Thursday, August 31, 2006
Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. ... I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man that had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God. - C.H. SPURGEON
"Faith is a gift from God, so that no one may boast ... The last bastion of pride is the belief that we are the originators of our faith ... This teaching about faith being a gift of God raises many questions. God has answers for all of them, even if we don't. Let us seek to put the teaching into practical biblical use, namely the humbling of our pride and the stimulation of our prayers. In other words, let us pray daily: "O Lord, thank you for my faith. Sustain it, Strengthen it. Deepen it. Don't let it fail. " - John Piper
Friday, August 25, 2006
"Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking about the temple of his body."
-John 2:19-21 (ESV)
" 'Kill me, and I will become the global meeting place with God.' That's the way I would paraphrase John 2:19-21. They thought Jesus was referring to the temple in Jerusalem: 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' But He was referring to His body. Why did Jesus draw the connection between the Jewish temple and his own body? Because he came to take the place of the temple as the meeting place with God...' 'Where we meet him, we meet God.' "
- John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
"...faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law; faith it is that brings the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ. The Spirit, in turn, renders the heart glad and free, as the law demands. Then good works proceed from faith itself. That is what Paul means in chapter 3 when, after he has thrown out the works of the law, he sounds as though the wants to abolish the law by faith. No, he says, we uphold the law through faith, i.e. we fulfill it through faith." - Martin Luther, Intro to Romans
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
It's so important to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. But what does that mean? Here are but a few thoughts:
-We must focus our eyes on Jesus' intrinsic righteousness (He is Holy and completely pleasing to the Father)
-His perfect life (lived for us)
-His sufferings (taken for us)
-His Kingship (ruling over us)
-His humanity (representing us)
-His deity (guiding us)
-His compassion (caring for us)
-His righteous anger (eradicating sin for us)
-His shepherd heart (feeding us)
Friday, August 18, 2006
Dispensational and New Covenant theology say NO. Covenant theology says YES.
Herman Ridderbos speaking on Matthew 16:13-20: "We should note that this is the first and, besides 18:17, the only time that Jesus spoke of His church in the Gospels. He apparently was alluding to the time when the disciples would carry on His work in His name. He referred to the future fellowship of believers with a word that corresponds to the name that had been given to ancient Israel as a religious community (Hebrew: qahal). Commentators have argued for a variety of reasons that Jesus could not have spoken of such a future organization at this stage of His life. Thus they think that the statement was not Jesus’ own but was put back into His mouth later by the church. Such a glance into the future is not at all surprising at this point, however, since the gospel here is taking a distinct turn toward the end of Jesus’ life. What is more, Jesus did not speak of an organized church. He was merely alluding to the future community of those who would believe in Him. In view of what He said elsewhere about "fishers of men" (4:19), about His "sheep" (John 10:15; 21:15) and his "flock" (John 10:16), and in view of the close circle of disciples that He had gathered around Himself, His notion of such a community cannot be considered anachronistic.
By calling this community His church, He designates it as the people of the Messiah, the community that would replace Israel as the people of God. Jesus had more to say about this future church: `the gates of Hades will not overcome it’ . . . . The church of Christ . . . will not be overcome by this power of death. Jesus spoke here as one who was stronger than death and who would cause His church to share in His victory over it." [See Herman Ridderbos, Matthew: Bible Student’s Commentary, trans Ray Togtman (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1987), 304].
While the church is clearly a new covenant institution [Cf. Meredith Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 193], Jesus’ use of the word qahal clearly indicates a continuity with the Old Testament people of God. The connection then is eschatological and covenantal [see Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28: Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 33b (Dallas, Word Books, 1995), 471].
Now, would I be emphatic about this point? Not too much, but it is important to realize - whichever side of the fence you're on - that God's elect throughout history have always been save by grace, through faith in the historical Messiah.
See a comparison of these 3 systems: Disp, NCT and CT
It is a doctrine, as I believe, taught us in Holy Writ, that when a man is saved by divine grace, he is not wholly cleansed from the corruption of his heart. When we believe in Jesus Christ all our sins are pardoned; yet the power of sin, albeit that it is weakened and kept under by the dominion of the new-born nature which God doth infuse into our souls, doth not cease, but still tarrieth in us, and will do so to our dying day.
It is a doctrine held by all the orthodox, that there dwelleth still in the regenerate, the lusts of the flesh, and that there doth still remain in the hearts of those who are converted by God's mercy, the evil of carnal nature. I have found it very difficult to distinguish, in experimental matters, concerning sin. It is usual with many writers, especially with hymn writers, to confound the two natures of a Christian. Now, I hold that there is in every Christian two natures, as distinct as were the two natures of the God-Man Christ Jesus. There is one nature which cannot sin, because it is born of God—a spiritual nature, coming directly from heaven, as pure and as perfect as God himself, who is the author of it; and there is also in man that ancient nature which, by the fall of Adam, hath become altogether vile, corrupt, sinful, and devilish.
