Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading List! (December 31, 2014)

Happy New Year!!!! As I looked back over the past year I have read a total of 41 books! (Plus I read the whole Bible through in the month of March.) This past month I read some great books – on some of these it was like discovering a treasure mine with not only gold, but some rubies and diamonds thrown in too! I’ve been greatly challenged this month with a number of things – and actually they were very timely for where I’m at right now.

Finished this month:

Robert Chapman: Apostle of Love by Robert Peterson
This was a really inspiring biography of a man who truly sought to live his life for Christ. (Shout-out to my friend Pam who gave me this book – I finally got around to reading it!) Robert C. Chapman was known throughout England (and in many parts of the world) as a man of Christian love. Spurgeon said of him that he was the “saintliest man” he ever knew! Originally from a wealthy English family he gave it all up to be a simple pastor and evangelist. He traveled almost entirely by foot around the country of Ireland preaching and sharing the Gospel, took missionary trips to Spain; he was a good friend, advisor and supporter of George Muller, Hudson Taylor, C.H. Spurgeon and other well-known Christians. He had the gift of encouragement and from his earnest study of the Scripture was also a great teacher and preacher. The genuine love he was able to show and give to even those who despised him was really amazing and it led to many of those scoffers or wayward brethren to repentance and reconciliation.

“Love is first and foremost humble and in the very few writings he left behind he defined love this way: ‘The love we speak of is meek and lowly; behaves itself wisely and edifies; bearing with the foolish and self-conceited, while it shuns their folly’.” (p. 189)

If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch
This book I’m putting on my “Every Christian Must Read” list! Like, really, READ THIS BOOK! Seriously, I really think if more Christians read this book (which is just applying Scripture principles to how we respond and deal with conflict and disagreement) we’d have less conflict, drama and more peace and unity in the church today! I started reading this partway through the above book which was providential because these two books go with each other very well. This book is about handling conflict and having a Biblical and godly attitude and speech and Robert C. Chapman literally lived this (hence his reputation as “Apostle of Love”).

Strauch talks about what it means to handle conflict, how to respond, how act in the Spirit and act in love, gives Scripture and counsel for controlling the tongue, anger and criticism. He gives Biblical text and practical steps for pursuing reconciliation and pursuing peace; he discusses the need to face false teachers and face controversy (doctrinal disagreements between Christians) but emphasizes the need to do so in a manner that is gentle, kind and loving. He reminds us that we are one body with those Christians we disagree with and ought to be pursuing peace and not sowing discord. He gives the classic, but beautiful example of the relationship between George Whitefield and John Wesley – two Christians who strongly disagreed doctrinally, yet they had a great admiration and love for the other. They did manage to work together some and John Wesley preached at George Whitefield’s funeral. What would the universal Church be like if we could learn to live and love like these two men? Ephesians 4:2-3 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

P.S. For a bonus there’s REALLY great appendix on what it means to be in Christ and thus fight sin from a position of victory! Very encouraging!
It was really hard to pick just one quote from this book, but I settled on this one which is the theme of the book: “When conflict arises, our attitudes and behaviors should reflect our new life in Christ given by the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We are to display the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh. We are to walk in step with the Spirit’s leading. We are to be Spirit-controlled and not flesh-controlled or out-of-control.” (p. 8-9)

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne
This book goes off the former two very well. Sorry to repeat myself, but you also need to READ THIS BOOK! I’m telling you, this month has been a treasure mine – and here’s the diamonds! Most of us would like to think there’s no way we could be like the Pharisees, but it’s actually a lot easier than we think! In this tremendous book Larry Osborne discusses the attitude that makes us “accidental Pharisees” – we have good intentions, we want to please God, but our understanding of what Scripture teaches, our opinions, our lines for what’s pleasing to God and what’s not (even though it’s not explicitly in Scripture) get in the way. We very easily become proud, look down on others, sometimes even others putting down and separating ourselves from those who “compromise”. What is legalism really? Are you sure you’re not guilty of it? Do you think of yourself as a better Christian than someone else because you know more about the Bible than they do? Is your church exclusive, have boundary markers that qualify you as the “right kind” of Christian? These are challenging questions, but one’s we need to face. While it was convicting, it was also encouraging! So I really encourage you to read this book!

3 quotes from this one: (seriously, aren’t you glad I didn’t just pick one?)
“If we fail to understand how spiritually impressive the Pharisees were, we will remain blind to the danger of becoming like them.” (p. 27)
“How is it possible for the Scriptures and obedience to produce Pharisees instead of disciples? It all has to do with how we use the Bible and how we interpret our obedience. Let me explain….” (p. 57, emphasis his)
Ironically, the more fervently we pursue theological uniformity, the more the Bible takes a back seat, even among people who pride themselves in having the Bible in the navigator’s seat. That’s because the lens of uniformity insists that everyone interpret difficult or controversial Scripture passages exactly the same way. There’s no room for differing opinions, blind spots, or simply being wrong. Those who don’t toe the company line are cast aside.” (p. 146)

Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
At first this book didn’t seem to relevant to me since I don’t think I struggle very much with doing things (my personality is fairly pro-active), however, as I was more honest with myself I had to admit that there are still times I am fearful or hesitant to do things because really, as he points out in this book, I don’t really believe God’s got everything under control. I believe that you cannot “miss” God’s plan/best for your life, but sometimes it’s hard to trust Him when you can’t see ahead. And I do at times struggle with trusting God so this book was really good re-enforcement. While God is sovereign we are responsible to more forward in faith and obedience. Kevin writes, “Yes, God has a specific plan for our lives. And yes, we can be assured that He works thinks for our good in Christ Jesus. And yes, looking back we will often be able to trace God’s hand in bringing us to where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of discerning His will of direction for our lives ahead of time.” (p. 24) This is SO freeing! Kevin also discusses how to acquire wisdom and how to grow in making God-honoring decisions without agonizing over them. Great read and I highly recommend it!

