Saturday, December 15, 2007

...but under grace

Have you ever asked, "Ok, I'm a Christian, but how do I live it out? What's my motivation?" Even if you think you know the answer, it's great to be reminded from time to time.

Read this great excerpt from Kim Riddlebarger.

Rom 6:14 - “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

Now that we have been transferred from Adam to Christ, sin is no longer our master. We have been set free from its tyranny. The law (which condemns us, exposes our sin, and incites our inherent sinfulness all the more) no longer has dominion over us. In Christ, grace is the ruling principle, not law and condemnation. Therefore for all those in Christ, the gospel (what God has done), not the law (what we must do) will have the final word. As we saw in our Old Testament lesson, the prophets Ezekiel (11:16-21) and Jeremiah (31:31-34) foretold of the messianic age as one in which the law is now written upon our hearts. This is because we are no longer under the reign of Adam (law), we are under the reign of Christ (grace). And because we are under the dominion of Christ, he will bring forth fruit in our lives–fruit that cannot be brought forth by law, but by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, Paul’s point is clear. Sin is no longer our master. We are free men and women who will bear the fruit of the Spirit and who will put to death the fruit of the flesh. And all of this is because Christ has died for our sins and was raised for our justification. Beloved, we have all been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, so that our old man is dead–crucified with Christ, drowned in the water of baptism, interred in the tomb with Christ–so that we are raised new men and women, now truly free to obey the commandments of God with grateful hearts for all that God has done for us in Christ. And because we died in Christ and have been raised to glorious newness of life, let not sin reign in our mortal bodies. “Let us count ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God,” and bring glory to the God who has set us free from the tyranny of sin, the law and death, through the death and resurrection of his son.

cheap professions

Here is an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon on faith's grip on Christ even when it hurts:

"...It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for truth and holiness, is not so small a matter. How stands the case with us, is our heart fixed upon Jesus, is the sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the altar? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer all worldly loss for the Master's sake? The after gain will be an abundant recompense, for Egypt's treasures are not to be compared with the glory to be revealed..."

Monday, December 03, 2007

piper on today's pulpits

A lack of faith in God and His word to change lives is at the heart of many problems in today's church. Piper hits the nail on the head with this one. Rom 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Monday, November 19, 2007

to declare and seal

or... What is the purpose of the Lord's supper?

Answer (from my paraphrased Heidelberg Catechism): The Lord's Supper is a "...holy visible sign and seal, appointed by God for this purpose: so that he may more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross.

Question 67. Does it direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation?

Answer: You bet!: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.

Question 75. How are you admonished and assured in the Lord's Supper, that you are a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?

Answer: Thus: That Christ has commanded me and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him, adding these promises: first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes, the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me; and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ.

So, based on this, the next time you receive the Lord's Supper, receive it with a thankful and reverent heart. A heart that is receiving an "edible gospel sermon". The promise of the new covenant is signified and sealed to me! The cross was for me, and I, because I am united with Christ's body, consume him, by faith. He is my "manna" in the wilderness between my redemption (Exodus), and my glorification (the promised land).

Friday, November 16, 2007

rick warren's denial of faith alone?

Here's an interesting video montage. I understand these kinds of things can be misleading, especially if the quotes are taken out of context. The first part - where Rick is talking about faith and love - might be OK, if Rick is talking about a "said" faith vs. a "real" faith. The sort of explanation you'd get if you contrasted what James and Paul say about faith alone. Absolutely, a true believer will exhibit faith AND love; he can't help it!

Having said that, the phrase Rick uses that bothers me is " takes more than belief; it takes more than faith to really please God". God says without faith it is impossible to please him - not faith AND love.

Now, for the rest of the video... what Rick proceeds to do is lay his congregation under the heavy, demanding weight of the law. I used to sit under this type of preacing. The gospel was rarely if ever, explained as simply the good news that I'm forgiven in Christ solely on the grounds of Christ's sacrifice, and that I receive this solely by faith alone. I endured (as do Warren's flock) alot of what Rod Rosenbladt calls "golawspel" - gospel mixed with law. Pastors have to be VERY careful they don't confuse these two. The result is a congregation which feels they must DO DO DO to please God, and that his sacrifice wasn't quite enough. The other unfortunate result, is that the sheep get burned out. If it's always about me and what I do, then the savior, who cried out "It is finished" gets forgotten. "You have lost your first love" says Christ to one of the churches in Revelation.

good theology = peace of mind

Good theology gives us something we can't get from everyday life - peace of mind. Jesus said:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27

It's a peace in knowing that God is all-satisfying. He fulfills my greatest desires. He fulfills my greatest need, namely, reconciliation with the Father. My sin doesn't keep me at a distance from him. Think about it. There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

The 3 most comforting words my guilt-ridden soul can hear are:

"It is finished."

