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Jesu, Juva

Posts Tagged ‘grace

Piper on justification and sanctification

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“The only sin we can fight against successfully is a forgiven sin”:

All the sins of God’s people, past, present and future, are forgiven because of the death of Christ once for all. . . . This justification on the basis of Christ’s death for us is the foundation of sanctification — not the other way around. I put it like this: the only sin we can fight against successfully is a forgiven sin. Without a once-for-all justification through Christ, the only thing that our striving for holiness produces is despair or self-righteousness.

But I did not say that the work of God in justification makes the work of God in sanctification optional. I didn’t say (the Bible doesn’t say) that forgiveness makes holiness optional. It doesn’t make it optional, it makes it possible. What we will see today is that the God who justifies also sanctifies. The faith that justifies also satisfies — it satisfies the human heart and frees it from the deceptive satisfactions of sin. Faith is the expulsive power of a new affection (Thomas Chalmers). That is why justification and the process of sanctification always go together. They both come from the same faith. Perfection comes at the end of life when we die or when Christ returns, but the pursuit of holy living begins with the first mustard seed of faith. That’s the nature of saving faith. It finds satisfaction in Christ and so is weaned away from the satisfactions of sin.

— John Piper, God Sanctifies His People

Lauterbach on censoriousness

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Mark Lauterbach has just finished an excellent series on censoriousness, which he defines (from Jonathan Edwards) as “a disposition to think evil of others.” Lauterbach shares thoughts from Edwards and himself on this sinful tendency.

Isn’t God holy? Yes, but then I reflect on how my Lord critiques me
and I think of Ps 130 — if the Lord numbered our sins, who could stand?
But he does not — he is patient and selective and gentle with us.

This series has six posts:

  1. Censorious thoughts, 1, introduction;
  2. Censorious thoughts, 2, on pride;
  3. Censorious thoughts, 3, also on pride;
  4. Censorious thoughts, 4, on receiving criticism;
  5. Censorious thoughts, 5, on love; and
  6. Censorious thoughts, final, on encouraging and supporting the work of the Spirit.

Toplady on mercy, first and last

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A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
I come with Your righteousness on, my humble offering to bring.
The judgments of Your holy law with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which Your goodness began, the arm of Your strength will complete;
Your promise is yes and amen, and never was forfeited yet.
The future or things that are now, no power below or above,
Can make You Your purpose forgo, or sever my soul from Your love.

My name from the palms of Your hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on Your heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes I to the end will endure, until I bow down at Your throne;
Forever and always secure, a debtor to mercy alone.

— Augustus Toplady, A Debtor to Mercy Alone, as modified by Bob Kauflin

Packer on the incarnation

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How are we to think of the Incarnation? The New Testament does not encourage us to puzzle our heads over the physical and psychological problems that it raises, but to worship God for the love that was shown in it. For it was a great act of condescension and self-humbling. “He, who had always been God by nature,” writes Paul, “did not cling to his privileges as God’s equal, but stripped Himself of every advantage by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a man. And, plainly seen as a human being, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, to the point of death, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal” (Phil 2:6-8 Phillips). And all this was for our salvation. . . .

The crucial significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place in the sequence of steps down that led the Son of God to the cross of Calvary, and we do not understand it till we see it in this context. . . . The taking of manhood by the Son is set before us in a way which shows us how we should ever view it — not simply as a marvel of nature, but rather as a wonder of grace.

– J. I. Packer, Knowing God, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993; pp. 58-59.

Written by Scott Moonen

December 16, 2006 at 7:44 pm

What Doug Wilson learned in Narnia

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Doug Wilson has written a series of posts on what he learned in the land of Narnia:

He writes,

I have learned far more in Narnia than I can ever begin to explain, and so all I am going to try to do here is give you a small taste of some of the more important lessons I learned there. I hope that readers of these small sketches will be able to do what I have done, and read these books over and over for the rest of their lives. Each reading offers additional wisdom, but the wisdom is never simplistic—rather it is richly textured, reflecting the many different sources of Lewis’ insight.

Consider his reflections on Lewis’s wisdom, and let it inspire you to reread the books!

