Revival! A story of conversions and the “fencing of the tables”

More than two hundred and seventy years ago…

…in the year 1742, there was an extraordinary religious awakening in the West of Scotland. It began in Cambuslang, a parish on the Clyde, near Glasgow, There were not over nine hundred souls in the parish, yet out of that number about five hundred were, it was believed, converted.

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationThe awakening in Cambuslang was preceded by a year’s faithful preaching of regeneration and the atonement by the pastor, Rev. John M’Culloch. Who then for twelve weeks came daily preaching –generally out-door or in tents. Whitefield (then in the zenith of his power and popularity) came to Cambuslang, and delivered a dozen discourses. This “Son of Thunder” never stayed long in one spot; as he used to say, ” More than two weeks in one place kills me as dead as a door-nail.” But his two visits to the rural parish near Glasgow were inundations of blessings to the thirsting multitudes. Mighty audiences from Glasgow and Western Scotland thronged to hear him.

Whitefield frequently addressed 20,000 souls in a day!

At the first communion season after his visit, no less than seventeen hundred persons sat down to the tables, which were spread under tents. A few weeks after, the Lord’s Supper was dispensed again; and probably it was the most extraordinary communion service ever witnessed on earth. No less than forty thousand people gathered to witness the solemnities. Preaching went on for several days previous under Whitefield and others; but on the second Sabbath in August, the Pentecostal scene culminated.

The day was mild and genial, the air fragrant with the breath of new mowed hay, and the fields yellow with the wheat-harvest. At half-past eight on that memorable Sabbath morning, the “action sermon” was preached. Then came the “fencing the tables;” *  then, immediately after this, the table was spread, and the first company passed into the Lord’s Supper. During the whole day the sacred service went forward; no less than twenty-four companies of over one hundred, each sitting down in rotation! The whole number who partook of the sacred emblems was about three thousand.

The soft twilight was stealing over the “braes” when the last group left the communion tent, and there was only light enough left to read four lines of a psalm as a doxology. A grey haired pastor turning homeward from the hallowed place, exclaimed, in the fulness of his grateful heart,” Lord! now let Thou, Thy servant, depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.”

Such a revival could not be without abiding fruits. Accordingly, we are told that after the close of the extraordinary meetings, the morals of the whole neighborhood were changed. Profanity became almost unknown. God’s day was honoured in every dwelling. Nearly every house became a house of prayer. Evil speaking ceased. Old enmities and family feuds were forgotten. Every father was a kinder parent; every child more dutiful. Religion went into men’s daily business as a controlling principle; skeptics owned its power, and scoffers were silenced before the beauty and majesty of daily godliness. May He who holds the seven stars in His right hand renew such a period!


*  “fencing the tables” means the special address in the ministration of the Lord’s Supper. This was a term often used among the Scotch Presbyterians. It is a lecture from the minister just before the distribution of the elements, pointing out the character of those who have and of those who have not a right to come to the Lord’s table. It was formerly called “debarrings,” because in it the ministry debarred from the sacrament those who were not supposed to be worthy.

Taken from “The Religious Anecdotes of Scotland.”

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Prophetic: The Beginnings of Adventism. Part 3-B

P1-AO863_SHEEPG_D_20090225174544 (1)“…shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God;  and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness…” -1 Peter 5:2 .

To the Shepherd:”Thou shalt Not Fleece the Sheep!” 1 Peter 5:2 (condensed) .

 “…Her priests instruct for a price And her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD saying, “Is not the LORD in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us.”

-Micah 3:11

About this fleecing of sheep…

In Part 3, “Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist’s Prophet for Profit” we looked at some of the more damning financials of Ellen and James White.  And I use the term “damning” cautiously here. I do not want to be misunderstood.  There is certainly no sin to earn an income, correctly, properly, and within the bounds of Christian propriety.  But when we are looking for “wealth” from the ministry of a pastoral office, especially that of a prophetic office, as James indicated; that is for James to direct and encourage an increased writing of “vision” filled literature, on Ellen’s part, indicates an “out-of-bounds,” Christian ethic.  However, it does not prove that Ellen White was a false prophet in and of itself, for Balaam himself was also convicted for trying to prophesy for greed. “…having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” 2 Peter 2:15 NASB.

As Dirk Anderson reasonably points out, that unlike Jesus, the apostles, as well as many of the Biblical prophets who were often poor and desolate, Mrs. White lived a life reserved for some of the wealthiest of her day…

628x471While we do not know all the details and things that occurred behind the scenes, we do know that the Whites were able to purchase an elegant estate home named Elmshaven, located in exclusive Napa Valley area, complete with 74 acres of prime land. But the deal didn’t end there. Included with her private residence were the following:

  • A two-story office building with library and vault
  • Two cottages used as living quarters for her staff
  • A barn and stable stocked with livestock and equipment

The question might be raised here, why does anyone need those kind of accommodations? Another question might be asked is, were these additional facilities vacant, or were they actively used? In a broad sense these two questions are linked together. Here is what we know:

LandmarkSign_3706_160-1The White’s had both a household and office staff at her Elmshaven estate in 1913. Her large full-time staff consisted mainly of 14 people, which included a personal nurse (Sara McEnterfer), a cook, a copyist, a seamstress, farm hands, several secretaries and various other office assistants and office personnel.

