July 2009

Monthly Archive

Why Do You Turn Your Face Away?

Posted by on 28 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Early Church Father, Faith, God's Love, Suffering, Surrender

The Face of God

“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s face”;your face, LORD, do I seek! Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior! Even if my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me in.

Psa. 27:8-10 (NAB)

Why do you turn your face away? We think that God has turned his face away from us when we find ourselves suffering, so that shadows overwhelm our feelings and stop our eyes from seeing the brilliance of the truth. All the same, if God touches our intellect and chooses to become present to our minds then we will be certain that nothing can lead us into darkness.

A man’s face shines out more than the rest of his body and it is by the face that we perceive strangers and recognise our friends. How much more, then, is the face of God able to bring illumination to whoever he looks at!

The apostle Paul has something important to say about this, as about so many other things. He is a true interpreter of Christ for us, bringing him to our understanding through well-chosen words and images. He says: It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ. We have heard where Christ shines in us: he is the eternal brilliant illumination of souls, whom the Father sent into the world so that his face should shine on us and permit us to contemplate eternal and heavenly truths – we who had been plunged in earthly darkness.

What shall I say about Christ, when even the apostle Peter said to the man who had been lame from birth Look upon us? The cripple looked at Peter and found light by the grace of faith: unless he had faithfully believed he could not have received healing.

When there was so much glory to be seen among the Apostles, Zachaeus, hearing that the Lord Jesus was passing by, climbed a tree because he was small and weak and could not see the Lord through the crowd. He saw Christ and he found light. He saw Christ and instead of robbing others of their goods he began to give away his own.

Why do you turn your face away? Let us read it thus: even if you do turn your face away from us, Lord, its light is still imprinted upon us. We hold it in our hearts and our innermost feelings are transformed by its light.

For if you truly turn your face away, Lord, no-one can survive.

St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Explanations of the Psalms

HT: Universalis

The Divine Law Court

Posted by on 24 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Early Church Father, Evangelical, John Wesley, Justification, Martin Luther

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Evangelical Essentials (Part Six)

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

Phil. 3:8-9 (NKJV)

Many criticize the Reformation’s understanding of forensic/imputed righteousness because of the law court metaphor. The law court metaphor was used by the Apostle Paul frequently in the letters to the Romans and the Galatians.

What God does for us in justification is similar to what the judge does in a law court: He does not change the defendant by turning him or her into a new kind of person; rather, he declares the defendant innocent of the charges brought against him or her . . . Justification reminds us that our standing with God is by grace and that thankfulness should be the hallmark in all our dealings with him.

[Douglas Moo, Romans: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 56-57.

A law court seems impersonal and abstract–too judicial. Imputed, or forensic righteousness, seems to teach a declaration in heaven of righteousness for the believer without the corresponding transformation of character on earth. The problem with rejecting this understanding is that this is the exact image that the Apostle Paul uses in Romans 1:16-17 and in Romans 3:21-26.

The phrase the “righteousness of God” (dikaiosune theou) means that an individual is vindicated in a divine law court because of the work of Christ. The term signifies that people who are still sinners stand not guilty before God because of the gift of righteousness. This righteousness from God is truly a gift (Rom. 5.17), it is from God (1 Cor. 1.30), it is received by faith (Gal. 2.20, Rom 9.30-31), it is reckoned therefore making it a status (Rom. 4:3, 5, 6, 9, 11; 6.11) and it has as it’s source the very nature of God therefore making this gift what Martin Luther called an “alien righteousness” (Phil. 3.9). Church Father, Clement of Alexandria, agreed when he stated, “Justification means both the discharging of the debt of sin, and the crediting (imputation) of Christ’s righteousness” (Stromata V:5).

The problem that I, or anyone of you, would have with the doctrine of imputed righteousness is when a believer claims to have a righteous standing before God and yet lives inconsistent with the holy standards of the New Testament. This inconsistency occurs when Evangelical preachers neglect to recognize that the righteousness of God (dikaiosune theou) also means transformation. That is, the righteousness of God is the saving power of God to change an individual’s life and transform them into the Christ-like character.

The righteousness of God is not only a status, but is the very power that transforms us into righteous people. Romans 1:16-17 (RSV) is emphatic concerning this truth:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’

In other words, the declared righteousness of God is an effective righteousness in that it transforms an individual’s life.  Romans 8:1-4 teaches that Christ died destroying the power of sin which enables us to live the righteous life God demands.”Justification, whose sole condition is penitent faith, is never lacking in fruits of faith, by which the believer is assured that the Spirit is working within.”

[Thomas Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 206.

Therefore, the righteousness of God (dikaiosune theou) declares us righteous in the Father’s court of law while simultaneously transforming us into the likeness of Christ.

What is the Imputed and Imparted Righteousness of Christ?

Posted by on 23 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical, John Wesley, Justification, Wayne Grudem

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Evangelical Essentials (Part Five)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV)

Justification by faith is God’s acceptance of me to be in right standing by the righteousness of Jesus Christ being accounted to me, a sinner. Justification is an immediate legal work of God in which he forgives our sins, counts Christ’s righteousness as our own, and declares us righteous in his sight.

[Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 723.]

Evangelicals believe in the imputed (i.e., Lutheran, Reformed, Wesleyan,etc.) and imparted righteousness (i.e., Wesleyan) of Christ, this phrase and these terms can be confusing and intimidating. The imputed righteousness of Christ is summarized by a sentence in the Lake George blessing: “God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself not counting men’s sins against them.” Imputation is the crediting of Christ’s righteousness to my account. This imputation is twofold: we receive Christ’s holiness and forgiveness and Christ takes upon himself our guilt and judgment.

Impartation is Christ releasing within us his very life so that moment-by-moment we may experience his presence enabling us to make righteous choices. In summary, Christ’s righteousness is a gift which can be described as a wedding garment—a white robe of righteousness—completely covering us in Christ enabling us to spend a lifetime of communion with the Father (Isa. 61:10). This same righteousness is imparted to us on a constant basis enabling us to display of the fruit of the Spirit, as we trust Christ in our weaknesses and struggles.

[Bob Mumford, The Agape Road: Journey to Intimacy with the Father (Nashville, Tenn: Lifeway Press, 2000), 57-59.]

This declaration is forensic in that the legal charges against us have been dropped and we have been declared righteous. To be credited as righteous is to be conferred a legal standing of being forgiven and no longer liable to punishment. This new status declares me righteous in God’s sight; free from the condemnation of sin, the fear of death, and accusations of the devil. The imputed righteousness of Christ is a gift; it cannot be earned. This gift can only be received from a grateful heart by faith alone (Rom. 3:26, 28; 4:5; 5:1, Gal. 2:15-16). Christ’s righteousness is not only declared to be my righteousness in heaven, but this righteousness also transforms my life here on earth.

John Wesley concurs that the righteousness of Christ is both imputed and imparted (his word is implanted):

That Christ’s righteousness is imputed means that ‘all believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of anything in them, or of anything that ever was, that is, or ever can be done by them, or ever can be done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them.'”

I believe that God implants righteousness in everyone to whom He has imputed it. Implanting is a lively horticultural metaphor, as distinguished from a declarative, juridical metaphor. It requires daily nurturing, not a simple bang of a gavel.It is the fruit of our acceptance with God, not the ground of it.

[Thomas Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity:A Plain Exposition of His Teaching on Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 207, 208.]

In brief, Christ’s righteousness is a transformative righteousness in that it effectively changes those who have been declared righteous by God.

Silence Before God

Posted by on 21 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Liturgy, Worship

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The Pregnant Pause in Worship

A time to keep silence, And a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:7

Why does silence and quiet make us so afraid? Why do we drown out the stillness with all our electronic gadgets? Why do we feel so awkward during a still moment during a Sunday morning service of worship? Could it be that we are afraid that God might actually speak? (Ps. 42:10) Are we nervous about what he might say to us? What issues he might correct in our hearts? What commands he might give? Are we concerned that he might embarrass us with an outpouring of his love? Silence often reveals the anxieties, worries, and fears buried deep within the recesses of our hearts.

Silence has long been a characteristic of the Church’s worship. Leaving room in a service of worship for God to speak personally and corporately should be the goal of every worship leader. The pregnant pause in a worship service could be the very moment the Holy Spirit comes in power (Rev. 8:1).

Mark Dever explains:

There’s silence between various aspects of the service. I encourage service leaders to NOT do the “no-dead-airspace” TV standard of busy-ness. We LIKE “dead air space.” “Dead air space” gives us time to reflect. To collect our thoughts. To consider what we’ve just heard or read or sung. The silence amplifies the words or music we’ve just heard. It allows us time to take it all in, and to pray. We have silence to prepare ourselves. We have silence between the announcements and the scriptural call to worship. We even have a moment of silence AFTER the service! I pronounce the benediction from the end of II Corinthians, invite the congregation to be seated. And then, after about a minute of silence, the pianist begins quietly playing the last hymn that we had just sung. During those few moments, we reflect and prepare to speak to others and depart. We do business with God. We prepare ourselves for the week ahead.

Why do we need this silence?

We silence ourselves exactly because God has not kept silent. We silence ourselves in order to hear God speak in His Word (Deut. 27:9) We silence ourselves to show our assent to God’s charges against us (Ps. 39:9). We silence ourselves to show respect and obedience and humility and restraint (Zeph. 1:7). We silence ourselves to search our hearts (cf. Ps. 4:4).

Not only are we to make a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psa. 66:1-2), but we are also called to wait in his presence (Psa. 37:7). We quiet ourselves because the one who is worthy of all worship speaks and there is no sweeter voice that that of our Lord (John 10: 1-5). In the hustle and bustle of life, we must make silence an important part of our individual and corporate worship.

Read Mark Dever’s entire essay at the IX Marks website.


How Can Our Hearts Be Changed?

Posted by on 13 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Conversion, Evangelical, Faith, John Piper, Repentance, Salvation

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Evangelical Essentials (Part Three)

We are hard. We are selfish. We are blind. We are self-absorbed. What hope do we have for real change in our character, choices, and lives? Can someone or something really change me? Yes, we can change, but not by our own power and ability. God can and will change us from bad people to good. Not only does God desire this change in our lives, he requires that we undergo a complete re-creation of our hearts.

How does God change us? How can God take a bad person like me and change me into good person?  He gives us new hearts (Ezek. 36:24-28, Jer. 31:33-34, 32:40-41). The Cross melts our hearts by his great love, his grace pours out a salvation we do not deserve and his Spirit transforms us by making us new creations (2 Cor. 5:17).

Do we really believe that the Cross can change lives? Do we believe that the crucified Christ can meet anyone in their sin, selfishness, and pride and conquer their hearts by his great grace, mercy, and love? The answer must be yes. The Apostle Paul declares,”For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16 NJKV). The Cross can change any heart, transform any life, break any addiction, and heal any pain.

As we look to Christ in faith, how does the Cross deliver us from our selfishness? Evangelicals appeal to the words of Jesus, “You must be born-again” (John 3:7). To be born-again is to receive a heart-change by the power of the Holy Spirit: a motivation transformation from selfishness to Christ-centeredness. This regenerative work is a ministry of the Holy Spirit:

In the new birth, the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ in a living union. Christ is life. Christ is the vine where life flows. We are the branches (John 15:1–17). What happens in the new birth is the supernatural creation of new spiritual life, and it is created through union with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit brings us into vital connection with Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life.

[John Piper, Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2009), 32.]

He has washed us and given us new hearts: ones that hunger to love, serve, and please God. As a result, we are children of God; we are made new creations; cleansed, transformed, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

What happens in the new birth is not the improvement of your old human nature but the creation of a new human nature—a nature that is really you, forgiven and cleansed; and a nature that is really new, being formed in you by the indwelling Spirit of God.

[John Piper, Finally Alive, 37]

Our motivation is changed so that all we want to do is to please him (2 Cor. 5:9, Song 4:9, Zeph. 3:17). We do not want to say or do anything that will break God’s heart or cause his Holy Spirit to be grieved. The Cross has done this work in our hearts: we are now free from sin-consciousness, self-consciousness, and performance-consciousness. Regeneration occurs when we “confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that God raised Christ from the dead” then and only then are we “justified” and “saved” (Rom. 10:9-10). This heart change occurs when we repent of our past sins and look to Christ to be our saviour. (Repentance and faith are the conditions of salvation and baptism is a condition of obedience.)

Repentance is is simple, but not easy; a change of mind and heart which affects my attitude and alters my conduct. Repentance is not turning inward, but turning around. It is the recognition that God is right and that I am wrong. I am wrong because I have broken God’s law; as a result, my selfish actions have wounded God’s heart and hurt others.

Faith is directed towards a person, Jesus. It is in fact a complete commitment to Jesus Christ involving not only an acceptance of what is offered, salvation and forgiveness, but a humble surrender to what is or may be demanded, his Lordship. The bent knee is as much a part of saving faith as the open hand. Faith is receiving what Christ for us on the Cross in the past and submitting to what Christ will do in our lives in the future.

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 2:38-39 NKJV

The Cross of Christ: Past and Present

Posted by on 09 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical, John Stott, The Cross

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Evangelical Essentials (Part Two)

The Cross is the great act of Jesus in dying for our sins, being buried in the tomb and rising from the dead, baptizing with the Holy Spirit, and ascending to the Father. All grace flows from the Cross as its source and all grace leads back to the Cross as its crown and triumph. The Cross of Christ is our victory, our repentance, our hope, and our call. The Cross was not a defeat, but the astonishing victory of God over the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil.

We are not to regard the Cross as defeat and the resurrection as victory. rather, the Cross was the victory won, and the resurrection the victory endorsed, proclaimed, and demonstrated.

[John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986), 235.]

A number of metaphors are used in scripture to describe the finished work of Christ on the Cross: victory over the oppression and enslavement of sin (1 Cor. 15:57), justification that satisfies the penalty of sin (Rom. 4:25), adoption which grants us the legal status of a son of God and an heir of the kingdom (Rom. 8:17, 23), reconciliation which restores our broken relationship with God (2 Cor. 5:19), forgiveness of our offenses as a result of his pain and suffering on Calvary, redemption and ransom paid to free us from the captivity of sin (1 Cor. 6:19), healing from brokenness created by our sin (Isa. 53:5), representative bringing us all the privileges of the new covenant (Rom. 5:17), participation in all the benefits of his death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:1-4), and substitution for he took upon himself our punishment, guilt, and shame (Rom. 4:25). “How marvelous the power of the cross; how great beyond all telling the glory of the passion: here is the judgment-seat of the Lord, the condemnation of the world, the supremacy of Christ crucified (Leo the Great).”

[St. Leo the Great, Sermon LIX (On the Passion, VIII. on Wednesday in Holy Week.)]

The work of the Cross is not just about our immediate justification, but also the triumph of the Cross is our calling, our sanctification, and our glorification (1 Cor. 1:30, Rom. 8:29-30). As Jerry Bridges notes:

So I learned that Christians need to hear the gospel all of their lives because it is the gospel that continues to remind us that our day-to-day acceptance with the Father is not based on what we do for God but upon what Christ did for us in his sinless life and sin-bearing death. I began to see that we stand before God today as righteous as we ever will be, even in heaven, because he has clothed us with the righteousness of his Son. Therefore, I don’t have to perform to be accepted by God. Now I am free to obey him and serve him because I am already accepted in Christ (see Rom. 8:1). My driving motivation now is not guilt but gratitude.

[Jerry Bridges, “Gospel-Driven Sanctification” Modern Reformation Magazine (May/June, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2003), 13-16.]

Everything that the Son of God did and taught for the reconciliation of the world, we know not only as an historical account of things now past, but we also experience them in the power of the works that are present.

[Leo the Great, Sermon LXIII:VI: 3 (On the Passion, XII. preached on Wednesday of Holy Week)]

For the Evangelical, the Cross is not just an event in the historical past or an event in their personal past, but the Cross is a daily comfort that brings grace in failure, freedom from performance pressure, intimacy with God, and power for serving their Lord.

Total What? Total Depravity!

Posted by on 07 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: John Wesley, Sin, Timothy George

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Evangelical Essentials (Part One): Total Depravity

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Eph.2:1-3 (NKJV)

The term, “depravity,” does not mean that we are all deranged fanatics living in a padded cell with long hair and nails, screaming and drooling all day. Total depravity (or pervasive sin) means that our self-centeredness has affected our hearts, wills, minds, emotions, and even our physical bodies. Our attitudes and actions motivate us to selfishness and pride. Every aspect of our lives has been marred and scarred by sin. Our bondage is so great that we cannot do anything to deliver ourselves. The effect of our sin is complete: there is nothing we can do to please God. However, we are still valued in God’s eyes. We should never see ourselves as insignificant and worthless for Christ died for every one of us. Even in the midst of our fallenness, the blessed Trinity reached out to us in love and mercy.

Total depravity does not mean that there’s absolutely nothing good about anybody anywhere. I know God’s common grace extends to everybody in the world, and the fact that there’s any good anywhere is a result of God’s sustaining and preserving and common grace. But total depravity really means that, vis-a-vis God, there’s nothing we can do, in and of ourselves, to make any contribution to our standing before Him. We are totally and hopelessly and eternally lost apart from God’s radical intervention in our lives.

Dr. Timothy George, “Timothy George on Reformed Theology”

The doctrine of total depravity teaches that my essential problem is not my parents, my economic background, my upbringing, my circumstances, or my boss, etc. No, my greatest problem is I that great trinity of me, myself and I. My selfishness, my self-absorption, my self-concern, and my self-conceit reap utter destruction. Sin is selfishness evidenced through my willful thoughts, words, or actions involving a choice in which I consider myself more important than God or anyone else. The foundation of sin is my selfishness.

“Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin,” said Bishop Ambrose of Milan. With sin this deep, a great deliverance is needed. With bondage so great, a miraculous salvation is needed. We cannot help ourselves. We are dead in sin, trapped in the ways of the world, ruled by Satan, and in bondage to our sinful nature. The only way to stop sin is kill it. Yes, put it to death. This is why scripture says that the wages of sin is death and that the soul that sins shall die (Rom. 6:23, Ezek. 18:20). We deserve judgment. We deserve God’s wrath. We deserve to be utterly and completely ostracized from God’s presence. However, the good news is that Jesus suffered my just judgment and died my death so that you and I might live. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by His stripes we are healed (Isa. 53:5 NKJV).

Because total depravity is the ‘T” in the acronym TULIP, which is description of Reformed thought, the doctrine of total depravity is usually thought of as a Calvinist doctrine. However in Evangelical theology, both Arminians/Wesleyans and Reformed/Calvinists believe in the doctrine of pervasive sin or total depravity.

John Wesley, my favorite theologian, wrote:

Our old man–Coeval with our being, and as old as the Fall, our evil nature; a strong and beautiful expression for that entire depravity and corruption, which by nature spreads itself over the whole man, leaving no part uninfected.

Robert W. Burtner and Robert E. Chiles, eds., John Wesley’s Theology: A Collection from His Works (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1982), 120.

Evangelicalism takes sin seriously because the Bible takes sin seriously. We are great sinners; therefore we need a great Savior.

The doctrinal term, ” total depravity,” has fallen on hard times, but truth of our fallen condition stares back at us in the mirror. Possibly, the term, “pervasive sin,” can replace the phrase, “total depravity,” which carries different connotations in today’s English than during the sixteenth century Reformation debates.

The Evangelical Impulse

Posted by on 06 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Conversion, David Wells, Evangelical, Martin Luther, Scripture, The Cross

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Evangelical Essentials (Introduction)

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NKJV)

The Evangelical impulse is a vital, Spirit-motivated, joyful hunger to declare the saving, unmerited grace of Christ by calling all sinners to the bloodied Hill of Calvary for forgiveness and mercy. The Evangelical impulse proclaims this message of Good News to the least, lost, and the lonely while simultaneously working to reform the Church according to the Scriptures. This impulse began with the New Testament, continued in the Patristic period, renewed during the Reformation, and revived during the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.

[Richard Lovelace, “A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity,” in The Orthodox Evangelicals, eds. Robert Webber and Donald Bloesch (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1978), 47.]

The Evangelical impulse is birthed in the Scriptures, empowered by the Holy Spirit, centered in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and compelled by the story of Christ’s saving acts throughout the world.

Church historian, Stephen Nichols elaborates:

Luther spawned more than a singular alternative to the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, while there are alternatives, to be sure, at the heart of these various Protestant groups who remain faithful to the gospel there is a common core: a theological center that consists of the authority of Scripture alone and insists that salvation comes by faith alone through God’s grace alone—and that this salvation comes through the work of Christ alone. This is the lasting legacy of the Reformation—not the discovery of truths, but their recovery and their return to the heart and center of the church.

[Stephen Nichols, Pages From Church History: A Guided Tour of Christian Classics (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), 35. ]

At the heart of the Evangelical impulse is the abiding concern for the salvation of every person and that salvation in grounded in the phrase, “The truth of the gospel is salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” Our deliverance from sin is not based on our performance, but based on Christ’s performance on the Cross—it is all grace. The Evangelical impulse is motivated by God’s very gracious grace:

No one can understand the message of Scripture who does not know the meaning of grace.  The God of the Bible is ‘the God of all grace’ (1 Pet. 5:10).  Grace is love, but love of a special sort.  It is love, which stoops and sacrifices and serves, love which is kind to the unkind, and generous to the ungrateful and undeserving.  Grace is God’s free and unmerited favour, loving the unlovable, seeking the fugitive, rescuing the hopeless, and lifting the beggar from the dunghill to make him sit among princes.

[John Stott, Understanding the Bible, Revised (London: Scripture Union, 1984), 127.]

For the Evangelical, God’s grace draws us saying, “Trust Christ’s finished work on the Cross as your own, know that his death paid your penalty, and that his obedient life is now your righteousness.” The Evangelical experience of conversion is typified by these elements: conviction of sin, power of preached Word, call to faith, focus on Jesus Christ and his saving work on the Cross, and personal heart change.

Scholar, David Bebbington, identifies four key elements of the Evangelical impulse:

1) Life-change: the belief that hearts need conversion.

2) Bible priority: all spiritual truth is found in sacred scripture.

3) Evangelism: all Christ-followers are engaged in spreading the knowledge of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection.

4) Crucicentrism: Christ’s death and resurrection is the central event for our salvation providing reconciliation with God.

[David Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 2. ]

The Evangelical impulse focuses on changing lives by changing hearts one-by-one by the power of the Cross. Evangelicals trust the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, he applies Christ’s finished work on the Cross to the lives of individual sinners setting them free from themselves by converting their hearts from self-absorption to love of God and others.

God’s love is his holiness reaching out to sinners; grace is but the price that his love pays to his holiness; the cross is but its victory over sin and death; and faith is but the way in which we bring our worship to him who is holy.

David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 130.

John Wesley, Andrew, and Me

Posted by on 04 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: John Wesley

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Andrew and I met John Wesley today. You know the great evangelist, the founder of Methodism, and great communicator of justification by faith through grace. He lived 1703 to 1791; but today Andrew and I met him in Savannah, Georgia, at the site of his first pastorate. You laugh, but don’t you believe in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead? Don’t you know that John Wesley is alive in Christ Jesus. But come to think of it, when John and I shook, his hands were awfully hard and clammy.

The Blog is Back

Posted by on 04 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical

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“The Glorious Deeds of Christ” Blog is back after a brief hiatus due to St. Michael’s Seminary preparation, Southeast Province Convocation, a brief vacation to Savannah, GA., and a WordPress update. (I could not sign onto the blog for a few days and my Sitemeter widget stopped working.)

Also, I converted to the Apple kingdom. My wife and son bought me a Mac Book Pro for Father’s Day and I have been busy moving my Bible software over to Windows Parallels. I love the speed, functionality and ease of use of the Mac.

In the coming days and weeks, I will be posting my thoughts and insights on the “Evangelical Essentials” of the Christian faith. This spring and summer, I have been writing on the Charismatic stream and a discussion of the Sacramental stream will come later in the year. But for the rest of the summer, the great truths taught and expressed in scripture regarding sin, justification by faith, penal substitution, the finished work of Christ on the Cross, etc. will be reviewed and discussed. I pray that my writing will cause these great truths to become fresh and new for you. The goal of this blog is bring you, the reader, into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. I pray that the Lord will continue to use this blog for his glory.