Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

The Dump Truck of Self-Merit

From the Ordinary Pastor blog site;

There is little doubt that we have all experienced the following circumstance and reaction. Someone comes to let you know about something that you have said or done that is wrong. Whether it was ignorant or blatant, the bottom line is the consequence. The other individual is offended, hurt, or aware of something that you did that needs to be addressed.

Sadly, it our reaction that really gets us in hot water. It is our sinful reaction that shows our betrayal of the gospel just as much as the first sin itself.

These sinful reactions show themselves in a variety of ways. One of the chief methods of my own sinful heart is to back up the dump-truck of personal merit.

dump-truck

Here’s an example:

Wife: “I don’t feel like we have been spending enough quality time together recently. I feel like you are distant and distracted.”

Husband: “What do you mean? I’ve been spending a lot of time with you. I don’t see how you can say that.”

Wife: “Well, it’s how I feel. It seems like we are not connecting.”

Husband: (now becoming irratated) “I don’t know how you could say that. What did we do on Monday? I didn’t watch the game but I drove the kids to their appointment. Tuesday night? I was here the whole time. How about Wednesday? We went out to eat and then to church. Now it’s Thursday and you have already given me a list of things to do. I don’t think you are being reasonable.”

The husband has done the classic move. His wife’s observations and feelings are dismissed with a quick disagreement. Then when she persists, he calls for the merit.

Do you see this? Before even beginning to understand what his wife is talking about he starts whistling for the dump-truck of personal merit to be backed up and dumped into the middle of the conversation.

It is as if he is saying, “Ok, you have an issue with me? Well, let me remind you who and what you are dealing with. Before I can get to me and any potential issues, I have something for you.”

He then begins to dump the merit in between them. “Hear my excuses. Look at what I’ve done. Do you realize how I’ve sacrificed? I should be coming to you with the issues!”

Before the husband will even attempt to latch on the issues and the feelings behind the issues (ie understand his wife) he is forcing her to rifle through the garbage pile of his own merit. You can just hear him saying, “There, deal with this if you can. This is me. The impeccable husband. Take a look at the evidence. Perhaps you have forgotten who you are dealing with here.”Continue reading…

Understanding the Doctrine of Sin

We stand at a place in our learning of doctrine that is very, very critical. In my research and study it has been amazing to find how in the "church" today the doctrine of sin is either left out or misrepresented so people won’t feel bad.

Here is part of a transcript of an interview between Larry King and Joel Osteen in June 2005. There were a number of subjects discussed but in this context King asked Osteen about his preaching on same sex marriages and abortion.

OSTEEN: I have thoughts. I just, you know, I don't think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don't think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I'm not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.

KING:
You don't call them sinners?

OSTEEN:
I don't.

KING:
Is that a word you don't use?

OSTEEN:
I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don't go down the road of condemning.

If you would like to read the entire transcript then CLICK ON THIS LINK.Continue reading…

Explosions from preaching

One of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barn-house, used to say that when he preached to an audience, he used to think of them as barrels sitting on the pews. Most of them were empty. But some of them had gunpowder inside, and his job was to produce explosions. He did it by striking the matches of the Word and throwing them into the barrels. When he hit one that had gunpowder, there would be an explosion. God put the gunpowder there. Then, as the Word was preached, there was a spiritual ignition or rebirth. This is one of the reasons we should value preaching so highly. – James Montgomery Boice, Feed my Sheep

Speaking the truth in love

We need as a people of God, to get back to the word of God in our reading time, study time and devotion time. But as we do this it becomes critical that we have good and solid Biblical categories that under gird what we read and study. When these categories become deeply engrained you will see and grasp Biblical truth maybe like never before.

For example many in church think of "the gospel" primarily as what needs to be preached to those outside the church. And the Bible does teach us that the gospel is the only way that a person outside the church or a non-believer can ever be made right with God. However, what remains fascinating to me is how important, and the emphasis that the apostle Paul puts on preaching the gospel to those within the church. Since we are going to stay with the gospel for the next two months I want to continue in helping us to grasp this critical Biblical category.

Let's go to Paul's pray for the Colossians in Chapter 1:9-14. I want to show you in "the gospel principle" in this prayer.

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”Continue reading…

Review of March 27

This morning was Part 1 on the Doctrine of Sin as it relates to our series on the gospel. Thanks again to Ann Tarwater for her excellent work in this area for the church.