Here is the rub. It has not been released as to how many of the staff were actually paid directly by Ellen White. Considering how much it would cost to maintain such a large cadre of people. Salaries alone would have been a fortune. But when you include feeding, equipment, farm supplies, travel expenses; for the Whites were always traveling, as we shall see, then the annual budget most likely would have been a small fortune. 

However, there is another consideration.

34_595_EGW-CopyrightIt is possible that at least some of the office staff may have been placed on the payroll of the SDA church… After all, for a number of years she was about the only thing that kept the church together (which is the subject of another post).  When this church leader, or that church leader would decide that Seventh-day Adventist teachings did not square up with the bible, Ellen White would have another vision… and strangely, it would be about them, some sin that was in their life; some secret sin. Also, she would predict that people would fall away from her teachings, and would therefore go to hell. To say that she singlehandedly kept the church together, and was absolutely necessary for the churches survival is not an understatement.  For the young images (1)denomination therefore, to pay her to keep her happy and contented, is not outside the pale of logic, or this group’s business ethics (But that is also the subject of another post).

As we have seen so far, the real estate, facilities, and private accommodations, together with a large and well diversified staff are all consistent of a wealthy and influential lifestyle which the White’s enjoyed and were fruits from the “wealth yet in our pens.”  

Once again, we are indebted to Dirk Anderson for his observations. The following is adapted from his website.

Not only did the Whites earn big money–they spent big!  There is no doubt they spent money lavishly on themselves:

  • The Whites were frequent visitors to spas and health resorts, such as Our Home on thedansville Hillside, the Dansville Clinic in New York (pictured on the right). Mrs. White also spent time at the Rural Health Retreat in Saint Helena, Dr. Kellogg’s Health Clinic in Battlecreek, and various others health resorts.
  • 629.4(1)_595_EGW-CopyrightWhile criticizing others for wasting their money on photography, the Whites spent freely on photographs at a time when they were quite expensive. A letter written to James in 1876 indicates $500 was spent on one negative. In year 2013 dollars, that is over $10,782.63!
  • According to her critics, Mrs. White “dressed richly.” 
  • scan0025Mrs. White apparently had an appetite for fine meats. In 1882, she wrote to daughter-in-law Mary Kelsey White, asking her to purchase some “herrings” and “oysters”. According to Dr. John Kellogg, Mrs. White celebrated her return from Europe in 1887 with “a large baked fish.” When she visited the Battle Creek Sanitarium during the next several years, she “always called for meat and usually fried chicken,” much to the consternation of Kellogg and the cook who were both vegetarians.
  • Mrs. White was a world traveler during an era when world travel was quite expensive. Not only did she travel across the United States, but she also traveled to Europe and Australia, ostensibly to assist with the work in those locations.

images (2)

[The more one reads of Ellen and James White’s life from unsanitized sources, and the more one reads of her writings from the few unsanitized manuscripts obtained from unauthorized sources, the more one is convinced that they are not witnessing a pastoral ministry, much less a prophetic ministry, but rather a machine, or an organization whose mission is to ensure its own survival. An organization which starts off with many more misses than hits, but slowly gains speed as it gains traction. An organization, that owes not its life to the Bible, but to the near single-handed work of Ellen White. An organization that has from the beginning typically destroyed its own wounded.

To be sure, it was a symbiotic relationship between Ellen and those early players, as it is even today. Ellen needed the umbrella of the church to spread her “writings,” and the SDA church needed Ellen to vindicate and justify their own experience. In the end, each needed the other, to make sense, to give reason, to give purpose, and to justify those events that happened back in 1843 – 1844; and from there, to justify as to why the SDA Church is here now. –MWP]

Suffering: But God said no…

Written by R.C. Sproul

images (8)I am astonished that…

…in the light of the clear biblical record, anyone would have the audacity to suggest that it is wrong for the afflicted in body or soul to couch their prayers for deliverance in terms of “If it be thy will….” We are told that when affliction comes, God always wills healing, that He has nothing to do with suffering, and that all we must do is claim the answer we seek by faith. We are exhorted to claim God’s yes before He speaks it.

Away with such distortions of biblical faith!

They are conceived in the mind of the Tempter, who would seduce us into exchanging faith for magic. No amount of pious verbiage can transform such falsehood into sound doctrine. We must accept the fact that God sometimes says no. Sometimes He calls us to suffer and die even if we want to claim the contrary.

