man to be stripped, bathed and re-clad in glorious garments. For the filthy sinner, it is the Spirit of God who carries out the Lord’s command of stripping us of all our filth, of washing us in the expiating blood of Christ so that we might be robed in the glorious righteousness of the Son of God. And just as Joshua passively stood helpless in His adorning, so are we passive agents in the efficacious work of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit then does effectuate our whole salvation.
We can attribute nothing to our own efforts or will; God is the cause of our every responsive action. Efficacious grace accomplishes the circumcising of the new heart, the regeneration of the dead man, that in turn delivers us from our perilous course and brings us unto Christ. Understand this then, efficacious grace does not merely make man potentially capable of repentance, but it actually secures the action of bringing the lost sinner to Christ. It is the sickness of love, with which the helpless sinner is affected, that sears and draws his helpless soul. Tell me, what lovesick bride will turn from her betrothed? She comes willingly, quickly, and straightway to her groom.
Loraine Boettner declares, "In the nature of the case the first movement toward salvation can no more come from man than his body if dead could originate its own life. Regeneration is a sovereign gift of God, graciously bestowed on those whom He has chosen; and for this great re-creative work God alone is competent. It cannot be granted on the foresight of any thing good in the subjects of this saving change, for in their unrenewed nature they are incapable of acts with right motives toward God; hence none could possibly be foreseen. In his unregenerate state man never adequately realizes his utterly helpless condition. He imagines that he is able to reform himself and turn to God if he chooses. He even imagines that he is able to counteract the designs of infinite Wisdom, and to defeat the agency of Omnipotence itself. As Dr. Warfield says,'Sinful man stands in need, not of inducements or assistance to save himself, but precisely of saving; and Jesus Christ has come not to advise, or urge, or woo, or help him to save himself, but to save him.'" 1
Gill gives us insight into why grace is called irresistible, saying,
For though the word, unattended with the Spirit and power of God, may be resisted, so as to be of no effect, yet neither the operations of the Spirit, nor the word, as attended with them, can be resisted, so as either of them should be ineffectual.2
As mentioned above, this doctrine is the sweetener of the tulip of grace, for sinners are not saved reluctantly but willingly, as grace has made them willing. Biblically, there is one doctrine of grace taught in the Scriptures. From Genesis we see that fallen man left to himself is helpless and bound up in sin. Our God testifies to this fact in Genesis 6: 5, where we read, "then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." It is from this declaration by God that we hear the true nature of fallen man. He is depraved, ridden with sin, and hopelessness in his misery. In such a declaration we see the freedom of God to dispense with us as He so chooses. If He desires mercy of judgment, it is His prerogative. How sweet then is grace, for we read but two verses later that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6: 8). The verb ‘found’ has the meaning of ‘attainment, or gaining’ in the Hebrew and the thought of ‘getting or procuring’ in the Greek. God confers grace upon Noah and no cause is given for God’s action. God’s action precedes any action by Noah. What then did Noah obtain but free grace?
The word 'favor' is from the Hebrew term hen and the Greek charis, Kittel writes, "The verbal stem denotes a gracious disposition that finds expression in a gracious action," and, "What is in view is the process whereby one who has something turns graciously to another who is in need." 3 We might then ask what was Noah’s pressing need in light of coming judgment? Salvation. How was that need met? By grace alone. In this early story we can see the full necessity and sufficiency of grace. This is no obscure ancient doctrine, however, for God later said to Moses, "I know thee by name, and thou hast also found favor in my sight" (Ex 33: 12). God also said to Moses, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy" (Ex 33: 19). This passage is later quoted by Paul to prove God’s free grace. It is God’s very own jealous statement of His freedom to dispense of grace, as He so desires. Thus Romans declares, "so then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy" (Rom. 9: 16). This is what irresistible grace is--God saving men who cannot save themselves. Now let us ask...
III. What is Resistible Grace?
Historically there have been two prevailing schools of thought on the issue of grace. One champions a doctrine of universal grace. In this system, grace has always been seen as insufficient apart from the intervention of the will of men. Modified through the ages and crafted in every variety, the key discriminatory mark of resistible grace has been the insurgence of man’s effort at some time into the work of grace. Whether grace is found as co- operating with the will or the first cause that moves the will, resistible grace is nothing more than men seeking to put their name in lights next to the Lord. Some who champion free will want their name as the headliner. Others, who appear more gracious, are humble enough to share double billing with God. Still others, so filled with supposed humility, are even willing to subordinate themselves as God’s opening, accompanying, or closing act. But no matter what form it takes, a doctrine of grace that necessitates the co-operation of the will of man in any form robs God of His rightful glory. God will share His glory with no man. Historically, irresistible grace has made grace the singular and sufficient cause for our every action, as man, his will, and his labors become the results that accompany the operation of grace. Resistible grace has left man as an operative in his own salvation.
Grace then becomes the true source of humility, and we must be cautious not to present the doctrine of irresistible grace as an unpalatable doctrine. The fact that the Lord, alone, saves does not make grace bitter, but men often respond with great indignation toward this teaching. One reason is that we lovers of grace, in our zeal to champion free grace, at times use it as a browbeater toward those who denounce grace. Thus we become, in the eyes of many, haughty, proud, and discriminatory. True grace does not manufacture pride; it produces humility. Men should only loathe the doctrines of grace because they bite against their pride, never because we are provocative in our boasting. We champion free grace with humility because we know ourselves to be the beggars of grace. Often, as we speak of God’s right to choose and save as He Wills, we forget to season the pot of our stew with the sweet savor of irresistible grace.
Irresistible grace is a blessed doctrine because it is irresistible; it is not its exclusiveness that makes it sweet, but its compassion. For irresistible grace is that doctrine that explains how a harlot can sit at Jesus’s feet and not be driven away by the righteousness of the Son of God. It is that doctrine that can tell the Canaanite woman there are crumbs for her at the Master’s feet. Irresistible grace brings and keeps the lost sinner at the feet of Jesus. Those who have known the inward, irresistible call of grace have not known it to be threatening or troubling, but alluring and loving. It is the bond of love and mercy that impels us to the Savior’s side. Grace is irresistible because it is liberation for the bondman. The great work of the Spirit of God is that he enables a child of Adam to act unlike Adam. Now let us address that weed of diminishing grace. Let us ask,
IV. What is Diminished Grace?
Diminishing grace is the trend of certain theological systems to cheapen grace. Excluded from this group are those who champion resistible grace, for they do not cheapen grace, but rather, in their theology, deny it. We speak of those, who, in their theologies, diminish the importance of grace in the believer’s sanctification by exalting the position of the law. These brethren, in one sentence, tell of man’s utter helplessness in salvation and speak of the need for grace and faith alone to save and to seal them unto eternal life, but then they take the regenerate, liberated man and place him under the old yoke of law. Again, they command him to do what no man can do apart from the divine work of irresistible grace. It is as though they have come to the cross, only to descend the highest of hills that they might dwell at Sinai again. Law is law and grace is grace; like oil and water they do not mix. We are not saved by grace that we might be compelled again to live by the law. As we saw in Israel, the law never effectuated obedience. Thus Paul chastens the Galatians who had mingled law with grace, declaring,…this only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Gal 3: 2-5)
Paul’s rhetorical emphasis is clear: grace and faith alone are the rules of this the New Covenant; no longer is it the Law of Moses. We have not received grace that we might again be bound to the encumbrances of the law. For grace is liberty, not bondage, and any man who seeks to bind the conscience of free men to the threat of the law diminishes grace. Just as critical as irresistible grace is to silence the Arminian, who diminishes and destroys the sufficiency of salvation by grace alone, so irresistible grace is necessary to silence those who champion the law as the rule of life for the believer in Christ. For the perseverance of the saints is by grace alone. We are saved by grace and thus live by grace alone.
What the believer needs is not more law, but more grace.
- Calvin, himself, taught this in his institutes in the section of book II, chapter II, entitled "Every day we need the Holy Spirit that we may not mistake our way." There he speaks of our ongoing need for grace saying the, "Scriptures do not teach that our minds are illumined only on one day and that they may therefore see of themselves." He declares that grace is ever needed for the child of God.
Articles XXV and XXVI of the 1644 London Baptist Confession state,
- …that the same power that converts to faith in Christ, the same power carries on the soul still through all duties, temptations, conflicts, sufferings, and continually what ever a Christian is, he is by grace, and by a constant renewed operation from God, without which he cannot perform any duty to God, or undergo any temptations from Satan, the world, or men.
Be not mistaken, we are not a lawless people; we are a lawful people unto Christ by grace alone. We are a people that can rightfully say "Sola Gratia," for our salvation is truly all of grace. We can unashamedly say with Paul, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," attributing nothing to our own glory or effort. We do so, fully knowing that without grace we cannot accomplish such a work; thus along with Paul, we say, "it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). But never do we turn to the law for the cause of our obedience; to grace alone shall we look.
Why then is it necessary that we teach this doctrine? The reason is clear, because if we neglect this doctrine we neglect the heart of redemptive theology. The scripture declares, "if not of grace, then it is of works. As gardeners of the doctrines of grace we must ever be weeding our legalisms and traditions that choke out the beauty of the flower of grace. Thus as Luther declared, "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said 'Poenitentiam agite,' willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance." 4 But reform must be an operation of grace and not law. As Luther further also stated,5
Our overgrown gardens may be filled with weeds that espouse our own glory in the exercise of our wills, or they may be interspersed with weeds that resemble the flowers of grace. They must be removed; they do nothing more than cheapen grace and wilt the sweet flower of everlasting grace and love. Reader, the task I speak of is too hard lest the Lord visit us with mercy; we are but tenants of the Lord’s garden. He alone gives the increase. If grace is not taught, then the sweet odor of grace shall not be detected in our field. If the Lord does not give the increase, our planting is in vain.
When we fail to teach and preach the doctrines of grace, men hear nothing but moralisms, legalisms, and worthless facts. The saving power of the gospel comes through the hearing of the word, by grace. How often do we hear seemingly good and profound sermons, based upon biblical texts, which are bitter to the taste because they have not been seasoned with grace? If we preach the doctrines of grace and sour the stew by neglecting to add the sweetener of grace, then we do nothing more than fill the pot with death.
Gospel preaching is grace preaching. It exalts the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, acknowledging God in His sovereignty and providence, as it pleads for the life giving power of the Spirit of God to cut to the hearts of men. We are not in need of more law, nor are we in need of our own liberty apart from grace; we need more grace that liberty might abound, else the bitter pot shall remain inedible and the sweet bread of life shall mold. Let us set the table of grace in our teachings, in our churches, in our lives, that to Him alone might all glory be given.
First Published by Pastor Kevin Hartley August, 1998, re-edited 2020
1Boettner, L. Title unknown, 1929.
2Gill, John. Gill’s Commentaries Online Bible: on compact disc (CD-ROM), 1977. Available: Larry Pierce Publisher.
3Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, eds. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1985
4Disputation of Dr. Martin Luther on the "Power and Efficacy of Indulgences" by Dr. Martin Luther, 1517. Published in Works of Martin Luther, Vol. 1. Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et al., Trans & Eds. (Philadelphia: A.J. Holman Co., 1915) pp.29–38.
5Dillenberger, John. Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, (New York: Doubleday, 1962) p. 120
- Saints of Good Shepherd Below is a update on the church's Roof Project from Bill Taube. The actual roof installation began today at the Ramer family home. Bill reports: "Had a good day on Rammer roof project. Starting 8:00 tomorrow. If it works out with time and help we will look at Alice's roof.." Our thanks to all those that were able to help today. Our thanks also to those that helped to prepare for this day's labor, with especial thanks to Bill Taube for the painstaking planning and collecting of materials in preparation for this project. If you are able to help those gathering to continue the work begun this morning, please join them at the Ramer home at 8:00 AM; any help is greatly appreciated. Work will continue on the Ramer roof, followed by repairs to Alice's house. To God alone the glory Pastor Hatley
- Hello feeling better we're going through tests thanks for the awesome prayers to all how about birthday celebration for Gordon years young, Mills 5 years old will bring lasagna, hot dogs
Please pray.Good evening. Below are several prayer requests and updates to upcoming events for your consideration. Please pray for Marie. She will have surgery tomorrow to replace her knee. Please pray that God will bring the procedure to a good and merciful conclusion, and that her rehabilitation and recovery will be expedient, minimal discomfort. Please keep my wife Oneida before the throe of grace. She will have a lung biopsy Tuesday to investigate a discovered mass. Please remember Irma's nephew in your prayers. A reminder that our Christmas Candle light service is next Sunday, December 22nd at 5: 00 PM. There will be light refreshments following and you are welcome to bring an item if you wish. Rejoice in the Lord Pastor Hartley
- Kevin Hartley posted an announcement
Angel Tree ProjectProverbs 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.” Dear Church Family: An Angel Tree is set up in the lunch room – Look for the small Christmas tree on the table by the bulletin board. This year Good Shepherd will be providing Christmas gifts to three children. These children reside at Esperanza Orphanage at Rocky Point in Mexico. Please pick up an angel and on the angel is listed the child’s name and a Christmas gift that they have requested. These children have not asked for toys but for things that they really need, such as, clothing, coats, and shoes. If you would like to pick a child but aren’t able to shop, Kevin and I will happily get the gift for you. All gifts must be returned to the church by Sunday, December 15th. They may be placed in a Christmas gift bag (labeled with their name) but do not wrap because they will need to pass through the border. When you choose an angel, please write your name on the nearby paper coinciding with the number on the angel. Optional items that are needed are blankets, sweatshirts, slippers, thermal underwear, shampoo/conditioner, lotion, women’s sanitary supplies, school lunch items – granola bars, fruit snacks, and cookies, etc. Here’s a sneak peek about the children and their Christmas wish: David (17 years old) Jose (18 years old) Pamela (16 years old) Shirt – Small (mens) Shirt – Large (mens) Shirt – medium (womens) Shoes or boots – Size 9 Shoes or boots – Size 9 Shoes or boots – Size 7 Pants/jeans 30 X Pants/jeans 33 X 30 Pants/jeans – size 8 Jacket – Small Jacket - Large Jacket – medium Socks Socks Socks Pajamas - Small Pajamas - Large Pajamas – medium If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call/text me at 623-879-2805 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Grace and Peace to You, Oneida Hartley