“Therefore we should be humble in looking to the future because we don’t control it, God does. And we should be hopeful in looking to the future because God controls it, not us.” (p. 47-48)

Think by John Piper (kindle)
This was a really good book about how we as Christians should view the mind and thinking and the pursuit of knowledge. Some view the pursuit of knowledge dangerous as it can lead to pride. But as John Piper says, “We are not safe from pride if we neglect serious thinking and turn away from knowledge. ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hos 4:6)’.” This book is “a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of knowing and loving God and people. It is a plea to reject either-or thinking when it comes to head and heart, thinking and feeling, reason and faith, theology and doxology, mental labor and the ministry of love.” Right thinking matters, and we must thinking rightly about God and know Him in order to love Him. If you want to love God more the solution is to get to know Him more. And that means study His Word! Do not think you can grow in your love for God if you do not read more in your Bible. He says repeatedly, “our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.”

“…to see reality in the fullness of truth, we must see it in relation to God, who created it, and sustains it, and gives it all it’s properties, relations, and designs. Therefore, we cannot do Christian scholarship if we have no spiritual sense or taste for God – no capacity to apprehend his glory in the things he has made.”

Currently Reading:
She is Mine by Stephanie Fast (autobiography of a Korean War orphan)

Additional books I want to read this month:
Killing Calvinism by Greg Dutcher
Tempted & Tried by Russell Moore
*I’ve also been convicted that I really need to be immersing myself more in Scripture so I’ve made a commitment to be reading my Bible more this year. The goal I’ve set is to read through the Bible chronologically 2 times this year. Hope you are reminded to make THE Book, the first book. J

My Bible reading plan (only I will double up on my days and try to do it twice this year):

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

If You Don’t Have It, You Don’t Need It

“God has promised to supply our needs. What we don’t have now we don’t need now.”
–Elisabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness, p. 128

I love Elisabeth Elliot. Probably no other author has impacted me as much as she. She’s one of the people I admire more than anyone else. Her faith in God, her perseverance through hardship and testimony of God’s goodness continues to amaze me. When her husband Jim Elliot was murdered by the natives he was trying to reach with the Gospel Elisabeth sought to understand what God was doing. She wrote this:

“My questions were not answered, but I wanted to ‘see’ God, to know Him. So I kept on reading the Book, kept trying to apply it to my life, kept bringing my own thinking and conduct under its authority, seeking God’s meaning in every event that touched me, including Jim’s death and other crises. As God had promised, His Word proved true. He instructed me. He kept me. He held me. He showed me all I needed to know for life and godliness, although He did not unfold all I wanted to know for understanding.” (On Asking God Why p. 140-141, italics hers)

In 2 Peter 1:3 it does indeed say “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness”, and in Phil. 4:19 Paul says “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Yet, sometimes it doesn’t seem like God is keeping this promise.

Our prayers to God are filled with asking Him to supply things we think we need - or else asking Him to change the fact that we need them. In reality however, it may be that we don’t need these things at all! Perhaps what God wants is for us to learn to be content. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul speaks of a “thorn” in his flesh. It was an affliction of some kind and three times he says he pleaded very specifically with God to remove it. I think perhaps he thought that he rather needed it to be taken away. But God’s response was only this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). It was as if God was saying, “Paul, I know this thorn is really troubling you and causing you much affliction. I know you think that it would be better if I took it away, but you see, I allowed that thorn into your life for a purpose. You don’t understand now, but someday you will see things more from My perspective and see that actually what you need is for that thorn to remain. Because you see, through your weakness My strength is going to have an opportunity to shine through your life. You may not understand, but until it one day is taken away, My grace is sufficient.” 

Paul accepted this thorny gift from God. While I’m sure he didn’t completely understand, He saw that God’s glory was the most important thing and so he was content. Paul elsewhere writes, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor 9:8).

To be perfectly honest, there are times when I don’t feel like I have “an abundance for every good work”. But truth is not tied to our feelings – or to what we can see with our eyes. There are certainly many legitimate needs. A job to pay the bills and provide for your family, wisdom in making an important decision, help for dealing with a difficult relationship, heath and strength to keep at your work. But again, God promises to supply our EVERY need…. So if you don’t have it right now, maybe there’s something else you need more.  This isn’t just about physical needs either, but also emotional and spiritual needs. We think we need comfort – did you know you already have it in Christ? You just need to look to Him for it. We think we need strength – yet Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Of course, this is all much easier said than actually done, but there have been many times in my life that I’ve felt “needy” and instead of turning to Christ to satisfy me I turn to other things. There are various idols we turn to: food (yes chocolate too), entertainment, friends, alcohol, Netflix, you name it. Even exercise can be a way of making ourselves feel better apart from Christ. God’s Word says that He is sufficient for our every need. If you have a need, take it to Him. He promises to fulfill it. And if He doesn’t, than you trust that you don’t really need it. He is enough.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller

If I take the time write a whole book summary/review you know that I have found either a really good book, or a really bad one. This, is a really good one. This is the 2nd book I’ve read from Jack Miller (first one was The Heart of A Servant Leader which was also excellent). It is really insightful as it discusses church function, purpose and ministry. But I’ll warn you, it’s rather convicting as well. Jack writes about an unfortunately tendency in churches today – the tendency to be ingrown, that is, focused on internal ministry and life. How many churches are seemingly strong doctrinally and internally, yet have very little to no community involvement, evangelism or outward ministry? Jack sees that “…it is the privilege and duty of each believer to become God’s zealous pacesetter in bringing the lost to Christ by every means available” (p. 57). As Christians we are meant to be active participants in the Great Commission, not passive supporters from the sidelines. We often tend to have “tunnel vision” and focus on internal ministries, maintaining what exists but in the process we end up ignoring Christ’s command to go and make disciples. 