Never did a man pray more earnestly than Christ prayed in Gethsemane.

Who will charge Jesus with failure to pray in faith? He put His request before the Father with sweat like blood: “Take this cup away from me.” This prayer was straightforward and without ambiguity—Jesus was crying out for relief. He asked for the horribly bitter cup to be removed. Every ounce of His humanity shrank from the cup. He begged the Father to relieve Him of His duty.

But God said no.

The way of suffering was the Father’s plan. It was the Father’s will. The cross was not Satan’s idea. The passion of Christ was not the result of human contingency. It was not the accidental contrivance of Caiaphas, Herod, or Pilate. The cup was prepared, delivered, and administered by almighty God.

In all our prayers, we must let God be God.

Jesus qualified His prayer: “If it is Your will….” Jesus did not “name it and claim it.” He knew His Father well enough to understand that it might not be His will to remove the cup. So the story does not end with the words, “And the Father repented of the evil He had planned, removed the cup, and Jesus lived happily ever after.” Such words border on blasphemy. The gospel is not a fairy tale. The Father would not negotiate the cup. Jesus was called to drink it to its last dregs. And He accepted it. “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

This “nevertheless” was the supreme prayer of faith.

The prayer of faith is not a demand that we place on God. It is not a presumption of a granted request. The authentic prayer of faith is one that models Jesus’ prayer. It is always uttered in a spirit of subordination. In all our prayers, we must let God be God. No one tells the Father what to do, not even the Son. Prayers are always to be requests made in humility and submission to the Father’s will.

The prayer of faith is a prayer of trust.

The very essence of faith is trust. We trust that God knows what is best. The spirit of trust includes a willingness to do what the Father wants us to do. Christ embodied that kind of trust in Gethsemane. Though the text is not explicit, it is clear that Jesus left the garden with the Father’s answer to His plea. There was no cursing or bitterness. His meat and His drink were to do the Father’s will. Once the Father said no, it was settled. Jesus prepared Himself for the cross.

Sinners Justified by Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ… A Bible Study

Taken from, “Justification by an Imputed Righteousness -or- No Way to Heaven but by Jesus Christ.”
Written by John Bunyan

sacrificial-lambMy intention is to treat of justification, as it sets a man free from sin, and the curse and condemnation of the law in the sight of God, for the purpose of eternal salvation. And that I may with the more clearness handle this point before you, I will lay down and speak to this proposition—

That there is no other way for sinners to be justified from the curse of the law in the sight of God, than by the imputation of that righteousness long ago performed by, and still residing with, the person of Jesus Christ.

The terms of this proposition are easy; yet if it will help, I will speak a word or two for explication.

1. By a sinner, I mean one that has transgressed the law; for “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
2. By the curse of the law, I mean that sentence, judgment, or condemnation which the law pronounces against the transgressor (Gal. 3:10).
3. By justifying righteousness, I mean that which stands in the doing and suffering of Christ when he was in the world (Rom. 5:19).
4. By the residing of this righteousness in Christ’s person, I mean, it still abides with him as to the action, though the benefit is bestowed upon those that are his.
5. By the imputation of it to us, I mean God’s making of it ours by an act of his grace, that we by it might be secured from the curse of the law.
6. When I say there is no other way to be justified, I cast away to that end the law, and all the works of the law as done by us.

Thus I have opened the terms of the proposition.

Now the two first—to wit, What the sin and the curse is, stand clear in all men’s sight, unless they be atheists, or desperately heretical. I shall therefore in few words, clear the other four.

First, justifying righteousness is the doing and suffering of Christ when he was in the world.

This is clear, because we are said to be “justified by his obedience” (Rom. 5:19); by his obedience to the law. Hence he is said again to be the end of the law for that very thing—“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness,” etc. (Rom. 10:4).

The end, what is that? Why, the requirement or demand of the law. But what is it? Why, righteousness, perfect righteousness (Gal. 3:10).

Perfect righteousness, what to do? That the soul concerned might stand spotless in the sight of God (Rev. 1:5).

Now this lies only in the doings and sufferings of Christ; for “by his obedience many are made righteous”; wherefore as to this Christ is the end of the law, that being found in that obedience, that becomes to us sufficient for our justification. Hence, we are said to be made righteous by his obedience; yea, and to be washed, purged, and justified by his blood (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 5:18, 19).

Secondly, that this righteousness still resides in and with the person of Christ, even then when we stand just before God thereby, is clear, for that we are said when justified to be justified “in him”—“In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified.”

And again, “Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness,” etc. And again, “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us of God righteousness” (Isa. 45:24, 25; 1 Cor. 1:30).

Mark, the righteousness is still “in him,” not “in us”; even then when we are made partakers of the benefit of it, even as the wing and feathers still abide in the hen when the chickens are covered, kept, and warmed thereby.

