Archive for September, 2010

Just a Good Quote… And a Little More

Shane Lems over at Reformed Reader, a blog I follow, posted a quote from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Romans. It truly is a brilliant statement that we need to hear, therefore I thought I would pass it along. So, with many thanks to Shane, here it is. “God’s promises to us are more powerful and effectual for the mortifying of sin than our promises to God.”

Matthew Henry is commenting on Romans 6.14 which states, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (ESV). This verse is part of a larger argument from Paul on the basis and necessity of sanctification. Paul begins the chapter by asking the following rhetorical questions,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6.1-4, ESV).

Paul goes on to build his argument for the necessity of sanctification not based on what we can or will or might do but based on who we are in Christ. Too often our tendency is to think of the christian life as beginning in the Spirit with the gospel and then continuing in the power of our flesh. Now, to be sure, we play a part in our sanctification that we do not play in our justification, but sanctification is no less of grace and no less founded on the gospel than justification. Notice the differences and similarities in the definitions of justification and sanctification given to us in the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q.33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Q.35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

The thing we forget about sanctification is that, like justification, it is of God’s free grace. Our sanctification is not based on what we do to be more holy. Our sanctification is based on what God has declared us to be in Christ. This is the point of what Paul is saying in Romans 6.14. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” In 6.14 Paul is giving the reason behind verses 12-13 where he writes,

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought form death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6.12-13, ESV).

Verse 14 is both the why and the how that sit behind verses 12-13. Why should we not present ourselves to sin as its instruments? Because, if we are in Christ, we are not sin’s instrument! How is it possible for us to not present ourselves to sin as its instruments? Because, if we are in Christ, we are not sin’s instrument! Knowing this, Matthew Henry wrote, “”God’s promises to us are more powerful and effectual for the mortifying of sin than our promises to God.” He then states, “Sin may struggle in a believer, and may create him a great deal of trouble, but it shall not have dominion; it may vex him, but shall not rule over him.” If we want to fight sin, we must rest in God’s free grace, we must believe the gospel!

Paul continues his argument from this point with more rhetorical questions.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves to sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6.15-18, ESV).

Oh that we as Christians, oh that I as a Christian, may live as we are, as people who have been set free from sin.

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We Moved!

We have moved!  For the past two years, we have been meeting in the Event Center on the third floor of the Halter Building in Downtown Conway. God has continued to add to our number so that we now regularly fill this space. Therefore, beginning this Sunday, September 12, we will begin meeting in Suite 204 of the Halter Building. Join us for worship at 10.30.

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International Burn a Koran Day? What Exactly is the Message?

If you have watched the news at all in the last few days, you have probably come across the story of Rev. Terry Jones and the Florida church preparing to celebrate “International Burn a Koran Day.” Apparently, this is a holiday established by the Dove World Outreach Center to commemorate 9/11 and to publicly announce their disgust with radical Islam.

The question that I have about this whole issue is this, “What is your message?” Rev. Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center answers, “Our 9/11 protest is to send a clear message to the radical element of Islam that we will not tolerate that in America.” Here’s the problem I have with Mr. Jones answer – it is not the gospel. The church’s job is not to announce a supposedly American disdain for radical Islam. The church’s job is to announce the good news of Jesus Christ.

As I have thought through this issue it seems that one of the fundamental problems is a confusion, or perhaps a conflation, of the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of America. When preachers confuse these two kingdoms, we get confused about our goal. Jesus Christ did not die to build an earthly kingdom, a better America. Jesus came to Earth as a man, lived perfectly, died, rose, and ascended in order to establish his kingdom and populate it with his people. When Jesus said the Kingdom of God is at hand, he spoke of the heavenly kingdom, the kingdom over which he reigns.

If our goal is to work for the expansion of the Kingdom of God, it is necessary that we come to grips with a issues.

1. Neither America nor Israel (nor any other nation for that matter) are to be equated or confused with the Kingdom of God.

2. The kingdom we are working to build determines our method of building.

3. The Kingdom of God will only be built through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When ministers and churches replace working for the expansion of the Kingdom of God with working for the security of a kingdom of men, we are guilty of idolatry. We have ceased to rest in the hope and future that are certain in Jesus Christ and are working to establish our own security on Earth. In essence, we have moved back to Babel and started building another tower.

Nevertheless some will object, “But they burned religious books in the Bible! Haven’t you read Acts 19?” Yes, I have, and yes, they did. However, they were burning their own books after hearing the gospel and converting to Christianity. Tony Reinke, who I know almost nothing about, has a great post dealing with this exact issue. You can read it here. He makes six point about the book burning in Acts 19.

1. The Ephesian people burned their own books.

2. No Christian leader encouraged the book burning.

3. The books posed no threat to the gospel.

4. God’s display of power convinced the people that their books were worthless.

5. The book burning was a display of godly sorrow.

6. The burning illustrated the victory of the gospel.

As a church, our job is to work for the expansion of the Kingdom of God through the proclamation of the Good News that Jesus Christ came to save his people from their sins. May we be faithful with this message.

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God and Love

Justin Taylor wrote the following post on his blog at The Gospel Coalition. I am sure copying another post in full is against blogging rules, but we will worry about that later. If you are like me, clicking off the site you are currently on is less than attractive for some reason. If you are not like me and want to read the post on Justin’s actual blog you can click here. So, just to be clear, everything below here is from Justin Taylor.

What Is Love?

God and Love

God is love.

Love is a gift of God.

What Love Is

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

What Love Is Not

Love is not arrogant.

Love is not rude.

Love is not irritable.

Love is not resentful.

What Love Does Not Do

Love does not envy.

Love does not boast.

Love does not insist on its own way.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.

What Loves Does

Love rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things.

Love believes all things.

Love hopes all things.

Love endures all things.

Love lasts forever.

Love fulfills the law.

{1 John 4:7-8; 1 Cor. 13:4-8; Rom. 13:10}

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