Features of Reformed Worship

  • God-Centered

Worship is the expression of praise, glory, thanks, honor, submission and devotion and is to be given to God alone. All else is idolatry. Therefore, Reformed worship is intentionally God-ward, celebrating all that He is and all that He has done in creation and redemption. Worship is not about our feelings or ‘worship experience’ and therefore is not devised according to what will attract or satisfy the sinner. God alone is our target audience in worship. It is for God,about God, and focused solely upon God. We recognize that if God is pleased it does not matter who is displeased, and if He is displeased, it does not matter who is pleased.

  • Triune in Orientation

God has revealed Himself in creation and especially in the Bible. Biblical worship recognizes we worship the one true God who is eternally existent in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All of our worship is shaped by this revelation.

  • Covenantal

Biblical worship is based upon a covenant relationship. Not everyone can legitimately call Him ‘Father’ but only those in covenant relationship with Him. We also recognize that this relationship is made possible only by the sin bearing, atoning cross-work of the Lord Jesus Christ in His death for us, and the perfect obedience and righteousness He achieved for us in His life. Based on the sure foundation of Scripture alone, justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.  

  • Regulated by Scripture

God determines how He will be worshiped and He has not left us to guess what that involves. The Regulative Principle of Worship acknowledges that we are to do only those things in worship which God has commanded in His Word. We are not free to innovate, revise, or supplement the elements of worship commanded by God in Scripture. We are to be careful to do according to the mandates laid out for us.

  • Sober, Yet Joyful

The Bible makes it clear that worshiping God is a highly serious matter and yet Christians ought to do so with reverent and overflowing joy. Worship is not a concert for man’s enjoyment. Preaching is not a public speech to dispense information or to entertain. Preaching is a central component of our worship. God addresses His people through the reading and proclamation of His word, and His people respond in faith, thanksgiving, and praise.

  • A Holy Dialogue

Worship in the Bible was a dialogue between God and His covenant people, and so should it be in churches today. Our service begins with God addressing His gathered people in His solemn call to worship. Hearing His call, we respond with joy.God reveals His holy Law and we recognize our guilt and confess our sins. God, through the preacher, makes proclamation of His word, and we believe and renew our commitment to Him. He serves His people a family, covenant meal at His Table and we believe His gospel promise and feast on Him. As we turn from sin and trust the finished and perfect work of the perfect Savior alone, He assures us of His full pardon. We respond with thanksgiving and praise. Our worship ends with God addressing His children with words of benediction. This dialogue between God and His assembled covenant people is the rhythm of worship in Scripture, and it shapes the structure of our liturgy every Lord’s Day.

Myths About the Trinity

Fred Sanders, professor of theology at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, posted a very helpful article on the Crossway blog entitled 5 Myths About the Trinity

Myth #1: It’s only for theology experts.

The doctrine of the Trinity is for everybody who is saved by Jesus. Or, to say that just a little more elaborately, it’s for everybody who has been drawn to the Father through faith in the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Cor. 13:14). Or, to say it again, it’s for everyone who has been adopted by the Father who sent the Son to redeem us, and sent the Holy Spirit of adoption into our hearts to make us cry out to God, “Abba, Father” (see Gal. 4:4–6). Or, to say it another way, it’s for everyone who is in communion with other believers through our common access to the Father in Christ by the Spirit (see Eph. 2:18).

Or, to be more precise, it’s for everybody who wants to understand how any of this deep salvation works, and what the gospel reveals about the God who stands behind it. That’s because the doctrine of the Trinity is the only view of God that makes sense of Christian salvation. That’s one reason the church baptizes in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (see Matt. 28:19): it’s the birthright of all the born-again.

There are, of course, experts in the doctrine of the Trinity, who have thought about it with precision and depth, and studied it in an academic way. But any subject can be apprehended simply on the one hand and studied in depth on the other hand: there are experts in everything, and their expertise doesn’t mean the thing they’ve studied becomes their exclusive property. The Trinity is too important to be left to theological experts.

Myth #2: It isn’t really in the Bible; the early church made it up.

