Resurrection Life

The Puritan John Howe, in a series of 13 sermons on regeneration, said this: “You see by this what a Christian is. And all will agree (no doubt) in the common notion, a Christian is one that believeth that Jesus is the Christ. But you see who are reckoned to believe to this purpose, such as are born thereupon another sort of creatures from what they were, and so continue as long as they live: and such as are heaven born, born of God by immediate divine operation and influence, a mighty power from God coming upon their souls, conforming them to God, addicting them to God, uniting them with God, making them to centre in God, taking them off from all this world.” “The Spirit that is from God suits us to God and to divine things and makes us savor the things of God and take delight in them.  It seasons us more and more, so that God

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“Spiritual,” because…

The latest issue of The Gospel Coalition’s online theological journal, Themelios is out now. From Don Carson’s editorial on Spiritual Disciplines: . “People think of themselves as “spiritual” because they have certain aesthetic sensibilities, or because they feel some kind of mystical connection with nature, or because they espouse some highly privatized version of one of any number of religions (but “religion” tends to be a word with negative connotations while “spirituality” has positive overtones). Under the terms of the new covenant, however, the only “spiritual” person is the person who has the Holy Spirit, poured out on individuals in regeneration.” (HT: Guy Davies)

Forgiven and Born Again: Two Things at Once

I love this post by Fred Sanders. Here he points us to John Wesley’s astute understanding of the relationship between justification and regeneration: It’s one thing to be forgiven, and another thing to be born again. Both happen at once, but they are distinct from each other. They have to be distinguished clearly, in order to be united perfectly. It’s hard to know whether it’s more important to distinguish them, or to insist that they go together. John Wesley may have been the most successful at distinguishing and uniting them in his preaching. Nearly everything Wesley taught flowed from his understanding of the new birth, because the new birth (or regeneration) is where the great salvation proclaimed in the gospel actually enters into human experience. It is “a vast inward change, a change wrought in the soul, by the operation of the Holy Ghost.” And it is crucial that we see how Wesley related this doctrine, a doctrine about a change

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No More Important Event

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), first professor at Princeton Seminary, on regeneration– There is no more important event, which occurs in our world, than the new birth of an immortal soul. Heirs to titles and estates, to kingdoms and empires, are frequently born, and such events are blazoned with imposing pomp, and celebrated by poets and orators; but what are all these honours and possessions but the gewgaws of children, when compared with the inheritance and glory to which every child of God is born an heir! The implantation of spiritual life in a soul dead in sin, is an event, the consequences of which will never end. When you plant an acorn, and it grows, you expect not to see the maturity, much less the end of the majestic oak, which will expand its boughs and strike deeply into the earth its roots. The fierce blast of centuries of winters may beat upon it and agitate it; but it resists them

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Marks of a True Christian

From Kevin DeYoung: How can you tell the difference between a true Christian and a false professor or heretic? Wilhelmus à Brakel in The Christian’s Reasonable Service (1700) lays down six propositions to get us started. Proposition1: A Christian must have a great love for the truth; all splendid pretense void of love for the truth is deceit. Proposition 2: A Christian must have great love and esteem for the church. Proposition 3: The Holy Scriptures are the only rule for doctrine and life. Proposition 4: Regeneration is the originating cause of spiritual life, and of all spiritual thoughts and deeds. Proposition 5: A Christian avails himself of faith. Proposition 6: All of man’s felicity, here and hereafter, consists in communion with and the beholding of God. To be sure, the list could be longer, but à Brakel is trying to warn against “Quietists,” “fanatics,” and “Boehmists” in particular. In any case, propositions 1 and 2 seem particularly relevant for our day. And proposition

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JI Packer on Regeneration and Sanctification

The concept [of sanctification] is not of sin being totally eradicated (that is to claim too much) or merely counteracted (that is to say too little), but of a divinely wrought character change freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christlike affections, dispositions, and virtues. Sanctification is an ongoing transformation within a maintained consecration, and it engenders real righteousness within the frame of relational holiness. Relational sanctification, the state of being permanently set apart for God, flows from the cross, where God through Christ purchased and claimed us for himself (Acts 20:28; 26:18; Heb. 10:10). Moral renovation, whereby we are increasingly changed from what we once were, flows from the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13; 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:11, 19-20; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:22-24; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 13:20-21). God calls his children to sanctity and graciously gives what he commands (1 Thess. 4:4; 5:23). Regeneration is birth; sanctification is growth. In regeneration, God implants desires that were not there before: desire

