New Year’s Letter 2017

New Year’s Letter 2017

Dear Friends,

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord God, that you have brought me this far?’” – 1 Chronicles 17:16.

I have chosen this Scripture for my 2017 New Year’s Letter for two reasons. First, it is exactly the way I feel as I grow older. I was gripped by this verse just before Thanksgiving Day when my Bible Reading (Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s) included this passage. You have no idea how unworthy I feel and how amazed I am that God has brought us “this far”. I can never forget that I come from the hills of Kentucky when our state was second from the bottom in educational standards. Hence our saying in those days, “Thank God for Arkansas”. Not only that; for the first ten years of our marriage – though always in ministry – I worked as a salesman, mostly selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

My closest friends on both sides of the Atlantic are cautioning me to “slow down”. I am asking: is this warning from the Lord? I don’t know. I am almost overwhelmed that at my age (81) we get more invitations from all over the world than I can fill. Please pray for my wisdom in this connection. I find it so hard to say No.

Who am I that the Lord has brought us this far?

Our third grandson arrived a few weeks ago – continuing the TR pattern. We have Tobias Robert (Toby), Timothy Robert and now Tyndale Robert (whom we call Ty). They live about forty minutes from us. TR travels with me a lot these days, although Louise will be joining me in London from February to July.

Pastor Colin Dye of London’s Kensington Temple has kindly invited us back to be on his staff for the fourth year in a row. We dearly love Colin and Amanda and all the members of KT. I plan to preach on the Life of Elisha. My final Sunday night preaching series at Westminster Chapel was on Elijah (now a book – These are the Days of Elijah). I will also be teaching at the International Bible Institute of London (IBIOL) as well as teaching selected themes from our School of Theology series on Friday nights beginning April 21st).

Melissa works for a hospital in Nashville, doing what she was trained to do (with her Master’s degree in psychology). Rex continues to be blessed in his real estate business. They live some thirty minutes from us.

This year we have finally brought R T Kendall Ministries Inc. officially from Florida to Tennessee. We thank God for our Board Members there who served Louise, T.R. and me faithfully for some fourteen years – Richard Oates, Randy Wall and Charles Carrin. We welcome new Tennessee Board Members: Roger Perry (accountant), Joshua Hankins (attorney) and Ricky Skaggs (country singer recording artist).

When asked how people can pray for us, my reply is: for our continued good health, stamina and all the anointing we can be trusted with!

Perhaps the most surprising development of 2017 is that TBN UK have invited me to speak on a regular basis – on any subject I choose. It is a 30 minute program which they call “Word and Spirit”. It reaches all over the UK, Africa and Europe four times every week!

The second reason I chose the aforementioned Scripture pertains to the verses following 1 Chronicles 17:16. It was when David graciously came to terms with the disappointment that he could not build the temple. David accepted this and thanked God for how good God had already been to him. So I ask: will I have to accept that not all I have hoped for will come to pass in my lifetime? David accepted his disappointment with dignity; if I must – by not seeing all I have hoped for, will I be so gracious? I certainly hope so. So many unfulfilled wishes – and prophetic words from good people – remain unfulfilled. Time will tell.

God bless you all. Thank you for your prayers. Louise, T R, Annette, Toby, Timothy, Ty, Rex and Melissa join me in sending our sincere love.

R T – Psalm 84:11

PS – John Newton (1725-1807) wrote a hymn nearly every week when he was vicar of Olney that came from the verse he would preach on. One week he decided to preach on 1 Chronicles 17:16. Being gripped by the words “this far” (“hitherto” – KJV), he wrote “Amazing Grace”. Verse three of his most famous hymn includes these words:

“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home”.

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Donald Trump and Toby

Donald Trump and Toby

Every grandfather probably thinks his grandson is a genius. But Toby is!

Yesterday at lunch when the conversation with our friend Benjamin Chan (see my tweet of 27-11-16) was about the BBQ we were enjoying at Hendersonville’s Center Point BBQ, our seven year old grandson Toby spoke up out of the blue: “Grandpa, is Donald Trump a Christian?” I replied: “I don’t really know for sure”. “Well then, Grandpa, can God use someone who is not really a Christian to do His work?” I replied: “Yes, through God’s common grace”.

