Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Millions and Billions of years or is the Earth Younger than we think?

How long are we going to put up with the non science of the millions and billions of years nonsense that they call a science? We have DISCOVERY CHANNELS, PBS, Government ran television and the like, continuing to force their false religion on society ever trying to ban the TRUTH and actual FACTS from the ears, eyes, and minds of all humans which continues to force feed its imaginative sciences into the mainstream on a daily basis. It is 100% proven that the Earth is very young and that the span of life's existence on earth is truly young. The whole universe which means (ONE VERSE) is truly younger than these so called educated experts would ever admit. They cannot ever accept the truth when presented clearly to them. It is common sense to know the earth is young and life's beginning was created in 7 literal 24 hour days. The Ancients passed this down and proved it to us. Praise GOD nothing can ever be concealed or lied about HIS-STORY.


Theistic Evolution & the Day-Age Theory

Theistic Evolution and the Day-Age Theory

by Richard Niessen*

Two elements are essential in any evolutionary scheme, whether it be theistic or atheistic: long periods of time and the assumed validity of the molecules-toman evolutionary scenario. Atheists care little for the biblical account, except to ridicule its statements. Theistic evolutionists, however, profess a certain allegiance to the Scriptures and must attempt to harmonize the biblical account with the evolutionary scenario. The biblical text, at least to the unbiased observer, indicates a universe and earth that were formed in six days; evolutionists suppose at least six billion years. The mechanism by which theistic evolutionists harmonize the two is known as the day-age theory.

The key term in this attempted harmony is the word day as it is used in Genesis 1. The Hebrew word for day is yom, and, we are reminded, it is used in a variety of ways: (1) the daylight period in the diurnal cycle as in Genesis 1:5, 14, 16, 18; (2) a normal 24-hour period; and (3) an indefinite time period as in Psalm 90:10.

A passage that is invariably appealed to is 2 Peter 3:8: “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” Also, it is claimed that too much activity took place on the sixth day (Genesis 2) to fit into a normal day: Adam’s naming of thousands of animals, his perception of his loneliness, and the subsequent creation of Eve.

The claim, then, is that the days of Genesis 1 are really long periods of time, which correspond to the major periods of evolutionary geological history.

A Refutation of the Day-Age Theory

Most Bible-believing creationists maintain the day-age theory is an unbiblical option for the following reasons:

(1) An improper interpretation of 2 Peter 3:8.

It is axiomatic in hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) that “a text without a context is a pretext.” Just as a tape recording can be edited to make the speaker say whatever the editor desires, so the Scriptures can be juggled to suit a person’s fancy or predisposition. For example, “And Jesus answered … ‘What is truth?’ ” (John 18:37 – 38). All the above words are straight from the Bible, but a closer examination discloses that it was actually Pilate who uttered the statement, and that the intervening words have been “edited” out.

2 Peter 3:3-10 is a unit. The context speaks of scoffers in the last days who will ridicule the second coming of Christ. Their rationale is uniformitarian in nature: Jesus promised to come quickly, He has not come yet, therefore He is not going to come at all. Peter refutes these uniformitarian assumptions with a reference to the Flood and the certainty of judgment for these scoffers. Then, responding to the charge that Christ has failed to fulfill His promise, Peter writes the words in question, and concludes by reaffirming the certainty of the second coming of Christ.

Verse 8 was never intended to be a mathematical formula of 1 = 1000 or 1000 = 1. The point is that God created time, as well as the universe, and therefore stands above it (cf. Heb. 1:2). While we mortals think 1000 years is a long time, God can scan 1000 years of history — past and future — as quickly as we can scan from one end of the horizon to the other. The verse could have equally been worded, “Five minutes is with the Lord as ten thousand years,” and still have conveyed the same message. Note the use of the word as, describing similarity, is not the same as an equal sign. Conversely, God is able to do in one day what would normally require a thousand years to accomplish. A pertinent suggestion here, in light of the passage’s reference to Creation and the Flood, is a possible allusion to the flood’s rapid buildup of the sedimentary layers of the so-called geologic column. One day’s flood activity could build up layers of sediments that would normally take a thousand years to form by uniformitarian (slowly acting) processes.

2 Peter 3:8 has nothing whatever to do with the length of the creation week. Genesis 1 needs to be interpreted in its own context and not by an irrelevant verse written 1500 years later.

(2) The inadequacy of a thousand-year day.

Let us grant, for the sake of discussion, the mathematical formula that the theistic evolutionists desire. In that case, day one is the first thousand years of earth’s history, day two the second thousand years, etc. Consistency would logically dictate that each of the six periods be the same length, resulting in a 6000-year period of creation from nothing to Adam. But 6000 years is only a drop in the bucket compared to the time required to make the evolutionary system work. A lack of a vast time period is the death knell of the evolutionary process. So, let us try 1 day equals 10,000 years. No, 60,000 years is not enough time either. How about 1 day equals 100,000 years? 1 million years? 10 million years? 100 million years? 1 billion years? Ah, yes, that does it for the required time! But what does it do to language as a tool to communicate meaningful information? If words have this kind of infinite flexibility, then the art of communication is in deed a lost cause. These tactics would be laughed to scorn if they were attempted in any other field of study. We should certainly not tolerate them in the study of God’s Word.

It appears that 2 Peter 3:8 is merely the wedge used to get the camel’s head into the tent. The Hebrew word olam was available to communicate the idea of a long time period if Moses had intended to convey that idea. And the Hebrew word yom was available had he wanted to convey the idea of a 24-hour day.

(3) The demands of primary word usage

Every language has certain words that are used, in different contexts, with different meanings. For example, Webster’s Dictionary defines the noun ship as follows:

ship (n) 1: a large seagoing boat 2: airplane 3: a ship’s officers and crew. If you were able to see the noun form of ship, in isolation and without a context, which of the three definitions would first come to mind? Obviously the definition listed as #1, or the primary definition of the word. If the context absolutely demanded it, #3 could be used, but it would certainly be an unusual usage of the word.

It is likewise in the biblical languages. The lexicons (Greek and Hebrew dictionaries) list the words and then the definitions in descending order of usage. The translation of Greek and Hebrew is not accomplished by the casting of lots, nor by the spin of a roulette wheel. The primary usage of any term is always given priority in any translation and secondary uses are tried only when the primary usage does not make sense in the context in which the term is set.