The Marrow Controversy

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My notes on Sinclair Ferguson’s lectures on the marrow controversy.

The full text of Fisher’s book The Marrow of Modern Divinity, including Boston’s notes, is available online.

Antinomianism and legalism were surface issues. The book itself was a surface issue — Boston claimed surface only. The gospel and grace were at stake.

  1. marrow controversy opens question of nature of grace and offer of gospel
  2. opens rlsp between saving faith and assurance (Ferguson will not speak much on this)
  3. it opens answer of grace of gospel to legalism
  4. it opens answer of grace of God to antinomianism

These men were confusing the fruit of grace with qualifications for grace, turning the free grace of god in the gospel upon its head and distorting the message of the glorious grace of God.

Four errors written in to the position that the marrow men opposed, into which our reformed theology so readily slips.

  1. Christ was being separated from his benefits in the preaching of the gospel. Rather, the benefits of the gospel were being separated from Christ. Adopted a wrong starting place in thinking of the gospel: “To whom belong the benefits of the work of Christ?” But then concluded that we must offer the benefits only to the elect. Then we offer the gospel only to those who seem to show some sign of belonging to the elect.

    But Christ himself in all his fullness and sufficiency to save all who come to him may be offered to all, even though the benefits be received only by those who believe. There is a savior, and in his death and resurrection he is sufficient to save all who come to him by faith.

    This was the same error that Arminians fell into — “there is no well-meant offer”. Throughout scripture, Christ himself is offered to all men. We will never discover his benefits until we find him as savior and lord, clothed with the benefits of the gospel to all who receive him. He is magnified and glorified in the gospel.

    Aside: this reminds me of Murray’s comments on union with Christ in Redemption Accomplished and Applied.

  2. Conditional offer of the gospel.

    Conviction, faith, repentance, forsaking sin. These are fruit of conversion and grace. Only these enable us to forsake sin.

    Forsaking sin cannot be a condition of hearing the offer of Christ. Conviction is not a condition men must meet, but is a means God powerfully uses in various ways and to various degrees.

    Bunyan Pilgrim’s Progress — burden should be released at beginning of pilgrimage. Cross is right in front of us. We may cast ourselves upon it immediately.

    We do not preach conviction as the warrant of faith. We must offer Jesus in all his sufficiency as the warrant of faith.

  3. God’s sovereign free grace became diminished, because God became conditional. God’s election and atonement and redemption is unconditional. Also, it is not the case that Jesus persuaded an unwilling Father to save us.

    No conditionality in the fellowship of the trinity; no covenant within the trinity that “I will save them if you die for them”. So-called “covenant of redemption”. The father himself loved the world and gave his son for them. Jesus’s death is not the reason God loves us. He loved us first.

    His love is wholly without condition. His grace is wholly free. Pharisees preached conditional salvation. Jesus invited those without to come to him unconditionally. It is not even an unconditional election that works through a conditional grace.

  4. It changes the character of pastoral ministry.

    We know the pattern of grace, the ordo salutis. We have mastered the pattern of grace, but not been mastered by grace itself, so grace will not flow from us to others. Our ministry will be conditional!

    Owen – knowledge of truth who have never been mastered by the power of the truth.

    Does our love for orthodoxy prevent us from preaching unconditional grace, whether to unbelievers or to anguished believers? Are we more like the prodigal son’s father or brother?

Scottish Presbytery showed greater kindness to Arminianism, which proved to be a halfway house to full-blown legalism, than to those who reveled in the wonder of free grace. It was already going down the road to legalism.

Legalism is not an academic problem. It is a constant and prominent pastoral issue. It is “one of the most subtle and all-pervasive influences that can ever twist a man’s soul away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.” It is “the ultimate pastoral problem of all”, addressing the very lie about God that underlies Satan’s first temptation and our bondage to sin.

False idea of “covenant of works”, that God is restrictive and legalist. Even first covenant was a gracious covenant. Legalism is not the response to antinomianism/easy-believism. God’s glorious and free grace is.

Written by Scott Moonen

July 29, 2006 at 6:32 pm