Those 3 words are full of meaning. But basically, God, in Christ Jesus has fulfilled all the righteous requirements for me, and absorbed the Father's wrath for me. Wow. Let that sink in - and be at peace.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

gutsy guilt

Feeling guilty over sin? When your flesh, and the devil come to accuse you, here are some comforting words, and scripture from John Piper:

"You have a tremendous weapon against the Devil when you know your punishment for sin has already been paid in Christ and your righteousness before God has already been achieved in Christ, and you hold fast to these truths with heartfelt passion.

With this passionately embraced theology—the magnificent doctrines of substitutionary atonement and justification by faith (even if you don’t remember the names)—you can conquer the Devil tomorrow morning when he lies to you about your hopelessness.

What will you say to him? Micah 7:8-9 is a picture of what you say to your enemy when he scoffs at your defeat. I call this practice “gutsy guilt.” The believer admits that he has done wrong and that God is dealing roughly with him. But even in a condition of darkness and discipline, he will not surrender his hold on the truth that God is on his side."

Here is Micah 7:8-9 (NASB):

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me
He will bring me out to the light,
And I will see His righteousness.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

calvin on our good works

1. We have no good works which God rewards but those which we derive from his grace.

2. The good works which we perform by the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, are the fruits of that adoption which is an act of free grace.

3. They are not only unworthy of the smallest and most inconsiderable reward, but deserve to be wholly condemned, because they are always stained by many blemishes; and what have pollutions to do with the presence of God?

4. Though a reward had been a thousand times promised to works, yet it is not due but by fulfilling the condition of obeying the law perfectly; and how widely distant are we all from that perfection!

Let Papists (and all "moral religions"*) now go and attempt to force their way into heaven by the merit of works. We cheerfully concur with Paul and with the whole Bible in acknowledging, that we are unable to do anything but by the free grace of God, and yet that the benefits resulting from our works receive the name of a reward.

* my addition

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Osteen on who's going to heaven

I got dizzy listening to how many times Osteen flip-flops on this question. He stands up on the truth for a second, but quickly steps down if it's perceived he's being intolerant. A great example of trying to please man and not God.

Friday, October 12, 2007

google recognizes c.h. spurgeon

I went to today and saw that they had an image of one of the greatest preachers in modern times - C. H. Spurgeon. Ok, not really. It's Pavarotti. But with a little Photoshopping, I can get pretty creative.

Here's some quotes from Pavarotti, er, I mean Spurgeon:

- The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.

- The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.

- There is enough dust on some of your Bible's to write "damnation" with your fingers.

- Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.

- A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.

- A sinner can no more repent and believe without the Holy Spirit's aid than he can create a world.

- A vigorous temper is not altogether an evil. Men who are easy as an old shoe are generally of little worth.

- Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.

- Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.

- By perseverance the snail reached the ark.

- Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven.

- Giving is true having.

- Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

ALL are fruits of grace

"And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,"
- 1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV

Below is a great commentary by Calvin on this passage. Basically, don't confuse justification (a judiciously declared right standing with God) with sanctification (holy living/set-apartness), but just as importantly, don't separate them either! What God declares, he absolutely brings out in our lives.

Calvin writes:
"...he (Paul) says that he is made unto us righteousness, by which he means that we are on his account acceptable to God, inasmuch as he expiated our sins by his death, and his obedience is imputed to us for righteousness. For as the righteousness of faith consists in remission of sins and a gracious acceptance, we obtain both through Christ.

