Monday, November 27, 2006

What God Requires, Christ Provides

by John Piper, with Justin Taylor

© 2003, Modern Reformation Magazine, (Sept / Oct 2003 Issue, Vol. 12.5). All Rights Reserved. Subscription Rate: $29 Per Year. Click here to subscribe or call 1-800-890-7556.


If justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Gal. 2:21) "For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them'...Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us." (Gal. 3:10, 13)

Historically, Protestants have believed that the Bible teaches that our salvation depends on what Christ has accomplished for our pardon and our perfection. We accept by faith his substitution for us in two senses: in his final suffering and death, he was condemned and cursed so that we may be pardoned (see Gal. 3:13; Rom. 8:3); and in his whole life of righteousness culminating in his death, he learned obedience so that we may be saved (see Heb. 5:8-9). His death crowns his atoning sufferings that propitiate God's wrath against us (see Rom. 3:24-25; 5:6-9), but it also crowns his life of perfect righteousness -- God's righteousness -- that is then imputed to us who believe (see 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:21-22; 4:6, 11; 5:18-19).

God provided in Christ what God demanded from us in the law. But today this good news that Christ is not only our pardon but also our perfection is under serious attack. Here I hope to show not only that the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness is biblical but why we should defend it.

The Problem of the Law

Three times in Galatians 2:16, Paul tells us that no one can be justified -- no one can be made right with God -- by "works of the law." In context, this phrase refers most naturally to deeds done to obey Moses' law. (Note the parallels between "the Book of the Law" and "works of the law" in Gal. 3:10, and between "the law" in Rom. 3:19, 20 and "works of the law" in Rom. 3:20. In both Gal. 3:10 and Rom. 3:19-20, the term "law" refers to the Mosaic law; so the phrase "works of the law" naturally picks up that meaning.)

In its narrow, short-term design, the law that God gave to the Israelites through Moses demanded perfect obedience of the Pentateuch's more than 600 commandments in order for the Israelites to receive eternal life (see Lev. 18:5; Deut. 32:45-47; Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10, 12). In this way, it upheld an absolute standard of childlike, humble, God-reliant, God-exalting perfect obedience that is in fact due from all of us -- and thus provided the moral backdrop without which the Pentateuch's sin-atoning provisions (and ultimately Christ's sacrifice) would be unintelligible.

Yet the Israelites were uniformly sinful and hostile to God (see Exod. 33:1-3; Acts 7:51). They did not -- and indeed could not (see Rom. 8:7) -- submit to him. Consequently, the law's effect on sinful Israel, when she was confronted with its hundreds of commandments, was awareness of latent sin (see Rom. 7:7), increased sin through deliberate violation of God's holy, righteous, and good commandment (see Rom. 7:12-13), and the multiplication of transgressions (see Rom. 5:20; 4:15). All of this was part of God's design for the law: "[The law] was added for the sake of transgressions" (Gal. 3:19); "The law came in so that the transgression would increase" (Rom. 5:20). The law cannot give life (see Gal. 3:21); rather it kills by multiplying sin (see Rom. 7:5, 8-13).

The law's deadly design and effects are sufficient to warrant Paul's statement in Galatians 3:12 -- "The law is not of faith" -- especially in view of what he says eleven verses later: "Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law . . . . But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian" (vv. 23, 25). This does not mean that there was no faith before Christ (see Rom. 4) but, rather, that there was no faith explicitly in Christ before Christ came. The law's function, in the long view, is to prepare God's people for Christ's work, even as its short-term function is to imprison its recipients in sin (see Gal. 3:22-23). The narrow, short-term aim of the law is to kill those who come in contact with it because it is primarily "commandments" (see Rom. 13:8-9; Eph. 2:15) that require perfect obedience but that cannot themselves produce this obedience independently of the Spirit who "gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6).

What God Requires, Christ Provides

Justification cannot come through the law (see Gal. 2:21; Acts 13:38-39). Each of us-every single human being (see Rom. 3:10-12, 19-20)-has failed to do what God's law requires of us (Gal. 3:10; 6:13; cf. James 2:10). But to understand what God requires, we must see what Christ provides. In his mercy, God has provided his Son as a twofold substitute for us. Both facets of Christ's substitution are crucial for our becoming right with God. These facets are grounded in the twin facts that (1) we have failed to keep God's law perfectly, and so we should die; but (2) Jesus did not fail -- he alone has kept God's law perfectly (see Heb. 4:15) -- and so he should not have died. Yet in his mercy God has provided in Christ a great substitution -- a "blessed exchange" -- according to which Jesus can stand in for us with God, offering his perfect righteousness in place of our failure and his own life's blood in place of ours. When we receive the mercy God offers us in Christ by faith (see Acts 16:31; 1 Tim. 1:15-16; 1 Pet. 1:8-9), his perfection is imputed -- or credited or reckoned -- to us and our sinful failure is imputed -- or credited or reckoned -- to him. And thus Jesus' undeserved death pays for our sin (see Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Rev. 5:9); and God's demand for us to be perfectly righteous is satisfied by the imputation or crediting of Christ's perfect righteousness to us. "If justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" (Gal. 2:21). But "God has done what the law ... could not do" (Rom. 8:3).

2 Corinthians 5:21 is one of Scripture's most powerful affirmations of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the account of those who believe in him: "For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." There is a great deal that can be said about this verse but, when all is said and done, perhaps Charles Hodge has summed up its import best:

There is probably no passage in the Scriptures in which the doctrine of justification is more concisely or clearly stated than [this]. Our sins were imputed to Christ, and his righteousness is imputed to us. He bore our sins; we are clothed in his righteousness... Christ bearing our sins did not make him morally a sinner... nor does Christ's righteousness become subjectively ours, it is not the moral quality of our souls... Our sins were the judicial ground of the sufferings of Christ, so that they were a satisfaction of justice; and his righteousness is the judicial ground of our acceptance with God.

All of this then means, as Hodge goes on to say, that "our pardon is an act of justice" -- an act based on Jesus having borne our sins (see 1 Pet. 2:24) -- and yet it "is not mere pardon, but justification alone" -- that is, our forevermore standing as righteous before God because we are clothed with Christ's perfection -- "that gives us peace with God."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In the Valley

Lately I have been feeling kind of low, and it made we want to listen to this song. So, if you get a chance, click on the link above to go to Sovereign Grace Ministries or click the link below and listen to a sample of a beautiful song.
Look at the words below.

"And though my humbling wouldn't be my decision"...

Grace and Peace my friends!!!
Coram Deo!!!

_______________________________________________


In the Valley

Based on The Valley of Vision prayer “The Valley of Vision”

Words and Music by

Bob Kauflin

Verse 1 When You lead me to the valley of vision

I can see You in the heights

And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision

It’s here Your glory shines so bright

So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown

To be low is to be high

That the valley’s where You make me more like Christ

Chorus Let me find Your grace in the valley

Let me find Your life in my death

Let me find Your joy in my sorrow

Your wealth in my need

That You’re near with every breath

In the valley

Verse 2 In the daytime there are stars in the heavens

But they only shine at night

And the deeper that I go into darkness

The more I see their radiant light

So let me learn that my losses are my gain

To be broken is to heal

That the valley’s where Your power is revealed

© 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

From Valley of Vision. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

North American administration by Integrity Music. International administration by CopyCare International.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

An Interview withRobert Schuller

If we can get them to like us, then maybe they'll like our Jesus... The motto of Robert Schuller and the "User Friendly Church"

________________________________


© 1992, Modern Reformation Magazine, "God Justifies the Wicked" (November / December 1992 Issue, Vol. 1.6). All Rights Reserved. Subscription Rate: $29 Per Year. Click here to subscribe or call 1-800-890-7556.
The following are highlights from a two-hour interview with Dr. Robert Schuller which aired on The White Horse Inn radio program in November of 1992.



HORTON: Would you be willing to address your congregation as a group as sinners?
SCHULLER: No I don't think I need to do that. First of all, my congregation is a very mixed audience.
HORTON: But our Lord's audiences were mixed with disciples and unbelievers both.
SCHULLER: Oh yes, but I'll tell you, the audience is quite different that I talk to than what the Lord spoke to. I speak every week to millions--not a million, but millions of people in Russia on Channel One. And I speaking to a couple of million people every Sunday.
HORTON: Are you saying that it is the size of the audience that matters?
SCHULLER: No, it's not the size of the audience; it's where are they at at this time. My only concern is: I don't want to drive them farther away than they are! And I listen to so many preachers on religious radio stations...and by golly, if I wasn't a Christian, they'd drive me farther away. I am so afraid that I am going to drive them farther; I want to attract them, and so I use the strategy that Jesus used. I preach the way Jesus preached. I don't preach, probably, the way Paul preached....
SCHULLER: If we want to win people to Jesus we have to understand where they are at.
HORTON: I agree absolutely. And they are in sin, that is where they are at.
SCHULLER: They are in the state of condition called sin which means they don't trust. They are lacking faith.
HORTON: I guess the difference would be our definition of sin, because what I see in Scripture is that we're dead in sin and cannot respond to God even if we were trusting.
SCHULLER: Oh no, you're wrong, you're wrong. And very seldom do I use this language. People who know me say, "Schuller never comes across as if he knows the answers and others don't. It is not my style. But I intuitively say to you, you're wrong! The ultimate, deepest, most sinful problem that you can imagine is lack of trust. Hebrews 11:6, "For without faith it is impossible to please God." I can show you people, they believe the Bible is the Word of God from cover to cover, they believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary...but, they really don't have a relationship with Jesus. They have that head knowledge, that head information and unless you have a wonderful warm relationship, which means you are mutually friends, then you really don't have the faith. And there are people who live wonderful lives today. They don't commit adultery and they don't steal and they don't kill...if you go by what is sinful behavior they seem to be leading very fine lives. But they don't have faith....
HORTON: But isn't it because faith is the instrument through which we're justified before a God who otherwise would take account of us for our sins, not just our "not trusting..."
SCHULLER: We are not justified by faith.
HORTON: No, it is by grace through faith.
SCHULLER: By grace through faith, that's right.
HORTON: But what I'm asking is this. Justified from what? The wrath of God?
SCHULLER: Oh! I'll never use that language.
HORTON: But the Bible does.
SCHULLER: Yes, the Bible does, but the Bible is God's book to believers primarily. Listen, and then call me a heretic if you want to, but I'm interested in attracting people, and not driving them farther away. There is language I can and will use and there are times, if we are wise, there is language we will not use....If God is a God of love, how do we handle this concept of wrath? At the outset, on the surface, it appears to be a contradiction; maybe it is. I tell you this, I have come to the conclusion that I haven't stepped into the center of truth until I've dared to step into contradiction. The Bible is a contradiction: Old Testament--Law, New Testament--Grace. Jesus is a contradiction; totally human and totally God.
HORTON: Of course we would say that that the dual nature of Christ is a mystery but not a contradiction.
SCHULLER: It is a contradiction, but you know what? Contradictions are ultimate points of creativity...
HORTON: Dr. Schuller, "The real problem," you have written, "is that deep down we feel we're not good enough to approach a holy God." But isn't that the truth about us? Isn't that precisely why we need the cross because we cannot approach a holy God in our own righteousness? In other words, isn't that fear legitimate; the distance between a holy God and a sinful people, isn't that meant to drive us to despair of our own righteousness and flee to Christ?
SCHULLER: Maybe so, I wouldn't quarrel with that. I have no argument with that.
HORTON: Well on what texts would you base your definition of sin as "any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem?"
SCHULLER: Try some other questions because I think your question isn't, uh, isn't...I don't understand it.
HORTON: Okay. If the definition of sin is "any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem," then, first of all....
SCHULLER: Okay, okay, I can handle that. That's a little piece. Any sinful act that arises out of the sinful condition, and I have to repeat, sin is a condition before it is an action.
HORTON: Absolutely. We would agree a hundred percent on that. But what is that condition?SCHULLER: That condition is, you are separated from God, totally and completely. And therefore you don't have the emotional and spiritual affirmation that only comes out of a relationship. And when you have a hostility between two persons instead of a trusting relationship, the normal inclination naturally is to become rebellious or "defensive"; we speak of this defensive behavior (I come from a psychological background so I use probably different terminology, but there's no problem). So any behavior that is "sinful behavior" is obviously going to space you farther from the possibility of a closeness with the God that alone could affirm you through grace of your value as persons. And I keep saying, the single most important thing for people to know is what God thinks of them. And I'll tell you what God thinks of you: if you were the only person that didn't have this wonderful relationship with him, why, he would take his son and crucify him as your saviour.
