Don’t Put God in a Box

When you read the NT you see the demonstration and description of miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. Right away on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) the people are speaking in tongues. Not long after we see the dead raised, lame healed, and people transported. It is a powerful outbreaking of the Holy Spirit in an arresting way.

When you read these things (and their corresponding descriptions, instructions, and warnings) a Christian must ask if these so-called miraculous gifts are operative today (i.e. the gifts of tongues, healing, & prophecy). Do we today see the same types of things happening as we did in the early chapters of Acts?

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The “Just-as-if-I’d” definition of Justification

How would you define justification? I’ve heard some say that justification means that God treats me “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned.

Is this a helpful way to explain it?

In one sense there is truth here. God does treat those who are justified as if they have never sinned. We have peace with God (Rom. 5:1-2) rather than judgment from God. However, this just doesn’t go far enough. It leaves us short of what the Bible teaches and conveys an insufficient understanding of justification.

Justification is the instantaneous and irreversible divine declaration of the unrighteous as positionally righteous, based upon the merit of Christ’s obedience, applied by grace and received through faith (Rom. 3.24-28; 4.1-5; 5.1-2). God declares the unjust to be just based upon Christ’s work for them.

To simply say that justification is “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned is to stop far short of what the Bible says. It does not take us far enough.

Justification by faith alone is the declarative act by God the judge that we are forever wrapped in the everlasting righteousness of Christ! His record is now your record. His merit is yours. God treats you as righteous because he treated Christ as unrighteous—for our sake (2 Cor. 5:21).

If, however, God merely treats us ‘just-as-if-I’d” never sinned then we’d be morally neutral. We would be back in the garden with untested holiness like Adam before he sinned. This is a far cry from being clothed in the everlasting righteousness of the last Adam. Not only has God taken away the debt of our …

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Christians Need to Stop Cussing

When I first became a Christian I had a bad mouth. I am thankful that over time God worked to change my heart, and as a result, my mouth. I knew right away that talking in a particular way was offensive to God and others. It does not have a place among those professing faith in Christ because it does not give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). This is pretty straightforward.

But, I’ve noticed that many Christians are still plagued by a foul mouth. They say things that are offensive to God and to others. I suspect that many don’t even realize it either. Like a new convert who remains fluent in the sailor’s tongue the Christian may not realize what they are saying or its theological impact.

So let me give you a couple of 4 letter words that Christians should mortify with quickness: “luck” and “fate”. These words and their concepts are unbiblical and atheistic. Luck communicates randomness while fate describes a inevitability of something happening without a purpose. Both are blind and impersonal.

Undermining & Obscuring who God is

I say they are Christian cuss words because they undermine the key biblical doctrine of God’s providence. This word providence may be a new word for you, but it is an important word. It is a word that we as Christians need to know and delight in. We are often so quick to simplify and redefine words, but in doing so we can be losing something of our identity as …

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Martin Luther’s Three Lights

At the conclusion of Martin Luther’s masterful book The Bondage of the Will he reveals some compassionate pastoral care to those who may be struggling with the ethical implications of the biblical teaching concerning sin, grace, and free will. Keep in mind that this is some 300 pages after he has absolutely shredded any notion of harmony between free-will and the gospel. In his shredding he was, let’s just say, forceful. This is what makes this compassionate nugget at the end so compelling.

He writes:

Keep in view three lights: the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory (this is common and a good distinction).

By the light of nature, it is inexplicable that it should be just for the good to be afflicted and the bad to prosper; but the light of grace explains it.

By the light of grace, it is inexplicable how God can damn him who by his own strength can do nothing but sin and become guilty.

Both the light of nature and the light of grace here insist that the fault lies not in the wretchedness of man, but in the injustice of God; nor can they judge otherwise of a God who crowns the ungodly freely, without merit, and does not crown, but damns another, who is perhaps less, and certainly not more, ungodly.

