Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This teaching was a part of the Friday Workshops, and was given by Pastor Redditt Andrews of Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Sacramento, CA. The basis of this session was to prove that once a person is truly saved they will be kept in the grace of God until the day of redemption.

This is a subject that has become very controversial in the church (and I don't really know why). In doing a jail ministry for 5 years, I have constantly been bombarded with men who have been very insecure in the salvation they share. I often get asked the question, "What if you get saved and then sin. Do you lose your salvation"? And while I have constantly taught and shown that our salvation is not depended on our works but the works of Christ, there are still some men who cannot rest in this truth. However, after listening to Pastor Andrews' teaching, I feel that I have learned new insights on how to explain this doctrinal truth and--even more comforting--have had my confidence grow more in the amazing saving preservation of Christ in my own life.

Pastor Andrews began his teaching by reading the Scripture that he would work from : 1 Peter 1:1-17. He then sets up his instruction the story of Robert Robinson, the writer of one of my favorite hymns, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". He tells us about Robinson's conversion to Christ via the preaching of George Whitefield, and how--after writing the hymn--he fell into the Unitarian cult, which is known for denying the full deity of Christ. He went on to tell about a time when Robinson was riding in a stagecoach with a lady, who was engrossed into his hymn, and asked him his thoughts on the song--not knowing he was the one who wrote it. Robinson responded, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then". I personally thought that this illustration was excellent. It showed the thoughts of a man who believed that he was somehow disconnected from God's salvific grace despite writing powerful words within the song such as:

Hither to thy love has blessed me, Thou has brought me to this place; And I know thy hand will bring me, Safely home by thy good grace.

O to grace how great a debtor, Daily I'm constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

It is from this thought that Pastor Andrews starts his direct teaching, keeping in mind the sorrow that Robinson (and a lot of Christians) felt. He states three biblical facts about Sovereign Preservation:

1. Hypocrites fall away from the church (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:19).

2. If God left us to ourselves, we would all fall away (Romans 9:29; 10:20-21). It was here that he gave a great quote from Charles Hodge who said, "If God relaxes His grip for one moment on us, we would spontaneously combust into all types of sins and transgressions".

3. Saints can fall into sin (1 Samuel 11).

With these facts stated, he gives his proposition that genuine believers will always complete the journey towards redemption.

Next, Pastor Andrews takes us through the 1 Peter passage by looking at vs. 2-3. Here, he points out four ideas from Scripture that builds on the truths of this doctrine. He states:

1. Preservation is based on the electing love of the Father: Since God is omniscient and has elected those whom He wants in His Son for salvation, He is more than willing to see that He receives glory for their coming into the Kingdom.

2. The Sprinkling of Christ's blood: It was here that Pastor Andrews gives an insight that is often known in Reformed circles, but not often expressed. That is, Christ's blood did more than atone for our sins, but it also was a necessity in planting the active and passive obedience of Christ to our account. Thus, for the true believer, Christ's obedience has become our obedience.

3. The Sanctifying work of the Spirit: Pastor Andrews tells us three important duties of the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation: (1) His primary goal is to apply the fruits of Christ's labor (Gal. 5:22-23), (2) He is the "down payment" of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14), and (3) He is our "seal" once we come to faith (Eph. 1:13). Thus, the presence of the Spirit alone shows that God will bring us to glorification at the appointed time.

4. Living Hope: Peter says that the true believer is "born again into a living hope" (v.3). So, the first thing Pastor Andrews says is that this hope is not dead. In other words, it is not a hope (which, by the way in Greek, means "a confident expectation") that has a "dead end", but rather a secure promise. It was also at this point that Pastor Andrews made a soul-pleasing statement, quoting from 1 Corinthians 15:20, which tells us that Christ is the "first fruit" of the resurrection. He explains that the first fruit is not only the best of the full harvest, but that it is always connected with the harvest in and of itself. So Pastor Andrews tells us that in the mind of God there is an inseverable link between Christ and the believer in the resurrection. So, if we can lose our salvation, then Christ can go back on the cross and the Father's power to resurrect Him can be ineffective. This statement, I believe, was the most powerful one probably in the whole conference.