Even though we didn’t make it through all the material, the goal was to answer the following five questions:
  • What is Sin? (Definition and Biblical Support)
  • What do we need to understand about Sin?
  • What is the Fall? (also called Original Sin)
  • What is the Scriptural support for consequences of Sin?
  • How does this apply to our lives?
The Doctrine of Sin

Christian amnesia

One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification. - Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me

When culture invades the "church"

This is an actual church that is located in Sanford, NC. Here is the 5 week sermon series going on right now! Do you really think this is cool and hip and helps us to identify with the culture? I want those in our class to understand there are many today who sit in “church” and never hear the gospel of Christ because it is NOT popular and trendy. Remember the gospel is radical and counter intuitive and very divisive. It divides truth from error, wheat from tares, sheep from goats and believers from non-believers.

Just click on the LINK below if you want more information on this series.

mancentered

My story regarding "Papa" Russ

Rob Bell's Kitty Cat

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Are you comfortable with your sin?

The first great secret of holiness lies in the degree and the decisiveness of our repentance. If besetting sins persistently plague us, it is either because we have never truly repented, or because having repented, we have not maintained our repentance. It is as if, having nailed our old nature to the cross, we keep wistfully returning to the scene of its execution. We begin to fondle it, to caress it, to long for its release, even to try and take it down again from the cross. We need to learn to leave it there. When some jealous, or proud, or malicious, or impure thought invades our mind we must kick it out at once. It is fatal to begin to examine it and consider whether we are going to give in to it or not. We have declared war on it; we are not going to resume negotiations … We have crucified the flesh; we are never going to [with]draw the nails.” - John Stott

Dependence on Christ

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This morning we woke up to one of our dogs bringing us a baby squirrel. As I took the pictures and then looked over them I was reminded about the word FAITH.
The picture you see of this baby squirrel is a word picture of how we are to rest in Christ. We can’t feed ourselves, help ourselves or even spiritually look after ourselves. The only thing we can do is fall into the arms or in this case hands of the one who is able to rescue us. There is no way to tell this baby squirrel to go get some food, then climb a tree and protect yourself. In just the same way we can’t do anything to merit our own salvation by anything we do. So let’s take a lesson from the picture of this baby squirrel and learn to rest fully in Christ for our salvation now and forever!
Matthew 11:29–30 ““Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.””

Biblical Theology

At Retreat 2010 we took time to study what is known as Biblical Theology. It is Biblical theology which helps us to understand that the plan of the Bible is God’s unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind. We can see this plan unfold from Genesis all the way to Revelation. Therefore I thought I would post a short article from the Resurgence Blog Site about Biblical Theology.

Biblical Theology

However, you’ll notice that the Bible isn’t written with a topical, or thematic arrangement. This observation has led theologians over the past couple of centuries to look for how the Bible itself presents theology – One of these approaches has been termed “Biblical Theology.”

Now, we have to be careful here, because the term “biblical theology” can be understood in broad and narrow senses. In a general, broad sense, “biblical theology” is “theology that is true to the content of the Bible.” In other words, it is any theology that accurately reflects the teaching of Scripture, including systematic theology. Certainly, for evangelicals making sure that all theology is biblical in this sense is very important.

Biblical theology is theological reflection drawn from the historical analysis of acts of God reported in Scripture.

But beyond questions of content, in a technical, narrow sense, “biblical theology” is theology that conforms to the priorities of Scripture. In this outlook, biblical theology adheres not just to what the Bible teaches, but also to how the Bible arranges, or organizes its theology. It’s in this technical, narrow sense that biblical theology became a formal discipline in the 20th century. Continue reading…

Preach the Gospel

Scripture is of no use to us if we read it merely as a handbook for daily living without recognizing that its principle purpose is to reveal Jesus Christ and his gospel for the salvation of sinners. All Scripture coalesces in Christ, anticipated in the OT and appearing in the flesh in the NT.

In Scripture, God issues commands and threatens judgment for transgressors as well as direction for the lives of his people. Yet the greatest treasure buried in the Scriptures is the good news of the promised Messiah. Everything in the Bible that tells us what to do is “law”, and everything in the Bible that tells us what God has done in Christ to save us is “gospel.”

