Evangelical

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What Does It Mean To Be, “In Christ”?

Posted by on 31 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Abiding in Christ, E. Stanley Jones, Evangelical

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Union With Christ

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

1 Cor. 1:30 NKJV

The phrase “in Christ” or its corresponding idea is used one hundred and seventy-two times in the New Testament with the Apostle Paul alone utilizing the phrase ninety-seven times in his letters. To be “in Christ” is to receive all the benefits of Christ’s saving work on the Cross, to walk in all the blessings of Christ’s life and resurrection and to enjoy all the favor of Christ’s inheritance from the Father’s favor. To be “in Christ” is to be located in the Divine Person—all that Christ’s has done, received, or achieved is ours to be enjoyed.

The phrase, “in Christ” is the ultimate phrase in the Christian faith, for it locates us in a Person-the Divine Person-and it locates us in Him here and now. It brings us to the ultimate relationship-“in.”

E. Stanley Jones, In Christ (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1980), 4.

Nothing is more striking than the breadth of application which this principle of union with Christ has in the gospel. Christianity obliterates no natural relationships, destroys no human obligations, makes void no moral or spiritual laws. But it lifts all these up into a new sphere, and puts upon them this seal and signature of the gospel, in Christ. So that while all things continue as they were from the beginning, all, by their readjustment to this divine character and person, become virtually new.

Life is still of God, but it has this new dependency” in Christ.” ” Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30). The obligation to labor remains unchanged, but a new motive and a new sanctity are given to it by its relation to Christ. “Forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). The marriage relation is stamped with this new signet, ” Only in the Lord.” Filial obedience is exalted into direct connection with the Son of God. “Children obey your parents in the Lord.” Daily life becomes “a good conversation in Christ.” Joy and sorrow, triumph and suffering, are all in Christ. Even truth, as though needing a fresh baptism, is viewed henceforth ” as it is in ‘Jesus.” Death remains, but it is robbed of its sting and crowned with a beatitude, because in Christ. ” Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”

A. J. Gordon, In Christ or The Believer’s Union with His Lord (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 12.

Our union in Christ is not just a theological theory, but a reality to be lived and enjoyed moment-by-moment. Christ lives in us by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. As Andrew Murray stated, “It is through the Holy Spirit that we have Christ in our hearts-a mighty force stirring, enlightening, and filling us.” [Daily in His Presence (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2004), Feb. 6th.] Christ encourages us each day to trust him, to love him, and to live through him. As we trust him, all the benefits of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection can be experienced now in us. The Holy Spirit makes these truths known, reveals them to our hearts, and enables us to live them.

Christ’s own words to His disciples explain this best. Just as the Father lived and worked in Him, so Jesus lives and works in us. The Son expressed the Father. We are to express Christ. The Father worked in the Son, and the Son gave expression to that which the Father brought about in Him, Christ works in us and enables us to carry on His work. This is His gift to us.

Andrew Murray, Daily in His Presence, Feb. 5th.

Christ’s gift to us was himself–nothing more was, is, or will be needed for us to live the Christian life. Christ is our joy, blessing and victory.

His Righteousness

Posted by on 25 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: Evangelical, Justification, Keswick Convention

Righteousness: Being Right With God

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.

Rom. 1:16-17 NLT

When we look to Christ in faith and believe that his death was our death, and that his punishment was our judgment, and that his blood shed is our forgiveness, we receive by God’s grace his righteousness. This righteous declaration is forensic in that the legal charges against us have been dropped and we are declared in right standing with God. To be credited as righteous is to be conferred a legal standing of being forgiven and no longer liable to punishment.

Justification is an immediate work of God in which he forgives our sins, counts Christ’s righteousness as our own, and declares us righteous in his sight. Christ’s righteousness is not only declared to be our righteousness in heaven, but this righteousness also transforms our life here on earth. The Reformation tradition is unwavering: the imputed righteousness of Christ is a free gift; it cannot be earned. It can only be received from a grateful heart by faith alone

Righteousness apart from the law; righteousness apart from human doings; righteousness apart from man’s deserving; righteousness given freely to those who do not desire it. Righteousness streaming from the heart of God because of the nature of His being. This is the theme of the Word of God. Look into your own heart and see whether you are trusting, even in a small fraction, in something that you are doing for yourself, or that you are doing for God, instead of finding that you have ceased from your works, and are resting on the righteous work that was accomplished on the cross of Calvary.

