Archive for the ‘Christian Theology’ Category

Our Sin is cast into the depths

Posted: December 23, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Puritan Faith

“God the Father takes the pen, dips it in the blood of his Son, crosses off the sinner’s accounts, and blots them out of his debt-book.

The sinner outside of Christ is bound over to the wrath of God; he is under an obligation in law to go to the prison of hell, and there to lie until he has paid the utmost farthing.  But now, being united to Christ, God says, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom!’ (Job 33:24). The sentence of condemnation is reversed, the believer is absolved, and set beyond the reach of the condemning law. His sins, which were set before the Lord (Psalm 90:8), so that they could not be hidden—God now takes and casts them all behind his back (Isaiah 38:17).

Yes, he casts them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). What falls into a brook may be retrieved—but what is cast into the sea cannot be recovered. But there are some shallow places in the sea; true—but their sins are not cast in there—but into the depths of the sea; and the depths of the sea are devouring depths, from whence they shall never come forth again. But what if they do not sink? He will cast them in with force, so that they shall go to the bottom, and sink as lead in the mighty waters of the Redeemer’s blood.

— Thomas Boston
Human Nature in Its Fourfold State
(Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 1964)

 

HT:OFI

…for a more substantive assessment of Whitefield’s preaching, we turn to a fellow believer, and a fellow evangelical, a fellow Anglican, and a fellow Calvinist: J.C. Ryle (1816-1900). In his short book on Whitefield, Ryle gives six characteristics of Whitefield’s preaching:

1. A Pure Gospel.
First and foremost, you must remember Whitefield preached a singularly pure gospel. Few men ever gave their hearers so much wheat and so little chaff. He did not get into his pulpit to talk about his party, his cause, his interest, or his office. He was perpetually telling you about your sins, your heart, and Jesus Christ, in the way that the Bible speaks of them. “Oh, the righteousness of Jesus Christ,” he would frequently say; “I must bo excused if I mention it in almost all my sermons!” This, you may be sure, is the corner stone of all preaching that God honors. It must be preeminently a manifestation of truth.”

– See more at:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/2009/12/happy-birthday-george-whitefield/

Here’s a snippet:

” The same question arising in verse 1 surfaces here again: Does “all people” (πάντας ἀνθρώπους; v. 4) refer to every person without exception or to every person without distinction? The Reformed have traditionally defended the latter option.5 Sometimes this exegesis is dismissed as special pleading and attributed to Reformed biases. Such a response is too simplistic, for there are good contextual reasons for such a reading. A focus on all people without distinction is supported by verse 7, where Paul emphasizes his apostleship and his ministry to the Gentiles: “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” Hence, there are grounds in the context for concluding that “all people” zeros in on people groups, so that Paul is reflecting on his Gentile mission. In Acts 22:15 (NIV), when Paul speaks of being a witness “to all people” (πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους), he clearly does not mean all people without exception; “all” refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles in his mission (Acts 22:21).”

Read the rest at link below :
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/problematictexts.html

I’m even worse than you think

Posted: November 19, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Sanctification

“Satan accuses Christians day and night. It is not just that he will work on our conscience to make us feel as dirty, guilty, defeated, destroyed, weak, and ugly as he possibly can; it is something worse: his entire play in the past is to accuse us before God day and night, bringing charges against us that we know we can never answer before  the majesty of God’s holiness.

What can we say in response? Will our defense be, ‘Oh, I’m not that bad?’ You will never beat Satan that way. Never. What you must say is, ‘Satan, I’m even worse than you think, but God loves me anyway. He has accepted me because of the blood of the Lamb.’

 

— D. A. Carson
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 98-99

 

HT:OFI

And in another letter to Jerome (#82), Augustine writes:

“Of all the books of the world, I believe that only the authors of Holy Scripture were totally free from error, and if I am puzzled by anything in them that seems to me to go against the truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either 1) the manuscript is faulty or 2) the translator has not caught sense of what was said or 3) I have failed to understand it for myself.”

Augustine is pretty clear here on his doctrine of Scripture. He understands Scripture as inerrant, but he also recognizes that humans err in 1) manuscript transmission, 2) in translating, or 3) in simply not understanding a passage. I think the way Augustine approaches this is a helpful example for us today. How many times do we counsel people or even find in ourselves a struggle with the difficult things of Scripture and unfortunately rely on human, fallible understanding, and Scripture then loses out. Going all the way back to Augustine’s era, this has clearly been a struggle for centuries.

Read the rest at link below

http://butintheselastdays.com/2013/11/18/inerrancy-the-early-church/

I am to believe God and be quiet

Posted: November 18, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Sanctification

“If we have sinned, it is wonderful consciously to say, ‘Thank you for a completed work,’ after we have brought that specific sin under the finished work of Christ. The conscious giving of thanks brings assurance and peace. We say, ‘Thank you’ for work completed upon the cross, which is sufficient for a completely restored relationship.

This isn’t on the basis of my emotions, any more than in my justification. The basis is the finished work of Christ in history and the objective promises of God in the written Word. If I believe Him, and if I believe what He has taught me about the sufficiency of the work of Christ for restoration, I can have assurance, no matter how black the blot has been. This is the Christian reality of salvation from one’s conscience.

For myself, through the thirty years or so since I began to struggle with this in my own life, I picture my conscience as a big black dog with enormous paws which leaps upon me, threatening to cover me with mud and devour me. But as this conscience of mine jumps upon me, after a specific sin has been dealt with on basis of Christ’s finished work, then I should turn to my conscience and say, in effect, ‘Down! Be still!’ I am to believe God and be quiet.

 

— Francis Schaeffer
True Spirituality

 

HT:OFI

The happiest way of living

Posted: November 12, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Discipleship, Spurgeon, The Christian Life

“Every day I find it most healthy to my own soul to try and walk as a saint, but in order to do so, I must continually come to Christ as a sinner. I would seek to be perfect. I would strain after every virtue, and forsake every false way. But still, as to my standing before God, I find it happiest to sit where I sat when first I looked to Jesus, on the rock of His works, having nothing to do with my own righteousness, but only with His.

Depend on it, dear Friends, the happiest way of living is to live as a poor sinner, and as nothing at all—having Jesus Christ as All in All. You may have all your growths in sanctification, all your progress in graces, all the development of your virtues that you will. But still I do earnestly pray you never to put any of these where Christ should be. If you have begun in Christ, then finish in Christ. If you have begun in the flesh, and then go on in the flesh, we know what the sure result will be. But if you have begun with Jesus Christ as your Alpha, let Him be your Omega.

— Charles Spurgeon
The Blessing of Full Assurance: Sermons on 1 John

HT:OFI

May it Thunder through our Churches, Cities, & Country

Posted: November 1, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Spurgeon

“The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.”

 

– C. H. Spurgeon

Regeneration

Posted: October 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christian Theology, Christianity, Discipleship, Reformed Theology

Regeneration (excerpt) by Matthew Barrett

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit to unite the elect sinner to Christ by breathing new life into that dead and depraved sinner so as to raise him from spiritual death to spiritual life, removing his heart of stone and giving him a heart of flesh, so that he is washed, born from above and now able to repent and trust in Christ as a new creation. Moreover, regeneration is the act of God alone and therefore it is monergistic in nature, accomplished by the sovereign act of the Spirit apart from and unconditioned upon man’s will to believe. In short, man’s faith does not cause regeneration but regeneration causes man’s faith.

In Deuteronomy 30:6 we read, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” If the circumcision of the heart refers to regeneration (cf. Rom. 2:25–27), then to what purpose does God promise to circumcise the heart? He circumcises the heart “so that” his people will love the Lord. The Lord does not circumcise their hearts “because” they acted in repentance and faith by loving the Lord. Rather, it is God’s sovereign act of circumcising the heart that causes the sinner to love him. Nowhere in Deuteronomy 30:6 do we see any indication that God’s sovereign act of circumcising the heart is conditioned on the will of man to believe. Rather, it is quite the opposite. The Lord must first circumcise the heart so that the sinner can exercise a will that believes.

– Matthew Barrett, from his booklet, What is Regeneration? by P&R Publishing

 

HT:Reformation Theology

Don’t waste your Sunday

Posted: October 25, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christian Theology, Christianity, Discipleship

There is a great danger every Sunday that we would be stirred and not changed. We come to church, feel a little something, but it turns out to be nothing but a little Jesus inoculation–just enough of the virus to keep you from getting the real thing. If God is working on you next Sunday, don’t waste it. Don’t rush on from the word to the rest of life. Find someone to pray with you. Have that conversation you need to have. Don’t turn on the football game the second you walk back in the house.

All three articles are great

“How to Be Better Bereans (1 of 3)” http://feedly.com/k/17G9sdh

For Calvin, salvation flows from our union with the living and exalted Jesus. Unless he dwells in us, and we in him, his death, resurrection, and exaltation are of no value to us. In other words, the Spirit unites us to Jesus, our Benefactor, who bestows on us the benefits won through his accomplishment.

Calvin applies these biblical and theological insights to the relation of justification and sanctification:

Although we may distinguish them, Christ contains both of them inseparably in himself. Do you wish, then, to attain righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he cannot be divided into pieces (1 Cor. 1:13). Since, therefore, it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness (Institutes, 3.16.1).

Read the whole piece here

This Sunday is Reformation Sunday which honors the Reformation of the church. Here is a snippet Steve Lawson gave on sola scriptura:

Arising out of the reformation of the 16th century, there sounded a trumpet blast that rallied the hearts of God’s people: sola Scriptura, which is Latin for “Scripture Alone.” It really served as the foundation for the four other solas: sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria. And these five fit together as one statement of truth—one declaration of the true saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Think of a magnificent, ancient temple and a foundation upon which everything rests. That’s sola Scriptura. Everything that we believe, obey, embrace, and hold dear in the convictions of our soul is based upon this foundation of sola Scriptura. Rome said, “We accept Scripture, but it is Scripture and. Scripture and church tradition; Scripture and ecclesiastical hierarchies; Scripture and the church councils; Scripture and papal authority. And the Reformers said, coming back to the Bible, “No, it is sola Scriptura: Scripture alone.” And if anything else is added to the foundation of the church, there will be cracks in the foundation and it will not hold up the teaching and the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  At the same time, they said no to the Anabaptists and the libertines who wanted to add their dreams and visions and new revelations. They said no; it is Scripture alone.

Upon this foundation are three massive pillars, which really frame and uphold the Gospel in its most basic and elementary proposition: Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus – salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Rome wanted to add good works and church membership and church attendance and baptism and marriage and last rites and indulgences and Mary and the treasury of merit. And they just backed up their dump truck and kept adding and adding and adding all kinds of rubbish. And the Reformers, because they came back to the Word of God—Scripture alone—they said, “No. Salvation, the one true saving Gospel, is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.”

And when that is in place, and these three immovable sturdy pillars are in place, then the roof and the pinnacle over the hull that points upward is soli Deo gloria, “for the glory of God alone.” That is the entire Reformation in a nutshell. That is the entire forest in a small acorn. That is the entire matter reduced to its most minimal parts. Everything rests upon sola Scriptura.

Read the rest at link below

http://thecripplegate.com/strange-fire-the-puritan-commitment-to-sola-scriptura-steve-lawson/#more-11492

1 Corinthians 1, D.A. Carson

Posted: September 17, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Sanctification

EVANGELICALS REGULARLY DRAW a line between justification and sanctification. Justification is God’s declaration that an individual sinner is just—a declaration grounded not in the fact that he or she is just, but in God’s accepting Christ’s death instead of the sinner’s, in God’s reckoning Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. It marks the beginning of the believer’s pilgrimage. From the believer’s vantage point, to be justified is a once-for-all experience bound up with God’s good purposes in Christ’s once-for-all death.

