Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Faith is the Instrumental Cause of Our Salvation

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The anti-gospel which runs through every false religion and every false heart is the “gospel” that says “can do” instead “is finished” by Christ. We are saved by faith alone, not because of any works. What’s more, faith itself is a gift. Faith is not the ultimate good deed that saves us but the instrumental cause of our salvation—grace flows through the channel of faith, but the channel is itself of God’s construction. We are saved by Christ; faith simply acknowledges and rests upon who he is and what he provides.

Because salvation is entirely by the grace of God, we ought never to boast of our spiritual insights or accomplishments. Instead we should rest in Christ our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption (see 1 Cor. 1:30).

Faith alone justifies, but, the Reformers would say, the faith that justifies is never alone. Good works are not the root of our redemption, but they are the necessary fruit. If God has prepared good deeds beforehand, we must consider how and where we will walk today in order to fulfill his eternal purposes for us in Christ.

Adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Chain in Romans 8:29-30

In Romans 8:29-30 there is a chain, a sequence beginning with foreknowledge: all whom God foreknew He predestined. “And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” It is clear that the word “called” here is not referring to the external call of the gospel, which goes out to everyone. For not all who are externally called are justified. Therefore, this text is about the internal call, the work of the Holy Spirit that effectually changes the heart from spiritual death to spiritual life. The effectual call of the Holy Spirit brings to pass in our hearts what God purposed to do from the foundation of the world. All who have been predestined are called effectually by the Holy Spirit; all who are called by the Holy Spirit are justified; and all who are justified are glorified.

Adapted from Everyone's a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R.C. Sproul

Monday, October 14, 2019

Music Monday: The Name of Love by Mark Peterson

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Review: God's Word For Today...The Church by John Stott

Ask the everyday, normal person what is the church, you will indeed get a lot of different answers. One of the most common ones is the church is that building on that street. Many people define the church as a building, a meeting place where people sing songs and hear a guy talk. For Christian, we know the church is not the building, but there are some Christian that still cannot grasp that concept for one reason or another.

John Stott takes through what is means to be the church in the fourth book of the "God's Word For Today" series which focuses on the church. He starts off by saying the church is God's chosen people who are loved by Him that worship Him while reaching out to a world that does not know Him. The church is not the building, it is the people. Stott addresses the challenges that the church will face in the modern world, which is important because those who do not know Christ will not accept the people of God because we live for the glory of God.

Stott goes on to address evangelism. For many Christians, they think that the pastor or church staff are responsible for evangelism, which is partially true. Yes, they are responsible for evangelism, but so is the rest of the church. For some it could be one-on-one evangelism where people engage in a personal level. There is mass evangelism where a man preaches either in a pulpit or on a street corner the gospel. The church is called to evangelize, but, as Stott points out, it must not forget the church is also called to worship the Lord. Worship exalts the Lord and will even move our hearts to share the gospel where we want people to come to worship the God who saved us. Stott also wrote that for a church in engage in proper evangelism, it must have proper theology. We must have a sound, biblical grasp into who God is and what He has done for us in order to proclaim to a lost world what we believe.

Stott addresses renewal in the church reflecting on the High Priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17. Jesus prayed that we be one as He and the Father are one. In unity, we must unified in the truth of God's word and striving for holiness. Next, Stott reflects on how Jesus led as an example for the pastors of our churches to lead. Pastors are to feed, lead, know, and protect their flock as Jesus showed the disciples in His earthly ministry.

Many Christians have an unhealthy view of the church for a long time. There are other great books on the subject to help believers understand what the Bible says about it. I am delighted to recommend this book as one of those resources.

Thanks InterVarsity Press for letting me review this book.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Book Review: The Feasts of Repentance by Michael J Ovey

What comes to mind when you hear the word, repentance? Hopefully, if you are a Christian, you think about turning from your sins as you ask God for forgive you disobedience. Many Christians, sadly, do not even believe in repentance. They think it is an extra biblical teaching. Some Christians think that repentance is a one time deal that only comes when you put your faith in Jesus.

Michael J. Ovey takes us through the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts to show us where the Bible talks about repentance in a book titled, The Feasts of Repentance. This book is the latest in the "New Studies in Biblical Theology," which is edited by D.A. Carson and published by InterVaristy Press. This book is from a series a lectures from a conference back in 2013 where Ovey addressed the Bible's emphasis on repentance. Ovey passed from this life to the next in 2017 before this book was even considered to be published.

In the book, we see that repentance was indeed the call in the gospel message. We saw that in the message of John The Baptist just before the public ministry of Jesus. Of course Jesus addressed repentance Himself as He began His public ministry. Ovey showed us, from the pages of the Bible, what repentance looked like and what is didn't look like. Ovey used the example of Zacchaeus as a means to show true repentance. He was a tax collector who took stole money from people so that he could make a profit. He wanted to return what he stole four times the amount and even give half of his possessions. Ovey used the Pharisees as the example of unrepentance because they were driven by greed and pride.

Ovey continues to show that our repentance is evidence of our regeneration as demonstrated with Zacchaeus. If we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we are a repentant people. Repentance is not a one time deal as we walk in this life with the Spirit guiding us. There will time we fail, but the Spirit is there to convict us of sin so that we can repent of it.

There are many good things in the book about what repentance is and what is not. This is the first book in the "New Studies in Biblical Theology" series that I have read. I know many have recommended this series, so I hope to get a chance to read a lot more of these books. In regards to this one, pick up and read it.

Thanks InterVarsity Press for letting me review this book.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Book Review: Divine Impassibility

Does God have emotions? Does God change? These are questions that seem to be asked for quite some time. There are some who believe God does not have emotions as mankind does. There also some believe that God changes as the culture changes.

There are four views that address these issues which are addressed in the book, Divine Impassibility, which are Strong Impassibility, Qualified Impassibility, Strong Passibility, and Qualified Passibility. Each one of these views is address by four different individuals set in a debate style where one gives his view followed by the other men giving a response. Basically, instead of watching a debate on YouTube, you are actually reading one.

James E. Dolezal argues for the strong impassibility view which states that God does not experience emotional change. Daniel Castelo argues for the qualified impassibility view which says God cannot be affected by anything that is outside his will. John C. Peckham addresses the qualified possibility view that says God does indeed experience emotional change because his creation experiences them as well. Finally, Jay Oord gives us the strong possibility view which states that mankind brings genuine emotional change which causes God to experience emotional change.

Some of you may have already made up your mind as to where you stand on this issue based on the information I just gave. Before you dismiss any of these view, it is important you understand where they are coming from. Each one gives his own interpretation of the Bible to make their case just as in any good theological debate. If you are unfamiliar with these views and want to know more about them, this book is for you. If you hold to one view and want to know what others have said, then pick up and read this book.

Thanks InterVarsity Press for letting me review this book.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Music Monday: Once For All by Trevor Hodge


Verse 1
Once lost in darkness but now in light
Once torn apart but now reconciled
Once unforgiven and all alone
Now chosen people and called His own

Once far away from our Father's love
But now welcomed near by our Saviour's blood

As once for all You died to sin
The righteous for our fall
You rose to life that we might live
Forgiven once and for all
Forgiven once and for all

Verse 2
Once we opposed every grace of God
Once stood condemned in our futile fight
But now we are clothed in the love of Christ
Humbled and holy in God's sight

All glory, honour, power and praise
To the One who saves
To the One who saves

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Book Review: God's Word for Today...The Bible by John Stott

The Bible is God's Word and has been debated more than any other book in history. It is the World's number 1 best seller. It is the most accessible book in the world yet it is the least book read in the world. Christians need to have a healthy view of the Bible.

In the third book of the "God's Word for Today" series, John Stott addresses the Bible and its importance. He begins by stating the Bible teaches us how to be saved. The Bible shows us why we need to be saved and we can be saved. We see the Bible is God-breathed as God breathed life into Adam, God gave life to his Word. It is a not living organism like you and me, but it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), but it is not living document that is subject to change. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Bible is useful for teaching, reproofing, and for training in righteousness so that we are equipped for every good work.

The Bible is also used for preaching. Stott says the pulpit is not for our opinions but for God's Word. Preaching to help Christians get proper understanding of who God is and what our response should be to His gospel. Our response to the Bible is always a means for us to become mature disciples in our worship, faith, obedience, and where we truly put our hope in. We are to studying the Word for ourselves as well. Yes, hearing the Word is important, but Christians need to get into it if they want to mature in the faith.

Once again, an excellent book in this series, which I recommend to all new believers and small group leaders as they assist their fellow believers in growing in their faith.

Thank InterVarsity Press for letting me review this book.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Book Review: God's Word for Today...The Disciple by John Stott

A disciple is one who learns from a skilled teacher to have an understand of his master's profession. When the word disciple is mentioned in the church, most Christians think of the 12 disciples Jesus had during his earthly ministry. While that is true, Jesus also said we are to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-19). John Stott addresses what a disciple is in the second book for the "God's Word for Today" series, which is a revised edition of The Contemporary Christian by John Stott, called The Disciple.

Stott begins to by saying a disciple is a listener. As Christians, we are all disciples of Christ as we listen to the Word of God. We listen to the Word as we read it, study it, and as it is taught to us by faithful Bible teachers. A disciple also knows a difference between what Jesus is saying and what the world is teaching.

Next Stott states that discipleship is not just for our ears but for our entire being. We must be willing to use our minds when it comes to being a disciple such as thinking great thoughts about God and being discerning in what we are hearing. We must never keep an open mind when it comes to spiritual truths, we must have a minds ready for action as we listen to anyone who teaches the Word and anyone who says they have some truth that is from them. Stott also addresses must use our emotions to be a disciple as we worship and as we preach the Word. I must confess, I was a little apprehensive when reading this part because emotions can be misleading as listening to unhealthy teaching. Our mind and emotions are connected that we must also keep them in check and if we want to use them rightly in our service to God.

A disciple sees his vocation as his mission field. Not all Christian are called to go overseas, but all Christians are called to expand the Great Commission wherever they go. Christians see what they do not just as a means to provide for your family, but also as means to share the gospel. Finally, all disciples bear fruit. By bearing fruit, Stott is not referring to making disciples, but show the fruit of the Spirit showing that God is working in their lives. Jesus said, if we are His disciples, we bear fruit (John 15:8).

This is a good introductory book into what it means to be a disciple and most useful in small group settings.

Thanks InterVarsity Press for letting me review this book.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Spirit Seals Us

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Holy Spirit plays a role in keeping God's people saved. In three passages he is God's seal, preserving believers until the last day. The Father is the seeker (2 Cor. 1:21-22) and seals believers "in him," that is, in Christ (Eph. 1:13). The Father seals us "with the promised Holy Spirit" (v.13), who is also the "guarantee of our inheritance" (v.14). God loves us, saves us, and gives us the Spirit with whom we were "sealed for the day of redemption" (4:30).

God graciously assures believers in Christ that we are safe in his care. He seals our union with Christ by giving us the Spirit who guarantees our ultimate salvation. Surely we should be more thankful, holy, and loving in light of such amazing grace.

Adapted from the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

Friday, September 27, 2019

Progressive Christianity

Progressive Christianity is a recent movement in Protestantism that focuses strongly on social justice and environmentalism and often includes a revisionist (or non-traditional) view of the Scriptures. Since the movement entails a number of different beliefs and views on various topics, it is difficult to label the whole movement decisively as “biblical” or “unbiblical.” Each claim and belief of any movement should be filtered through the Word of God, and whatever does not line up with Scripture should be rejected.

The Bible is replete with instructions to “visit orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27, NASB) and to protect the environment that God has entrusted to us (Genesis 1:28). Insofar as Progressive Christianity is a movement that seeks to emphasize and honor these principles, it certainly lines up with Scripture. However, there are some aspects of Progressive Christianity that contradict a biblical worldview. In general, members of this movement do not ascribe to the biblical doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture, and, again, in general, do not believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God. Progressive Christianity also tends to emphasize what is known as “collective salvation” over the biblical concept of personal salvation. The Bible is clear that God redeems those individuals who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and rescues them from an eternity of being separated from Him in torment. Collective salvation, by contrast, emphasizes the restoration of whole cultures and societies to what progressive Christians believe is the correct socioeconomic structure, namely, Marxism. Marxism, in turn, is a theory of economics and politics developed by an atheist (Karl Marx) from unbiblical assumptions.

In this sense, then, the views of many progressive Christians do not fit with biblical principles. In the end, however, discretion is needed in evaluating a particular claim or belief in terms of Scripture; the whole spectrum of beliefs identified by the term “Progressive Christianity” is too broad to permit an unequivocal conclusion as to whether or not it can be labeled unbiblical. As with all uncertain issues, the Christian would do well to compare each claim of those in the Progressive Christianity movement with Scripture, asking God for the wisdom to discern truth from error. He has promised wisdom to all who seek it (James 1:5).

Source: What is Progressive Christianity, and is it biblical?