Much like medieval piety, the emphasis in much Christian teaching today is on what we are to do without adequate grounding in the good news of what God has done for us in Christ. “What would Jesus do?” becomes more important than “What has Jesus done?” The gospel, however, is not just something we needed at conversion so we can spend the rest of our Christian life obsessed with performance; it is something we need every day–the only source of our sanctification as well as our justification. The law guides, but only the gospel gives. We are declared righteous–justified–not by anything that happens within us or done by us, but solely by God’s act of crediting us with Christ’s perfect righteousness through faith alone. - Michael Horton

The fellowship of the unashamed

This is what the power of the gospel in and through a life produces. The poem below should give you a good idea what happens when you aren’t trying to become what you are not but rather are taking hold of what you have already become in Christ.

I am a part of the fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit
Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has
been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow
down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,
and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight
walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,
mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or
popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised,
regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by
patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my
way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted,
or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the
presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the
pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of
mediocrity.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed
up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a
disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop,
preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My
colors will be clear for "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the
power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.." (Romans 1:16)

By Dr. Bob Moorehead

The gospel for everyday life

In our SS class and the church overall we are going through an 8 week emphasis regarding “THE GOSPEL.” My plan is to continue this through the second week in June so that we can saturate, immerse and soak continuously in this wonderful truth. There are lots of good evangelical preachers over the past several years that are starting to ramp up their gospel center preaching. When I come across an article or website that I sense will say the same thing in a way you can understand it then I try to put it on our website. The following is an article from Tullian Tchividjian that helps to connects the dots of the gospel to how you live everyday life. I hope you find it helpful!

I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I’ve come to realize that ” the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth.” In other words, once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. All good theology, in fact, is an exposition of the gospel.

In his letter to the Christians of Colossae, the apostle Paul portrays the gospel as the instrument of all continued growth and spiritual progress, even after a believer’s conversion.

“All over the world,” he writes, “this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Col. 1:6). He means that the gospel is not only growing wider in the world but it’s also growing deeper in Christians.

After meditating on Paul’s words, a friend told me that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means I can’t really move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the gospel’s content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel. God intends his Good News in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live.

Martin Luther often employed the phrase simul justus et peccator—”simultaneously justified and sinful.” He understood that while he’d already been saved from sin’s penalty, he was in daily need of salvation from sin’s power. And since the gospel is the “power of God for salvation,” he knew that even for the most saintly of saints, the gospel is wholly relevant and vitally necessary. This means heralded preachers need the gospel just as much as hardened pagans.

In his book The Gospel for Real Life, Jerry Bridges picks up on this theme–that Christians need the gospel just as much as non-Christians–by explaining how the spiritual poverty in so much of our Christian experience is the result of inadequate understanding of the gospel’s depths. The answer isn’t to try harder in the Christian life but to comprehend more fully and clearly Christ’s finished work for sinners and then to live in more vital awareness of that grace day by day. The main problem in the Christian life, in other words, is not that we don’t try hard enough to be good. It’s that we haven’t accepted the deep implications of the gospel and applied its powerful reality to all parts of our life.

As I see it, there are two challenges for preachers, those of us called to announce this good news. First is to help people understand theologically that the gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life but it’s also the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day. The second challenge, which is much harder for me than the first, is to help people understand how this works functionally.

Continue reading…

A cheap form of the gospel

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much, just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don't want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don't want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture, I want ecstasy, not repentance. I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don't want to love those from different races-especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but no so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. I would like about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Of course, none of us is so crass as to put it that way. But most of us have felt the temptation to opt for a domesticated version of the gospel. In some ways, this temptation is perennial. But perhaps it is especially strong today, owing to a number of developments in the Western world. - D.A. Carson

Run from false gospels and run to "The Gospel"

The vanity of life without God

This video represents how many people live and what they live for in our “consumeristic” culture. Oh how quietly this has influence in what is preached and taught in our evangelical churches. Notice in this video Jesus never shows up. And in the church we can show up and hear little to nothing about Jesus and everything about ourselves. Don’t believe this video it is a lie. You can only find a pseudo happiness in these type of things. Real joy in life resides in knowing and loving Christ!

The gospel is God's story

What is the plot line or the story line of the Bible? It is a true story about the unfolding and progressive plan of God to redeem mankind. The story is not about how someone can have a better marriage, a more successful career, or even how to live a healthy lifestyle. But it is a story about mankind being at enmity with God so that the only reconciliation available is through Jesus Christ who died, was buried and three days later rose from the dead. The pronouncement of this event in history is called the good news. And it is good news because God has acted in the person and work of Jesus Christ to save people from their sins. The very sins that once kept them separated from God have been paid in full by the death of Christ on the cross. Also there has been a transferring of righteousness from Jesus to the account of every believer so that they now have the very righteousness of Christ. It is now that the believer can know with 100% confidence that God is for them and no longer is against them. This is really news, good news, the kind of news that makes an eternal difference in the lives of those who will receive it by faith.

Sometimes we get that turned around and end up making our story the subject of the gospel instead of Christ. Often times, since there is very little instruction for people, I hear about how someone got saved. It normally involves mostly a past tense discussion very little present tense and almost no future tense. My other problem is that the story may involve a person who recovered from an addition problem, or the mother decided not to have an abortion, or they survived cancer. Even though there is not an intentional misrepresentation of the "good news" never the less there is a distortion that can be hurtful. The unbeliever may think well if I accept this Jesus then life will get better because that is what has happened to those telling their stories. The young believer can feel despair in thinking that for some reason they are struggling because they just need to believe more. The point is that the main subject and story line in the Bible is Jesus. Therefore the main story line when we tell a story about the good news must be about Jesus. Continue reading…

Gospel Transformation

“Receiving and resting in the truths of the gospel translates into a Christian life of joy, peace, freedom, and love. So the gospel also gives us a new way to live and relate to other people. It frees us from sin’s stranglehold on our lives, liberates our conscience, and releases us from living according to the principles of this world. Since our new identity and new way to live is based solely on faith, the gospel excludes all manner of boasting and arrogance. Everything that we have has been given to us — thus it is called the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24). Moreover, this gospel has continual and daily applicability. It is not only relevant to us when we first believe, but continues to work in us and through us as we continue to believe. This continual life of faith visibly expresses itself in love (Gal 5:6).” - Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, i-ii.

The amazing story of God's grace

God saves us by His grace and transforms us more and more into the likeness of His Son by His grace. In all our trials and afflictions, He sustains and strengthens us by His grace. He calls us by grace to perform our own unique function within the body of Christ. Then again by grace, He gives to each of us the spiritual gifts necessary to fulfill our calling. As we serve Him, He makes that service acceptable to Himself by grace, and then rewards us a hundredfold by grace. - Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

The biblical gospel

The church loses its life-changing dynamism to the degree that its theology goes off to this side or that side—into either uptight legalistic moralism, or into latitudinarianism, broadness, not believing the Bible, licentiousness, relativism.

By saying the biblical gospel is in the middle, that’s not saying “moderation in all things.” Jesus wasn’t moderate in anything. He was radically gentle and radically truth loving at the same time. The gospel isn’t a kind of middle-of-the-road, lukewarm thing. But the gospel is neither legalism nor licentiousness. And to the degree we lose the biblical gospel, we’re never going to be a movement that reaches the city.
- Tim Keller

Review for March 13

SBS Class March 132011

If you would like to see the video shown at the end of class then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

If you would like to listen to the audio for today’s class then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

This Sunday remember to Spring Forward

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The gospel according to Romans

This morning I want you to look with me at four questions that come from Romans 1-4. These questions are critical for us to ask and answer properly.

Question #1 - Who made us and to whom are we accountable?
In Romans 1 the apostle Paul teaches us that God created the world and that we are owned by Him, dependent on Him and therefore accountable to Him. In very plain language we learn that God has made Himself known to every man so that no one is without excuse.

Question #2 - What is our problem?
In Romans 1:18-3:20 Paul goes on to elaborate on the fact that we are all guilty of cosmic treason. In other words every person has rebelled against this holy and righteous God and stands guilty and condemned. Paul first talks about the pagan and then he starts on his own people the Jews and says they are also guilty. And in Romans 3:9 we read “for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;”

Question #3 - What is God's solution for the problem?
"But now," Paul says, in spite of our sin, now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law. In other words, there is a way for human beings to be counted righteous before God instead of unrighteous, to be declared innocent instead of guilty, to be justified instead of condemned. And it has nothing to do with acting better or living a more righteous life. It comes apart from the law.
So how does it happen? Paul puts it plainly in romans 3:24. Despite our rebellion against God and in the face of a hopeless situation, we can be justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Through Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection because of His blood and His life sinners may be saved from the condemnation our sins deserve.Continue reading…

Look to Christ NOT to yourself

From the Gospel Coalition blog site

In an excellent article entitled “Does Justification Still Matter?“, Mike Horton raises the same concern I raise with regard to our natural tendency to focus inward more than Christ-ward. He writes:

Most people in the pew, however, 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).

