The Empty Hand of Faith

16 09 2009

This is the text from a tract I got over at AOmin. I thought that it was so well written that I’d share it with you. Even if you are already saved, these are words that are important to remember.

The Empty Hand of Faith

“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness . . . For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants.”

—Romans 4:4-5, 16

“That I may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

—Philippians 3:9

“Faith is chosen by God to be the receiver of salvation, because it does not pretend to create salvation, nor to help in it, but it is content humbly to receive it. Faith is the tongue that begs pardon, the hand which receives it, and the eye which sees it; but it is not the price which buys it. Faith never makes herself her own plea, she rests all her argument upon the blood of Christ. She becomes a good servant to bring the riches of the Lord Jesus to the soul, because she acknowledges whence she drew them, and owns that grace alone entrusted her with them.”

—Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace

The single most amazing truth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this: it is all of grace. It is the work of God, not of man. It is the story of a powerful Savior who redeems His people, and He does so completely. It is about a sovereign God, a perfect Savior, and an accomplished redemption.

In the above quoted Scripture we hear the very message of life itself. We first hear about our inability: if we think we can “work” to gain something from God, we do not understand how truly lost we are. The one who works receives only his wages, not righteousness. But to the one who does not come to God with any idea of merit or earning, but instead trusts in the God who justifies the ungodly, that kind of faith is reckoned to him as righteousness. It is a faith that comes with empty hand, claiming nothing for itself, but seeking its all in Christ. This empty-handed faith is the kind of faith that results in a right standing with God.

Next we hear about God’s ability: since faith comes with empty hand, it finds in the grace of God all that it could ever need or want. God’s grace is powerful, and it brings full salvation to the soul of the person who despairs of anything other than free, unmerited grace. Grace cannot clasp the hand that carries within it ideas of merit, or good works, or any other kind of human addition to grace. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6). God’s wondrous grace cannot be mixed with human merit. The hand that holds onto its own alleged goodness, or attempts to sneak in a merit here, a good work there, will not find the open hand of God’s grace. Only the empty hand fits into the powerful hand of grace. Only the person who finds in Christ his all-in-all will, in so finding, be made right with God. This is why the Scriptures say it is by faith so that it might be in accordance with grace: in God’s wisdom, he excludes man’s boasting by making salvation all of grace.

Finally, we see the certainty of salvation: because God saves by His all-powerful and undeserved mercy and grace, the promise of salvation is “guaranteed” or made firm and unmovable to everyone who extends that empty but believing hand to His all powerful and sovereign grace. If salvation was in the least bit dependent upon the sinner, the promise could never be thought of as firm and unmovable. But since faith brings no idea of self-worth with it, and since grace is by definition free and unmerited, then salvation itself is wholly the work of God (1 Corinthians 1:30-31), and hence it is certain, firm and can be “guaranteed.” Only salvation that is God’s work in its totality can fit this description.

My friend, do you have the kind of righteousness that Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:9, cited above? Or do you have a standing before God that is based upon what you do, rather than upon what Christ has done in your place? Can you understand why a true Christian cannot help but stand in wonder at these words: “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him” (Romans 4:8)? Have your sins been imputed to Christ, and His righteousness imputed to you by faith? Do you know what it means to have Christ not merely as Savior in name, but in fact, so that your entire trust is in Him and in nothing you can ever do? Can you honestly say you trust Him with your eternal destiny, and fully believe He carried your sins on the cross, and has given His righteousness to you, so that you can stand before the holy God? It is my prayer that if you cannot claim Christ in this way, you will give consideration to these truths, and God will be merciful toward you so as to grant you true faith to embrace His gospel. May God richly bless you as you seek His truth.

Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. . .”No man comes to me,” says Jesus, “except the Father who sent me draws him.” So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith,” but salvation is “by grace.” Sound forth those words as with the archangel’s trumpet: “By grace are you saved.” What glad tidings for the undeserving!

—Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace

A Sermon on Hebrews 2:9

12 08 2009

Wow…I just love the Book of Hebrews…and sermons don’t get a whole lot better than this…enjoy. A thank you to Dr. James White over at Alpha and Omega Ministries for this.

“Kent Brandenburg’s Myopic King James Onlyism” OR “I laughed so hard Mtn Dew came out my nose!”

