The Covenant of Redemption

David Van Drunen & Scott Clark on the covenant of redemption: In Reformed theology, the pactum salutis has been defined as a pretemporal, intratrinitarian agreement between the Father and Son in which the Father promises to redeem an elect people. In turn the Son volunteers to earn the salvation of his people by becoming incarnate…by acting as surety of the covenant of grace for and as mediator of the covenant of grace to the elect. In his active and passive obedience, Christ fulfills the conditions of the pactum salutis…ratifying the Father’s promise, because of which the Father rewards the Son’s obedience with the salvation of the elect. And because of this the Holy Spirit applies the Son’s work to his people through the means of grace. Covenant, Justification and Pastoral Ministry, p. 168 (HT: Martin Downes)

The goodness of God

My thanks to Ray Ortlund for these Sibbes quotes: “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.” Richard Sibbes, Works, I:47. “Another way to love God is to consider his wonderful goodness. He is good and doth good. It is a communicative goodness. Let us think of his goodness and the streaming of it out to the creature. The whole earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. What are all the creatures but God’s goodness? We can see nothing but the goodness of God. What is all the creation but Deus explicatus, God unfolded to the senses? He offers himself to our bodies and souls; all is God’s goodness. . . . He hath fitted every part of us, soul and body, with goodness, all the senses with goodness. What do we see but goodness in colors? What do we hear but his good in those delights that come that way? We taste and feel his

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Reasons Believers in Christ Need Not Be Afraid

Adrian Warnock pointed me in the direction of this encouraging piece from John Piper: 1. We will not die apart from God’s gracious decree for his children. James 4:14-15 “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” Matthew 10:29-30 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Deuteronomy 32:39 “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” (See Job 1:21;1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7) 2. Curses and divination do not hold sway against God’s people. Numbers 23:23 “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel.” 3. The plans

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Not a private matter

“The Christian life is not just our own private affair. If we have been born again into God’s family, not only has he become our Father but every other Christian believer in the world, whatever his nation or denomination, has become our brother or sister in Christ. “But it is no good supposing that membership of the universal Church of Christ is enough; we must belong to some local branch of it. … Every Christian’s place is in a local church. … sharing in its worship, its fellowship, and its witness.” – John Stott, Basic Christianity (HT: Trevin Wax)

Seeing our sin and seeing the Saviour

My Thanks to Martin Downes for this: . Some extracts from a letter that Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote to a “soul seeking Jesus. If you did not know your body was dangerously ill, you would never have sent for your physician; and so you will never go to Christ, the heavenly Physician, unless you feel that your soul is sick unto death. Oh, pray for deep discoveries or your real state by nature and practice! Pray to see yourself exactly as God sees you; pray to know the worth of your soul. Have you seen yourself vile, as Job saw himself? (Job xi. 3, 5, xiii. 5, 6); undone, as Isaiah saw himself? (Isa vi. 1, 5). Have you experienced anything like Ps. li.? Perhaps you will ask, Why do you wish me to have such a discovery of my lost condition? I answer, that you may never look into your poor guilty soul to recommend you to God; and

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John Piper – Did God’s Plan Include Sin From the Beginning?

“Wimpy world-views produce wimpy Christians. And wimpy Christians will not survive the days that are coming.” John Piper, from this excellent video clip posted at ‘Allsufficientgrace‘.

Is God Punishing Me?

From John Bloom at Desiring God: As a Christian, when you experience a painful providence like an illness or a rebellious child or a broken marriage or a financial hardship or persecution, do you ever wonder if God is punishing you for some sin you committed? If you do, there is some very good news from the letter to the Hebrews. The original readers of this letter had been experiencing persecution and affliction for some time. They were tired, discouraged, and confused—why was God allowing such hardships? And some were doubting. So after some doctrinal clarifications and some firm exhortations and a few sober warnings (so they could examine if their faith was real) the author of the letter brought home a very important point. He wanted his readers to remember that the difficulty and pain they were experiencing was not God’s punishment for their sins or weak faith. Chapters 7-10 beautifully explain that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was once

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“It is an offense to our rational, truth revealing God; it is an offense to the true work of His Son; it is an offense to the true work of the Holy Spirit to use the names of God, or of Christ, or of the Holy Spirit in any mindless emotional orgy marked by irrational, sensual, and fleshly behavior produced by altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, heightened expectation or suggestibility. That is socio-psycho manipulation and mesmerizm and it is a prostitution of the glorious revelation of God taught clearly and powerfully to an eager, attentive, and controlled mind. What feeds sensual desires, pragmatically or ecstatically, cannot honor God. You have to preach the truth to the mind.” -John MacArthur From the 1998 Grace to You message from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:4 “God’s Word in Today’s Church: Five Reasons I Teach the Bible” (HT: Reformed Voices)

God is Not Your Butler

Thomas Watson, a Puritan pastor from 350 years ago, asked in his book, Body of Divinity, “Why does God delay an answer to prayer?” In other words, why would God ever keep us asking and seeking and knocking when he could respond sooner? He gives four answers: 1. Because he loves to hear the voice of prayer. “You let the musician play a great while before you throw him down money, because you love to hear this music.” 2. That he may humble us. We may too easily assume we merit some ready answer, or that he is at our beck and call like a butler, not as sovereign Lord and loving Father. 3. Because he sees we are not yet fit or ready for the mercy we seek. It may be he has things to put in place—in us or in our church or in the world. There are a million pieces to the puzzle. Some things go first

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“Pure grace and overflowing love”

“If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on a curtain, as if a dark cloud had been drawn across his face.” (Martin Luther quoted by Roland Bainton in Here I Stand, pp. 49-50). (HT: John Fonville)

J. I. Packer on Young Christian Leaders

. From Mark Driscoll: In the lengthy time that Dr. J. I. Packer afforded me to speak with him while we were recently together in Orlando, I asked him which theological issues he would commend young Christian leaders to study in order to be prepared for the next fifty years. His list was quite insightful: 1. Regeneration — He said that the doctrine of regeneration has not been fully appreciated by many who do not understand that to be born again with a new heart and new nature means that we have at our deepest level a new identity and new passionate desires for God’s Word and ways. He commended to all young Christian leaders a thorough study on the doctrine of regeneration. 2. God-Centered Theology — He said that theology today is rife with man-centered thinking so that the glory of God in all things is not the essence of what is taught to be faithfully Christian. The result,

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Regeneration and Conversion

Does regeneration necessarily precede conversion? By Tom Schreiner The answer to the question is “yes,” but before explaining why this is so, the terms “regeneration” and “conversion” should be explained briefly. Regeneration means that one has been born again or born from above (John 3:3, 5, 7, 8). The new birth is the work of God, so that all those who are born again are “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 ESV here and henceforth). Or, as 1 Pet 1:3 says, it is God who “caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Pet 1:3). The means God uses to grant such new life is the gospel, for believers “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23; cf. Jas 1:18). Regeneration or being born again is a supernatural birth. Just as we cannot do anything to be born physically—it just happens to us!—so

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Why God Doesn’t Fully Explain Pain

I Love this from John Piper: One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions. God says things like: These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8). These happened to that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1). This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1). This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12). But we can always object that there are other easier ways for God to accomplish those things. We want to know more specifics: Why now? Why this much? Why this often? Why this way? Why these people? The problem

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Tim Keller’s Prodigal God

Tim Keller’s new book The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith comes out in October. Based on Tim’s classic exposition of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, this book is intended to help believers and unbelievers understand the Gospel of grace in a fresh and compelling way. Tim, however, has been asked by a fair number of people about the title of the book. Some have concluded that using the word “prodigal” in reference to God is saying something about God that the Bible itself does not say. So instead of trying to answer these questions myself, I sent a note to Tim asking him if he would be kind enough to explain his use of the word “prodigal” in reference to God. This is what he wrote back to me: The word ‘prodigal’ does not appear in the Greek text. It is an English word that has become attached to the parable of the two lost sons

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What Has God Done For You Lately?