Common grace is God’s goodness to all humankind. John Calvin called it “special grace in nature”. We call it “common grace” not because it is ordinary but because it is given commonly to all people of all ages in all places in the whole world. It is a creation gift not a salvation gift. It is what keeps the world from being topsy-turvy. It is why there is a measure of law and order in all countries. It is why we have traffic lights, hospitals, firemen, policemen, nurses and doctors. It is the basis of one’s IQ, their ability for poetry, science, botany, astronomy. It is what gave Albert Einstein what is (perhaps) the highest IQ in history. It is what gives an Arthur Rubenstein an ability to play the piano, Yehudi Menuhin to play the violin, Rachmaninoff to write a concerto. It has nothing to do with whether you are a Christian. Being a Christian is not what gives you your IQ; you would have had the same IQ whether saved or lost.

Common grace is what lay behind Cyrus (Isa.45:1 – probably the same person as Darius in Daniel 6) the surprising decision to let the Jews return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. This to me is a plausible explanation for Donald Trump – that is, if indeed he appoints good Supreme Court justices and does some of the other things he has promised to do.

Perhaps Donald Trump is a Christian. I have heard rumors of this person or that person who led him to the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope they are true. But if not, one should have a theological rationale for God using people like him to be used of God in this wicked world of ours.

Yes, Toby, God can use someone who is not a Christian to do His work in the world. And if Donald Trump is truly born again, all the better for us all!

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Calvin and Calvinism

Calvin and Calvinism

(For those who covet what I perceive to be a sound theology!)

Those who have followed my ministry for very long will likely know three things about me: (1) I am a Calvinist, (2) my coming to this way of thinking immediately followed my baptism of the Holy Spirit on 31st October 1955 – an event to which I have referred countless times and (3) I do not make an issue of this when I preach. These things said, I have recently felt an urge to write about such lately in some tweets in which I have spoken against the traditional reformed teaching of limited atonement. I have also mentioned that my mentor Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was very uneasy with this teaching and admitted to me, “I only preached it once – when dealing with Romans 5:18 – and I remember being in great difficulty then”.

Why is this important? First, for one’s own assurance of salvation. If Jesus died only for the elect, no person alive can honestly say, “Jesus died for me”. There is simply no way a person can know infallibly that Christ died for him or her if Jesus died for a limited number of people but not all. Those who “conclude” that Jesus died for them because of they see the fruit of sanctification in their lives are the most presumptuous of all! They are basing the assurance of their salvation on their good works – a horrible thing to do, said John Calvin. The truth is, the only way anybody can assuredly say, “Jesus died for me” is if Jesus died for every single person, as taught by verses such as 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and Hebrews 2:9.

Second, for evangelism. If Jesus died only for the elect, no evangelist can say to people, “Jesus died for you”. The evangelist can merely say, “Christ died for sinners” – but never “you”. The only way a person can be transparently honest and say, “Jesus died for you” is if Christ died indiscriminately (Calvin’s word) for all men and women.

Third, that people might know John Calvin’s own teaching on this matter. If you ask, “Who cares?”, I would answer: there are a lot of people who would be more attracted to the doctrines of grace if they knew they did not have to embrace limited atonement in the package. It is a pity that limited atonement was ever conceived when the plain, natural, unbiased, unprejudiced and obvious reading of the New Testament is that Jesus died for everyone. Those who reply that Jesus died only for the “church” or for the “sheep” would never have thought to argue this were it not for a need to be defensive for the teaching of limited atonement.

What my experience of 31st October 1955 showed me that very same day was that it was a work of the Spirit. This means that what happened to me cannot be worked up or hastened by the flesh. That – to me – also meant predestination and election. Perhaps you would not come to that conclusion, but I did, even though I had not read a single word of any Calvinist in my whole life (being brought up a Nazarene). This led to my reading Romans 9:11-18 without being defensive but just accepting those exceedingly plain words. And yet there was no hint of limited atonement in these verses – only God’s sovereign choice of Jacob and His elect people.