As he discusses what can lead to a church being ingrown he concludes that “the most fundamental lack in the inward-looking congregation is its loss of touch with the motivational power of the divine glory at work in the church and the world” (p. 72). On the flip side, in looking at what qualities consist of a church that is not ingrown he writes, “I’m thinking of regular and thorough meditation on the promises of God, ongoing repentance based on the intense study of Scripture, continual personal and corporate prayer, daring gospel communication and discipling, mobilizing every member’s gifts for Christ’s mission to the world, and each congregation working to plant daughter churches” (p. 19). This is pretty radical when you consider most churches today. It seems to me that many individuals and most churches tend to think they are pretty healthy, when they are in fact missing a whole lot. Also Jack talks about how many times we can think we are preaching the gospel, or think that we are doing ministry when we’re really not.

Jack spends some time talking about how to develop zeal for the gospel, which is essential if you are going to overcome any ingrown tendencies. This zeal springs from faith in the power of God. He goes on to talk about how faith is expectation – it’s expecting God to answer prayer and be at work in our midst. If you don’t have a faith that expects God to move, than you will have little zeal for the Gospel. There is a chapter devoted specifically to corporate prayer and sees this as essential to the health and growth of any church. He writes that he became convinced that “a normal Christian life requires participation in corporate prayer.” Too often, corporate prayer is minimized or nearly excluded from the life of the local church. Very little to no special time is set for prayer and any of that time is mostly focused on internal needs and ministry.

Another tendency of an ingrown church or person is a superior attitude (both in regards to other Christians and to non-believers) and out of that often flows a critical attitude towards others. For this reason Jack emphasizes teaching on and training the tongue. In his sections about discipleship one fragment that he emphasizes is teaching people not to be at all critical of others or unkind. He writes, “If you criticize others in the church, you are really attacking yourself – because we are one body in Christ. Indeed, to attack others with our tongue is really to attack Him, the head of the church” (p. 34). It is so easy for us to tear down other Christians (whether within our local church, or someone else cross country) when we should be pursuing peace and unity and be busy serving Christ. I confess my own tendency in this area - it is easy to criticize others when you don’t agree with them. However, it is one thing to call someone out when they are clearly contradicting Scripture, but it is something else to unjustly criticize others or to tear someone down over some terminology or minor things you don’t agree with. If you have the tendency to look down on and/or criticize others with whom you don’t agree, let this be a warning to you as it is to me.

All this to say, this is an excellent book and one I found very helpful! I hope you'll join me as I pray and seek the Lord for how and where He will have me be more active in the great commission. I’ll quote Jack’s closing remarks to inspire you to pursue and active role in Christ’s call: “So let us go forward with this vision. Let us give it no rest until we see more and more people in our churches changing from merely surviving to working for Christ, becoming His soldiers in the noblest cause this world has ever seen” (p. 173).

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Reading List! (November 30, 2014)

Somehow I managed to get through a LOT of books this month! I was pretty into some of the reading though so that helped.
Finished this month:

A Hunger for God by John Piper
This was my second time reading through this one, and I picked up again kind of on a whim. Very encouraging and good reminders! It’s about fasting, which I agree is one of the most overlooked principles of the Christian life. It’s not just about self-denial it’s about pursuing Christ more than anything else!

“Faith is a spiritual feasting on Christ with a view to being so satisfied in Him that the power of all other allurements is broken.” (p. 42)

Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (various writers)
This book compares two views of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. Covenant Theology takes the “more continuity” view and Dispensationalism takes the “discontinuity” view. To be honest, this book was a bit frustrating for me because I don’t agree with either one! 1  Coming into the book with that presupposition I read this book very critically and carefully. I do seek to be open to differing views provided they can prove their point Scripturally.

Abraham’s Four Seeds by John G. Reisinger
If you’re interested in studying theology and particularly the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the relationship between Israel and the Church you HAVE to read this book! John Reisinger is writing from a “New Covenant” middle position and contrasts “Dispensational Theology” (DT) and “Covenant Theology” (CT). These two systems have different yet similar views of the Old Testament and its relationship to the New Testament. Some may say this is a non-essential issue, yet it greatly affects your understanding of God’s purposes through history, the Church and the Christian’s relationship to God. There are a lot, and some pretty important implications that result depending on which system you believe.
When Scripture refers to the seed of Abraham who is it talking about? From the book title you can assume that Reisinger presents four different “seeds” of Abraham: There’s the 2 different physical seeds (Isaac & Ishmael), then there’s Christ and also the Church (spiritual seed). These need to be properly understood for you to have a clear understanding of God’s purposes through history. I’ll stop now, although I could probably go on and on…. And friends, theology really does matter!!!! So, at the very least put this book on your wish list!

Contentment, Prosperity and God’s Glory by Jeremiah Burroughs
Great little book on learning to be content. He focuses more in this book on how we need to learn to be content it times of blessing and prosperity – because that’s when we take things for granted.

“Oh, the greatest thing that I need is a thankful heart, for if I had but that, then I would be happy indeed.” (p. 114)
“The strength of a Christian is to enjoy God’s gifts, to make use of whatever God allows, to take the sweetness from it, and yet to avoid the temptation – in other words, to take away that which is good and to cast away that which is not good.” (p. 20)

Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller
This is a great book - I’m writing a book review for this book which I’ll be posting shortly, so you can read all about it soon!