Because we are so naturally prone to look at ourselves and our performance more than we do to Christ and his performance, we need constant reminders of the gospel.

As Horton says, there can be no genuine holiness of life that does not arise out of a perpetual confidence that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The only way to deal with remaining sin long term is to develop a distaste for it in light of the glorious acceptance, security and forgiveness we already posses in Christ. I need to be reminded of this all the time, every day. Because the fact is that guilt doesn’t produce holiness; grace does.

As I said at the conclusion of my original post, the bottom line is this, Christian: because of Christ’s work on your behalf, God does not dwell on your sin the way you do. So, relax and rejoice…and you’ll actually start to get better. The irony, of course, is that it’s only when we stop obsessing over our own need to be holy and focus instead on the beauty of Christ’s holiness, that we actually become more holy!

When our best isn't good enough

“The bad news is far worse than making mistakes or failing to live up to the legalistic standards of fundamentalism. It is that the best efforts of the best Christians, on the best days, in the best frame of heart and mind, with the best motives fall short of that true righteousness and holiness that God requires.

Our best efforts cannot satisfy God’s justice. Yet the good news is that God has satisfied his own justice and reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. God’s holy law can no longer condemn us because we are in Christ.”

— Michael Horton
Christless Christianity
(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2008), 91

Grace falls - joy rises - love overflows

If you are going through the Bible Reading Plan for the year then today we come to 2 Corinthians 8. The apostle Paul is writing to Corinth regarding the Macedonians.

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Paul has already done in Macedonia what he is now doing in Corinth. He is taking up a collection for the relief of the saints, which we see in 2 Corinthians 8:4. This probably has to do with relief for the church in Jerusalem that was having some kind of crisis, and the other churches were helping them out. And Paul, while in Macedonia has something happen that just blows his mind. So in Chapter 8 we see that Paul is going to use the Macedonians and what happened as an example to the church in Corinth.

I am going to describe this in language that we have studied and I think to be consistent with the text in this chapter. We are being able to witness in these verses what happens when the seed of the gospel is planted in hearts that are fertile. Because we know that wherever Paul goes his message is the gospel. So now we are seeing what happens to a people when the gospel lands on them in the power of the Spirit.

The first thing we can observe is that what happened in Macedonia is due to the fact that GRACE came down.Continue reading…

The Law and Gospel

  • This is from Tullian Tchividjian’s blog site
This is probably the best shortest explanation of the all important distinction between God’s law and God’s gospel that I’ve read. It’s from Mike Horton’s new book The Christian Faith:

In the Reformed tradition, the law-gospel distinction was interpreted within the historical context of distinct covenants in history. The covenant of creation (also called the covenant of works or law) was based on the personal performance of all righteousness by the covenant servant. The covenant of grace is based on the fulfillment of all righteousness by our representative head and is dispensed to the covenant people through faith in him. There is still law in the covenant of grace. However, it is no longer able to condemn believers but directs them in lives of gratitude for God’s mercy in Christ.

As I’ve said here before, the commands in the Bible are like a set of railroad tracks. The tracks provide no power for the train but the train must stay on the tracks in order to function. The law, in other words, never gives any power to do what it commands. It shows us what a sanctified life looks like but it has no sanctifying power. Only the gospel has power, as it were, to move the train. This is why the Bible never tells us what to do before first soaking our hearts and minds in what God in Christ has already done.

Learning to REST n GRACE

The gospel is about GRACE, so if you miss grace you miss the gospel.

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I want us to learn how to stand under the waterfall of grace during these next two months. At this point in our look at the gospel we are not going to talk about what we need to do but instead what has already been done.

MAY I HAVE YOU ATTENTION PLEASE!!!

If you are a first born or have a "Triple A" personality type or you think that doing is equal to being please listen up.

The apostle Paul, who outside of Christ, is who many believe to be our best New Testament theologian. I want you to notice NOT just what he writes but HOW he writes.

This is important because when you read the letters of the apostle Paul none of them start with what you need to do. He always begins with what God has already done. Because he knew to turn that around would be to miss the gospel. Paul marinates the imperatives of what we are to do, in the indicatives of what God has already done.

Two examples in order for us to see this clearly.

The letter to the Colossians is 4 chapters long;
In the first two chapters Paul talks in remarkable ways all that God has done for us in Christ. He talks about Jesus and His death and resurrection for sinners.
And then when he gets into Chapter 3 we have therefore in light of everything that I have already told you, now live this way.