The Hebrew word yom is used more than 2000 times in the Old Testament. A cursory examination reveals that in over 1900 cases (95%) the word is clearly used of a 24-hour day, or of the daylight portion of a normal day. Many of the other 5% refer to expressions such as “the day of the Lord” (Joel 2:1) which may not be exceptions at all, since the second coming of Christ will occur on one particular day (1 Cor. 15:51-52), even though His reign extends over a longer period of time. 1 Therefore, even without a context, an unbiased translator would normally understand the idea of “24-hour period” for the word yom.

(4) The demands of context.

Words generally do not hang in space and in isolation from other words. When they appear in writing, they are always surrounded by other words which serve as modifiers and/or clarifiers. Let us take the word ship used as an illustration in the last point. It is only necessary to add two words to not only differentiate between the noun and the verb forms, but to clarify which of the uses is intended within that form. For example: “The ship flew.” The definite article identifies the form as a noun; the verb identifies the secondary usage of the word as an airplane rather than a boat.

We need not belabor the point by multiplying examples here. If I write: “I spaded the garden on my day off,” it is clear from the surrounding words that this activity is confined to one particular day. So it is in Genesis 1: all the surrounding words convey, to the unbiased reader, the idea that each activity is confined to one of the particular 24-hour days of this creation week.

(5) The numerical qualifier demands a 24-hour day.

The word “day” appears over 200 times in the Old Testament with numbers (i.e., first day, second day, etc.). In every single case, without exception, it refers to a 24-hour day. Each of the six days of the creation week is so qualified and therefore the consistency of Old Testament usage requires a 24-hour day in Genesis 1 as well.

(6) The terms “evening and morning” require a 24-hour day.

The words evening (52 times) and morning (220 times) always refer to normal days where they are used elsewhere in the Old Testament. The Jewish day began in the evening (sunset) and ended with the start of the evening the following day. Thus it is appropriate that the sequence is evening-morning (of a normal day) rather than morning-evening (= start and finish). The literal Hebrew is even more pronounced: “There was evening and there was morning, day one. . . . There was evening and there was morning, day two,” etc.

(7) The words “day” and “night” are part of a normal 24-hour day

In Genesis 1:5, 14-18, the words day and night are used nine times in such a manner that they can refer only to the light and dark periods of a normal, 24-hour day.

(8) Genesis 1:14 distinguishes between days, years, and seasons.

And God said, “Let there be light-makers in the expanse above to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for the determination of seasons and for days and for years.

Clearly the word days here represents days, years represents years, seasons represents seasons. It is a red herring to claim that, if the sun did not appear until the fourth day, there could be no days and nights on the first three days. The Bible clearly says that there was a light source (apparently temporary in nature, Genesis 1:3), that there were periods of alternating light and darkness (1:4-5), and that there were evenings and mornings for those first three days (1:5, 8,13).

(9) Symbiosis requires a 24-hour day.

Symbiosis is a biological term describing a mutually beneficial relationship between two types of creatures. Of particular interest to us are the species of plants that cannot reproduce apart from the habits of certain insects or birds. For example, the yucca plant is dependent upon the yucca moth, and most flowers require bees or other insects for pollination and reproduction. The Calvaria tree, on the Mauritius Islands, was totally dependent upon the dodo bird to ingest its seeds, scarify its hard coating, and excrete the seeds before germination could take place. Since the dodo bird became extinct in 1681, no reproduction of this tree has taken place. In fact, the youngest trees are 300 years old! Many additional examples could be cited. According to Genesis 1, plants were created on the third day (vv. 9 – 13), birds on the fifth day (vv. 20 – 23), and insects on the sixth day (vv 24-25, 31). Plants could have survived for 48 or 72 hours without the birds and the bees, but could they have survived 2-3 billion years without each other according to the day-age scenario? Many birds eat only insects. Could they have survived a billion years while waiting for the insects to evolve?2 Hardly.

(10) The survival of the plants and animals requires a 24-hour day

If each day were indeed a billion years, as theistic evolutionists require, then half of that day (500 million years) would have been dark. We are explicitly told in verse 5 that the light was called day and the darkness was called night, and that each day had one period of light-darkness. How then would the plants, insects, and animals have survived through each 500 million year stretch of darkness? Clearly a 24-hour day is called for.

(11) The testimony of the fourth Commandment.

It is a marvelous thing to observe the unity of the Scriptures and the orderliness with which God carries out His plans. Have you ever wondered why there were six days of creation, rather than some other number? In the light of the apparently instantaneous creation of the new heavens and new earth of Revelation 21, and the instantaneous nature of the miracles of the New Testament, why is it that God takes as long as six days to create everything? And why is it that God rested on the seventh day? Was He tired after all this exertion? No, Psalm 33:6-9 state that “the heavens were made by the Word of the Lord . . . He spoke and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast.” There is no hint of exertion here. Genesis 2:2-3 merely means that He ceased working because the created order was completed, not because He was tired.

The commentary on these questions is found in Exodus 20:8-11, and it reads as follows:

verse 8 – Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

verse 9 – Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

verse 10 – But the seventh day is the sabbath (rest) of the Lord your God.In it you shall not do any work…

verse 11 – For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day…

Verses 8-10 speak of man working six days and ceasing from his work on the seventh. These are obviously not eons of time, but normal 24-hour days. A key word in verse 11 is for, because it introduces the rationale or foundation for the previous command. It continues by equating the time period of creation with the time period of man’s work week (six days plus one day) and states that God Himself had set the example in Genesis 1. That indeed is the reason why the creation week was 7 days — no more, no less. The passage becomes nonsense if it reads: “Work for six days and rest on the seventh, because God worked for six billion years and is now resting during the seventh billion-year period.” If God is resting, who parted the waters of the Red Sea in Exodus 14? And what did Jesus mean in John 5:17 when He said, “My Father is working until now, and I myself am working”?

Sometimes the claim is made by theistic evolutionists that we do not know how long the days were way back in Genesis 1. In the first place, Genesis 1 was not way back, but was only a few thousand years prior to the writing of Exodus. Since the earth is constantly slowing down in its rotation, the early earth would have been spinning faster and therefore the days would have been shorter, not longer.

But the day-age people have overlooked something even more obvious here: Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 were written by the same author — Moses — at about the same time (ca. 1500 B.C.). Therefore, the common authorship of both passages is evidence that he had the same time period in mind when he used the word day. Furthermore, we might note that the Fourth Commandment was actually written by the finger of God Himself on tablets of stone (Ex. 31:18; 32:16-19; 34:1, 28, 29; Deut. 10:4). If anyone should have known how long the days were, it should be the Creator Himself!

(12) The testimony of the rabbis.

The Talmudic literature contains commentaries on virtually every passage in the Old Testament. The liberties they take in interpreting some passages boggle the imagination and yet one thing is certain: they are unanimous in accepting a normal, 24-hour day for Genesis 1. If there were the slightest grammatical or contextual indicator within that chapter that would point to a longer period, you can be sure they would have spotted it and developed it at length. The fact that they do not is a strong testimony for interpreting the days as normal, 24-hour periods.

(13) The testimony of the church fathers.

It is sometimes claimed that the church fathers believed in long ages for the days in Genesis 1. That is a half truth. The only two who held to this view were Origen and Clement of Alexandria, and they were allegorizers who devised unusual interpretations for every part of Scripture. Their system of allegorizing led to the most unbelievable interpretations, which were bounded only by the limits of their fertile imaginations. Other early commentators on Genesis 1 include the Epistle of Barnabas, Irenacus, and Justin Martyr. Their remarks have frequently been misunderstood to mean that they believed in the day-age theory. That is not true. What they were doing was developing an eschatological framework which included a literal 1000-year reign of Christ on earth (the millennium). Their logic followed these lines:

a. God worked for six days and rested on the seventh.

b. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years (cf. 2 Peter 3:8).

c. The six days of creation and one day of rest therefore typify the six thousand years of human history that will be concluded by the one thousand-year millennium, followed by eternity. Creation took place on 4000 B.C. therefore the millennium should commence on A.D. 2000, terminate on A.D. 3000, and usher in the timeless period of eternity. Whether or not we agree with their reasoning and the resulting prophetic framework, we conclude that these early church fathers were not denying the literal six-day creation, but were affirming their faith in it.

The view of the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) is that of a six-day creation, of 24 hours apiece.

Thomas Scott’s commentary of 1780 generally mentions varying interpretations where they exist, but says nothing about any possibility of the “days” being other than 24-hour periods.

It is only since the middle of the nineteenth century that commentators began talking about long periods of time within Genesis 1 itself. That is truly amazing! The Pentateuch was written by Moses in 1500 B.C. The day-age theory is not mentioned by any serious biblical scholar until the 1800′s A.D. For 3300 years this supposed secret lay hidden awaiting the craftiness of nineteenth-century scholarship to unlock its mysteries and reveal them to a waiting world! Something is wrong here. Either God does not know how to express Himself very clearly, or three thousand years’ worth of biblical scholars were blind for failing to see this obvious truth, or . . . the whole day-age theory is nothing more than a modern contrivance.

Is there some event in the mid 1800′s that would tie in with this? Indeed, there is. It was at this time that Darwin’s Origin of Species, Lyell’s Principles of Geology, and other evolutionary treatises were flooding the marketplace, resulting in a widespread popular acceptance of the major tenets of evolution. Instead of holding their ground and insisting on the authenticity of God’s account of origins, many theologians made the evolutionary theory the criterion of truth and practically fell over each other in their wild scramble to compromise the biblical account of origins with the speculations of nineteenth-century atheists and agnostics. Where it comes to a contest between the Bible and the theories of men, it seems that there are always those who will lean over backwards to make sure the Bible gets the short end of the stick.

(14) The theological problem of sin and death.

According to theistic evolutionists, plant and animal life flourished and died at least 500 million years before man evolved. Their deaths have been recorded as the fossil remains embedded in the sedimentary rocks of the so-called geologic column.

Romans 5:12, however, does not agree: `Therefore as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so death passed to all men, because all have sinned.”

The passage then goes on to identify Adam as the one man referred to in verse 12. There is nothing ambiguous about the passage; it means exactly what it says: Adam was the first man, and there was no death prior to the Garden of Eden incident recorded in Genesis 3. Either theistic evolution and its day-age theory are wrong, or Romans 5:12 is in error. There is no harmonizing or fence-straddling here; one must make a choice between holding to theistic evolution or believing the plain statements in the Bible.

There is yet another lesson to be learned from this New Testament passage. There is a tendency among neo-evangelicals today to make a false dichotomy between the Bible’s statements of faith and practice and statements pertaining to science and history. The former, we are told, are accurate; the latter are riddled with errors of fact. This view is also known as the partial inspiration or limited inerrancy view of inspiration. Romans 5:12 shows that the above is untenable because the passage bases a theological doctrine (man’s sin) upon a historical event (Adam’s fall). Likewise 1 Cor. 15:45 bases the doctrine of the resurrection upon the historicity of Adam as the first man. Many other examples could be cited, but the lesson is clear: the theology (“faith and practice”) of the Christian life is inseparably linked to and interwoven with the historicity and scientific validity of the narrative portions of Scripture. To deny one is to deny the other.

(15) The feasibility of the events of the sixth day.

One problem seems to be: how could Adam have named all the animals in one day? There are two factors to consider here.

First, only a limited number of animals are required. The purpose of parading this entourage of animals before Adam appears to have been to demonstrate to him that man was an entirely different order of creation than the animal kingdom and that none of them could ever serve as a physical and psychological companion to him. This obviously eliminates most of the organisms of the earth: insects, mice, lizards, and fish need not even apply for the position. Since God selected the animals here, He probably limited the number of candidates to those who would even conceivably be suitable. The text itself limits them to “all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field” (Genesis 2:20).

Second, Adam must have had an extremely high intelligence. Because Adam was capable of using 100 percent of his pre-Fall brain, he would probably have had an IQ of 1500 or better. Furthermore, Adam did not have to learn his vocabulary: God programmed it into his brain at the moment of his creation, and he was created as a fully functioning person. It was therefore with the utmost facility that Adam named the animals that were brought before him.

The second problem is due to a misreading of the biblical text where it says in Genesis 2:18 that “it is not good that the man should be alone.” Being alone is not the same as being lonely. The latter requires some time; the former does not.

Unless one is predisposed, because of outside assumptions (evolution), to find fault with the passage, there is nothing inherently unreasonable about the events occurring on one normal 24-hour day, as indicated.


