Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Holiness and Justice of God- R. C. Sproul

On Wednesday morning in the SBTS chapel, R. C. Sproul lectured (preached, really) on the holiness and justice of God. You can listen to it here.

Sproul's sermon can be best summed up by Romans 9:10-26. It was about how God owes mercy to no one. Who are we as finite and sinful humans to think that God somehow is obligated to show us grace? Why do we have this notion that God has to give everyone a "chance" to be saved? Sproul said he doesn't know of any Christian who will deny the sovereignty of God in creation or in the details of life. But when it comes to the sovereignty of God in salvation, those same people will protest and cry "How can God have an elect that was chosen unconditionally and that was died for particularly? That is so UNFAIR!" Paul anticipated that argument and responded: "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this,' will it?"

I pray that this message stirs your heart as you hear about the glorious holiness of God and His great mercy that is not dependent on the actions of sinful creatures like us but is instead based upon the wise choice of our perfectly holy and just Creator.

For further study:

The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul
Chosen By God by R. C. Sproul
The Potter's Freedom by James White
The Justification of God by John Piper

Friday, April 21, 2006

"The Passion of Christ" and "The Da Vinci Code"

Tim Challies has written a very insightful and much needed article on the "evangelical hyprocrisy" of those who dared not critique the Passion film and yet are now decrying The Da Vinci Code movie.

I had been wondering if anyone else noticed this. Evangelicals see people outside the church twisting and profaning the Gospel, but when it comes to those inside the "church" who do similar things, it is a different story. Then, we often hear, "They say they love Jesus" or "He just has a different view on that doctrine than you" or "No one is perfect!"

If we are going to rightfully defend the Gospel against things like the Da Vinci Code, secularism, and the gay agenda, we also should be willing (and prepared) to defend the gospel against things like Roman Catholicism, the New Perspective on Paul, the emergent church movement, and easy believism.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Putting off and putting on

(sermon notes)

Ephesians 4
17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
20 But you did not learn Christ in this way,
21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,
23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.
26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

how is change brought about in our lives?

- first, Eph 5:3-6 explains that everyone who is a Christian will change- the one who is living in a pattern of unbroken sin most likely has not been born again

Ephesians 5
3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

- God is offended by "Nike Christianity"- we can't "just do it" as if it wasn't grace that kept us going, as if Christ doesn't fit into the picture

Eph 4:17- after three chapters of telling us how God has worked to save us, Paul tells us we must no longer walk as the Gentiles do- even here, Paul goes deeper than what we do and goes to what is the condition of our heart

- why are the unsaved darkened in their understanding? because their hearts are hardened and they have been calloused by sin (Eph 4:18-19)
- "but we did not learn Christ in this way"- instead of having our minds darkened, we have the mind of Christ- instead of having our hearts hardened, we were given new hearts

- the world can only restrain behavior- it can't change the heart to change motivations- only God can do that- v.20 the beginning of change is to learn and know Christ

v.22-24- spiritual dynamic of putting off and putting on clothing

- this change of clothing is a deep change, it is not a bunch of resolutions, you are putting off and on a self

- 2 Cor. 5:17- "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
- Gal. 2:20- "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

- why do we have a problem believing that when Christ died, we died? because the old self is familiar and we feel its temptations- as R. C. Sproul says, the old self is like a chicken running around with its head chopped off, it doesn't know it's dead

- but we don't walk by the feelings of the old self, instead we walk by faith in what Christ has done

Gal. 5
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

- we live in the already not yet- we are already secure in Christ but we are not in heaven yet

- v.23- renewed in the Spirit of our minds- this is in contrast to the unregenerate, who are futile in their minds- we need for the the truths of the Word to transform us

this new self is something that God has created- we not only have a new life, we have a new hope, new desires, new things to do- we are being told to put on what God prepared for us

Ephesians 2
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

5 things to put off/put on

1. put off falsehood, put on truth
why?: we are members of one another- what concerns me concerns you, and if we lie to one another we cannot relate as we ought

2. put off unrighteousness, put on righteous anger
why?: because we need to be angry about the appropriate things and not be overcome by self-righteous tirades

3. put off theft, put on hard labor
why?: so we can give to those in need

4. put off corrupt talk, put on words that build up
why?: so we can give grace to those who hear

5. put off malice, put on forgiveness
why?: because God forgave us


1. we live in a time that wants change but that does not want to think- weak theology does not change lives

2. the place to start is the tongue- three of the five areas Paul writes about deal with the tongue

James 3
1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
3 Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.
4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

You can listen to a great sermon by James White on Colossians 3:1-17 here. I am often struck by the ways Ephesians and Colossians complement one another.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

How to cultivate Godly grief

Sermon notes

Psalm 51
For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
18 By Your favor do good to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices,
In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.

- we live in a culture that measures what's true by how we feel- instead of saying "that's wrong" or "you're mistaken" we say "that's not how I feel" or "I'm not feeling you"
- at the same time, it's not wise to say "Christians are a people of truth but not of feelings"- Paul knew the highest and lowest points of the emotional spectrum- Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus- for more on this, see B. B. Warfield's "The Emotional Life of Our Lord"

- we need to say that truth should shape and transform our feelings- an example of why this is necessary is the Passion movie- there were tons of emotional responses to the film, but no lasting results- why? because Biblical truth alone can cause godly sorrow

Psa 42:11-
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

David questions his emotions and tells himself the truth

Psalm 51

v.17: this psalm is an example of godly grief
v.3-5: the way David gets there is by focusing on truth

"We must have such views of truth so as to promote repentance"- Dagg

David took a long look at his sin
v.3: David calls sin for what it is- this is radical in today's world, because the world would want to psychologize David- David was indeed shaped by the past, but he knew that sin was sin and that he had transgressed God's law
v.4: it was against God that David had sinned-

David takes a long look at the depth of his sin
- v.5- David acknowledges original sin
- "the fountain of my life is polluted as well as its streams"- Spurgeon
- we are often "practical Pelagians"- we think that we can be good without the work of the Holy Spirit
- Philippians 3:3- "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

David took a long look at God's overwhelming grace
- the most grief cultivated is by the most grace
- the very fact that Psalm 51 exists is God's grace
- David is not despairing, he is repenting, and that is grace as well
- the reason God shows this grace is because of His love for His people (v.1)

God's promise to David, which was ultimately fulfilled in Christ:

2 Samuel 7
12 "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
16 "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."'"
17 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

Psalm 89
26 "He will cry to Me, 'You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.'
27 "I also shall make him My firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.
28 "My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever,
And My covenant shall be confirmed to him.
29 "So I will establish his descendants forever
And his throne as the days of heaven.
30 "If his sons forsake My law
And do not walk in My judgments,
31 If they violate My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
32 Then I will punish their transgression with the rod
And their iniquity with stripes.
33 "But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him,
Nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.
34 "My covenant I will not violate,
Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
35 "Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 "His descendants shall endure forever
And his throne as the sun before Me.
37 "It shall be established forever like the moon,
And the witness in the sky is faithful." Selah.

David appeals to God's abundant mercy
- v.1- that his sins were blotted out

Colossians 2
13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

- v.7- that he is cleansed from sin

1 John 1:9- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."