And Sacrificial Too

The cross, which I recently discussed as penal and substitutionary was also sacrificial. The idea of sacrifice, of course, is one aspect of substitution. The sins of the people were laid upon the head of the sacrificial animal signifying the transfer of the sins of the guilty to the innocent animal whose blood was shed (i.e., whose life was forfeited) in the place of the repentant sinners who offered it.

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Two Essential Factors

The death of Christ was, at once, the world’s greatest act of wickedness and infamy, and history’s supreme moment of grace and glory. It all depends on how you view it. And how you view it depends on whether or not you have a full-orbed view of salvation.

Among the factors discussed are the penal, substitutionary aspects of Jesus’ death. And well they might be. Apart from an understanding of these factors, you don’t have a proper grasp of what transpired on Calvary.

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Union With Christ

Whenever the Free Grace Broadcaster comes in the mail, I read it through right away. Most of the excerpts from great Christian writers of the past are worth taking time to read again (or for the first time). The last issue (Winter, No. 214)  had some very interesting articles, especially that by Jonathan Edwards on the doctrine of Union with Christ.

Admittedly, this is a difficult doctrine to explain; and, obviously, Edwards had problems with it as well as many others. But it is his solution to the problem of communicating the meaning of the doctrine that I wish to mention. He says

If any are disgusted at the word union as obscure and unintelligible, the word relation equally serves the purpose. . . . there is a peculiar relation between true Christians and Christ, which there is not between Him and others. . . signified by those metaphorical expressions in Scripture of being in Christ, being members of Christ, etc.

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To Whom Was the Permit Issued?

If I want to drive my car here in South Carolina, I must qualify by taking a test to prove that I’m competent to drive.  If I failed the test, then I would not be allowed to drive on a public thoroughfare.  If, like Paris Hilton and other Hollywood personalities, I were to be found driving under the influence, that permit would be revoked.  In all such cases, an authority above me had the right to issue or revoke my permit to drive.  Driving is a privilege, not a right.  To drive legally, I am wholly dependent upon the will of an outside force.

This ordinary understanding of a higher power giving permission to one that is subject to it’s authority is clearly understood.  So, when commenting on a devastating hurricane like Katrinka, or a tornado that levels a town, when asked about it, it is very sad to hear preachers (some very prominent ones) say, “God permitted it.”  This is not true.  Yet it is precisely what preachers say over and over again. Continue reading

Antithesis

The very mention of the word sends shock waves up spines! For many moderns it describes the great heresy of our day. To think that anyone would dare to hold that one way only is correct, and all others are antithetical to it (and, therefore) wrong, is unthinkable to post moderns. Today, the idea is that everyone has a right to his own “truth” simply because there is no such thing as absolute, universal truth.

To the contrary, Christians believe in such eternal and unchanging truth to the exclusion the views of all other claims by those who boast some sort of relative truth.

How does this look as it is worked out in life?

Quite simply: there is God’s way and, then, all others. And, secondly, all other ways are antithetical to God’s way since He sets forth the claim that His way is the only way.

Now, notice how thoroughly God lays claim to His way of truth. The Old Testament clean/unclean system attests to the fact that God claims to have authority to tell us how to live in every area of life. Many of those things prohibited were seemingly arbitrary (for example mixed materials in a garment. The reason for this is simply to show that God’s way is not to be blended with any other). This system taught one thing primarily: in all of life there are only two ways between which you must two choose: God’s way and all others.

In our time, people are taught to think along a continuum. Continuum thinking dominates the schools, the airwaves—even some pulpits. Everything is along a continuum—there is no right and wrong, good or bad, etc. All is “more or less” something or other. There are no absolutes.

The Bible, quite antithetically I might add, is a Book shot through with antithesis. There is in it good/bad, true/false, heaven/hell, lost/saved, Christians/non-Christians, right/wrong, truth/error, sin/righteousness, the narrow and the broad roads, the wide and strait gates. Look at your Bible carefully and you will discover these and hundreds of other antitheses.

What do these antitheses mean? What I said above—there are but two ways: God’s and all others. People are either for or against Jesus Christ, they are on the one way to the Father, or not.

Now, if your mind is marinated in modern thinking, you will rebel against such assertions. If your thinking is permeated with Bible truth, you will think antithetically. But—and here is he catch—people will object to your views, your assertions and the like, because they have been taught to think on the continuum. Antithetical thinking—which is what you will be doing the more you read and accept the Scriptures—will turn them off. Indeed, it may even infuriate them. But, alas, since all men are turned against God until saved anyway, this is the way that it always has been. It’s important, therefore, to prepare for negative reactions to whatever you affirm about the truth! They will come!

Schiz?

Is a Christian man schizophrenic? By the sort of radio preaching I heard tonight you’d have to believe so. The “preacher” taught that believers have two natures. Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to this heretical view of man, one nature is all good, the other all bad. The believer throws the bone and the good dog fights the bad dog to see who gets it!

Arghhhhh!

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What Is “Saving Faith?”

It is faith that rescues us from sin and its consequences—misery here and eternal punishment in hell. Of course, it isn’t faith that actually saves; faith is the means by which the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross is mediated to the one who is saved (“rescued”). One is saved by grace through faith.

Faith isn’t faith in the abstract. It is dependence upon the Gospel. It means so believing in the truth that Jesus Christ died in his place, for his sins, that one stakes his eternal welfare upon that Gospel. If Jesus could fail (which He won’t), he’d go down with Him!

So, saving faith is faith in the good news that sinners need to hear. The Gospel is good news to be believed; not good works to be accomplished. All that needed to be done to save His own, Jesus has already done. Nothing need be, or could be, added to it. The person who is eligible to be saved is the one who recognizes that he isn’t eligible—on his own. Only Christ can make him so. His part is to admit his sin, his inability to rescue himself from sin and hell, and trust in what Jesus has already accomplished.

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Pots, Furnaces, Sheol, and Abaddon

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace is for gold,
but Yahweh assays hearts.
                                                                        Proverbs 17:2
Sheol and Abbadon are known to Yahweh,
how much more the hearts of the sons of men?
                                                                        Proverbs 15:11

The assayer uses the refining process to determine the quality of the metal; it is a testing process to see what is genuine and what is dross (useless residue).

Our covenant God, Yahweh, likewise determines the genuineness of individuals as the Assayer of Hearts. He knows the places most inaccessible to living human beings—the place of departed spirits (Sheol) and the place of “destruction” in Sheol (Abaddon). If He knows these, the writer argues, how much easier it is for Him to determine what is happening in human hearts. That is the import of these verses.

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How About Baptism?

Just a few comments that may be of benefit to any who wonder about such things. They can’t understand, for instance, why Presbyterians pour water on someone’s head rather than immerse him.

Of course, there’s a reason—biblically!

The word Baptizo doesn’t mean “immerse” as some think. That is a kindred word, Bapto (used in Luke 16 where the rich man begs to have Lazarus dip [bapto] his finger in the water).

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