Not Without Jesus

From Anthony Carter at the Gospel Coalition blog: At a recent prayer meeting someone asked the question, “How do people make it in this world without Jesus?” The answer to that question is that they don’t. There is a sentence of death over every one who has not professed faith in Jesus Christ. This sentence is executable at any moment. And the only reason that it is not executed and the sinner is not immediately experiencing the terrible judgment due for sin is because of the grace and mercy of God. Yet, even more is the reality that instead of having the sentence immediately executed, millions of people experience the grace and mercy of sunshine and rain; seed time and harvest. The fact that there is any light or joy in the life of a sinner is owing to God’s desire to show mercy and to be longsuffering. Nevertheless, those who have come into the knowledge of the truth and

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A Great Disturbance: repentance as a way of life

“Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in saying ‘Repent,’ intended that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” Martin Luther, Thesis 1 According to Schaff, History of the Christian Church, VII:160, Luther was attacking the medieval notion of sacramental penitence. That kind of “repentance” could be limited to isolated outward acts, leaving the rest of our lives safe from the mega-upheaval of true repentance. Luther contended that real repentance opens us up to endless personal change, leaving nothing about us untouched. When Luther posted his Theses, he undermined self-reinforcing Christianity, which is no Christianity, and he launched a new era of self-challenging Christianity, which is the power of the gospel. In Karl Barth’s commentary on Romans, he entitles his section on Romans 12-15 “The Great Disturbance.” The whole world needs gospel disturbance. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Spiritual Life & Faith in Jesus

“Spiritual life and faith in Jesus come into being together. The new life makes the faith possible, and since spiritual life always awakens faith and expresses itself in faith, there is no life without faith in Jesus. Therefore, we should never separate the new birth from faith in Jesus. From God’s side, we are united to Christ in the new birth. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. From our side, we experience this union by faith in Jesus.” – John Piper, Finally Alive (Scotland, UK; Christian Focus, 2009), 32. (HT: Of First Importance)

Where is the Call to Repentance? [Where is the Change?]

This is excellent from Peter Mead: So many deeply challenging messages fall short of their intent.  After preaching through a powerful passage, the final few minutes often undermine everything.  All sorts of conviction has been achieved, then at the end all open wounds are smoothed over, rather than following through to excise the growth of ungodly matter in the life of the listener.  The sermonic surgery ends in comfort and the problems persist.  Why? One reason is that too often preachers are too careful to offer balance and comfort too soon.  In effect, the message finishes flat with something along the lines of, “But what if you haven’t lived up to this?  What if you’ve failed in this area?  Well there is grace, God forgives, etc.”  And people go away having felt convicted, but reassured that all is well.  Whether or not all is well, all is back to normal and lives move on relatively unchanged by the encounter with

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Spurgeon on Repentance

“Remember that the man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance. We can no more repent perfectly than we can live perfectly. However pure our tears, there will always be some dirt in them; there will be something to be repented of even in our best repentance. But listen! To repent is to change your mind about sin, and Christ, and all the great things of God. There is sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever cast their shadow upon your mind.” C. H. Spurgeon, All Of Grace, page 70. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

3 questions with Tim Keller

By Garrett E. Wishall Tim Keller serves as senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, N.Y. Question: What do pastors need to be doing to lead their flock out of idolatry and into Christlikeness? Tim Keller: The subject of idolatry is a lot more nuanced and complex than I could possibly get across in my talk at the Gospel Coalition conference. I made an allusion to the fact that idolatry sometimes is talked about in the Bible under the heading of spiritual adultery. It is also sometimes talked about under the heading of spiritual mastery and slavery. When Paul talks about those who are slaves to sin: all of those categories are actually talking about idolatry. Most preachers feel like “If I’m going to preach about idols, I have to tell people what an idol is.” What they don’t have in mind is: idolatry is at the root of all of our psychological problems, moral problems, cultural issues, our

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Hearts More Deeply Gripped

“At the root of all our disobedience are particular ways in which we continue to seek control of our lives through systems of works-righteousness. The way to progress as a Christian is to continually repent and uproot these systems the same way we become Christians, namely by the vivid depiction (and re-depiction) of Christ’s saving work for us, and the abandoning of self-trusting efforts to complete ourselves. We must go back again and again to the gospel of Christ-crucified, so that our hearts are more deeply gripped by the reality of what he did and who we are in him.” – Timothy Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 61. (HT: Of First Importance)

God-centered evangelism

“God-centered evangelism believes all men are fallen and will not come to God by their own power or will, because they are deaf, blind, dead and have no power for spiritual good. Their minds are at enmity with God, and left to themselves, they will not seek God. Men need new natures. We call this regeneration. Regeneration is the work of God alone, and this great work always produces conversion, which is repentance toward God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Regeneration is a big theological word that views salvation from God’s side—it is the instantaneous impartation of life. Paul calls it new creation. One may, or may not, be conscience of the exact moment when it takes place in them. Conversion, on the other hand, is viewing salvation from the human side. Repenting is something man does. Believing is something man does. Both are a result of what God does. This order is important if you are ever