Much could be said about the scientific fallacies of the evolution model and the scientific superiority of the creation model3 but that is beyond the scope of this essay. The emphasis here has been on the professing Christian who is attempting to unequally yoke together two entirely opposing scenarios (creation and evolution) and who is using an unscriptural methodology (the day-age theory) to accomplish this unholy matrimony.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 speaks about a three-fold cord being not easily broken. This essay has woven together a fifteen-fold cord that is not easily broken. The day-age theory, according to the above evidence, is not permitted by Scripture and is therefore false. Elijah said, “How long will you waver between two opinions….(1 Kings 18:21). Each of us needs to decide where he stands on this vital issue.

* Mr. Richard Niessen is Associate Professor of Apologetics at Christian Heritage College. El Cajon. California, and is a popular lecturer on Bible-science topics. He received his B.A., Th.B. (with honors) from the Northeastern Bible College. N.J.; his M.A. (cum laude) was earned at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois; and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate. *


1. There are very few, if any, of these “exceptions” that actually require the meaning of a period of time other than a solar day.

2. Note that the order of the Bible is not the order required by evolution. See the writer’s article “Significant Discrepancies Between Theistic Evolution and the Bible.” (Christian Heritage Courier, August, 1979). Also see John C. Whitcomb’s book The Early Earth, (1972), and Henry M. Morris’ book Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science(1970) – both available from CLP Publishers, P.O. Box 15666, San Diego, CA 92115.

3. See Henry M. Morris, Scientific Creationism (San Diego: CLP Publishers, 1974.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Resurrection day to ALL who been awakened.

Not that I want to get into schematics or literal thought but as it will not escape my mind at this moment writing to the audience but I rather say Happy Resurrection day than easter. If you know the origins of Easter or Ishtar and the observance of this pagan named day which I cannot consider Holy because Only the LORD is Holy you would probably understand what I mean. As well I am not trying to be over prejudiced either (laughing) because many automatically observe this special day with Christ's resurrection more than a fertility observance egg day. Most of these pagan observances are lost , well some may still observe ishtar day or semiramses day etc...but why go into it even further (laughing). It is the day Christian's celebrate both the Passover and the Resurrection simultaneously and this truth is the actual observance to yearly remember what GOD the Son did for mankind and how JESUS justified us when HE arose form the dead. Many still choose not to believe in this reality but it is amazing that it is 100% true and continues to prove that many are without excuse and when they face JESUS will HE be their Judge or Savior?

So as I pray everyone has an awesome Resurrection day I will also leave a famous Charles Wesley Hymn so if you forgot to sing on this day that you will always remember daily what Christ has done for you and I.


Words: Charles Wesley, 1739
Tune: Easter Hymn, Lyra Davidica, 1708

C G/B C F F/C-C C-Dm7 C--F C--G C
1 Christ the Lord is ris'n to-da--ay, A-al -le-e-lu-u-ia!*
2 Lives a-gain our glorious ki--ing: " " " " " " "
3 Love's re-deem-ing work is do--one, " " " " " " "
4 Soar we now, where Christ has le-ed, " " " " " " "

F C F C Dm7 C C/G-G C-Dm7 C--F C--G C
1 Sons of men and an -gels sa--ay: A-al -le-e-lu-u-ia!
2 Where, O death is now thy sti-ing? " " " " " " "
3 Fought the fight, the bat-tle wo--on; " " " " " " "
4 Foll'- wing our ex -alt-ed He--ead; " " " " " " "

G Am G/B G C Dm7 C G Am7 G--C G D G
1 Raise your joys and tri -umphs high, A-al -le-e-lu-u-ia!
2 Dy - ing once, He all doth save: " " " " " " "
3 Death in vain for -bids Him rise; " " " " " " "
4 Made like Him, like Him we rise; " " " " " " "

(G) C F F/C-C C-F Dm7 C--G C
1 Sing, ye heav'ns, and earth re-ply-y, A-al-le -lu-u-ia!
2 Where thy victo - ry, O gra-ave? " " " " " " "
3 Christ has opened Para - di--ise. " " " " " " "
4 Ours the cross, the grave, the ski-ies. " " " " " " "

G/B X20033
F/C X33211

*The timing for this is as follows:
C-------Dm7 C--F C---G C
A-------al -le-e-lu--u - ia!
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
(The others are similar enough to figure out from here)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Five-Pointer Shares the Gospel


The radical difference between Arminianism and Calvinism is that the system of the former revolves about the creature, whereas the system of the latter has the Creator for its centre of orbit.
~A.W. Pink~

A Five-Pointer Shares the Gospel

March 9, 2011 | by: John Piper | Category: Commentary

Here’s a conversation between an unbeliever and an evangelist who believes in the doctrine of definite atonement (sometimes unhelpfully called “limited atonement”)—the biblical teaching that when Jesus died, God’s unalterable purpose was to cancel the sins and commute the death sentence of all whom he would give to the Son (John 6:39).

Unbeliever: So what are you offering me?

Evangelist: Salvation from God’s wrath and from your sin. Everlasting life.

U: How?

E: Because when Jesus, the Son of God, died, he absorbed God’s wrath, removed it, and he bore the guilt of sin for all who trust him.

U: Did he do that for me?

E: If you will have him—receive him—you will have all that he is for you and all that he did for you. If you will trust him, yes, he did it for you.

U: So you don’t know if he did it for me?

E: He is offering himself to you right now freely. He is offering you a wonderful, finished work of redemption—all that he accomplished in absorbing God’s wrath and cancelling sins. All of that is yours for the having, right now. If you won’t have it, it’s not yours. If you will, it is. There’s only one way to know if your sins were cancelled and your death sentence was commuted in the death of Jesus. Believe on him. His promise is absolute: If you believe, you will be saved. If you won’t believe, you remain in your sin, and under God’s wrath.

U: So what are you asking me to receive?

E: Jesus. Receive Jesus! Because Jesus really did these things. He really secured the freedom of his people from the wrath of God. He really bore their sins in his body on the tree. If you receive him, you are one of them. You are included. All that is true for you. He offers to you freely right now.

U: I thought I could know Jesus died for me before I believed? That’s what I’ve always been told: Believe on him, because he died for everybody.

