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An Introduction to Ephesians

Why does Paul refer to his fellow Christians as “saints” at the beginning of his letters, and how can this be true since all Christians continue to struggle with remaining sin? What does it mean to be chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, as Paul teaches in Ephesians? Does God choose us because of something good that he foresaw in us? And what is the significance of the idea that we have been predestined to be adopted as his very own sons? The host will discuss these questions and more as we begin a new series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“When God speaks, things happen. When God says, ‘Let there be light,’ in the Old Testament in Genesis, there is light. When Jesus says, ‘Lazarus, come forth,’ he in fact does. When God, through the mouth of the apostle or here through the pen of the apostle says, ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father,’ it’s not just imparting information. It is doing that, but it’s doing something more than that actually. It’s bringing the very thing that it speaks of. It is imparting to them the peace that comes from God on account of Christ.” – Steve Parks

Term to Learn:

“The Authority of Christ in Scripture’s Authorship”

Christianity is often called a book-religion. It would be more exact to say that it is a religion which has a book. Its foundations are laid in apostles and prophets, upon which its courses are built up in the sanctified lives of men; but Christ Jesus alone is its chief cornerstone. He is its only basis; he, its only head; and he alone has authority in his Church. But he has chosen to found his Church not directly by his own hands, speaking the word of God, say for instance, in thunder-tones from heaven; but through the instrumentality of a body of apostles, chosen and trained by himself, endowed with gifts and graces from the Holy Ghost, and sent forth into the world as his authoritative agents for proclaiming a gospel which he placed within their lips and which is none the less his authoritative word, that it is through them that he speaks it. It is because the apostles were Christ’s representatives, that what they did and said and wrote as such, comes to us with divine authority. The authority of the Scriptures thus rests on the simple fact that God’s authoritative agents in founding the Church gave them as authoritative to the Church which they founded. All the authority of the apostles stands behind the Scriptures, and all the authority of Christ behind the apostles. The Scriptures are simply the law-code which the law-givers of the Church gave it.

If, then, the apostles were appointed by Christ to act for him and in his name and authority in founding the Church—and this no one can doubt; and if the apostles gave the Scriptures to the Church in prosecution of this commission—and this admits of as little doubt; the whole question of the authority of the Scriptures is determined. It will be observed that their authority does not rest exactly on apostolic authorship. The point is not that the apostles wrote these books (though most of the New Testament books were written by apostles), but that they imposed them on the Church as authoritative expositions of its divinely appointed faith and practice. (B. B. Warfield, “The Authority and Inspiration of the Scriptures,”The Selected Shorter Writings of B.B. Warfield Vol. 2, pp. 537–539)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Improving Your Observation Skills

Improving Your Observation SkillsWe live in a world of screens that compete for our attention. Though it’s easy to be attracted to the things competing for our attention on our phone, television, or computer screen, it takes a little more work to really notice things that are going on all around us. The same can be said for the way we approach the Bible. We often have a superficial understanding of a given passage because we rarely take the time to really observe what the text is saying.

On this program, Michael Horton discusses this issue with Jim Gilmore, author of Look: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Observation Skills. Join us for this special edition of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“If we consider reflection, I think at one level, the difference between, let’s say, watching a video and reading a book is you seldom stop the film to say I’m going to think about this scene right now. You’ll do that with a book but there’s even a further step away as to not have anything that’s in between and observing your surroundings. I think we’re losing our sense of reflection.

“We’re losing a sense of quietness. Sometimes you put those ear buds on because it’s noisy, so you’d rather listen to your own music than the street noise, not a bad decision. So part of it is a call not just for more reflection but for more quietness. I think what’s happening with social media particularly is just making the world increasingly noisy, noisy being the lowest form of intelligence that exists. It’s not even data or information. It’s just this random stream of just blah, blah, blah. It all to me sounds like what the adult sounds like to the kids on Peanuts. It’s the getaway from that world.” – Jim Gilmore

Term to Learn:

“Therapeutic Culture”

The move to the therapeutic in society has been induced by several cultural developments. The intense psychologization of men’s attitudes and feelings as the primary subconscious level of “who we are,” the altering definitions of justice as primarily the accommodation of society to remove all barriers from self-expression and empowering fulfillment of the self, and the movement to the individual subject as the arbiter of that freedom to happiness apart from external structures and forces. The good life of justice, freedom, happiness have been internalized to such a degree that boredom and the external forces which upset that interior life are now seen as the greatest of evils. Justice has been re-defined in the last century as the removal of external barriers and the material empowerment of the individual towards the good life perceived to be desirable.

Men’s attitudes and feelings have come to arbitrate justice and goodness in the late modern society. Safety and security have been held out as the primary good of Western culture above what previous generations saw as essential to promoting the good life, namely liberty, self-reliance, and responsibility. Conventional ideals of moral responsibility have gradually become subordinated to state interpreted therapeutic ideals. “Modern culture is unique in having given birth to such elaborately argued anti-religions, all aiming to confirm us in our devastating illusions of individuality and freedom,” writes Philip Rieff in his magisterial, The Triumph of the Therapeutic. Jacques Ellul argued in the mid-century that whenever a culture’s ethical outlook could not keep a pace with its technological developments, propaganda was the fated result – the subconscious alteration of men’s attitudes and feelings through technological means of domination. Modern cultural production has moved into the business and technique of manipulating a sense of well­being under what Jürgen Habermas has called a “therapeutocracy.” (Timothy W. Massaro, “Therapeutic Culture,” WHI [blog], October 05, 2015)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Joy to The World!

When the angels appeared before the shepherds in Bethlehem, they came bringing a message of “good news” rather than tips for improving our life or the world around us.Joy to The World!

On this program, the hosts will discuss the nature of the Christian gospel and its roots in the Old Testament promises of a coming redemption. They’ll also discuss the relationship between good news and the “great joy” that we experience in response as they conclude their series on The Meaning of Christmas on this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“We’re taking a look at the theme of joy at Christmas, ‘Joy to the World,’ that famous hymn that we sing at this time of the year written in 1719 by Isaac Watts that is based on Psalm 98. Here is the famous hymn that you know so well. ‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let Earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room and Heaven and nature sing. Joy to the world, the savior reigns. Let men, their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy. No more, let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found. He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.’

“One of the things right out of the gate with this song that really strikes me is how it focuses so much on not just joy to me and my personal experience, but joy to the world and ‘Let Earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room and Heaven and nature sing.’ And then turning to the nature, fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeating the sounding joy. ‘No more, let sins and sorrows grow,’ not just within my heart, but he comes to make his blessings flow ‘far as the curse is found.’ Just the breadth here of understanding… The curse is not just me and my own personal situation, but that the whole Earth is under a curse and Jesus Christ comes to bring joy to the whole Earth and even the rocks and the hills and the rivers are crying out with joy!” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Of the Incarnation of the Son of God”

We confess, therefore, that God has fulfilled the promise which He made to the fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets, when He sent into the world, at the time appointed by Him, His own only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon Him the form of a servant and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature with all its infirmities, sin excepted; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit without the means of man; and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that He might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that He should take both upon Him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of His mother) that Christ partook of the flesh and blood of the children; that He is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; born of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb of Mary; born of a woman; a branch of David; a shoot of the root of Jesse; sprung from the tribe of Judah; descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham; since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and was made like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted; so that in truth He is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us. (The Belgic Confession, Article 18)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Do I Have to Go to Church to Be a Christian?

Many Christians in our time seem to think that church attendance is optional, particularly in an age like ours with so many online options. But is this a healthy outlook? Is it even biblical? On this program, the hosts discuss this question and offer numerous reasons why it is not only important but also crucial for Christians to be under the care and supervision of pastors, teachers, and elders at a properly-ordered church. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Do I Have To Go To ChurchHost Quote:

“Do I have to go to church to be a Christian? We’re used to hearing the contrast between a personal relationship with Jesus versus going to church or joining a church. We are familiar with evangelistic presentations where that’s actually said. ‘I’m not inviting you to join a church, but to have personal relationship with Jesus.’

“The thing that we need to think about here is about the role of the church in God’s plan for creation, redemption, and eternity. The Father chose each of us to be part of the church. That is Christ’s bride and body. To be united to Christ is to be united to his church. First of all, the church is the heart of God’s plan from before time. Secondly, Christ gave his life for his church. Thirdly, the Spirit unites us to Christ, the head, and therefore to his body. You can’t be united to Christ without also being united to his visible church. Fourthly, Christ delivers himself to sinners now by the ministry of the church. We never leave that ministry until we die. And then finally, the church is the everlasting society of God, our forever family. The church never goes away.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Of the Catholic (Universal) Church”

We believe and profess one catholic or universal Church, which is a holy congregation of true Christian believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by His blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Church has been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this that Christ is an eternal King, which without subjects He cannot be. And this holy Church is preserved or supported by God against the rage of the whole world; though it sometimes for a while appears very small, and in the eyes of men to be reduced to nothing; as during the perilous reign of Ahab the Lord reserved unto Him seven thousand men who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Furthermore, this holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one and the same Spirit. (The Belgic Confession, Article 27)

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Is Trying to Be Good, Good Enough?Imagine a person standing in a courtroom and pleading before the judge, “I’m sorry, Your Honor, I tried not to steal that car!” If this wouldn’t work with a civil magistrate, why do we think it would work before the judge of all the earth? On this program, the hosts discuss what it means to be good from the perspective of God’s infinitely holy standard, and the solution that God provides in light of our inability to live up to that standard. Our hosts discuss this and much more on this episode of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“We need to think not merely about justice here on earth and how we look to each other but to the ultimate justice before God. That is, our laws are reflections of ultimate right and wrong. Apart from that kind of an ultimate standard, we can only say things like, ‘I don’t like genocide.’ If good and evil don’t exist, there’s only subjective opinion. According to Christianity, however, God is the ultimate standard and we, as his image bearers, reflect that standard. The God of Scripture describes himself as the judge of all the earth who is infinitely holy, righteous, and good. So, is trying hard to be good, good enough for God?” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Therapeutic Culture”

The move to the therapeutic in society has been induced by several cultural developments. The intense psychologization of men’s attitudes and feelings as the primary subconscious level of “who we are,” the altering definitions of justice as primarily the accommodation of society to remove all barriers from self-expression and empowering fulfillment of the self, and the movement to the individual subject as the arbiter of that freedom to happiness apart from external structures and forces. The good life of justice, freedom, happiness have been internalized to such a degree that boredom and the external forces which upset that interior life are now seen as the greatest of evils. Justice has been re-defined in the last century as the removal of external barriers and the material empowerment of the individual towards the good life perceived to be desirable.

Men’s attitudes and feelings have come to arbitrate justice and goodness in the late modern society. Safety and security have been held out as the primary good of Western culture above what previous generations saw as essential to promoting the good life, namely liberty, self-reliance, and responsibility. Conventional ideals of moral responsibility have gradually become subordinated to state interpreted therapeutic ideals. “Modern culture is unique in having given birth to such elaborately argued anti-religions, all aiming to confirm us in our devastating illusions of individuality and freedom,” writes Philip Rieff in his magisterial, The Triumph of the Therapeutic.

Jacques Ellul argued in the mid-century that whenever a culture’s ethical outlook could not keep a pace with its technological developments, propaganda was the fated result – the subconscious alteration of men’s attitudes and feelings through technological means of domination. Modern cultural production has moved into the business and technique of manipulating a sense of well-being under what Jürgen Habermas has called a “therapeutocracy.” (Timothy W. Massaro, “Therapeutic Culture,” WHI [blog], October 05, 2015)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Do All Paths Lead to God?

Do All Paths Lead to God?Religious pluralism seems to be the only perspective that is tolerated in today’s culture, while those who are “trapped” within the confines of a single religious outlook are dismissed as narrow and sectarian. But if you think about it, those who promote this alternative dogma that “all paths lead to God” are also making an exclusive truth claim, since they end up excluding the opposite view that only one religious path leads to God. The hosts will discuss this contemporary outlook and contrast it with the exclusive claims that Jesus made about himself on this episode of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“When people say that basically Christianity is, ‘I’m a Christian because it gives me a moral set of guidelines, it gives me a sense of meaning and wholeness and ethical purity and so forth,’ what you’re saying to that other person is ‘I’m better than you. I have a deeper sense of meaning and purpose than you have. I live a better life than you do because I have better moral principles.’

“When people lodge their ‘argument’ in that which is not an argument, that’s actually arrogant. Versus saying, ‘Look, I’m not coming to you telling you my religion can beat up your religion. I’m presenting these arguments and I hope that they persuade you. Let us both submit to reality.’ We’re not saying we’re better than you.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Pluralism vs. Inclusivism vs. Exclusivism”

Pluralism: All religions lead to heaven. Inclusivism: Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, but you don’t have to hear that Gospel and believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved by him.

Exclusivism: There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ (see John 14:6; Acts 4:12). (Michael Horton, White Horse Inn #1035— “Is Faith in Christ Necessary?”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

 

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Addressing Popular Misconceptions of Faith

Addressing Popular Misconceptions of FaithOn this program, the hosts interact with a number of man-on-the-street interviews concerning the nature and meaning of faith. As they have discussed throughout this series, faith is often seen as a kind of leap in the dark. According to the surveys we’ll air on this program, this belief seems to be held by Christian and non-Christian alike.

The Christian misunderstanding of faith appears to be rooted in an often-misinterpreted passage from Hebrews chapter 11, so the hosts also spend some time explaining in what sense “faith is the essence of things unseen.” Join us as we continue our series, What is Faith?, on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“So, the assumption for most people is that when religious people go to church, mosque, synagogue, whatever, they are switching their furniture from the intellect to the emotions. Basically, they’re switching it from knowledge to opinion. They’re otherwise using their commonsense and their reason and appealing to evidence and relying on their senses and so forth in their everyday lives and evaluating other claims. But when it comes to religion, they switch off their minds and go to autopilot, just sort of flying by the seat of their heart as it were.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

Faith”

Q. 21 What is true faith? A. True faith is not only a certain knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word; but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. (The Heidelberg Catechism)

The Reformers were unanimous and explicit in teaching that justifying faith does not justify by any meritorious or inherent efficacy of its own, but only as the instrument for receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ. They regarded this faith primarily as a gift of God and only secondarily as an activity of man in dependence on God. (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 497)

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Does Faith Conflict with Science?

Does Faith Conflict with Science?Are faith and science at odds with each other? The way the story is often told, science is empirical, rational, and objective, whereas faith is experiential, subjective, and dogmatic. While it’s certainly true that many of the world’s religions think of faith in this way, the hosts will attempt to show that the Christian view of faith is unique in that it claims to be a reasonable trust that is grounded in objective facts, rather than subjective wishes or experiences. Join us as we continue our series, What is Faith?, on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“This whole idea that there is a conflict between faith and reason is a relatively new phenomenon. This conflict or warfare thesis has only been around for about 150 years back to the rise of science. And even the term ‘science’ is a 19th century term. In the past, people did natural philosophy that was connected to other disciplines like theology. It wasn’t detached, exactly. This detachment goes back to particularly Immanuel Kant, who was a 18th and 19th century German philosopher. What he said was we can only know those things to which we have immediate access, the things that we can learn through the senses. He says we don’t have any sort of physiological, any phenomenological experience of God, so we can’t talk about God because there’s no access. And so, we should abandon that conversation altogether. So what happened was this. Knowledge moved decidedly into the realm of the senses. Scientific knowing, medical knowing became the end all, be all of knowledge. Whereas theology, philosophy, these things dropped off sharply, so much so that there aren’t any natural theologians anymore. Pretty much no one else talking about God being knowable in nature.”– John Bombaro

Term to Learn:

“Science & the Laws of Nature”

Science cannot exist without the assumptions of a stable creation, with meaning, purpose, or the laws of nature to govern it. Without the assumptions brought about by Christianity, modern science would have no footing whatsoever. If nature were inherently self-serving and motivated merely by survival rather than to the giving of life, the stability of natural laws would be unknowable. Nature itself would be a moving deception. We would not have the ability to even perceive such a reality if it existed.

“Science is based on the assumption that the universe is thoroughly rational and logical at all levels,” writes Paul Davies.

“Atheists claim that the laws [of nature] exist reasonlessly and that the universe is ultimately absurd. As a scientist, I find this hard to accept. There must be an unchanging rational ground in which the logical, orderly nature of the universe is rooted” (Russell Stannard, God for the 21st Century [Templeton Foundation Press, 2000], 12).

Many scientists today see this rationality—which many people want to discount as superstition. The evidence points to something of an infinite creator and to a belief in him.

Faith in what must be (i.e., God) for the world to exist as it does is actually rational. Science has not found evidence precluding the belief in God, miracles, or the resurrection of Jesus. Such fields are outside the competency of science and its methodology. Faith is not incompatible with the evidence. Everyone has to believe in a hypothesis concerning where the compelling evidence leads them. Such basic beliefs are the building blocks of understanding the laws of nature. The laws of nature, therefore, pose a problem for both atheists and materialists but not for theists. (Timothy W. Massaro, “5 Reasons Why Science and Faith Are Compatible,” Discover, October 30, 2016)

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Christmas is the time in which we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us”.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

But this same Word, who was God and was also with God…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2)

…actually made a number of appearances throughout Israel’s history. On this program the hosts will take a look at these “theophanies,” or manifestations of God in human or angelic form in numerous Old Testament passages as we conclude our series on The Incarnation.Appearances of Christ Before His Incarnation

“We’re told in the Bible, God can’t swear by anybody higher than himself. So, the angel of the Lord says to Abraham, ‘By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord.’ So, you can go all the way back to theophanies and see, this person is distinct from the Father and yet he’s called God. The same point that John makes in his prologue, ‘the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ This isn’t a second-tier God, this is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and yet it’s also the Angel of the Lord.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Of the Incarnation of the Son of God”

We confess, therefore, that God has fulfilled the promise which He made to the fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets, when He sent into the world, at the time appointed by Him, His own only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon Him the form of a servant and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature with all its infirmities, sin excepted; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit without the means of man; and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that He might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that He should take both upon Him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of His mother) that Christ partook of the flesh and blood of the children; that He is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; born of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb of Mary; born of a woman; a branch of David; a shoot of the root of Jesse; sprung from the tribe of Judah; descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham; since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and was made like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted; so that in truth He is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us.

(The Belgic Confession, Article 18)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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What’s the true spirit of Christmas? That’s the question at the heart of countless Christmas movies that clutter the airwaves and cable listings at this time of year. But the answer one typically receives from films of this genre is not merely a departure from the biblical narrative, but rather is a kind of anti-gospel that turns our attention completely away from the redemption provided by the incarnate Son of God. The hosts will discuss this topic by walking through memorable lines from movies such as A Christmas CarolIt’s a Wonderful LifeThe Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and many others.

That’s our theme on this episode of the White Horse Inn as we continue our series on The Incarnation.the Theology of Christmas Movies

“The commercialization and secularization of Christmas in America has been noted for a long time. It’s not any great news flash. Christmas or the Holidays is big business. Often, even in church services, there are spectacles with living Christmas trees and Santa visits. Ironically, many of the most vocal defenders of ‘Merry Christmas’ in our society are really interested in a civil religion type of ceremony that has very little to do with Jesus. The culture wars don’t seem that interested in talking about the incarnation, the actual myth that became fact, the entirely non-sentiment journey of God the Son to the far country in order to seek and to save that which was lost.”  –Michael Horton

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