When I discovered for myself that John Calvin did not believe in limited atonement I was both thrilled and sobered. It was a thoughtful process – a story in itself – that led to my being convinced that Calvin really believed this. And yet when Dr. Lloyd-Jones read my Oxford DPhil thesis he chided me for not quoting Calvin more than I did. I remember it as though it were yesterday. He phoned me on a Monday morning. “I was not able to preach this weekend so, having read your thesis, you got me to reading Calvin. I have discovered many statements of Calvin that you did not use”. He started in with one statement after another. I replied, “I know about those”. “But why didn’t you use them?” “It is because the Oxford rules limited me to a maximum of 100,000 words and I had to leave them out”. “This is a pity. You can prove your case to the hilt”, he said. Then he proceeded to quote more, either from Calvin’s Institutes or his commentaries.

Many of my quotations from Calvin in my Oxford thesis are in the footnotes. I knew that my examiners would read the footnotes as carefully as they read the main text and these examiners are the ones who awarded me my doctorate. But most people don’t read the footnotes. I also wish I had somehow been able to put more of Calvin’s many statements in my thesis, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones discovered. My only regret now is that I did not put all of Calvin’s statements in the main text. But I have never been so clear about anything in my life as I am about Calvin’s view of the atonement of Christ – and, for that matter, the Apostle Paul’s view!*

*For those who want to read further see my Calvin and English Calvinism to 1648 (Oxford University Press, since republished by Pater Noster). Now out of print. We have a limited number available.

Here are my recent tweets again in case you missed any…

RT Kendall

Limited atonement is the theory that Jesus died on the cross for the elect alone – not everybody.

The five points of Calvinism are easily understood by TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, and Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints.

When I say I am a four and a half point Calvinist people think it is a joke. It is not a joke; I don’t accept limited atonement.

I got my teaching on the atonement from John Calvin himself – not from the Synod of Dort (origin of TULIP).

Calvin taught that Jesus died indiscriminately for all people.

Calvin taught that although Jesus died for all people, He made intercession for the elect only. That is four and a half point Calvinism.
TULIP Calvinists cannot say Jesus died for you or even Jesus died for me; they can only say Jesus died for sinners.

I can say Jesus died for me, Jesus died for you. Why important? It makes a complete difference in evangelism and one’s personal assurance of salvation.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones told me how he struggled having to defend limited atonement.
“I only did it once – my exposition of Romans 5:18; I was in real difficulty.”

Mrs. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said to me, łI have never believed in limited atonement and never will. The Doctor sat there and smiled.

The limited atonement people make a big deal of Jesus dying for many (Isa.53:12; Rom.5:19): the many being the elect but not all. Calvin: many means all.

The following is a listing of Bible Commentaries by John Calvin a reprint of Appendix 1 Calvin & English Calvinism to 1649 RT Kendall 

 

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Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Ocean Grove, New Jersey

TR and I are in Ocean Grove, New Jersey today. I had never been here before, nor had I heard of it (ashamed to say). It is historically a Christian community. The Camp Meeting Association was founded here in 1869, mostly by Methodists. Those were the days when both camp meetings and the Methodists flourished. Ocean Grove is a one square mile little town, 20,000 here in the summer, 3,500 in the winter. Many of the streets have biblical names.

There is an association with old-fashioned hymns here. Fanny Crosby used to come here all the time and wrote a poem about Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Thomas Chrisholm wrote “Great is Thy Faithfulness” here. Eliza Hewitt and Emily Wilson wrote “When we all get to Heaven” here. One of the little streets running right into the Great Auditorium is called Pilgrim Pathway. The second verse of “When we all get to Heaven” begins with the words “While we walk this pilgrim pathway”.

Great preachers have been here – William Booth, Billy Sunday, D. L. Moody, Billy Graham, D. James Kennedy. Seven presidents have spoken in the Great Auditorium including Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. Musicians and singers performing here include Enrico Caruso and Marian Anderson This building was built to seat 10,000, but now seats 6,500 although some 1,600 were present today when I preached there.

See the photo with TR and me in front of the Great Auditorium. Note the photo by the street Pilgrim Pathway. The other photo is with Dr. Dale Whilden, the present chairman of the Camp Meeting Association. It has been fun to be here. Just thought all 13 of my followers would like to know!