But the light of glory insists otherwise, and will one day reveal God, to whom alone belongs a judgment whose justice is incomprehensible, as a God Whose justice is most righteous …

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An Espresso Shot of Christology in The Great Commission

In giving the Great Commission to his disciples Jesus said something very clear and very loud about himself:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Princeton theologian Lorraine Boettner observes the following:

“There he placed his name at the center of the true name of God, commanded that those who believe on Him should be baptized in that name and promised to be with them always, even to the end of the world.”

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A Caricature of God.

When you open up the newspaper you often are greeted with a humorous picture in the editorial section. The sketch, called a caricature, is a picture of a person in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a reaction.

The pictures are often comical. We have seen the common ones where President Obama’s ears, teeth, and chin are ridiculously large while his eyes and his shoulders are proportionally very small. It’s amusing and accepted.

However, people often draw caricatures of God. This is neither amusing nor should it be accepted.

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Does God Change in the Incarnation?

This quote by Spurgeon was brought to my attention this week by a dear brother. It was especially helpful in considering the immutability of God (the fact that he does not change) even in light of the incarnation of Christ.

“All creatures change. Man, especially as to his body, is always undergoing revolution. Very probably there is not a single particle in my body which was in it a few years ago. This frame has been worn away by activity, its atoms have been removed by friction, fresh particles of matter have in the mean time constantly accrued to my body, and so it has been replenished; but its substance is altered.

The fabric of which this world is made is ever passing away; like a stream of water, drops are running away and others are following after, keeping the river still full, but always changing in its elements.

But God is perpetually the same. He is not composed of any substance or material, but is spirit—pure, essential, and ethereal spirit—and therefore he is immutable. He remains everlastingly the same. There are no furrows on his eternal brow. No age hath palsied him; no years have marked him with the mementoes of their flight; he sees ages pass, but with him it is ever now. He is the great I AM—the Great Unchangeable.

Mark you, his essence did not undergo a change when it became united with the manhood. When Christ in past years did gird himself with mortal clay, the essence of his …

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Moral Revolutionaries and their Potty Talk

When you read the news lately it seems like we are caught up in a playground battle of “one-upping”. Like kids swapping tales by the swings, news agencies pushing out stories that say, “Oh, yeah, have you heard about…?”

Each day we read of new developments in this moral revolution in America. Then we read of a story in Houston that is frankly so insane that it sounds like it was made up by a kid under the monkey bars.

The city of Houston passed the now infamous “bathroom bill”. Among other things, this allows people to use the restroom of their choice, based upon their own self-chosen gender identity. This means that men who say that they are women can walk into the ladies’ room and vice-versa.

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What Do You Mean by Unconditional Love?

It is common today to hear people say, “God loves us unconditionally.” It is also common to watch people bristle when people say, “God elects us unconditionally.”

When people say that God loves us unconditionally they usually mean something like, “After conversion God loves you no matter what. Isn’t that great?”

In one sense this is true, God’s love for his people is not based upon what they do or do not do. But this does not mean that God loves us unconditionally. If God loves anyone he loves them conditionally.

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The Rock of Comfort is God Himself.

When we are afflicted by the devastating trials of this life it can feel like we are being held underwater. It’s tough to hear, hard to breathe, and frightening. We panic. We get anxious. This is understandable. Life in this broken world is filled with heart-shredding trials that leg-sweep us surprisingly.

In the midst of this it is very important to remember to focus on what we know and not what we do not know. The common question is “why?” This is something we know in part but not in full. In the context of the big picture we understand that the answer to the “why” question is that we live in a post Genesis 3 world. However, the specific nuanced answer to “why” is unknown. We don’t know precisely “why.”

But we do know who God is and how he acts. This is tremendously comforting. In fact, when Job was laid low by trial he never received the answer to the “why” question but he did get a lengthy exposition of the “who.” It may seem like a theological copout but if you are spending time “under-water” in the midst of the waves of the trial then you need something objective, you need to clasp ahold of a dock.

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