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Preparing for Sudden Suffering

John Piper writes: Recently I wrote that we seldom know the micro reasons for our sufferings, but the Bible does give us faith-sustaining macro reasons. It is good to have a way to remember some of these so that when we are suddenly afflicted, or have a chance to help others in their affliction, we can recall some of the truths God has given us to help us not lose hope. Here is one way to remember.  Five R’s (or if it helps, just pick three and try to remember them). The macro purposes of God in our sufferings include: Repentance Suffering is a call for us and others to turn from treasuring anything on earth above God. Luke 13:4-5 – Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will

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Repentance Unto Life

My thanks to James Grant for this excellent piece on repentance. A neglected and misunderstood doctrine. I would only add, that true repentance is also accompanied by joy; a joy from being in agreement with God. The  Shorter Catechism has a helpful definition of repentance in question Q. 87, “What is repentance unto life?” Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience. I think there are several important main points here concerning repentance. First, we acknowledge that we are a sinner: “we have a true sense of our sin.” Some people cannot get past this first point because they will not admit that they are sinners. We do not want to admit that we are law-breakers and are in

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“…God will use this tragedy to shake up the world.” Repent or Perish Luke 13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Mortification of Sin

From The Thirsty Theologian. Sinclair Ferguson encourages us to get serious about sin: Paul’s exposition [Colossians 3] provides us with practical guidance for mortifying sin. . . . 1. Learn to admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade—call it “fornication” (v.5), not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “uncleanness” (v. 5), not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “covetousness, which is idolatry” (v. 5), not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better.” . . . 2. See sin for what it really is in God’s presence. “Because of these the wrath of God is coming” (3:6). . . . See the true nature of sin in light of its punishment. . . . Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (3:7; cf. 6:21). 3. Recognize the inconsistency of your sin. You have put off the “old man,” and have put on the “new man” (3:9–10). . . .

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True Repentance

“Repentance has nothing to do with what man has done. Rather it is man’s coming undone in respect to all human righteousness, followed by his going outside himself in faith to Christ alone for salvation.” – C. John Miller, Repentance and 21st Century Man (Fort Washington, Pa.: CLC Publications, 1980), 63. (HT: Of First Importance)

Test Revival with Doctrine

John Piper posts on Lee Grady’s excellent article in Charisma Magazine. I recommend you read the whole piece linked below. Piper: Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma, one of the main charismatic magazines, has written a lament and critique of the Lakeland “revival” which is now in a tailspin over the leader’s announced separation from his wife. Grady’s summons to pray for the church and our nation is right, and among his commendable questions and observations are these: “Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.” “True revival will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype that often was on display

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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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The Kiss and The Blood

After years of struggling, doubting, and searching, the darkness lifted for John Bunyan. Here is how he states it: “I remember that one day, as I was travelling into the country and musing on the wickedness and blasphemy of my heart, and considering of the enmity that was in me to God, that scripture came into my mind, He hath, ‘made peace through the blood of his cross.’ Col. 1:20. By which I was made to see, both again, and again, and again, that day, that God and my soul were friends by this blood; yea, I saw that the justice of God and my sinful soul could embrace and kiss each other through this blood. This was a good day to me; I hope I shall not forget it.” Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, pages 19-20 of volume 1 of Bunyan’s Works. Notice 2 things: -Bunyan was pondering the weight of his wickedness (when is the last

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Charles Wesley’s Radical, Fruitful Risk

I love this from John Piper: On July 18, 1738, two months after his conversion, Charles Wesley did an amazing thing. He had spent the week witnessing to inmates at the Newgate prison with a friend named “Bray,” who he described as “a poor ignorant mechanic.” One of the men they spoke to was “a black slave that had robbed his master.” He was sick with a fever and was condemned to die. Wesley and Bray asked if they could be locked in overnight with the prisoners who were to be executed the next day. That night they spoke the gospel. They told the men that “one came down from heaven to save lost sinners.” They described the sufferings of the Son of God, his sorrows, agony, and death. The next day, the men were loaded onto a cart and taken to Tyburn. Charles went with them. Ropes were fastened around their necks so that the cart could be driven

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Jesus, Example or Saviour?

From John Hendryx at Reformation Theology: Here are two fine quotes from andrew purves’ “reconstructing pastoral theology” “To be clear: union with Christ does not lead to an imitation of Christ, a life spent following Jesus’ example in the hope that we will become better people. The Christian life is not to be understood as obedience to either an ethical imperative or a spiritual ideal. Rather, the Christian life is the radical and converting participation in Jesus Christ’s own being and life, and thus a sharing in his righteousness, holiness, and mission through the bond of the Holy Spirit.” “Note, too, the emphasis I place on the work of the Holy Spirit. Union with Christ is entirely a work of God. Our human acts, beliefs, and decisions are powerless to effect a relationship with God. John Calvin understood that our deepest self had to become reconfigured and reconstituted or, to use his words, “regenerated” or “vivified,” through related to Jesus

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