RT

IMG_4058IMG_4054 IMG_4055

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July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016

Dear friends:

As some of you will know, I write an open letter to my friends and followers twice a year: on New Year’s Day and my birthday. Today I am 81. I often think of the funny line: “If I knew I would have lived this long I would have taken better care of myself!”. But it’s true in my case. And yet God graciously gave me a wake-up call shortly after we retired – when I was 67. The late John Paul Jackson (I still grieve with tears when I try to cope with his death) said to me out of the blue one evening: “R. T., you will live to a ripe old age, but if you don’t get in shape physically you won’t be around to enjoy it”. I took him seriously. I began the next day with exercises Steve Strang taught me; T.R. bought me a book called The Abs Diet which I pretty much followed (and still do); I began walking on the treadmill a mile a day in twenty minutes; I have a trainer who comes to me once or twice a week (making me lift weights). I used to think that the word in the KJV, “Bodily exercise profiteth little” was a put-down of exercising. It was my mentor Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said this was not a put-down on physical exercise but it meant that by comparison godliness is more important. Modern versions are helpful: “Physical training is of some value” (NIV); “bodily training is of some value” (ESV). I never dreamed at the age of 81 I would be traveling the world as I do. I give God all the praise for this.

We just finished our third six-month period with Kensington Temple, London. Pastor Colin Dye has given London back to us. He has kindly asked us to return next year. It is fun but also hard work. In addition to preaching at KT and teaching at the International Bible Institute Of London Colin suggested we revive our old School of Theology series on Fridays which I did for many years at Westminster Chapel. When in London Louise and I love walking the streets, this being something one seldom does in America. Over half of our adult life was spent in the UK. It is like being back home. So many doors have opened to us as a result. The greatest surprise was from TBN UK. I never dreamed this would happen but I have been given a weekly slot – actually appearing on TV four times a week in the UK, all over Africa and Europe. The new UK director Leon Schoeman calls the program WORD AND SPIRIT, a name he believe spells out my ministry.

Louise enjoys good health with me. But she travels less with me in the USA as she prefers to be with the grandsons, so T. R. mostly will accompany me all over America plus places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and India.

My book Pigeon Religion came out in April of this year. It seeks to show the difference between the authentic (the dove) and counterfeit (the pigeon) Holy Spirit. Many have told me they think it is my best book! My book on the Midnight Cry (which the publisher chose to call Is Your Heart Ready for the Midnight Cry?) comes out November 1st . I am now writing a book on the presence of God, something that Pastor Grant Brewster of Bainbridge Island, Washington has been asking me to do for over ten years. It will probably be called In His Presence.

People ask me all the time, “What is God doing in the world today?” My reply: “Not a lot” (in my opinion). There are exceptions. God is using Alpha in the UK, He is using people like Rolland and Heidi Baker in Mozambique (where I visited in June). But by and large the most apt description of the church today, speaking generally, is: asleep. This includes high profile leaders who espouse everything from open theism to hyper-grace, annihilationism to universalism. This is what my book on the Midnight Cry is partly about. I would like my forthcoming book to be a mini wake-up call before the Big One comes – when it will be too late for the foolish virgins to enjoy the next great move of God, as Jesus put it in Matthew 25:1-13.

May I insert this question: which to you is more important – getting more of God or getting more from God? Please think about that. It is to me a litmus test as to where one is in his or her spiritual relationship with God. Sadly the number is increasing in those who only want more from God, that is, how to get Him to do things for us – versus getting more of Him – that we might know Him and His ways (Exod.33:13; Phil.3:10). Please think about this. Do you see the difference?

You and I know that the world situation is worsening with every passing day. A year ago we would not have thought it could be this bad. I can tell you, it will be even worse a year from now. The only hope – in my view: the Midnight Cry. Please read this book Are You Ready for the Midnight Cry? when it comes out and pray for its wide distribution.

Thank you for your prayers for a greater anointing of the Holy Spirit on me – and for my continued good health, clear thinking, stamina and mobility – and the same for all our family. Grandchild number three is coming in October.

God bless you all. From Louise, T. R., Annette, Toby, Timothy, Rex and Melissa,

Warmest love, deepest thanks and appreciation.

RT – John 5:44

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