Do we need another Reformation?

30 04 2006

It happened again today. I heard again, regrettably, of a pastor’s fuzzy (I’m being generous) explanation of the crucial biblical doctrine of justification. It is a good thing for folks to be asking questions about how a person may be right with God, but it is a bad thing for those who are supposed to be the caretakers of souls to neglect the most important course of the feast that is found in Christ.

Martin Luther said that justification is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls…if this is true, then what is happening today? We are in dangerous times when you are hard pressed to find not only a church member but also a pastor who can articulate the biblical doctrine of justification.

Do we need another reformation?

The first reformation happened due to the obscurity and perversion of the biblical doctrine of justification by the Church of Rome. As a result few were able to know and experience the saving peace with God that comes through full dependence in the Lord Jesus Christ. So too today there are countless who do not live in cognizant recognition and appreciation of this doctrine.

Much like the 16th Century the contemporary church is increasingly blurring the lines of the gospel through the mouths of it's preachers. Today we all too often find that doctrine is often replaced by drama, spiritual needs are neglected while felt needs are attended; and ministers of the gospel are occupied with the business of amusing the goats rather than feeding the sheep…and it shows!

Therefore I am refreshed with the motives behind the Together for the Gospel conference that took place this past week in Louisville. I am refreshed because it is a step towards reformation. Implicit in the need for this conference is the prevailing ignorance and confusion that plagues the evangelical church today and the need for faithful leaders to articulate biblical doctrine thereby drawing a line in the sand for the would-be spiritual parasites.

I am so encouraged to hear of a confession that has come out of this conference and will no doubt serve as a plumb line of orthodoxy in the years to come (the text of which is forthcoming on this blog).

The bride of Christ must recapture her precious diamond, namely, the doctrine of justification. There is nothing that exalts the grace of God and humbles the pride of man like the sovereign declaration of filthy enemies as perfect (though they are not) on the basis of the work of the crucified Son of God.

Luther preached the truth and he exposed Rome’s veiling of the gospel; today we are to likewise proclaim the truth that we might eradicate this gospel subterfuge and focus single-mindedly upon the biblical doctrine of justification.

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The Blessed Trial (Psalm 116)

29 04 2006

Psalm 116:1 I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications.

The heart of the Psalmist is depicted here to demonstrate for other worshippers of the true God, the one who made heaven and earth and now sustains all things by the word of his power (Heb. 1.3) the necessity of stimulated affections towards Jehovah, even in light of tough circumstances.

I am struck by these the first words that fly out of the writer’s heart and ultimately his pen as he writes this song of praise: ‘I love the LORD’ I suppose I am struck because I too love the LORD, so therefore these words ring true, affirming and encouraging. But they also stimulate within me a burning desire to join the chorus of worship here, to echo the writer with a hearty ‘Amen!!’

Notice the reasoning why he loves the LORD: ‘because he hears my voice and my supplications’. In this Psalm the writer is under particular distress and persecution even to the point of death (cf. v4 & 15), however, the saint finds great encouragement in the character of God, particularly his faithfulness and mercy.

Too often we, while in the cords of the trial, find ourselves gazing at the problems rather than the God who is to be seen so clearly and magnificently in the respective trials! For it is in this trial that the Psalmist really sees God! What follows is a role call of the divine characteristics: gracious (5), righteous (5), compassionate (5), preserving (6), saving (6), goodness (7), & mercy (8).

Would he have seen the glory of the LORD apart from this trial? Not this clearly. Even as the Psalmist says in another place: Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

This text is a timely reminder for believers to embrace the sovereignly placed trial with trust, dependence, love and worship! For the trial is the very means by which our loving Father draws his children into a closer and more dependent relationship with himself.

Psalm 116:12-13 12 What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me? 13 I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of the LORD.





Together for the Gospel Conference

28 04 2006

It is good to be back from vacation! We had an awesome time; leaving behind phones, computers, watches and schedules!! Truly a great time of refreshing..

If you have not read this yet, it will prove helpful– Tim Challies has been 'simul-blogging' the Together for the Gospel Confernence this past week in Louisville. Be sure to check out his in-depth notes from each speaker.

enjoy!

-erik





Vacation!!

23 04 2006

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Much to my surprise, my wife Christie has planned a family vacation for my birthday…so I will be hiding out in parts unknown, sucking on batteries, with an aim to get recharged!!

See you in a week!

//erik





Seeing 20/20

21 04 2006

Many people remark that they do not have a ‘good’ testimony of how Christ saved them. And by good they often mean, some sort of Acts 9 type experience; where the apostle Paul, the Christian killer, was on his way to continue the persecution of the body of Christ when he was blinded by heaven’s light and knocked off his horse.eye-chart_update.jpg

But do you have to be in Acts 9 to understand that you are a filthy sinner? Does not your day to day life as a believer testify to the marvelous depths that God has stooped to rescue you from yourself?!

We don’t need Acts 9 to know we are sinners; Romans 7 will do just fine!

I know the magnitude of my sin today far more than I did when I became a believer. As you age in life your physical eyesight may decrease, but as you mature in Christ your spiritual eyesight sharpens!

Paul writes for us in Romans 7 that he does the thing he “hates” (v.15) and that “nothing good” resides in his “flesh” (v.18). The apostle here is fielding double fire from the holy word of God and the Holy Spirit of God; driving home conviction to its core and testifying to his inward wretchedness and subsequent displeasing actions.

If you are a believer then you know this reality; you know that day to day your heart testifies to its deceitful desires (Jer. 17.9) and you know that the Spirit of God convicts you of these things (praise God!), and works to bring you into conformity to the image of Christ.

It is good to stand unimpressed with ourselves because it breeds discontentment with ourselves; and this serves to make Christ more precious to the believer. It is a gracious act of providence that God daily draws us further away from ourselves as he conforms us to the image of Christ.

At the end of the day it is not our testimony anyway, it is God’s!! It is God who has reached his holy hand into the filthy sewer of our sinfulness to rescue us from ourselves! It is God who is now tirelessly and faithfully conforming saints into the image of his glorious Son. And so therefore, it is God alone who gets the glory, honor and praise!

Romans 7:24-25 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!





2006 Shepherds’ Conference Seminar Notes

20 04 2006

Attention all: The Shepherds' Conference seminar notes are now on the web… well, most of them anyway. Some of them are still "coming soon"…

Among the ones already posted, you will find…

How Firm a Foundation (by Irv Busenitz)

Rome Is Burning (by Phil Johnson)

Plumbing the Depths (by Carey Hardy)

Restoration Hardware (by Bill Shannon)

Maneuvering through the Ministry Minefield (by Bruce Blakey)

Youth Pastor Needs Help–Apply Inside (by Allen Cagle)

A Recipe for Success (by Carey Hardy)

As for Me and My House (by Bill Shannon)

Justification (by Phil Johnson)

Friend or Foe (by Allen Cagle)

Exegetical Fallacies (by Bill Barrick)

Programs, Get Your Programs (by Phil Johnson)

A Few Good Men! (by Rick Holland)

Dead Right–Part 2 (by Phil Johnson)

Creativity without Compromise (by Carey Hardy)

Cutting It Straight (by Bill Barrick)

Absolutely Not! (by Phil Johnson)

King James Only, Sometimes, Never (by Bill Barrick)

How to Raise a Pharisee (by Carey Hardy)

(Note: All of the above articles are in PDF format.)

Download, save, read, and enjoy these seminar notes. And check back at the Shepherds' Conference website for more to come in the near future.





The Deck that Preaches

20 04 2006

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I have been working on my deck at home at my loving wife’s request. And it is a relatively nice deck, for our standards….well aesthetically at least.

However, upon closer inspection the deck is riddled with imperfections. Aside from the years of grime and filth that just accumulates without periodic attention, there are pieces of wood that have splintered up. Even further there are nails throughout the deck that have been loosened and are not coming up out of the wood.

So what do we do? It has to be remedied for in the long run the thing will fall down, and in the short term, the kids’ feet are going to be laced with splinters.

My gracious wife went out and secured a power washer from a friend and, while I had crashed after preaching, she proceeded to power wash the thing ( I wish I had a picture of this!). Anyway, it was clean…but the imperfections were now just ‘more clean’…they were still there though; the deck was not conformed to the ideal image we both had in our heads. Therefore, more work to go!

As I went outside with more borrowed tools I was struck with the great spiritual metaphor that was being drawn on my back deck. I am going outside to sand down rough edges, splinters, and imperfections in the clean wood. I was thinking of the reality of being born again, having been washed by & through the blood of Christ (Titus 3.5-6) but still having to deal with the daily maintenance of sanctification. This great process of conforming to the reality of the image of Christ.

nails_background.jpgUpon regeneration we are declared, by God, to be righteousness, through the merit of Christ Jesus (Rom. 4.4-5). Positionally believers in Christ Jesus are perfect…however, we are not practically perfect! We are still rough wood! There is still work to do!

As I inspected the deck with meticulous attention I was convicted of my own lack of meticulous inspection of my own heart!! Am I more meticulous with the wood on this deck than my very own heart? Do I care more for this deck’s conformity to my desired end and image than I do for my life to be conformed to God’s desired end, Christ Jesus my Lord?!

This is convicting.

I got a ‘honey-do’ request and I went to work. But as Christians God has given us a ‘believer-do’ list and we must go to work!

God has commanded us to “consider our members as dead” (Col. 3.5a) more literally we are told to “keep putting your flesh to death”… “don’t stop this crucifixion of your members!”

Man, I have got to carry my spiritual web-belt, complete with hammers, sandpaper, measuring tape, saws, etc…I have work to do!!

And it is not about just trashing our decks, but replacing, refurbishing, renovating them; conforming them to the desired end. So too as Christians, we are to put to death the sin, but replace the sin with life. hammer-it.jpg

This is the picture in Ephesians 4 & Colossians 3. Put off greediness and put on humility…put of slander and put on kindness….put off immorality and put on purity…put off anger and put on compassion.

It is so good for me to know that we are never there until we get there. We are never done this project until we see our Savior. And it is at this point that we’ll be made like him (1 John 3.2)!!

So join me in endeavoring to be a good steward of this immeasurable and unfathomable grace that is ours in Christ Jesus during this period of life where we are being conformed into his image. The grace is there, the Holy Spirit is there, the word of God is there, the fellowship of the saints is there….so what are we doing?!

Let’s press hard into grace; working hard for our own sanctification and then also for others (Col. 1.28-29).