What do you think is the most important thing about Christianity? … How would you answer that question?
This would be one way I think we could answer it. The very center of Christianity is an announcement of some historical facts about a man named Jesus Christ. What do you think about that answer? Do you believe that? The truth that holds the Bible all together is some historical facts?
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:3. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”
What does Paul say is “of first importance?” The message that he delivered and that message is “that Christ died for our sins.”
Substitution Is The Heart of Christianity
Have you ever heard or thought about the fact that substitution is the heart and center of the Christian faith. Think about it this way.
What is sin?
It the fact that we have substituted ourselves for God.
What is salvation?
It is the fact that Jesus Christ has substituted himself for us.
What is sin?
It is when we take what God alone deserves.
What is salvation?
It is when Jesus Christ has put himself in our place and he took what we deserve. Continue reading
This post is not any sort of political statement. It is simply the photos I captured on my walk home from work today. We have only lived here a couple years and even though I know this is a big court case I have lost track of how many times I have walked by a scene that looks a lot like this one…
Richard Baxter wrote The Reformed Pastor in the 17th century to some British and Irish pastors, but the truths in them transcend both his time and place. Certainly there are plenty of differences between our day and his, but God has not changed. His word has not changed. The problems of every human soul have not changed. The solutions to these problems are still the same. Therefore, we should expect not only a faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), but also the application of this faith to the hearts and lives of God’s people is once and for all. That is why much of what Baxter has to say is not only relevant, but it is an urgent message that is desperately needed in the church today. Particularly, the pastors of the church in America need to get Baxter’s big ideas. Some of the specific methods are not so important, but the main ideas are critically needed. Continue reading
The following is an excerpt from Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor.
Content not yourselves with being in a state of grace, but be also careful that your graces are kept in vigorous and lively exercise, and that you preach to yourselves the sermons which you study, before you preach them to others.
If you did this for your own sakes, it would not be lost labor; but I am speaking to you upon the public account, that you would do it for the sake of the Church, When your minds are in a holy, heavenly frame, your people are likely to partake of the fruits of it. Your prayers, and praises, and doctrine will be sweet and heavenly to them. They will likely feel when you have been much with God: that which is most on your hearts, is like to be most in their ears. Continue reading
What good does it do me to tell me that the type of religion presented in the Bible is a very fine type of religion and that the thing for me to do is just to start practicing that type of religion now? … I will tell you, my friend. It does not one tiniest little bit of good…. What I need first of all is not exhortation but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news for me? That is the question that I ask of you. I know your exhortations will not help me. But if anything has been done to save me, will you not tell me the facts?
— J. Gresham Machen, Christian Faith in the Modern World
When Jesus preaches His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, He does not present an easier law. Instead He hammers the crowds and His disciples with the truth that God demands perfect obedience.
Consider the six “you have heard it said…but I say to you” statements in Matthew 5:20-48. Then try and figure out how the following two statements, which function as bookends of that section, make the law any easier: “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:20, 48). How is this easier or gentler? Continue reading
One of the most basic things that the gospel does is change prayer from mere petition to fellowship and the praise of his glory. Galatians 4:6-7 teaches us that when we believe the gospel, we not only become God’s children legally, but we receive the Spirit in order to experience our sonship. The Spirit leads us to call out passionately to God as our tender and loving Father. The Spirit calls out ‘Abba’ (4:7). In the very next verse Paul refers to this experience as “knowing God” (4:8). We do not just know and believe that God is holy and loving, but we actually experience contact with his holiness and his love in personal communion with him.
No one had a deeper insight into the gospel and prayer than Jonathan Edwards. Edwards concluded the most essential difference between a Christian and a moralist is that a Christian obeys God out of the sheer delight in who he is. The gospel means that we are not obeying God to get anything but to give him pleasure because we see his worth and beauty. Therefore, the Christian is able to draw power out of contemplation of God. Without the gospel, this is impossible. We can only come and ask for things- petition. Without the gospel, we may conceive of a holy God who is intimidating and who can be approached with petitions if we are very good. Or we may conceive of a God who is mainly loving and regards all positively. To approach the first “God” is fearsome; to approach the second is no big deal. Thus without the gospel, there is no possibility of passion and delight to praise and approach God. Continue reading