Currently Reading:
Robert Chapman: Apostle of Love by Robert Peterson

Additional books I want to finish this month:
If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch
Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

1 For an outline of my position see this article:
For more information on this area of study I would recommend reading Abraham’s Four Seeds (see above).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When You Don’t Feel Thankful

There are often times in life where we just don’t feel thankful. It’s rather awful to admit because as Christians especially God has given us SO much – everything actually and much more than we deserve! But it’s also true that life is hard and often filled with trials, disappointments and struggles, and in dark moments it can be hard to see much of anything to be thankful for. I have been so burdened that I couldn’t sing “Count Your Many Blessings”, I have struggled to hold back the tears because while I knew that I did have many blessings, and especially in Christ, it didn’t feel like it. If I can be honest with you, being thankful sometimes hurts. It often means surrendering up yourself, giving up your desires for what you might have wanted or wished for and choosing to be thankful for what God has given you or in some cases, choosing to be thankful for what He has not given you. Having contentment in what God has given or not given is not easy and it’s in those dark times that the struggle to trust in God’s goodness is really real.

But while life is sometimes a struggle, there is hope; there is a foundation that we can stand on. While I sometimes falter, in that I don’t respond the way I ought to right away, in the end my faith is not in my circumstances, it’s in a God who never changes; a God who is faithful and sovereign over all – even those things that I don’t understand. Even when I struggle to be thankful, my heart still remembers God’s love and goodness, and the greatest blessing of all: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You want to be encouraged, meditate on Christ’s love for you – His perfect, sanctifying, satisfying love that will never let you go. Psalm 46:1-2 says, “The LORD is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…”

Earlier I mentioned the hymn “Count Your Blessings”. There is something about actually taking time to count your blessings, to specifically list them off that helps put things in perspective. So if you’re struggling to be thankful this week, start a list. I started a notebook awhile back that I titled “10,000 Reasons” (yes, after the song) where I write down little blessings as they come my way. Even if it’s a small thing like the sun shining, a pumpkin latte, coffee/tea with a friend, or someone's little encouragement – look for God’s little blessings. While it can be hard to count your blessings in times of trial, I’ll leave you with the words* to this hymn to encourage you to do just that!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


*Words by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922) 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christ: The Cornerstone of Scripture

I have been doing a lot of study recently on the relationship between the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Some say there is continuity between the two (in other words they are closely connected and very unified), others say there is discontinuity (there’s some dis-connection and differences). I won’t go into the differing theological viewpoints in this post1 but there is one thing at the heart of this discussion that I think is really of most importance.

How do we interpret Scripture?

This is more than just whether or not we interpret Scripture literally or analogically, the question more is, what is our central focus as we seek to interpret Scripture?  Another way of asking this question is what is the central theme of Scripture? I’m sure that most Christians would say that the main theme through Scripture is Christ. While He is never mentioned in the Old Testament it still bears witness of Him. Jesus Himself said to the Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39). The only Scriptures they had then were the Old Testament Scriptures, so Jesus was saying that the Old Testament was primarily testifying and speaking about Him. Later Jesus also said to his disciples, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Then Luke says that “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45). Again, these are the Old Testament Scriptures. The disciples didn’t understand how the Old Testament spoke of Jesus until He revealed it to them. Paul says that he became a minister of “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.” (Col 1:26) That mystery is, the Gospel in Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament God’s glorious salvation was shrouded in mystery, types and shadows, but in the New Testament it has been fully revealed.

When we read the Old Testament is important to understand two things. First, it’s important to read the Old Testament in its historical and canonical context (pre-cross). The original recipients did not have the knowledge we now have. However, since we now stand post-resurrection we have had the veil of mystery lifted and we are able to better understand the Old Testament because of its fulfillment in Christ. It’s important to understand that Christ stands as the cornerstone of Scripture, the lens through which we view and understand what was written. There are some theologians who say that we should not bring the new revelation of the New Testament to bear on the Old. But apart from Christ what does the Old Testament mean? Can we really understand the “mystery hidden” apart from Him? After all, it points towards Him. It testifies of Christ and must be viewed through that lens.

This, apparently, is a big issue of debate, but I think it’s of crucial importance. If you don’t view the Old Testament through the new revelation of the New Testament than either none of it really matters at all (discontinuity) or it all carries over to today (continuity)… that’s why there are the two extreme views. (Both views do this, which is why I disagree with both.) We do not go back to the past and look as through a mirror dimly, we have the full revelation of Scripture! If Jesus Himself helped the Apostles to understand the Old Testament Scriptures in light of His coming, should not we seek to do understand them the same way? And if the Apostles and writers of the New Testament themselves spiritualize the Old Testament should we still try to confine and understand it in its pre-cross context? Is it wrong hermeneutics to read new revelation into the old? Does that really “change” the meaning (as some say it does) or “expound” it? If all of Scripture intersects at the coming of Christ, than He is the cornerstone of truth and the key to unlocking Scripture, Old Testament and New and Scripture (Old or New) cannot be rightly and fully interpreted or understood apart from Him. Let Jesus be the lens by which we read and understand His Word because He changes everything.

1 There are often given just two major views on this subject: Continuity (Covenant theology) and Discontinuity (Dispensationalism) although there may be some CT people who will agree with this article. As mentioned in this article I do not fall in either category, but rather with a third viewpoint. For an outline of my position see this article:

For more information on this area of study I would recommend this book as a great comparison and contrast of Covenant theology and Dispensationalism:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Reading List! (October 31, 2014)

Happy Reformation Day!!!!! Just two books this month – but hey, one of them was about 575 pages!