5 02 2009

The lengths KJV onlyists will go to defend their indefensible view of the bible is laughable most of the time, it’s myopic 100% of the time, but sometimes it’s just downright FUNNY.

Read this entry from James White’s blog written by Alan Kurschner.

If you don’t know; James White is an apologist, he’s a University Teacher of Greek and Hebrew for 20+ years, and he’s the author of numerous books…one of which is called “The King James Only Controversy” and is the reason that he MUST be attacked by KJV’ers. They simply CANNOT have a rational argument against their irrational position be heard.

So with that…I give you: Kent Brandenburg Myopic King James Onlyist Extraordinaire.

Kent Brandenburg has written some presumptuous comments on the White-Ehrman debate. He has made unsubstantiated claims about Dr. White’s apologetics and the debate specifically. (Brandenburg is a King James Only advocate to give you some background of his presuppositions.)

Brandenburg writes,

“James White hasn’t done much to defend the Bible against the skeptic [Ehrman]. He’s mainly attempted to give more uncertainty to people without a doubt in Scripture.”

He says that White has not defended the Bible against the skeptic Ehrman, but how does he know this since he admits himself that he has not listened to any of the rebuttals or cross-examination: “I listened to the introduction and Ehrman’s opening statement. I’m interested in listening to all of it as I make the time.

Then he says that James White gives more doubt to the reliability of Scripture to believers. One is truly left speechless at Brandenburg’s assertion. But let me be brutally honest of where this is coming from: Brandenburg’s deep commitment to his King James Onlyism requires him to reject discourse on the historical and textual evidence of the manuscript tradition. Brandenburg’s bold claim that White induces uncertainty in God’s people is an expression of King James Onlyism. I challenge Kent Brandenburg to call into the Dividing Line show Thursday and explain to us all how Dr. White engenders “uncertainty in believers.” Here is the time and phone number: Thursday 4:00 MST 1-877-753-3341 (Toll Free)

Related to this point is an interesting observation that myself and others (such as Wallace) have noticed about the most fundamental criticism that KJVO advocates make against modern textual criticism. They incessantly denounce that modern critics use “rational principles” in the utilization of determining better readings from inferior readings. And yet this is clearly a double standard given that the most fundamental principle that govern KJVO thinking is a rational principle. That is, in the mind of KJVO advocates is the deep-seated rational conviction: “This is the way that God must have preserved his Word.” Notice that this is not a Biblical, historical, or textual argument-it is a rational argument. Somehow they believe that they are privy to God’s mind and can see this rational reason. So what KJVO advocates criticize the most is what they are essentially guilty of themselves. And to be sure, there is nothing wrong with rational thinking-I would hope that we do not approach God’s Word with irrational thinking. The question should be: is this or that rational principle applicable and warranted in this or that context?

Moving on, he writes this laconic statement,

“White reads Metzger to get his position”

Does Brandenburg honestly believe that White thinks that if Metzger says it, that’s gospel-Metzger has spoken. So if Metzger makes a good argument about the “tenacity” of the original readings, White cannot utilize his argumentation? It does not matter who said it, if it is true, it is true. If Brandenburg disagrees with this then he should engage the principle–not the person.

Next, Brandenburg invokes Joel McDurmon’s critique of White’s approach to the debate. I find this sloppy and irresponsible of Brandenburg to review a review of a debate he has not yet heard.

Brandenburg writes,

“Whenever I listen to White talk on this subject, and I haven’t listened to the debate all the way through yet, he sounds like an evidentialist to me too. I say that if he is a presuppositionalist, he should debate like it. I believe I know why he doesn’t on this subject at least. He isn’t a presuppositionalist on this issue. He didn’t prepare for a presuppositional presentation on his side of the debate, so he didn’t present one.”

First, Brandenburg fails to cite any examples. Second, he is not being accurate. White’s purpose was in fact presuppositional. White comments on the debate that his purpose was to:

“Expose the presuppositional nature of Ehrman’s insistence that we must possess the originals for inspiration to be true. This would include making sure it is clear that when Ehrman says “We don’t know what the NT said” he means “We do not have photographic reproductions of the originals.” I desired to make sure the listener would see that the NT manuscript tradition is more than sufficient to provide the original readings, even in the toughest of variants.”