E: I can’t say for sure, but the people who taught you that probably meant this: Jesus died so that the gospel could be offered to all, and all who believe would be saved. That’s true. But if I assured you before you believe that your sins were cancelled and your freedom from God’s wrath was obtained, I would mislead you. Imagine if I said to you, Jesus certainly obtained your deliverance from God’s wrath and certainly covered all your sins. Now believe that. What would you say?

U: I’d say, great. Now what if I don’t believe? Then I’m still saved, right? Since my sins were certainly covered. It’s done.

E: Yes, that’s probably what you would say, and you’d be wrong. Because I would have misled you. The good news that Jesus has for you before you believe on him is not that your sins are certainly cancelled. The good news is that Jesus really propitiated the wrath of God, and really covered the sins of his people. It is finished. And that is what I offer you. It’s free. It’s full. It’s complete. It’s glorious. And his absolute promise to you is this: It’s yours if you will receive him. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Repentance and the Real Gospel

Repentance and the Real Gospel

Let no man ever persuade you that any religion deserves to be called the Gospel, in which repentance toward God has not a most prominent place. That is no Gospel in which repentance is not a principal thing. It is the Gospel of man – not of God. It comes from earth – not from heaven. It is not the Gospel at all – it is rank antinomianism and nothing else. So long as you hug your sins, and cleave to your sins, and will have your sins – your sins are not forgiven.

So long as you do not repent of sin, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is no Gospel to your soul. Christ is a Savior from sin – not a Savior for man in sin. If a man will have his sins, the day will come when that merciful Savior will say to him, “Depart from Me, you worker of iniquity! Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41.)

~ J.C. Ryle

Old Paths, “Repentance”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1999], 415, 416.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Assurance for the Young Convert and Weak Believer

I took this from a site (click on heading) I found that is awesome encouragement for all of us who are in this mortal combat with the world, our flesh, and the devil daily whether we are newer believers or believers that have been walking for a while.... it is wonderful to see the examples of those who lived it just like we are and wrote so their fruit GOD bore through them could aid us as we travel along the Pilgrims path....

"By nature we are all dead in trespasses and sins, not only strangers to God, but in a state of enmity and opposition to his government and grace. In this respect, whatever difference there maybe in the characters of men as members of society, they are all, whether wise or ignorant, whether sober of profane, equally incapable of receiving or approving divine truths, I Cor. ii. 14. On this ground our Lord declares: "No man can come unto me, except the Father who has sent me draws him."…

I would understand a person who is under the drawings of God, which will infallibly lead him to the Lord Jesus Christ for life and salvation. The beginning of this work is instantaneous. It is effected by a certain kind of light communicated to the soul, to which it was before an utter stranger. The eyes of the understanding are opened and enlightened. The light at first afforded is weak and indistinct, like the morning dawn; but when it is once begun, it will certainly increase and spread to the perfect day. We commonly speak as if conviction of sin was the first work of God upon the soul that he is about in mercy to draw to himself. But I think this is inaccurate. Conviction is only a part, or rather an immediate effect of that first work; and there are many convictions which do not all spring from it, and therefore are only occasional and temporary though for a season they may be very sharp and put a person upon doing many things. In order to a due conviction of sin, we must previously have some adequate conceptions of God with whom we have to do. Sin may be feared as dangerous without this; but its nature and demerit can only be understood by being contrasted with the holiness, majesty, goodness and truth of the God against whom it is committed. No outward means, no mercies, judgments, ordinances can communicate such a discovery of God, or produce such a conviction of sin, without the concurrence of this divine light and power to the soul. The natural conscience and passions may indeed be so far wrought upon by outward means as to stir up some desires and endeavours; but if these are not founded in a spiritual apprehension of the perfections of God, according to the revelation he has made of himself in his Word, they will sooner or later come to nothing; and the person affected will either return by degrees to his former ways, 2 Peter ii. 20; or he will sink into a self-righteous form of godliness, destitute of the power of Luke sviii. II. And therefore, as there are so many things in the dispensation of the Gospel suited to work upon the natural passions of men, the many woeful miscarriages and apostatises amongst professors are more to be lamented than wondered at. For though the seed may seem to spring up, and look green for a season, if there be not depth for it to take root, it will surely wither away. We may be unable to judge with certainty upon the first appearance of a religious profession, whether the work be thus deep and spiritual or not; but, "the Lord knows them that are his;" and wherever it is real, it is an infallible token of salvation. Now as God thus only reveals himself by the medium of Scripture truth, the light received this way leads the soul to the Scripture from whence it springs, and all the leading truths of the Word of God soon begin to be perceived and assented to. The evil of sin is acknowledged; the evil of the heart is felt. There may be for some while the effort to obtain the favour of God by prayer, repentance and reformation; but, for the most part, it is not very long before these things and proved to be vain and ineffectual….The soul wearied with vain expedients finds itself worse and worse, and is gradually brought to see the necessity and sufficiency of the Gospel-salvation. A may soon be a believer thus far: That he believes the Word of God, sees and feels things to be as they are there described, hates and avoids sin, because he knows it is displeasing to God, and contrary to his goodness; he receives the record which God has given of his Son; has his heart affected and drawn to Jesus by views of his glory, and of his love to poor sinners; ventures upon his Name and promises as his only encouragement to come to a throne of grace; waits diligently in the use of the means appointed for the communion and growth of grace; loves the Lord's people, accounts them the excellent of the earth, and delights in their conversation. He is longing and waiting and praying for a share in those blessings which he believes they enjoy and can be satisfied with nothing less. He is convinced of the power of Jesus to save him; but through remaining ignorance and legality, the remembrance of sin committed and the sense of present corruption he often questions his willingness; and not knowing the abounding of grace, and the security of the promises, he fears lest the compassionate Saviour should spurn him from his feet.