Finished this month:
What Is A Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti Anyabwile
Excellent book! If you want to grow as a Christian you need to grow as a member of the body of Christ! Many of us think we are doing just fine, but in reality we need to grow so much more! This book will probably be convicting, but I hope it will inspire you to grow in Christlikeness!

“A growing church member is someone who looks more and more like Jesus in attitude of heart, thought, speech and action. That’s what we long to be and long for our churches to be.” (p. 89)

Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare by C.H. Spurgeon
Yes! Finished! It’s a big one, but yes, really good!!! So many gems in this book, encouraging, inspiring, convicting…. There’s one section which is all just prayers from Spurgeon and they are so inspiring! I have been reminded of the call we have to prayer, to trust in the attributes and promises of God that He will answer. He writes that the attendance at prayer meetings is in decline and “in many cases the prayer meeting is despised. It is looked down on as a sort of second-rate gathering.” But “The prayers of the church measure its prosperity. If we restrain prayer, we restrain the blessing.” (see p. 121). A lot of good teaching and encouragement in this book!

“Who are we that, by our narrow expectations, we limit this Holy One of Israel?... Let us grasp at greater things, for it is reasonable, with the Lord to trust in, to look for greater things…Why not? Who can justify the absence of the strongest hope since He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or think.” (p. 332)

“It is worthwhile to live the most afflicted and tried life, as long as we know God and taste His love. Let Him do what seems good to Him, as long as He will but be God to us and permit us to call Him our Father and our God.” (p. 479)

Currently Reading:
Abraham’s Four Seeds by John G. Reisinger
A Hunger for God by John Piper (2nd time reading)

Additional books I want to finish this month:
Hoping to get through all these! Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (various writers) and Robert Chapman: Apostle of Love by Robert Peterson

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rising Incense: The Value of Corporate Prayer

“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given 
much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended 
before God from the angel's hand.” (Rev 8:3-4)

The healthy church is one that prays. I don’t just mean individual Christians praying individually, although this is important as well. Certainly every true church will be led in prayer during the Sunday service, probably some requests and a short prayer time at the end of a Bible study, but do these alone make the church a praying church? While they are praying certainly, a praying church is one where prayer is much more a priority than something that’s part of the order of service or tacked on the end of a Bible study. When was the last time you gathered with other Christians just to pray? When was the last time you gathered on the behalf of a brother or sister who was hurting or sick? Have you gathered with the church to lift up your persecuted brethren around the world, to lift up the community you live in, the nation and its leaders you have been placed under? When was the last time you spent more than 10 minutes alone or with others praying?

Again, it is certainly important that Christians pray alone, and we are called to pray “continually” (1 Thes. 5:17). But there is something powerful about the body of Christ coming together to lift its voice in one accord. E.M. Bounds (a man known for his writing on prayer) writes,

“The past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demands for doing great things
for God. The church that is dependant on its past history for its miracles of power
and grace is a fallen church… The greatest benefactor this age could have is the
man who will bring the teachers and the church back to prayer.”

By all means give me a church that preaches the Gospel faithfully, this is of first importance. But closely on its heels is the need for prayer. It is a key identifying mark; the church is to be a “house of prayer” (Isa 56:7). Not only is prayer commanded but it is exemplified all over the Bible. In the book of Acts, the church was centered around three main things, one of them being, you guessed it, prayer:

Acts 1:14 – they all continued “with one accord in prayer and supplication…”
Acts 2:42 – “they continued steadfastly in… prayers.”
Acts 3:1 – Peter and John went up “together… at the hour of prayer.”
Acts 4:24 – “…they raised their voices with one accord…”
Acts 12:5 – “but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”
Acts 12:14 – “And… he came to the house of Mary… where many were gathered together praying.” (Acts 12 concerns Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison – very much I believe an answer to fervent prayer, even to the extent that many were gathered in the middle of the night praying!)
Acts 13:2-3 – “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted… Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”
Acts 16:16 – “Now it happened, as we went to prayer…”

And yet, we hardly think it is as important as the early Christians did. Paul also exhorted believers to prayer many times. Here are some key ones: Rom 12:12, 15:30, Eph 6:18-19, Phil 4:6, Col 4:2-3, 1 Thes 5:25, 2 Thes 3:1, 1 Tim 2:1, Heb 13:18, Jam 5:14-16, 1 Pt 4:7, 1 Jn 5:16, Jude 1:20.

A Christian cannot not have some desire to pray, we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. But what if we lack desire to devote serious time to prayer? “In such circumstance” E.M. Bounds wrote, “…we ought to pray for the desire to pray; for such a desire is God-given and heaven-born.” And again, we are commanded to pray – not because it’s burdensome, rather Spurgeon writes that we need the command to pray because we forget, are often too discouraged to pray or lack faith (see Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare, p. 270-271). We are called to pray despite weakness and unbelief. It takes time to pray… something we Americans are hard pressed to give up. We think we have “more important” things to do.

Is prayer important? Does prayer really matter? I mean why we should pray? If God is sovereign than everything is already set in motion then God does not need me to pray does He? It is certainly true that God does not need anything in the sense that He is needy. But at the same time God has ordained a means for His activity. He moves in answer to prayer. Look throughout the Scriptures and you’ll find a myriad of examples of God moving and “changing His mind” in response to prayer. Two examples:

Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said… So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.  (Ex 32:11-14)

“But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.” (Philem 1:22)

D.A. Carson writes, “It is worth praying to a sovereign God because He is free and can take action as He wills; it is worth praying to a personal God because He hears, responds, and acts on behalf of His people, not according to the blind rigidities of inexorable fate.” (A Call To Spiritual Reformation, p.165). God works through prayer, and if you do not pray you dare not presume for Him to work. In a sense, God’s work in the world, in the church and in us is conditional. God says in 2 Chron. 7:14, “…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  If”, He says. While this was originally written to Israel, we today are the people of God and God is waiting on our repentance and prayer to bring “healing” to our land, our churches, our families. Prayer can be hindered by unconfessed sin (1 Peter 3:7). Spurgeon writes, “God blesses His people when they begin to pray, as well as when they confess their sins… We are sure to receive the blessing from God when the entire church is interceding with urgency and persistence.” (Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare, p. 333). If we want answers to prayer, if we want people to be saved, to be changed than we must be committed to humbling ourselves before God, confessing sin and being engaged in serious prayer!