Next, Pastor Andrews goes to vs. 4-5, and talks about our heavenly inheritance. Once again, he gives 3 points:

1. Our inheritance is preserved by God
2. God preserves it from moral impurity
3. It will never lose it quality

The he looks at vs. 7,9 and gives points about our faith in the preservation process:

1. Faith is the conduit that keeps us walking in grace.
2. Faith saves our souls.

Finally, he wraps up his teaching answering two questions: How do we persevere? (vs. 13-17) and the Means of Preservation (taken from selected passages in 1 Peter).

He gives some ways that the true believer perseveres:

1. They must be "sober minded" (v. 13)
2. They must be heavenly minded (v.13)
3. They must not be like the world (v.14)
4. They must walk in despite of fear (v.17)

And the means how one perseveres is:

1. By Fellowship (v.22)
2. By following Scripture (1:23-2:3)
3. By Prayer (3:7; 4:7)

Overall, this teaching was marvelous. Pastor Andrews handled this subject with doctrinal clarity and common sense. Thank you Pastor Andrews for your labors, and may the LORD richly bless you in much of the same way He blessed us through this workshop.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I know there are some of you that are wondering, "What has happened to the updates on this blog"? Well, in an effort to give more deep insights on the messages of the conference, I decided some time back to suspend the updates until I receive the Conference CDs.

The goal of this blog is to share with the other attendees the portions of the conference that were the most powerful and strengthening. Also, to "wet the appetite" of those, who have neither heard of or have come to the conference, to attend this coming year. I feel this goal would be better accomplished if I were to review the conference material again to pick up on ideas that I had previously not been aware of at the time of the event.

But there is good news: I was down at Glendale Baptist Church last week, and I am glad to announce that they are in the process of sending out the CDs at this time. So please continue to check the site for new entries, as we continue to celebrate this great event that God has designed for the glory of His name.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


This sermon was given by Rev. Anthony Carter in the Saturday session, and I must say that it quite possibly was the best sermon I've ever heard. Never has a sermon convicted me the way this one did in regards to my charge and duties as a Minister of the Gospel. Because of this sermon, I have a whole different outlook on the people I preach to and thus my preparation, delivery, and (especially) my content will forever be effected by this revelation.

Rev. Carter took his text from Isaiah 40:1-5, and he asked us, as ministers: Are we discerners of misery? Rev. Carter stated that each and every Christian in the pew has faced a battle during the week with Satan. And this battle has left them beat up, tired, frustrated, agitated, and sometimes doubtful in the salvation they have. However, it is at this time, where we should comfort them in the words of our LORD who says:

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned,that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins". (Isaiah 40:1-2)

And why should this be a comfort to the believer? Because:

"A voice cries: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken'." (Isaiah 40:3-5) [Cited in Matt 3:1-3]

In other words, the LORD Jesus' work in life, death, resurrection, and ascension has defeated the pains and struggles that we face as Christians, and has given us victory and eternal life. So while these battles are going to go on in our lives, we should encourage Christians not to look at their battles from the perspective of "Kill or be killed". But rather, Christians should go into their battles with the truth that the victory is already won through Christ.

This is why it is imperative that the Gospel message is preached every week from the pulpit (as well as anytime believers get together). Quite simply, it is our spiritual fuel. We truly need it for our very sustaining and strength.

There were many poignant parts to this sermon, but this one stuck out in my mind more than any other! Anthony, you did an UNBELIEVABLE job in delivering this message to those called in this work of God, and I definitely can say that we all thank God for his preparation of you to deliver this Word from Heaven.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


This teaching by Rev. Sherrard Burns was given during the Friday Afternoon Workshop time at the Conference. In this workshop, Rev. Burns attempts to make a defense for the argument that Christ's atoning work on the Cross was not for all mankind, but for those elected in Christ before the foundation of the world. The teaching of Particular Redemption has been a heated one from the beginnings of the Church until now. While groups like Reformed Baptist, Presbyterians, and other non-denominational Calvinistic churches hold to this doctrine, Arminian churches and other denominations like Methodist, Messianic Jews, and Lutherans hold to what is called universal redemption--i.e, that Jesus death made salvation possible for all but not certain for anyone. Thus, the ultimate determiner of one's reception of salvation is depended upon their desire to choose it by their own free will.