Thirdly, he calls him our sanctification, by which he means, that we who are otherwise unholy by nature, are by his Spirit renewed unto holiness, that we may serve God. From this, also, we infer, that we cannot be justified freely through faith alone without at the same time living holily. For these fruits of grace are connected together, as it were, by an indissoluble tie, so that he who attempts to sever them does in a manner tear Christ in pieces. Let therefore the man who seeks to be justified through Christ, by God’s unmerited goodness, consider that this cannot be attained without his taking him at the same time for sanctification, or, in other words, being renewed to innocence and purity of life. Those, however, that slander us, as if by preaching a free justification through faith we called men off from good works, are amply refuted from this passage, which intimates that faith apprehends in Christ regeneration equally with forgiveness of sins."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

adam's fall and mine

"Another difficult question that shrouds the doctrine of predestination is the question of how our sinful nature can be inherited from Adam. If we are born with a fallen nature, if we are born in sin, if we are born in a state of moral inability, how can God hold us responsible for our sins?" Read more

- Dr. R. C. Sproul

thunderclaps & explosions

continuing our home group study on Galatians...

Galatians 1:4 "Who gave himself for our sins."

"Paul sticks to his theme. He never loses sight of the purpose of his epistle. He does not say, "Who received our works," but "who gave." Gave what? Not gold, or silver, or paschal lambs, or an angel, but Himself. What for? Not for a crown, or a kingdom, or our goodness, but for our sins. These words are like so many thunderclaps of protest from heaven against every kind and type of self-merit. Underscore these words, for they are full of comfort for sore consciences.

How may we obtain remission of our sins? Paul answers: "The man who is named Jesus Christ and the Son of God gave himself for our sins." The heavy artillery of these words explodes papacy, works, merits, superstitions. For if our sins could be removed by our own efforts, what need was there for the Son of God to be given for them? Since Christ was given for our sins it stands to reason that they cannot be put away by our own efforts."

- Martin Luther

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

luther on galatians

"St. Paul wrote this epistle because, after his departure from the Galatian churches, Jewish-Christian fanatics moved in, who perverted Paul's Gospel of man's free justification by faith in Christ Jesus.

The world bears the Gospel a grudge because the Gospel condemns the religious wisdom of the world. Jealous for its own religious views, the world in turn charges the Gospel with being a subversive and licentious doctrine, offensive to God and man, a doctrine to be persecuted as the worst plague on earth.

As a result we have this paradoxical situation: The Gospel supplies the world with the salvation of Jesus Christ, peace of conscience, and every blessing. Just for that the world abhors the Gospel."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

heart corruptions

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee. I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me. I am undeserving, but I look to Thy tender mercy. I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; Thou art full of grace.

I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin; all my powers of body and soul are defiled: a fountain of pollution is deep within my nature. There are chambers of foul images within my being; I have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man's-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.

I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away; I live bare and barren as a winter tree, unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt. Lord, dost Thou have mercy on me?

Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my pride, at the false god of self, and I lie in pieces before Thee. But Thou hast given me another master and lord, Thy Son, Jesus, and now my heart is turned towards holiness, my life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to Thee. Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear Thy will without repining, and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned, but separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, where I may be built in Christ for ever.

- The Valley of Vision

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

tremble at his wrath as well as his grace

"But, careless sinner, learn that thy salvation now hangs in God's hand. Oh, remember thou art entirely in the hand of God. Thou hast sinned against him, and if he wills to damn thee, damned thou art. Thou canst not resist his will nor thwart his purpose. Thou hast deserved his wrath, and if he chooses to pour the full shower of that wrath upon thy head, thou canst do nothing to avert it. If, on the other hand, he chooses to save thee, he is able to save thee to the very uttermost. But thou liest as much in his hand as the summer's moth beneath thine own finger.

He is the God whom thou art grieving every day. Doth it not make thee tremble to think that thy eternal destiny now hangs upon the will of him whom thou hast angered and incensed? Dost not this make thy knees knock together, and thy blood curdle? If it does so I rejoice, inasmuch as this may be the first effect of the Spirit's drawing in thy soul. Oh, tremble to think that the God whom thou hast angered, is the God upon whom thy salvation or thy condemnation entirely depends. Tremble and "kiss the Son lest he be angry and ye perish from the way while his wrath is kindled but a little." - C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Paul Potts

his first performance:

...and his second appearance:

Friday, June 01, 2007

getting it right AND getting it out

Bravo to Horton for being honest about an important issue in the church today. We must not only get the gospel right, but get the gospel out.