I love this from Thad Noyes: If preaching is merely telling people what to do, then the first nine verses of 1 Peter are hard to preach. However, if preaching involves telling people what God has done, then these same verse provide a goldmine for preaching. For several weeks our church has been slowly walking through these opening verses of 1 Peter, simply reflecting on the wealth of grace that God has displayed in our lives. Just preaching through this material has made me much more aware in my day to day life of the mercy that surrounds me. If you are feeling at all discouraged, read 1 Peter 1:1-9 and just consider what God has done for you. 1. You are elect according to the foreknowledge of God. 2. You have been sanctified by his Spirit. 3. You have been brought to obedience to Jesus Christ. 4. You have been sprinkled with his blood. 5. You have been born

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Meditations on Corporate Worship

Some good thoughts on worship from Justin Childers: Worship is the joyful response of people to the glorious God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Worship is to be an active part of a Christian’s life, both personally and corporately. All of life is to be lived for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31); and, the local church is to gather regularly, uniting a congregation of worshipers into a unified body to respond to God, engage with God, exhort one another, and be an example to unbelievers. Here are a few guiding principles for corporate worship. Corporate worship should be: God-focused – Worship is to be focused on the Triune God of the Bible. Believers should boldly and humbly approach the throne of God with confidence through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We were created by God for God. We exist to glorify God by enjoying God. Christ-exalting – Worship is to be specifically focused on

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A low view of God

“The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us… The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy) (HT: Theocentric Preaching)

Loving Jesus like his Father does

I love this quote. I love what is ultimate, and then work back to the practical and pastoral implications. John 17:24 speaks of the ultimate of beholding the glory of Christ. That’s what Jesus prays for on our behalf. But seeing is not enough. There is a higher experience. Verse 26 speaks of our appreciating, savouring, enjoying, delighting in what we see and understand of his glory. If our affections are not stirred we have not seen Christ in his glory. The ultimate, then, is that we should appreciate and love him as the Father sees him and loves him. When you think of it, anything less is unworthy of him. This is where everything is heading. If our study, service, and sanctification are not not leading this way we’ll miss the mark! So Jesus prays (then dies), and reveals himself in the Word by the Spirit. “I have paraphrased John 17:26 in order to pray it like this: ‘Father,

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DA Carson: The One Thing We Need Most Urgently…

The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better. When it comes to knowing God, we are a culture of the spiritually stunted. So much of our religion is packaged to address our felt needs-and these are almost uniformly anchored in our pursuit of our own happiness and fulfillment. God simply becomes the Great Being who, potentially at least, meets our needs and fulfills our aspirations. We think rather little of what he is like, what he expects of us, what he seeks in us. We are not captured by his holiness and his love; his thoughts and words capture too little of our imagination, too little of our discourse, too few of our priorities. In the biblical view of things, a deeper knowledge of God brings with it massive improvement in the other areas mentioned: purity, integrity, evangelistic effectiveness, better study of Scripture, improved private and

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Ferguson on the Prayer of Faith

“This, then, is the prayer of faith: to ask God to accomplish what He has promised in His Word. That promise is the only ground for our confidence in asking. Such confidence is not “worked up” from within our emotional life; rather, it is given and supported by what God has said in Scripture. “Truly ‘righteous’ men and women of faith know the value of their heavenly Father’s promises. They go to Him, as children do to a loving human father. They know that if they can say to an earthly father, ‘But, father, you promised…,’ they can both persist in asking and be confident that he will keep his word. How much more our heavenly Father, who has given His Son for our salvation! We have no other grounds of confidence that He hears our prayers. We need none. “Such appeal to God’s promises constitutes what John Calvin, following Turtullian, calls ‘legitimate prayer.’ “Some Christians find this disappointing. It

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