Monthly Archives: November 2010

Comfort to a Mourning Heart

Choices

O God

Though I am allowed to approach thee

I am not unmindful of my sins,

I do not deny my guilt,

I confess my wickedness, and earnestly plead forgiveness.

May I with Moses choose affliction rather than enjoy the pleasures of my sin.

Help me to place myself always under thy guiding and guardian care,

to take firmer hold of the sure covenant that binds me to thee,

to feel more of the purifying, dignifying, softening influence of the religion I profess,

to have more compassion, love, pity, courtesy,

to deem it an honor to be employed by thee as an instrument in thy hands,

ready to seize every opportunity of usefulness, and willing to offer all my talents to thy service.

Thou hast done for me all things well,

has remembered, distinguished, indulged me.

All my desires have not been gratified,

but thy love denied them to me

when fulfillment of my wishes would have proved my ruin or injury.

My trials have been fewer than my sins,

and when I have kissed the rod it has fallen from thy hands.

Thou has often wiped away my tears,

restored peace to my mourning heart,

chastened me for my profit.

All thy work for me is perfect, and I praise thee.

Arthur Bennett, “Choices” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 105.

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Seeing the Gospel in Every Text: Part 4

Seeing Christ in Every Text:

(Previous posts: Part 1: The Gospel in Every Text and Part 2: God in Every Text and Part 3: Mankind in Every Text)

While every passage of Scripture reveals the person of God and instructs us about the character of man, the ultimate meaning of every text is the redemptive work of  Christ. After His resurrection, Jesus encountered some travelers on the road to Emmaus and explained to them all that Moses and the Prophets had spoken concerning Him (Luke 24:24-27). Later on, Jesus further explained to His disciples the things concerning Himself in the Law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets. He explained from the entire Old Testament how He would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness from sin should be proclaimed in His name to all nations (Luke 24:44-47).

In John 5:39-40, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for reading the Old Testament Scriptures in an arrogant way and supposing that they had eternal life due to their knowledge and legalistic obedience to it. He informed them that they search the Scriptures for eternal life, and yet miss the whole point because eternal life is found only in Him. They had made an idol of the Scriptures and their strict obedience to it. Yet, they missed the very One who gave life to all who might worship Him.  Once again, Jesus reveals that the entire Old Testament has a central theme: to testify about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In Acts 8:34-35, Philip used the Old Testament book of Isaiah to tell the eunuch about the good news of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. Later in the book of Acts, Paul tells King Agrippa about his conversion experience. He refers to all that Moses and the Prophets had said as being ultimately that Christ would suffer, die, and rise from the dead before proclaiming light to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 26:22-23).

Furthermore, the apostle Peter wrote a letter to a number of suffering churches. In this letter, he remarked that the prophets of the Old Testament wrote the message of the gospel for their benefit (1 Peter 1:10-12). He said the prophets who wrote about the salvation (“the grace that was to be yours”) searched and inquired carefully as to what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when they predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. Peter emphasizes that the Old Testament prophets’ message was the same gospel message that had been preached to these struggling churches.

Thus, Philip, Paul, and Peter all acknowledge Jesus’ assertion that the entire corpus of Old Testament Scripture has one central message: the gospel work of Jesus Christ. The good news of God’s saving love is most fully embodied in the person and work of Christ, who is the central theme of the entire Old Testament. Therefore, if we are to read the Old Testament (and the entire Bible for that matter) without seeing Christ, then we fail to read it rightly.  So, it is crucial that we read Scripture with eyes to see the work of redemption (i.e., “the gospel solution”) that reveals God’s activity of rescuing His people by solving their pervasive fallen condition.

Some helpful questions to ask when discovering how the text reveals redemption are:

1.  What does this passage reveal about the nature of salvation?

2.  What is the “gospel solution” to the “fallen condition” that this passage states, describes, or implies?

3.  In what specific ways has Jesus obeyed in the areas where you have failed?

An example from Ephesians 2:1-10:

1.  Nature of Salvation: Salvation is a result of God’s mercy and love (v.4). God brought life to dead sinners–while they were still lifeless, He resurrected them by initiating regeneration (v.5). Salvation is by God’s grace (v.5). Salvation resulted in union with Christ in that believers are raised with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places, with the purpose being to reveal the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness toward them (vv. 6-7). This salvation through grace comes by means of man’s faith in Christ. Yet, this faith is a gift from God (vv. 8-9). The product of saving faith is a lifestyle adorned by good works (v.10).

2. Gospel Solution: Mankind was dead in sin and walked according to this world. Yet, God mercifully brought sinners to new life in Christ (vv. 4-5). While mankind was living according to this world and working out disobedience by following the passions of the flesh (and deserved God’s wrath as a result), were saved by God’s grace and raised to a place of honor before God with Christ (vv. 5-6). While mankind was entirely sinful and deserved the consequence of such depravity, God desired to save them in order to show them the depths of his grace and kindness through Christ (v.7). Since mankind could not save himself, God offered salvation by grace through faith. This was a provision of His love toward sinful rebels (vv. 8-9). As a result of God’s saving/transforming grace, initiated through Christ and planned in advance, believers no longer walk according to their formal sinful, self-centered ways but instead do good works that reflect the love and grace of God (v.10).

3.  Jesus’ Obedience: Jesus became the curse for us (Gal. 3:13). While we were dead in our trespasses and sins, He is/was “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6). While we followed the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air, Christ remained entirely committed to the Father’s will. He completely obeyed the Father and fended off the temptation of Satan (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 22:42; John 17:4; Heb. 4:15).  Instead of living by a disobedient spirit, Jesus walked according to the Holy Spirit (Matt. 4). He obeyed in the very situations that mankind failed. As a result of Christ’s obedient life and sacrificial death, God made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5) and raised us to be seated with Him (2:6). God showed us that kindness of His grace through Christ (2:7) and created us in Christ (2:10) so that we might be trophies of His grace which reflect the beauty of His glory.

These are just a few examples of how we see the gospel solution displayed in this passage. In the next post, we’ll consider how we ought to respond to God’s saving grace by confessing our sin and celebrating the person of Christ by means of praising God and living in obedience to His person.

{1} See Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching for more information on fallen condition focus and redemptive solution.

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Solas of the Reformation

Sermon(s) on the Five Solas

What are the Five Solas?

Paul Alexander (Grace Covenant Church/Elgin, IL) recently preached a sermon on the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation (Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone; Solus Christus: Christ Alone; Sola Gratia: Grace Alone; Sola Fide: Faith Alone; Soli Deo Gloria: The Glory of God Alone): Listen to the Sermon or Read the Sermon. In previous years, Larry McCall has offered a helpful six-part series on these doctrines: Listen to the Series. Understanding the Solas of the Reformation aids us in guarding the deposit of the gospel which has been entrusted to us. You can find more information on the Five Solas at Monergism.

 

Charles Spurgeon:

“I like to think that every day I am a monument of mercy, that every day a fresh display of sovereign grace is made to me; every day my Father feeds me, my Savior cleanses me, the Comforter sustains me. Every day new manifestations of the loving-kindness of the Lord break forth upon my wondering soul and give me fresh visions of His miraculous love.”

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DeYoung: Rethinking the Mission of the Church

At the most recent Sovereign Grace Ministries conference, Kevin DeYoung delivered a great lecture on the mission of the church.  He defined “missional” according to the work of Christ and made a distinction between God’s work of transforming the created world and our role in proclaiming and adorning the gospel.  Instead of trying to “transform culture,” Christians ought to be more concerned with carrying the gospel message in proclamation and practice while allowing God to transform the church and influence culture according to His will. Transforming culture is impossible apart from the work of God and is not the priority of the church.  Propagating the gospel message through our lips and lives is the mission of the church.  For that reason, he emphasized need for a gospel-centered mission of the church where good deeds are an adornment, rather than a replacement, for the gospel message.  You can listen to it here: (DeYoung)  “Rethinking the Mission of the Church”; see also Jim Donohue (“The Savior Sees”) on having gospel proclamation at the foundation of our ministries.

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