Here's part of Against Heresies interview with Michael Horton:

Question from Against Heresies: Reformed or conservative Christians are sometimes accused of having an unhealthy interest in controversy and polemics. Is this a fair comment?

Horton: "In my view, the short answer, unfortunately, is “yes.” We are often known more for what we’re against than by what we’re for.

In Acts 2, the church was identified by its devotion to the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of the bread, the fellowship, the prayers, and an intense evangelistic and missionary zeal. We read repeatedly throughout Acts not only that the Word of God was faithfully taught, but that it spread. Today, we are often pressed to choose between getting the gospel right and getting the gospel out. If the gospel is the good news that we say that it is: sinners reconciled to a holy God through the work of Christ alone, why shouldn’t we be the vanguard of outreach to the world?

I fear that it all comes down to sloth or laziness, and I include myself in that critique. Conservatives are often enthusiastic about the truth, but lazy about mission; progressives are often enthusiastic about mission and lazy about the truth..."

Read the whole interview on Against Heresies

Who is Israel?

"It is therefore not ultimately a question of whether one is a Jew or a Christian in terms of outward organization, but of whether one is "inwardly circumcised"-that is, buried and raised with Christ. Nothing that exists apart from him-even that which calls itself Christian, can live, and nothing that is in him can die. Jesus is not only the federal head and mediator of the covenant; he is in his very person "a covenant to the people" (Isa. 42:6)." - Michael Horton

read more

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Relevance is one of those words that can have negative connotations in the religious world - specifically the reformed world. Modern evangelicalism is said to have abandoned much of it's trust in the ordinary means of grace, to the seductions of "relevance". This is where a church starts to think that people shouldn't hear the harsh words of scripture that proclaim man "sinner", or that mankind is doomed to hell unless saved by the grace of God. This kind of relevance manifests itself in the desire to be understood by the culture and trusted, because the church "gets it" and therefore provides a springboard into biblical truth. This, in turn, can lead a person to God. The danger with this form of relevance is that it can water down the truths of God's word, so what you end up with is a message that doesn't sound too dissimilar from what the world has to offer - although it may have a few Christian words thrown in.

A positive kind of relevance is what Paul talked about in his letters - the kind that is familiar with culture, yet is always concerned with sharing the undiluted truth about man's terrible plight and God's unimaninable offer of free grace. I'm talking about Paul being a Greek to the Greeks and a Jew to the Jews. So what's the difference between good relevance and bad? For one, it's a love of truth - all of it. How can the good news sound truly good unless you've faced the bad news in all it's ugliness and fierceness? Reformation theology frees us from the possibility that we're in charge of our eternal state. It frees us to RESPOND out of gratitude to God's incredible mercy. This kind of fearlessness is the fruit of God's truth, so we CAN relate to one another with a kind of openess that's unafraid. Of course, we still ARE afraid sometimes; our flesh can be such a spoiler...

Anyway, on to the deeper path I'm trying to make here. I'm trying to say something about relevance here that gets at the heart of why we are who we are. Here's what I mean: What is man's deepest need? His deepest desire? I think a good answer is to be valued, to be relevant. Who doesn't want others to listen to them when they have something to say? Who doesn't want to feel needed and important? We have our "circle of friends" and family who show us that kind of relevance and we love it. However, what if we get satisfied with that kind of effect, and only let a select few make us feel relevant? The problem is, we start "rating" people according to how "relevant" they make us feel. Guess what? If someone in our life - be it work, church, family, friends - doesn't live up to our "relevance standard", we treat them with less respect, we treat them with less relevance - in effect, "you don't matter all that much to me, I won't give you any more attention than I HAVE to."

This sounds terrible (maybe it doesn't?), but we can slowly fall into this over time. Keep in mind this is so subtle, we may not know it's happening to us. It may be the guy in your office who's a little "nerdier" than you, or the girl at church who's always "bugging" you, or the person who holds a different political view than you, or a different theological perspective - whatever, you can think of your own examples. The point is, it creeps up on you, and before you know it, YOU are turning into a snob. I know I have been. I woke up this morning and realized I'm not the kind of person I really like. Try this: think of a person you really admire, someone you would trust with your bank account, or to pick up your kids from school. Always a willing and eager friend. Why do you like them so much? Because they make you feel relevant. They take the time to listen to you. They respond with affirmation to you. Rejoice with you. Empathize with you. Basically, treat you with respect - a human being made in the image of God.

My problem is, I could think of those people in my life who were like that, but when it came down to it, I wasn't that person. I'm not an eager listener lately. I have people I listen to, but I also have those I kind of "shun". Not outright ignore, but think of as a "less important person". I don't like that about myself. The thing I fear most is being irrelevant. Someone who could drop off the planet and not be missed. Most of the time it comes out at work or church. I'll try to say something, and feel (this could be real or imagined, it doesn't matter) that no one is taking me seriously. Sometimes I'll cover it up with humor, but that just makes it worse. Sure, I get instant results, but eventually, people will think that I'm just a "jokester" and have nothing of substance to say.

Ok, on to the remedy... Are you ready for this?! It' really profound!: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat others as better than yourself. I've determined to let these sentences burn their way into my brain - by the Spirit's power - and not worry about MY relevance, but everyone ELSE'S! I've been so caught up in myself and how people think of me, that I've become my own worst enemy.

Lord, help me to remember that You've shown the greatest act of love and mercy to me. You specifically elected me out of love, not because I deserved it, but because You chose to. I have received the greatest affirmation of "relevance" any creature could. I don't need to depend on other's affirmations for my happiness, I have all the affirmation I need! Therefore, help me to love my fellow man, to have a listening ear to all. To have compassion, to actually CARE about someone other than myself. To be the kind of friend I would want to have. To treat others with RELEVANCE. Amen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

sacraments fit hand and glove with the gospel

"... the sacraments are not incidental to the Christian life, nor do they contradict our doctrine of justification sola fide. In fact, the sacraments fit hand and glove with the gospel. For God has promised to save us from our sins, and this promise is confirmed and renewed every time we witness a baptism and every time we take and eat. For when we hear those words, “this is my body, broken for you,” we are reminded that Jesus Christ has turned aside God’s anger toward our sins.

That same Savior who has died for me – taking away the covenant curse which I deserve – invites me to the font and to the table where he feeds and nourishes me, and where he swears on his sovereign oath, “I am your God and you are my people.” And what glorious words for sinners such as we. Come all you who are weary and burdened, for here you will find rest and refreshment."

- Kim Riddlebarger

Read More

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


"Imagine that you, in a fit of rage, wantonly and violently and irrationally destroyed your neighbor's car. Imagine that your neighbor was, for the purposes of this story, perfectly innocent. What does your neighbor owe you? Justice! He owes you prosecution to the full extent of the law. If, however, he fixed his car and gave you a 7-series BMW that would be grace. What should your response be? Should it not be humility and profound gratitude? Would you not think of your neighbor's wonderful graciousness every time you thought of or saw that BMW? Of course you would! Wouldn't that sense of gratitude color your life and relation to your neighbor and everyone else?

Of course Christians have committed crimes that are even more inexplicable than this. We violated God's law when we had been constituted righteous and holy. We forfeited glory for what? As Christians, we are the recipients of a grace that far transcends an automobile. As Paul says, we were slaves to sin and now we've been made free in Christ." - R. Scott Clark, The Heidelblog: April 10, 2007

Read the whole article

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

what he did

According to Christian belief, Jesus is our Saviour, not by virtue of what he said, not even by virtue of what he was, but by what he did. He is our Saviour, not because he inspired us to live the same kind of life that he lived, but because he took upon himself the dreadful guilt of our sins and bore it instead of us on the cross. Such is the Christian conception of the Cross of Christ. It is ridiculed as being a "subtle theory of the atonement." In reality, it is the plain teaching of the word of God; we know absolutely nothing about an atonement that is not a vicarious atonement, for that is the only atonement of which the New Testament speaks. And this Bible doctrine is not intricate or subtle.

On the contrary, though it involves mysteries, it is itself so simple that a child can understand it. "We deserved eternal death, but the Lord Jesus, because he loved us, died instead of us on the cross"--surely there is nothing very intricate about that. It is not the Bible doctrine of the atonement which is difficult to understand--what are really incomprehensible are the elaborate modern efforts to get rid of the Bible doctrine in the interests of human pride.

