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Self-Rescue Vs. Heartfelt Confession of our Need to be Rescued

by Paul David Tripp

Since sin is deeper than bad behavior, trying to do better isn’t a solution. Only grace that changes the heart can rescue us.

There is a difference between a person in whom disappointment leads to self-reformation and someone in whom grief leads to heartfelt confession. I think that we often confuse the two. The first person believes in personal strength and the possibility of self-rescue, while the second has given up on his own righteousness and cries out for the help of another. One gets up in the morning and tells himself that he’ll do better today, but the other starts the day with a plea for grace. One targets a change in behavior, and the other confesses to a wandering heart. One assesses that he has the power for personal change, while the other knows that he needs to be given strength for the battle. One has to hold on to the possibility of personal reformation, but the other has abandoned that hope and therefore runs to God for help.

Self-reliant personal reformation and the penance that follows is the polar opposite of heartfelt confession with the repentance that follows. People who acknowledge that what they’ve done is wrong and then immediately lay out plans to do better unwittingly deny what the gospel of Jesus Christ says about them, how real change takes place, and where help can be found. What they have omitted or neglected is confession. When you confess your sins to God, you don’t just admit that you have sinned; no, you also confess that you have no power to deliver yourself from the sin you have just confessed. True confession always combines an admission of wrong with a plea for help. The heart then, encouraged by the forgiveness and presence of Jesus, longs to live in a new, better way (repentance).

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:26 -- john_hendryx

The Consummation: A Biblical Scenario

A Guest Post by Dean Davis .

NOTE: This essay is the concluding chapter of my book, The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys to the Great End Time Debate (Redemption Press, 2014). For a close study of many of the biblical texts cited here, please see the book itself, along with the relevant essays posted on my website and blog.

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THE CONSUMMATION: A BIBLICAL SCENARIO

We have come to the end of our journey. Having traversed many a biblical foothill, having scaled many an eschatological mountain, we have reached the summit. Now it is time to take in the view.

From the beginning our goal has been to behold—with clarity and conviction—the Blessed Hope of the Church.

To this end we embarked on our journey by looking closely at the Kingdom of God. First, we discerned its true nature: that it is, in essence, a direct spiritual reign of God, through Christ, by the Spirit; and it is also the realm that that reign creates. Next, we discerned its structure: that the Kingdom enters history in two simple stages: the Kingdom of the Son (already here), followed by the Kingdom of the Father (not yet here), with the two stages being separated by a single Parousia of Christ at the end of the present evil age. To our surprise and joy, we found that this careful NT investigation of the Kingdom actually enabled us to discern the true biblical outline of all Salvation History.

Mon, 11/07/2016 - 14:42 -- john_hendryx

Can Free Will Explain the Conversion of Sinners?

A guest post by Scott Christensen

How many times have you heard someone say, “I chose Christ of my own free will”? In many Evangelical circles such a notion is so self-evident as to be proverbial. “Well, of course we must exercise our free will in order to be saved!” So goes the conventional wisdom. Christians sling the phrase free will about with the same ease Tom Brady throws footballs to Rob Gronkowski. But do most really have any idea what they mean when embracing the notions that stand behind these overwrought words? Free will is part of the stock parlance of Arminian theology, and those who employ it with a little sophistication mean something like that which is advanced by philosophers known as libertarianism. And no, we are not talking about Gary Johnson! On the other hand, Calvinists have usually disparaged the use of the term, avoiding it like the scourge of Black Death. But of course Arminianism and its many step-children believe that Calvinism puts the grip of death upon the freedom and responsibility of human beings. In their mind, the dreaded Calvinists would have all humans beings consigned to a vast kingdom of droids.

Is this true?

Thu, 11/03/2016 - 07:54 -- john_hendryx

Do Christians Want to Impose a Theocracy?

One recurring comment I read from secularists at threads on websites like NPR is how Christians should be forbidden from imposing their religion on the rest of society by voting for laws in accordance with their convictions and conscience. ... yet ironically these same people seem perfectly content to impose their own view and laws on the rest of society which are in accord with their own convictions and conscience. Ask them how they know their view is right and true and you get hemming and hawing because they know deep down that their their own convictions are by faith alone. There is nothing objective or scientific about their views yet they proceed as if they were .... a convenient justification for a monopoly on power - an imposition of a kind of secular theocracy, as it were.

