Your comfort is found in your belonging to Christ. Hairs may fall from your head, but they will not do so apart from the will of your heavenly Father. It is He who loves you, not the CDC or anyone else. So be steady, find your comfort in Him, and then live for His glory.
The beauty of good doctrinal statements is that they pass the test of time. The Heidelberg Catechism, though written in 1563, still benefits the church today, touching us where our greatest needs are felt. For example, this 16th century catechism begins with this very relevant question and answer:
What is your only comfort in life and death?
There is no more relevant question to be asked today. The world, strained by 18 months of COVID restrictions and new geopolitical unrest, is filled with anxiety and worry. But here followes the answer for the Christian:
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
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By R.C. Sproul — 6 months ago
Several years ago, the mother of a college student came to me wringing her hands, saying: “I don’t know what to do with my son. I’ve been praying for him for years; he’s in total rebellion. He’s smoking dope; he’s doing all these wild and crazy things, and he won’t listen to me about the Christian faith. Will you talk to him?”
I cautioned her that forcing him to come talk to me would make him a reluctant audience, but I nevertheless agreed to her request. She persuaded the young man to come and see me. When he came in, he was sullen, curt, and obviously hostile. So I asked him, “Who are you mad at?” He replied, “My mother.” And I said, “Why are you angry at your mother?” He said he was mad at her because “every time I turn around she keeps trying to shove religion down my throat.”
I said, “I see, you don’t buy into Christianity?” He said “No, sir.” “Okay,” I replied, “so what do you believe?” He said, “I believe that everybody should have the right to do their own thing.” “Alright,” I answered, “but why are you mad at your mother?” He said, “What do you mean?” “Well,” I replied, “maybe it’s your mother’s thing to shove religion down people’s throats. What I hear you saying is that you want everybody to do their own thing as long as their own thing doesn’t impose upon your own thing. And you want to be able to do your own thing even if it does impose on other people’s own thing.”
I said, “Don’t you see that if you complained to me on the basis of Christian ethical standards that things would be different? If your mother is provoking you to wrath and is being thoroughly insensitive to you as a person, then I would have a foundation upon which to stand with you. I could defend your cause against your mother.” At that point, he started getting interested in the Christian faith.
Of course, the point of the illustration is that the young man knew what he didn’t like, but he hadn’t thought it through. He wanted to come to the conclusion that there is no basis ultimately for ethics, but he couldn’t live in that domain. And that is the point that even a non-Christian philosopher such as Immanuel Kant made, namely, that life ultimately is impossible without God, without justice, without life after the grave.
The bottom line is this: if there is no God, if there is no life after death, then ultimately all of our ethical decisions are absolutely meaningless. That’s a true and inescapable conclusion. If we think about it, it’s the only conclusion we can reach if we have absented God from our thinking. The only alternative to an absolute ethic is a relative ethic. We cannot have an absolute ethic without a personal Creator.
To confess that God is Creator is to confess that we are not cosmic accidents, devoid of ultimate value. We came from somewhere significant and we are headed toward a destination of importance.
Mechanistic determinists and hyperevolutionists say that the human animal is the highest advance up a scale of life that emerged out of primordial slime. Humanity, the grownup germ, is the result of accidental cosmic forces, and the destiny of the human race is at the mercy of these indifferent, impersonal forces. This view does not leave us in total darkness about the goal of human existence, nor does it point us in the direction of significance. What began in the slime is destined for organic disorganization or disintegration.
