Fundamentals of the Faith – Sermons by John MacArthur

Fundamentals of the Faith is a great study of the essentials of what scripture teaches, put together by Grace to You, a ministry of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. It is a great study for believers and unbelievers alike, and our own church body has benefited greatly from this resource.

Here’s what the Grace to You website has to say about the study:

Every Sunday morning at Grace Community Church (and throughout the week), small groups of people gather together around this manual for ‘Fundamentals of the Faith’ classes. Thirteen lessons blend basic biblical truths with personal obedience and service. Many young believers take these classes to grow in their understanding of biblical truths.

With topics ranging from the character of God to church participation, it’s an ideal study for discipling new believers or returning to the basics of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Here are 13 sermons from John MacArthur that supplement the study. They are a great resource for understanding what scripture teaches. I would recommend them to anyone.

FOF Lessons Audio Messages 

1 Introduction to the Bible Our God-Breathed Bible
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2 How to Know the Bible How to Study Scripture
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3 God: His Character and Attributes God: What Is He Like?
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4 The Person of Jesus Christ Christ Above All
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5 The Work of Christ The Suffering Jesus: Our Substitute and Shepherd
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6 Salvation Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life
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7 The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Be Filled with the Spirit
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8 Prayer and The Believer Praying Unceasingly
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9 The Church: Fellowship and Worship The Body of Christ
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10 Spiritual Gifts Miracles, Healings and Tongues
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11 Evangelism and The Believer Fishing for Men
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12 Obedience Love and Obedience
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13 God’s Will and Guidance Knowing and Doing God’s Will
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Free Audio Book — Don’t Waste Your Life is offering a free download of John Piper’s ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ (audio version). Head over to this page to get it. But don’t wait too long: they’re only offering it for free for the month of November!

How historic is the house seat loss for Obama?

I have been hearing tons of news and media types talking about how big and historic the house seat losses for the dems will be.  As a Political Scientist this is really, really, really annoying. There is a seat loss in the mid terms historically (see graph).

Okay lets look at the numbers; it looks like every midterm during the first term in the last 40 years with the exception of the 2002 election ( 9/11 explains why bush gained seats) has the new president losing a number of seats. This election is less historic as it is desperate. The mode of the country is one of desperation. But the seat losses are not without a record. People, this is normal. It happened to Clinton in 1994. Remember, contract for America and Newt? This is normal.

Jesus Paid Taxes

Here is a very helpful message on the christian and government for you all by Mark Dever. Great stuff to consider heading into the election next Tuesday. Click here to listen.

Three Thoughts on the Election

I hadn’t plan on writing on the election. I’ve tried to keep out of it but I can’t anymore. I just see so much wrongheadedness taking place that I can’t help but offer some parting shots for your consideration. I start today with a longer quote from Doug Wilson, who is offering three points to consider as you head into the voting booth:

1. C.S. Lewis said there were two basic approaches to democracy. One is idolatrous, and the other reflects a more biblical view of man. The first is the assumption that every last man’s opinion is so valuable that we should do our level best to get his input before we do anything. This is the idolatrous option. The other acknowledges the sinfulness of man, such that it is unwise to concentrate too much power in any one spot. Democracy is, in this view, part of a system of checks and balances, where the power is spread as thinly as possible in order to keep an entrenched ruling class from having its unbridled way. If that were a design feature, then this next election would appear to be a successful example of the design working. But the thing to keep in mind is that corrective elections, even corrective wave elections, are not solution elections. “Throw the bums out” may often be just what’s demanded, the need of the moment, and no argument there. Who could not but agree that a Pelosiless hour of evening news would be a real spot of sunshine in an otherwise drab and dreary chain of news stories? But what then? What do we do next? For those who are regular visitors to this space, our very next political move needs to be calling on Jesus. The reason we need to throw the bums out first is that they get in the way of calling on Jesus, and repentance precedes faith.

I can not agree more with what wilson says; “corrective elections, even corrective wave elections, are not solution elections.” I have for some time been of the view that there is a basic misunderstanding of the issues by BOTH parties. While I want the dems out of power, I am not holding my breath any real changes to take place when the tea party heads to D.C.

2. There are significant earthly consequences to what we do, and in how we vote, but we have to be shrewd in understanding what those consequences are. If I owe you a thousand bucks, you’ve got me. The borrower becomes the lender’s slave. But there is a point at which that reality breaks down. If I owe you a bazillion bucks, I’ve got you. There actually is a point where the lender becomes the borrower’s slave. And this is why we should all agree with the bumper sticker, “Please, nobody tell Obama what comes after a trillion.”

This election is therefore something of an intervention. The powers that be, the lenders, the bankers, the regulators, the congressmen, the smartest guys in the room, are all of them out of control. They are selling themselves into slavery. Back in the old days, when the people were borrowing a thousand bucks, the lenders were able to maintain their position of control. But now, when they have lent half the assets of America to all the winos in America, and those winos have peed it all away, a moment arises when the responsible adults in the room look at each other, nod, and say, “It’s time.” But these guys don’t want to go to rehab any more than did Amy Winehouse, no, no, no, but always keep in mind the fact that drying out in rehab, however salutary in itself, is not the same thing as fixing the problem. In this case, going into the voting booth, and voting for “It’s time,” sends both the wino and the guy giving him cash to a place where they have to stop it. One guy goes to wino rehab and the other one to banker rehab. In both cases, it is just to clear the head so that they can figure out they need to call on Jesus.


3. The late Sen. Eugene McCarthy said that being a senator was a lot like being a football coach — you had to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it was important. This leads naturally to the reflection by Augustine in The City of God, when he said that in the kingdoms of men, the dead are replaced by the dying. In short, the story that God is telling with His sprawling narrative of a world is not the same story that many of His characters are trying to tell. It is the responsibility of sane Christians to try to line up the story they are telling themselves about their lives with the story that God is telling about their lives. Does this seem cryptic? Bring it down to the voting booth. When I go in there, what am I trying to accomplish? Ultimately, I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling, the same thing I am trying to do when I fry an egg, or type a phrase, or drive down the road to an appointment. I am not trying to save America, unless saving America is a proximate means to the larger end of glorifying God through the salvation of His people through the gospel. This is not quietism; this is not activism. This is perspective. No matter what happens in the election, God is on His throne, and we should still be in the process of gathering before it.

I hope this helps stir the pot a little.

Piper on the Gospel and Social Justice

Continuing with our theme this week. Piper adds his 2 cents.

How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism? Answers For Carson, Moore and Ortlund

Over at TGC site there is a great set of posts trying to answer the following qurestion: How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism?

Thus far D.A. Carson, Russell Moore and Ray Ortlund, Jr. have answered. I found these answers so helpful to me as someone who is getting a masters in public administration that I wanted to share them here. Any Christian who wants to make a difference in the world faces this difficult question.

First, Carson’s responses:

(1) By doing evangelism. I know numerous groups that claim to be engaging in “holistic” ministry because they are helping the poor in Chicago or because they are digging wells in the Sahel, even though few if any of the workers have taken the time to explain to anyone who Jesus is and what he has done to reconcile us to God. Their ministry isn’t holistic; it’s halfistic, or quarteristic.

(2) By being careful not to malign believers of an earlier generation. The popular buzz is that evangelicals before this generation focused all their energies on proclamation and little or nothing on deeds of mercy. Doubtless one can find sad examples of such reductionism, but the sweeping condescension toward our evangelical forbears is neither true nor kind. To take but one example: The mission SIM has emphasized evangelism, church planting, and building indigenous churches for a century—yet without talking volubly of holistic ministry it built, and still operates, many of the best hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa.

(3) By learning, with careful study of Scripture, just what the gospel is, becoming passionately excited about this gospel, and then distinguishing between the gospel and its entailments. The gospel is the good news of what God has done, especially in Christ Jesus, especially in his cross and resurrection; it is not what we do. Because it is news, it is to be proclaimed. But because it is powerful, it not only reconciles us to God, but transforms us, and that necessarily shapes our behavior, priorities, values, relationships with people, and much more. These are not optional extras for the extremely sanctified, but entailments of the gospel. To preach moral duty without the underlying power of the gospel is moralism that is both pathetic and powerless; to preach a watered-down gospel as that which tips us into the kingdom, to be followed by discipleship and deeds of mercy, is an anemic shadow of the robust gospel of the Bible; to preach the gospel and social justice as equivalent demands is to misunderstand how the Bible hangs together.