Take the issue of abortion, for instance. According to this kind of secularist logic, it is well and fine for secularists to use the democratic process their own subjective unscientific views about their nature of human beings on Americans with their pro-abortion laws, but Christians, because they are "religious", should not be allowed to fight for the right of human beings to live, or else they would be violating separation of church and state. Folks, we live in a Democratic republic. If we can, by the grace of God, persuade 50.1% of the people to vote for biblical laws, that is the will of the people. Outlawing abortion should be our goal.  To achieve our goals we are using the same legal methods as everyone else. Someone's laws are going to be imposed, even in a democratic republic. So to decry that Christians cannot theocratically impose their views is an attempt to silence a whole portion of the population when secularists are doing the very same thing they accuse their philosophical opponents of. 

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 14:22 -- john_hendryx

Moral Constructivism vs. Divine Command Theory

The following are some excerpts from a conversation I was having online with a friend who embraces a theory called moral constructivism.  It began after I posted the following quote by John Calvin.

"We shall never be clothed with the righteousness of Christ except we first know assuredly we have no righteousness of our own." ~ John Calvin

Visitor: To me, it is a fact of free human reason that there will be different interpretations of what moral obligations we are under. That doesn't mean that there aren't basic moral values which guide our reason. These moral values are a part of human reason. Moral constructivism is not the same as moral relativism.

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 13:45 -- john_hendryx

This Year's Vitally Important 500th Anniversary

A guest post by Jason A. Van Bemmel

I love church history. Like most leaders in the Reformed Protestant tradition, I'm excited about next year's 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Whether you are Protestant or not, this is an important milestone in the history of the world and one for which you should be thankful. But that's next year.

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 16:15 -- john_hendryx

Lectures on Preaching

Dr. Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D. C., speaking at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky

1. The Symbol and Significance of Preaching

2. The Use of Preaching

3. The Art of Preaching

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Thu, 10/27/2016 - 14:14 -- john_hendryx

Resources for Studying the Law and the Gospel

Adapted from Jon English Lee

A proper understanding of the relationship between the law and the gospel is crucial for any minister hoping to be effective in his preaching and counseling. Indeed, a flawed understanding of the relationship between law and gospel leads to all sorts of problems:

Errors in this doctrine have spawned dispensationalism, theonomy, the New Perspective on Paul, hypercovenantalism, legalism, antinomianism, shallow evangelism, shallower sanctification, worship errors and unbiblical mysticism.

Regarding the importance properly understanding the law and the gospel, Charles Bridges once wrote in his excellent work The Christian Ministry that:

The mark of a minister “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” is, that he “rightly divides the word of truth.” …This revelation is divided into two parts—the Law and the Gospel—essentially distinct form each other; though so intimately connected, that an accurate knowledge of neither can be obtained without the other.”[2]

Because such a proper understanding is so important, and because there is such a lack of teaching on the subject in both seminaries and in many churches, below I have compiled a list of resources for those seeking to grow in this area. If you have others to suggest, please list them in the comment section. Happy Reading!

Law/Gospel Resources:

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 17:21 -- john_hendryx

Why Don't Christians Follow Old Testament "rules" Such as Abstaining from Shrimp?

Visitor: Some people quote Old Testament "rules" about some things while they sit there on the Sabbath eating shrimp while wearing blended fiber clothes that cover a cute tattoo of an American flag. All of those things being forbidden by the same book they're using to condemn something else.....

Response: Forbidding the eating of shrimp was one directive for the Jews to be set apart from the unclean Gentiles as God's holy people. Jesus fulfilled the law and now He includes Gentiles, incorporating them into God's kingdom as well. When Jesus was crucified all that separated Jew and Gentile was done away with including these theocratic laws to separate them from Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-20). Gentiles are accepted now in Christ, having been formerly unclean .... recall Peter's vision on his rooftop seeing the sheets of animals come down (Acts 10:9-16) which God said he could now eat ... because God was showing him that He now accepted Gentiles coming into the kingdom. God declared “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (Acts 10:15). So understood properly there is very good reason these practices were changed. Gentiles were unclean and are now included among Abraham's offspring because of Christ (Acts 9:28; Galatians 3:29). Without understanding this background to your statement it just sounds like some arbitrary change of law. But It actually has deep significance for the New Covenant which the Old Testament itself promised all along (Genesis 22:18; Ezek 36:26) God did not change. This was his redemptive plan through the whole bible from the beginning.

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 19:56 -- john_hendryx

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