For as my doings, though my children are fed and clothed thereby, are still my doings, not theirs, so the righteousness wherewith we stand just before God from the curse still resides in Christ, not in us. Our sins when laid upon Christ were yet personally ours, not his; so his righteousness when put upon us is yet personally his, not ours. What is it, then? Why, “he was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Thirdly, it is therefore of a justifying virtue only by imputation, or as God reckons it to us; even as our sins made the Lord Jesus a sinner—nay, sin, by God’s reckoning of them to him.

It is absolutely necessary that this be known of us; for if the understanding be muddy as to this, it is impossible that such should be sound in the faith; also in temptation, that man will be at a loss that looks for a righteousness for justification in himself, when it is to be found nowhere but in Jesus Christ.

The apostle, who was his crafts-master as to this, was always “looking to Jesus,” that he “might be found in him” (Phil. 3:6-8), knowing that nowhere else could peace or safety be had.

And indeed this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world—namely, that a righteousness that resides with a person in heaven should justify me, a sinner, on earth.

Fourthly, therefore the law and the works thereof, as to this must by us be cast away; not only because they here are useless, but also they being retained are a hindrance.

That they are useless is evident, for that salvation comes by another name (Acts 4:12). And that they are a hindrance, it is clear, for the very adhering to the law, though it be but a little, or in a little part, prevents justification by the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 9:31, 32).

What shall I say? As to this, the moral law is rejected, the ceremonial law is rejected, and man’s righteousness is rejected, for that they are here both weak and unprofitable (Rom. 8:2, 3; Gal. 3:21; Heb. 10:1-12).

Now if all these and their works as to our justification are rejected, where but in Christ is righteousness to be found?

Thus much, therefore, for the explication of the proposition—namely, that there is no other way for sinners to be justified from the curse of the law in the sight of God than by the imputation of that righteousness long ago performed by, and still residing with, the person of Jesus Christ.

Now, from this proposition I draw these two positions—

First, That men are justified from the curse of the law before God while sinners in themselves.

Secondly, That this can be done by no other righteousness than that long ago performed by, and residing with, the person of Jesus Christ.

Conforming to Christ: The Great Work of Sanctification

Taken and adapted from, “Looking Unto Jesus, A View of the Everlasting Gospel, or, the Soul’s Eying of Jesus as Carrying on the Great Work of Mans salvation from First to Last”
Written by, Issac Ambrose.

Edited for thought and sense.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  

–Romans 8:29 (ESV)

Let us quicken our sluggish souls to conform to Christ.

If this was one of the ends of Christ’s coming, to destroy the works of the devil, to deface all Satan’s works, especially his work in me, and to set his own stamp on my soul; how then should I but endeavor to conform! I read but of two ends of Christ’s coming into the world in relation to us; whereof the first was to redeem his people, and the other was to purify his people: “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem its from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The one is the work of his merit, which goeth upwards to the sanctification of his Father; the other is the work of his grace, which goeth downwards to the sanctification of his church: in the one he bestoweth his righteousness on us by imputation, in the other he fashioneth his image in us by renovation; and what, O my soul, wouldst thou destroy the end of Christ’s coming in the flesh?

Thus let us provoke our souls to this conformity…

…let us excite our faint, drooping, languishing affections, desires, endeavors. Let us with enlarged industry engage and encourage our backward spirits to fall upon this duty; let us come up higher towards it, or if possibly we may, completely to it; that the same mind, and mouth, and life, may be in us that was in Jesus Christ, that we may be found to walk after Christ, that we may tread in the very prints of the feet of Christ, that we may climb up after him into the same heavenly kingdom; that we may aspire continually towards him, and grow up to him, even to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Let us regulate ourselves by the life of Christ…

whatsoever action we go about, let us do it by this rule, — would Christ have done this? It is true, some things are expedient and lawful with us, which are not suitable to the person of Christ: “Marriage is honorable with all men, and the bed undefiled,” but it did not benefit his person. Writing of books is commendable with men, because, like Abel, being dead, they may still speak; but it would have been derogatory to the person and office of Christ: for it is his prerogative to be in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, to be present to all his members; to teach by power, and not by ministry; to write his law in the hearts of his people, and to make them his epistle. 

In sinful acts eschewed by Christ…

…as when I am tempted to sin, then am I to reason thus with myself: would my blessed Savior, if he were upon earth, do thus and thus? If he were to live again, would he live after this manner? Would this be his language? would such speech as this drop from his lips?


David: God’s Child…Forgiven!

Taken from “Faith and Life.”
Written by B. B. Warfield

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.”

-Psa. 51:12

“and David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin.”

It may almost seem that David escaped from his crime too easily. We may read the narrative and fail to observe the signs of that deep contrition which such hideous wickedness when once recognized surely must engender. There is the story of the sin drawn in all its shocking details. Then Nathan comes in with his beautiful apologue of the ewe-lamb, and its pungent application. And then we read simply: “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against The Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin.” After that comes only the story of how the child of sin was smitten, and how David besought the Lord for its life and finally acquiesced in the Divine judgment.