While he is thus young in the knowledge of the Gospel, burdened with sin, and perhaps beset with Satan's temptations the Lord, "who gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom," is pleased at times to favour him with cordials, that he may not be swallowed up with over-much sorrow. Perhaps his heart is enlarged in prayer, or under hearing, or some good promise is brought home to his mind, and applied with power and sweetness. He mistakes the nature and design of these comforts which are not given him to rest in, but to encourage him to press forward. He thinks he is then right because he has them, and if only hopes to have them always. Then his mountain stands strong. But ere long he feels a change: his comforts are withdrawn; he finds no heart to pray; no attention in hearing; indwelling sin revives with fresh strength, and perhaps Satan returns with redoubled rage. Then he is at his wits end; thinks his hopes were presumptuous, and his comforts delusions. He wants to feel something that may give him a warrant to trust in the free promises of Christ. His views of the Redeemers gracefulness are very narrow; he sees not the harmony and glory of the divine attributes in the salvation of a sinner; he sighs for mercy, but fears that justice is against him. However by these changing dispensations, the Lord is training him up, and he bringing him forward. He receives grace from Jesus, whereby he is enabled to fight against sin; his conscience is tender, his troubles are chiefly spiritual troubles; and he thinks, if he could but attain a sure and abiding sense of his acceptance in the Beloved, hardly any outward trial would be capable of giving him much disturbance. Indeed, notwithstanding the weakness of his faith, and prevalence of a legal spirit, which greatly hurts him, there are some things in his present experience which he may perhaps look back upon with regret hereafter, when his hope and knowledge will be more established; particularly that sensibility and keenness of appetite with which he now attends the ordinances, desiring the sincere milk of the Word with earnestness and eagerness, as a baby does the breast. He counts the hours from one opportunity to another; and the attention and desire with which he hears may be read in his countenance. His zeal is likewise lively; and may be, for want of more experience, too importunate and forward. He has a love for souls, and a concern for the glory of God; which, though it may at some times create him trouble, and at other be mixed with some undue motions of self, yet in its principle is highly desirable and commendable; John xviii. 10.

The grace of God influences both the understanding and the affections. Warm affections, without knowledge can rise no higher than supe

rstition; and that knowledge which does not influence the heart and affections, will only make a hypocrite. The true believer is rewarded in both respects; yet we may observe, that though he is not without knowledge, this state is more usually remarkable for the warmth and liveliness of the affections. On the other hand, as the work advances, though the affections are not left out, yet it seems to be carried on principally by the understanding. The old Christian has more solid, judicious, connected view of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the glories of his person and redeeming love; hence his hope is more established, his dependence more simple, and his peace and strength, more abiding and uniform, than in the case of a young convert; but the latter has, for the most part, the advantage in point of sensible fervency. A tree is most valuable when laden with ripe-fruit, but it has a peculiar beauty when in blossom. It is spring-time with him; he is in bloom, and, by the grace and blessing of the heavenly husbandman, will bear fruit in old age. His faith is weak, but his heart is warm. He will seldom venture to think himself a believer; but he sees and feels, and does those things which no on could unless the Lord was with him. The very desire and bent of his soul is to God, and to the Word of his grace. His knowledge is but small, but it is growing every day. If he not a father, or a young man in grace, he is a dear child. The Lord has visited his heart, delivered him from the love of sin, and fixed his desires supremely upon Jesus Christ. The spirit of bondage is gradually departing from him, and the hour of liberty, which he longs for, is approaching, when, by a further discovery of the glorious Gospel, it shall be given him to know his acceptance and to rest upon the Lord's finished salvation.
–John Newton from his letters.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spurgeon: Ask God for the latter rain.

Praise GOD HE humbles us and lifts us up. We are HIS. May this affect you as it affects me at this moment. This we the Church need to hear. Please soak it in.

Ask God for the Latter Rain!

In this degenerate time we are very much as Israel was in the days of the Judges, for there are raised up among us leaders who judge Israel, and are the terror of her foes. Oh, if the church had in her midst a race of heroes; if our missionary operations could be attended with the holy chivalry which marked the church in the early days; if we could have back apostles and martyrs, or even such as Carey and Judson, what wonders would be wrought!...

The fact is, the most of us are vastly inferior to the early Christians, who, as I take it, were persecuted because they were thoroughly Christians, and we are not persecuted because we hardly are Christians at all. They were so earnest in the propagation of the Redeemer’s kingdom, that they became the nuisance of the age in which they lived. They would not let errors alone. They had not conceived the opinion that they were to hold the truth, and leave other people to hold error without trying to intrude their opinions upon them, but they preached Christ Jesus right and left, and delivered their testimony against every sin. They denounced the idols, and cried out against superstition, until the world, fearful of being turned upside down, demanded of them, “Is that what you mean? Then we will burn you, lock you up in prison, and exterminate you.” To which the church replied, “We will accept the challenge, and will not depart from our resolve to conquer the world for Christ.” At last the fire in the Christian church burned out the persecution of an ungodly world.

But we are so gentle and quiet, we do not use strong language about other people’s opinions; but let men go to hell out of charity to them. We are not at all fanatical, and for all we do to disturb him, the old manslayer has a very comfortable time of it. We would not wish to save any sinner who does not particularly wish to be saved. If persons choose to attend our ministry, we shall be pleased to say a word to them in a mild way, but we do not speak with tears streaming down our cheeks, groaning and agonising with God for them; neither would we thrust our opinions upon them, though we know they are being lost for want of the knowledge of Christ crucified. May God send the latter rain to his church, to me, and to you, and may we begin to bestir ourselves, and seek after the highest form of earnestness for the kingdom of King Jesus. May the days come in which we shall no longer have to complain that we sow much and reap little, but may we receive a hundredfold reward, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From a sermon entitled "The Former And Latter Rain," delivered July 11, 1869. Image by James Jordan under Creative Commons License.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

John Calvin , Luther and the reformers agreements that all agree. Calvinism is back Praise GOD because only GOD deserves HIS Glory.

As a Conservative Calvinist for the most part..actually I consider myself a student of Augustine as well because I relate to most of Augustine confessions (which is a good read every Christian should read along with City of GOD), I found this on Facebook and it was a really wonderful article found on Yahoo news. I pray you will like it...kind of very hard to argue with them...GOD is Sovereign and Severe but HIS mercy endures forever.
I hope you like it.


Christian faith: Calvinism is back
The Christian Science Monitor
By Josh Burek Josh Burek – Sat Mar 27, 12:00 pm ET

Washington – Snow falls resolutely on a Saturday morning in Washington, but the festively lit basement of a church near the US Capitol is packed. Some 200 female members have invited an equal number of women for tea, cookies, conversation – and 16th-century evangelism.

What newcomers at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) hear is hardly "Christianity for Dummies." Nor is it "Extreme Makeover: Born-Again Edition." Instead, a young woman named Kasey Gurley describes her disobedience and suffering in Old Testament terms.