By contrast, sanctification in the Protestant tradition has normally been understood to refer to the process by which believers progressively become more holy. (Holy and sanctified/sanctification have the same root in Greek.) This is not a once-for-all experience; it reflects a lifelong pilgrimage, a process that will not be finally complete until the onset of the new heaven and the new earth. It is not what God reckons to us; it is what he empowers us to become.

Failure to distinguish between justification and sanctification frequently ends up with a blurring of justification. If justification takes on a shading of personal growth in righteousness, pretty soon the forensic, declarative nature of justification is lost to view, and we start reimporting some kind of works-righteousness through the back door.

Historically, of course, the warning is well merited. One must always be vigilant to preserve Paul’s emphasis on justification. But the SANCTIFICATION word-group has not always been well-served by this analysis. Those who study Paul have long noted that sometimes people are said to be “sanctified” in a POSITIONAL or DEFINITIONAL sense—that is, they are set apart for God (POSITIONAL), and therefore they already are sanctified (DEFINITIONAL). In such passages the process of progressively becoming more holy is not in view.

Most of the places where Paul talks about being “holy” or “sanctified” fall into this POSITIONAL or DEFINITIONAL camp. That is certainly the case in 1 Corinthians 1:2: Paul writes to “the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy.” The Corinthians already are sanctified; they have been set apart for God. Therefore, they have been called to be holy—that is, to live life in line with their calling (which, by and large, they have been failing to do, quite spectacularly, judging by the rest of the book).

Of course, there are many passages that speak of growth and improvement that do not use SANCTIFICATION; for a start, meditate on Philippians 3:12–16. If we choose to use SANCTIFICATION as a term drawn from systematic theology to describe such growth, we do no wrong. But then we should not read this meaning back into Paul’s use where his focus is elsewhere.

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

“Reader, would you have more faith? Then seek to become more acquainted with Jesus Christ. Study your blessed Savior more and more, and strive to know more of the length and breadth and height of His love. Study Him in all His offices, as the Priest, the Physician, the Redeemer, the Advocate, the Friend, the Teacher, the Shepherd of His believing people.

Study Him as one who not only died for you—but is also living for you at the right hand of God; as one who not only shed His blood for you—but daily intercedes for you at the right hand of God; as one who is soon coming again for you, and will stand once more on this earth.

The miner who is fully persuaded that the rope which draws him up from the pit will not break, is drawn up without anxiety and alarm. The believer who is thoroughly acquainted with the fullness of Jesus Christ, is the believer who travels from grace to glory with the greatest comfort and peace.”

– J. C. Ryle, Faith in Christ

Pride Destroyers , Doctrines of Grace

Posted: August 14, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Reformed Theology

“What are the ‘doctrines of grace’ and why do they matter? Such is like asking, “What does the Bible teach about the very heart of the gospel, and does it matter one way or the other?” The doctrines of grace are the biblical teachings that define the goal and means of God’s perfect work of redemption. They tell us that God is the one who saves, for His own glory, and freely. And they tell us that He does so only through Christ, only on the basis of His grace, only with the perfection that marks everything the Father, Son, and Spirit do. The doctrines of grace separate the Christian faith from the works-based religions of men. They direct us away from ourselves and solely to God’s grace and mercy. They destroy pride, instill humility, and exalt God. And that’s why so many invest so much time in the vain attempt to undermine their truth. The religions of men maintain authority over their followers by 1) limiting God’s power, 2) exalting man’s abilities, and 3) “channeling” God’s power through their own structures. A perfect salvation that is freely bestowed by God for His own glory is not a “system” that can be controlled by a religious body or group. And even more importantly, such a system is destructive of any sense of pride in the creature man, and if there is anything man’s religions must safeguard, it is man’s “self esteem.””

Dr. James White