Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Exulting in the Saving Work of Christ

Here is more from the statement of faith. This section on the saving work of Christ is thoroughly biblical and reformed as well as evangelistic and compassionate.

7. The Saving Work of Christ

7.1 We believe that by His perfect obedience to God and by His suffering and death as the immaculate Lamb of God, Jesus Christ obtained forgiveness of sins and the gift of perfect righteousness for all who trusted in God prior to the cross and all who would trust in Christ thereafter. Through living a perfect life and dying in our place, the just for the unjust, Christ absorbed our punishment, appeased the wrath of God against us, vindicated the righteousness of God in our justification, and removed the condemnation of the law against us.

7.2 We believe that the atonement of Christ for sin warrants and impels a universal offering of the gospel to all persons, so that to every person it may be truly said, “God gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.”120 Whosoever will may come121 for cleansing at this fountain, and whoever does come, Jesus will not cast out.122

7.3 We believe, moreover, that the death of Christ did obtain more than the bona fide offer of the gospel for all; it also obtained the omnipotent New Covenant123 mercy of repentance124 and faith125 for God’s elect. Christ died for all, but not forall in the same way. In His death, Christ expressed a special covenant love to His friends,126 His sheep,127 His bride.128 For them He obtained the infallible and effectual working of the Spirit to triumph over their resistance and bring them to saving faith.129

109 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:18-19).

110 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (1 Peter 2:24). For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (Romans 3:24-25). For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died (2 Corinthians 5:14). For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died (Romans 8:34). For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living (Romans 14:9). I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).

111 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

112 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). In [him] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14). Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you (Acts 13:38).

113 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). [May I] be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith Philippians 3:9). But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction (Romans 3:21-22).

114 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). . . .whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).

115 He justifies him who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26). For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Romans 3:28). [We] know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified (Galatians 2:16).

116 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. . . . For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:1, 3). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

117Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:3-6). [We] wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (Romans 5:9). For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

118 . . .whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).

119 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

120 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19). [Christ will present you blameless to God if] you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister (Colossians 1:23). You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

121 And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17, KJV). Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst (John 4:14).

122 Him who comes to me I will not cast out (John 6:37).

123 [He took] the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). In the same way [he took] also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15; see also 12:24). Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

124 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-25). When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).

125 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44). For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6:65). For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (Matthew 11:27). And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14).

Friday, October 27, 2006

Statement of Faith on the Bible

The following comes from a church's statement of faith. It is a section about the Bible. They acknowledge the infallibility and inspiration of Scripture, and then give the following thoughts. I have inserted the Scripture texts cited in smaller print. The reason I am posting this is that I think it gives a much better idea of a Christian hermeneutic. This is truly a grammatical-historical hermeneutic. This is unlike the so-called "literal" hermeneutic of dispensationalism, which though it claims the "grammatical-historical" label, it is not such. So here is a statement on the Bible that I am very comfortable with, and I would love to hear some feedback about it:

1.2 We believe that God’s intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

1.3 We believe God’s intentions are revealed through the intentions of inspired human authors, even when the authors’ intention was to express divine meaning of which they were not fully aware, as, for example, in the case of some Old Testament

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory (1 Peter 1:10-11). He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation (John 11:51).

Thus the meaning of Biblical texts is a fixed historical reality, rooted in the historical, unchangeable intentions of its divine and human authors. However, while meaning does not change, the application of that meaning may change in various situations. Nevertheless it is not legitimate to infer a meaning from a Biblical text that is not demonstrably carried by the words which God inspired.

There are some things in [Paul’s epistles] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures (2 Peter 3:16). [Satan said to Jesus] “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:6-7).

1.4 Therefore, the process of discovering the intention of God in the Bible (which is its fullest meaning) is a humble and careful effort to find in the language of Scripture what the human authors intended to communicate. One’s limited abilities, traditional biases, personal sin, and cultural assumptions often obscure the understanding of Biblical texts. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit is essential for right understanding of the Bible,

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

and prayer for His assistance belongs to a proper effort to understand and apply God’s Word.

Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law (Psalm 119:18). Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes (Psalm 119:12). I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (Ephesians 1:18).

Friday, October 13, 2006

River North Baptist Church

Bill and Tamra Branks are good friends of ours who have been in Chicago for over 2 years now. They have planted River North Baptist Church in downtown Chicago and have a wonderful new work there. Please stop by and visit their blog on a regular basis and pray for them as God continues to use the Branks and RNBC in amazing ways!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Separated at Birth?

Okay, to put this at rest once and for all, I'm asking you, do I really look like this guy?

Anwoth is not Heaven

Samuel Rutherford ministered in a town in Scotland called Anwoth. This blog is so named because it was in Anwoth that Rutherford sought to have Christ exalted for all of Scotland to see.

Anwoth was a beautiful place. Rutherford once wrote in a letter that "Anwoth is not heaven." But as this picture of a portion of the landscape shows, Anwoth may not be heaven, but it must be close: