The Essense of the Christian Faith

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “The determining factor in our relationship with God is not our past or present, but Christ’s past and present.” ‘How then does it work?’ It works like this. God accepts this righteousness of Christ, this perfect righteousness face to face with the Law, which He honored in every respect. He has kept it and given obedience to it [through his perfect life], and he has borne its penalty [through his death]. The Law is fully satisfied. God’s way of salvation, says Paul, is that. He gives to us the righteousness of Christ. If we have seen our need and go to God and confess it, God will give us his own Son’s righteousness. He imputes Christ’s righteousness to us, who believe in Him, and regards us as righteous, and declares and pronounces us to be righteous in Him. That is the way of salvation, the Christian way of salvation… To make it quite practical let me say that

read more The Essense of the Christian Faith

God in a Manger

  David Mathis’s three part series is a great refresher course on Christology (the doctrine of Christ). He writes: Advent is my yearly reminder to brush up on Christology, the doctrine of the person of Christ. I’ve found it helpful to approach the subject under three headings: Jesus as Lord (fully divine), Jesus as Savior (fully human), and Jesus as Treasure (one person). God in a Manger, Part 1: Jesus Is Lord In this Christological triad (Lord-Savior-Treasure), Jesus’ Lordship is tied to his divinity. He is rightly called Yahweh, the name surpassingly more excellent than the angels (Hebrews 1:4), the name above every name (Philippians 2:9). Here’s the connection between Lordship and the divine name. God in a Manger, Part 2: Jesus Is Savior Not only did he remain fully divine when he took humanity to himself, but the humanity that he took was full humanity. And so Jesus has a fully human body, emotions, mind, and will — and this in

read more God in a Manger

Does God Delight in You?

  Written by Josh Blount: Does God delight in you, and if he does, how would he show it? Maybe he would show his delight in us by giving us good gifts – health or marriage or children or a dream job or a perfect vacation. But then we all know Christians who have had some or all of those things taken away. Did they lose God’s favor and God’s delight? Maybe God shows his delight in us not by giving us gifts, but by making us fruitful. God delights in you so your children always obey, your care group always grows, your neighbors always accept your invitations to church, and the guy on the airplane seat next to you accepts Christ before the plane even reaches the runway. But if fruitfulness is how you know God delights in you, what does that mean when all your fruit starts withering on the vine? Have you lost God’s favor and God’s

read more Does God Delight in You?

What does it mean to “accept Jesus”?

  Ray Ortlund Writes: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”  1 Thessalonians 1:9 You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons.  Our hearts are multi-divided.  There is something like a board room in every heart.  Big table.  Leather chairs.  Coffee.  Bottled water.  Whiteboard.  A committee sits around the table.  There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, and others.  The committee is arguing and debating and voting.  Constantly agitated and upset.  Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision. We are like that.  We tell ourselves it’s because we are so busy, with so many responsibilities.  The truth is, we are indecisive, held back by small thoughts of Jesus. Such a person can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways.  One way is to invite him onto the committee.  Give Jesus a vote too.  But then he becomes just one

read more What does it mean to “accept Jesus”?

How the New Testament Describes Salvation

Dane Ortlund writes: Here are the more important ones, noting which sphere of life from which they are drawn. Justification – the lawcourt metaphor (Rom 5:1; Titus 3:7) Sanctification – the cultus metaphor (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 4:3) Adoption – the familial metaphor (Rom 8:15; 1 John 3:1–2) Reconciliation – the relational metaphor (Rom 5:1–11; 2 Cor 5:18–20) Washing – the physical cleansing metaphor (1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:7) Redemption – the slave market metaphor (Eph 1:7; Rev 14:3–4) Purchase – the financial transaction metaphor (1 Cor 6:20; 2 Pet 2:1) Wedding – the marriage metaphor (Eph 5:31-32; Rev 21:2) Liberation – the imprisonment metaphor (Gal 5:1; Rev 1:5) New Birth – the physical generation metaphor (John 3:3–7; 1 Pet 1:3,23) Illumination – the light metaphor (John 12:35–36; 2 Cor 4:4–6) New Creation – the redemptive-historical metaphor (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15) Resurrection – the bodily metaphor (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1) Union with Christ – the organic or spatial metaphor (Rom 6:1–14; 2 Tim 1:9) Inexhaustible richness. Luther was right– If a person

read more How the New Testament Describes Salvation

Deeper grace from before the dawn of time

Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing ‘outside of’ God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity — it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison — and at infinitely great cost — this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation. This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it ‘so great a salvation’ (Heb. 2:3). — Sinclair B. Ferguson In Christ Alone (Orlando, Fl.: Reformation Trust, 2007), 136 (HT: Of First Importance)

Turned around by Christ

“Paul ran from Christ; Christ pursued and overtook him.  Paul resisted Christ; Christ disarmed him.  Paul persecuted Christ; Christ converted him.  Paul was an alien; Christ made him a member of the family.  Paul was an enemy; Christ made him a friend.  Paul was ‘in the flesh’; Christ set him ‘in the Spirit.’  Paul was under the law; Christ set him in grace.  Paul was dead; Christ made him alive to God.  How does one give reasons for this?  He does not give reasons; he sings, ‘Blessed be God who blessed us . . . even as he chose us in him.’” Lewis B. Smedes, Union With Christ (Grand Rapids, 1983), pages 86-87. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Don’t let the big gospel story distract you from personal gospel salvation