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Calvin on Remaining Sin in the Regenerate

Helpful realism from the reformer– The children of God are freed through regeneration from bondage to sin. Yet they do not obtain full possession of freedom so as to feel no more annoyance from the their flesh, but there still remains in them a continuing occasion for struggle whereby they may be exercised; and not only be exercised, but also better learn their own weakness. . . . [T]here remains in a regenerate man a smoldering cinder of evil, from which desires continually leap forth to allure and spur him to commit sin. In regeneration, Calvin goes on to say, the sway of sin is abolished in them. For the Spirit dispenses a power whereby they may gain the upper hand and become victors in the struggle. But sin ceases only to reign; it does not also cease to dwell in them. –John Calvin, Institutes, 3.3.10-11 Sin dwells, but no longer reigns, in believers. (HT: Dane Ortlund)

Round-table discussion with Sproul and Ferguson, et al

Watch as R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Teaching Fellows Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. engage in this round-table discussion (May 19, 2011) covering topics such as dispensationalism, regeneration, election, evangelism, and Harold Camping. Very highly recommended. (HT: Reformation Theology)

I never despair, because I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit

I never despair of anyone becoming a decided Christian, whatever he may have been in days gone by. I know how great the change is from death to life; I know the mountains of division which seem to stand between some men and heaven; I know the hardness, the prejudices, the desperate sinfulness of the natural heart. But I remember that God the Father made the glorious world out of nothing. I remember that the voice of the Lord Jesus could reach Lazarus when, four days dead, and recall him even from the grave. I remember the amazing victories the Spirit of God has won in every nation under heaven. I remember all this—and feel that I never need despair. The arm of the Spirit is not shortened! His power is not decayed! He is like the Lord Jesus—the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is still doing wonders, and will do to the very end. I shall not be

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First Things First

“The beauty and brilliance of the kingdom of God can’t be grasped practically without grasping it spiritually. You can’t do one without seeing the other — and seeing it requires being set free by God. In order for us to really experience the kingdom, to taste and see the glory of kingdom life, the king has to burst open the prison of our hearts and minds, and give us new eyes to see and new ears to hear.” Jared Wilson, Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Saviour.

Resurrection-life in the Spirit

Legally pronounced just and claimed by God, engrafted into his Son, believers bear fruit that is not the result of their imitation of Christ’s life but of their being incorporated into Christ and his eschatological resurrection-life in the Spirit. — Michael HortonThe Christian Faith(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 2011), 591 (HT: Of First Importance)

Standing on the brink of eternity

Christians stand on the very brink of eternity. Jesus Christ, the last Adam, has completed the work of the first Adam and entered the new creation. Because Christ did this for us, we now belong to him and share in the rights and privileges of the world-to-come. We have been ‘justified by his grace as a gift’ (Rom. 3:24) and made ‘fellow heirs with Christ’ so that ‘we may also be glorified with him’ (Rom. 8:17). We have been ‘raised with Christ’ (Col. 3:1) and thus our ‘life is hidden with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3) and our ‘citizenship is in heaven’ (Phil. 3:20). Because Jesus has ‘passed through the heavens,’ we today may ‘with confidence draw near to the throne of grace’ (Heb. 4:14, 16), having ‘confidence to enter the holy places’ (Heb. 10:19). We eagerly await Christ’s return from heaven when he will ‘transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body’ (Phil. 3:21) and we will

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I must have Christ

From Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings (p. 251) by Thomas Watson: We know the kingdom of grace has been set up in our hearts by the change wrought in the soul.  There is a new nature, light in the mind, order in the affections, a pliable will, and tenderness in the conscience.  If there is no change of heart there is no sign of grace.  God’s children desire God, like the beating of the pulse indicates life.  Saints love him, not only for what he has, but for what he is; not only for his rewards, but for his holiness.  Hypocrites may desire him for his jewels, but not for his beauty.  A believer cannot be satisfied without God; let the world heap her honours and riches, it will not satisfy.  No flower will satisfy the thirsty.  The Christian says, “I must have Christ, grace, and heaven, though I take it by storm.”  We desire Christ more than the world, and