By Scott Clark — 3 weeks ago
We are all Romans 7:25 Christians. There is no other kind of Christian. Any Christian who pretends to have reached perfection (complete sanctification) in this life is deluded and has redefined sin out of existence. Discouragement about one’s sanctification is a tool of the Evil One, who wants us to give up but we should not give up the struggle of the new life because it is only those who have new life who struggle. It is only believers who cry out to God as Paul does in Romans 7 and it is only believers, free from condemnation, who are able to speak as Paul does in Romans chapters 6, 7, and 8.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, consequently, on the one hand, I myself serve the law of God with my mind but, on the other, with the flesh I serve the law of sin.1
“Certain are the faithful about final victory and full liberation.”2 These were the opening words of Caspar Olevianus (1536–87) on this verse but we might suspect that were this verse not in holy Scripture that one would find oneself in trouble for even uttering v. 25b. Nevertheless, this is just how, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul spoke about his struggle with sin as a Christian and about his assurance of his right standing with God (justification) and salvation despite his ongoing struggle with sin. In short, this is Paul’s doctrine of simul iustus et peccator (at the same time righteous and sinner).
The perfectionists (e.g., Wesleyans and the Nazarenes), however, cannot speak this way and neither can the legalists or moralists. For the latter group our “final salvation” (as they say) is always in doubt and for the former, the struggle with sin has ostensibly ended. In the history of the Christian church, one of the first and most influential perfectionists and moralists was Pelagius, a British monk who appeared Melchizedek-like in the late fourth century. He was attracted to moralistic preaching, i.e., preaching that featured a great deal of emphasis on law and our obligations as Christians and very little talk of grace or God’s free acceptance of sinners. He was also deeply offended by Augustine’s prayer in his Confessions to God, “Give what you command and command what you will.”3
Like all perfectionists and moralists, however, Pelagius knew a priori that Paul could not have been speaking about his Christian experience. He knew a priori that Paul must have created a persona for the purposes of Romans chapter 7.
Augustine Versus The Pelagians On Romans 7
The Augustinian and historic Reformed understanding of Romans 7, however, is that Paul was speaking about his struggle, as a Christian, with sin. Against the Pelagians Augustine wrote,
And it had once appeared to me also that the apostle was in this argument of his describing a man under the law. But afterwards I was constrained to give up the idea by those words where he says, “Now, then, it is no more I that do it.” For to this belongs what he says subsequently also: “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” And because I do not see how a man under the law should say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man;” since this very delight in good, by which, moreover, he does not consent to evil, not from fear of penalty, but from love of righteousness (for this is meant by “delighting”), can only be attributed to grace.4
Calvin took the same approach. In his commentary on Romans 7:25 he wrote,
“So I myself, &c.” A short epilogue, in which he teaches us, that the faithful never reach the goal of righteousness as long as they dwell in the flesh, but that they are running their course, until they put off the body. He again gives the name of mind, not to the rational part of the soul which philosophers extol, but to that which is illuminated by the Spirit of God, so that it understands and wills aright: for there is a mention made not of the understanding alone, but connected with it is the earnest desire of the heart. However, by the exception he makes, he confesses, that he was devoted to God in such a manner, that while creeping on the earth he was defiled with many corruptions. This is a suitable passage to disprove the most pernicious dogma of the Purists, (Catharorum,) which some turbulent spirits attempt to revive at the present day.5
In a footnote to the older translation of Calvin here, the editor reports that Theodore Beza wrote on this verse, “[t]his was suitable to what follows, by which one man seems to have been divided into two.” By the flesh, wrote Pareus, “is not meant physically the muscular substance, but theologically the depravity of nature,—not sensuality alone, but the unregenerated reason, will, and affections.” Pareus was reflecting the older Reformed way of using the term “regeneration,” meaning sanctified. E.g., Olevianus wrote that, even after we have been given new life by the Spirit, we are still only “partly regenerated,” i.e., partly sanctified.
The Structure Of Romans
In order to overcome the Pelagian presumption, which is surprisingly widespread in Presbyterian and Reformed circles, we need to understand the structure of Romans and where Romans chapter 7 falls in Paul’s argument and why it does.
