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Archive for October, 2008

Recommended Reading

The following recommended reading list should assist you as we prepare for our 5 week study of the Doctrines of Grace. If you have your others you would like to add, please do so in the comments section. Happy Reading.

Putting Amazing Back Into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel, Second Edition, Michael Horton (Baker, 2002). An updated study of the doctrines of grace packed with scriptural support and everyday application. Study questions are included at the end of each chapter.

The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel, James Montgomery Boice & Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway, 2002). The last book Boice wrote before his death on a subject he loved with his whole heart, this is an understandable treatment of what can be a complex topic. Suitable for a wide age group. Boice was pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA, for over 30 years and Ryken is his successor.

The Sovereignty of God, Arthur W. Pink (Banner of Truth, 1981; Baker, 1984). A classic treatment of God’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, the Banner of Truth edition omits the chapter on God’s sovereignty in reprobation. The Baker edition includes it.

Also, though not only dealing with the doctrines of grace, the following is a great book on a somewhat broader topic:

The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines that Separate Christians, Erwin Lutzer (Kregel, 1998). An evenhanded and irenic treatment of a number of doctrines that have historically divided believers: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, predestination, eternal security. Lutzer is pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, IL.

Foundations of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men, Steven J. Lawson (Reformation Trust, 2006).A heart-stirring journey through the Scriptures to show that the Bible in its entirety teaches the doctrines of grace.

By His Grace and For His Glory, Thomas J. Nettles (Cor Meum Tibi, 2002). A history of Calvinism and Baptists.

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THESIS ONE: SOLA SCRIPTURA

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation,which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

THESIS TWO: SOLUS CHRISTUS

We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.

We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

THESIS THREE: SOLA GRATIA

We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

THESIS FOUR: SOLA FIDE

We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.

We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

THESIS FIVE: SOLI DEO GLORIA

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

Cambridge Declaration
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
April 2006

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Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason: our interests have displaced God’s and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God’s centrality in the life of today’s church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest too inconsequentially upon us.

God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or our own private spiritual interests. We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern must be for God’s kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.

THESIS FIVE: SOLI DEO GLORIA

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

Cambridge Declaration
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
April 2006

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John 4

Read John 4 and then read the following by James Boyce.

This story shows us the great tragedy of having missed a great opportunity. . .The Bible recognizes this when it says, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Or again, “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (I Corinthians 3:15). Apparently, the Lord Jesus Christ had been thinking along these lines as the result of the failure of the disciples to understand the need of the Samaritan woman. No doubt, as the disciples started up the hill toward Sychar, the Lord had gazed after them. He had seen them pass the woman who was on her way down. She was the one to whom Jesus had come to Samaria to witness, but the disciples were unaware of her need. Perhaps they had even stood several abreast in the path and forced her to go around them with her water jar, while all this time Jesus looked after them from the well. After Jesus had spoken to the woman and the disciples returned, of what were they thinking? Once again, it was certainly not of her or her need. They had completed their errand. Now they wanted the lord Jesus Christ to eat lunch. Jesus must have smiled as he began to teach them, first, about the priority of spiritual things over physical things and, then, about their great opportunities. They had missed one opportunity, but Jesus did not chide them about that. Instead he began to teach them about their next opportunity so that they might not miss it. He used a proverb to do it. The proverb said that after sowing seed a farmer needs to wait four months for the harvest. Jesus argued that in the present case that was not so: “Do not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest. . . The disciples had missed one opportunity; Jesus did not want them to miss this one. He was using the incident to show that there were now great opportunities for the spread of the gospel, and he was encouraging them on the bases of these opportunities to be missionaries . . .There is another proverb referred to by Jesus. It comes at the end. If you obey the Lord Jesus Christ and witness as he has commanded you to do, there is no guarantee that in every case you will see the results of your labors. Jesus will encourage you in your witness. You will probably see people come to faith in him. You will reap. But it is also true that, when you sow, some of the results of the sowing will appear only in an age when you are gone and that you will not see it. Do not be discouraged if that happens. We are harvesting fruit that is the result of the efforts of our predecessors. There will also be harvesting on the basis of th sowing that is going on today. We may see the results. We may not see the results. But whatever the case, we are to keep on with our commission. The question is, “Do we sow the seed?” That is our job. We are to take the Word of the living God to those who need to hear it and thus allow the Lord Jesus Christ to use it to bring forth a harvest in their lives.

James M. Boyce
The Gospel of John
Pg. 325, 329

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