The Work Of Union With Christ

Here is a profound and thought provoking quote from the forthcoming book Christ Our Life by Michael Reeves:

When Christians define themselves by something other than Christ, they poison the air all round. When they crave power and popularity and they get it, they become pompous, patronizing, or simply bullies. And when they don’t get it they become bitter, apathetic or prickly. Whether flushed by success or burnt by lack of it, both have cared too much for the wrong thing. Defining themselves by something other than Christ, they become like something other than Christ. Ugly.

Our union with Christ thus has deep plough-work to do in our hearts. It automatically and immediately gives us a new status, but for that status and identity to be felt to be the deepest truth about ourselves is radical, ongoing business. That is the primary identity of the believer, though, and the only foundation for truly Christian living. For our health, our joy and fellowship, then, we must take up arms against the insidious idea that we have any identity — background, ability or status — more basic than that of sharing the Son’s own life together before the Father.

Noteable Quotes

– From the Fall onward, human beings have sought to make gods of themselves, make idols of the good things in life, and domesticate the true and living God so that we can (ostensibly) enlist him in our schemes of enrichment and aggrandizement. – Jonathan Baer from The Soil of the Prosperity Gospel

– He humbled Himself, to exalt us; He made Himself a servant, to set us free; He became poor, to enrich us; He was sold, to buy us back; a Captive, to deliver us; Condemned, to procure our pardon; He was made a curse, that we might be blessed; the Oblation for sins, for our justification; His face was marred, to re-beautify ours; He Died, that we may have life. In such sort, that by Him, hardness is softened; wrath appeased; darkness made light; iniquity turned into righteousness; weakness is made strength; despair is consoled; sin is resisted; shame is despised; fear is emboldened; debt is paid; labor is lightened; Sorrow is turned into joy; Misfortune into blessing; Difficulties are made easy; Disorder made order; Division into union; Ignominy is ennobled; Rebellion subjected; Threat is threatened; Ambush is ambushed; Assault assailed; Striving is overpowered; War is warred against; Vengeance is avenged on; Torment tormented; Damnation damned; Destruction destroyed; Hell burned up; Death is killed; Mortality changed to immortality; In short, pity has swallowed up all misery; and Goodness all wretchedness; For all those things, which used to be the arms with which the Devil combated us, and the sting of death, are, to draw us forward, turned into instruments from which we can derive profit. – John Calvin from Christ the End of the Law (London: William Cegg and Co. pp. 29-3, 1850) pp. 29-30

– The wisdom of the age has it backwards. Declaring that a person is a sinner does not make one a hater, but a lover of that person … and of mankind. Do Christians point out sin to shame, bully or incite violence against someone? Absurd and a profound misapprehension of our intent. In calling someone a sinner do Christians think they are superior, more moral? May it never be! Most people’s sin pales in comparison to mine. Fact is, it would only be hate or discrimination if we refused the gospel to someone because we thought their sin makes them somehow unworthy of it. The gospel declares that anyone who, by the grace of God, comes to Christ will be forgiven, no matter how abominable their sin. And such are granted a new heart which loves God and his law. – John Hendryx from The Wisdom of the Age

– We are justified by faith alone, but not by the faith which is alone.  Unless it be a heart-purifying, and a work-producing faith, it is spurious – it is not wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God.

We are justified by faith, and our faith is justified or evidenced by our works.  This ancient doctrine is thus maintained by Bishop Horsley, in his first charge:  “That man is justified by faith without works of the law, was the uniform doctrine of our first Reformers.  It is a far more ancient doctrine – it was the doctrine of the whole college of Apostles:  is is more ancient still – it was the doctrine of the prophets;  it is older than the prophets – it was the religion of the patriarchs.  And no one who has the least acquaintance with the writings of the first Reformers will impute to them, more than to the patriarchs, the prophets, or apostles, the absurd opinion, that any man leading an impenitent wicked life, will finally, upon the mere pretense of faith (and faith connected with an impenitent life, must always be a mere pretense, obtain admission to heaven!” – From The Gospel Magazine & Theological Review, Ser 5. Vol 3, no. 1 – July 1874

The Dead Still Speak

– Apologetics cannot precede faith and does not attempt a priori to argue the truth of revelation. It assumes the truth and belief in the truth. It does not, as the introductory part or as the foundational science, precede theology and dogmatics. It is itself a theological science through and through, which presupposes the faith and dogmatics and now maintains and defends the dogma against the opposition to which it is exposed. Thus understood, apologetics is not only perfectly justified but a science that at all times, but especially in this century, deserves to be seriously practiced and can spread rich blessing all around. First of all, it has the immediate advantage of forcing Christian theology to take deliberate account of the grounds on which it is based, of the principles on which it is constructed, and of the content it has within itself. It brings Christian theology out of the shadows of the mysticism of the human heart into the full light of day. Apologetics, after all, was the first Christian science. Secondly, it teaches that Christians, even though they cannot confer faith on anyone, need not hide from their opponents in embarrassed silence. With their faith they do not stand as isolated aliens in the midst of the world but find support for it in nature and history, in science and art, in society and state, in the heart and conscience of every human being. The Christian worldview alone is one that fits the reality of the world and of life. And finally, if it seriously and scrupulously performs its task, it will very definitely succeed in impressing opponents with the truth of Christian revelation, refuting and silencing them. It cannot truly convert people to God. Not even the preaching of the gospel is able to do that; only God, by his Spirit, can accomplish that. But subject to this working of God, and as a means in his hand, apologetics, like the ministry of the Word, can be a source of consummate blessing. For this fact the early centuries of Christianity offer abundant evidence.

– Doubt and distrust in the cause we champion renders us powerless in the battle.

– Experience is crucial to all religion, but in Christianity it must be prompted by the Word of God, accompany and follow faith, not precede it, and always be subject to correction by Scripture. Scripture, not experience, is the norm for our faith.

~Herman Bavinck~

Lloyd-Jones on False Conversion

We should examine ourselves constantly in the light of the Word. And if we are not reading it in such a way as to be examined by it, we are not reading it correctly. We must face these things. Do I take the whole message of the Scriptures? Am I taking the whole counsel of God? Do I accept the teaching concerning the wrath of God as I do that concerning the love of God? Am I as ready to believe in the righteousness of God as in His mercy; in the justice and holiness of God as well as in His compassion and long-suffering? That is the question. The characteristics of the false believer is that he does not face it all; he just picks out what he wants and likes, and ignores the rest. In other words his outstanding characteristic always is that he never faces completely and honestly the nature of sin, and the effects of sin, in the light of the holiness of God. The trouble with him is that he never wants to feel unhappy, he never wants to feel a sense of dissatisfaction with himself, or a sense of discomfort. The thing he wants to avoid at all costs is being unhappy or being made to feel uncomfortable. He does not like the people who make him feel uncomfortable, nor the passages in the Bible that do the same, so he picks and chooses. He is always out for ease and comfort and happiness; and he never faces properly the biblical doctrine of sin, because it disturbs him and causes him disquiet…. Continue reading

The Message of the Bible in 221 Words

I found this on the desiringgod.org website this weekend and thought that it pretty much says it all:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.
But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.
In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

This was written by Donald A. Carson and if you are not familiar with him, I would suggest that you get to know him. He is a fine scholar and an outstanding Christian teacher.