Give me a church that prays! Be a Christian who seeks to be committed to prayer personally, but also corporately. Be a church that is committed to prayer and when there’s a prayer meeting, GO!

“We almost forget that we wield the power, seldom exercising it, though it would be blessed to countless myriads. Weep, believer. We have been defeated and our banners trail in the dust because we have not prayed.” – C.H. Spurgeon

For more on this subject, check out this great message:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reading List! (September 30, 2014)

Finished this month:

The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot
I would put this in the top 10 books that have most influenced my life. While I just read it now for the first time, there are several quotes in it than alone have greatly impacted my life over the years! Loneliness is something everyone at some point experiences, some to a much greater degree than others. This has indeed been an area of suffering for me and the Lord greatly used this to remind me of His greatness and love and encourage me to trust Him. This is a gem of a book!

“If with courage and joy we pour ourselves out for Him and for others for His sake, it is not possible to lose, in any final sense, anything worth keeping. We will lose ourselves and our selfishness. We will gain everything worth having.” (p. 123-124)

Some other notable quotes from this book:

“Our hearts are lonely till they rest in Him who made us for Himself.” (p. 90)
“God may have to hurt us, but He will never harm us. His object is wholeness.” (p. 62)
“God never denies our heart’s desire except to give us something better.” (p. 32)
“God has promised to supply our needs. What we don’t have now we don’t need now.” (p. 128)
Perhaps some future day Lord,
Thy strong hand will lead me to a place where I must stand
Utterly alone.
Alone, O gracious Love
But for Thee;
I shall be satisfied if I can see – Jesus only.
I do not know Thy plans for years to come
My spirit finds its perfect home sufficiency.
Lord, all my desire is before Thee now
Lead on, no matter where, no matter what – I trust in Thee.
(p. 39)

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
My family and I read this together on our road trip to Ohio this month. It’s my second time through this one and it’s excellent! I really like Jerry Bridges, I like his writing style and his humility is evident. It is really convicting though! There is so much in our lives that we overlook or think isn’t a big deal – but sin is sin and it all matters to God. We need the Gospel and we need to grow and change, continually putting off the deeds of the flesh and putting on true righteousness and holiness.

“…it is easy for us to feel good about ourselves and to assume that God feels that way also. We fail to reckon with the reality of sin still dwelling within us.” (p. 24)
“…as God is holy, all holy, only holy, altogether holy, and always holy, so sin is sinful, all sinful, only sinful, altogether sinful, and always sinful.” (p. 29)

Currently Reading:
I’m still working on Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare by C.H. Spurgeon – I’m halfway and the goal is to finish this big book this next month! I’m also reading What Is A Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti Anyabwile.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The 5 Sola’s of the Reformation: Sola Deo Gloria!

The final “Sola” of the Reformation is Sola Deo Gloria which means, “Glory to God alone!” In the Roman Catholic Church salvation was achieved (as mentioned previously) not by grace through faith alone, but Christ/faith + works. You needed to do x or y, pray this prayer, take this pilgrimage, pay this tithe or indulgence, etc. or you could have no hope of salvation. As a result, if and when one did attain salvation, who really got the credit? Man did.

The more shocking thing about this, is that there are many protestants who would like to give themselves more credit than is due. After all, we did something didn’t we? We choose to believe, choose to follow Christ right? And we continue to choose to obey Him, to do what’s right, so we deserve some credit, some reward right?

No. You and I do not “deserve” anything. Remember our discussion on grace? It’s ALL grace, and it’s nothing that we do. Thus how can we dare presume that we deserve anything? God promises to reward us yes, but He rewards us based on His grace and mercy, not because of what we do.

According to Scripture, God’s main passion is for His own glory.There are some who have actually argued that that is “selfish,” but umm He is God you know… For God to pursue His own glory is NOT selfishness, in fact, it's the highest virtue! If He’s not concerned and jealous about His own glory then He’s not really the Supreme One. Someone has to be in charge - the problem is that we usually want it to be us. In doing so, or even by taking some credit for ourselves, we rob God of glory; we steal from the Divine One the honor due His name. But in this we find joy, because giving glory to God is what we were meant to do! Jonathan Edwards wrote, "God's purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God's glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion."

Who ALONE gets the glory? “Well, yes, God” is usually the reply. But do you really live as though that were true? Does how you live your life and use your words line up with this truth? Or do you see your salvation as being mostly God and a little bit of me?  How about your sanctification, is it something God starts but you have to finish? Now, I’m not saying we don’t have responsibility, we clearly do, but my questions are probing to find out who really gets all the credit for all of this. Jesus counseled his disciples, “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ” (Luke 17:10) We have merely done our duty, and even that ability was given to us by His grace. Do you realize that there's nothing you can do to make God love you more and there's nothing you can do to cause God to love you less? Our salvation is based on His grace in Christ - it's not our work, it's no credit to ourselves. Paul writes, "But 'he who glories, let him glory in the Lord' " (2 Cor 10:17). He is our "boast" as other translations put it, He is our glory and our praise. To God be the glory - great things He has done! 

