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Posts Tagged ‘Doctrine of the day’

Understanding the Theology of Being Saved

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir

  

“Repent and be saved!” This is a phrase we hear so often, but, have you considered its origins? Is this in the Bible? Surprise…NO, it is not! We may say it with genuine good intentions as both ends of this phrase are very Biblical and essential. We need to repent, and we need to be saved. But, this phrase is actually backwards! It should read, “Be saved and then repent!”

Why is that? Repentance is the result of the acknowledgment of what Christ has done for us, and not the cause of Christ giving grace to us. That is, we do not have anything to do with our salvation other than to accept it and live it by faith. We do not initiate or cause it, or just perchance receive it in some way (Eph. 2:8-9). That would mean that we had worked for our salvation; and, if that were possible, the cross of Christ would have been unnecessary (Ephesians 1:314; 1 Corinthians 1:182:16; 15:18)! Something else happened to cause it, and that is what Christ did on our behalf on the cross. His righteousness transfers to us, and then we receive His salvation—we are “saved;” The proof of that receiving is our repentance; we “repent.” Our receipt for His purchase of our souls is in our repentance. Repentance does not save us; it is the proof that we have been saved and reconciled. Only Christ saves us (Romans 10:1417; 2 Corinthians 5:166:2).

For the rest  visit www.intothyword.org

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Holy Spirit

Mark Driscoll

 

Known affectionately as “the Doctor” because of his medical career prior to preaching, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) is considered by many to be the preeminent British preacher of the twentieth century. He began working at the famed Westminster Chapel in London the day after World War II broke out. That same year he became president of InterVarsity Europe. Lloyd-Jones was famed for his exposition of the Scriptures as he preached different messages on Friday nights, Sunday mornings, and Sunday evenings for upwards of an hour each, often taking many months to work through even short chapters of the Bible.

Joy in the Holy Spirit

Lloyd-Jones retired from preaching at Westminster in 1968 following a major operation. He said that he believed God stopped him from continuing to preach through Romans because he did not personally know enough about “joy in the Holy Spirit,” which was the text of his forthcoming sermon from Romans 14:17.

Lloyd-Jones is widely admired by Christians from a number of networks, denominations, and traditions. In my own experience this would include Tim Keller, Terry Virgo, and J. I. Packer, all of whom have spoken of their great appreciation for the work of Lloyd-Jones and his influence on their ministry.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Many charismatic Calvinists love Lloyd-Jones because he taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a distinct work of the Holy Spirit separate from regeneration. Furthermore, it is reported that he had his own baptism in the Spirit in 1949, which some have called “the moment when the Charismatic Movement in Britain was born.” Not surprisingly, Lloyd-Jones also opposed the cessationistic teaching that some of the gifts of the Spirit have ceased in our age. He critiqued Calvinists such as B. B. Warfield for quenching the Spirit.

Lloyd-Jones was very much led by the Holy Spirit in his preaching, as evidenced by the fact that he would often wander from his planned talks as the Spirit led and the length of his messages varied greatly. He also preached on television a time or two but refused to do it ever again because he felt the time constraints might also quench the freedom of the Spirit.

For Further Study

For those wanting to study more about Lloyd-Jones, Iain Murray’s two-volume biography is a good place to start. For preachers, Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers is a must-read. In addition, if you want to hear him preach, you can. For example, I am listening to his sermons on 1 and 2 Peter from 1959 and taking advantage of a free podcast of his sermons here.

Today, the confluence of a love for Calvinism and the Holy Spirit is found in a growing movement thanks in large part to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and his other works. God is also using men such as my friend C. J. Mahaney for the purpose of blending the best of what is Calvinistic and Charismatic so that the mind is engaged and the passions are ignited for the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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CJ Mahaney on Justification and Sanctification

 

Justification refers to a Christians position before God. The moment you were born again, God justified you. On the basis of Christ’s finished work, God thought of your sins as forgiven and declared that you were righteous.

 

Sanctification, on the other hand, refers to our practice before God. It is the ongoing process of battling sin and becoming more like Jesus. Though sanctification is the evidence and goal of our justification, we must never see it as the basis of our justification. Here’s where so many Christians get confused. They try to earn what has already been given to them as a free gift. As Martin Luther stated, “The only contribution we make to our justification is our sin which God so graciously forgives.”

 

There are other vital distinctions. Justification is about being declared righteous; sanctification is about becoming more righteous. Justification is immediate; sanctification is gradual. Justification is complete the moment God declares us righteous. It does not take place by degrees. Sanctification, however, is a process that lasts as long as we live. Finally, while every Christian enjoys the same degree of justification, we vary in terms of sanctification. You will never be more justified than you are at this moment, because justification is an act of God. But by God’s grace, you will become ever more sanctified as you cooperate with God’s Spirit in the process of change.

 

Though its important to distinguish between justification and sanctification, these two doctrines are inseparable. God does not justify someone without sanctifying him as well. Sanctification is not optional. If one has truly been justified, that will be evident by a progressive work of sanctification in his life.

-C.J. Mahaney

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What Does “coram Deo” Mean?

by R.C. Sproul

I remember Mama standing in front of me, her hands poised on her hips, her eyes glaring with hot coals of fire and saying in stentorian tones, “Just what is the big idea, young man?”

 

Instinctively I knew my mother was not asking me an abstract question about theory. Her question was not a question at all–it was a thinly veiled accusation. Her words were easily translated to mean, “Why are you doing what you are doing?” She was challenging me to justify my behavior with a valid idea. I had none.

 

Recently a friend asked me in all earnestness the same question. He asked, “What’s the big idea of the Christian life?” He was interested in the overarching, ultimate goal of the Christian life.

 

To answer his question, I fell back on the theologian’s prerogative and gave him a Latin term. I said, “The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.”

 

This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

 

 

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.

 

To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. The uniform experience of the saints is to recognize that if God is God, then He is indeed sovereign. When Saul was confronted by the refulgent glory of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his immediate question was, “Who is it, Lord?” He wasn’t sure who was speaking to him, but he knew that whomever it was, was certainly sovereign over him.

 

Living under divine sovereignty involves more than a reluctant submission to sheer sovereignty that is motivated out of a fear of punishment. It involves recognizing that there is no higher goal than offering honor to God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices, oblations offered in a spirit of adoration and gratitude.

 

To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos.

 

The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.

 

This means that if a person fulfills his or her vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation. It means that David was as religious when he obeyed God’s call to be a shepherd as he was when he was anointed with the special grace of kingship. It means that Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father’s carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.

 

Coram Deo . . . before the face of God. That’s the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles.

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God is a trinity of persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the same person as the Son; the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as Father. They are not three gods and not three beings. They are three distinct persons; yet, they are all the one God. Each has a will, can speak, can love, etc., and these are demonstrations of personhood. They are in absolute perfect harmony consisting of one substance. They are coeternal, coequal, and copowerful. If any one of the three were removed, there would be no God. (See also, "Another Look at the Trinity")

Jesus, the Son, is one person with two natures: Divine and Human. This is called the Hypostatic Union. The Holy Spirit is also divine in nature and is self aware, the third person of the Trinity.

There is, though, an apparent separation of some functions among the members of the Godhead. For example, the Father chooses who will be saved (Eph. 1:4); the Son redeems them (Eph. 1:7); and the Holy Spirit seals them, (Eph. 1:13).

A further point of clarification is that God is not one person, the Father, with Jesus as a creation and the Holy Spirit is a force (Jehovah’s Witnesses). Neither is He one person who took three consecutive forms, i.e., the Father, became the Son, who became the Holy Spirit. Nor is God the divine nature of the Son (where Jesus had a human nature perceived as the Son and a divine nature perceived as the Father (Oneness theology). Nor is the Trinity an office held by three separate Gods (Mormonism).