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You must be born again

“You must be born again.”  John 3:7 You.  This is personal.  If I resent it as threatening, that could be evidence I have not been born again.  If my heart welcomes the approach of this truth and waves the white flag of surrender, that could be evidence I have been born again. Must.  This is authoritative.  If I take evasive action, that could be evidence I have not been born again.  If I breathe a sigh of relief that finally Someone is telling me the truth and taking me in hand, that could be evidence I have been born again. Be born again.  This is passive.  I need more than self-correction; I need a miracle deep within.  I need God to call into existence within me a new aliveness to God, new tastes, new desires, new openness and humility and fears and hopes, such as I have never experienced before and cannot conjure up out of my admirable upbringing and

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Justification Sanctifies!

[S]anctification is not a new thing, but simply the unfolding, by the operation of the Spirit, of something already present. It is God’s justifying verdict itself which sanctifies. . . . It is precisely because God waits for no guarantees but pardons out-and-out, because He dares to trust a man who has no claim or right to trust at all–it is because of this that forgiveness regenerates, and justification sanctifies. –James S. Stewart, A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul’s Religion (New York: Harper, 1935), 258, 259-60 (HT: Dane Ortlund)

Are Christians Meant to Feel Guilty All the Time?

This is excellent from Kevin DeYoung: Read the whole thing here. So why do so many Christian feel guilty all the time? 1. We don’t fully embrace the good news of the gospel. We forget that we have been made alive together with Christ. We have been raised with him. We have been saved through faith alone. And this is the gift of God, not a result of works (Eph. 2:4-8). We can be so scared of antinomianism, which is a legitimate danger, that we are afraid to speak too lavishly of God’s grace. But if we’ve never been charged with being antinomian, we probably haven’t presented the gospel in all it’s scandalous glory (Rom. 6:1). 2. Christians tend to motivate each other by guilt rather than grace. Instead of urging our fellow believers to be who they are in Christ, we command them to do morefor Christ (see Rom. 6:5-14 for the proper motivation). So we see Christlikeness as something we

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Taking a stand for Monergism

“It is wrong to suppose that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, that storm center of the Reformation, was the crucial question in the minds of such theologians as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Bucer, and John Calvin. This doctrine was important to the Reformers because it helped to express and to safeguard their answer to another, more vital, question, namely, whether sinners are wholly helpless in their sin, and whether God is to be thought of as saving them by free, unconditional, invincible grace, not only justifying them for Christ’s sake when they come to faith, but also raising them from the death of sin by His quickening Spirit in order to bring them to faith.” – Michael Haykin

Christ is Everything

“When you put your trust in Christ, the overpowering attraction of the world is broken. You are a corpse to the world, and the world is a corpse to you. Or to put it positively, you are a ‘new creation’ (Galatians 6:15). The old you is dead. A new you is alive — the you of faith in Christ. And what marks this faith is that it treasures Christ above everything in the world. The power of the world to woo your love away is dead. Being dead to the world means that every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s love and an occasion of boasting in the cross. When our hearts run back along the beam of blessing to the source in the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.” – John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway Books, 2004), 85. (HT: Of First Importance)

Monergistic Regeneration

From John Hendryx: Since faith is infinitely beyond all the power of our unregenerated human nature, it is only God who can give the spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see the beauty of Christ in the gospel. God alone disarms the hostility of the sinner turning his heart of stone to a heart of flesh. It is God, the Holy Spirit, alone who gives illumination and understanding of His word that we might believe; It is God who raises us from the death of sin, who circumcises the heart; unplugs our ears; It is God alone who can give us a new sense, a spiritual capacity to behold the beauty and unsurpassed excellency of Jesus Christ. The apostle John recorded Jesus saying to Nicodemus that we naturally love darkness, hate the light and WILL NOT come into the light (John 3:19, 20). And since our hardened resistance to God is thus seated in our affections, only God, by

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