For more about this I'd encourage you to watch this short clip from Louie Giglio:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The 5 Sola’s of the Reformation: Sola Gratia & Sola Fide

The concepts of these 2 sola’s were often grouped together. The reason is that one flows from the other. It’s by grace, through faith that we are saved.

The Roman Catholic Church taught (and still teaches) that it is not grace alone that saves us, its God’s “grace” + our work. Their definition of grace makes salvation possible – more like a general or common grace. It’s not a grace that actually and completely saves. But grace is the wellspring (source) of our salvation. Further, to spring from the previous post, Christ’s life, death and resurrection are the grounds to our salvation, but faith is the means. We attain this salvation not through our good works or merits, but simply by the grace of God and through faith in Christ’s atonement.

Grace has been defined in many different ways. Unmerited favor, or de-merited favor.  Simply put, grace is receiving what you do not deserve. The fact of the matter is that we do not deserve God’s mercy even to the degree that we live and breathe. But then there’s justification from sin which we can in no way earn as it’s outside of our ability to accomplish. This saving grace is an active grace that brings about new birth.

Here’s where even many Christians split. The Catholic church along with many protestants today believe that this saving grace is only active after an individual puts their faith in Christ. It’s a long-debated question: Which comes first, faith or salvation?

To find the answer we need to go to Scripture - as it is our "sola" authority! Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” We are saved BY grace, THROUGH faith. It is very clearly the grace that saves us, but it’s through our faith that this becomes real to our experience. Thus, I believe salvation does theoretically precede faith. Our faith springs from the saving grace that God gives us through the new birth. We were dead in sin then “made alive” as Eph. 2:1 says. And that life in Christ gives birth to faith.

This is key as we remember that our salvation is not dependent upon our faith, it’s dependent upon God. Too many people look to their past, to a moment of “faith” they once had and that gives them their assurance. Many also look at their Christian life and think their standing with God is dependent on their continued efforts and faith. But those are both faulty. That is works-based justification and sanctification. We cannot depend on what we did (or did not do) in the past we must be looking to Christ! Yes, our faith may waver, it’s not perfect, but it’s through persevering in faith that it proves to be genuine. This process is called sanctification and that involves more of us cooperating with the Holy Spirit to grow and change. But justification (our salvation) is all (sola!) of grace not of ANY of our work or effort. And it’s realized all through faith not through any independent effort on our part.

Since it is grace is the source of our salvation and not our faith it gives us nothing to boast in, rather it paves the way for the last “sola” on the list… Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The 5 Sola’s of the Reformation: Sola Christus

“Christ alone”. For most reading this, that is rather obvious… of course we’re saved by Christ alone. But the Roman Catholic Church (not to mention EVERY other religion out there) did not (and still does not) really teach that. They believe and teach that Christ died for sin yes, but His sacrifice alone was not sufficient to take away sin. It’s Christ + works. However, the Reformers believed from Scripture that it was Christ’s sacrifice for sin that alone could justify us before God and that our own righteousness and works could have absolutely nothing to do with it.

Christ, His person, His work, His life, death and resurrection are the grounds for our salvation. There is no hope without them. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Why Christ? Because God demands a perfect sacrifice, and no mere man could suffice. Why blood? Because the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23). It is only through the sacrificial death of a perfect “second Adam” that we could have the hope of forgiveness of sin. In the Old Testament the Israelites offered the blood of lambs and oxen, but they were shadows of the perfect sacrifice that was coming. They were only a temporary covering of sin – they could not take it away. The author of Hebrews argues this throughout his letter as He shows the supremacy of Christ, His person and His work. He wrote,

And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10:11-14)

This is how Jesus just before he died could cry out “It is finished!” (John 19:30) – the work He had come for, to “seek and to save” sinners was completed. And by finished He meant just that – there was no more work to be done.  “Now where there is remission of [sin], there is no longer an offering for sin.” (Heb 10:18). What offering or sacrifice can we offer for our sin? There is none, because first of all, no sacrifice or work could be enough, and secondly, Christ has already offered it!
Paul writes, “In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” (Eph 1:7)

Also Romans 3:21-25:

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith…”

Does this put you in awe of Christ? In amazement of His life lived and death died on our account? This is indeed a great Savior and although we may be great sinners, we can run to Him and find forgiveness! How does one attain this forgiveness? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Believe; trust; put your faith in Christ as sufficient to take away your sins and make you righteous before God! And what this faith is we shall discover more in my next post.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The 5 Sola’s of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura

(This is part 2 of a series on the 5 Sola’s of the Reformation)

One of the cries during the Reformation was later termed “Sola Scriptura!” which means “Scripture alone”! Again, the Reformation was an awakening of the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, and one thing that they taught was that Scripture alone was not the ultimate authority. While they didn’t say this out rightly, it was clear that Church tradition was esteemed just as highly as Scripture (if not more), there were several apocryphal books added to the 66 original Canon, and in addition, the Pope could speak “ex-Cathedra” and it was considered equal to the authority of Scripture. In so doing the Church could supersede Scripture and “interpret” it as they saw fit. Martin Luther took issue with that, and rightly so. The Scriptures were not their final and ultimate authority for doctrine and life and it claims to be just that:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Scripture alone! “Canon” means rule or standard. It’s a measuring rod if you will, one that everything else must measure up to. The 66 books of Scripture have met this standard and have stood the test of time for the last 2,000 years.