This myth is probably based on the observation that the keywords we traditionally use in talking about the Trinity are not Bible words: Trinity, for example; but also personnaturerelation, and so on. But all those words are just labels—intended to be helpfully concise—that we attach to things we do see in Scripture. The grand story of the one true God fulfilling his promises by being with us in the Father’s sending of his Son and Spirit is a sprawling, two-testament reality of God making himself known in the act of redemption. Instead of telling that entire story every time we ponder the identity of the God of the gospel, Christians since the time of the early church fathers have tended to use the shorter, portable words. But when they started this pattern of usage, the church fathers never wanted credit for creativity. They insisted, in council after council, commentary after commentary, catechism after catechism, that they were saying what Holy Scripture said. 

Some modern Christians have a kind of phobia about following the patristic lead here, preferring to use nothing but Bible words for Bible truths. They will inevitably end up having to solve the same problems the early church solved (finding heretics within their ranks using Bible words with different meanings, figuring out how to communicate the faith to the next generation, and so on), two thousand years after the fact and with their own modern idiosyncracies smuggled in unawares. Other modern Christians are overzealous about deferring to tradition and are happy to credit the church fathers with inventing a doctrine that can’t be found in the Bible. To them, the church fathers themselves respond, “no, thank you.” They never intended for us to believe in the Trinity on their own testimony; they bent all their efforts to show that God had revealed his own triunity in Scripture.

Myth #3: It’s irrelevant to the spiritual life.

Since God’s triunity is bundled together with the gospel, it is the foundation of the spiritual life of every believer. The more you understand the deep structure of the spiritual reality you experience in Christ and the Spirit, the more you understand and are experiencing the deep things of God for us. If you think the Trinity is irrelevant to your spiritual life as a Christian, you are probably being fooled by a kind of experiential optical illusion. What I mean is this: you can come to believe in Christ, get saved, and commune with God in the Spirit for some time before you begin to think about the Trinity. Since everything was going fine for you as a Christian before you started thinking about the Trinity, you might think the Trinity is some kind of unnecessary doctrine that ought to be tucked away in your mind somewhere as true but doesn’t affect your life. But in fact, the reason everything was going fine before is that you were immersed in the reality of the Son and the Spirit bringing you actively and dynamically into the love of the Father all along. To recognize this underlying reality ought to be an invitation for you to go deeper into what you have already begun experiencing in the Christian life.

There is one sense in which I suppose you might call the Trinity irrelevant to the spiritual life of believers. You might call it irrelevant in the sense that it is absolutely independent of believers: it’s true whether you appreciate it or not. God would be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit even if the Father had never sent the Son and the Holy Spirit, or even if the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had never created anything or anybody to receive their blessing or believe in them. But God’s independence from everything that is not God turns out to be an important thing for us to recognize. In other words, it’s very relevant for you to know that God would be God without you.

Myth #4: It is illogical.

Sometimes we use shorthand for the doctrine of the Trinity, and say that “our God is three in one,” or “three and one.” That sounds like a contradiction. But if you plug in the relevant nouns, the contradiction goes away: God is three persons in one being. That may be a mystery, but it is not necessarily a contradiction. The problem with the short phrase, “three in one,” is that it might suggest “three Gods in one God,” or “three persons in one person,” or “three beings in one being.” The short phrase takes the entire scope of the biblical message (that there is one God, and that this God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and, by leaving out all nouns, compresses it into a form that sounds like algebra, and bad algebra at that. When God reveals himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he doesn’t ask for a sacrifice of the mind. He does ask for humble teachability, which is the same thing we need in order to accept anything God reveals.

Myth #5: Analogies for the Trinity matter a lot and will help us understand it more deeply.

What is God the Trinity like? A three-leaf clover? Water in its liquid, icy, and steamy states? The sun radiating beams of light and waves of heat? The shell, yolk, and white of an egg? A mind remembering itself, knowing itself, and loving itself? A three-person committee with one agenda? A person with three jobs? No, God the Trinity is not very much like any of these things at all. Some of these analogies are downright false and should never be used; others are a little bit helpful for thinking about some isolated elements of the doctrine of the Trinity in an abstract way. None of them are important, and none of them will take you to the next level of understanding what the Bible is getting at with its revelation of the Trinity. The whole idea that it matters very much to figure out a good analogy for the Trinity is usually a sign that we’ve gotten hold of the doctrine by the wrong end. It’s possible to launch out on a quest for answers to questions that were never worth raising. If you keep your expectations very, very, very low, some Trinity analogies might be worth considering.