Taking these two sides into account, Rev. Burns starts off His defense by focusing on the very character of God in regards to His particularity. This (in my opinion) was a very good move by Rev. Burns because, even though it is clearly seen in Scripture, one does not naturally think upon the fact that God is particular in all of His actions and plans. For instance, here are some of the examples that Rev. Burns gives on God's particularity:

His Word: Isaiah 55:11
His People: Deuteronomy 7:6
The Bulding of the Ark: Genesis 6
The Sacrificial System: The Book of Leviticus
The Laws of His People: Exodus 20-23
The Tabernacle: Exodus 26-27

In addition, Rev. Burns even goes on to state that the existence of hell proves the particularity of God because Scripture records it was prepared for the Devil, his angels, and those who are not in Christ (Matt 25:41).

Next, Rev. Burns gets into the heart of his defense by taking us to passages in John 10 that deal with Jesus' conversation with the Jews. In verse 11, of this chapter, Jesus states:

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep"

Here, Rev. Burns explains that Jesus is calling Himself "The Good Shepherd", and that He "lays His life down for the sheep". Now on the surface, "the sheep" could be a broad statement including everyone. But notice that Jesus gets very particular as He talks about these sheep in verses 14-16:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

The appearance of "my own" and "other sheep" shows that Jesus was not talking about everyone in His initial statement, but rather a particular people.

With this is mind, Rev. Burns takes us to verses 22-30 of this text to solidify his argument (pay attention to the bolded portions):

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one."

Rev. Burns, again, turns our attention to the fact that Jesus gets particular about "His sheep" again, and also draws us to the fact that the reason why the Jews could not believe that Jesus was the Christ was because they were not part of His flock. Their inability to believe who Christ was is rooted in their absence of being part of His flock. In short, they don't believe because they are not His sheep. In backing up this explanation of Particular Redemption, Rev. Burns gives some additional Scriptures:

John17:1-2: When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

John 17:6: I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

John 17:9: I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

John 17:20: I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20: All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Finally, Rev. Burns sums up his teaching by dealing with problem passages towards Particular Redemption. The first one, 1 John 2:2 reads:

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Most see "whole world" and assume that Jesus is talking about everyone in the entire world. But Rev. Burns points out that the meaning of "whole world" here (in light of the previous evidence shown) has to refer to the church. [For further proof of this, please refer to any Bible Dictionary or the Greek Lexicons of Zodhiates and/or Strong which records at least eight (8) different meanings for the word "world" in Scripture].

Another is found in 2 Peter 3:9, which reads:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

He correctly states upfront that this passage is usually quoted as "It's God's will that none should perish", when--in actuality--it does not say this at all. But rather, it is particular in stating that God is patient towards a group classified as "you", because he does not want the "you" to perish. So who is the "you" in this context? Well, Rev. Burns correctly concludes the "you" has to be the people Peter is writing to who were--according to 1 Peter 1:1:

"those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (in other words, the elect!!!!)

He then concludes his teaching with some comforting words for those who were particularly chosen in Christ, found in Jeremiah 32:40:

I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.

Without question, this workshop was absolutely amazing. The Spirit of God really showed things through Rev. Burns that firmed my beliefs and heart about the doctrine of Particular Redemption. It also made me praise the LORD Jesus for allowing a sinner like me into His sheepfold, despite my ways, to find restoration and relaxation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


This was a sermon given by Dr. Michael Horton, host of the Whitehorse Inn broadcast, and Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary, California. His text was taken from 2 Timothy 1:8-14, Genesis 15, and Romans 4, and in this sermon, Dr. Horton makes some very strong and truthful statements about the meaning of the Gospel.

First of all, he stated that the Gospel says come out of yourself completely and not to be better in yourself. In fact, this statement coincides with the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23, which says:

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me"

The word "deny", in Greek, means to "disavow" or "refuse association with". So, in essence, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ commands that we break fellowship with our whole man (the sinful tendencies and desires we crave), die daily in doing this and follow the way of the LORD Jesus revealed in Scripture. This is radically different than what you hear from the Osteen's and Jakes' (to name a few) today that tell you that you can "Have your best life now" and "Reposition Yourself" despite your spiritual state. In fact, Horton went on to elaborate this point with the following statements:

"Christ did not die to make your life in Adam better, but to abolish your Adamic life altogether"

"You can live a great life in Adam and be an enemy of God. Likewise, you can live a miserable life in Christ and be a friend of God".

