Four Implications of Martin Luther’s Theology

Sinclair Ferguson: What do the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace, justification by faith, and new life in union with Christ mean for the living of the Christian life? For Martin Luther, they carry four implications: The first implication is the knowledge that the Christian believer is simul iustus et peccator, at one and the same time justified and yet a sinner. This principle, to which Luther may have been stimulated by John Tauler’s Theologia Germanica, was a hugely stabilizing principle: in and of myself, all I see is a sinner; but when I see myself in Christ, I see a man counted righteous with His perfect righteousness. Such a man is therefore able to stand before God as righteous as Jesus Christ—because he is righteous only in the righteousness that is Christ’s. Here we stand secure. The second implication is the discovery that God has become our Father in Christ. We are accepted. One of the most beautiful accounts found in Luther’s Table Talk was,

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3 Doctrines That Sustain Us in Suffering

  Ligon Duncan: Undergird Your Hope While we may not understand what God is doing, we can always trust who he is. We must never interpret God’s character by our circumstances. We must instead interpret our circumstances by God’s character. In Psalm 89, we can find three doctrines that undergird the psalmist’s hope in God and that sustain him in the midst of his suffering. 1. The Doctrine of Election First, we find the psalmist taking comfort from the doctrine of election. The doctrine of election is not an esoteric theological point for seminarians to fight about. Election in Scripture is meant to generate both hope for the people of God and worshiping hearts in the people of God. Notice how the psalmist celebrates God on account of his electing grace: I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. . . . You have said, “I have made a covenant

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Grace Is Not a Thing

Jeremy Treat: The great American theologian Al Pacino once said, “I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.” Pacino’s statement taps into a tension that we all sense intuitively but maybe have not expressed explicitly. If God is forgiving, then why strive for a holy life? If the penalty has been paid, then why must progress be made? I believe the tension felt here ultimately comes from a confused view of grace. What Is Grace? I used to think of grace as a spiritual substance that God stores in piles behind his heavenly throne and dispenses to his people below. In other words, grace is stuff that God gives apart from himself. How wrong I was! Grace is not a thing. Grace is not stuff that God gives us apart from himself. He doesn’t run out of it. God gives us himself when we don’t deserve it; that is

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That blessed doctrine

“The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God—the grace of God which depends not one whit upon anything that is in man, but is absolutely undeserved, resistless and sovereign.  The theologians of the Church can be placed in an ascending scale according as they have grasped that one great central doctrine, that doctrine that gives consistency to all the rest; and Christian experience also depends for its depth and for its power upon the way in which that blessed doctrine is cherished in the depths of the heart.  The center of the Bible, and the center of Christianity, is found in the grace of God; and the necessary corollary of the grace of God is salvation through faith alone.” J. Gresham Machen, quoted in Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir (Grand Rapids, 1955), page 396. (HT: Ray Ortlund)