Tuesday, January 31, 2006
If you mean by supplement: something that completes or makes an addition. I think the Beatitudes is what answers this question. I mentioned only part of it in the sermon I did about the 3 Gs.
I'll post the beatitudes again and add some commentaries to those verses.
You have some very good questions, and that in and of itself is a great relief to find somebody asking tough questions.
I don't think our acceptance is a proof of our election. But, loving one another, desiring to do God's will, and enduring the trials of persecution and the battles against sin. Also, the parable of the soils tell us that when we make it through those battles or trials and remain in the faith, this is an evidence of our election and we will continue to praise God. (Job did).
I SEE THE QUESTION I ASKED SUNDAY WAS TAKEN TO HEART. THANKS FOR THE SCRIPTURE REFERENCE. HOW ABOUT BEFORE OUR FAITH IS SUPPLEMENTED. JUST OUR FAITH ALONE? IF WE HAVE A CHOICE IS IT TO ACCEPT CHRIST'S SOMPLETED WORK ON THE CROSS FOR US? DOES THIS, IN OUR ACCEPTANCE, PROVE OUR ELECTION OR FULLFILL OUR GOD GIVEN DESTINY?
Monday, January 30, 2006
2 Peter 1
Greeting1Simeon[a] Peter, a servant[b] and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Make Your Calling and Election Sure3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[c] his own glory and excellence,[d] 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10Therefore, brothers,[g] be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. <>
12Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13I think it right, as long as I am in this body,[h] to stir you up by way of reminder, 14since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
The Beatitudes2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Salt and Light13
Thursday, January 26, 2006
In Believing God, popular Bible teacher and author Beth Moore explains her personal journey toward obedience in the area of faith. Not content with the unbelief and defeatism of Christians around her, she decides to buck the trend and find a Christianity that works. Her premise in the book is that the “primary reason God left us on earth after our salvation was for our Christianity to ‘succeed’ right here on this turf.” The turf she’s referring to is an earthly Promised Land where God’s “personalized promises over your life become a living reality rather than a theological theory.” The ticket to the Promised Land is pleasing God by exercising faith and having faith credited to you as righteousness. According to Moore, all Christians could experience their own Promised Land during their lifetime if only they would make faith an “action verb” and kick it up a notch. With Christianity like that, no one can say that it doesn’t work.
Moore offers her readers the ticket to the Promised Land that will turn passive faith into “action verb” faith. It is five-point pledge of faith that is memorized and spoken out loud daily: God is who he says he is; God can do what he says he can do; I am who God says I am; I can do all things through Christ; God’s Word is alive and active in me. The pledge is designed to overcome doubts about God’s power and goodness, to bolster faith in miracles, to claim one’s adoption into God’s family through Christ, and to open the Christian to receiving personalized messages from God both through the Bible and through daily interventions.In the ensuing chapters, she discusses the five points, drawing out a few strands of theological truth in relationship to each one. In addition, she takes on topics such as emotional wounds, satanic strongholds, psychological problems, feelings of failure, and generational sin to show how the five-point pledge of faith can tackle each one. Her personal stories are in every chapter, demonstrating her determination and efforts to combat the spiritual malaise that she says characterizes the church. She energetically admonishes defeated Christians to lay claim to faith like Joshua’s and prove for themselves that God is who he says he is (and the other four points of her system). In fact, Moore’s teaching ministry is called “Living Proof Ministries.” She holds herself out as a woman who was once beset by failure and who is now living proof that “action-verb” faith brings victory and success to the Christian’s life.
Moore has written other books, including character study books on Jesus, King David, and the disciple John. Her Bible study book, Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life, continues to be a best seller. The fill-in-the-blank format allows readers to examine the ways they are captive to sin and the enemy’s lies. Then Moore takes them through a study of Bible verses and passages where she explains how Christ can set them free. She teaches that Christians can be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1). The way out of slavery is for Christians to grasp their God-given purpose, which is expressed in another five points: to know and believe God, to glorify him, to find satisfaction in him, to experience his peace, and to enjoy his presence.
Moore is a pragmatist. When she reads the Bible she expects it to speak to her about her life in practical ways. She uses the people and stories in the Bible as allegories of the Christian life to explain how Christians can be defeated or victorious. Their destiny depends on how they respond to God. The equation is simple, according to Moore; the more faith they exercise, the better their reward in this life. Her books, Bible studies, videos, and speaking ministry follow a similar pattern of self-disclosure, plucky faith that is determined to overcome, and confirmation from the Bible that Christians can and do experience victory over sin, deliverance from bondage, and successful Christianity.
In addition to Bible study, she encourages readers to join her in recording what she calls God’s daily interventions. In Believing God they are given a name: “Godstops,” an acronym for “Savoring the Observable Presence.” She teaches that God reveals himself and his purposes in many ways, including signs, miracles, emotions, and mystical experiences. According to Moore, Christians who aren’t attuned to this exhilarating experience of God are missing a normal and powerful way that God relates to his people and blesses them with his presence. Although she wants to be theological and Christ-centered, too much of Moore’s material is about her take on her experience with God. Her writing tends to be undisciplined and shallow. She is far too willing to gloss over uncomfortable theological implications in favor of feel-good stories and quick explanations. Knowing God comes through experience; most sin is the result of failing to believe and be delivered; repentance is rarely mentioned. Her bent toward mysticism permits her to circumvent traditional theological interpretations and indulge in explanations of her own design that are more reasonable and satisfying to her sensibilities.
Basically she says, don’t let theology and doctrine confuse you when you can figure it out with God for yourself in a way that works for you. Unfortunately, people who use her materials can’t help but absorb some of that reasoning. Even more troubling is that they think they’re doing Bible study when they are really getting a heavy dose of mysticism, storytelling, psychology, and prosperity gospel. In the introduction to Believing God, Moore shows her true, but mistaken, agenda when she says, “I know I’m going to make it to heaven because I’ve trusted Christ as my Savior, but I want to make it to my Canaan on the way. I want to finish my race in the Promised Land, not in the wilderness. You too? Then we have to cash in our fear and complacency and spend all we have on the only ticket out: BELIEF.”
There are many worthy goals of Bible study, but securing heaven on earth is not one of them, at least for Reformed Christians. And the surest way to get off track is to add human effort to what God has already done in the cross of Christ, even when it’s called believing God or faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation. Everything else is of grace in the Christian experience, too, thanks be to God.
Susan DisstonChristian Education Consultant,Presbyterian Church in America
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006
"I pray that . . . you may know what is the hope of [God's] calling" (Eph. 1:18).
In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul proclaims the blessings of our salvation. In verse 18 he prays that we will comprehend those great truths, which he summarizes in the phrase "the hope of His calling." "Calling" here refers to God's effectual calling--the calling that redeems the soul. Scripture speaks of two kinds of calling: the gospel or general call and the effectual or specific call. The gospel call is given by men and is a universal call to repent and trust Christ for salvation (e.g., Matt. 28:19; Acts 17:30-31). It goes out to all sinners but not all who hear it respond in faith.
The effectual call is given by God only to the elect. By it He speaks to the soul, grants saving faith, and ushers elect sinners into salvation (John 6:37-44, 65; Acts 2:39). All who receive it respond in faith.
The hope that your effectual calling instills is grounded in God's promises and Christ's accomplishments (1 Pet. 1:3), and is characterized by confidently expecting yet patiently waiting for those promises to be fulfilled. It is your hope of final glorification and of sharing God's glory when Christ returns (Col. 3:4). It is a source of strength and stability amid the trials of life (1 Pet. 3:14-15). Consequently it should fill you with joy (Rom. 5:2) and motivate you to godly living (1 John 3:3).
As you face this new day, do so with the confidence that you are one of God's elect. He called you to Himself and will hold you there no matter what circumstances you face. Nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38- 39)!
Suggestions for Prayer:
- Thank God for the security of your salvation.
- Ask Him to impress on your heart the blessings and responsibilities of your calling.
- Live today in anticipation of Christ's imminent return.
For Further Study:
Joshua's call to lead Israel was not a call to salvation,but it illustrates some important principles for spiritual leadership. You might not see yourself as a spiritual leader, but you are important to those who look to you as an example of Christian character. Read Joshua 1:1-9 then answer these questions: 1. What were the circumstances of Joshua's call (vv. 1-2)? 2. What promises did God make to him (vv. 3-6)? 3. What did God require of him (vv. 7-9)?
Monday, January 23, 2006
This classical theology (and its historic creeds and confessions) of Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, Francis Schaeffer, John Gertsner, J. I. Packer, James Montgomery Boice, R. C. Sproul, John Piper, Michael Horton and so many others is what the Church today must reaffirm under the conviction and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our joy, our satisfaction, our delight and our very lives are to be in God and for Him alone. Augustine put it this way,"He loves Thee too little, who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves not for Thy sake."
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
If trends in "contemporary worship" were carried to their logical conclusion, church services would soon feature karaoke contests. That remark prompted an outpouring of replies from people who informed me that karaoke was already being used "quite successfully" in their churches. It also sparked the following exchange with a contemporary "worship leader," whose words appear below in brown italics. My replies are in normal typeface:
What verse of scripture forbids the use of karaoke in worship?
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Grace and Peace,
Praising God for Your Election
"Having been predestined according to [God's] purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11).
In Ephesians 1:4 Paul says that God "chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." In verse 11 he reiterates that marvelous truth by affirming that believers have been predestined to salvation according to God's own purpose and will.
Many reject the teaching that God chose (predestined) believers to salvation. They think believers chose God. In one sense they're right: salvation involves an act of the will in turning from sin to embrace Christ. But the issue in predestination goes deeper than that. It's a question of initiative. Did God choose you on the basis of your faith in Him or did He, by choosing you, enable you to respond in faith.
The answer is clear in Scripture. Romans 3:11 says that no one seeks for God on his own. Unregenerate people have no capacity to understand spiritual truth. It's all foolishness to them (1 Cor. 2:14). They are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), blind (2 Cor. 4:4), and ignorant (Eph. 4:18).
How can people in that condition initiate saving faith? They can't! That's why Jesus said, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him. . . . All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:44, 37). Paul added, "God . . . has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity" (2 Tim. 1:9).
God took the initiative. He chose you and gave you saving faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Rejoice in that truth. Rest in His power to conform all things to His will. Draw strength and assurance from His promise never to let you go (John 10:27-29). Then live each day as God's elected one by shunning sin and following after holiness.
Suggestions for Prayer:
- Praise God for placing His love upon you and granting you salvation.
- Pray for the salvation of others and seek opportunities to share Christ with them today.
For Further Study:
Read Ezekiel 36:22-32
- Why will God one day redeem Israel?
- What does that passage teach you about God's initiative in salvation?
Friday, January 13, 2006
Why aren't we hearing this more in our churches? We get told we need to "try harder" or "do better". We should just say "I'm sorry I blew it this time, please forgive me". And then say "thank you Lord for your forgiving all my sins past, present, and future". This is the battle against sin, and we will always be wrestling against it. We are still sinners, and we live in a sinful world, we just no longer walk like the world walks.
Let the reality of God's grace fill your heart with joy and assurance.
Enjoying God's Forgiveness
In Christ we have "the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of [God's] grace, which He lavished upon us" (Eph. 1:7-8).
On Israel's Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the high priest selected two goats. One was sacrificed; the other set free. Before releasing the second goat, the high priest symbolically placed the sins of the people on it by laying his hands on its head. This "scapegoat" was then taken a great distance from camp and released--never to return again (Lev. 16:7-10).
The Greek word translated "forgiveness" in Ephesians 1:7 means "to send away." It speaks of cancelling a debt or granting a pardon. Like the scapegoat, Christ carried away our sins on the cross.
In Christ, God cancelled your debt and pardoned your transgressions, and He did so "according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon [you]" (v. 8). That means you have infinite forgiveness because God's grace is infinite. You cannot sin beyond God's grace because where sin abounds, grace super-abounds (Rom. 5:20).
God delights in lavishing His grace upon you. Such grace is overflowing and cannot be contained. You are forgiven for every sin--past, present, and future. You will never be condemned by God or separated from Him (Rom. 8:1-2, 31-39). Even when you fail, God doesn't hold your sins against you. Christ bore them all so that you might know the joy and peace that freedom from sin and guilt brings.
Let the reality of God's grace fill your heart with joy and assurance. Let the responsibility of glorifying Him fill you with awe and reverence. Let this day be a sacrifice of praise and service to Him.
Suggestions for Prayer:
- Thank God for His infinite grace and forgiveness.
- Look for opportunities to extend forgiveness to others.
For Further Study:
Read Matthew 18:21-35
- What characteristic marked the wicked slave?
- What was the king's response to the wicked slave's actions?
- What point was Jesus making? How does it apply to you?
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Monday, January 09, 2006
A featured article by Modern Reformation Magazine and the White Horse Inn
A Roundtable Discussion featuring J.I. Packer, James, M. Boice, Michael Horton,
William Pannell, and Former Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson
HORTON: Do you think the complaint that evangelicals in this day and age are shallow and superficial is justified?
BOICE: Yes, I would agree with that complaint. For various reasons I think we are contributing to the very thing we ought to be working against. One reason is that we are so preoccupied with numbers. We're so interested in getting people to make a profession that we often forget to take the time to explain the content of what it is they are about to profess. I notice, by contrast, that our Lord himself never did that. If anything, he seemed to be afraid of numbers. When the numbers got too high, he asked the tough questions, questions that would weed out those who were following only because it was simply the most exciting thing of the hour to do.
PACKER: I think this is right. There is such a thing as cultural Christianity, a Christianity that only goes skin deep and is taken in because it is part of the culture of your home or the group to which you belong. What you receive in this case, you receive by osmosis, rather than by any sort of thinking. When the time comes and the tough questions are asked your mind begins to wake up and you realize that all you¹ve got is the veneer of a "Christian lifestyle" without any deeply rooted convictions at all. Culture Christianity is always a problem at this point. Those who have received it think that they are Christians because of the way that they have been conditioned, when in many cases they still have been converted.
PANNELL: What we have failed to do in many of our Christian circles is to present in a stimulating way real biblical questions. Today, people tend to think that you can go to church, be a Christian, and get along best if you leave your mind in the glove compartment.
HORTON: Could it be that we have a cheap and limited view of God and his grace?
HALVERSON: I certainly think we've lost that sense of awe when we talk about God in our modern evangelical culture. I don't sense awe in many of the evangelical gatherings that I have attended. I have a feeling, for example, that if Jesus was to walk into one of our churches or conventions, that we wouldn't want to stand up and cheer and sing "For He¹s a Jolly Good Fellow." I think we should fall immediately to our knees in an attitude of worship. However, today I think we tend to equate noise with praise and worship and that troubles me a great deal (see Amos 5:21-24).
PACKER: I think you¹ve hit on something fairly basic here. I think of the two pans of an old fashioned pair of scales. If one goes up, the other goes down. Once upon a time folks new that God was great and that man by comparison was small. Each individual carried around a sense of his own smallness in the greatness of God¹s world. However, the scale pans are in a different relation today. Man has risen in his own estimation. He thinks of himself as great, grand and marvelously resourceful. This means inevitably that our thoughts about God have shrunk. As God goes down in our estimation, He gets smaller. He also exists now only for our pleasure, our convenience and our health, rather than we existing for His glory.
Now, I'm an old fashioned Christian and I believe that we exist for the glory of God. So the first thing I always want to do in any teaching of Christianity is to attempt to try and get those scale pans reversed. I want to try and show folks that God is the one of central importance. We exist for His praise, to worship Him, and find our joy and fulfillment in Him; therefore He must have all the glory. God is great and He must be acknowledged as great. I think there is a tremendous difference between the view that God saves us and the idea that we save ourselves with God's help. Formula number two fits the modern idea, while formula number one, as I read my Bible, is scriptural. We do not see salvation straight until we recognize that from first to last it is God's work. He didn't need to save us. He owed us nothing but damnation after we sinned. What he does, though, is to move in mercy. He sends us a Savior and His Holy Spirit into our hearts to bring us to faith in that Savior. Then He keeps us in that faith and brings us to His glory. It is His work from beginning to end. God saves sinners. It does, of course, put us down very low. It is that aspect of the gospel that presents the biggest challenge to the modern viewpoint. But we must not forget that it also sets God up very high. It reveals to us a God who is very great, very gracious and very glorious. A God who is certainly worthy of our worship.
PANNELL: I'm always impressed with the conversation that Jesus had with some of his contemporaries when they asked, "What can we do that we might do the works of God?" The assumption being that whatever God laid on them, they could handle. Jesus responded by saying, "This is the work of God, that you believe on Him who He has sent." They could no more swallow that than they could any of the other teachings of Jesus. This one stuck in their minds and I think the reason for that is because it lays upon God all the burden of being Savior. And that is just un-American. To think that we would need someone outside ourselves to save us is in violation of the spirit of American independence.
HORTON: Could that be why we don't frequently hear the preaching of the cross in evangelical churches? If we do hear the cross, it's only in terms of how much God loves us, but we never really hear why the cross was actually necessary.
PACKER: Well, before we ever start talking about the cross showing us the love of God, we ought to take the time to define what took place on the cross so as to explain why the death of Christ shows us God's love. Surely the first thing to say is that the achievement of the cross was the putting away of our sins. Had that not happened through the wisdom of God who put His Son in our place, we would have had to pay the price for our sins and that would have been eternal spiritual loss. Thus, the meaning of the cross is that a God, who was my stern judge, has become my loving heavenly Father because He has put away my sins. The Father, through the Son, redeemed the world. So our relationship with God becomes the most important issue we can ever face and the cross of Christ becomes the most momentous event in history, because we have a loving heavenly Father and the Judge who fully satisfies the account of us for our guilt. This is the God-centered way of looking at the cross.
BOICE: But that is the question, how are we going to look at the cross, or mankind, or God. For example, if your basic premise is that God exists to serve mankind and you happen to be going through a period of suffering, is God going to have to solve your problems for him to mean anything to you? The health and wealth gospels that we've heard so much about are merely outgrowths of this man-centered religion. However, if you take it the other way around, we're there for God's benefit and then He has a purpose even in our suffering. Christianity does not involve our solving everybody's human problem, but instead involves our showing we can go through human problems in a way that honors God. Until Christians in our country understand that, Christianity is not going to have the impact that it once had, either for revival or for cultural change.
HALVERSON: I feel that this is where we are today. Although we say we believe in God, we really believe in man. I've lived in Washington D.C. for thirty years and I hear this all the time. They never verbalize it quite this way, but what they¹re saying is, "If we just get the right man in the White House, and the right people in the Supreme Court and Congress, we've got the kingdom of God." This concerns me a great deal.
PANNELL: I think there is a consensus in the world today as never before that the human race needs to be saved. I think that's what communism and other isms are about. This leads inevitably to a contemporary idolatry called nationalism. To the degree that the church is seduced to these ideologies, it is to that degree also that the church loses confidence in the power of the gospel. And the cross just becomes something you wear around your neck.
HALVERSON: Years ago we had a breakfast in Washington for Malcolm Muggeridge, who as some of you may know is very pessimistic. After giving his speech, one gentleman, who happened to be constitutionally incapable of hearing anything pessimistic, approached him and said, "Brother Muggeridge, you've been very pessimistic, can't you say anything optimistic?" He responded, "Why my friend, I'm very optimistic because my hope is only in Jesus Christ." He let that response settle for a moment. Then he said this, "Just suppose the apostolic church had pinned its hopes on the Roman empire?" I've never been able to forget that. In a day when we are pinning our hope on the good old U.S.A. There's a little text that came to mean a great deal to me a few years ago when I was preparing to preach an ordination sermon. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." I can't believe He has ever failed, or ever will fail in doing that. So I have to believe He is building His church. The problem is the church we're building.