“You must be born again”

John Piper has just begun a series entitled, “You must be born again”.  I have recently preached on this subject both at home and in India. It is surprising to many that repentance and faith are fruits of new birth not the cause of new birth. I’ll be posting on Pipers sermons. This series promises to be groundbreaking among middle-of-the-road evangelicals. You can follow this series here. Here’s Piper’s first message.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones – What Makes Grace, Grace?

. . . we are Christians entirely and solely as the result of the grace of God. Let us remind ourselves once more that ‘grace’ means unmerited, undeserved favour. It is an action which arises entirely from the gracious character of God. So the fundamental proposition is that salvation is something that comes to us entirely from God’s side. What is still more important is this, that it not only comes from God’s side, it comes to us in spite of ourselves—‘unmerited’ favour. In other words, it is not God’s response to anything in us. Now there are many people who seem to think that it is—that salvation is God’s response to something in us. But the word ‘grace’ excludes that. It is in spite of us. . . . Salvation is not in any sense God’s response to anything in us. It is not something that we in any sense deserve or merit. The whole essence of the teaching

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The Future of Justification by John Piper

This book by John Piper promises to be a definitive response to the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ as popularised by N.T. Wright. I’m grateful for this review by Tony Reinke. Book review – By Tony Reinke The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright by John Piper N.T. Wright is a British New Testament scholar and the Anglican Bishop of Durham, England. He’s become known for his controversial teaching on justification and for his statements like: “The discussions of justification in much of the history of the church, certainly since Augustine, got off on the wrong foot – at least in terms of understanding Paul – and they have stayed there ever since.” Enter pastor and scholar John Piper. Piper’s highly anticipated new book The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright (Crossway: 2007) is framed around eight fundamental questions raised in the theology of Wright: The gospel is not about how to get saved? (ch. 5) Justification

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The Cockrells in India

This will probably be my last post for several weeks. I’m taking the family on my annual ministry trip to North India tomorrow. For the last five years I’ve travelled to Dehradun to teach in a Bible School and help local churches. Having the ‘girls’ with me this year will be special. It’s their first visit. Emma, my wife, will have her own schedule ministering to the women. My oldest daughter, Grace, has just started university in the north of England, so she’s staying behind. But Mary-Anna will be accompanying us. This trip is more significant than previous ones. In the New Year we hope to relocate to India. Yes, that means leaving the pastorate here in Worthing, UK, and starting a whole new life together in the Sub-Continent. In the next few weeks we will be finalising the details of our new calling. I’ll keep you posted! In the mean time, please pray for us: I’ll be lecturing and speaking

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Lloyd-Jones: The Necessity of the Cross

. . . As Christians we believe that the Son of God came into this world, that He laid aside the insignia of His eternal glory, was born as a babe in Bethlehem, and endured all that He endured, because that was essential for our salvation. But the question is, Why was it essential to our salvation? Why did all that have to take place before we could be saved? I defy anyone to answer that question adequately without bringing in this doctrine of the judgment of God and of the wrath of God. This is still more true when you look at the great doctrine of the cross and the death of our blessed Lord and Saviour. Why did Christ die? Why had He to die? If we say that we are saved by His blood, why are we saved by His blood? Why was it essential that He should die on that cross and be buried and rise

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Centre Of It All!

Irons: “I agree that Paul’s doctrine of justification is not the center of his theology. The center of Paul’s theology is the gospel of God’s Son (Rom 1:1-2), centered on the cross and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:3-4). But in order to explicate what Christ has done for us in his death and resurrection, the doctrine of justification plays an absolutely essential role. The primitive Palestinian church confessed that “Christ died for our sins.” Paul the theologian came along and fleshed out what that means: He died and rose again so that the guilt of our sins might be removed and that we might be made legally fit to have a share in the inheritance.” (HT: Gospel Muse)

Knowledge of the gospel imparted by the Spirit

“Our obtuseness, our deep self-centeredness, our love of pomp and power and prestige, simply would not have allowed us to understand the cross or our need of it. In short, our very lostness demanded the work of the Spirit of God, to the end that we might “understand what God has freely give us (1 Cor 2:12). What a great God we have! Not only does he redeem us through the ignominious crucifixion of his much-loved Son, but he sends us his Spirit to enable us to understand what he has done. So obtuse and blind are we that we would not have begun to grasp “what God has freely given us” unless God had taken this additional step.” – D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1993), 55. (HT: Of First Importance)