Modern liberal preachers do indeed sometimes speak of the "atonement." But they speak of it just as seldom as they possibly can, and one can see plainly that their hearts are elsewhere than at the foot of the Cross. Indeed, at this point, as at many others, one has the feeling that traditional language is being strained to become the expression of totally alien ideas.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism, p. 118-9

Monday, March 12, 2007

o wretched man that i am

What a great quote:

"Unless and until we are graciously allowed to see ourselves and our state as they really are, grace holds no interest for us."

- R. Scott Clark

read more on The Heidelblog

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 gets a great face-lift

Check out their new improved site! is the best reformed theology resource for articles, books, audio, etc... bar none. They also have a terrific bookstore. Kudos on their redesign.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

ashamed at Christ's second coming?

1 Corinthians 3: 12-15 says:
"Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

I was always taught to dread the final judgement, not that I'd be lost in Hell, but because I didn't obey Christ with pure and perfect motives. This kind of teaching is scary because it removes a Christians's joy and replaces it with guilt and dread. It's kind of like waiting for Daddy to come home because you know you're in trouble and he's going to spank you. Ironically, this teaching stems from a fundamenatalism that isn't too far from the teachings of Rome. You end up with a kind of "protestant purgatory". Think I'm exaggerating? Charles Stanley teaches something that sounds eerily familiar to this Read More.

It's interesting also, that the passage in 1 Cor. dealing with the "fire" which purges is used by Rome to further the doctrine of purgatory see Calvin's commentary.

Calvin speaks of this passage as distinguishing correct vs. false doctrine in the church (right doctrine taught = gold, silver, jewels / false doctrine = wood, hay and stubble).

The term "works" in the passage is referring to teachings, and not so much "doings" by the congregation. This is a revelation to me, coming from a background that always stressed the Christian's works as though we had something to be ashamed of at the final judgement! This is why I love reformed theology! The doctrine of Christ's imputation should fill me with anticipation and great hope/relief at His return. Why? Because I'm accounted by God as if I had the perfection of Christ Himself! I no more deserve rewards after justification than before.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"It is begun." VS. "it is finished."

R. Scott Clark, over at The Heidelblog has written yet another great entry about what our only comfort is. Here's a little of it:

"...has fully satisfied for all my sins..."

"In order to understand our confession we need to know a little about the history of the medieval church before the Reformation. Rome taught (and teaches) that Christ died to make salvation possible (by the way, does this sound familiar? Don't lots of evangelicals speak just this way about salvation?) The Reformed way of speaking about salvation is to say that Jesus accomplished salvation for us and applies it to us by his Spirit. According to Rome, however, Jesus' death makes it possible and the Spirit begins the process of sanctification and eventual justification in baptism. In the Roman scheme, our duty is to cooperate with grace toward eventual , final justification. When we sin, according to Rome, we are obligated to do penance.

... Not so in the Heidelberg Catechism. According to the Protestant view, Jesus has propitiated God's wrath and expiated our sins. He has satisfied for "all my sins." He has reconciled God to me and all believers. Rome says, "It is begun." Jesus says: "It is finished." He has redeemed me from all the power of the devil. It isn't just "underway." It's done. God is not propitiated, he is not reconciled, and I am not redeemed in any way by anything the Spirit does within me or anything I do in cooperation with grace. It's done for me. The only "condition," (instrument really) is this: "if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart" (HC 60). The whole Reformation can be said to have turned on the difference between two prepositions. When it comes to being right before God the Roman preposition is "in" and the Protestant preposition is "for." Thank God for that little preposition "for!" "

Friday, February 09, 2007

the bondage of the will

'Martin Luther and the Bondage of the Will' by Wellington Protestant Reformed Fellowship (WPRF)

A great audio teaching on the background of Luther and his influential work.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

how am i righteous before God?

Here's my analysis of Heidelberg #60 -

Question 60. How are you righteous before God?
Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ.

Even though:
A. My conscience accuses me.
B. I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and
C. The fact that I am still inclined to all evil.

Nevertheless, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace:
C. Grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed any sin. More than that, as if I had fully accomplished all the obedience which Christ has accomplished for me.

Conclusion: I benefit from C. simply and only because I embrace these benefits with a believing heart.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

christianity - what it's not, what it is

"Christianity is not a religion of ethics, morality, or politics. Its central message is the proclamation of the death of God’s Son, under God's curse, dying in unspeakable anguish to turn aside God’s holy hatred of sin, so that all who trust in him and in him alone can be saved from God’s wrath and be assured of God’s favor toward them. If we lose that message we have lost Christianity itself."

- Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the law is spiritual

-from Martin Luther's Intro to Romans

"In chapter 7, St. Paul says, "The law is spiritual." What does that mean? If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart.

But no one can give such a heart except the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart.

Such a law is spiritual since it can only be loved and fulfilled by such a heart and such a spirit. If the Spirit is not in the heart, then there remain sin, aversion and enmity against the law, which in itself is good, just and holy."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

faith is defiance

Faith is defiance. Abraham’s faith defied every possibility that he saw, in favor of the “impossible” word that he heard. This is why “faith comes by hearing … that is, the word of faith which we preach” (Rom. 10:17). To trust in God is to distrust every other promise-maker. The world makes a lot of promises: “Try this product and you’ll be ….” Constantly buying into new fads or makeovers as so many fig leaves to hide the seriousness of our condition, we hand ourselves over to marketers who persuade us that we can attain salvation, however we define that. Even the church can become a place where people get the idea that they exist merely to usher in the kingdom by serving on committees and being involved in a thousand programs. We have a lot of purposes, a lot of goals—some of them noble. Desperate to save ourselves and our kids from everything but the wrath of God, we fail to realize that, however watered down, these are all nothing but law rather than promise. Eventually, we will become burned out on good advice. What we need is good news.

- Michael Horton
- excerpt from The Promise Driven Life

Monday, January 08, 2007

ready to forgive

As Spurgeon once wrote, salvation is "all of grace". Yet, we need to be reminded also, that sanctification - the Christian life - is all of grace too. I'm more and more convinced that the evidence of sanctification is not primarily victory over sin, but an ever brightening realization of the depths of sin in one's own heart, and at the same time, an ever leaning trust in the life and death of Christ on our account.

Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.

"That he (God) is ready to forgive appears in this yet more glorious fact, that what God demands of man by the gospel he also works in him by his spirit; as for confession of sin he puts the words into the sinner's mouth, repentance he works in the sinner's heart, and saving faith his own Spirit creates in the sinner's soul. Is he not ready to forgive when even what might be called the condition of pardon in one light is under another aspect a gift of free grace?" - C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, January 05, 2007

luther on the mosaic law

The Law of Moses Binds Only the Jews and Not the Gentiles

"Here the law of Moses has its place. It is no longer binding on us (New Testament believers)
because it was given only to the people of Israel. And Israel accepted
this law for itself and its descendants, while the Gentiles were
excluded. To be sure, the Gentiles have certain laws in common with
the Jews, such as these: there is one God, no one is to do wrong to
another, no one is to commit adultery or murder or steal, and others
like them. This is written by nature into their hearts; they did not
hear it straight from heaven as the Jews did. This is why this entire
text does not pertain to the Gentiles. I say this on account of the
enthusiasts. (2) For you see and hear how they read Moses, extol
him, and bring up the way he ruled the people with commandments. They
try to be clever, and think they know something more than is presented
in the gospel; so they minimize faith, contrive something new, and
boastfully claim that it comes from the Old Testament. They desire to
govern people according to the letter of the law of Moses, as if no
one had ever read it before.

But we will not have this sort of thing. We would rather not preach
again for the rest of our life than to let Moses return and to let
Christ be torn out of our hearts. We will not have Moses as ruler or
lawgiver any longer. Indeed God himself will not have it either. Moses
was an intermediary solely for the Jewish people. It was to them that
he gave the law. We must therefore silence the mouths of those
factious spirits who say, "Thus says Moses," etc. Here you simply
reply: Moses has nothing to do with us. If I were to accept Moses in
one commandment, I would have to accept the entire Moses. Thus the
consequence would be that if I accept Moses as master, then I must
have myself circumcised, (3) wash my clothes in the Jewish way, eat
and drink and dress thus and so, and observe all that stuff. So, then,
we will neither observe nor accept Moses. Moses is dead. His rule
ended when Christ came. He is of no further service."