[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, May 28, 2007

I hope you don't agree with this quotation

by Matthew

I mark Religious Studies exam papers for extra money. The age group is 15-16 (religious education in school is no doubt a foreign concept to you Yanks).

There is a series of questions on Islamic views on life after death. One of these questions poses the statement:

'A loving God would not send people to hell'. Do you agree?

A candidate gave this answer:

No, I do not agree. Allah is all-merciful. If he chooses to forgive you, you are forgiven, but if he chooses not to forgive you, then you burn in hell.

Does that sound familiar?

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Gospel of GoodNightSafeHome, the Lordshippers, and the Traditionalists (Calvinists)

by Antonio da Rosa

The false "gospel" of "You can't be saved unless:"

You quit the nasty nine and the dirty dozen and the filthy five
You quit sleeping with your boyfriend
You repent of all your sin
You sell out for God
You faithfully obey and persevere
You die to self
You commit all to God
You visit orphans and the sick
You sell all that you have and give to the poor
You submit everything to God
(The Council at Jerusalem as it considers the issue of Lordship Salvation Acts 15:1-29 / By which it condemns it)

Acts 15:7,8, 10-11
Peter rose up and said to them... "...God... purif[ies] [our] hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

Gal 2:21
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through *law, then Christ died in vain.

[* Anarthrous construction: meaning no article (most translations provide "the"). Is not specific meaning law of Moses, but concerns the quality or characteristic of law period: rules, such as "you must do this and stop doing that or you can't be saved!.]

Christ sold out for us! Christ committed His all for us!

If any of the above list is necessary for our salvation, then Christ died in vain.

Gal 3:1-2
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by *works of *law, or by the hearing of faith?

[* Anarthrous: denoting characteristic and quality (not identity)]

Salvation coming from being convinced from "the hearing of faith"! (This expresses the passive nature of the act of faith that brings salvation.) The Spirit is not received by any quality or characteristic of work requirements --rules-- such as the list of things above, WHETHER THEY ARE LOOKED AT AS MERITORIOUS OR NOT! (Calvinists, notice the ordu salutis here! The Holy Spirit's regeneration received by the "hearing of faith"!)

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to the mere believer in Him for it. His guarantee is explicit in His promise to the believer. There is no talk of Jesus giving the list of requirements that the Lordship Proponents do! Eternal life is dispensed through "the hearing of faith" in Jesus Christ alone. Faith alone in Christ alone! Is that not the reformation mantra? Yet it no longer describes the Puritanism of Reformed theology today.

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47)

How I wish it would return to this plain and exquisite simplicity!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Do you agree with this Quotation? XV

by Matthew

Tis a point I long to know,
(Oft it casues me anxious thought),
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I his, or am I not?

John Newton

Is this attitude to be commended? Or had the author of the famous hymn fallen from grace?

Likewise it is recorded of William Wilberforce:

During an interval of consciousness on Sunday night 28th July 1833, he said, "I am in a very distressed state." "Yes; but you have your feet on the rock," someone replied. "I do not venture, " he cautitously added, "To speak so positively, but I hope I have," He died the next morning.

Is that humility or a tragic lack of faith?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How should we preach this passage?

by Matthew

John 6
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

35 ΒΆ And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

In the preaching class run by my pastor, we were talking about how to preach this passage. The men in the class favoured making this passage relevant to believers by talking about the need to 'daily feed on Christ' and 'feeding on the Word.'

I appreciate that a sermon is not pure exegesis. One can apply a text in a sermon in ways that are not directly addressed in a text. This can be helpful. However, I think making the application my friends favoured would be counter-productive because it would detract from the meaning of this text.

Our Lord teaches in this passsage that the one who comes to Him will never hunger. If one never hungers again, one does not need to feed daily! What our Lord teaches here is actually the opposite of the application my friends were making.

It is true that we need to daily feed on the Word of God, but as this has nothing to do with what this passage teaches and rather detracts from it, I think it would be confusing. Better to make the Gospel of Grace the focus of any sermon on this text.