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Tag: Christian Basics

Regeneration and the New Birth

Regeneration and the New Birth

In Jn 3:1-8, Jesus discusses one of the foundational doctrines (i.e., teachings, foundational principles, basis of belief) of the Christian faith: regeneration (Tit 3:5), or spiritual birth. Without being “born again” in a spiritual sense, a person cannot become part of God’s kingdom. This means that a person’s life must be spiritually renewed in order to be spiritually saved and to receive God’s gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The following are important facts about spiritual birth and renewal.

  1. Regeneration, or spiritual birth, is an inward re-creating of a person spiritually–a life transformation (total change or remaking of the person’s attitude, thinking, and actions) that occurs from the inside out (Ro 12:2; Eph 4:23-24). It is a work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:6; Tit 3:5; and through this work of transformation, God passes on his gift of eternal life. It marks the beginning of a new and personal relationship with God for those who yield their lives to Christ (Jn 3:16; 2Pe 1:4; 1Jn 5:11). Spiritual birth is the way a person becomes a child of God (Jn 1:12; Ro 8:16-17; Gal 3:26) and a “new creation” (2Co 5:17; Col 3:9-10). A person who is born again spiritually will no longer conform or live according to the character and influence of the ungodly beliefs, behaviors, and lifestyles of the world (Ro 12:2). Instead, he or she is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24;

  2. Spiritual birth is necessary because all people, apart from Christ, are sinful by nature (i.e., separated from and in opposition to God) from birth. On our own, we are not capable of having a close personal relationship with God. Without the life-transforming power of his Holy Spirit, we could not continue to obey and please God (Ps 51:5; Jer 17:9; Ro 8:7-8; 1Co 2:14; Eph 2:3.

  1. Spiritual birth happens to those who repent of sin (i.e., admit their sin and turn from their own way), turn to God (Mt 3:2) and yield control of their lives to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord–the Forgiver of their sins and Leader of their lives (see Jn 1:12, note). The beginning of this experience of spiritual salvation involves “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). Though spiritual birth is an immediate experience that takes place as soon as a person truly repents and accepts God’s forgiveness, God continually renews and transforms a Christian’s mind (Ro 12:2) and inner being (Eph 4:23). This spiritual renewal is an ongoing, “day-by-day” process (2Co 4:16;)

  1. Spiritual birth involves a transition, or complete change, from an old life of sin (i.e., going our own way, which is a path of rebellion against God) to a new life of obedience to Jesus Christ (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 4:23-24; Col 3:10). This means that there should be noticeable changes in a Christian’s attitude and lifestyle (see 1Pe 4:1-2). Those who are truly born again are set free from slavery to sin so they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives (see Jn 8:36, note; Ro 6:14-23). They receive a renewed attitude and desire to obey God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:13-14). By depending on him, they do what is right by God’s standards (1Jn 2:29), they love others in words and actions (1Jn 4:7), they avoid things that defy and displease God (1Jn 3:9; 5:18) and they do not set their affections on temporary, worldly things (1Jn 2:15-16).

  2. Those who are born again spiritually cannot continue to sin (i.e., go their own way, ignore, or defy God’s commands and standards; see 1Jn 3:9, note). They cannot remain in a right personal relationship with God unless they earnestly pursue God’s purposes and carefully avoid evil (1Jn 1:5-7). This is possible only by relying on God’s grace (i.e., his undeserved favor, mercy, and empowerment; see 1Jn 2:3-11, 15-17, 24-29; 3:6-24; 4:7-8, 20; 5:1), by maintaining a strong and growing relationship with Christ (see Jn 15:4, note) and by depending on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:2-14). For further comments on the character traits that should be evident in a spiritually born-again person.

 NATURE AND THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

  1. It does not matter how spiritual a person may talk, seem or claim to be, if he or she lives by principles that are immoral and follows the ways of the world, the person’s conduct shows that there is no spiritual life within and that he or she is instead living like a child of the devil (1Jn 3:6-10).

  2. Just as a person can be “born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8) by trusting God and receiving his gifts of forgiveness and eternal life, he or she can also forfeit, or lose, that life by making foolish, selfish and ungodly choices and by refusing to trust God. As a result, he or she will miss out on the life God offers and will die spiritually. God’s Word warns, “if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die” (Ro 8:13). Even as believers, if we continue the path of sin and refuse to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance (which he gives mainly through God’s Word and our conscience), we can put out the light of God’s life in our soul and lose our place in God’s kingdom (cf. Mt 12:31-32; 1Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Heb 6:4-6; 1Jn 5:16.

  3. The new birth that comes only through God’s Spirit cannot be compared equally with physical birth because God’s relationship with his followers is a spiritual matter rather than an act of the flesh or human effort (Jn 3:6). This also means that while the physical tie of a father and child can never be completely reversed or lost, the Father/child relationship that God desires with us is voluntary; and we can choose to walk away or deny it during our time on earth (see Ro 8:13, note). Our relationship with God and eternal life with him are conditional and depend on our ongoing faith in Christ that is shown by lives of obedience and genuine love for him (Ro 8:12-14; 2Ti 2:12).

