What does it mean to believe?c

R.C. Sproul: I think the whole concept of faith is one of the most misunderstood ideas that we have, misunderstood not only by the world but by the church itself. The very basis for our redemption, the way in which we are justified by God, is through faith. The Bible is constantly talking to us about faith, and if we misunderstand that, we’re in deep trouble. The great issue of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century was, How is a person justified? Luther’s controversial position was that we are justified by faith alone. When he said that, many of the godly leaders in the Roman Catholic Church were very upset. They said, “Does that mean that a person can just believe in Jesus and then live any way they want to live?” In other words, the Roman Catholic Church reacted fiercely because they were afraid that Luther’s view would be understood as an easy-believism in which a person only had

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The Fuzzification of Faith

This post is adapted from Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know by J. I. Packer. Watch a series of videos in which Dr. Packer reflects on his life, ministry, and key doctrines for the church today at JIPacker.com. J.I. Packer: What Is Faith? The word faith is used elusively and does in truth mean different things to different people, though this fact often goes unrecognized. Some churches—in an effort to be unitive—constantly refer to the faith as a common property held by all who worship, without defining or analyzing its substance, so that worshippers can go for years without any clear notion of what their church stands for. Theologians rise up to affirm that, in idea at least, faith goes beyond mere orthodoxy (belief of truth) to orthopraxy (living out that truth in worship and service, love to God and man)—and in saying this they are right so far. But when some think orthodoxy sanctions behavior that

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Two Often Missed Gospel Essentials

Kevin DeYoung: It’s amazing how often people think they are giving the Christian message or have heard the gospel and yet there is nothing about sin and repentance. The message of the gospel is not simply an invitation to know God’s love or enter his family or to live forever. That is all true. But the call to saving faith must always include a call to repentance. Acts 13:38-39 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses.” The Law of Moses cannot free you. You cannot go to sleep at night knowing for certain that you are righteous before God based on your observance of the Decalogue. The law cannot set you free of your condemnation, that is why the High Priest had to offer sacrifices year

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What saving faith looked like in Cornelius

“So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.’”  Acts 10:34-35 Ray Ortlund: Peter’s point is not that Cornelius had earned his way into God’s good graces by his own highmindedness or performance.  His point is that Cornelius, the Gentile, did not have to become a Jew to be kosher with God.  As a Gentile in Christ, Cornelius was clean and complete, for God shows no racial or national partiality. But Peter’s words say more.  “Anyone [of any race or nation] who fears God and does what is right” is acceptable to God.  Again, this is not legalism.  This does not displace the life and death of Jesus.  But it is moral sincerity.  It is the mentality that lies at the foundation of gospel faith and repentance.  It is not a moral demand made of God, but it

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Can Authentic Faith Be Awakened by a Physical Miracle?

  John Piper writes: Did Jesus teach that miracles are useless for those who reject the word? Here’s the story he told: From hades the rich man implored Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers not to come to that place of torment. But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” The rich man said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Abraham disagreed: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (LUKE 16:31) God Must Open Eyes Does this mean that miracles are useless among people who have biblical truth, but don’t believe it? Sounds like it: If the prophets haven’t converted them, a miracle won’t either. But think of it this way. Thousands of people first learn what the Bible says and only later come to believe it. So for a

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Must one believe in the Virgin Birth to be a Christian?

Al Mohler: Must one believe in the Virgin Birth to be a Christian? This is not a hard question to answer. It is conceivable that someone might come to Christ and trust Christ as Savior without yet learning that the Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin. A new believer is not yet aware of the full structure of Christian truth. The real question is this: Can a Christian, once aware of the Bible’s teaching, reject the Virgin Birth? The answer must be no. Read the entire article HERE.

The only kind of faith that matters

“The only kind of faith that matters in the end is saving faith — the faith that unites us to Christ so that his righteousness is counted as ours in justification, and his power flows into us for sanctification. In other words, . . . I am not interested in faith in general — the faith of other religions, or the faith of science in the validity of its first principles, or the faith of children in their parents, or any other kind of faith that is not in Christ. I am only interested in the faith that obtains eternal life. The faith faith that saves (Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9). The faith that justifies (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16) and sanctifies (Acts 26:18; 1 Pet. 4:11).” – John Piper, Think: The life of the Mind and the Love of God(Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 69-70. (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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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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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)

Mark Dever at Desiring God Pastors Conference

Abraham Piper blogs these helpful summaries of Mark Dever’s messages on evangelism at the DG Pastors’ Conference. 3 Reasons to Share the Gospel 1. A Desire to Be Obedient to God’s Commands Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. That is exactly what the early disciples did. Paul spoke of a compulsion to share the gospel. To evangelize is to obey. In Acts 8:4, we see that those who had been scattered preached the gospel wherever they went. One of the clearest examples of evangelism being commanded is in 1 Peter 3, where Peter commands believers to “always be…prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Our silence is not a matter of neutrality. You need to tell yourself that. Our silence is a matter of guilt and sin. Obedience is definitely a biblical reason to evangelize. 2. A Love for the Lost

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Without the New Birth…

Without the new birth, we won’t have saving faith, but only unbelief. (John 1:11-13; 1 John 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:14; 2 Timothy 1:3). Without the new birth, we won’t have justification, but only condemnation. (Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:17 Philippians 3:9). Without the new birth, we won’t be the children of God, but the children of the devil. (1 John 3:9-10). Without the new birth, we won’t bear the fruit of love by the Holy Spirit, but only bear the fruit of death. (Romans 6:20-21; 7:4-6; 15:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 3:14). Without the new birth, we won’t have eternal joy in fellowship with God, but only eternal misery with the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41; John 3:3; Romans 6:23; Revelation 2:11; 20:15). — John Piper,  Why Do We Need to Be Born Again? (Part 2) (HT: Adrian Warnock)

Asking the right question helps!

“Oh!” saith the Arminian, “men may be saved if they will.” We reply, “My dear sir, we all believe that; but it is just the if they will that is the difficulty. We assert that no man will come to Christ unless he be drawn; nay, we do not assert it, but Christ himself declares it–“Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;’ and as long as that “ye will not come’ stands on record in Holy Scripture, we shall not be brought to believe in any doctrine of the freedom of the human will.” It is strange how people, when talking about free-will, talk of things which they do not at all understand. “Now,” says one, “I believe men can be saved if they will.” My dear sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? We

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The Need For Galatians

“Because something of the old legal disposition remains in us, Galatians serves to remind us of the ever-present temptation to turn away from grace and revert back to our own merit.” I love this from John Fonville. I have made Galatians my prime study in recent years. Thanks for this John! Everyone is born a legalist by nature. Our default mode is the ancient heresy of Pelagianism (i.e., self-salvation). Even after our conversion, something of a legalist/Pharisee still remains in all of us. Ralph Erskine once wrote, “It is not easy to get the law killed; something of a legal disposition remains even in the believer while he is in this world: many a stroke does self and self-righteousness get, but still it revives again. If he were wholly dead to the law, he would be wholly dead to sin; but so far as the law lives, so far sin lives.They that think they know the Gospel well enough bewray

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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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