There remains in the heart of the Christian a nature which cannot do that which is right, any more than it could before regeneration, and which is as evil as it was before the new birth—as sinful, as altogether hostile to God's laws, as ever it was—a nature which, as I said before, is curbed and kept under by the new nature in a great measure, but which is not removed and never will be until this tabernacle of our flesh is broken down, and we soar into that land into which there shall never enter anything that defileth. - C.H. Spurgeon from his sermon, Indwelling Sin, June1, 1856
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
God’s Spirit not only gives them (believers) life and access to him but also empowers them to mortify sinful desires and actions. Believers live in the tension between the promise of their unhindered communion with God in heaven and their daily wrestling with sin in the present. While sin always negatively impacts the Christian’s relationship with God, it never jeopardizes their union with him. While secure in our union to Christ, we nevertheless recognize the deceitfulness of sin which can cloud our vision, harden our hearts, and make us feel distant from the Father. - Kelly Kapic
Monday, August 07, 2006
Today's excerpt expresses so well the reason I have such deep joy and peace as a Christian:
"What God does, then, is this: He gives us the perfect righteousness he requires right up front, at the beginning of our Christian life, not at the end. It’s not something we attain ourselves or grow into by the power of the Holy Spirit, but something he gives us. Like a robe, Christ’s righteousness covers our nakedness so that God sees us right now not only as if we’d never sinned, but as if we had perfectly loved God and our neighbor throughout the course of our entire lives. Far from leading to a lack of concern for growth in righteousness and holiness, however, what the Bible calls sanctification, this doctrine of justification is the only perfect foundation for anything else that can take place in the Christian life. That’s why Paul in chapter 8 begins by announcing that in spite of the lack of spiritual victory you experience, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Michael Horton (commentary on Romans 8: 1-17)
Friday, August 04, 2006
Let's let the Westminster Shorter Catechism answer that. A great section for those with knowledge of the Federal Vision controversy:
Q. 70. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God's free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.
Q. 71. How is justification an act of God's free grace?
A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.
Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.
Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.
Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Excerpts from Calvin on Christian Liberty -
"The whole lives of Christians ought to be a kind of aspiration after piety, seeing they are called unto holiness, (Eph. 1: 4; 1 Thess. 4: 5.) The office of the law is to excite them to the study of purity and holiness, by reminding them of their duty. For when the conscience feels anxious as to how it may have the favor of God, as to the answer it could give, and the confidence it would feel, if brought to his judgment-seat, in such a case the requirements of the law are not to be brought forward, but Christ, who surpasses all the perfection of the law, is alone to be held forth for righteousness."
"...by the cross of Christ they are free from the condemnation of the law, to which otherwise all men are exposed, so that in Christ alone they can rest in full security. This argument is pertinent to the present subject, (Gal. 4: 5, 21, &c.) Lastly, he asserts the right of believers to liberty of conscience, a liberty which may not be restrained without necessity."
If you are a Christian, try to read this without a grateful smile. I bet you can't.
Martin Luther's Account of His Own Conversion
by Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Meanwhile, I had already during that year returned to interpret the Psalter anew. I had confidence in the fact that I was more skilful, after I had lectured in the university on St. Paul's epistles to the Romans, to the Galatias, and the one to the Hebrews. I had indeed been captivated with an extraordinary ardor for understanding Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. But up till then it was not the cold blood about the heart, but a single word in Chapter 1, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed," that had stood in my way. For I hated that word "righteousness of God," which, according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically regarding the formal or active righteousness, as they call it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.
Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, "As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!" Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.
At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.'" There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scripture from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.
And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word "righteousness of God." Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise. Later I read Augustine's The Spirit and the Letter, where contrary to hope I found that he, too, interpreted God's righteousness in a similar way, as the righteousness with which God clothes us when he justifies us. Although this was heretofore said imperfectly and he did not explain all things concerning imputation clearly, it nevertheless was pleasing that God's righteousness with which we are justified was taught.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Excerpt from a Newsweek interview with Tim LaHaye:
Q: Couldn't almost anything then be taken as a clue that any point in history might be the end times?
A: Down through the years that’s true. But never the accumulation of events as we have today. I have often said that no one knows the day nor the hour that Christ will come, but no generation has had so many signs of the times as our generation. We have more reason to believe that Christ could come in our lifetime than any generation before us.
How does LaHaye support his answer? "No generation has had so many signs of the times as our generation" Really?! Granted, the return of Jesus to gather up His bride should embolden us to duty, but to keep speculating (as if you know which news stories are biblically related or not) has a long history of being wrong. It has the opposite effect, emboldening the critics of Christianity to lampoon us. I imaging the events of WWII with Hitler slaughtering 5 million Jews would have been seen as a clearer sign than the current conflict with Israel and Hezbollah.
Read the whole interview
Is the Pretribulation Rapture Biblical? By Brian Schwertley