     In summary, spiritual birth, or regeneration, brings: spiritual cleansing (Jn 3:5; Tit 3:5); the indwelling of God’s Spirit (Ro 8:9; 2Co 1:22); transformation into a “new creation” in Christ (2Co 5:17); adoption as God’s spiritual child (Jn 1:12-13; Ro 8:16; Gal 3:26; 4:4-6); the Holy Spirit’s guidance and understanding of spiritual things (Jn 16:13-15; 1Co 2:9-16; 1Jn 2:27); the ability to live right by God’s standards and to develop his character traits (Gal 5:16-23; 1Jn 2:29; 5:1-2); victory over sin (1Jn 3:9; 5:4, 18); and an eternal inheritance with Christ (Ro 8:17; Gal 4:7; 1Pe 1:3-4).

 

Excerpted from the Life in the Spirit Study Bible c. 2008 by Life Publishers International in association with Zondervan

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

The Gospel

 

God created the world and made us to be in loving relationship with him. Though created good, human nature became fatally flawed, and we are now all out of step with God. In Bible language, we are sinners, guilty before God and separated from him.

The good news of the Gospel is that God took loving action in Jesus Christ to save us from this dire situation. The key facts of this divine remedy are these: God the Father sent his eternal Son into this world to reconcile us to himself, to free us to love and serve him, and to prepare us to share his glory in the life to come. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead to restore us to God. Given authority by his Father, Jesus now rules in heaven as King over all things, advancing God’s kingdom throughout the world. In the fullness of time, Jesus will return to establish his kingdom in its glory on earth, and all things will be renewed.

Reigning in heaven over all things, Jesus Christ continues to draw sinners to himself. He enables us by his Holy Spirit to turn wholeheartedly from our sinful and self-centered ways (repentance), and to entrust ourselves to him to live in union and communion with him (faith). In spiritual terms, sin is the way of death, and fellowship with Christ is the way of life.

Turning to Christ

Turning to Christ brings us into fellowship with God. Baptism, which is the rite of entry into the Church’s fellowship, marks the beginning of this new life in Christ. The apostle Peter, proclaiming the Gospel, said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Through faith, repentance, and Baptism we are spiritually united to Jesus and become children of God the Father. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” ( John 14:6). As we come to the Father through Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts to know him, and we are born again spiritu- ally to new life. To continue to live faithfully as Christians, we must rely upon the power and gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to God’s people.

When the disciple Thomas encountered the risen Jesus, he acknowledged him by saying, “My Lord and my God!” ( John 20:28). To be a Christian you must, like Thomas, wholeheartedly submit to the living Christ as your Lord and God. Knowing the Lord Jesus means personally believing in him, surrendering your life to him through repentance and Baptism, and living as one of his joyful followers.

A clear way to make this commitment of faith and repentance is to offer to God a prayer in which you

  • confess your sins to God, being as specific as possible, and repent by turning from them;
  • thank God for his mercy and forgiveness given to you in Jesus Christ;
  • promise to follow and obey Jesus as your Lord;
  • ask the Holy Spirit to help you be faithful to Jesus as yo grow into spiritual maturity.
    One example of such a prayer is the following:Almighty Father, I confess that I have sinned against you in my thoughts, words, and actions (especially __________). I am truly sorry and humbly repent. Thank you for forgiving my sins through the death of your Son, Jesus. I turn to you and give you my life. Fill and strengthen me with your Holy Spirit to love you, to follow Jesus as my Lord in the fellowship of his Church, and to become more like him each day. Amen. 
  •  
Excerpted from “To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism”
Copyright © 2020 by The Anglican Church in North America
Published by Crossway
Why is Election Unconditional (Guest Post by the Rev. Lasaro Flores)

Why is Election Unconditional (Guest Post by the Rev. Lasaro Flores)

We welcome a new visiting professor in this article. The Reverend Lasaro Flores, a dear friend of Pastor Matt presents us with a biblical look at why God’s Election of Sinners to Salvation is and MUST be unconditional…

 

Of course, in this article I’m dealing with God’s Election of sinners for Salvation. Both doctrines are involved, and include, God’s Grace. In Romans 11:5 it is called “the election of grace.” It goes without saying that Salvation is “by grace” (Ephesians 2:5,8). As most Christians accept that “grace” has the meaning of ‘unmerited and undeserved favor;’ therefore, on connecting “grace” with Election and Salvation, it simply means that God “elects” and “saves” us FREELY by His Grace! Therefore, BOTH are UNCONDITIONAL!!! If this is not true, then, it would mean that our Election and Salvation would depend on us sinners doing something “conditionally” in order for God to Elect and to Save us! In that case, we would have to throw out God’s Grace (and I say this reverently), out the window!

FIRST, here I would like to deal with Why Is Salvation Unconditional? Well, simply because we sinners are saved by God’s Grace; and NOT by anything that we do as a “condition” by which God has to save us. Ephesians 2:5,8 makes it very clear that we are “saved by grace.” Therefore, we can say without any doubt whatsoever that “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved” (Acts 15:11); “for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11); and here “has appeared to all men” simply means God’s “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3) has ‘shine upon, that is, become (literally) visible or (figuratively) known’ to all human beings wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, and is heard by anyone. But we have to say that absolutely NOT every sinner in the world “hears” the Gospel; and therefore, they die “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12); and without the Grace of God they remain in the same state into eternity. Furthermore, it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Note that our salvation is ALL of God’s doing, that is, God saving us because it pleases Him! HALLELUJAH!

Therefore, since God’s Grace means that He ‘freely saves us by doing us the favor of saving us even though we don’t deserve to be saved,’ it is UNCONDITIONAL from FIRST to LAST, in that God “who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). How much more does this proves that our Salvation is UNCONDITIONAL in that we didn’t even exist when it was “given”to us; but it was “reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4) for that particular moment in which He would save us UNCONDITIONALLY “by His Grace!!!” Therefore,to deny that our Salvation IS NOT by God’s Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE, and His Redemption provided by Him, is to say that God CANNOT, or is UNABLE save the “first” of sinners; but has to depend on the sinner for God to save him!

SECONDLY, let us consider with Why Is Election Unconditional? Note that it is stated God “has chosen us in Him (i.e. in Christ) BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, in love having predestinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He has made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Here we see Election and Salvation connected together in Christ Jesus to ALL that are Unconditionally Chosen in Christ in that God does it ALL Unconditionally; in other words, there are no “conditions” for us to fulfill and accomplish, in that it is ALL done by “the God of ALL grace” (1 Peter 5:10) as He pleases!!! Amen.

THIRDLY, it folows then, that, we are to be grateful that God has chosen us to be saved. The apostle Paul reminds the believers of the church of Thessalonica that “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning CHOSEN YOU TO SALVATION through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: into which He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). The word here “chosen” is different than the one on Ephesians 1:4, which means ‘to select.’ Here it is ‘to take one for oneself, that is, prefer.’ Oh, how that should humble us to know that God chose us to be saved because He DETERMINED to take us for Himself, that is, preferred to choose us for salvation simply because it pleased Him to do so UNCONDITIONALLY!

FOURTHLY, our Election to Salvation was NOT dependent on anything of ourselves, or from ourselves: IT WAS ALL IN CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF IN WHOM WE ARE CHOSEN TO BE SAVED!!! What does this mean? God didn’t look to us, or “depend” on us, in order to be Elected or Saved! In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ IS the Elect of God (Isaiah 42:1): “Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (cp. 1 Peter 2:4,6). As the Lord Jesus Christ IS the Elect of God from Eternity, and so in Him God chose ALL of His Elect (Ephesians 1:4) to “be holy and without blame before Him” in that God has made ALL the Elect “in Christ Jesus,” to be “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). Amen.

FIFTHLY, in closing let me say this: Election and Salvation IS NOT APART from “testifying the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24); and so the ALL of the Elect will be saved by the means of hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have to hear that Christ Jesus died for sinners on the Cross and resurrected bodily from the Grave. They have to hear that is demanded “Repentance toward God, and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21); as He Himself declares: “Repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, in asking: “What must I do be saved?” (Acts 16:30); the Scriptural response will be: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and YOU shall be saved…” (v.31); and ALL by Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE: ALL to the Glory of God ALONE!!! HALLELUJAH!!! Amen.

Thoughts on Soteriology (Guest Post)

Thoughts on Soteriology (Guest Post)

Visiting Professor, James Quiggle has offered us another excellent and thought provoking article, this time an excerpt from one if his books…

A Doctrinal Statement on Soteriology

(From “My Doctrine as a Dispensationalist,”

(James D. Quiggle.)

Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). For human beings to be saved God must convict the sinner of his/her sin and give the sinner his gift of grace-faith-salvation, Eph. 2:8. For a person to be saved he/she must respond to God-given conviction of sin and believe God and God’s testimony as the means by which God’s grace in salvation is to be accessed. Every salvation is by grace through faith, without personal merit (works) but Christ’s merit alone, Eph. 2:8–9.

Election. The choice of a sovereign God, 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect the salvation of some sinners, and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny salvation to other sinners. The decree of election includes all means necessary to effectuate salvation in those elected. God’s decree of election ensures the salvation of the elect, but does not prevent any non-elect sinner from coming or willing to be saved. God will act savingly toward any who choose to seek him and come to him for salvation (Rom. 10:13; Eph. 1:4; Rev. 22:17).

Propitiation. Christ alone propitiated God for the crime of sin. Propitiation is the satisfaction Christ made to God for sin by dying on the cross. Christ’s propitiation fully satisfied God’s holiness and justice for the crime of sin. Christ’s propitiation was of infinite merit, because his Person is of infinite worth (unlimited atonement/propitiation). The application of Christ’s merit to overcome the demerit of sin and save a soul is applied through the election God decreed before he created the universe, and is personally applied by each sinner through saving faith in Christ in response to God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation (limited redemption). Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the saved sinner so that he/she eternally stands uncondemned before a holy God, Rom. 8:31.

Salvation is when God rescues a sinner out of the state of spiritual death and delivers him or her into a permanent state of spiritual life. Salvation is the remission of sin’s guilt and penalty by the application of Christ’s infinite merit, which is gained by receiving God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation through the means of personal faith in God’s revealed means (way) of salvation. In this New Testament age salvation occurs when a sinner repents of his or her sins and believes on Christ as their Savior: Acts 2:38; 3:19–20; 11:18; Rom. 3:22–26; 10:9–10, 13; Gal. 3:22; 1 Pet. 1:21; 1 John 3:23.

Justification. A believer is permanently positionally justified in Christ: declared not guilty in Christ, Rom. 8:1. In salvation the believer is freed from the penalty of sin, the dominion (power) of sin, the desire for and pleasure of committing sin, and at death (or rapture) from the presence of sin, for eternity. At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the believer’s soul, John 14:17; Acts 10:44–48; 1 Cor. 6:19, regenerating human nature. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the now-believing sinner, and a new principle of life, holiness, is added to the believer, Eph. 4:24, becoming the dominating principle in his/her human nature, 1 Thess. 4:7; 1 Cor. 3:17b; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 1:15–16. The believer has been empowered to say “No,” to temptation to sin, and enforce that choice.

Sanctification. A believer is permanently positionally sanctified in Christ: declared holy in Christ. A believer is called to experiential sanctification: personal holiness and righteousness of life and to perform and maintain good works which God has prepared beforehand (Eph. 1:4; 2:10; 2:21; 5:26; Rom. 12:1; Titus 2:14; 3:8). He/she is empowered to resist sin’s temptations, live a holy life, understand the Scripture, worship, obey, fellowship with, and serve God. God hears and answers his/her prayers, and he/she perseveres by faith in the faith to lead a holy life, looking toward resurrection and eternal life in God’s presence.

Predestination. God’s decree to conform the believer to be like Christ according to certain aspects of Christ’s spiritual character and physical form (Rom. 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2), and to place the believer in the legal position of God’s son and heir (Eph. 1:5, 11), so that the believer has an inheritance from God and is God’s heritage.

Perseverance. The saved are kept eternally saved by the merit of Christ in the covenant between the Father and the Son that formed the New Testament church, Heb. 2:11–13; 10:9, 14, 17–18. God gives the grace of perseverance to overcome all spiritual and physical obstacles to faith and thereby believers continue by faith in the faith all the way through the end of physical life and into eternity. Believers are those persons who receive and use the God-given grace of perseverance. Those who do not persevere in the faith by faith were never saved. (Heb. 10:12, 14; Eph. 2:8–9; John 10:9, 27–29; Rom. 4:22–25; 5:1, 10–11, 18–19; 8:1; Heb. 10:17–18.)

The unsaved. Sinners who reject Christ throughout their mortal life are eternally lost. (Rom. 5:12–21; 1 Cor. 2:14; Rev 20:15). Their location after physical death is hades, there to wait in constant torment until the Great White Throne judgment (Luke 16:23; Rev. 20:11–15).

A Look at the Ordo Salutis (Guest Post)

A Look at the Ordo Salutis (Guest Post)

Our favorite visiting professor, James Quiggle, has once again brought us a very thought-provoking and interesting lesson. Below he takes us on a look at the ordo salutis…

The phrase “Ordo Salutis” is Latin for “order of salvation.” The Ordo Salutis is a theological construct attempting to place the works of God in salvation into a rational sequence of events.

The Ordo Salutis as generally accepted has two variations.

Election — Calling — Regeneration — Salvation — Justification — Adoption — Sanctification — Perseverance — Glorification.

Election — Calling – Salvation — Regeneration — Justification — Adoption — Sanctification — Perseverance — Glorification.

The difference in the variation is just this: does regeneration precede salvation, or does salvation precede regeneration.

Salvation is the result of the exercise of faith. Regeneration is typically viewed as the changes in human nature caused by the Holy Spirit as a result of salvation. The regeneration of human nature might be defined as the attributes of human nature, which were jumbled and wrongly prioritized by the sin attribute, are normalized, which is to say, godliness is restored to human nature through the godly attributes of holiness, righteousness, love, mercy, etc. The believer is given new wants and new desires. His/her human nature is re-prioritized toward God.

The difference in the two Ordo Salutis above is an effort to answer the question, “What is the origin of saving faith?” Now, without question, the ultimate origin of saving faith is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8. But some believe saving faith is the result of regeneration, while others believe regeneration is the result of saving faith.

Let me set aside the finer details (the ongoing debate) of those two points of view, and say there is some truth in each. There is an undeniable, and unalterable, and therefore inevitable principle that both views acknowledge, but neither view specifically answers. That principle is expressed in several locations in the New Testament, but stated clearly at 1 Corinthians 2:14. The principle is: the unsaved person cannot understand spiritual things.

That being the case, how does the unsaved person come to a necessary understanding of sin, the Savior, and salvation? The gospel in its simplest form is, “I am a sinner, the risen Jesus Christ is my Savior”: my sin, Jesus the Savior, my salvation from sin. But those spiritual concepts are “foolishness” to the unsaved person. He/she is incapable of understanding. Yes, the Holy Spirit brings conviction of those three necessary concepts, but he does not work in a spiritual vacuum. The sinner is unable to understand. The thing needed is the ability to perceive spiritual things.

In the here and now of the mortal unsaved life, the penalty of unforgiven sin is separation from the spiritual life of God, which is to say, spiritually “dead.” Spiritually dead means the ability to perceive spiritual things is in the unsaved person grossly dulled, “dead” in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1. Of course, the unsaved soul is not spiritually unresponsive; that is not what spiritually dead means. To be spiritually dead is 1) to lack the ability to understand spiritual things, and therefore 2) unremitting rejection of spiritual things as foolishness. In the context of salvation, the unsaved person is unable to discern the things the Holy Spirit teaches as necessary to believe for salvation.

How may that understanding be gained? Through the ability to perceive (understand) spiritual things. I believe spiritual perception is a faculty of human nature, an ability designed into the human soul by God. Sin renders that faculty grossly dulled, unable to comprehend spiritual things; hence 1 Corinthians 2:14. In the unsaved sinner the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception is “dead.”

What, then, must take place so the sinner is able to understand? My answer is the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception must be made alive for there to be understanding of spiritual things. How is this done? We return to the Ordo Sautis.

I think the regeneration that precedes salvation is partial (not a particularly good word, but the best I can do). I believe the gift of God (Eph 2:8) enlivens the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception so the spiritual issues of sin, the Savior, and salvation may be understood, and saving faith exercised. Then after the exercise of saving faith, the entire human nature is regenerated.

With that understanding, I see the Ordo Salutis as:

— Election

— Calling (through the Gift of God which enlivens the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception)

— Salvation

— Positional Justification

— Positional Sanctification

— Regeneration (of the entire human nature)

— Adoption (as son and heir)

— Perseverance (Experiential Sanctification)

— Glorification.

I have put the elements of the Ordo Salutis in what I believe to be a more reasonable order. Regardless of the order of salvation, the believer is saved to be a new creation in Christ Jesus.

To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

In 2019, I began to take an interest in Anglicanism, so I was absolutely delighted to be able review the Catechism from The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and Crossway which is entitled, To Be a Christian: an Anglican Catechism. {They provided a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own, I was not asked for a positive review, just an honest one.)

Photos of To Be a Christian

 

order from amazon (affiliate)

To Be a Christian is noteworthy not simply for being a very easily understood catechism but also because it is one of the final projects undertaken by the late theological and pastoral titan, the Most Reverend J.I. Packer. Had you ever read anything by Dr. Packer you would understand the enthusiasm I have for this work. Dr. Packer served as the Theological Editor of this work and his fingerprints are everywhere.

 

The Book

The physical book, itself, is muted. It is black cloth over board with gold foil stamping on the cover. Like the other two catechisms I own, the book draws no attention to itself and instead uses its content to draw attention to the Lord of the Church. The paper is soft white with a black letter text. It would appear that Crossway has even sewn the binding in this simple catechism so that it would be very durable for on the go carry.

 

It is currently available in hardcover and e-book formats. I would love to see To Be a Christian available in either a top grain leather or goatskin for use in the pulpit.

 

The Content

You might think that To Be a Christian simply contains an Anglican Catechism but you would be wrong.

 

We open with a section called “Beginning with Christ.” This introduction to the catechism lays out the Gospel in plain simple English, so simple in fact that if you had never seen a Bible but had access to this book, you would still be able to repent of sin. Following the Gospel Presentation, To Be a Christian begins to catechize with the section on Salvation. To veteran Christians, such as myself, this may seem a bit obvious. The reality, however, is that there is nothing more important for a Christian to understand than the concept of Redemption from Sin and so the pastors who composed this catechism begin us there.

 

There are 368 total questions and answers so that you have one question and answer for family worship for every day of the year.

 

The Creeds

Appendices 3 and 4 contain the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, the two foundational Creeds of Christianity. While there is not a guide or suggestion on using the Creeds, my recommendation is to recite them at least once per week in family worship

 

Catechetical Liturgy

There are some samples of liturgy to use for formal catechism classes in the Church. For those of us outside of the Anglican Communion, formal catechism usage may be an unnerving concept but I would encourage you not to fear. Catechism classes unify the church around the essentials of the faith.

 

Pairing with the Bible

The catechism offering Scripture references, I recommend pairing with the Bible, but not just any Bible- I recommend that it be paired with the ESV Bible with Creeds and Confessions. The ESV with Creeds and Confessions not only includes the 30 Articles of Religion, it also gives the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon.

 

When reading the Catechism, it is always advisable to turn to the Scriptures and read the references provided for each question and answer.

 

Real Life Usage

The audience, here at Exploring the Truth, are mostly Anglican and Baptist and we have been providing the Anglican Catechism daily while our sister ministry, Abounding Grace Baptist Church provides the Baptist Catechism.

 

It is a sad reality that many professing Christians have no real clue as to what the Christian Faith entails nor are they familiar with teachings that the Church has handed down through the centuries. Using this catechism will help to build a strong foundation upon which to stand as the days grow ever more wicked.

 

Final Thoughts

The importance of a catechism cannot be overstated. If you have never had a catechism, I commend this one to you. The Anglican Communion has stood for nearly 600 years and will continue to stand, built on the rock of Scripture and guided by faithful catechisms.

Introducing the Bible Essentials Series

Introducing the Bible Essentials Series

Introducing the Bible Essentials Series

As we transition into 2021 and the Bible Essentials Series, I want to provide some background as well as structural/organizational materials for you to better understand the Bible.

Let’s begin with some introductory material adapted from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta Mears, Halley’s Bible Handbook, Wilmington’s Bible Handbook, the NKJV Open Bible, the Essential Bible Companion, athe the Bible Reader’s Companion.

 

The Old Testament is an account of a nation (the Jewish nation). The New Testament is an account of a man (the Son of man). The nation was founded and nurtured of God in order to bring the man into the world (see Genesis 12:1–3).

God Himself became a man so that we might know what to think of when we think of God (see John 1:14; 14:9). His appearance on the earth is the central event of all history. The Old Testament sets the stage for it. The New Testament describes it.

As a man, Christ lived the most perfect life ever known. He was kind, tender, gentle, patient and sympathetic. He loved people. He worked marvelous miracles to feed the hungry. Multitudes—weary, pain ridden and heartsick—came to Him, and He gave them rest (see Matthew 11:28–30). It is said that if all the deeds of kindness that He did “should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).

Then He died—to take away the sin of the world and to become the Savior of men.

Then He rose from the dead. He is alive today. He is not merely a historical character but a living person—this is the most important fact of history and the most vital force in the world today. And He promises eternal life to all who come to Him.

The whole Bible is built around the story of Christ and His promise of life everlasting to all. It was written only that we might believe and understand, know and love, and follow Him.

Apart from any theory of inspiration or any theory of how the Bible books came to their present form or how much the text may have suffered in passing through the hands of editors and copyists or what is historical and what may be poetical—assume that the Bible is just what it appears to be. Accept the books as we have them in our Bible; study them to know their contents. You will find a unity of thought that indicates that one mind inspired the writing of the whole series of books, that it bears on its face the stamp of its author, and that it is in every sense the Word of God.

 

Old Testament—Principal Places

There are 12 principal places around which the history of the Old Testament is written:

  1. Eden (Genesis 1–3)
  2. Ararat (Genesis 8:4)
  3. Babel (Genesis 11:1–11)
  4. Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:28–12:3)
  5. Canaan (with Abraham) (Genesis 12:4–7)
  6. Egypt (with Joseph) (Genesis 37–45, especially 41:41)
  7. Sinai (Exodus 19:16–20:21)
  8. Wilderness (Numbers 14:26–35)
  9. Canaan (with Joshua) (Joshua 1:1–9)
  10. Assyria (captivity of Israel) (2 Kings 18:9–12)
  11. Babylon (captivity of Judah) (2 Kings 24:11–16)
  12. Canaan (the land of Israel—return of the exiles) (Ezra 1:1–2:70)

As you build the story of the Bible around these places, you see the whole history in chronological order.

Old Testament—Principal Facts

Still another way to think through the Bible is by following the great facts in order:

  1. Creation (Genesis 1:1–2:3)
  2. Fall of man (Genesis 3)
  3. Flood (Genesis 6–9)
  4. Babel (Genesis 11:1–9)
  5. Call of Abraham (Genesis 11:10–12:3)
  6. Descent into Egypt (Genesis 46–47)
  7. Exodus (Exodus 7–12)
  8. Passover (Exodus 12)
  9. Giving of the Law (Exodus 19–24)
  10. Wilderness wanderings (Numbers 13–14)
  11. Conquest of the Promised Land (Joshua 11)
  12. Dark ages of the Chosen People (Judges)
  13. Anointing of Saul as king (1 Samuel 9:27–10:1)
  14. Golden age of Israelites under David and Solomon—united kingdom (2 Samuel 5:4–5; 1 Kings 10:6–8)
  15. The divided kingdom—Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12:26–33)
  16. The captivity in Assyria and Babylon (2 Kings 17; 25)
  17. The return from exile (Ezra)

New Testament—Principal Facts

  1. Early life of Christ (Matthew 1:18–2:23; Luke 1–2)
  2. Ministry of Christ (Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
  3. Church in Jerusalem (Acts 1–2)
  4. Church extending to the Gentiles (Acts 10–11; 13–20)
  5. Church in all the world (Romans 10–11, 15; Ephesians 1:22–23)

Principal Biblical Periods

  1. Period of the patriarchs to Moses (Genesis)
  2. The godly line—leading events
  3. Creation
  4. Fall
  5. Flood
  6. Dispersion
  7. The chosen family—leading events
  8. Call of Abraham
  9. Descent into Egypt; bondage
  10. Period of great leaders: Moses to Saul (Exodus to Samuel)
  11. Exodus from Egypt
  12. Wandering in wilderness
  13. Conquest of Canaan
  14. Rule of judges

III.  Period of the kings: Saul to the captivities (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, the prophetical books)

  1. The united kingdom
  2. Saul
  3. David
  4. Solomon
  5. The divided kingdom
  6. Judah
  7. Israel
  8. Period of foreign rulers: captivities to Christ (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel)
  9. Captivity of Israel
  10. Captivity of Judah
  11. Christ (Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
  12. The Church (Acts and the Epistles)
  13. In Jerusalem
  14. To the Gentiles
  15. In all the world

 

Principles and Helps for Bible Study

Accept the Bible just as it is, for exactly what it claims to be. Pin your faith to the Bible. It is God’s Word. It will never let you down. For us human beings, it is the rock of ages. Trust its teachings, and be happy forever.

 

Read your Bible with an open mind. ­Don’t try to straitjacket all its passages into the mold of a few pet doctrines. And ­don’t read into its passages ideas that are not there. But try to search out fairly and honestly the main teachings and lessons of each passage.  Ultimately, the text says what the text says. We need to look at the cultural context, genre, word choices, etc. Our search is to understand the Bible in similar fashion to how the original readers would have understood it.

 

Keep a pencil at hand. It is a good thing, as we read, to mark passages. Mark texts that resonate with you and passages that challenge you to grow in your faith.  Reread passages you have marked. In time a well-marked Bible will become very dear to us, as the day draws near for us to meet the Author.

 

Habitual, systematic reading of the Bible is what counts. Occasional or spasmodic reading does not mean much. Unless we have some sort of system to follow, and hold to it with resolute determination, the chances are that we will not read the Bible very much at all. Our inner life, like our body, needs its daily food.

 

Try to set a certain time each day for whatever reading plan you are following. Otherwise it is  likely that one would neglect or forget to read the Bible.

 

The particular time of day does not greatly matter. The important thing is that we choose a time that best fits in with our daily round of work, and that we try to stick with it and not be discouraged if now and then our routine is broken by things beyond our control.

Memorize favorite verses. Thoroughly memorize them and repeat them often to yourself — sometimes when you are alone, or in the night to help put yourself to sleep on the everlasting arms. These are the verses that we live on.

 

Suggested Reading Plans

The Learning Supplement for each book will include options for reading each book.

 

On Marking and Journaling

Start with a wide margin Bible in your favorite translation. I find Prismacolor Pencils to be ideal for marking. You could underline specific words or entire verses. Some people draw symbols or pictures. Others put detailed nots into the margins. Whatever you choose to put in the margins, these notes and symbols  are what makes the Bible truly yours.

Doctrine of Adoption

Doctrine of Adoption

Adoption is the admission of a believer into the family of God, positionally, as sons and daughters. In the Ordo Salutis (“order of salvation”), adoption is the step immediately subsequent to justification. The following outline, with Scritpure References, is offered to help you to begin your study on the Doctrine of Adoption

 

I. We obtain sonshp through the Holy Spirit placing us into the family of God (Romans 8:14-15)

II.  Adoption is through faith in Christ (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26, Ephesians 1:5)

III. We become joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)

IV. The Holy Spirit testifies to our adoption (Romans 8:16, Galatians 4:5-6)

V. Our Inheritance is incorruptible (1 Peter 1:4)

VI. Gentiles are also adopted through the Gospel (Ephesians 3:6)

Who is Jesus Christ?

Who is Jesus Christ?

This post was originally featured with the American Association of Christian Counselors and is excerpted from the Soul Care Bible.
Author: ED HINDSON
(John 1:29)
Jesus is the primary figure of the Bible. The Old Testament promises His coming; the New Testament describes His arrival on the scene of humanity that changed the course of history. One cannot read the New Testament without being confronted by Jesus. His person is overwhelming. His character is irresistibly attractive. His teachings are life-changing. But many still ask: Is He simply to be admired, or is He to be worshiped? Is He a good man, or is He God?
The more closely we examine the person, character, and claims of Jesus, the more we are compelled to see that He was more than just a man. Jesus was born in obscurity, raised in poverty, and crucified in ignominy. Yet, His life transformed the world. His ministry was characterized by preaching the good news of God’s grace to fallen humanity.
The name Jesus means “Savior”; Christ means “Messiah.” Technically, He is Jesus, the Christ. The Bible emphasizes that He is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament who was born of a virgin and miraculously entered the human race as God in the flesh (Matt. 1:23; John 1:14).
More than anything else, Jesus brings hope to people’s hopelessness. He is depicted as the Word of God (John 1:1), the Light of the World (John 1:7-9), the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and the Son of God (John 1:49). He meets us at our greatest points of need and offers us God’s salvation, love, and grace.
HIS DEITY AND HUMANITY
The Gospels paint four portraits of Jesus. Together, they give us a full picture of the person of Christ. Each focuses on a specific aspect of the same individual. Matthew pictures Him as the King of the Jews. Mark portrays Him as the Servant of the Lord. Luke displays Him as the Son of Man. John shows Him as the Son of God. By combining these portraits, we see the various facets of this incredible person-royalty, ministry, humanity, and deity-all in one.
John’s Gospel in particular is woven around seven miracles, seven messages, and seven declarations of Jesus. The central statement being Jesus’ declaration: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). His listeners immediately took this to be a claim of deity. Jesus was connecting Himself to the “I AM” declaration of God in Exodus 3:14. Around this central concept, John uses seven other “I am” statements by Jesus to give us a series of word pictures of the Savior:
“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35) “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7) “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11) “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) “I am the true vine” (John 15:1)
The Gospel writers give us a picture of the most incredible man who ever lived. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and loved the outcasts. His miracles were amazing. His teachings were brilliant. His insights into human nature were remarkable. Like a diamond, reflecting various streams of color and brilliance, Jesus shines as a perfect and complete picture of God. He looked like a man, but He talked like God. He lived among people, but He also lived above them. Indeed, in Him, God “became flesh” (John 1:14).
HIS IRRESISTIBLE APPEAL
Jesus is the epitome of divine love, sufficient grace, and eternal hope. No one will ever love us like He loves us. No one will ever care for us like He cares. Ultimately, He died on the Cross for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The good news of the gospel compels us to believe that He died for us personally. He calls upon us to trust His death as a sufficient payment for our sins.
Faith is the act of believing that activates our commitment to Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. It is the key that personalizes our relationship to Him. Saving faith means that we believe Jesus died for our sins and offers us the gift of eternal life.
All we have to do is believe it! Such an act of faith receives the free gift of this grace, believes this offer to be sincere, and trusts Him to keep His promises-forever.
Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher, said it best over a century ago when he wrote: “You may study, look, and meditate, but Jesus is a greater Savior than you think Him to be, even when your thoughts are at their highest.” Jesus Christ is more willing to love us, accept us, help us, and forgive us than we ourselves are. It is no wonder they call Him the Savior!
Jesus came so that we might know God personally. He suffered and died for our sins so that they might be “paid in full” (John 19:30; 1 Pet. 2:21-24). Then He rose from the dead to offer us the gift of eternal life (John 10:28). We can have that gift by receiving His gracious offer by faith. Believing in Jesus is an act of trust by which we affirm that what He did for us on the Cross is enough. On that basis, the Bible promises: “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Who is Jesus: 7 Essentials You Need to Know

Who is Jesus: 7 Essentials You Need to Know

Who is Jesus? It is the most important question you will ever face and so, we want to offer 7 Essentials about the person of Jesus, what they mean for us and the supporting Scriptures.

 

Jesus is… What this means Scripture
Truly human He was born as a human baby. He endured the trials and tribulations of life. He suffered a physical and humiliating death. Mark 1:12-13

Luke 2:1-21

Philippians 2:5-8

Sinless Jesus never sinned, even when tempted. Jesus did not deserve the punishment of the cross. Matthew 4:1-11

Hebrews 4:15

Truly God Jesus is the Son of God, 2nd Person of the Trinity. He is the Word incarnate, the God who came to Earth to redeem a people. John 1:1, 1:14, 20:31

Colossians 2:9

Messiah Jesus if the final King promised in the OT. His kingdom is the Kingdom of God which will last forever. Isaiah 53

Micah 5:2

Mark 14:61-62

 

Redeemer & Savior Through a sinless death, Jesus takes a people unto Himself. Rising from the dead, Jesus conquered sin, death, and hell. Jesus grants eternal life to all who will believe in Him. Luke 24:5-7

John 3:16, 3:36,5:24,11:26

Hebrews 9:14

The Last Adam Jesus provides forgiveness and new life. He eliminates the curse of sin brought on by the first Adam.

 

Genesis 3

Romans 5:12-21

1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 15:45-49

 

Our High Priest Jesus connects people to God. He was the perfect, sinless, final sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 3:1, 4:14-15. 7:24-27