The letter to the Ephesians is 6 chapters long;
The first three chapters teaches all that we have in Christ and all that has been accomplished by Christ.
Then starting in chapter 4 we have a therefore in order to encourage us to live this way.Continue reading…

The gospel is necessary for Christians

There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be trust as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. - B. B. Warfield (1851 – 1921)

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Gospel saturation for Christlike transformation

We are getting ready to launch into a saturation of gospel teaching like never before in our class. As I said yesterday "we will never have a gospel reformation outside the church until we first have a gospel reformation inside the church." Many people inside the church assume that the gospel is only for people outside the church. They think that the gospel is for non-Christians only. This means that when God saves us, we move beyond it to deeper spiritual growth and development. But the key for us to realize is this, when God saves us He doesn’t move us beyond the gospel but rather He moves us further into the gospel. The gospel is NOT only the fire that ignites the Christian life but it is the fire that keeps the Christian life growing and going. Because Christian people continue to sin and the gospel is the only antidote for sin then the gospel is something that we need on a daily basis.

The apostle Paul in Romans teaches us that the "POWER OF GOD" is located in the gospel. He goes on to say that this power of God relates specifically to our "SALVATION." This salvation is NOT only that which justifies and glorifies us but right now is sanctifying us into the likeness of Christ. So what is the key that brings about this salvation which is done by the power of God? The key is "THE GOSPEL."

Here is a quote from Transforming Grace which I am presently reading by Jerry Bridges;

My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever ‘well’ is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works, rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the ‘sweat’ of our own performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to ‘try harder’. We seem to believe success in the Christian life is basically up to us; our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily.

I want to appeal to each of you in this email to prepare your hearts for these next two months. Ask God to give you a measure of faith to hear, embrace and live out the gospel so that Christ might be demonstrated as great. Please brothers and sisters do not treat this as ordinary or common or as something you think you have heard before! Plead, cry out and appeal to our great God for eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to understand the incredible treasures waiting to be mined from the gospel.

Are you motivated by duty or delight?

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Review for March 6

SBS Class March 62011

To hear the audio “What is the Gospel” then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

If you would like to listen to audio from today’s class then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Sunrise at Isle of Palms

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Acting a miracle

When it comes to killing my sin I don’t wait for the miracle, I Act the Miracle.

Acting a miracle is different from working a miracle. If Jesus tells a paralyzed man to get up, and he gets up, Jesus works a miracle. But if I am the paralyzed man and Jesus tells me to get up, and I obey and get up, I act the miracle. If I am dead Lazarus and Jesus commands me to get up, and I obey, Jesus works the miracle, I act the miracle.

So when it comes to killing my sin, I don’t wait passively for the miracle of sin-killing to be worked on me, I act the miracle.

- John PiperContinue reading…

How we get the Christian life WRONG

This is an excellent post by Tim Chester that relates to living out the gospel.

There are two ways we get life wrong:

1. We want to be our own Lord instead of Jesus

I often replace Jesus as Lord with me as lord, running life my way. I want to be in charge. This often leads to behaviour that by moral standards is bad, e.g. sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. We do not think Jesus is enough, disbelieving that living under His rule is the “good life.” So we replace Jesus with others things.

But there is another way we get life wrong:

2. We want to be our own Saviour instead of Jesus

I often replace Jesus as Saviour with me as saviour: attempting to save myself by doing good things, saving other people by straightening out their lives, or saving the world through good causes.

Continue reading…

A Great Weekend

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Books on the Gospel

Since we are heading into a 2 month study of the gospel, here are some books for further reading.

1. Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges

2. The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

3. The Gospel-Driven Life by Michael Horton

4. In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson

5. Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown

6. When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough by Steve Brown

7. Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick

8. Christ Formed In You by Brian Hedges

9. Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

10. The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

11. The Reign of Grace by Scotty Smith

12. Holiness by Grace by Bryan Chapell

13. From Fear to Freedom by Rose Marie Miller

14. Counsel From the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson

15. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall

16. Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur

17. God is the Gospel by John Piper

18. Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney

19. The gospel and personal evangelism by Mark Dever

A Puritan Prayer

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

- Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.

Don't miss this train

The gospel train will be leaving the station this Sunday Morning at 9:30 AM.
We are going to take an eight week tour that will take us from the Creation to the Fall to the Redemption and finally to the Restoration.

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