The word "person" is used to describe the three members of the Godhead because the word "person" is appropriate. A person is self aware, can speak, love, hate, say "you," "yours," "me," "mine," etc. Each of the three persons in the Trinity demonstrate these qualities.
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The One and the Many by Gregory of Nazianzus

In recent times two things have greatly concerned me. The first is the lack of Trinitarian emphasis in the modern Reformed faith. Is it not the case that you could attend worship in a Reformed church for weeks on end and not recognise anything distinctly Trinitarian about it?  Secondly, I am concerned about the near absolute ignorance of the Patristics (in ten years of reading Christian books, I have only read one by an Early Church Father); why are we (perhaps not deliberately) treating with contempt the people who wrote the great Creeds of our faith?

Anyway, enough ranting for now; in the meantime here is a quote on the Trinity from Gregory of Nazianzus which John Calvin says ‘vastly delights me’:

“I cannot think on the one without being quickly encircled by the splendour of the three; nor can I discern the three without being straightaway carried back to the one.” View article…

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The Pentecostal Movement from 30,000 Feet

The Pentecostal Movement had two main roots: a Wesleyan and a non-Wesleyan root.  In the Wesleyan tradition, Phoebe Palmer represents the movement well.  She picked up on the doctrine of perfectionism – that it is possible to be freed from sin in this life.  Palmer taught a “second blessing” which was an extraordinary work of the Spirit which would accomplish this perfection.  Palmer was highly influential through various publications and had many opportunities to teach her perfectionism.

The other root is perhaps best illustrated in Dwight L. Moody.  This root should be distinguished from the Phoebe Palmer brand of Pentecostalism since Moody did not see the Spirit as a second blessing and agent of perfectionism.  Rather Moody saw the work of the Holy Spirit empowering him particularly for extraordinary evangelism.  Moody did not seem to develop much of a distinct theology, but used his views of the Spirit’s work and moved forward in evangelistic work.  This non-Wesleyan tradition did not emphasize baptism of the Holy Spirit but focused on the Spirit’s role in producing holy living.  This was not perfectionism.  Holy living was accomplished through sanctification which for this brand of Pentecostalism was best understood as an act of faith accomplished through the Spirit.  The Moody style of Pentecostalism did not engender the perfectionist bent, but placed a premium on holy living in conjunction with evangelism.

William Boardman, another pillar of Pentecostalism, became influenced by this Pentecostal teaching and became involved in the Moody revivals in the Keswick perish of English.  This Keswick movement (which is sometimes called the Higher Life movement) taught the second blessing/perfectionism doctrine and influenced many people.  Charles Fox Parham was a teacher at a bible college, was one of these people.  He taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was confirmed by the speaking of tongues.  This teaching resulted in a large outbreak of tongues speaking on Azusa Street in Los Angeles – an event for which the LA Times picked up the story.  The Times reported people speaking strange non-earthly languages and thus helped spread Pentecostalism by publicizing it.

It’s not too difficult to understand the growth of Pentecostalism.  It was attractive to many because it was conservative, yet simple.  It defended the inerrancy of the Bible, justification by faith, and the Trinity and therefore wasn’t too “scary” to the average church-goer.  The Assemblies of God wrote these traditional beliefs into their statement of faith but they added what have become Pentecostal distinctives such as speaking in tongues as a confirmation of baptism of the Holy Spirit and premillennial eschatology.

A second wave of Pentecostalism which arose in the 1960s was concerned with the attendant signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit and a third wave incorporated much of what we consider the charismatic movement.  John Wimber could be considered the father of the worship style found in many (if not most) American churches.  Wimber was a music producer and following his conversion sought to incorporate contemporary music into the worship service.  In some ways he was following the example of Aimee Semple McPherson.  “Sister Aimee” as she was called was perhaps the first major figure to bring contemporary music to the church when she incorporated it into the services at her Angelus Temple (dedicated in 1923).  Following her lead (perhaps unknowlingly) Wimber and the Vineyard Movement have had a huge impact on the worship services of Western Churches.

