Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Christ crucified

This excerpt is taken from Christ and Him Crucified, ch.V, pg.45.

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The cross itself, as God’s justifying work in salvation, and the preaching of the cross of Christ as the primary means by which He conveys its truth, removes every religious work of man from the realm of significance. Our religious works are not only useless in assisting God’s redemptive work in Christ upon the cross, but is also useless in assisting God’s means for conveying that truth.

Our flesh wants so very much to help God out and to help His message out with our religious observance: by our sacrifices and our good deeds.

However noble our intent, and however sincere our motivations, it does not help at all, but hinders; and only shows us to be unfaithful to the heavenly declarations of grace in God’s Word.

Mr. Toplady expresses this so beautifully in his hymn,

No price in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling
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Law and Gospel

Highlighted Summary of Law and Gospel has been prepared by Matthew R. Richard

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Both are equally necessary because both have for their final aim... mankind’s salvation.

Law ever since the fall cannot lead us to salvation; it can only prepare us for the Gospel. Furthermore, it is
through the Gospel that we obtain the ability to fulfill the Law to a certain extent.

The Law has nothing to say about forgiveness, about grace. It issues only commands and demands. The
Gospel, on the other hand, only makes offers. It contains nothing but grace and truth!

Wherever in Scripture you come across a threat, you may be assured that that passage belongs in the Law.

The Law is to be preached to people who are secure in their sins. The Gospel is to be preached to those who are alarmed of their sins.

When the law convicts a person, immediately present the Gospel. Read More...

A Christmas Tradition

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It seems that each year part of our Christmas tradition is watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” You know the story, George Bailey because of life troubles wishes that he had never been born. The plot of the movie involves showing him what his life would have been like, had he never been born. I saw a blog article this week written by Jen Smidt about Mary Bailey, (Donna Reid) who plays George’s wife in the movie. Hope you enjoy!

I am reminded again at what an inspiration Mary Bailey is to me. She is such a beautiful woman inside and out, a wonderful combination of grace and strength.

Qualities Worth Imitating

Here is a quick list of the qualities I see in Mary that remind me of the godly qualities we can have as wives:

  • She has a genuine, beautiful smile and she is not afraid to flash it at George, at her children, at the people of Bedford Falls, in joyous times and in struggle. Her countenance is cheerful and pleasant. She is truly lovely because her smile radiates from within.

  • She is so dang creative and resourceful! She is a dreamer and makes beauty out of the ordinary. From the sweet sketch of George lassoing the moon to the home she creates out of the old dumpy mansion, Mary shows us what creative ideas and good old-fashioned elbow grease can accomplish.

  • She makes the best of hard situations. When faced with the thought of losing George, when the Building and Loan is going to close, when her honeymoon is cancelled, Mary finds a way to be a good helper to George at great personal cost.
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The theological "danger zone"

Here is an excellent article by Michael Patton. I don’t agree with Michael on all aspects of theology but he is right on in my opinion with this article. (Great graph!)

I have come to have a love-hate relationship with theology. I love it because it can deepen one’s faith, helping people to rejoice more because they understand and know God better (Jer. 9:24). There is nothing more exciting than the look on peoples’ faces when they are being theologically transformed. It is the “wow, this is really true” look. I live for that both in myself and in others.

However, there is a dark side to theology. I see it everyday. I pray that this does not infect my students, but inevitably, there are always one or two who take their theological knowledge and create a recipe of sin and shame. These are people I call “theologically dangerous.
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WARNING: This may step on your toes



I have followed the preaching and teaching of Paul Washer for a number of years. He was a former missionary to Peru and now lives in the United States. Some have called him a “young Spurgeon” because of his style and delivery. There is a non-nonsense approach that Paul takes when he shares the truth of the gospel.

We live in a very dangerous culture. I think we need more Paul Washer types that can wake us up from our casual, glum, and luke warm approach to gospel living. So if you are looking for a comfortable message, that can motivate you to be the best you that you can be, then you are in the wrong place. However if you want a present day reality check that just might change your life - WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Are you Scrooge this Christmas?

From Ronnie Martin at the Gospel Coalition Blog Site

We have short memories of poor, wretched Ebenezer Scrooge. Here was a fallen man in desperate need of redemption, with absolutely no desire to turn from his egregious ways. Then three spirits visited him, and all changed overnight. But the Scrooge we remember is not the forgiven one. It is not the redeemed curmudgeon whose joy on Christmas morning led him to leap through the air like a drunken man, exclaiming "Glorious, glorious!" We like to keep Scrooge locked in our hearts as the greedy, depraved, unregenerate sinner of his pre-visitation, using him as a cautionary tale about the damning effects of pursuing money and gain.

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The principle of Hermeneutics

HERMENEUTICS - a plan or a system of Bible study in order to determine what the author meant by what he wrote.