Another interesting point that Horton brought up was the timing of the Gospel. He said that the Gospel begins and does not end with Sovereign Election. The words of Paul in Ephesians 1:4 tells us that we were chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world", Jesus states in his explanation of the judgement that the kingdom is prepared for the elect before the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34). In short, man has no say in regards with his salvation. And to prove this point, Horton gave (what I believe) one of the most striking quotes in the sermon which he recalled a time when Martin Luther was asked about this issue. In which Luther replied,

"Yes! We do bring something to our salvation: Our sin and resistance"

Staying on this point, Horton brings up God's promise to Abraham to further elaborate. This portion actually blew me away when Horton showed that God (in relating his promise to Abraham) always said "I will", but Abraham responds "How will I". This shows that Abraham believed that he had to do something on his own volition to fulfill God's promise, even though God expressed that He would take the steps Himself to see the promise fulfilled. Truly, all of man's righteousness is like "filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6), and Scripture tells us that God must work in us both to "will and do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). So despite the notion that we have a "free will" outside of the purposes of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a monergistic Gospel (i.e, all the work is done by God). By using the examples given, Dr. Horton hit a bulls eye on how Scripture expresses this claim in comparison to man's beliefs.

Third, Horton states that the Gospel is Christocentric. In other words, it is all about Christ from beginning to end. Again, Horton gave a unique (yet strong) example to prove this point. He stated that if you look at the Apostle Paul's testimony about his salvation, Paul never gives a personal testimony about himself. But rather, his testimony is all about what Christ has done by His obedience in His life, death, and resurrection. This is vastly different from today's testimonies that focus on what God has done for us, instead of what He has done in Christ. In fact, just recently I was explaining this point in my jail ministry due to the fact that I have constantly heard some of them equate what God has done in their court cases, their personal lives outside of jail, or in their cell unit with salvation. The Gospel message is truly Solus Christos! It is Christ who is at the center of our redemption, regeneration, acceptance, glorification, and any other blessing or benefit we receive from God. Thus, when we think on how God has blessed us with this amazing gift, we should echo the words of the apostle Paul who said,

"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31)

So, in short, Dr. Horton definitely hit a "Home Run" with his message on the meaning of the Gospel. It was very informative and very precise in its biblical support. Dr. Horton was witty, yet direct in his delivery and I believe that those who heard it at the conference (or will hear it on YouTube or on CD) will be impacted by the issues declared. An, in the end, I pray this impact will give people more understanding of the true Gospel and (more importantly) give many the right perspectives of its content.

If you want to view a small segment of Dr. Horton's message please click here

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This was the Pre-Conference Session, which attempted to make the case about the need for Reformed Theology within the African-American Church. It was lead by Rev. Anthony Carter and Rev. Ken Jones. This Session had some great insights which I will discuss below:

One of the issues addressed in this Session was the commonality that Reformed Theology has with the African-American experience. To me, this was a very interesting issue to address because it is commonly believed that both are like oil and water: they just don't mix. However, there were three things stated that disproves this notion:

(1) Both have a high view of the Bible: While one would say that Reformed Theology has more of an accurate reverence for doctrine, one would not discount that African-Americans have a respect and adoration for the words of Scripture--whether they are Reformed, Pentecostal, Methodist, etc. Even my own brother, who is an Hebrew Israelite and denies the deity of Jesus Christ, still has a respect for the Old Testament laws as they are addressed in Scripture. In addition, many of the Negro Spirituals that have come down from our history have been heavily influenced by what the Scriptures reveal about the character and work of the Sovereign God. So, from this angle, expressing Reformed teaching to the Black Church can be done if we are apt to emphasize that the teachings given are Scriptural based and not man created.

(2) Both seek to maintain historical connections: Much like African-American history is defined by our pre-slavery life, the struggles of oppression in the New World, and segregation, Reformed Theology is very proud of the heritage that has been passed down in its ranks--from the battles with Roman Catholicism to its resurgence in the modern Church. The same way that King, DuBois, Washington, Whitney, Douglass, Tubman and Truth are revered in African-American circles, Luther, Wycliffe, Calvin, Knox, M'Cheyene, Warfield, and Spurgeon are honored in Reformed Theology. But what most Blacks do not know (and equally most Whites) is that figures such as St. Augustine, Lemuel Haynes, and Phyllis Wheatley, have made strides in Reformed Theology from the black perspective. So while we need to be proud of our own cultural heritage, as African-Americans, we also need to understand that our heritage does not end here. If we are in Christ, we also have a Spiritual heritage that encompasses all the figures above and many more. Equally, we must realize that figures such as Haynes and Wheatley promoted Reformed Theology during the time of slavery. Thus, just as they made the connection between their spiritual and cultural heritage, we must follow their example and do the same.