Righteousness that you must choose by abandoning any hope of salvation from anything that is in yourself, or could produce by yourself; God’s own righteousness, and the only righteousness that can produce practical righteousness in you.

Donald Grey Barnhouse, “Righteousness Without the Law,” in Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 364.

Evangelical First and Foremost

Posted by on 19 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Charismatic Episcopal Church, Evangelical, Gospel, Timothy George

Why I Am an Evangelical First

For I delivered to you as of first importance (emphasis mine) what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

1 Cor 15:3-5 (ESV)

In the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.), we adhere to the biblical, historic theology of convergence. Convergence theology affirms the person and work of the Spirit (Charismatic), the beauty of Christ and his finished work on the Cross (Evangelical), and the historic church’s sacramental worldview with its Eucharist-centered life and Trinitarian worship (Sacramental).

I affirm convergence theology as the model and practice of the Book of Acts and the early church. However, the Charismatic and Sacramental streams are subservient to the message of the Good News. Why place the Evangelical stream at the head? We cannot enjoy the sacraments and the presence of the Holy Spirit unless we have experienced Christ first in all his saving work. We must be saved before we can know the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and experience the fullness of Christ at the Table of the Lord (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Therefore, I am grateful for Evangelicalism for without this movement, I would not have known the justifying grace of God. The Evangelical message is the message that saves, delivers, and heals. Evangelicalism preaches the Biblical gospel:

The gospel is the good news that God in Christ has come into the world and by his life, death, burial, and resurrection has conquered my greatest enemies: the world, the flesh, sin, death and the devil. This gospel calls forth a response of faith and repentance. Our response allows the Holy Spirit to transforming our entire beings making us a new creations in Christ.

In summary: the gospel is salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

So what is Evangelicalism or the Evangelical stream? Listed are two definitions: the first, focuses on Evangelical belief, and the second, identifies Evangelicalism’s historic roots.

An evangelical is someone who embraces the solas of the Reformation (salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, according to Scripture alone), resonates with the emphasis on the new birth and the reviving work of the Spirit found in the Great Awakening, believes in the complete trustworthiness of the Bible contra the liberals and modernists, accepts the responsibility of world evangelization and social engagement as modeled by countless missionaries and reformers, rejects the obscurantism that marked parts of fundamentalism, and, in distinction to the pragmatists and postmoderns, affirms the importance of doctrinal propositions and the knowability of truth.

Kevin DeYoung via Evangel blog

At its heart [evangelicalism] is a theological core shaped by the Trinitarian and Christological consensus of the early church, the formal and material principles of the Reformation, the missionary movement that grew out of the Great Awakening and the new movements of the Spirit that indicate “surprising works of God” are still happening today.

Timothy George, ”Foreword,” in The Advent of Evangelicalism

I am an Evangelical first and foremost because Christ and his finished work on the cross is the first and foremost message of the New Testament (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Christ comes first in the Christian life because Christ is “before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col. 1:17-18 NKJV).

HT: Evangel blog at First Things

Evangelical Essentials

Posted by on 13 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical

The Evangelical Essentials Post-by-Post

Since the first of July, I have been writing on the essential doctrines that are the pillars of Evangelical conviction and faith. To assist the reader in following my discussion, I have provided links to all the articles below for your convenience.

Part One: The Evangelical Impulse

Part Two: The Cross of Christ: Past and Present

Part Three: How Can Our Hearts Be Changed?

Part Four: What Does It Mean to Be “In Christ”?