One is apt to feel that David was more concerned to escape the consequences of his sin than to yield to the Lord the sacrifices of a broken and a contrite heart. Does it not seem cold to us and external, David’s simple acknowledgment of his sin, and the Lord’s immediate remission of it? We feel the lack of the manifestations of a deeply repentant spirit, and are almost ready, we say, to wonder if David did not escape too easily from the evil he had wrought.

It is merely the simplicity of the narrative which is deceiving us in this. The single-hearted writer expects us to read into the bare words of David’s confession, “I have sinned against the Lord,” all the spiritual exercises which those words are fitted to suggest and out of which they should have grown. And if we find it a little difficult to do so, we have only to turn to David’s penitential Psalms, to learn the depths of repentance which wrung this great and sensitive soul. One of them —perhaps the most penetrating portrayal of a truly penitent soul ever cast into human speech—is assigned by its title to just this crisis in his life; and I see no good reason why this assignment need be questioned. The whole body of them sound the depths of the sinful soul’s self-torment and longing for recovery as can be found nowhere else in literature; and taken in sequence present a complete portrayal of the course of repentance in the heart, from its inception in the rueful review of the past and the remorseful biting back of the awakened heart, through its culmination in a true return to God in humble love and trusting confidence, to its issue in the establishment of a new relation of obedience to God and a new richness of grateful service to Him.

Accordingly, the conception of the radicalness of the operation required for the Psalmist’s deliverance from sin, is equally developed.

No surface remedy will suffice to eradicate a sin which is thus inborn, ingrained in nature itself. Hence the passionate cry: Create—it requires nothing less than a creative act—create me a clean heart— the heart is the totality of the inner life;—and make new within me a constant spirit—a spirit which will no more decline from Thee. Nothing less than this will suffice—a total re-begetting as the New Testament would put it; an entire making over again can alone suffice to make such an one as the Psalmist knows himself to be—not by virtue of his sins of act which are only the manifestation of what he is by nature, but by virtue of his fundamental character—acceptable to Him who desires truth in the inward part; nay, nothing less than this can secure to him that steadfastness of spirit which will save his overt acts from shame.

It is only the saint who knows what sin is; for only the saint knows it in contrast with salvation, experienced and understood. And it is only the sinning saint who knows what salvation is: for it is only the joy that is lost and then found again that is fully understood. The depths of David’s knowledge, the poignancy of his conceptions—of God, and sin, and salvation—carrying him far beyond the natural plane of his time and the development of the religious consciousness of Israel, may be accounted for, it would seem, by these facts. He who had known the salvation of God and basked in its joy, came to know through his dreadful sin what sin is, and its terrible entail; and through this horrible experience, to know what the joy of salvation is— the joy which he had lost and only through the goodness of God could hope to have restored. In the biting pain of his remorse, it all becomes clear to him. His sinful nature is revealed to him; and the goodness of God; his need of the Spirit; the joy of acceptance with God; the delight of abiding with Him in His house. Hence his profound disgust at himself; his passion ate longing for that purity without which he could not see God. And hence his culminating prayer: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.”

Can a true Christian sin or not? An exegetical analysis of Sin in passages in 1st John

download[This is one of the better, if not best, comprehensive exegetical analysis that I have seen on 1st John. It was written by Matt Slick, who is President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.  Matt earned his Bachelors in Social Science from Concordia University, Irvine, CA in 1988.  He earned his Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, in Escondido, CA, in 1991.  He now resides in the Boise, Idaho area with his family.  He is ordained.  Matt started CARM in October of 1995 to respond to the many false teachings of the cults on the Internet. –MWP]

  • Yes, he can sin.
    • 1 John 1:8-10
      • “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (NASB)
      • “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (NKJV)
  • No, he cannot sin.
    • 1 John 3:9,
      • “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (NASB)
      •  “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (NKJV)
    • 1 John 5:18,
      • “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.” (NASB)
      • “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” (NKJV)   

Is John contradicting himself when he says in one verse that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8); and yet he also says the one who is a Christian cannot sin (1 John 3:95:18 NKJV)?  There is no contradiction, but to see why we will need to look at the original Greek language.

The Greek

1 John 3:9 1

       Πᾶς γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ ὅτι σπέρμα αὐτοῦ
  All the one having been born from the God sin not does because seed of him
          ἐν αὐτῷ μένει καὶ οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται
  in him stays and not he is able to sin because from the God he has been born

1 John 5:18 2

            Οἴδαμεν ὅτι πᾶς γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει ἀλλ̓
  We know that all the one having been born from the God not sins but t he
      γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τηρεῖ αὐτόν καὶ πονηρὸς οὐχ ἅπτεται αὐτοῦ
  one having been born from the God keeps him and the evil not touches him


I have bolded the words above that I would like to focus on.  In 1 John 3:9, the greek word ποιεῖ (poiei) means to do, to practice.  The V3SPAI is shorthand for Verb, 3rd Person Singular, Present, Active, Indicative.  Likewise, VPAN means Verb, Present, Active, Indicative.