Today, the charismatic movement remains very preoccupied with the speaking of tongues.  It has even stretched into non-Pentecostal spheres.  Wayne Grudem in many ways has legitimated charismatic gifts for people holding to some reformed theology.  John Piper, a Calvinistic baptist with covenantal leanings, has been very influnece by Grudem in this area.  The Sovereign Grace Movement (CJ Mahaney, et al) is viewed by many as a reformed charismatic movement.

You can begin to see the strands of development and the complexities involved in understanding the Pentecostal Movement.  It is a fascinating topic of study that helps us to understand much of what the Western Church has become.  And according the Phillip Jenkins, the Pentecostal influence is not going to slow down anytime soon.

*As a matter of full-disclosure, this post is based on my notes from Jeff Jue’s Church in the Modern Age course taught at WTS. View article…

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The Reformers’ Doctrine of Sola Fide

The question before us is: “In what ways did the Protestant doctrine of Justification through Faith Alone (Sola Fide) challenge the traditional teaching of the medieval church?”

To begin with we must be aware of the fact that various ecumenists – people who want greater unity between Protestants and Roman Catholicism – have sought to argue that the Reformers were not really attacking the views of Medieval Roman Catholicism with respect to justification, but were only attacking abuses that were not related to the prevailing Thomistic theology of the Roman Catholic Church. However, I believe this argument is fallacious, as the Reformer’s doctrine of justification by faith alone, or sola fide, represents a significant break from late medieval teaching.

Firstly, late medieval scholastic theology believed that sinners had not only to go through the rituals of the church (such as penance) to receive for-giveness, but they then had to do good works of obedience to make satisfaction for the temporal punishment of sin and to acquire merit, through which he might eventually earn entrance into eternal life. In order to do these good works grace had to be infused into the sinner, but the sinner could never know, with complete subjective certainty, if he is in a state of grace that will justify him, because when the grounds of justification is seen as residing in sinful man (i.e. in their own good works), then the justification of the sinner in this life is always provisional and incomplete. It is only at the final judgment that man can be certain of complete absolution and be sure that he is found righteous because of the meritorious works he has performed. Thus, for Medieval Roman Catholicism, justification is a process, which ultimately depends on the good works which men have done.

The Reformers, by way of contrast, had a fundamentally different view of justification. For them, sinful man was so corrupt that even his works of obedience could not merit God’s favour, and so justification could not be founded on something based in man. Instead, in order to be accepted as righteous by God, sinners would have to be justified on account of an alien righteousness outside of themselves. And so they believed that the righteousness of Christ had to be imputed to a sinner in order for him to be accounted as righteous before God. Thus justification was a once-for-all act of grace in which God declared a sinner righteous on the basis of the merit of Christ (His death and obedience to the law of God), it was not a process dependent upon the sinners own meritorious obedience. Furthermore, the means by which the sinner received the righteousness of Christ was through faith alone; faith was not considered to be a meritorious work, as it was the gift of God and founded in His predestination (God had chosen those who would believe, He did not choose them because they would be-lieve). However, this did not mean that the Reformers had no place for good works; they believed that good works resulted from justification, but they were not the cause of it. In doing this, they distinguished between the act of justification and the process of sanctification. And because good works were no longer seen as the grounds of justification, this meant that sinners could have absolute certainty about their salvation, as they now believed that they were accepted by God on account of what Christ had done for them – which is a significant break from late medieval theology. On these main points, all the major Reformers – Luther, Zwingli and Calvin – were in essential agreement. So although they disagreed on other is-sues, there is essentially one common Protestant doctrine of justification among the Reformers.

Did the Roman Catholic authorities view the concept of sola fide as a major break with late medieval theology? Their response indicates that they did. Opposition to sola fide was evident as early as Luther’s meeting with Cardinal Cajetan at Augsburg in October 1518. The Thomist Cajetan noted that the subjective certainty of salvation on the part of the believer (which Luther’s view provides for) was a great threat to the Papal church, as it would undermine the whole idea of ‘the cycle of salvation’ in which good works and obedience to the rites of the church were seen as essential to achieving salvation. Because if people were certain of salvation, what need would there be for penance, indulgences, pilgrimages, absolution and so forth. Indeed, Roman Catholicism regarded the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone, on account of Christ’s merits alone, as so dangerous that the Council of Trent declared anyone who held it to be anathema. Hence there can be no dispute that sola fide was a major challenge to late medieval theology. View article…

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Yes, There is an Example of Paedobaptism (Infant Baptism) in the Bible

“And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.” (Exodus 12:37)

“I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)

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The Heart of True Ethics

(By John MacArthur)

Today’s post is from the introduction to our new staff book, Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong.

