Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
- Mark 1:14-15

Friday, December 28, 2018

Paul on Union With Christ - Sinclair Ferguson

I have been going through the 75 Best Sermons from Monergism.org and found something really good (after 22:50 mark in video) where he cites Thomas Goodwin saying how there are only two men who stand before God the Father, Adam and Jesus, and you are hooking yourself to either one of them.
Sinclair Ferguson - Paul on Union With Christ (Main Session - Video) from Parkside Church on Vimeo.

From the 1689 blog:

One of the most brilliant illustrations of covenant theology is that used by the Puritan divine Thomas Goodwin. In his exposition entitled Christ Set Forth, he explains that “Adam was reckoned as a common public person, not standing singly or alone for himself, but as representing all mankind to come of him’. In this he was a type of Christ, who is also a representative figure. This is why the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:47, speaks of Adam and Christ as ‘the first man’ and ‘the second Man’ respectively ‘He speaks of them’, says Goodwin, ‘as if there had never been any more men in the world, nor were ever to be for time to come, except these two. And why? but because these two between them had all the rest of the sons of men hanging at their girdle.”

Can you visualize the picture which Goodwin draws for us? He imagines two great giants, one called Adam and the other Christ. Each is wearing an enormous leather ‘girdle’ or belt with millions of little hooks on it. You and I, and all humanity, are hanging either at Adam’s belt or at Christ’s belt. There is no third option, no other place for us. And God deals with us only through Adam or through Christ. If you are hanging at Adam’s belt, you share in the experience of sinful, fallen Adam, and your entire relationship with God is through him. But if you are hanging at Christ’s belt, all God’s dealings with you are through Christ. When you received Jesus as your Saviour, you were involved in a massive and momentous transfer. The Almighty himself unhooked you from Adam’s belt and hooked you on to Christ’s. So you now have a different Head, a different Mediator, a new Representative. You have passed from Adam into Christ, and whereas God formerly dealt with you only through Adam, he now deals with you only through his Son. You are in Christ unchangeably and for ever.     [1]

Sinclair Ferguson says, "What the gospel does for us is to take us out of our union with Adam--in sin, in death, in judgment, in hell...and to put us into union and communion with our Lord Jesus Christ--in righteousness, in life, in peace, and joy, and new fruitfulness to God." Galatians 2:20 emphasizes this union of the believer with Jesus, "I have been crucified WITH Christ." Because we are united with Christ, sin no longer has dominion over us.  1 Corinthians 6:15, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?"  

Paul wanted to know Christ and to be in even greater union with Him.  He wanted to share in the fellowship of His sufferings, to be made like Him in His death, to share in the power of His resurrection, and finally to be conformed to His image.  We cannot share in His power unless we first share in His suffering.

[1] Edward Donnelly, Heaven and Hell p. 87, citing ‘ Goodwin’s Works, James Nichol edition, 1862, Vol. 4, p. 31.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The God Who Is Not Like Us, Why We Need the Doctrine of Divine Immutability - Kevin DeYoung

Rob Stiles (@robstiles1) is a good follow on Twitter.  He recently posted a list from Monergism.org of 75 Best Sermons.  This is the first sermon from the list by Kevin DeYoung.  The first thing you need to know is what the word immutable means.  It means that God does not change, which can be either very good news or really bad news for you.

God is immutable and does not change. Even though we may imagine and think that God should change His impossible and holy standard of perfect righteousness for us to get into heaven, we cannot expect Him to grade on a curve for He does not change. He does not change and His promises and His Word to us are good and a firm foundation. Our God is holy. He is separate and distinct--He is constant and perfectly consistent, not like us.

We are in a world that is in constant change. DeYoung says in our souls, we are "mutability searching for immutability," and, "The only to overcome the constant change in your life and in your self and in your world is to know the One whose essence and knowledge and will never changes." One theologian said the immutability of God is the "fulcrum of our faith and the foundation of our hope."

You can download the audio link here.  I have found it helpful to listen to these to and from work.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Justin Peters Exposes Joel Osteen

This won't be the most popular post because so many people hold Joel Osteen in high esteem today.  The truth never is popular but it still must be told, even if it makes some people angry.  Paul warned Timothy that people would prefer a false gospel to the real thing: 

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."

2 Timothy 4:2-4

Monday, June 25, 2018

Justification - Kevin DeYoung (2017 Reformation Conference)

Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein He pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone (Westminster Shorter Catechism).

This definition of justification is exactly what our world needs even though they may not yet realize it.

Wilfred McClay wrote an article in The Hedgehog Review called The Strange Persistence of Guilt, in which he says that religion in modern society is in decline, yet the feeling of guilt remains. 

McClay says, “Those of us living in the developed countries of the West find ourselves in the tightening grip of a paradox, one whose shape and character have so far largely eluded our understanding. It is the strange persistence of guilt as a psychological force in modern life. If anything, the word persistence understates the matter. Guilt has not merely lingered. It has grown, even metastasized, into an ever more powerful and pervasive element in the life of the contemporary West, even as the rich language formerly used to define it has withered and faded from discourse, and the means of containing its effects, let alone obtaining relief from it, have become ever more elusive.”

Nietzsche theorized that the “death” of God would show a “decline in the consciousness of human debt.”  Sigmund Freud said that guilt was the biggest problem in the development of society and he tried hard to minimize it and to relieve his patients of the guilt they felt for the many problems in the world.

McClay also talked about the infinite extensibility of guilt and said with increased power comes increased responsibility and this responsibility leads to guilt.  He said, “Whatever donation I make to a charitable organization, it can never be as much as I could have given.  I can never diminish my carbon footprint enough, or give to the poor enough. … Colonialism, slavery, structural poverty, water pollution, deforestation — there’s an endless list of items for which you and I can take the rap.”

The news covers suffering around the world and it seems as if we live in the hardest times ever.  But actually, the opposite is true.  We live in the most peaceful times in the history of our planet now without much war and conflict as compared to times past, not to mention the comforts we enjoy today such as being able to turn on a water faucet instead of having to walk ten miles a day to get water to keep your family alive.

Kevin DeYoung says that before we didn’t hear much about suffering in other parts of the world but today we live in an interconnected world in which we know all about the volcano, tornado, starvation, hurricane, earthquake, homicide, traffic accident, plane crash, shooting spree, as well as acts of terrorism, etc. etc.

McClay referred to a concept called “stolen suffering” in which people make up stories of personal suffering to obtain the honor and prestige that our society gives to those that have suffered greatly.  DeYoung said, “Our heroes are the ones who hurt the most.”  Politicians try to jump on the bandwagon of suffering.  Take our military for example.  When we recognize them, it is more for suffering they endured than for the battles they have won.  McClay said that being a victim of suffering or identifying with these victims is a way to discharge and release the great guilt that we feel.  We also release this guilt by being able to point the finger at “oppressors” and pronounce them guilty while proudly proclaiming ourselves as innocent.

We also face increasing judgment from others in our modern society about the food we eat—is it healthy, organic, did the chicken grow up in a cage, was it injected with hormones, did it have access to a gym and fine poetry, etc.  We are also judged by the clothes we wear, where our kids go to school, if we homeschool, if we recycle, having too many kids or not enough kids, nursing vs. using formula, if we take our kids to the right doctors, if we have our kids taking piano lessons, soccer, ballet, and an endless number of societal pressures and expectations.  Environmentalism has become a “surrogate religion,” argues DeYoung, in an attempt to atone for our sins of spoiling the earth and for our sins of consumption.

We in the western culture have also accumulated centuries of guilt through all of the “isms” and phobias: colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, etc.  We always have this burden of not doing enough and the pressure of trying to meet all of society’s demands and of keeping up with the Joneses on Facebook.

Maclay says, “Notwithstanding all claims about our living in a post-Christian world devoid of censorious public morality, we in fact live in a world that carries an enormous and growing burden of guilt and yearns, even sometimes demands to be free of it.”

If guilt is the problem, then justification is its answer: an act of God’s free grace wherein He pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone (Westminster Shorter Catechism).  This idea of justification is precisely what our guilt-ridden world needs!  “It is the cure for the disease they don’t even know they have,” says DeYoung.

