Sermon Producing Fruit

There are thousands who listen regularly to the preaching of the Gospel, and admire it while they listen. They do not dispute the truth of what they hear. They even feel a kind of intellectual pleasure in hearing a good and powerful sermon. But their religion never goes beyond this point. Their sermon-hearing does not prevent them living a life of thoughtlessness, worldliness, and sin.

Let us often examine ourselves on this important point. Let us see what practical effect is produced on our hearts and lives by the preaching which we profess to like. Does it lead us to true repentance towards God, and lively faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ? Does it excite us to weekly efforts to cease from sin, and to resist the devil? These are the fruits which sermons ought to produce, if they are really doing us good. Without such fruit, a mere barren admiration is utterly worthless. It is no proof of grace. It will save no soul.

~ J.C. Ryle

Originally posted here.

Application is Not Legalism

“There are many pastors today who, for fear of being branded ‘legalists’, give their congregation no ethical teaching. How far we have strayed from the apostles! ‘Legalism’ is the misguided attempt to earn our salvation by obedience to the law. ‘Pharisaism’ is a preoccupation with the externals and minutiae of religious duty. To teach the standards of moral conduct which adorn the gospel is neither legalism nor pharisaism but plain apostolic Christianity”

(Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 158).

Originally Posted Here

Would believing in Christ be an act of man’s will that is pleasing to God?

Calvinists, Arminians and middle of the road non-denominational denominations would all answer yes to this question. We would also agree that putting one’s faith in Christ for salvation is well pleasing to the Father. However, the Calvinist does not see eye to eye when answering the question, why one person believes in Christ and another does not. The Arminian and the middle of the roader answer this question by saying man’s “free will” is the deciding factor. They both agree that the unregenerate will of man has the ability and is capable of choosing or rejecting Christ. Both are able to produce various Bible passages that refer to man choosing to serve God, but they fail to understand “why” one is choosing to serve God.

The Calvinist or reformed, will agree that man does choose to put his faith in Christ, but it is the act of God’s saving grace which precedes personal faith that is the determining factor. The unregenerate stony heart has no ability to believe in Christ because he does not accept the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14). God first regenerates the heart of the rebel sinner, then he is able to bow the knee and confess Christ as his personal savior (Eze 36:26; Tit 3:4-7; Rom 10:9-10). Let us examine this in the light of Scripture as we exegete Romans 8:8 where Apostle Paul says, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” We immediately see that the “will” of the unbeliever is not able to please God. Paul establishes the point in Romans 8:9b that anyone void of the Holy Spirit cannot please God because they do not belong to Him.
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Repenting and Continuing to Repent

Can someone be damned if they repented and continue to repent of their sins?

Of course. Even Judas was sorrowful over his sin, according to the Bible. The world is full of people who are disgusted at at least some of their sins, who seek to put particular sins behind them. This kind of sorrow is not how we have peace with God. While repentance is intimately connected to how and why God forgives us, it is not at all by itself a sufficient cause.

Properly speaking that repentance which “saves” is not merely a turning from, but is a turning to. We have peace with God because Jesus suffered the wrath of the Father that is due to us for our sin, and because He lived a perfect life.  The work of Christ becomes ours when we, because of the work of the Holy Spirit in first regenerating us, repent and believe, or trust in the work of Christ. If we so trust all our sins are forgiven, because they have already been punished. This describes all our sins, past, present and future.

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Rethinking Spiritual Growth

The gospel has me reconsidering the typical way we think about Christian growth: spiritual measurements and maturity; what it means to change, develop, grow; what the pursuit of holiness and the practice of godliness really entails.

If we’re serious about reading the Bible in a Christ-centered way; if we’re going to be consistent when it comes to avoiding a moralistic interpretation of the Bible; if we’re going to be unswerving in our devotion to understand the many parts of the Bible in light of its unfolding, overarching drama of redemption, then we have to rethink how we naturally and typically understand what it means to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Let Grace Kill Your Natural Instinct

In his 2008 movie The Happening, writer, producer, and director M. Night Shyamalan unfolds a freaky plot about a mysterious, invisible toxin that causes anyone exposed to it to commit suicide. One of the first signs that the unaware victim has breathed in this self-destructing toxin is that they begin walking backwards—signaling that every natural instinct to go on living and to fight for survival has been reversed. The victim’s default survival mechanism is turned upside down.

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6 Things Christ Accomplished by His Death

Here’s a very brief summary of the six core things Christ accomplished in his death.

1. Expiation

Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death.

Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

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The Lamb of God

“And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Gen. 22:13). Like an old-fashioned grammar text, the Bible is a book in which many of the answers to questions posed early on are to be found in the back of the book. Take the idea that Jesus died for me. We sing Cecil Frances Alexander’s words:

We may not know, we cannot tell
What pains he had to bear;
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

And we sing these words because they reflect something we find to be deeply embedded within Scripture. Substitution is the word we have come to employ for this even though, like Trinity, it is not a biblical word. But it is a word that summarizes what we find in the Bible from the very start: that sin is atoned for by the sacrifice of another. Sinners in the Old Testament came and offered sacrifices, symbolically laying their hands on the victim’s head before killing it (see Lev. 1:4; 4:4). Plainly, what is in view is a symbolic transference of guilt from the sinner to the victim.
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