(4) By truly loving people in Jesus’ name—our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all people, especially those of the household of faith. That necessarily includes the alleviation of suffering, both temporal and eternal. Christians interested in alleviating only eternal suffering implicitly deny the place of love here and now; Christians who by their failure to proclaim the Christ of the gospel of the kingdom while they treat AIDS victims in their suffering here and now show themselves not really to believe all that the Bible says about fleeing the wrath to come. In the end, it is a practical atheism and a failure in love.

What Ifound most helpful in Carson’s responses are the following:

  • By doing evangelism.
  • By leaving the generations that came before us alone.
  • By learning the scriptures and the gospel.
  • By believing God when He says there is coming Wrath to flee from.

I loved the following comment:

Christians who by their failure to proclaim the Christ of the gospel of the kingdom while they treat AIDS victims in their suffering here and now show themselves not really to believe all that the Bible says about fleeing the wrath to come. In the end, it is a practical atheism and a failure in love.

Here highlights of what Moore had to say:

Some evangelicals talk as though personal evangelism and public justice are contradictory concerns, or, at least, that one is part of the mission of the church and the other isn’t. I think otherwise, and I think the issue is one of the most important facing the church these days. First of all, the mission of the church is the mission of Jesus. This mission doesn’t start with the giving of the Great Commission or at Pentecost. The Great Commission is when Jesus sends the church to the world with the authority he already has (Matt. 28:18), and Pentecost is when he bestows the power to carry this commission out (Acts 1:8). The content of this mission is not just personal regeneration but disciple-making (Matt. 28:19). It is not just teaching, but teaching “them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20)…James defines “pure and undefiled religion” as that which cares for the widows and orphans (Jas. 1:27). Of course he does. His brother already has (Matt. 25:40). For those who might seek to pit James against Paul, the New Testament allows no such skirmish, either on personal redemption or on ministry to the vulnerable. When they received Paul, the apostles, Paul says, were concerned, of course, that he proclaims the correct gospel but also that he remember the poor. This was, Paul testifies, “the very thing I was eager to do” (Gal. 2:10). So how does the church “balance” a concern for evangelism with a concern for justice? A church does so in the same way it “balances” the gospel with personal morality. Sure, there have been churches that have emphasized public justice without the call to personal conversion. Such churches have abandoned the gospel. But there are also churches that have emphasized personal righteousness (sexual morality, for instance) without a clear emphasis on the gospel. And there are churches that have taught personal morality as a means of earning favor with God. Such also contradicts the gospel. We do not, though, counteract legalism in the realm of personal morality with an antinomianism. And we do not react to the persistent “social gospels” (of both Left and Right) by pretending that Jesus does not call his churches to act on behalf of the poor, the sojourner, the fatherless, the vulnerable, the hungry, the sex-trafficked, the unborn. We act in the framework of the gospel, never apart from it, either in verbal proclamation or in active demonstration.The short answer to how churches should “balance” such things is simple: follow Jesus. We are Christians. This means that as we grown in Christlikeness, we are concerned about the things that concern him. Jesus is the king of his kingdom, and he loves whole persons, bodies as well as souls.

Lastly, here is Ortlund:

It’s a good question. But I would also ask, “How can Christians neglect the work of justice in the world without undermining evangelism?” And I am not thinking only of our credibility in human eyes. I am thinking of God. He said to us in Isaiah 58:9-10:

If you take away the yoke from your midst,

the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

if you pour yourself out for the hungry

and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness

and your gloom be as the noonday.

Jonathan Edwards, in his “Thoughts on the Revival“, when discussing how to promote the awakening, quoted Isaiah 58. Then he wrote this about serving the poor and defending the oppressed:

Nothing would have a greater tendency to bring the God of love down from heaven to earth. So amiable would be the sight in the eyes of our loving and exalted Redeemer that it would soon, as it were, fetch him down from his throne in heaven, to set up his tabernacle with men on the earth and dwell with them.

Social justice and spiritual power are bound together by Christ himself.

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