ποιέωa: a marker of an agent relation with a numerable event–to do, to perform, to practice, to make.’ διδάσκων καὶ πορείαν ποιούμενος εἰς Ιεροσόλυμα ‘teaching as he made a journey to Jerusalem’ Lk 13:22; οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάννου νηστεύουσιν πυκνὰ καὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται ‘John’s disciples often fast and pray’ Lk 5:33; τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν ‘in your name we did many miracles’ Mt 7:22; πίστει πεποίηκεν τὸ πάσχα ‘by faith he performed the Passover’ Heb 11:28.3

So we see that the word means to do, to practice.  But that isn’t all.  In Greek, like English, there are verb tenses:  past, present, future.  But in Greek, the present tense is not quite the same as the English.  Instead, it is more a continuous action.

Present tense: “The verb tense where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion.”4

Finally, in 1 John 3:9 we see an infinitive form of a verb.  The infinitive is “to go,” “to see,” “to eat,” etc.  This is important.

“And he cannot sin (και οὐ δυναται ἁμαρτανειν [kai ou dunatai hamartanein]).  This is a wrong translation, for this English naturally means “and he cannot commit sin” as if it were και οὐ δυναται ἁμαρτειν [kai ou dunatai hamartein] or ἁμαρτησαι [hamartēsai] (second aorist or first aorist active infinitive).  The present active infinitive ἁμαρτανειν [hamartanein] can only mean “and he cannot go on sinning,” as is true of ἁμαρτανει [hamartanei] in verse 8 and ἁμαρτανων [hamartanōn] in verse 6.5


There is no contradiction.  What is happening is that John is saying that the one who is born again does not habitually abide in sin.  He may fall into it, but he does not practice it as a lifestyle.  The nuances of the Greek language are not carried over to the English; but when we understand what is happening, we then see there is no problem.

Finally, any Christian who would say that he does not sin anymore fails to agree with 1 John 1:8 which says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  He would then be self-deceived.

Unraveling our Experiences, Resistances, and Anxieties in the Sanctified Life

Taken and adapted from “A Body of Divinity: Wherein the Doctrines of the Christian Religion are Explained and Defended, being the Substance of Several Lectures on the Assembly’s Larger Catechism.” Written by Thomas Ridgley. Edited for thought and sense.

_h353_w628_m6_ofalse_lfalse“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;…” 

–1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (ESV)

Let us inquire, whether the life we live in the flesh…

…be by the faith of the Son of God, be under the influence of his Spirit, with great diffidence of our own righteousness and strength, and firm dependence upon Christ… 

If we have ground to hope that the work of sanctification is begun, let us inquire, whether it be advancing or declining. Whether we go from strength to strength, or make improvements in proportion to the privileges we enjoy.  Many have reason to complain that it is not with them as in months past; that grace is languishing, the frame of their spirits in holy duties stupid, and they be destitute of that communion with God,” which they have once enjoyed.  Such ought to remember from whence they are fallen, and repent, and do their first works; and beg of God, from whom alone our fruit is derived, that he would revive the work, and cause their souls to flourish in the courts of his house, and to bring forth much fruit unto holiness, to the glory of his own name, and their spiritual peace and comfort.

As for those who are frequently complaining of, and be-wailing their declensions in grace, who seem, to others, to be making a very considerable progress therein; let them not give way to unbelief so far as to deny or set aside the experiences which they have had of God’s presence with them; for sometimes grace grows, though without our own observation. If they are destitute of the comforts thereof, or the fruits of righteousness, which are peace, assurance and joy in the Holy Ghost, let them consider, that the work of sanctification, in this present state, is, at best, but growing up towards that perfection which is not yet arrived to. 

If it does not spring up and flourish, as to those fruits and effects thereof, which they are pressing after, but have not attained; let them bless God, if grace is taking root downward, and is attended with an humble sense of their own weakness and imperfection, and an earnest desire of those spiritual blessings which they are laboring after.  This ought to afford a matter of thankfulness, rather than to have a tendency to weaken their hands, or induce them to conclude that they are in an unsanctified state because of the many hindrances and discouragements which attend their progress in holiness.

How James and Robert Haldane “Found Christ”: Or, the power of an ‘inconvenient’ Christian witness

FirstRateThe famous Rev. James Alexander Haldane, who came from a highly respectable family In his youth, joined the British navy, and rose to the post of captain in one of his Majesty’s war ships.

On one occasion, being engaged in a warmly-contested battle, he saw the whole of his men on deck swept off by a tremendous broadside from the enemy. He ordered another company to be “piped up” from below, to take the place of their lost companions.