"I worship my own comfort, my own opinion of myself," she confesses. "Like the idolatrous people of Judah, we deserve the full wrath of God." She warns the women that "we'll never be safe in good intentions," but assures them that "Christ died for us so we wouldn't have to." Her closing prayer is both frank and transcendent: "Our comfort in suffering is this: that through Christ you provide eternal life."

It is so quiet you can hear an oatmeal cookie crumble.

IN PICTURES: Calvinism at Capitol Hill Baptist Church

Welcome to the austere – and increasingly embraced – message of Calvinism. Five centuries ago, John Calvin's teachings reconceived Christianity; midwifed Western ideas about capitalism, democracy, and religious liberty; and nursed the Puritan values that later cast the character of America.

Today, his theology is making a surprising comeback, challenging the me-centered prosperity gospel of much of modern evangelicalism with a God-first immersion in Scripture. In an age of materialism and made-to-order religion, Calvinism's unmalleable doctrines and view of God as an all-powerful potentate who decides everything is winning over many Christians – especially the young.

Twenty-something followers in the Presbyterian, Anglican, and independent evangelical churches are rallying around Calvinist, or Reformed, teaching. In the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest Protestant body, at least 10 percent of its pastors identify as Calvinist, while more than one-third of recent seminary graduates do.

New Calvinism draws legions to the sermons of preachers like John Piper of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Here at CHBC, the pews and even rooms in the basement are filled each Sunday, mostly with young professionals. Since senior pastor Mark Dever brought Calvinist preaching here 16 years ago, the church has grown sevenfold. Today it is bursting at the stained-glass windows.

Yet the movement's biggest impact may not be in the pews. It's in publishing circles and on Christian blogs, in divinity schools and at conferences like "Together for the Gospel," where the rock stars of Reformed theology explore such topics as "The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability."

"There is a very clear resurgence of Calvinism," says Steven Lemke, provost and a professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

The renewed interest arrives at a crucial inflection point for American religion. After reviewing a landmark opinion survey last year that showed a precipitous decline in the number of people who identify themselves as Christian, Newsweek declared ominously that we may be witnessing "the end of Christian America."

In some ways, Newsweek may have understated the shift. Five hundred years after Martin Luther posted his 95 theses challenging the Roman Catholic Church, some religion watchers see not just a post-Christian America but an unraveling of the Protestant Reformation itself. Their alarm is rooted in surveys that show a watering down of Christian beliefs.

Now come the New Calvinists with their return to inviolable doctrines and talk of damnation – in essence, the Puritans, minus the breeches and powdered wigs. Is this just a moment of nostalgia or the beginning of a deeper revolt against the popular Jesus-is-our-friend approach of modern evangelicalism? Where, in other words, is Christianity going?

• • •

When people today hear the name John Calvin, they think mainly of predestination – the controversial idea that God has foreordained everything that will happen, including who will and won't be saved, no matter what they do in life.

What people often forget is that the 16th-century French theologian transformed Western thought both by what he taught and how he taught it. His 700-page "Institutes of the Christian Religion" became the reference manual for Protestant faith. And his detailed and explanatory style of preaching – he spent five years expounding on the book of Acts, verse by verse – became an example for generations of clergy.

Detractors, and there are many, see Calvin as a harsh theocrat who punished heretics (including one who was famously burned at the stake) while molding the city where he preached, Geneva, into a model of his fatalistic and hopeless ideology.

But supporters view him as a man who recovered God-centric Christianity, set the stage for religious freedom, and encouraged countless believers to read the Bible for themselves.

"Like it or not, he is one of the great minds that shaped our modern world," says Gerald Bray, a professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala. "Ideas of democracy, open-market capitalism, and equality of opportunity were aired in his Geneva and put into practice as far as they could be at that time."

Calvin's influence on America's founding is unmistakable. The nation's patriotism, work ethic, sense of equality, public morality, and even elements of democracy all sprang in part from the Calvinist taproot of Puritan New England. When Calvinist preacher Jonathan Edwards told worshipers in 1741 that they were loathsome spiders held over the pit of hell by the gracious hand of an offended God, he wasn't speaking a heretical creed but the basic vocabulary of American faith. It wasn't until the 19th century that Calvinist doctrines waned.

By most logic, the stern system of Calvinism shouldn't be popular today. Much of modern Christianity preaches a comforting Home Depot theology: You can do it. We can help. Epitomized by popular titles like Joel Osteen's "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," this message of self-fulfillment through Christian commitment attracts followers in huge numbers, turning big churches into megachurches.

At the same time, a strict following of the Bible, which Calvinists embrace, hardly resonates the way it once did in American society. The Barna Group, a California-based research firm, recently did a survey to find out how many US adults hold a "biblical worldview" – for instance, believe that the Bible is totally accurate, that a person cannot earn their way into heaven simply by doing good, that God is the all-powerful creator of the universe.

The result: a steeple-thin 9 percent. Among 18-to-23-year-olds, it was 0.5 percent, fewer people than might show up at a Lady Gaga concert. Even among "born again" Christians, it was only 19 percent.

In a separate report, Barna found that more than 6 in 10 born-again Christians say they are customizing their faith, not following any one church's theology. "Americans are increasingly comfortable picking and choosing what they deem to be helpful and accurate theological views and have become comfortable discarding the rest of the teachings in the Bible," the report notes.

The blunt implication: Scripture is no longer the sheet anchor of American spirituality.

This, of course, was the Roman Catholic warning to early reformers five centuries ago: If you break away from the church, orthodoxy will spiral into fancy. By emphasizing sound doctrine and the naked gospel, New Calvinists want to restore what they see as stability to Protestant faith.

Indeed, CHBC has a sister organization called "9Marks," which strives to promote "biblically faithful" churches across denominational lines.

"A lot of people think religion is something you piece together [from] ideas you think are sweet and that you personally find beneficial," says Mr. Dever. "No. It's like a doctor's report.... It's an objective reality. It's just what is."

More broadly, the Calvinist revival reflects an effort to recast the foundation of faith itself. From conservative evangelical churches to liberal new-age groups, the message of much modern teaching is man's need for betterment. Not New Calvinism; its star is God's need for glory. And the gravity of His will is great: It can be denied, but not defied.

"God either knows everything, or He knows nothing at all," says CHBC member Jeannie Hagopian, a young mother from South Carolina.

