Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Gospel-Driven Life

Here is a really good article from TableTalk Magazine that Robert Burris sent me on the Gospel.  By Dr. Harry L. Reeder III.
Romans 1:15
So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
Please share.
Coram Deo!!!

   When I was asked to participate in this column designed for older Christians to share insight and encouragements to younger believers, I had no doubt what issue the address-the Gospel-driven life.  
   The Gospel of saving grace in Jesus is the foundation, the formation, and the primary motivation for the Christian life.
   The Gospel message bring you to Christ as the sure foundation for eternal life.  The gospel message provides direction for the formation of your new life. The Gospel message provides the primary motivation for a maturing life.  The importance of living a Gospel-driven life is why Paul reminded the Corinthian church that when he was "with them" he was determined to maintain their focus upon the Gospel, by preaching "Christ and Him crucified".  Adding emphasis, he declared. "I did not come to baptize, but to preach the Gospel" (see 1 Cor. 1:17).  He was not demeaning baptism, but rather underscoring that the Gospel is essential to evangelism and disciple-making.
   Early in my Christian life, I thought the Gospel was the message to win people to Christ, then in disciple-making, one moved on to "deeper things".  What a fallacy!  You never move beyond the Gospel.  You go deeper and higher with the Gospel, but never beyond the Gospel.  The Gospel is what defines how to be a Christian man, woman, spouse, parent, and citizen.  The Gospel brings the reign of Christ's kingdom to our hearts and throughout the world.  The Gospel blessings give joy to the Christian life and the ability to rejoice even in suffering.  The Gospel imperatives direct our Lord.  The Gospel provides the foundation, the formation, and the motivation as it ignites our loving obedience to Christ as we discover the transforming truth that "He first loves us"  (1 John 4:19)
   A steady delivery of brochures to my office offer conferences that will help the church "make the Gospel relevant".  Betsy Childs, a daughter of our church and writer for Ravi Zacharias, in commenting on the phenomenon, writes:  "Why would we think the Gospel is irrelevant?".  She is right.  Nothing is more relevant than the Gospel.  To be sure, we must understand the issues of our age and connect meaningfully with people for effective evangelism and discipleship, but nothing is more relevant than  the Gospel message, which announces: WHEN THERE WAS NO WAY FOR MAN TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD, HE MADE A WAY THROUGH CHRIST, HIS SON.  Who is "the way, and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through (him)".  (John 14:6)  The Gospel message reveals that God's love has met God's holiness at the cross.  Therefore, our salvation is by the power of God and the unfailing righteousness of God.
   Most religions have a commonality.  They tell you what you must do to gain salvation.  In contrast, the Christian Gospel; declares what we do is not the answer, but the problem.  I am convinced the greatest words in the Bible are: "But God."  "note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but
God's kindness to you..."  (Rom. 11:22)
   In Romans 1:15 Paul declares that a key to his desire to come to Rome is because he is "eager to preach the gospel to  you also who are in Rome."  The "you" are identified in verse 7 as "the loved by God and called to be saints."  In other words, Christians.  Paul was eager to preach the Gospel not only to the lost but also to the Christians.  Paul obviously believes that the Gospel is essential to both evangelism and discipleship as it provides the foundation, the formation, and the motivation for the Christian life.
   When I was sixteen, my father bought me a car at an auction for $75.  It was a pink '57 Ford, which Dad insisted was "coral".  I couldn't drive a pink car to school!  I then heard words that in a not-to-distant future my children would hear, "Son, a poor ride is better that a proud walk."  I was said so convincingly I knew it was probably in the Bible.  Then my Dad opened the hood, and to my suprise, underneath was a 390 engine with two four-barrel carburetors.  The car had been a South Carolina State Interceptor ( a highway patrol car.)  Nothing had more power under the hood.  Space and conviction prevents me from detailing the surprises that Corvettes and Roadsters would get after they looked laughingly at my pink '57 Ford while sitting side by side at stoplights.  It didn't look like much, but there was power under the hood.
   Young Christian, the world despises the Gospel in it's simplicity and disdains the vessels entrusted to carry and proclaim it.  But there is power under the hood!  Live the Gospel, believe and preach the whole Gospel- the Gospel blessings that declare who you are in Christ.  This Gospel transforms the hearts, minds, and wills of sinners.  Thankfully, it continues to transform mine.  Preach it to yourself, to each other, and to the lost, and know the joys of the Gospel-driven life. 

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III

                                     Tabletalk Jan. 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Thankful Heart

You know that I'm always talking about living a life of Gratitude.  Especially in light of saving grace, and how far we were from God.  I also started to think about how we can also be grateful for having a leadership to submit to.  That there is a kind of common grace that God has ordained both in Government and in the Church. 
Here is a little thought from John MacArthur's "Truth for Today"
Philippians 1:3  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.
A thankful heart is essential fo true spiritual service.  If you are trying to serve the Lord without gratitude in your heart for what He's done for you, then you are serving in the flesh with improper motives.  One who is thankful realizes that God has a cause for everything that happens...  Are you overwhelmed with thanksgiving for what God has done?  If you are, then you will be free from bitterness or resentment toward God or anyone else.  There is so much to be thankful for.
Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 20

We don't often talk about the Holy Spirit specifically. In Mark 12 Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit revealing to David that he will have a son (a distant son) who will be his Lord. This points to Christ as being 1) Fully Human and 2) Messiah being fully divine. We also see Jesus giving credibility to the scriptures (PS 110:1). We are blessed to have the Holy Spirit as our helper while we anticipate the Lord's return to judge the "quick and the dead" and to bring us to final glory.
I can see how the Holy Spirit helps me when I feel compeled to talk about concerns to leaders that may affect the flock of the church. The Holy Spirit has given me the calm attitude and the words to say that He has taught me and has guided me as I grow in the faith. I have also had the blessing of recently seeing the fruits of sharing my faith many years ago, only to recently find out that the young man has become a pastor and is desiring to start a new church. I would have to say that the Holy Spirit has done a marvelous thing in this old friend's life and I am greatful for having been a means by which he has come to faith and hopefull others as well.

Grace and peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

Whose Son Is the Christ?
Mark 12: 35(BH) And as(BI) Jesus taught in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that(BJ) the Christ is the son of David? 36David himself,(BK) in the Holy Spirit, declared, (BL) "'The Lord said to my Lord,Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies(BM) under your feet.'
37David himself calls him Lord. So(BN) how is he his son?" And the great throng(BO) heard him gladly.
Of God the Holy Spirit and our Sanctification
Lord’s Day 20
53. What do you believe concerning the “Holy Spirit?”
First, that He is co-eternal God with the Father and the Son.[1] Second, that He is also given unto me:[2] by true faith makes me a partaker of Christ and all His benefits,[3] comforts me,[4] and shall abide with me forever.[5]
[1] Gen 1:1-2; Isa 48:16; Mt 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19; [2] 1 Cor 6:19; 2 Cor 1:21-22; Gal 4:6; Eph 1:13; [3] 1 Cor 6:17; Gal 3:14; 1 Pt 1:2; [4] Jn 15:26; Acts 9:31; [5] Jn 14:16-17; Rom 15:13; 1 Pt 4:14; 1 Jn 4:13

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 19

Hebrews 9:28 (New International Version)
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

As Jesus is currently reigning at the right hand of God, we have a hope or an assurance that one day he will return to judge the quick and the dead. There is a saying that all Christians should agree on.
"those who are born twice die once...
those who are born once die twice... "
Remember Jesus telling Nicodemus about needing to be born again.

3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]"
4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[
b] gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You[c] must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
9"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

See how Jesus says in vs. 3 that "no one can see the kingdom of God". The word can has to do with ability. So, it is basically saying that no one has the ability to see the Kingdom of God, unless (a necessary condition is met) they are born again.

Now look at verse 5. Jesus says that no one has the ability to enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.

So rebirth is at the turning point of going from spiritually dead to spiritually alive. And this is by the Grace of God. Just like God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. God creates faith in our souls out of nothing.

Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

His Reign
Lord’s Day 19

50. Why is it added: “And sits at the right hand of God?”
Because Christ ascended into heaven for this end, that He might there appear as the Head of His Church,[1] by whom the Father governs all things.[2]
[1] Eph 1:20-23; Col 1:18; [2] Ps 110:1; Mt 28:18; Jn 5:22-23; 1 Pt 3:22
51. What does this glory of Christ, our Head, profit us?
First, that by His Holy Spirit He pours out heavenly gifts upon us, His members;[1] then, that by His power He defends and preserves us against all enemies.[2]
[1] Acts 2:33; Eph 4:7-12; [2] Ps 2:9, 110:1-2; Jn 10:27-30; Acts 2:33; 1 Cor 15:25-26; Rev 19:11-16
52. What comfort is it to you that Christ “shall come to judge the living and the dead?”
That in all my sorrows and persecutions, I, with uplifted head, look for the very One, who offered Himself for me to the judgment of God, and removed all curse from me,[1] to come as Judge from heaven,[2] who shall cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation,[3] but shall take me with all His chosen ones to Himself into heavenly joy and glory.[4]
[1] Lk 21:28; Rom 8:22-25; Php 3:20-21; Tit 2:13-14; [2] Lk 21:28; Rom 8:23-24; Php 3:20-21; Tit 2:13; [3] Mt 25:41; 1 Thes 4:16-18; 2 Thes 1:6, 10; [4] Mt 25:31-46; Acts 1:10-11; 1 Thes 4:16-17; 2 Thes 1:6-10; Heb 9:28

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 18

I find great comfort in knowing that Christ is currently reigning at the right hand of the Father. And He is there in body which is the ultimate goal for all of the Father's adopted children. When people die it isn't really good news as people say at funerals these days. Although, to be absent from the body and present with the Lord sounds better than living with this sinful, declining health, body that can become weary physically and emotionally. However, we (even those present with the Lord) are all waiting for the day when we ALL can be physically resurrected just as Christ did and ascend as Christ did... as we will one day ascend to meet him in the air. I'm not sure what that will look or feel like but I'm sure it will be an amazing trip.

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!
His Ascension
Lord’s Day 18
46. What do you understand by the words “He ascended into heaven?”
That Christ, in the sight of His disciples, was taken up from the earth into heaven,[1] and continues there in our behalf [2] until He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.[3]
[1] Mt 26:64; Lk 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11; [2] Rom 8:34; Eph 4:10; Heb 4:14, 7:23-25, 9:11, 24; [3] Mt 24:30; Acts 1:11, 3:20-21
47. But is not Christ with us even unto the end of the world,[1] as He has promised?
Christ is true man and true God. According to His human nature He is now not on earth,[2] but according to His Godhead, majesty, grace, and Spirit, He is at no time absent from us.[3]
[1] Mt 28:20; [2] Mt 26:11; Jn 16:28, 17:11; Acts 3:19-21; Heb 8:4; [3] Mt 28:18-20; Jn 14:16-19, 16:13; Eph 4:8; Heb 8:4
48. But are not, in this way, the two natures in Christ separated from one another, if the manhood is not wherever the Godhead is?
Not at all, for since the Godhead is incomprehensible and everywhere present,[1] it must follow that it is indeed beyond the bounds of the manhood which it has assumed, but is yet nonetheless in the same also, and remains personally united to it.[2]
[1] Jer 23:23-24; Acts 7:48-49; [2] Mt 28:6; Jn 1:14, 48, 3:13, 11:15; Col 2:9
49. What benefit do we receive from Christ’s ascension into heaven?
First, that He is our Advocate in the presence of His Father in heaven.[1] Second, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge, that He as the Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself.[2] Third, that He sends us His Spirit as an earnest,[3] by whose power we seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, and not things on the earth.[4]
[1] Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; [2] Jn 14:2, 17:24, 20:17; Eph 2:4-6; [3] Jn 14:16; Acts 2:33; 2 Cor 1:21-22, 5:5; [4] Jn 14:3; Col 3:1-4; Heb 9:24

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year - 2008

Here it is the real beginning of a new year when people are back at work, and kids and young adults getting ready to go back to school and college.  It has been a blessed Christmas and Holiday season.  I have had my surgery on December 18, 2007, and I am amazed (and so are many others) at how quickly I have recovered and seen great results from this surgery.  The most anxious part for me is the General Anesthesia.  Especially since you have to sign a form that this procedure alone can cause severe brain damage or even death.  As I awoke in the Recovery Room and I started to realize that's where I was, I started to get tears in my eyes.  I guess I was just overwhelmed with emotions and praising God that I was doing OK.  Later that evening I was able to get up and finally realized that almost all of the pain was gone and I was able to walk without a cane.
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement as I went through this little uneasy time in my life.  I have found so many blessings that have come out of this and I thank God for this trial and for helping me through it.  I also am truly grateful for my wife who has continued to help me in so many ways. 
As for what I am doing right now in terms of studying, I have just started reading "God of Promise" by Michael Horton (White Horse Inn, Modern Reformation Magazine).  I hope to stay on top of it and post some thoughts as I go through it.
Grace and Peace to you all!!!
Coram Deo!!!