HORTON: But why would He have to do that, Dr. Schuller, if in fact the only problem that I have with God is that I am non-trusting and lack self-confidence?
SCHULLER: Wait, wait, wait, wait! The "only thing!" That's everything! That's hell!...To be non-trusting is the ultimate sinful condition....
HORTON: Dr. Schuller, how could the cross, as you write, "sanctify the ego trip," and make us proud, in the light of passages that say, "I hate pride and arrogance" (Prov. 8:13), "Pride goes before destruction" (Prov. 16:18), "The Lord detests all the proud" (Prov. 16:5), "Do not be proud"(Rom. 12:16), "Love does not boast it is not proud" (1 Cor 13:4). In fact Paul warns Timothy that in the last days men "will be lovers of themselves" (2 Tim 3:2). Why should we as Christian ministers, myself included, why should we do anything to encourage people to become "lovers of themselves" if Paul in fact warned others that that would be the state of godlessness in the last days?
SCHULLER: I hope you don't preach this, I hope you don't preach this!
HORTON: What, the texts?
SCHULLER: No, what you just spoke into the microphone right now. I hope you don't because you could do a lot of damage to a lot of beautiful people. But maybe if you preach it, maybe you will demonstrate your knowledge of human relationships and maybe you'll demonstrate a sensitivity of caring about these pathetic, pathetic people that are so lost in pain and suffering because of their sinful condition, and I think you'd want to save them. I think you'd want to bring them to Jesus. And so if you preach that text, oh man, I sure hope you give it the kind of interpretation that I do or, I'll tell you, you'll drive them farther away and they'll be madder than hell at you and they'll turn the Bible off, and they'll switch you off, and they'll turn on the rock music and Madonna. Just because it's in the Bible doesn't mean you should preach it. And if you do, you have to say, "Who's listening to me? Will they understand? And will the love of Jesus come through my words and through my message; through my personality? Will it come through my spirit? Will I come across as a humble person or will I come across as a person who's kind of mean and know-it-all: I've got the answers and when people like Schuller come along, they're heretics! Be careful, it is so difficult to preach some of those texts and not come across as lacking humility...
HORTON: You write that "the essence of sin is not thinking you're good enough" and that the reason unsaved people reject the gospel is that they "believe they're an unworthy sinner." Again, you state that "the unsaved person cannot perceive himself as worthy of divine grace and hence rejects it." But how can a person deserve "undeserved favor"?
SCHULLER: No, I never said that....I didn't say that the essence of sin is not thinking you're good enough. I never said that. I know my words. Someone read what I said, re-wrote it, put these words together very carelessly. One adjective placed or misplaced tips the meaning....
HORTON: How about the next phrase...
SCHULLER: I never said that see....so I really don't think the rest of the paragraph deserves the time and attention. Thank you.(The program goes to a break and returns with Mike's promise to check his citation with the original text, which was found in Schuller's book, Self Esteem, The New Reformation -- then Mike asks the following):
HORTON: But Dr. Schuller, did you write "The unsaved person cannot perceive himself as worthy of divine grace and hence rejects it"?
SCHULLER: I may have said that because I am inclined to believe very definitely that the person who is lost and unsaved is afraid of the light. The person who is only used to darkness is afraid of the light and I think unsaved people do not consider themselves worthy enough; I think that's absolutely true, "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
HORTON: But not while we were worthy Christ died for us?
SCHULLER: Listen, if Christ had died for somebody who wasn't worth anything, that would have been a lousy deal. God is a good steward and he teaches us to be good stewards. God knows the worst sinner is worth saving so that he would die on a cross for us.
HORTON: But how can we deserve undeserved favor?
SCHULLER: You tell me! I don't have to answer that question. You're asking me how we can be saved by grace. It's because of the love of God, and we are saved by grace.
HORTON: But if we are worth it, then it is not grace; it's merit.
SCHULLER: No, no. It means that we are still creatures of God, we are still sons of God. We have value. We still have value.
HORTON: I agree with you to the extent that we are created in the image of God...
SCHULLER: And even the value of a human being who is not a Christian is worth dying for on the cross. That's what God said. Don't ask me why, that's his evaluation of who we are.
HORTON: But isn't it really the goodness of God that moved him to put Christ on the cross, seeing our misery, rather than God seeing something in us worth redeeming?
SCHULLER: Well... I think.... yes and yes. Yes and yes to that one....
______________
SCHULLER: I do let people know how great their sins and miseries are. How do I do that? I don't do that by standing in a pulpit and telling them they're sinners. I don't do it that way. The way I do it is ask questions. Are you happy? Do you have problems? What are they? So then I come across as somebody who cares about them because every single human problem, if you look at it deeply enough, is rooted in the sinful condition. We agree on that. So the way I preach sin is by calling to attention what it does to them here and now, and their need for divine grace!HORTON: But what about what it does for them in eternity?

SCHULLER: Listen, I believe in heaven. I believe in hell. But I don't know what happens there. I don't take it literally that it's a fire that never stops burning.
HORTON: As Jesus said it was?
SCHULLER: Jesus was not literal. See, now this is where you have differences of interpretation. I went to a different theological school than you did. And there are different denominations, like about four hundred in the United States of America, and we don't belong to the same denomination. In my denomination, Jesus stood outside Gahenna, the city dump, and said outside the walls, that's hell. And in the dump there were always worms, and there were fires....Various Questions from the "Call-in" Segment
CALLER: Could you explain your concept of Original Sin with regard to infants?
SCHULLER:...I had a doctor tell me once, "The stuff these Christians teach is ridiculous! Some of these churches teach that every baby is a born sinner. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! Look at a little baby. They don't lie, they don't kill, they don't commit adultery, their perfect." I said, "Just because the child hasn't done anything doesn't mean he's perfect, though; that child is born with a sinful condition." He said, "Explain it to me." And at that point in my life, even though I had a very good theological education, I couldn't explain it to him. I did a lot of praying and studying, until I concluded of course, that it is first expressed in the ego with all its damnable sins. But the ego is the destructive force in human personality that rises when a person is not deeply inwardly secure enough to be relaxed without egotistic activity, and that comes through salvation. And so the human condition is that the child is born non-trusting.
HORTON: Although you say it's not charged to his children...
SCHULLER: What did I say?
HORTON: The direct quote is, "His rebellion should not be charged to his children and his children's children. Adam chose to rebel."
SCHULLER: That's out of context and without seeing it in the whole chapter...I don't think it's a fair question.
CALLER: Dr. Schuller, Paul called the gospel an offense. You seem to have a gospel that is a "kinder, gentler" kind of thing.
SCHULLER: Thank you. I try to make it that way.
CALLER: How do you reconcile that?
SCHULLER: Because I think it honors the name of Jesus.
CALLER: Dr. Schuller, what do we tell someone who says, "I'm already happy and fulfilled, so why do I need the gospel?"
SCHULLER: I don't know...I can't relate to that.
CALLER: Dr. Schuller, as a Calvinist with your belief in eternal election...how can anything we say drive a person away from being saved?
SCHULLER: That's a good question. I don't have the answer.
CALLER: My question is directed to Kim Riddlebarger there on the panel. I'd like Kim, and then Dr. Schuller to both explain for me what Question 2 of The Heidelberg Catechism means when it talks about "the greatness of my sins and wretchedness" (this is a paraphrase of the caller's question).
RIDDLEBARGER: Well I would go, as Dr. Schuller knows, to Question 7: "Where does this corrupt nature come from?" And the answer, "From the fall and disobedience of our first parents Adam and Eve in paradise.
This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners corrupt from conception on." Question 8: "But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and incline toward all evil?" Answer: "Yes, unless we are born again by the spirit of God." I would go right along with the catechism on this, that we are poisoned in our nature and we are corrupt from birth on...
SCHULLER: I have no problem with that except the part that states, "are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and incline toward all evil." The answer in the catechism is yes, but I don't think I would accept that answer. And I'll tell you why I wouldn't; I know people that are not Christians, who are not born-again, but they are very kind people. And in today's culture, if we take these words and use these words the way they are used in contemporary culture--I have to say [there are people] who do a lot of good. So I don't think I would accept Question and Answer 8, but the rest of it I have no problem with...
RIDDLEBARGER: And you would want to argue then, against somebody like me who says those answers come right out of the biblical text, that I was misinterpreting the texts upon which those answers to the catechism were based?
SCHULLER: Well, I'd have to go look at all those Bible references. Would you say that unless a person is born again he absolutely does not do any good at all in his whole life? That's what that question seems to say!
RIDDLEBARGER: Yes, I would agree with that, but I would say yes and no. A non-Christian can do a lot of good things [humanly speaking] but if that good is done apart from faith, it is not meritorious, and does not count before God.
HORTON: It's the distinction the reformers made between civil and moral righteousness.
SCHULLER: Okay, but the question and answer here, taken in context, doesn't make the fine distinction that you now read into it.HORTON: Would you agree that unbelievers can do good that men can accept, but that they cannot do good that God can accept?
RIDDLEBARGER: That's what the catechism is referring to: the good that God can accept.
SCHULLER: Well, you're elaborating with your interpretation, and I'm not going to argue the point...
HORTON: Well the Apostle Paul says, "There is no one who does good, no, not even one."
SCHULLER: Well, I'm not going to say that because I just think that leads ultimately to "holier-than-thou-isms," self-righteousness, etc., and that comes out of the personality of the preacher and does an untold damage...

Background to the DiscussionDr. Schuller was invited to appear on The White Horse Inn by a mutual friend. Later he was sent a formal invitation which explained the program. The evening of the show, he was invited to Michael Horton's house for dinner, during which the format of the show was again explained to him, especially its emphasis on classical Reformation issues in contrast to a lot of the popular expressions of Christianity. Dr. Schuller responded by saying, "I have no problem with shows like that, as long as I have an opportunity to respond." Because Dr. Schuller has redefined sin and grace in psychological terms, Mike had to ask some tough questions.
© Modern Reformation

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Birthday to Reform-Shire


Click Here^
Happy Birthday Reform-Shire!!! It has been a great year and thanks to everyone that has visited.
I hope to continue to share the Gospel and to lift up the Word of God.
Coram Deo!!!
Please Leave a comment and let me know you stopped by.....just say hello..

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Justification

Classic Essays on Justification- Imputation of Christ's Righteousness - James Vs. Paul -
Roman Catholic Teaching on Justificatio
n - Sermons - New Perspective on Paul - Books -
Federal Theology - Covenant Theology - Faith and its Relation to Justification
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Those whom, God effectually calls he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God"
WCF(Westminster Confession of Faith) Ch 11

“Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner”
(L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 513).

"The phrase in ipso (in him) I have preferred to retain, rather than render it per ipsum (by him,) because it has in my opinion more expressiveness and force. For we are enriched in Christ, inasmuch as we are members of his body, and are engrafted into him: nay more, being made one with him, he makes us share with him in every thing that he has received from the Father."
(John Calvin Commentary on 1 Cor 1:5)

"This calling is an act of the grace of God in Christ by which he calls men dead in sin and lost in Adam through the preaching of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, to union with Christ and to salvation obtained in him." - Francis Turretin

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election

In honor of Election Day in the United States: Here is an article from the Canons of Dort (1619)

________________________________

Election
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Union between Christ and his people was planned already in eternity, in the sovereign pretemporal decision whereby God the Father selected us as his own. Christ himself was chosen to be our Savior before the creation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20); Ephesians 1:4 teaches us that when the Father chose Christ, he also chose us. - - by Anthony Hoekema

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call and draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as it is written "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Eph 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Rom 8:30).
- Canons of Dort (1619). First Head: Article 7

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Doctrines of Grace #2 - #5

Below are the rest of the doctrines of Grace...
In light of a Holy and Sovereign God, have mercy on me for I am a man of unclean lips, I am undone, I am ruined...

Thank you Lord for Grace and saving me from this despair. Sola Deo Gloria!!!

___________________________________________

The Doctrines of Grace #2
2. Unconditional Election(God is no respecter of man nor influenced by man.) God has shown us in his Word that from eternity past he has elected some sinners to be saved from the condemnation that is justly deserved by all, purely on account of his gracious mercy and love, not because of any foreseen merits in those sinners. Because of the fact of total depravity, salvation must originate with God, and we read in the Bible that it is God's sovereign will alone that has determined the recipients of that salvation. This doctrine does not render God unjust, for all are guilty and all deserve to suffer God's judgement. Rather, it emphasizes the grace of God by the fact that he has chosen some for salvation.

Scripture references: Psalm 65:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:4,5,9,11; Romans 11:5; Romans 9:15,23; Psalm 103:11; 1 Peter 1:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Jonah 2:9.Romans 9 (click to listen)God's Sovereign Choice 1I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/play.php?aid=3&book=52&chapter=9

Doctrines of Grace #3
3. Limited Atonement (or Particular Redemption) Put simply, Christ died only to save the elect, securing with absolute certainty their salvation. This is not to teach that there is anything lacking in the power of God, perhaps suggesting that he is not able to save all men. Rather, God's Word indicates that it was the Father's intention that his Son was to suffer and die only for his chosen people, atoning for their sins alone. Christ's atonement was limited only in extent, not in power, according to the sovereign will of God. In the Bible we read that the Lord's servant (Jesus) would see the results of his work (his atoning sacrifice) and "be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11). But also, Jesus stated plainly that there are many who are heading for eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13). We can only reconcile these two statements if we understand that Christ died only for a limited number of people - for God's elect.

Scripture references: Acts 20:28; John 3:14+15; Galatians 1:4+5; Revelation 13:8; John 6:38+39; John 17:9,10+24; John 10:11; 1 Peter 2:21; Romans 5:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 8:33+34; Luke 1:68; Revelation 5:9; Isaiah 53:11.
Romans 8:5-108But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 8:33-3433Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.



Doctrines of Grace #4
4. Irresistible Grace (All whom the Father draws, will come to Christ) When the gospel is preached, an invitation is issued by the Lord to all people to come to him for salvation. However, as the first article clearly states, the natural state of all people renders them incapable of responding to this invitation, except to reject it. So when God calls an elect sinner to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, he does so by sending his Holy Spirit to work a great change in that sinner's heart, enabling them to see their sin and their need of a Saviour and leading them to put their faith in Christ alone for salvation. The Lord, by his Spirit, irresistibly draws his elect to himself, raising them to spiritual life and making them willing to trust in Jesus.

Scripture references: Matthew 11:28-30; John 6:37; Matthew 23:37; John 5:40; Ephesians 1:12,19; Ezekiel 11:19+20; Psalm 110:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11.John 6:3737All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.Romans 8:28-30 The Golden Chain; The Order of Salvation 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,[a] who[b] have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.


Doctrines of Grace #5
5. Perseverance of the Saints (or Preserved in Christ for Eternity) Once God has saved elect sinners, he continues to keep and preserve them by his power and grace and will never let them go. Thus, they persevere to the end and can never be lost. If God did not do this, we would inevitably turn back again to the world, because of the sin that is around us and within us. Thus God enables his children to continue in faith and obedience throughout their earthly lives, then to pass into God's presence forever. This doctrine is not to be taken as a license to go on sinning, as if the believer is free to act in any way he chooses now that he is eternally secure in Christ Jesus. The true believer will show signs of a growing desire for holiness and an increasing loathing of sin. The one who attempts to use the grace of God as an excuse for sinful living is in all probability not a true believer, for where there is spiritual life, the fruit of the Spirit will become evident.

Scripture references: 1 Peter 1:5; James 4:6; Philippians 1:6+19; John 6:39; John 10:28+29; Romans 8:38+39; Romans 8:8; Galatians 5:13-26. John 10:28-2928I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.Romans 8:3030And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.Romans 8:38-3938For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.John 17Jesus Prays for Himself "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.Jesus Prays for His Disciples9I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. Jesus Prays for All Believers22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.