Part Five: The Imputed and Imparted Righteousness of Christ

Part Six: The Divine Law Court

Part Seven: Pierced for My Transgressions

Part Eight: Standing Before God Himself

Part Nine: Grace Works and Faith Works, Too

Part Ten: The Two Priesthoods: Believers and Ministerial

Part Eleven: Sola Scriptura

Part Twelve: The Church Is Mission

Part Thirteen: We Should Never Assume

Conclusion: Christ, Cross, and Grace

Christ, Cross, and Grace

Posted by on 12 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical

Evangelical Essentials: Conclusion

For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.

1 Cor. 2:2 (NLT)

Why is the Evangelical impulse important? Because in a world gone mad, the same Christ, who bore our sins, paid our debt, redeemed us from slavery and became our substitute in the heavenly court of law can still change hearts, renovate identities, and give new life to men and women who are enslaved by sin. The essentials truths of pervasive sin, unmerited grace, regeneration, penal substitution, justification by faith, priesthood of all believers, and sola Scriptura are the still the truths that transform. These Evangelical truths are grounded in the Scriptures, found in the writings of the Fathers, and articulated fully by the Reformers.

Therefore, we must renew in our preaching and pastoral ministry the need for the least, lost, and the lonely to come to the Cross. We must remember that the foot of the Cross is not only for the lost, but also is the place of repentance for believers who desire victory and freedom over sin. It is at the Cross where all grace is dispensed. It is through the preaching of “faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone” where life change can be found. As the Apostle Paul said, “For preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t do it!” (1 Cor. 9:16). “For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross” (1 Cor. 2:2). The Christian life can be summed up in these three words: Christ, Cross, and grace. We must remember who Christ is for us today! Those who are drawn, motivated and compelled by the Evangelical impulse proclaim this Christ, the Cross and His grace.

This post concludes our discussion of the essentials of the Evangelical faith. Look for a summary page in the next couple of days that will provide the links for all the posts related to  this series.

We Should Never Assume

Posted by on 11 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Christian Ministry, Evangelical, Evangelism, Missions

Evangelical Essentials (Part Thirteen)

We persuade men [people].

2 Cor. 5:11 (NIV)

The Apostle Paul did not sit back and assume that people had grasped the gospel. He was actively engaged in overcoming their objections by persuading men and women to yield their lives to the Lord of creation. Paul actively participated with the Holy Spirit in attempting to win hearts to the loving Savior.

The Bible says that, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30 KJV). As Christ is living his life in us, we will be fruit bearers. People will want to come to us and pluck that fruit of the Spirit in order to be refreshed. That attraction is an opportunity from the Holy Spirit to bring them to Christ. We are called to “watch to see where God is working and join him.”

[Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God, Preteen Edition (Nashville, TN: Lifeway, 1994), 11.]

We must tell others what motivates us. What If I run out of  a room as fast as I can, how do you know for what reason I run? Have I looked out the window and seen my automobile being stolen? Is the phone ringing and I need to answer it? Is the building on fire and I need to save myself? How do you know unless I tell you? In same way, how do families, friends, and neighbors know the reason for my service unless I tell them that I am motivated by God’s love for me and my love for him? I must tell them.

Brothers and sisters, it is not enough to say that the liturgy contains the gospel message; Christ calls us to be proactive in sharing the message of the Cross.

Primitive [Early Church] evangelism was by no means mere proclamation and exhortation: it included able intellectual argument, skillful study of scripture, careful closely reasoned teaching and patient argument”

[Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 160.]

We should be mindful of the advice of Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, and other notables of the Great Awakening, “Pastors should be faithfully working toward entirely converted churches.” We should never assume that everyone in our parish knows our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must not take for granted that just because someone was baptized in a church or raised in a religious environment that they have an intimate, on-going, dynamic relationship with Jesus. We cannot assume the salvation of our congregations.

Sola Scriptura

Posted by on 09 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Bible, Charismatic Episcopal Church, Evangelical, Martin Luther, Timothy George

Evangelical Essentials (Part Eleven)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

2 Tim 3:16-17 (ESV)

The Reformation doctrine of sola Scriptura affirms the priority of scripture over traditions, councils, and church authorities. No practice or doctrine is binding on the life of a believer unless that belief or practice can be found in scripture. Sola Scriptura does not negate Tradition, but simply places Tradition under Scripture as a source of authority in the church.

The doctrine of sola Scriptura is one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Reformation. From both within Evangelicalism and without: this doctrine is distorted and gravely mischaracterized. Sola Scriptura does not mean that Evangelicals reject tradition and read only the Bible (i.e., the error of Biblicism). Evangelical doctrine is not solo Scriptura, where all church councils, traditions, church authorities, and Bible commentaries are rejected as guides and interpreters of scripture’s meaning.

Reformation Church historian, Timothy George, writes,

Sola Scriptura does not mean nuda scriptura nor scriptura solitaria! It means instead that the Word of God, as it is communicated to us in the Scriptures, remains the final judge (norma normans) of all the teaching in the church.

[Timothy George, “An Evangelical Reflection on Scripture and Tradition,” Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology (Volume IX, Number 2, Spring 2000), 206.]

In similar essay, Timothy George, elaborates on the development Martin Luther’s understanding of sola Scriptura:

Under duress, Luther articulated what would come to be the formal principle of the Reformation: all church teaching must be normed by the Bible. The following year, in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther stated: “What is asserted without the Scriptures or proven revelation may be held as an opinion, but need not be believed.” Late medieval theologians placed Christian tradition alongside the Bible as a source of church doctrine. Luther emphasized instead the primacy of Scripture.

However, Luther did not reject tradition outright. He respected the writings of the early church fathers, especially those of Augustine, and he considered the universal statements of faith, such as the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, binding on the church in his day. But all creeds, sayings of the Fathers, and decisions of church councils must be judged by—never sit in judgment upon—the “sure rule of God’s Word.”

[Timothy George, Martin Luther, Early Years, Christian History magazine, electronic ed. (Carol Stream IL: Christianity Today, 1992).]

Sola Scriptura rejects the “two-source theory” that affirms Scripture and Tradition as being of equal weight and authority in the life of church. Alternately, the doctrine of sola Scriptura rejects the individualistic Anabaptist principle of “no creed but the Bible.” Reformed theologian, Keith Mathison adds,

Instead of advocating chaos, the Evangelical church must regain an understanding of the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura, which is essentially nothing more than the early Church’s doctrine of scripture and tradition framed within a different historical context. The Church must affirm that Scripture is the sole source of revelation. The Church must affirm that Scripture is the sole, final, and infallible norm of faith and practice. And the Church must affirm that Scripture is to be interpreted in and by the communion of saints within the theological context of the rule of faith. Only by rejecting all forms of autonomy, institutional or individual, can any branch of the Church be in obedience to Jesus Christ the Lord.

[Keith A. Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001), 347.]

I might add that the Canon Law of the Charismatic Episcopal Church affirms that Holy Scripture is “the final authority on all matters of faith and practice,” and “ . . . is to be understood in light of apostolic tradition and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit” (Canon Eight, I. B. 1-2). This definition is in its essence the doctrine of sola Scriptura as taught by the Magisterial Reformers.

The Two Priesthoods: Believer and Ministerial

Posted by on 25 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical, John Stott, Priesthood

Evangelical Essentials (Part Ten)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)

From living lives of hostility and enmity towards God, Christians have been transformed by the Holy Spirit into ministers who bring the healing and grace of Christ to the least, lost, and the lonely of our world.

The ministerial priesthood is called to serve, nourish, sustain, and guide the priesthood of all believers. The believer’s priesthood is a call to be Christ in the secular workplaces of the world. Men are not ordained into the ministerial priesthood in order to remove the priesthood away from the people of God, but to encourage, empower, and equip the priestly people of God for their work in the world.

This doctrine of the priesthood of “all” believers is not the doctrine of the priesthood of “the” believer. In other words, every believer has a ministry, but that ministry is to be conducted in community while being accountable to church leadership and submitted to the direction and tradition of the historic church. This personal ministry of me and my Bible with God telling me, and me alone, the only correct interpretation of the meaning of Scripture is not the priesthood of all believers. Two priesthoods, ministerial and believers, serve the one Christ for the purpose of reaching the world for Christ.