J.I. Packer: In recent years, great strides in biblical theology and contemporary canonical exegesis have brought new precision to our grasp of the Bible’s overall story of how God’s plan to bless Israel, and through Israel the world, came to its climax in and through Christ. But I do not see how it can be denied that each New Testament book, whatever other job it may be doing, has in view, one way or another, Luther’s primary question: how may a weak, perverse, and guilty sinner find a gracious God? Nor can it be denied that real Christianity only really starts when that discovery is made. And to the extent that modern developments, by filling our horizon with the great metanarrative, distract us from pursuing Luther’s question in personal terms, they hinder as well as help in our appreciation of the gospel. (In My Place Condemned He Stood, 26-27) (HT: Kevin DeYoung)

When God saves you, He…

A helpful breakdown of 20 things that God does when He saves you: He… Regenerates you, moving you from spiritual death to life. (John 3:1-8) Redeems you, buying you out of slavery to sin. (1 Peter 1:18-19) Justifies you, declaring you innocent in His sight. (Romans 5:1-9) Sanctifies you, setting you apart as holy. (1 Cor 1:2,30) Forgives you of all your sins. (Ephesians 1:7) Cleanses you, removing from you the stain of sin. (Hebrews 9:14) Reconciles you to Himself. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) Seals you with His Spirit as a guarantee of your future hope. (Ephesians 1:13) Indwells you, sending the Holy Spirit to live in you. (Romans 8:9) Adopts you, making you His child. (Romans 8:14-17) Baptizes you into Christ’s body, the Church. (1 Corinthians 12:3) Illuminates your mind so you can understand the Scriptures. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) Makes you a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Reveals you as one of His elect. (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29-30) Grants you

read more When God saves you, He…

Saved through judgement

Jim Hamilton: Everyone who gets saved is saved through judgment. All who flee to Christ and confess that he is Lord and that God raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9) do so because they realize their need for a Saviour. They realize their need for a Saviour because they have become convinced that God is holy, that they are sinful, and that God will judge. In a sense, they feel the force of God’s condemning justice. They sense the weight of the wrath that remains upon them (John 3:36), and they recognize that Jesus is their only hope. Thus, historically (in Christ on the cross) and existentially (in their own experience of the wrath of God that makes them feel their need for Christ) , believers are saved through judgment. Hamilton, James M. God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: a Biblical Theology. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010. (HT: Jude St.John)

The Missionary God

Jesus Christ is both the missionary God and the human representative who fulfilled the mission for which we were created. The whole story of the Bible turns on the merciful determination of this Triune God to redeem and to restore sinful creatures and the creation that lies in bondage because of the curse. In spite of every failure, disloyalty, and unfaithfulness of the human partner in the covenant, God will complete his mission. And in the person of Christ, he has also fulfilled the mission that he assigned to humankind in Adam: to lead creation into the everlasting blessing of immortality, forgiveness, righteousness, andpeace. — Michael Horton The Gospel Commission (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2011), 26 (HT: Of First Importance)

The Critical Difference Between Monergism and Synergism

John Hendryx writes: This is the one point that monergism establishes and synergism in all its formsdenies: namely, that sinners are impotent to lift a finger toward their own salvation, but that salvation, from first to last, whole and entire is of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory for ever; amen Remember, divine election, by itself, has never saved anyone. It marks out certain individuals for salvation; it is God’s “blueprint” of what he intends to do in time through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. God the Father elects, the Son redeems them, and the Spirit applies the work of Christ to the same. The Trinity works in harmony to bring about God’s purposes of election… and He gathers them through the preaching of the gospel, the seed which the Spirit germinates and brings to life. Again, salvation is of the Lord. Synergists teach that ‘salvation depends on human will’, but

read more The Critical Difference Between Monergism and Synergism

Why must we work out our salvation?

John Bloom writes: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13) The same man who wrote the verses above also wrote, “by grace you have been saved through faith. . . it is the gift of God, not a result of works.”1 So why do we need to work out our salvation when works do not save us? Because though we are saved by God’s unconditional electing grace2 through the gift of faith, the works we do prove that our faith is real. 3 Works are evidence of election. That’s why on one hand Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father. . . draws him”4 (election), and on the other hand he says, “If

read more Why must we work out our salvation?

Where The New Creation Has Come To Light

From Herman Ridderbos’s classic book Paul: An Outline of His Theology, page 57: Paul’s kerygma [message] of the great time of salvation that has dawned in Christ is above all determined by Christ’s death and resurrection. It is in them that the present aeon has lost its power and hold on the children of Adam and that the new things have come. For this reason, too, the entire unfolding of the salvation that has dawned with Christ again and again harks back to his death and resurrection, because all the facets in which this salvation appears and all the names by which it is described are ultimately nothing other than the unfolding of what this all-important breakthrough of life in death, of the kingdom of God in this present world, contains within itself. Here all lines come together, and from hence the whole Pauline proclamation of redemption can be described in its unity and coherence. Paul’s preaching, so we have seen,

read more Where The New Creation Has Come To Light

Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”

From John Piper: We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment. In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation. If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .” I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7). I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48;Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7) I believe

read more Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”

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

read more Standing on the brink of eternity

Every Kind of Good Abounds in Him

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ.  We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else.   If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is of him.  If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.  If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth.  For by his birth he was made like us in all respects, that he might learn to feel our pain.  If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection;

read more Every Kind of Good Abounds in Him