But it’s significant that God communicated the truth about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit without putting a single Trinity analogy in the Bible. What if God has actually already revealed what we need to know about what the eternal life of God is like, and did it without mentioning shamrocks or icebergs? What if the best way to understand the eternal fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit is to understand that the Father sent the Son and the Spirit? What if the eternal God is like the Father sending the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time, because from all eternity God is the Father, the eternally begotten Son, and the eternally proceeding Spirit? That would mean that when we tell the gospel story, we are already describing the character of God. That would mean that the Trinity and the gospel belong together as the basis of our faith and also as the beginning of our understanding.

Does God Experience Emotional Change?

Immutability and Impassibility

Article by Sam Renihan (original source here)

You may have seen a popular commercial advertising the Snickers candy bar in which grumpy persons are pacified by eating chocolate, nuts, and caramel. The premise of this scene is summed up in the words “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” We can, of course, resonate with this statement. Some people even talk about being “hangry.” They are angry because they are hungry. We have natural appetites (inclinations and disinclinations), and our moods change as our appetites are satisfied or dissatisfied. There truly are times when the difference between being content and irritable depends on a Snickers bar (or double stuff Oreos).

We know what we are like, but is God like this? Does God experience emotional change? If we answer this question based on popular Christian music, and even popular Christian literature, we would reply that God does experience emotional change. But the Christian creeds, the Christian tradition of theology proper (the doctrine of God), and the Protestant and Reformed confessions of faith disagree.

What do the Scriptures teach about emotions and God, and how can we formulate a responsible and faithful answer? We will consider four points, focusing on how God describes himself in the Scriptures, and how God teaches us to interpret his own language regarding himself.

1. The Bible describes God in the language of human experience and emotion, but denies that those very experiences are in God.

In 1 Samuel 15:11, God declares, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” Later in 1 Samuel 15:29, the same passage, this statement is qualified and controlled. “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” Other passages, like Numbers 23:19-20, reinforce the truth that the difference between God and creatures controls the way we read creaturely language about God. It says, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

2. The Bible describes God in a way that makes it impossible for him to undergo anything or be acted upon.

Take Genesis 1:1 into consideration. There is a Creator, and there is creation. God did not create something greater or more powerful than himself, nor did he confine himself within the time and space of his creation. God is eternal and a se, of himself, and all things are “from him and through him and to him” (Rom. 11:36). Consequently, God is always the agent, never the patient. God is always fulfilling his purposes and never changing his mind, as stated in Numbers 23:19-20, above.

Similarly, several of the names of God, especially “I AM THAT I AM,” are self-revelation using the word “to be.” God is that he is. He is perfect absolute independent being, the source of all that exists, the Creator of all things. Nothing can add to God who is I AM. Nothing can subtract from God who is I AM. Neither can God make himself more perfect or reduce his perfection. 

God himself declares his perfect unchanging nature to his people in Malachi 3:6, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” And we are told the same in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

The truth that the Bible describes God in the language of human experience and emotion, yet denies that those experiences are in God, combined with the Scriptures’ description of the perfection of the being of God, provides a firm and certain conclusion.

3. We must not equate the human language used to describe God with God himself.

We can no more contain God in our language than you can contain the ocean in a thimble. The finite cannot contain the infinite. Thus, our minds and language can never wrap themselves around God and fully express him. But although we cannot know God fully, we can know him truly. God’s self-revelation may be suited to our creaturely capacities, but it is not false or empty. 

Many authors have described God’s self-revelation through creaturely communication as God lisping to us or stammering with us, as parents or nurses speak to children. If God spoke to us in a manner that communicated the infinity of his being and power, we would never understand it. We can’t understand it. So, God speaks in our language, in creature-language. And as a result, we can’t think that God has been contained in that language. We can’t run straight from the creature language to the Creator without protecting that language or qualifying it, as the Scriptures themselves have taught us.

There are two sides to be balanced here. And we can end up in two ditches. On the one hand, we can’t reduce God to the creaturely language used to describe him. God is not like us. But on the other hand, we have to remember that these passages are still telling us something. God is speaking to us in our language, and while we can’t equate him with our language, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for us to learn. Quite the opposite.

For example, when Scripture speaks of God repenting, regretting, or relenting, the point of connection is not between the emotional state of a human that repents and some emotional state in God, but in the action taken. When someone repents, they stop doing what they were doing, and they begin to do something else. So also, God created man, then he destroyed man; God made Saul king, then he removed him; God threatened judgment on Nineveh, then he removed the sentence of judgment.

You can call that repentance because of the analogy between God’s action and human actions, without taking along with it the baggage of human emotional turmoil. When we repent, it’s because something confronts us, and we are changed. Spiritually speaking, we turn from sin to righteousness. Generally speaking, we encounter some problem, we regret a decision, and we redo something or do something else. But God is eternal and has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, accomplishing all his holy will. So, God’s repentance is not an undergoing or a happening to God, but from the creature’s perspective in time it is a reversal of actions, all of which was decreed by God in eternity. God decreed from all eternity both to create man, and to destroy him, to make Saul king, and then to remove him, to threaten Nineveh, and then to deliver it. We see it all play out in time. The sequence of God’s actions in time leads to a fourth point.

4. We need to distinguish between our eternal God in himself, and the outworking of his decree in time and space.

God is not limited by time. He is eternal. He created time. And everything that God has done, is doing, and will do in time is the fulfillment or the outworking of his eternal decree. This means that if we ascribe things like emotions to God, or reactions like repenting, relenting, regretting, or being provoked to wrath, and if we understand those as God existing in time and acting in time rather than the outworking of his eternal and singular decree, we will have collapsed eternity and time, and collapsed the Creator into a creature. God’s decree is one simple cause with an unfathomable (to us) multitude of effects, all of which coalesce in the glory of God through the redemption of the elect in the death and resurrection of Christ, and the judgment of the unbelieving.

What this all boils down to is that we speak of God in a way that fits with his infinite being and perfection. And we speak of creatures in a way that fits their finite being and imperfection. The Scriptures themselves teach us to do this when we consider what they say about God, about creatures, and about God described in the language of creatures. These four considerations prepare us to answer our original question more specifically. Does God experience emotional change? Is God not God when he’s hungry? Thankfully, God is not a man.

First, love.

God is Love, who is good in and of himself, pouring goodness on his creatures. This means that when God does good to his creatures, he is loving them. And he is not loving them because of something good in them that he is perceiving and responding to, but he is loving them because he is love. He is doing good because he is good. Love for us is when we perceive some good, and are drawn toward it, and reciprocate good to it. We must apply love to creatures and the Creator differently, according to their being. Therefore, God is love, essentially. We love him, because he first loved us. His love is an everlasting perfection, not an emotion. And this makes John’s words all the sweeter when he says in 1 John 4:16, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Second, mercy.

Mercy, again must be applied to creatures in one way, and to God in another. Men are moved to mercy when they perceive a need in another like them. We are merciful because we suffer and feel alongside of another person. We enter into their state and we pity them. We are overcome by sympathy or compassion. We help those to whom we relate in their suffering.

It is not so with God. God does not suffer. He cannot undergo or be acted upon. Does that mean he cannot be merciful? Quite to the contrary. God is the one who helps the helpless even though there is no connection between his nature and the helpless person. And because he is free from those kinds of restrictions, he is able to have mercy on anyone and everyone that he wills.