This is unlike many in the Christian culture today who have taken an approach that the Bible can be interpreted as to what it means to the reader. The problem with this kind of Bible interpretation is that if you have 5 people in a Bible study, then a certain passage could have 5 different meanings. We understand that in the orthodox scholarship of Bible study each verse only contains one and only one meaning, it may have many applications but it has only one meaning. And to get to the meaning of Scripture, we must have a system of study that incorporates us understanding what the author meant when he wrote that text. I am submitting the following hermeneutical grid for your observation and study.

• AUTHOR'S HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
• AUTHOR'S THEME
• AUTHOR'S PLAN
• CONTEXT
• WORDS
• GRAMMAR
• UNITY OF THE SCRIPTURES (Bible Survey)



Romans Chapter 1

Here are six observations from Romans Chapter 1:1-7

The preparation of the gospel
The Old Testament points us to Christ


The center of the gospel

Jesus Christ in the focus


The goal of the gospel
To bring about the obedience of faith


The scope of the gospel
For the world


The effect of the gospel
It continues to last because Jesus is everlasting


The motivation of the gospel
For His name sakeblogEntryTopper



Is your theology based on the Bible?

Pastor response to napping congregation

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Understanding imputation

In today’s popular Christian culture we have become very good at dumbing down Biblical truth. I am on a crusade to help those in the body of Christ recapture and learn Biblical words like justification, sanctification and propitiation, just to name a few. Here is a short video that features R.C. Sproul discussing the principle of imputation. Do we know what this means? Do we understand why it is so important for us? Let me encourage you to watch as Dr. Sproul provides for us a valuable look at this word and what it means to our salvation.

What is your theology?

drawing

The picture above is from a Sidney Lutheran Brethren Parishioner.  Apparently, she drew this diagram for some friends while they were having a theological conversation during lunch at a restaurant and then posted it to my Facebook account.  It demonstrates the differences between: Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Synergism and Monergism. (As a side note from Bert the correct answer is Monergism).

This from the blog site of PM Notes

Do we understand the doctrine of justification?

In an article entitled “Does Justification Still Matter?“, Mike Horton writes;

Most people in the pew are simply not acquainted with the doctrine of justification. Often, it is not a part of the diet of preaching and church life, much less a dominant theme in the Christian subculture. With either stern rigor or happy tips for better living, “fundamentalists” and “progressives” alike smother the gospel in moralism, through constant exhortations to personal transformation that keep the sheep looking to themselves rather than looking outside of themselves to Christ…

The average feature article in [Christian magazines] or Christian best-seller’s is concerned with “good works”-trends in spirituality, social activism, church growth, and discipleship. However, it’s pretty clear that justification is simply not on the radar.

Even where it is not outright rejected, it is often ignored. Perhaps the forgiveness of sins and justification are appropriate for “getting saved,” but then comes the real business of Christian living-as if there could be any genuine holiness of life that did not arise out of a perpetual confidence that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

It's that time of year again



Christ increasing and me decreasing

From the Gospel Coalition Website

The way many of us think about sanctification is, well…not very sanctified. In fact, it’s terribly narcissistic. We spend too much time thinking about how we’re doing, if we’re growing, whether we’re doing it right or not. We spend too much time pondering our spiritual failures and brooding over our spiritual successes. Somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe that the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian.

I’ve said this before but let me say it again: there is nothing in the gospel or about the gospel that encourages me to focus on me. Nothing! It’s never honoring to God when we take our eyes off of Christ “the author and finisher of our faith” and center our eyes on ourselves. Never! In fact, the whole point of the gospel is to get us out of ourselves and to “fix our eyes on Christ” (Hebrews 12:2). The truest measure of Christian growth, therefore, is when we stop spiritually rationalizing the reasons why we’re taking our eyes off of Jesus to focus on ourselves.

The biggest difference between the practical effect of sin and the practical effect of the gospel is that sin turns us inward and the gospel turns us outward. Martin Luther picked up on this problem in the Reformation, arguing that sin actually bends or curves us in on ourselves (homo incurvatus in se). Any version of “the gospel”, therefore, that encourages you to think about yourself is detrimental to your faith-whether it’s your failures or your successes; your good works or your bad works; your strengths or your weaknesses; your obedience or your disobedience.

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Bible Survey



Bible Overview1

Law and Gospel

This is from Tullian Tchividjian’s new book Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

The following are good distinctives to keep in mind when understanding law and gospel.
  • The law shows us what godliness is, but it cannot make us godly like the gospel can.
  • The law shows us what a sanctified life looks like, but it does not have sanctifying power as the gospel does. So, apart from the gospel, the law crushes.
  • The law shows us what to do. The Gospel announces what God has done.
  • The law directs us, but only the gospel can drive us.