• • •

As morning light filters into a fourth-floor room on a Sunday, students huddle on tiered seats, listening to a lecture on substitutionary atonement. The teacher poses a tough question, but a hand shoots into the air, eager to answer with a recitation of the week's memory verse from I Peter 3:18: "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."

Scholars and seminarians call this systematic theology. Kindergartners at CHBC just call it Sunday school.

Their parents are downstairs, absorbing seminars, prayers, and a Scripture-saturated sermon that add up to five hours of worship over the day. Just before noon, the adults jot notes as they listen to an hour-long sermon on II Samuel 5-9. These chapters cover King David's glorious reign over Israel, but Dever doesn't skip the tough verses, such as when God strikes Uzzah dead for trying to steady the ark of the covenant.

"Friends, have we sinned like Uzzah?" he asks.

Such statements are meant to prick the hearts of his listeners. Yet he often follows up the hard questions with reassuring comments like: "You and I should not draw a breath today, without living for the praise of God's glory."

This pattern – convict worshipers of their sin, then show them spiritual elation – has a gripping effect on the assembly. After the service, churchgoers linger for an hour, hugging and sharing heartfelt conversation. "I've come to believe and understand that God is not fundamentally about me; He's much bigger than that," says Dan Wenger, a government employee. "The teaching at this church has helped me to see that in context of the whole story of the Bible, not just the parts that make me feel good."

Dever acknowledges that people might well ask, "Why would God make anybody who is going to go to hell?" His answer captures the essence of New Calvinism. "I don't know," he says. "I didn't do this. I'm just trying to tell you what I think is true, not what I like."

Membership at CHBC isn't for the faint of holy. Classes on theology and Christian history are required before joining. At the "Lord's Supper" once a month, members stand and recite an oath that ties them to one another. In addition to Sunday worship and Wednesday night Bible study, they spend hours each week in small-group study or one-on-one "discipling." They say those sessions – a time for confessions, encouragement, and prayer – are the most challenging and rewarding feature of church life.

"Christian fellowship is so much more than hanging out with friends," says Claudia Anderson, a magazine editor. "It involves spiritual intimacy, support, learning, counseling, and stunning acts of kindness."

Christopher Brown, a lawyer, concurs. "I came for the theology but stayed for the community," he says. "As Americans, we're so individualistic. But the New Testament rebukes this 'rugged individualism.' We're not saved to be lone rangers."

The BlackBerry-wielding Millennials who worship here say they crave teaching that challenges them – "preaching for PhDs," as one puts it. Ask them what books they're reading, and they won't mention "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." They'll reel through names of 17th-century Puritan preachers like a pack of baseball cards.

"The resurgence of Calvinism indicates that America hasn't changed so much as some might suppose," says Collin Hansen, author of "Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists." "American Christianity has splintered in myriad directions since the Puritans settled New England. But the God they worshiped – attested in the Bible, sovereign in all things, and merciful toward sinners through the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ – still captivates believers today."

• • •

What captivates outsiders, however, is that New Calvinists are restoring the doctrine of predestination – God choosing from the outset whom He will and won't save – to a land that long ago shifted toward a "No Child Left Behind" view of salvation. Taken to its logical end, predestination means God has always regulated everything, even evil.

This belief bothers many Christians. "The shooting at Fort Hood: Did God foreordain that? 9/11? The Holocaust?" asks Professor Lemke, who's also a Baptist pastor and critic of some, though not all, points of Calvinism.

In 2008, the Southern Baptist Convention put on a John 3:16 conference to counterbalance tenets of Calvinism, including predestination.

What critics see as a grim and fatalistic doctrine, however, Calvin saw as good news: that God's purposes can be fulfilled despite man's sinful ways.

"To him, predestination was a liberating belief because it says that God can choose anyone, however humble, and use him to overturn the great men of this world," says Professor Bray. "It makes real change possible and puts ordinary people like you and me in charge of seeing it happen. What could be better news than that?"

Many followers agree, adding that Calvinism is not fatalism: You are responsible for you behavior.

"Calvinism is 'big picture' Christianity," says Allen Guelzo, the author of "Edwards on the Will: A Century of American Theological Debate." "It is less interested in asking why God lets bad things happen to good people, and asks instead whether there have ever been any genuinely 'good' people."

For all its controversy, predestination is something New Calvinists accept as part of their take-it-all-or-leave-it approach to the Bible.

"Today we have more Bibles and more study guides to Scripture than ever before, but people know the text itself less and less," says Bray. "This is disastrous. Calvin's deep and expository approach to it is therefore more necessary than ever."

At CHBC, several members say they became authentically Christian only after a friend studied the gospel with them verse by verse. "As I studied the Bible, I saw that God has every reason to send me to hell," says Connie Brown, a kindergarten teacher. "God broke me down – and renewed my heart."

New Calvinists talk about their sin a lot. Despite that – or rather because of it – they exude not guilt but great joy. Their explanation: If we play down our sinfulness, we'll play down our gratitude for the magnitude of God's love and forgiveness.

Many members were drawn to CHBC precisely because they had yearned to be "convicted of their sin" again and grown frustrated with "watered-down preaching." School vice principal Jessica Sandle says she came after the pastor at her former church read a book on growth and became consumed with filling pews. "So he stopped talking about sin, and why we need God," she says.

Another congregant, who declined to be named because he is running for office, was searching for something more substantial as well. "I went to other churches and I came away feeling good, but I came away hungry, too," he says. "They [the sermons] were mercifully shorter, but they'd leave the gospel out, and I wouldn't be convicted of my sin.... Here, your deficiencies are laid bare."

Ultimately, Calvinism's contrast with chummier, Jesus-is-my-friend forms of evangelicalism may highlight a more fundamental change in the world of faith. Bestselling religion writer Phyllis Tickle sees the interest in Calvinism as the first phase of a backlash against the dominant religious trend of today: the rise of "Emergence Christianity."

Emergence Christianity, which she identifies as a once-every-500-years religious shift, is less a doctrine or a movement than a postmodern attitude toward religion itself. Loosely organized, it values experimentation over traditional rules and Christian practice.

"When things go through this upheaval," Ms. Tickle says, "there's always those who absolutely need the assurance of rules and a foundation."

Or, as Ms. Hagopian puts it with uncompromising Calvinistic clarity: "The dominant philosophy of American Christianity is so far removed from biblical truth. Life is not hunky-dory."

IN PICTURES: Calvinism at Capitol Hill Baptist Church