On coming up, they saw the mangled remains strewn upon the deck, and were seized with a sudden and irresistible panic. On seeing this, the captain jumped up, and swore a horrid oath, imprecating the vengeance of Almighty God upon the whole of them, and wishing that they might all sink to hell. An old marine, who was a pious man, stepped up to him, and respectfully touching his hat said, “Captain, I believe God hears prayer; and if God had heard your prayer just now, what would have become of us?” Having spoken this, he made a respectful bow, and retired to his place.

After the engagement, Captain Haldane calmly reflected upon the words of the old marine, and was so deeply affected by them, that he devoted his attention to the claims of religion,and was subsequently converted to God. Of course he informed his brother Robert of what had taken place; but instead of being gratified by it, his brother was greatly offended, and requested him never to enter his house till ho had changed his views. ” Very well, Robert,” said James, ” but I have one comfort in the case, and that is, you cannot prevent my praying for you;” and holding out his hand, he bade him good bye.

His brother Robert was much affected by this; he could not get rid of the idea that his brother was constantly praying for him. He saw the error of his ways, and after much investigation and reflection, became a decided Christian.

The brothers Haldane were united in good work at home and abroad. By their sacrifices and labors they gave an impetus to evangelical religion in Scotland. They became the fathers of churches, and preachers of the gospel to the poor and those who stood in need of hearing the glad tidings of great joy.


Meet these Christians and part of your Christian Heritage: James Alexander Haldane (14 July 1768 – 8 February 1851) The younger son of Captain James Haldane of Airthrey House, (his older brother Robert Haldane also became a clergyman) in Stirlingshire, he was born at Dundee. Educated first at Dundee Grammar School and afterwards at the Royal High School and University of Edinburgh, at the age of seventeen he joined the Duke of Montrose East Indiaman as amidshipman. After four voyages to India he was nominated to the command of the Melville Castle in the summer of 1793; but having begun a careful study of the Bible during his voyages, and also come under the evangelical influence of David Bogue of Gosport, one of the founders of the London Missionary Society, he abruptly decided to leave the navy for a religious life, and returned to Scotland. 

In about 1796 he became acquainted with the celebrated evangelical, Charles Simeon of Cambridge, in whose company he toured Scotland, distributing tracts and trying to awaken others to an interest in religious subjects. In May 1797 he preached his first sermon, at Gilmerton near Edinburgh, with encouraging success. In the same year he established a non-sectarian organization for tract distribution and lay preaching called the “Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at Home”. During the next few years he made repeated missionary journeys, preaching wherever he could obtain hearers, and generally in the open air.

Originally loyal to the Church of Scotland, his studies of the New Testament led him to leave that denomination behind and work in an independent church movement that was Baptist in nature. Along with his brother, Robert Haldane, and others, James established 85 Churches of Christ in Scotland and Ireland. This was the result of a return to the New Testament for doctrine and practice in lieu of denominational traditions. Churches planted by the Haldanes practiced baptism by immersion, weekly communion, and congregational polity (aunonomous government). The Haldanes also operated a seminary and were influenced in their principles by other non-denominational thinkers such as John Glas and Robert Sandeman.

Robert Haldane:  (28 February 1764 – 12 December 1842) was a Scottish churchman. Haldane was born in London, the son of James Haldane 2nd of Airthrey House, and his wife Katherine Duncan. His younger brother James Alexander Haldane was also a clergyman. Robert and James attended classes at Dundee Grammar School, the Royal High School inEdinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh.

In 1780 Robert joined HMS Monarch of which his maternal uncle, Adam Duncan, was in command. In the following year he was transferred to HMS Foudroyant. He was on HMS Foudroyant under John Jervis during the night engagement in April 1782 with the French ship Pegase and greatly distinguished himself. Haldane was afterwards present at the relief of Gibraltar in September 1782. Some months later after the peace treaty of 1783 he left the Royal Navy.

Soon after leaving the Navy, he settled on his estate of Airthrey, near Stirling. After selling Airthrey House in 1798 to Robert Abercromby to obtain funding for his mission work, he bought a home at Auchengray, Lanarkshire in 1809.

In 1797 Haldane sold his castle, left the Church of Scotland and travelled around Scotland preaching. In December of that year he joined his brother and some others in the formation of the “Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at Home,” in building chapels or “tabernacles” for congregations, in supporting missionaries, and in maintaining institutions for the education of young men to carry on the work of evangelization. He is said to have spent more than £70,000 in the course of the following twelve years (1798-1810). He also initiated a plan for evangelizing Africa by bringing over native children to be trained as Christian missionaries

In 1816 Robert Haldane visited the continent, first at Geneva and afterwards in Montauban. He lectured and interviewed large numbers of theological students with remarkable effect; among them were César Malan, Frédéric Monod and Jean-Henri Merle d’Aubigné. This circle of men spread the revival of evangelical Protestant Christianity across the continent of Europe (Le Réveil), impacting France, Germany (Die Erweckung) and the Netherlands (Het Reveil). Through conversion and missionary impetus the effects of this revival were felt as far afield as Italy and Hungary

Returning to Scotland in 1819, Haldane lived partly on his estate of Auchengray and partly in Edinburgh, and like his brother took an active part, chiefly through the press, in many of the religious controversies of the time.