(3) Both see truth as experiential: While African-Americans have historically been known to place truth with their experience (whether it's in a negative or positive context), Reformed Theology has been unfairly stereotyped with denying the spiritual experience in place of heavy doctrinal instruction. However, Reformed Theology is very experiential in its makeup. For instance, Reformed Theology places a heavy emphasis on the mourning of sin in one's life, the peace of Christ that comes from having Him as LORD and Savior, and the trials and comfort that comes with walking in His grace, to name a few. And while Reformed Theology always uses the Bible to define a true Godly experience, both the African-American experience and Reformed Theology takes this level very seriously in their relation with their particular culture.

Another issue that was addressed in this session was the way to "Overcome Objections". It was stated that the adherents to Reformed Theology must admit to and overcome the historical indifference to African-Americans and the socio-religious issues that African-Americans believe are the most important. To me, this is the primary need in the Reformed faith today. It was this issue that made my first few years of Seminary so hard, due to the fact that I found it difficult to develop friendships with people who understood my struggles. I was constantly around individuals who couldn't understand why I did jail ministry, saw no need for the recognition of Black History Month, or made light of the pressing needs of blacks beyond the spiritual aspect. And while I do not think these responses were shaped from a disdain of African-American culture, I do believe they were shaped from a lack of understanding my culture coupled with a comfort in their own cultural upbringing. In short, these individuals never saw a need to "leave their bubble and explore new territories". But we as African-Americans deal with things such as Politics, Civil Rights, Jail and Prison Incarcerations, and Economics in ways that other cultures do not. So, in ministering to an African-American from the Reformed perspective, all of this must be taken into account and addressed when a sermon is delivered to our people. In short, it is not enough to give doctrine but also application of that doctrine to one's life.

And feeding off this point, it was stressed that we should approach the Word of God with a sincerity for people. Our primary goal in proclaiming Reformed Theology is to see people become--as my pastor would say-- fully functioning followers of Jesus Christ. This only comes when people are redeemed, taught biblical truth consistently, and are disciplined under the directives of Holy Scripture in love. In short, the preacher's love for the people will determine how the people will accept the doctrine he proclaims. If he's cold, there will be little change. If he is loving, the people will respond. Now in no way does this mean he should water down his points to fit the people's desires, but neither should he be "hard nosed" towards his people in delivering doctrine. He should love his people and it should show in how he proclaims his messages. And, when this happens, he will see the ultimate goal start to take shape in their lives.

Finally, one of the most important points discussed in this area dealt with the need for good Reformed material from the African-American perspective. While Calvin, Warfield, Sproul, and Hodge has good material to read, their instruction is not fit to capture the black experience in its essence. This is why we, as African-Americans, need to (as Tony Carter would say) "Write! Write! Write!". We need to do this, not only for our benefit, but for the generations afterward, thus continuing the battle for Reformed racial harmony. We need to support one another in our faith by buying books like "On Being Black and Reformed", "Hesed", "The Faithful Preacher", "Free at Last", and "The Decline of African-American Theology" (which I have already placed my order for). Equally, we need to buy these books for others and get involved in material preparation to promote our Theology. For example, each minister at my church will get a copy of "On Being Black and Reformed" this Christmas from me. In addition, I am looking at possibly writing a book or articles one day in an effort to do my part in this mission as well.

So, in short, the Pre-Conference Session, "African-Americans Making the Case for Reformed Theology" was one full of great insight and conviction. Both Rev. Carter and Rev. Jones did a great job analyzing the commonalities and differences from both perspectives, as well as gave some encouraging solutions in how to bring harmony to both sides. I was blessed to receive such knowledge about the African-American and Reformed perspectives, and was more encouraged to be instructed by men who are fighting victoriously in the battle for Theological and Racial harmony.