Like the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Romans is in three parts: guilt, grace, and gratitude. We may consider Romans 1:1–17 the prologue to the epistle. The guilt section runs from 1:18–3:20. Here Paul is preaching the law in its first use to convict the world of sin and its need for a Savior. Failure to understand how Paul has structured Romans and what this entire section is has led to serious confusion and misunderstanding about e.g., Romans 2:13, where, contra one popular modern misinterpretation, Paul was not offering eternal life to Christians, under a sort of legalized covenant of grace (were such a thing possible), who cooperate sufficiently with grace. He was re-stating the covenant of works: do this and live (Gen 2:17; Lev 18:5; Luke 10:28).
By admin — 9 months ago
Written by B. Nathaniel Sullivan |
Thursday, August 26, 2021
Learn enough about the new Netflix movie Pray Away to stay away from its overall message. Jesus really does change people from the inside out, and no amount of distortion or propaganda ever will change that.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. —The apostle Paul to the Christians at Corinth, and to us, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11—
Key point: Because certain truths are difficult for many to accept, they and the people advocating them are regularly maligned, distorted, and misrepresented. Yet these realities still are true, and they still have all the power and authority accorded everything true. People ignore and dismiss such truths, and the people presenting them, to their own peril.
If someone were to ask you to describe Jesus, what adjectives would you use? Many Christians would use adjectives like these: caring, compassionate, and loving. Certainly He was all of these, but I believe one of the Lord’s most important qualities — and one of the most forgotten — is that He was controversial. He was loved by many but hated by many more. Moreover, He warned His disciples that if they truly followed Him, they, too, would be misunderstood, misrepresented, and hated.
Jeffrey McCall: A True Disciple of Christ
Nearly two years ago I introduced you to Jeffrey McCall. He is a former homosexual who was radically transformed by Jesus Christ. Jesus changed this young man from the inside out, and he became the founder of the Freedom March, a movement that calls on men and women who have been delivered from a gay lifestyle and found freedom in Christ to come together and publicly declare how Christ transformed and delivered them. We have highlighted Freedom March events more than once at Word Foundations.1
Luis Ruiz and Angel Colon also have been involved in the Freedom March. Both of them came out of homosexuality and gave their lives afresh to God after the bloody shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. Ruiz and Colon now have a ministry and website called Fearless Identity.
Can Homosexuals Change?
Ex-gays are the most misunderstood minority in America. Also, they are the most discriminated against group in the nation, bar none. The prevailing narrative regarding homosexuals is that they were “made” that way or “born” that way, and efforts efforts to change their sexual orientation are extremely harmful. Yet, if a person truly is objective, he or she cannot overlook men and women who have come out of homosexuality. These people are real, and their number is growing. Jeffrey McCall, Luis Ruiz, Angel Colon, Becket Cook, Stephen Black of First Stone Ministries, Daren Mehl of Voice of the Voiceless, and Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network are only a few of many who would testify to authentic change in their lives.
Have all of these individuals overcome every element of same-sex attraction? No. But at a deep and authentic level, they no longer desire sexual encounters with members of the same sex; and with God’s help, they have walked away. In other words, they have shed their gay identity. Speaking about his conversion encounter with Christ, Becket Cook put it this way on the Eric Metaxas radio show that aired on August 8, 2019. You can learn more about Becket here.
Can homosexuals change? Resoundingly, formerly gay men and women who’ve been transformed by Christ say yes! Some, like Becket Cook, still may struggle with same-sex attraction (SSA) or homosexual temptation. Even so, these men and women have renounced a gay identity and welcomed an identity in Christ that aligns with the purposes for which God made them. This includes embracing biblical masculinity or femininity, as well as heterosexuality as part of God’s good design. Such a change in perspective and outlook has given these men and women a freedom they never could have attained without Christ.
What About So-Called “Conversion Therapy” ?
While some Christians with homosexuality in their pasts have experienced profound transformations in their sexual desires and moved toward heterosexuality without the help of professional counseling, others have found such counseling very beneficial. Go here to read about what legitimate counseling in this area looks like.