Also, for KJVO advocates their view of preservation is that God preserved his Word in a 1611 Anglican translation. White explains that another purpose of the debate was to explain the correct understanding of God’s providential mechanism of preservation,

“Present a strong case for the providential preservation of the text through the explosion of early manuscripts and the lack of editorial “control” in contrast with the Islamic theory of preservation. Given that the majority of attacks upon the NT today come from those alleging some kind of controlled editing of the text, this element is vital.”

You can read more of Dr. White’s purposes for the debate here:

Continuing, Brandenburg writes,

“What White does, according to McDurmon, and I’ve yet to hear it (but will), is argue the exact same way that Ehrman does. Ironic, huh?”

First, what is ironic is that Kent Brandenburg would agree wholeheartedly with the agnostic, skeptic Bart Ehrman who both agree together that there cannot be any inspired, preserved text if there exists variants in a text. For Bart that text was not preserved; and for Kent that text was preserved in a 17th century Anglican translation (aka KJV 1611). Second, White and Ehrman have the same textual facts in front of them (as does Brandenburg) but they explicitly argue differently to reach their respective conclusions. How Brandenburg or McDurmon think they argue the “exact same way” is simply absurd.

Brandenburg continues,

“McDurmon comes across as very objective”

How can Brandenburg say that McDurmon is objective if he has not compared his statements with the debate audio — that is not being very objective!

“White goes to his speculation about the text to say that there’s enough evidence in the manuscripts to support Christian beliefs and enough confidence in Scripture.”

Not speculation, but facts. Is there a Christian doctrine that White affirms that cannot be found in the manuscript tradition?

Brandenburg writes,

“White says that the best thing that comes out of this debate is that Ehrman is exposed as the skeptic that he is. Well, did anyone really doubt the skepticism of Ehrman?”

Yes, Mr. Brandenburg, many people do doubt that Ehrman is a skeptic (except in your myopic fundamentalist orbit). I encounter folks all the time who do not perceive Ehrman as you do. Many benighted unbelievers think he represents reasonable scholarship. Apparently, Brandenburg does not get out too often and have discourse with those outside his fundamentalist circle. Ehrman has had a great impact on individuals who are not aware of his skepticism and spin. Second, “exposing Ehrman as a skeptic” was one aspect of the whole purpose for the debate.

In this last statement, Brandenburg’s arrogance shines the brightest,

“I’m thinking that the best material that I’ll get out of this debate will be the content in opposition to White. I already knew that Ehrman was a fraud, having read two of his books. Now we’ll see about White.”

Notice that Brandenburg has not even listened to the debate and he is already saying that the best material that he will get out of the debate is the apostate Ehrman’s radical skepticism. Here, he is claiming that the facts and argumentation that White has adduced in the debate to support the reliability of the New Testament is useless. What could possibly motivate someone to say such a thing?

I found Kent Brandenburg’s article desperately biased and indicative of KJVO’s vacuous presuppositions. Throughout his article (about four or five times) he kept saying, “I have not yet heard the debate” just after he would make bold claims about the debate itself. Brandenburg has proven himself to be discredited, biased, and inaccurate in the arena of Biblical discourse.

Are Mormons Christian?

4 01 2009

On the heels of our videos on Mormonism by Shawn McCraney, I would like to post this video by James White over at Alpha and Omega Ministries.

It deals with the question: Are Mormons Christian? And if not; why?


This is just way to good to not post again…

17 12 2008

I was looking through some James White videos and found this gem. After watching it for the upteenth time I decided to post it again here.

Reading Scripture in context…1st Timothy 2:4

12 12 2008

Here is a short video from Alpha and Omega Ministries. It’s of James White taking a call from an Arminian guy who just can’t read 1st Timothy 2:4 without injecting his understanding of “God wants to save all men.”

Dr. White spends 25 minutes explaining what it means to read scripture in context, the understanding of God’s foreknowledge, and the problems with being an inconsistent Arminian.

Here is just the portion of the video of the explanation of 1st Timothy 2:4.

If you want to see the call in it’s entirety, then here is that link.





Heard over at the Pyros…

8 11 2008

Some quotes are just too true and quoteworthy:

…if the average Baptist preacher were one-tenth as committed to evangelism as James White, Arminians in the SBC might actually be in a position to carp about hyper-Calvinism’s detrimental effect on soul-winning. As it is, those who say these kinds of things ought to sit with their hands over their mouths and learn some things from Mr. White.

As they say…”nuff said”