The question of the Bible’s authority is not just a problem within Catholicism; many Protestants, while claiming the Scripture is their authority, unfortunately can end up placing more weight on their feelings or experience than on the Word of God. I could name a lot of names right now of teachers who claim “God told me” or share visions or ideas, but yet they don’t measure up to what Scripture teaches. Since Scripture is the standard we do not compare Scripture to our thoughts, interpretations or opinions we compare them to the standard of Scripture. It alone is our rule for faith and practice. To follow any other thing before or above this - whether it be a person, a dream or our feelings, is to practically deny the authority of Scripture.

*Picture: Martin Luther’s pulpit, Wittenberg, Germany. Amelia Arnold, 2008.

All that being said, I’m going to add a bit of a twist to the discussion. Is Scripture itself alone sufficient to make us “complete”, alone sufficient for “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)? I would say, well... not quite. While Scripture must be our final authority, I would argue, it is not all we need.

Now you pick up stones to throw at me please review what I said previously. The Scripture ARE our final and ultimate authority. BUT – there is something we are forgetting.

The Bible says that the Word of God gives life (see Ps 119:50). But what is it exactly that gives these ink-on-paper words life? They were breathed-out by the Holy Spirit. Notice what Jesus says gives life: “It is the spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). There are two things that give life: the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. These two cannot be separated! The Word of God is the means to our becoming “complete” (1 Tim 3:16) but the Holy Spirit is the agent through which this is brought about. To have the Word without the Spirit is empty religion, to have the “Holy Spirit” without the Word is mere spirituality or mysticism. We must have truth based on Scripture, and we must have the Spirit to bring that truth to life.

There are many in charismatic circles who place their emphasis on the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Word of God, but I have also known of solid, Biblical, evangelical, even Reformed churches who emphasize and centralize the Word of God but at the expense of nearly entirely ignoring the Holy Spirit. It’s as if it’s our own feelings/experience + the Holy Spirit = life, OR our own intellect + Scripture = life. While both groups have something valuable I would say both are unbalanced.

Let’s look at this text for instance:

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:12-13)

Is this saying that the words on the page themselves have this power to convict and judge? Well, yes, but again, it's not just the words themselves that challenge us it’s the Holy Spirit that works through the words of Scripture (written or spoken) that brings about conviction. Words themselves can not convict, only the Spirit can do that.

So, Scripture alone, period? If you’re talking about final authority than yes, absolutely! But we would do well to remember that Scripture is made alive “sola” through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. The means of Scripture and the involvement of the Holy Spirit is what gives us all we need for life and godliness. Perhaps we should add another “Sola” to our list: Sola Spiritus. It is the Spirit alone who gives life, light and power - BUT this He does through the Word of God and more specifically, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must have “both and” my friends!

For more on this subject, here are some great messages to listen to:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The 5 Sola’s of the Reformation (Introduction to Series)

Most of you have probably heard of the 5 Sola’s of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Deo Gloria, but do we even know what these really mean? It seems that a lot of the time we just like our little cliché’s and don’t really understand their importance. These were crucial doctrinal stances concerning Scripture and what it teaches us about God and salvation. It’s important to realize that they mean sometimes mean different things to different denominations and that while Catholics may sometimes claim agreement what they mean is not the same. This is a lot about definitions which can seem nitty-gritty, but definitions matter when it comes to truth. What is grace really? What does the sufficiency of Scripture actually mean? Exactly what role does faith play in our salvation?

The Reformation was a spiritual renewal/revival that occurred in Europe in from the mid-1500’s to mid-1600’s. Prior to this the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) was the very dominant (and often the only) “Christian” church in Europe. The problems were many: salvation was attained through works (prayers, confessions, tithes, use of the sacraments, doing good deeds), false teaching (salvation by works again, the sinlessness of Mary, praying to saints) and there was a lot of corruption and abuse of power. Martin Luther is credited with officially kicking-off the Reformation. Originally a committed Catholic monk, he was studying the book of Romans when he realized that salvation was not of works, and that man could not attain salvation through works. Rather it was all of the grace of God through faith in the work of Christ alone. His conversion led to him speaking and writing against the false teaching of the RCC and when he nailed his 95 Theses (statements of disagreement with teachings of the RCC) on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517 the Reformation had begun. It then spread to surrounding countries (Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin in Switzerland) and to England through the preaching of John Knox and under King Henry VIII (although he personally had different and very wrong reasons for rejecting Catholicism).

*Picture: The 95 Theses’ Door, Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany. (Amelia Arnold, Spring 2008)

While these 5 solas were not collectively put together until the 20th century the concepts were used by the Reformers themselves in their writing. The two that most often appear together are “Sola Gratia,” (Grace alone) and “Sola Fide” (Faith alone). For example, in 1554 Philip Melanchthon (a friend of Martin Luther) wrote, "only by grace do You justify and only by faith are we justified". All of them, of course, are truths taught in Scripture and you can find all 5 Sola’s in one passage! Check out Romans 3:21-25:

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law (note- it’s not by the law/works) is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (there’s the Scriptures) even the righteousness of God, through faith (there’s faith) in Jesus Christ, (there’s Christ) to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (OK, maybe a stretch here? But at least we can see here God’s glory as the supreme end) being justified freely by His grace (there’s grace) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, (Christ again, but here clearly it’s His work on the cross)…”

In a response to the RCC teaching that salvation = God + man’s work or effort, men like Luther, Calvin and Knox sought to call people to come back to these key truths - that God’s Word alone is our authority, that we are saved not by works but by Christ’s work, and that by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, and all this for His glory alone. These men certainly had their flaws and all their theology was not completely accurate; nevertheless, we should always be grateful they have left us this legacy. In this series I will examine each of these (Grace & Faith together probably), what the Scriptures teach about each one and why they are  important, in fact, why they are worth dying for as many protestants did in the 16th century. Hope you'll enjoy!

To read more on Reformation history see below: