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Come as You Are?

"It is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather he accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ's sake. Nor does He mean to leave us the way He found us, but to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Without that transformation and new conformity of life we do not have any evidence that we were ever His in the first place." - Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

Comments:

Jesus came "to proclaim good news to the poor ... to proclaim liberty to the captives." (Luke 4:18)

When sinners like us, by the grace of God, come to Christ one of the most important reasons we do so is because we want Him to unburden us from our sin, both from its guilt and from its power ... with the goal that we might have intimate fellowship with God.. so to know that God will not leave us as we are, in sin's grip, is a major part of the good news of Christ.

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 14:09 -- john_hendryx

Can a Professing Christian Who Has Turned Away from Christ Be Saved?

by R. C. Sproul

I believe that once a person is authentically redeemed, is truly in Christ, that person will never be lost to Christ. That person has what we call eternal security—not because of the person’s innate ability to persevere, but I believe that God promises to preserve His own and that we have the benefit of our Great High Priest who intercedes for us every day. Now, at the same time, Christians are capable of gross and heinous sin. They’re capable of very serious falls away from Christ. They’re capable of the worst kind of denial and betrayal of our Lord.

Consider, for example, Exhibit A—the apostle Peter, who denied Jesus with cursing. He was so emphatic that he uttered profanities to underscore the fact that he never knew Jesus. If you talk about somebody who didn’t seem to want to repent and who had turned away from Jesus, Saint Peter is your classic example. Yet his fellow disciple Judas also betrayed Jesus and turned away from Him, and of course, both of the betrayals were predicted by Jesus at the Last Supper. When Jesus spoke of Judas, He said, “What you have to do, do quickly. Go.” And He dismissed him to his treachery. He mentioned in the Scripture that Judas was a son of perdition from the beginning. I think it’s clear in Jesus’ High Priestly prayer that He understood Judas was never a Christian. So Judas’s betrayal was not the case of a Christian turning on Christ.

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 12:47 -- john_hendryx

5 Questions That Steal or Seal Your Hope

by Paul David Tripp.

This post is adapted from his book Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do

Hope Versus Panic

It is quite clear that your view of God will inescapably shape your perspective on your circumstances. In this way your theology is like a lens through which you examine life. This means you never come at your circumstances from some happy place of neutrality. You and I are always evaluating our situation from the vantage point of vertical awe or awelessness. In some way, we, like the children of Israel, are always asking and answering five deeply theological questions, and the way that we answer them will push us toward hope or panic.

1. Is God good?

Now you can rest assured that the goodness of God will confuse you. You see, what looks good from God’s perfect eternity-to-destiny perspective doesn’t always seem good to us at ground level. It is hard to accept that God knows better than we do. It is hard to admit that God can use difficulties for good in our lives. When it comes to what is good, it is very hard for us to stay on God’s agenda. And again the issue of awe lies at the heart of this. If I live at the center of my God-given capacity for awe—that is, if awe of self has replaced awe of God—then I will invariably conclude that God is not always good, and loads of complaints will follow.

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 17:21 -- john_hendryx

How Do We Relate to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

by Michael Horton

adapted from his new book, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life.

What we meet in the unfolding biblical drama is not merely three “personas” but three concrete persons; not just three roles, but three actors. We encounter the Father as the origin of creation, redemption, and consummation, the Son as the mediator, and the Spirit as the one who brings every work to completion.

There are various ways of formulating this mystery:

1. The Son is the Father’s image; the Spirit is the bond of love between them. Consequently, in every external work of the Godhead the Father is the source, the Son is the mediator, and the Spirit is the consummator. Creation exists from the Father, in the Son, by the power of the Spirit; in the new creation Christ is the head while the Spirit is the one who unites the members to him and renews them according to Christ’s image to the glory of the Father.

2. Or we can say that the Father works for us, the Son works among us, and the Spirit works within us.

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 17:29 -- john_hendryx

Muhammad and Jesus Contrasted

Have you noticed that whenever there is a terrorist attack that certain people rush to the defense of Islam saying "Well there are extremists in Christianity too" No doubt there are professing Christians who have committed despicable and inexcusable acts but it really misses the point entirely. There is something intrinsic to teaching in the Quran and early Islamic history that is somehow being missed in these online discussions.