Christ for us: Reading the Bible through the Gospel

This is an excellent piece from Brannan at ‘Creed or Chaos’. I appreciate the gospel-driven hermeneutic. “Christ for us”: this phrase is just another way of saying “the gospel.” When Paul says to be ready to give an account to anyone who asks the reason for the hope we have, “Christ for us” proclaims our hope in a nutshell: God is holy and righteous and we are rebellious sinners; only in looking away from ourselves to Christ for us, to Christ on our behalf, do we have hope before God. Christ died the death we deserve and lived the life we should have lived, so that rather than the condemnation we earned in Adam, we receive the righteousness Christ earned for justification; and now by his grace we who believe are enabled by the Holy Spirit to die to sin and live to God. This is the gospel. This is the power of God for the salvation of all who

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Piper: When Does God Become 100% For Us?…

…I have asked the question in public, “When does God become 100% for us?” And I have given an answer that rightly troubles thoughtful, biblical people. So this article is an effort to answer their question. In my message to the Desiring God National Conference on Sunday, September 30, I answered the question like this: What the Bible teaches is that God becomes 100% irrevocably for us at the moment of justification, that is, the moment when we see Christ as a beautiful Savior and receive him as our substitute punishment and our substitute perfection. All of God’s wrath, all of the condemnation we deserve, was poured out on Jesus. All of God’s demands for perfect righteousness were fulfilled by Christ. The moment we see (by grace!) this Treasure and receive him in this way his death counts as our death and his condemnation as our condemnation and his righteousness as our righteousness, and God becomes 100% irrevocably for us

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The difference between the Law and the Gospel

Another great ‘Gospel-Driven’ quote posted by John Fonville:  Q. What is the difference between the law and the gospel? A. The law is a doctrine that God has implanted in human nature and has repeated and renewed in His commandments. In it He holds before us, as if in a manuscript, what it is we are and are not to do, namely, obey Him perfectly both inwardly and outwardly. He also promises eternal life on the condition that I keep the law perfectly my whole life long. One the other hand, He threatens eternal damnation if I do not keep every provision of the law my whole life long but violate it in one or more of its parts. As God says in Deuteronomy 27[:26] and Galatians 3[:10], “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” And once the law has been violated, it has no

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Piper on Justification

Here’s a snippet from an interview with John Piper regarding his forthcoming book, ‘The future of Justification’, where he deals with some contemporary views on the subject, particularly those held by N.T. Wright. “This is my interpretation. Later we’ll get at whether he [Wright] agrees with this. In the New Testament, justification is the moment or the event when you put your faith in Jesus Christ and at that moment God is no longer against you—he’s for you, and he counts you as acceptable, forgiven, righteous, obedient because of your union with Christ. You are perfectly acceptable to God and he is totally on your side. At that moment you are declared and constituted just, even though you’re ungodly. Romans 4:4 talks about the justification of the ungodly, and Romans 3: 28 says that “we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” So that’s the general gist of the doctrine, and I regard it as

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The Surpassing Glory of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3.4-11)

By Sam Storms:  Nothing is more frustrating than knowing what one ought to do and lacking the power to perform it. To see and read and be confronted with the will of God all the while one is bereft of the resolve and spiritual energy to respond in a positive fashion is my definition of despair! That is why I thank God daily that I do not live in an age when the law of God was merely written on stone and called for my obedience without the promise of the provision of power. That is why I thank God daily that I have by grace been made a member of the New Covenant in Christ Jesus, the distinguishing feature of which is that for every precept there is power and for every statute there is strength and for the otherwise impossible task of saying Yes to God’s commands there is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. In describing

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Jesus Christ: the Sum and Substance of the Covenant

  “I will give thee for a covenant of the people.”  Isaiah 49:8   Jesus Christ is himself the sum and substance of the covenant, and as one of its gifts. He is the property of every believer. Believer, canst thou estimate what thou hast gotten in Christ? “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Consider that word “God” and its infinity, and then meditate upon “perfect man” and all his beauty; for all that Christ, as God and man, ever had, or can have, is thine—out of pure free favour, passed over to thee to be thine entailed property forever. Our blessed Jesus, as God, is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Will it not console you to know that all these great and glorious attributes are altogether yours? Has he power? That power is yours to support and strengthen you, to overcome your enemies, and to preserve you even to the end. Has he love? Well, there is