The New Testament concept of the pastor is not of a person who jealously guards all ministry in his own hands, and successfully squashes all lay initiatives, but of one who helps and encourages all God’s people to discover, develop and exercise their gifts. His teaching and training are directed to this end, to enable the people of God to be a servant people, ministering actively but humbly according to their gifts in a world of alienation and pain. Thus, instead of monopolizing all ministry himself, he actually multiplies ministries.

John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (The Bible Speaks Today series: Leicester: IVP, 1979), 167.

Faith Works and Grace Works, Too.

Posted by on 17 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical, Faith, God's Grace, Good Works, John Piper, John Stott, Major Ian Thomas, Sanctification

Evangelical Essentials (Part Nine)

Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Titus 2:13-14 (NLT)

Although good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow on after justification, can never atone for our sins or face the strict justice of God’s judgment, they are nevertheless pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ and necessarily spring from a true and living faith. Thus a living faith is as plainly known by its good works as a tree is known by its fruit.

Article Twelve,“A Contemporary Version of the 39 Articles of Religion,” available from; www.stjohnsanglican.org/39.doc.

Good Works as the Fruit of Salvation

No works can produce salvation. However, a faith-filled salvation will produce many good works. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not its cause or basis.

It seems that ‘good works’ is a general expression to cover everything a Christian says and does because he is a Christian, every outward and visible manifestation of his Christian faith . . . Rather we are to be ourselves, our true Christian selves, openly living the life described in the beatitudes, and not ashamed of Christ. Then people will see us and our good works, and seeing us will glorify God. For they will inevitably recognize that it is by the grace of God we are, what we are, that ‘our’ light is ‘his’ light, and that our works are his works done in us and through us.

[John Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, John Stott Daily Bible Study Email, August 14th, 2007 (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1985).]

Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Good works can be described as the fruit of faith. An expectation of redemption is living in a godly manner. There is no place in the Christian life for claiming a “born from above” experience while giving no evidence of a changed life. A changed life is life that allows Christ to live His life in and through the believer (1 John 4:9).

This is the rest of faith. You relax, almost like a spectator, except that it is your hands with which He is at work, your lips with which He is speaking, your eyes with which He sees the need, your ears with which He hears the cry, and your heart with which He loves the lost.”

[Major Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2006). 99.]

Good works are not produced by the Christian, but good works are borne in the life of  the Christian by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are fruit-bearers not fruit-producers. Grace works out the life of Christ in us.

Saving faith has intrinsic power to produce fruit.

[John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1991), 244.]

Good works or deeds display to the world the changed heart that Christ has created (Matt. 7:15-20). Faith in the finished work of Christ expresses itself in deeds done for God and others.

Although we cannot be saved by works, we also cannot be saved without them. Good works are not the way of salvation, but its proper and necessary evidence. A faith which does not express itself in works is dead.

[John Stott, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1970), 127.]

Therefore, good works are the fruit of faith, they follow after justification, they are evidence of a changed heart, and therefore will flow from a life changed by the Cross.

Which Came First the Church or the N.T.?

Posted by on 12 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Bible, Church, Evangelical, John Stott

Answer: the Holy Spirit.

If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

1 Tim. 3:15 (ESV)

The dependence of the church on the Word is not a doctrine readily acceptable to all. In former days of Roman Catholic polemic, for example, its champions would insist that ‘the church wrote the Bible’ and therefore has authority over it. Still today one sometimes hears this rather simplistic argument. Now it is true, of course, that both Testaments were written within the context of the believing community, and that the substance of the New Testament in God’s providence … was to some extent determined by the needs of the local Christian congregations.In consequence, the Bible can neither be detached from the milieu in which it originated, nor be understood in isolation from it.

Nevertheless, as Protestants have always emphasized, it is misleading to the point of inaccuracy to say that ‘the church wrote the Bible’; the truth is almost the opposite, namely that’God’s Word created the church’. For the people of God may be said to have come into existence when his Word came to Abraham, calling him and making a covenant with him. Similarly, it was through the apostolic preaching of God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost that the people of God became the Spirit-filled body of Christ.

John Stott, Authentic Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 303.

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