How many of us try to clean ourselves up before approaching the Lord's Table, as if there were some degree or level of purity that we could reach that would make us acceptable to God? The command to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself should be sufficient to make you recognize your utter inability to do so. In all likelihood, the thinking that we have to make ourselves right and acceptable before God before he will accept us probably derives its origin from the influential but flawed theology of Pietism. For what man could ever clean himself up enough to make himself acceptable to God? And if he could clean himself up to that degree, then what further need would he have of a Savior or the nourishment of the Lord's Supper? He would be self-sufficient. The whole point of both the gospel and the Lord's Supper for Christians is to continually recognize our own spiritual bankruptcy and dependency on the grace and promises of Christ.
In his letter to the Galatians Paul asks Christians who were in danger of thinking they could add to Christ's work or make themselves acceptable by some other way, "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3). No, this is folly, because what God still wants from us as Christians is a broken Spirit, one which still recognizes its own moral and spiritual inability and complete need of God's grace to move on. One that says, "have mercy on me, I am insufficient for the task.". Anyone who thinks, therefore, that they can approach the Lord's table with a pure undefiled heart are really missing the point of the gospel.
Here is the now completed series of B.R.I.D.G.E. Ministries (Laredo, Texas) podcasts covering the doctrines of grace (the so called TULIP acrostic):
Teachers include Dr. John Frame, Pastor Jeff Durbin, Pastor John Samson, Dr. James White, Dr. Tim Trumper & Dr. Joel Beeke.
1. The Sovereignty of God - Dr. John Frame:
"so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” - 1 Cor 1:29-31
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
There is no doubt that the Bible teaches that God works in us, and we work. (Phil 2:13). And it is certainly true that good works may be described as a cooperation of sorts, but (and here is the kicker) good works are not the same thing as sanctification.
- Repentance is a gift from God. We mustn’t assume that repentance has its origin within us. God gives repentance as a gift of grace through the work of the Spirit in His people and as such ought to be treated as a gift with an awareness of an undeserved mercy. (2 Tim. 2:25)
- Repentance is recognizing that our offense is primarily a transgression against God, His holy character, and His Law, and secondarily a transgression against our neighbor as His image bearer. Therefore real repentance is to be offered for real sins and real transgressions and not for illusory or made-up offenses. (Matt.
As Phil Johnson once posted,
I often ask Arminians, 'Why do you even pray for the lost? Your theology tells you God has already done everything He could possibly do to save them and now its all up to them. So why do you pray for your lost relatives? Something in you knows that God is sovereign over their hearts'."
Johnson is right. As we read through the Scripture, it is clear we are to pray for the lost. Paul prays for his fellow unbelieving Jews, "Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." (Romans 10:1)
But the Arminian almost always asks,
"Why do YOU pray for the lost if GOD already choose to save them or not."
by J. Gresham Machen
The following is a short excerpt from Machen’s essay, “The Responsibility of the Church in Our New Age.” This remarkably relevant work originally appeared in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1933. You can hear a reading of the full essay from this recent episide of Theology Simply Profound here (MP3). Here's the excerpt:
In the first place, a true Christian church, now as always, will be radically doctrinal. It will never use the shibboleths of a pragmatist skepticism. It will never say that doctrine is the expression of experience; it will never confuse the useful with the true, but will place truth at the basis of all its striving and all its life. Into the welter of changing human opinion, into the modern despair with regard to any knowledge of the meaning of life, it will come with a clear and imperious message. That message it will find in the Bible, which it will hold to contain not a record of man’s religious experience but a record of a revelation from God.
“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed…Train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:6-7).
A friendly, pastoral reminder to remember to review and memorize your catechism this year! I especially encourage parents and officers to go through the Westminster Shorter Catechism as a helpful and important reminder of what you believe. “Catechize” comes from a Greek word that means to teach, to instruct, it can have the nuance of covenantal nurture in the faith, for both adults and especially children in the covenant.
Briefly, why should you catechize yourself and your family? A few reasons to get you thinking…
The following post is a response to this comment found on social media:
"Being GAY is not a CRIME. And it is not a SIN.: Stop using God to justify your prejudice. Religion is about Loving one another, You're just looking for an excuse to hate."
If someone were to simply take a few hours out of their life to carefully examine what other people believe before misrepresenting it, it may go a long way toward solving needless conflicts in our world, even before they arise. Instead of claiming the moral high ground by dictating what others' beliefs are all about, it might be worth reading about what others actually believe. Christianity is starkly different than what you assume it to be.
Let's consider some of the presuppositions of the author of this meme.
1) The author presupposes that Christians believe they deserve heaven, while sinners like these gay people over here, deserve hell. How do I know that the author holds this presupposition? Because the entire meme is an attempt to paint Christian's as prejudice and hateful, believing themselves to be morally superior to gay people ... an attempt to paint Christians as a people who God accepts because they are morally decent but a God who rejects gay people because they are not.