We are moved to sympathy because we see something of ourselves in another person. We don’t feel mercy for rocks being smashed. If God is so different than us, couldn’t he say the same? No, because the less God’s mercy is conditioned upon his participation in our nature, the greater he is able to be merciful to all as he wills. Romans 10:13 assures us of this truth. “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Do not equate mercy in mankind with mercy in God. If you do, God cannot have mercy at all. But God is perfectly merciful. Mercy workers get overwhelmed. They see a lot of suffering and they sometimes have to stop or take breaks. Ministers in the ministry experience this. God is not subject to such weakness. He is like an immune ebola doctor. That’s the God I need, not the doctor who might get sick from me or with me. God’s mercy is a perfection, not a passion or affection. God’s mercy is his helping the helpless. And therefore, God is the most merciful because he helps those that are entirely unlike him, and he helps those that no one else would help.

So, we can sincerely say with Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:21-24, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”

Third, anger.

This is probably the best example of the problem of human language. We get angry. Is God perfectly and eternally and infinitely angry? No. So, why do the Scriptures so often refer to God as being angry? Remove the passion from anger. When creatures get angry they cause some punishment or revenge to be poured out on the object of their wrath.

In men, our anger leads us to all kinds of terrible and wicked revenges. But in God, anger describes God’s perfect and unstoppable justice. God will cause the wicked to be punished. God will pour out judgment and punishment upon the unrighteous. God will punish sin. So, you can’t make God angry. God isn’t eternally burning with anger. Rather we use the term angry to describe God’s immutable justice. And whereas we get angry and can’t do anything about it, God perfectly brings judgment on the objects of his wrath.

It’s very difficult to think about anger without passion. There is righteous anger, but our anger is brought about by something we perceive to be bad, whether we are right or wrong. God is angry in the sense that he will cause justice and vengeance to be poured out on the unrepentant and wicked. His anger is therefore an eternal perfection, not an emotion as it is in us. 

God’s perfections of love, mercy, and justice being free from all passion, not being emotions, is what theologians refer to as impassibility. Because God is God, I AM THAT I AM, and because he is the eternal Creator, he is unchangeable, always accomplishing his purposes, but never being acted upon. God pours out love, mercy, and justice from the unchanging infinity of his perfect being. And though the Scriptures describe God in creaturely language, and though we experience God’s perfections of love, mercy, and justice in temporal sequences, we cannot conclude from our creaturely perspective that God is emotional. Rather, as the Scriptures have taught us, what we call emotions are unchanging essential perfections in God.

So, we can say with the Psalmist,

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Let those who fear the LORD say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever’ (Psalm 118:1-4).

Why Must Jesus Be both Human and Divine?

Article by Erik Raymond – original source here

Recently someone who is just beginning to investigate Christianity asked me an important question. As they are wading through the biblical data, the question came up, Why was Jesus both human and divine? Is this an important detail?  

This is an important question. It’s vital that we understand not only that Jesus was truly God and fully man, but also why it is important. 

I have found the Heidelberg Catechism quite helpful in its concise explanation. 

On question 16 we read,

Q:  Why must he be a true and righteous man?

A:   He must be a true man because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned should pay for sin. He must be a righteous man because one who himself is a sinner he cannot pay for others.

The answer here is focusing on the need for a real human nature. Why? Because the penalty for sin requires suffering in body and soul. And only a human can do this (cf. Heb. 2:14John 12:27). Jesus did not only share in our nature but also he had to identify with us in the experiences of the fall (Heb. 2:17-18). But it was essential that Christ himself did not sin in this identification with us. Otherwise, how could he pay for our sin? Berkhof writes, “Only such a truly human Mediator, who had experimental knowledge of the woes of mankind and rose superior to all temptations, could enter sympathetically into all the experiences, the trials, and the temptations of man (Heb. 2:17184:15-5:2) and be a perfect human example for his followers (Matt. 11:29Mark 10:39John 13:13-15Phil. 2:5-8Heb. 12:2-41 Pet. 2:21).  L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 319.

In short, the answer is Jesus had to be a man so that he could identify with us, suffering in our place and sympathizing with us in our weakness. 

On question 17 we read,

Q:   Why must he also be true God?

A:    So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God’s anger in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life. 