In 1816 he published a work on the Evidences and Authority of Divine Revelation, and in 1819 the substance of his theological prelections in a Commentaire sur l’Epitre aux Romains. Among his later writings, besides numerous pamphlets on what was known as the Apocrypha controversy, are a treatise On the Inspiration of Scripture (1828), which passed through many editions, and a later Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (1835), which has been frequently reprinted, and has been translated into French and German.

Taken from, ‘The Religious Anecdotes 0f Scotland.”
Edited thought and sense

Understanding Hard and Stony Hearts in the Work of Holy Security…

Taken and adapted from “The Christian’s Daily Walk, in Holy Security and Peace.” 
Written in 1659, by Henry Scudder.

Edited for thought and sense.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, 
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.    

–Proverbs 28:13-14 (ESV)

Many yet will say, that their hearts remain hard and stony…

…yes, they say, that they grow harder and harder; wherefore they think that the stony heart was never taken out of them, and that they remain unsanctified.

Know, that there are two sorts of hard hearts. 

One total and not felt, which will not be broken, nor brought unto remorse either by God’s threats, commandments, promises, judgments, or mercies; Zechariah 8:11; but obstinately stands out in a course of sin, being past feeling, Ephesians. 4:19. 

The second is, a hardness mixed with some softness, which is felt and bewailed; this is incident to God’s children: of this the church complains, saying unto God, Why hast thou hardened our hearts against thy fear? Isaiah. 63:17. Now when the heart feels its hardness, and complains of it, is grieved, and dislikes it, and would that it were tender like Josiah’s, 2 Chronicles. 34:27, so that it could melt at the hearing of the word; this is a sure proof that the heart is regenerate and not altogether hard, but has some measure of true softness; for it is by softness that hardness of heart is felt, witness your own experience; for before the hammer and fire of the word were applied to your hearts, you had no sense of it, and never complained thereof.

You must not call a heavy heart, a hard heart…

…you must not call a heart wherein is a sense of indisposition to good, a hard heart; except only in comparison of that softness, which is in it sometimes, and which it shall attain unto, when it shall be perfectly sanctified; in which respect it may be called hard. Whosoever has his will so wrought upon by the word, that it is bent to obey God’s will, if he knew how, and if he had power; this man, whatsoever hardness he feels, his heart is soft, not hard. The apostle had a heart held in, and clogged with the flesh, and the law of his members, that it made him to think himself wretched, because he could not be fully delivered from it; yet we know his heart was a sound heart, Romans 7:24.

Among those that are sanctified…

…there remains more hardness in the heart of some than in others; and what with the committing of gross sins, and cursory and slight doing of good duties, and through neglect of means to soften it, the same men’s hearts are harder at one time than at another, of which they have cause to complain, and for which they have cause to be humbled, and to use all means to soften it; but it is false and dangerous, hence to conclude that such are not in a state of grace because of such hardness in the heart; for as God’s most perfect children on earth know but in part, and believe but in part; so their hearts are softened but in part, 1 Corinthians 13:9.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Henry Scudder   (Died 1659?) was an English clergyman of presbyterian views, known as a devotional writer, and member of the Westminster Assembly

He was a graduate of Christ’s College, Cambridge, with an M.A. from 1606. He was minister at Drayton in Oxfordshire 1607-19, and in 1633 was presented by the king to the living of Collingbourne-Ducis, near Marlborough, Wiltshire. In June 1643 he was summoned to the Westminster Assembly of divines. When in June 1645 an order came from the House of Commons to pray for the forces, Scudder was one of the four preachers assigned to Aldgate. He was minister at the London church of St Mildred Poultry in 1645-6. On 6 April 1647 he reported on the some of the proofs of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and on 9 February 1648 his name was added to the Assembly’s committee for the scriptures.

Scudder preached before the House of Commons in October 1644, on a fast day, at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and his sermon was printed by request of the house. He died before the Restoration.

Scudder was author of a devotional work entitled The Christian’s Daily Walke in Holy Securitie and Peace. The sixth edition, issued in 1635, has an ‘Epistle to the Header,’ by John Davenport. The book as frequently reissued, The editions of 1690 and 1761 have commendations by John Owen and Richard Baxter. A fifteenth edition was issued in 1813. The edition of 1820, containing Davenport’s epistle and Owen and Baxter’s recommendations, has an introductory essay by Thomas Chalmers.

Source materials taken from the Dead Puritan Society.