Sanctification versus Justification

Westminster Larger catechism Q. 77.

Q. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification of his Spirit infuses grace, and enables to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 13, Section I.

They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

We see here the continuity and organic nature of these doctrines. Here are mentioned all the proceeding aspects of the Ordo Salutis; Effectual calling, regeneration, reception of a new heart and new spirit. They are not rigid. They are not spokes on a wheel. They are the roots, sinews, leaves, buds and branches of a glorious tree. They together make one thing. Continue reading “Sanctification versus Justification”

How to Increase Through Decrease

The Christian life is full of paradox; apparent contradictions. The doctrine of the Trinity is chief among these paradoxes, but there are many others. How do many members become one body and not lose their identity as individuals? How do husband and wife make one flesh and also not lose their identity as individuals? How does God ordain everything that comes to pass without doing violence to the will of His creatures? These mysteries are means of exhibiting the necessity of faith and demonstrating the transcending Holiness of our God who is Three in One. We believe so we can understand, as Augustine wrote. We live standing on the promises of God.

Another paradox that stems from God’s very nature is the principle of gaining by losing; growth through death; increase through decrease.  God increases His glory by giving it away. Every person of the Trinity demonstrates this principle. It is at the heart of the Community of Love. Jesus said that anyone who loses his life gains it (Matthew 10:39). This is not some trick or stumbling contradiction meant to frustrate us. It is God’s reality and He demonstrates this principle over and over again.

The Father gave His Son to gain a people (John 3:16). The Son gave His life to gain a crown (Hebrews 12:2). The Father and Son gave their Spirit to gain a church, a world; a kingdom (Acts1:8; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 2:22). The Spirit gives free and abundant access to throne of God to everyone  ordained by the Father and saved by the Son. The Spirit does not withhold, doesn’t horde and does not restrain union and communion with the Father or the Son (Romans 8:15, 15:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:12). The Sprit is generous in His ministry. Continue reading “How to Increase Through Decrease”

How we Change by changing diapers

The toil and circumstances of our lives are God’s means of sanctifying us. Our circumstances are administered to us like medicine, to address our specific heart issues. Whether you need more patience, peace, compassion, trust or kindness, you will find your circumstances address those deficiencies directly. They may not be the circumstances you think you need or challenges you think you need but we don’t know ourselves as well as God does.

We all need to grow in our faith and our circumstances are meant to show us our dependence on God’s provision, protection and goodness. We must submit to God’s will and seek His Spirit to have the grace for the toil and circumstances he has ordained for us or our toil and circumstances will overcome us. The circumstances of our lives work on our hearts like sandpaper or hammers. Our toil works on our hearts like the purifying fire of the crucible or the consuming flames of a house fire.  Continue reading “How we Change by changing diapers”

Calvin on the Law

Calvin’s Institutes, Book Second –Chapter 7

Section 1.

From the whole course of the observations now made, we may infer, that the Law was not superadded about four hundred years after the death of Abraham in order that it might lead the chosen people away from Christ, but, on the contrary, to keep them in suspense until his advent; to inflame their desire, and confirm their expectation, that they might not become dispirited by the long delay. By the Law, I understand not only the Ten Commandments, which contain a complete rule of life, but the whole system of religion delivered by the hand of Moses. Moses was not appointed as a Lawgiver, to do away with the blessing promised to the race of Abraham; nay, we see that he is constantly reminding the Jews of the free covenant which had been made with their fathers, and of which they were heirs; as if he had been sent for the purpose of renewing it. This is most clearly manifested by the ceremonies. For what could be more vain or frivolous than for men to reconcile themselves to God, by offering him the foul odour produced by burning the fat of beasts? or to wipe away their own impurities by be sprinkling themselves with water or blood? In short, the whole legal worship (if considered by itself apart from the types and shadows of corresponding truth) is a mere mockery. Wherefore, both in Stephen’s address, (Acts 7: 44,) and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, great weight is justly given to the passage in which God says to Moses, “Look that thou make them after the pattern which was showed thee in the mount,” (Exod. 25: 40.) Continue reading “Calvin on the Law”

Is there a Proof Text for everything?

WCF, Chapter 1, Section 6-7

Section 6

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (2 Tim. 3:15–17; Gal. 1:8–9; 2 Thess. 2:2). Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the

Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Is...

Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word (John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9–12): and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (1 Cor. 11:13–14; 14:26, 40).

2 Timothy 3:15-17 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

2 Thessalonians 2:2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

1 Corinthians 14:40 But all things should be done decently and in order. Continue reading “Is there a Proof Text for everything?”

Genesis

A.    Name – The word Genesis comes from the Greek word meaning “beginning” or “generation.” The word “genesis” is translated “generation” in Matt. 1:1. Genesis contains 10 references to the “generations of…” (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12: 25:19; 36:1; 36:9; 37:2)

B.    Purpose – The Bible is the story of God’s Son. It is a story told through the stories of many sons; sons of promise and blessing that foreshadow Jesus and stories of fallen sons at enmity with God that are antithetical to Jesus. Genesis is the story of beginnings, recounting the creation, kingship and fall of Adam and subsequently, all mankind (1-3). Genesis focuses on the warring families that resulted from God’s promise of enmity, salvation and seed in Gen 3:15 (4-10). Many sons are born who are believed to be the promised heir, but they all fall short. In the midst of this war, the family of Abraham is chosen specifically to bear the covenant relationship and responsibility on earth to restore man to his rightful place. This family’s story is recounted in the largest portion of Genesis (11-52). Joseph rises to rule the known world. Genesis ends with Joseph’s death while the restoration of mankind remains unfulfilled. Abraham’s descendants never enter the Promised Land but instead are living in Egypt at the close of Genesis. When would the true heir come? When will the bondage of sin and death be defeated? Continue reading “Genesis”

How Lordship Changes Everything

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. This is not merely a matter of Jesus’ features; the size of His nose or the color of His hair. It has to do with how Jesus conducted Himself. How did He act? What did He do throughout the Gospels? How did he respond to the Father? Jesus came to show men how to live in relation to God. He bore the image of God with His life, so that we would know how to bear the image of God with our lives. Jesus’ Lordship is unlike any kingly conduct in all of scripture. We look at Jesus’ life and truly know that God is love (1 John 4:8), because greater love knows no one than this; that someone lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Love involves more than one person. A lover must have a beloved. Without another person there is no love. Monads like Allah cannot love because there is nothing to direct their love toward. Monads like Allah are sterile, distant, impersonal tyrants. Continue reading “How Lordship Changes Everything”

A Prayer Factory for a Heart

“Your heart can become a prayer factory because, like Jesus, you are completely dependent. You needed God ten minutes ago; you need him now. Instead of hunting for the perfect spiritual state to lift you above the chaos, pray in the chaos. As your heart or your circumstances generate problems, keep generating prayer. You will find that the chaos lessens.

We see this pattern in Paul’s advice to the Philippians about anxiety.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

…When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching. You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again.”

Miller, Paul. A Praying Life. 72-73.

How Jesus Changes Everything

Through the Gospels, Jesus introduces us to something more primal and profound about God than anything formerly revealed. With the incarnation of Jesus Christ and in His life and ministry, man was introduced to God in a way never previously communicated to man (John 1:1-5). In the beginning was the Father, His spirit and His word who is Jesus Christ. This new revelation does not destroy what is recorded of God in the Old Testament, but instead recasts God in ever increasingly beauteous and humbling depths.

Continue reading “How Jesus Changes Everything”

The Story of God’s Son

In the Beginning the Triune God created the heavens and the earth as His kingdom. God created His first son Adam from the dust of the earth with the mission to protect and cultivate His garden-home and rule over all the other creatures. God gave Adam a wife as a helpmate to cultivate and fill the earth with faithful children.

Adam failed to protect his wife and his garden-home by disobeying God. Adam worshiped and believed the lies of the dragon and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God had commanded Adam not to eat. Through Adam’s disobedience, sin and death entered the world God had made. Adam was cast from his garden-home, his wife’s labor was increased, the ground would no longer produce fruit without toil and estrangement consumed Adam and his relationships. Within this just judgment of Adam, God cursed the dragon and gave a promise that another Son would come and crush the head of the dragon. God decreed the two warring families would come from the wife of Adam; the sons of God and the sons of the dragon. These warring families are the context of the promised heir, the true Son of God who would restore the Creation and Glory of God in His kingdom.

Continue reading “The Story of God’s Son”