Three Reasons why this reformation understanding of the good news is what we have been waiting for:

1.  It is personal.  If all of our offenses are ultimately against God, then we know where to turn for salvation.  The secular world is unsure of where to turn for relief as we cannot measure our “rightness” in the world subjectively by Facebook likes or retweets.

One of the main points of the book, Making Gay Okay, is that victory for gay rights must be total and complete.  It cannot have any rivals because the mere tolerance of opposing viewpoints undermines the quest for moral legitimacy.  All opposing viewpoints are to be sidelined or silenced to the cultural edges of the universe.  Romans chapter 1 and 2 says that we all have a conscience and a knowledge of the truth but we exchange that truth for a lie and suppress that truth in unrighteousness.

DeYoung told a story of working with addicts and the guilt, shame, and failure they all felt for hurting and letting others down with their actions.  Those people were told that the drugs were the problem and that they were not to blame, but they did not believe that.  DeYoung says, “Until we have a God that we sin against, we have no God that can pardon us,” and that the problem we have today is “an abiding sense of guilt for which there is no effective atonement and no coherent plan of redemption.”

2.  We need the doctrine of justification because it is gracious.  The Westminster definition of justification begins and ends with mercy.  DeYoung says, “The world’s way to be justified is by strenuous effort exacting asceticism,” and we can never do enough.  He says, “If you spend any time on social media, you know how it deals with offenses: through a potent combination of abject humiliation, public ridicule, and demands for immediate retribution.  And there is no real forgiveness.”  There is no removal of our mistakes, only a “fearful and permanent marking of our iniquities.”  There is no grace from social media, only from God.

3.  We need the doctrine of justification because it is forensic, or a “legal declaration of innocence based on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”  Romans 4:25 says, “Christ was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”  Why the reference to Christ being raised?  Christ’s resurrection is “the loud declaration that justice has been satisfied.”

DeYoung makes this point in light of the rebellion of modern culture in being subject to a sovereign God: “We are saved not by the removal of justice but by the satisfaction of it.”  Many people think we are saved because God loved us so much and that He says, “Your sins?  Forget about it,” and does not make a big deal about sin.  Sin is a huge deal to a righteous and just God and the gospel is about the satisfaction of God’s justice by the propitiation of Christ to satisfy the wrath of God against us. 

Charles Hodge said, “Our sins were the judicial ground of the sufferings of Christ, so that they were a satisfaction of justice and His righteousness is the judicial ground of our acceptance with God so that our pardon is an act of justice.”  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  DeYoung remarks that, “Shouldn’t that verse say He should be faithful and merciful, faithful and loving, faithful and gracious?  But no, it says He is faithful and just

God would be unjust if He did not pardon those who belong to Christ.  If those sins have been paid for then, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  We have been justified because the justice of God has been satisfied by the sacrifice of Christ.

We cannot wash away guilt with our man-made devices of strenuous effort or positive self-talk.  DeYoung says, “Guilt is an objective reality and as such it must be dealt with by an objective satisfaction,” and that “Justice is shot through the entire plan of redemption.  People go to hell because God is just.  People go to heaven because God is just.”

Because our sins were imputed to, ascribed to, and credited to Christ, He deserved to die and…because His righteousness is imputed to us, we deserve to live!  We are not forgiven because God waved His magic wand and decided to overlook our sin.  He demands satisfaction and justice for all our sins.  DeYoung says, “And this is the good news, it has been paid for.  The resurrection of the crucified Son of Man tells us that the demands of justice have been met.”  The resurrection is the loud declaration that Jesus is enough to atone for our sins and to give us the righteousness and holiness of Christ so that we would be justified before a holy and righteous God in heaven.

There is therefore no condemnation, no guilt, and no shame for those who are in Christ Jesus and the world needs to hear it even though they don’t know it.

It has been a while since I last posted.  I haven't fallen off the deep end, I still listen to sermons and read the Word but the writing I have been doing of late has been in working on the What Is the Gospel? series and expanding that and using it to teach my own children the truth of the gospel.