It is common in the evangelical church today for people to verbally acknowledge that the Bible, as God’s Word, is the final authority for both what they believe and how they live. Yet in reality, a clear connection between that public confession and personal conduct is rare.

Instead of looking to the Bible, many professing Christians look to psychology and sociology for supposed solutions to personal needs and social ills. The rise of postmodern thought has similarly skewed the church’s understanding of right and wrong—as an unbiblical tolerance (in the name of love) has weakened churches to the point where they are as soft on truth as they are on sin. Popular television shows, from Oprah to Leno to the average sitcom, have had a tangible effect (and not for the better) on how American Christians think through everyday issues. The political arena, too, has played a major role in shaping an evangelical understanding of morality, as words like “Republican” and “Democrat” or “liberal” and “conservative” have come to redefine the difference between what is good and what is evil.

The fact is that far too many professing Christians live their lives, day in and day out, on the basis of something other than the Bible. As a result, their priorities reflect the world’s priorities, not God’s priorities. Their patterns of behavior and their plans for the future differ only slightly from those of their unsaved friends and neighbors. Their expenditures reveal that their perspective is temporal, and that they are vainly pursuing the elusive American Dream. Their shortcomings, when they admit to them, receive the same fault-free labels that the world ascribes (“mistakes” or “diseases” or “addictions” rather than “sins”), as they search for answers in psychology, medication, or the self-help section of the bookstore. Though they adhere to an external form of traditional Christian moralism, there isn’t anything particularly biblical or Christ-centered about how they live.

Yet it is in the lives of sinners who have been transformed by the Gospel of grace, that a distinctly Christian ethic must be fleshed out. True Christianity is not defined on the basis of external moralism, religious traditionalism, or partisan politics; but on the basis of a personal love for Jesus Christ and a desire to follow Him no matter the cost (cf. John 14:15). It is only because believers have been transformed on the inside (through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit), that they are able to exhibit godliness in their behavior. And the world cannot help but take notice. As Jesus told His hearers in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16; cf. 1 Peter 2:12).

The heart of the Christian ethic, of course, is the Gospel. Only those who have been transformed from within (Titus 3:5–8), being indwelt by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:13–14), are able to exhibit genuine holiness (Gal. 5:22–23; 1 Pet. 1:16). Biblical Christianity is not primarily concerned with external behavior modification (cf. Matt. 5–7), but with a change of heart which subsequently manifests itself in a changed life (1 Cor. 6:9–11).

A true Christian ethic, then, is not possible without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Unless the inner man is washed first, external morality and religious observances are only a superficial façade. Jesus rebuked the hypocrites of His day with these words, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27). Christ was not saying that behavior is unimportant. But rather that from God’s perspective, the heart is what matters most (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; Mark 12:30–31).

Of course, a heart that has been truly transformed by God will respond in love to His Son, Jesus Christ (cf. John 8:42). And those who love Jesus Christ will eagerly desire to follow and obey His commands (cf. John 14:15), as found in His Word (cf. Col. 3:16). A truly Christian ethic, then, eagerly affirms and applies the moral instructions found in the Bible. But it does not do so in an attempt to legalistically earn salvation (Is. 64:6). Rather, having received salvation as the free gift of God through faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8–9), it readily obeys out of a heart of love (Eph. 2:10).

If Christians are to live in keeping with who they are (as children of God), they must live according to the Word of God through the power of His Spirit. No other source of wisdom or moral insight will do. By definition, they are people of the Book—and not just on Sundays, but every day of the week (cf. Is. 66:2).

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