This answer focuses on the power coming from his divine nature. There is no way any mere human could bear and fully satisfy God’s wrath. By nature, this wrath is infinite in quality. In order to bear the weight of wrath, it is essential that the Savior be divine. But also, in order to satisfy this wrath, he had to offer a sacrifice of such a value that God would be pleased to accept it. Only Christ as God could bring a sacrifice of infinite and eternal value to God that he would propitiate heaven’s wrath. By virtue of his divine nature, he is able to earn for us eternal life and favor with God. Finally, the divinity of Christ means that he is able to be raised from the dead (after conquering it) and therefore apply the benefits he has earned for us. 

In short, the answer is, Jesus had to be truly God so that he could satisfy God’s wrath and secure for us true righteousness and life. 

More could be said here but certainly not less. 

If you like shorthand categories:

  • The Redeemer had to be truly human: in order to suffer and sympathize.
  • The Redeemer had to be truly divine: in order to satisfy and secure. 

Catechesis: How Young?

“For those of you in the congregation who are raising your children, how important it is that you love them sufficiently to discipline them and instruct them in the things of the Word of God, so that as they mature they do reflect the grace of God that you have come to know in Jesus Christ.” – S. Lewis Johnson

Here is 2 year old Knox, handling the first 48 questions of Catechism. Yes, you read that right!

It is a fun video to watch and very heart-warming to know that as a 2 year old, he may not grasp all the concepts and categories he is citing just now, one day he will, and the biblical truths memorized in words will stand him in great stead for the rest of his life. What a blessing this is!

Here is Knox’s big brother Carter (two years ago) at age 7. It took 2 years of ‘diligent practice’ but, as you can see, the result is more than worth the hard work involved.

Perhaps seeing Knox and Carter may encourage your family to continue with your catechism if you’ve started, or begin if you haven’t.

Here is a link to the catechism being used.

Josh Neimi, author of the book “Expository Parenting” writes: “I took the 1840 Joseph P. Engles’ Catechism and tweaked it ‘ever so slightly.'”

What About Free Will?

(repost)

Chapter 6 of the book “Twelve What Abouts” by John Samson

Why are you reading this? Yes, this particular sentence. There are billions of sentences out there just waiting to be read, in many different languages. But right now, you are reading this one. Why?

Well, it could be that some Reformed and crazed individual has put a gun to your head and told you that if you did not read these words he would shoot you. He would definitely be what some refer to as a caged stage reformer: after coming to understand the doctrines of grace, for a period of a couple of years or so, he needs to be locked up in a cage. His zeal for Reformation truth needs to be augmented with sanity in human relations! He sends books, tapes, CD’s, mp3’s, DVD’s, and e-mails to all unsuspecting victims, regardless of whether or not they have ever shown an interest in these things. Christmas is his favorite time of the year, for he’s been eagerly waiting for this opportunity to send R. C. Sproul’s book “Chosen by God” to everyone he knows. He’s on a mission alright, but the best thing would be for him to cool down for a couple of years in a cage!

However, even with the crazed reformed nut with a gun scenario, you are still making the choice to read these words rather than face the contents of the gun. You prefer to read this rather than to feel the impact of the bullet. Even now, you are reading this because you want to – right now you do, anyway. In fact, because this is your strongest inclination, there is no possible way for you to be reading anything else at this moment. It is impossible that you would be reading something other than this right now, and this will continue to be the case until you have a stronger desire to do or to read something else.

So what exactly is free will? Do people have it? Does God have it? How free is God’s will? Can He do what He wants? Can we do what we want?

These kinds of questions are not new, of course. They have been the source of countless conversations and debates amongst ordinary folk and the chief theologians of the Church throughout history. Martin Luther, in looking back over his ministry considered his book on the subject of the will to be his most important work. In Luther’s mind, to misunderstand the will is to misunderstand the Reformation doctrine of sola gratia. He stated, If anyone ascribes salvation to the will, even in the least, he knows nothing of grace and has not understood Jesus Christ aright. (Luther, quoted by C.H. Spurgeon – New Park Street Pulpit, Sermon 52, Free will – a slave, Vol One, p. 395)

I don’t believe the issue is particularly complicated, which is why I am attempting to write a brief chapter on it here. This is not an entire treatise on the will. However, I think enough can be said in a short time to get all of us thinking. Continue reading