Muhammad directly taught, in many circumstances, that we ought to kill or subjugate our enemies (e.g.. Surah 9). Christ by example taught we ought to die for our enemies and liberate them  ...  It is recorded in history that Mohammed had murdered dozens of his enemies by the time of his death. Jesus, having killed no one, died to reconcile his enemies to himself, calling us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek when we are persecuted by them. Following these teachings, the first 500 years of Islam was a story of bloody conquest.  The first few hundred years of the church was one of weakness and severe persecution for the followers of Christ, not conquest.  So we can see that the teaching of the two heads of these faiths could not be more sharply contrasted. One leader in many circumstances gives justification to sacrifice others, the other only justification to sacrifice self for others. 

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 14:58 -- john_hendryx

Confusing the Gospel with the Fruit of the Gospel

by Graeme Goldsworthy

It cannot be stressed too much that to confuse the gospel with certain important things that go hand in hand with it is to invite theological, hermeneutical and spiritual confusion.  Such ingredients of preaching and teaching that we might want to link with the gospel would include the need for the gospel (sin and judgment), the means of receiving the benefits of the gospel (faith and repentance), the results or fruit of the gospel (regeneration, conversion, sanctification, glorification) and the results of rejecting it (wrath, judgment, hell).  These, however we define and proclaim them, are not in themselves the gospel. if something is not what God did in and through the historical Jesus two thousand years ago, it is not the gospel. Thus Christians cannot ‘live the gospel’, as they are often exhorted to do.  They can only believe it, proclaim it and seek to live consistently with it.  Only Jesus lived (and died) the gospel.  It is a once-for-all finished and perfect event done for us by another.

When we confuse the fruit of the gospel in the Christian life for the gospel itself, hermeneutical confusion is introduced.  The focus easily turns to the life of the believer and the experience of the Christian life.  These can then become the norms by which Scripture is interpreted.  Instead of interpreting our experience by the word, we start to interpret the word by our experience.  Such reversal of perspective from Christ to self really begins the movement towards the autonomy of human reason in hermeneutical theory.

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:56 -- john_hendryx

The Book of Revelation Is Not Just about the Future

This post is adapted from the chapter entitled "Revelation" by Charles E. Hill in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized , edited by Michael J. Kruger.

The Denouement of Scripture

The “Revelation of Jesus Christ” portrays in dramatic fashion the paradoxical present rule of Jesus Christ as King of all the kings of the world, his ultimate triumph, and the salvation of his people through tribulation. As monumental as this is, it is not all. In the course of reexperiencing the visions John saw on Patmos, John’s audience witnesses not only the salvation of man, God’s image, but also the reclamation of the heavens, the earth, and the subterranean regions (i.e., the sea, the abyss, hades, fountains of water), the domains of man’s dominion as originally given in Genesis 1–3. Revelation presents to us a great Serpent, a woman who brings forth a male child who is to rule the earth, and a final restoration of the tree of life. The symbolism of the book ranges through the entire Old Testament canonical Scriptures and drives us back to the very beginning for some of its most elemental imagery.

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 13:15 -- john_hendryx

The Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ

by Sinclair B. Ferguson

“The Spirit’s coming inaugurates a communion with Christ in which the Spirit who dwelt on Christ now dwells on and in believers… The coming of the Spirit is the equivalent of the indwelling of Jesus…

Having the Spirit is the equivalent, indeed the very mode, of having the incarnate, obedient, crucified, resurrected and exalted Christ indwelling us so that we are united to Him as He is united to the Father.

It is this sense that John sees the difference that Pentecost signals in the ministry of the Spirit. Now, as the bond of union to God, the Spirit indwells all who believe as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a development of epochal proportions.

The Spirit who was present and active at Christ’s conception as the head of the new creation, by whom He was anointed at baptism (John 1:32-34), who directed Him throughout His temptations (Matthew 4:1), empowered Him in His miracles (Luke 11:20), energized Him in His sacrifice (Hebrews 9:14), and vindicated Him in His resurrection (1 Timothy 3:16; Romans 1:4), now indwells disciples in this specific identity.

This is the meaning of our Lord’s words, otherwise impossible to comprehend: ‘It is for your good that I am going away’ (John 16:7).”

-----

 From Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit: Contours of Christian Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 71-72.

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 13:27 -- john_hendryx

Making a Case for the Resurrection

A Guest Post by Steve Hays

Over the years I've read a number of prominent Christian apologists make their case for the Resurrection. Notable examples include John Warwick Montgomery, C.E.B. Cranfield, William Lane Craig, Timothy and Lydia McGrew, Richard Swinburne, Gary Habermas, N. T. Wright, and Mike Licona. Craig in particular has been influential in making a stereotypical case for the Resurrection, based on his minimal facts strategy, that's widely copied. 
 
So I was thinking recently about how I'd make a case for the Resurrection if I was asked to give a presentation at church or college. 

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 14:19 -- john_hendryx

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