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Finishing Well: Piper on glorifying God in Old Age

John Piper concluded the annual Desiring God National Conference, ‘Stand’, with an exhortation to make the glory of God our aim as we grow older. “Getting old to the glory of God means getting old in ways that make God look glorious, not the treasures of this world. It means resolutely resisting the typical American dream of retirement, being set free by a superior satisfaction in Jesus and our heavenly inheritance.” The related topic of ‘perseverance’ is obviously relevant to ‘finishing well’. Here’s Piper’s helpful explanation of the necessity and grace of persevering: Two Fearful Mistakes However, one great obstacle stands in the way of finishing well: the fear that it won’t actually happen. And there are two deadly ways that people attempt to overcome this fear: 1) People mistakenly believe that perseverance is not necessary for final salvation. This is mistaken because the Bible is crystal clear that we must endure in faith and love until the end (Mark 13:13;

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The Great Exchange, by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington

Is a clear understanding of the atonement an academic preserve to which only theologians and scholars have access? Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington don’t think so. Thus, they have written The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness, which seeks to explain the way that the Old Testament prepares the way for Jesus’ death, then looks at every text on the atonement in the New Testament. Crossway has provided a text-interview with Bridges and Bevington here. They describe their primary audience as “mainstream . . . believers.” You can check out the book’s website, which includes study guides on the book. This book and these study guides will be ready tools in the hands of disciplers. Oh that mainstream believers would watch less football this fall so they could have time to read books like this one! (HT: For His Renown) Here’s some thoughts about the book from the authors: Jerry Bridges (JB): The Great Exchange refers to the way

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Baptizing the Masses with a Watered-down Gospel!

“When a sinner wanders into the church and sits through skits, mimes, interpretive dances, and the like, and yet never hears a clear, convicting message about his dangerous and tenuous spiritual situation– that he is a depraved sinner headed for an eternal fire because he is a daily offense to a holy God– how can that be called successful? You could achieve the same level of success by sending a cancer patient to receive treatment from a group of children playing doctor. A sinner must understand the imminent danger he is in if he is ever to look to the Savior. What’s worse is when seeker-focused churches baptize the masses with their watered-down gospel, assuring them that positive decisions, feelings, or affirmations about Christ equal genuine conversion. There are now multitudes who are not authentic Christians identifying with the church. As you set your strategy for church ministry, you dare not overlook the primary means of church growth: the straightforward,

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Is Hell the Absence of God?

R.C. Sproul gives a masterful response to this common explanation: It is common to say that hell is the absence of God. Such statements are motivated in large part by the dread of even contemplating what hell is like. We try often to soften that blow and find a euphimism to skirt around it. We need to realize that those who are in hell desire nothing more than the absence of God. They didn’t want to be in God’s presence during their earthly lives, and they certainly don’t want Him near when they’re in hell. The worst thing about hell is the presence of God there. When we use the imagery of the Old Testament in an attempt to understand the forsakenness of the lost, we are not speaking of the idea of the departure of God or the absence of God in the sense that He ceases to be omnipresent. Rather, it’s a way of describing the withdrawal of

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Packer on “You must be born again”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” JOHN 3:3 Regeneration is a New Testament concept that grew, it seems, out of a parabolic picture-phrase that Jesus used to show Nicodemus the inwardness and depth of the change that even religious Jews must undergo if they were ever to see and enter the kingdom of God, and so have eternal life (John 3:3-15). Jesus pictured the change as being “born again.” The concept is of God renovating the heart, the core of a person’s being, by implanting a new principle of desire, purpose, and action, a dispositional dynamic that finds expression in positive response to the gospel and its Christ. Jesus’ phrase “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) harks back to Ezekiel 36:25-27, where God is pictured as symbolically cleansing persons from sin’s pollution (by water) and bestowing a “new heart” by putting his

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Piper on Repentance!

An excellent quote from an excellent book: As part of my sabbatical here in Cambridge, England, I am working on a book with the tentative title What Jesus Demands From the World. The demand to repent is as basic as it gets in Jesus’ message. It is equally basic to, and almost synonymous with, the command, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). One of my concerns is to show that repentance in Jesus’ message is not behavior but the inner change that gives rise to new God-centered, Christ-exalting behavior. Here are some thoughts to help make the meaning of repentance more plain. From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32) The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and

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