Grace is Not Earned

Here’s a new song I am learning. I love the clear presentation of grace as the work of our Triune God through the cross and resurrection of Christ.

GRACE IS NOT EARNED
Grace is not earned, nor deserved,
It is a gift from God.
Saved by Your mercy alone,
Rescued by Your great love.
Grace is the heart of the Father,
Grace is the gift of the Son,
Grace is the work of the Spirit,
Revealing the wonder of an amazing God.

You know how often I fail
And all that I can’t undo,
Stains I’ve no means to erase,
How can I stand before You?
Christ takes the cross on His shoulders,
Steadfast to Calvary’s hill,
Leaving my sin in the grave
He rises, the conquering Son,
Such amazing love!

Raised by Your life, now in Christ,
Chosen and dearly loved,
I am now seen through Your eyes:
Righteous through Jesus’ blood!
Ransomed, restored and forgiven,
My sins are remembered no more!
Though still I’ll stumble, You’ll keep me.
By grace, I’ll continue on in unending love!

Oh the mercy, oh the mercy of our God, of our God. (repeat)

By Kate Simmonds. Copyright 2010 PhatMusic. Admin. by song Solutions CopyCare

You can download the song for free here and the guitar chords here.

And here’s a video of Kate singing the song.

HT: Bob Kauflin

Miscellaneous Quotes (7)

“Let us never forget that our feelings about Sundays are sure tests of the state of our souls. The person who can find no pleasure in giving God one day in the week, is manifestly unfit for heaven. Heaven itself is nothing but an eternal Sabbath. If we cannot enjoy a few hours in God’s service once a week in this world, it is plain that we could not enjoy an eternity in His service in the world to come.” – J.C. Ryle

“The Bible is the sceptre by which the heavenly King rules his church.” – John Calvin

“It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself… Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.” – Sinclair Ferguson

In introducing this quote Jamin Hubner writes:
Its not Scripture or even a piece from a great novel. But I found myself a little emotional while slowly reading through the following quote. When the greatest of truths comes to us in the shortest and simplest of words, it hits us like a ton of bricks, and we remember, as if waking up from a strange dream, where we are, who we are, and most importantly, who God is…Everything about God is dramatic. He is the epic Hero of the story called life. And He is personal. It’s amazing how quickly we become disoriented and forget these things.

“In the Christian religion the work of men is nothing, and it is God Himself who acts, intervenes in history, opens the way of redemption in Christ and by the power of His grace brings man into that redemption and causes him to walk in it. Special revelation is the answer which God Himself gives in word and deed to the question which through His own guidance arises in the human heart.
Immediately after the fall God already comes to man. Man has sinned and is seized upon by shame and fear. He flees his Creator and hides himself in the dense foliage of the garden. But God does not forget him. He does not let go of him, but condescends, seeks him out, talks with him, and leads him back to fellowship with Himself (Gen. 3:7-15). And this thing that happened thus immediately after the fall, continues in history from generation to generation. We see the same thing happening again and again. In the whole work of redemption it is God and God alone who manifests Himself as the seeking and the calling One, and as the speaking and acting One.” – Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, 267.

“We do not give birth to ourselves, we are not reborn because we believe. We believe because we are reborn.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ; the more like Him the better. And the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“The biggest challenge for the scholar is to be able to communicate what he’s learned at a simple level without distorting the truth.” – R. C. Sproul

“If one man should suffer all the sorrows of all the saints in the world, yet they are not worth one hour’s glory in heaven.” – Chrysostom

“God just doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, pulls up a corpse, takes him up on the bank, breathes the breath of life into him, and makes him alive.” – R. C. Sproul

In the book Whatever Happened to Hell?, British evangelical John Blanchard writes these memorable words about universalism: “Universalism originated in the Garden of Eden when Satan brushed aside God’s warning and assured Eve, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4)… All the ways to hell are one-way streets. The idea that those who go there will eventually be released to join the rest of humanity in heaven has not a shred of biblical evidence to support it. Children are sometimes told fictional adventure stories with the delightful ending: “And they all lived happily ever after.” We call that kind of story a fairy tale. Universalism is exactly that.” (pp. 204, 208; quoted in Robert Peterson, Hell on Trial)

“I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48;Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7;Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25;John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)” – John Piper

The Trinity Saves!

The Trinity Saves! The Bible teaches that the Father elects a particular people, the Son redeems them and the Holy Spirit convicts, regenerates and unites them to Jesus Christ. The Trinity works in harmony to make certain God’s eternal will is accomplished (Eph 1:3-5; John 6:63-65), infallibly bringing it to pass.

In a recent interview, Dr. J.I. Packer was asked which theological issues he would commend young Christian leaders to study in order to be prepared for the next fifty years. His number one answer was “Regeneration.”

He said that the doctrine of regeneration has not been fully appreciated by many who do not understand that to be born again with a new heart and new nature means that we have at our deepest level a new identity and new passionate desires for God’s Word and ways. He commended to all young Christian leaders a thorough study on the doctrine of regeneration.

I’m excited to see essays on this vital theme by some of the greats in Church history become available in an e-book format. I hope it has a wide distribution.

Thanks to the graciousness of the Editor, John Hendryx, I was given the privilege of contributing one of the chapters entitled “The Wind Blows Where It Wishes.”

You can find further information on this e-book here.

While True Kingdom Work Goes On…

Michael Newnham at if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual.” So says Ted Haggard in a new interview in GQ magazine.

The article contains some other salacious details of what the former head of the National Association of Evangelicals used to do with his free time that I won’t print here along with much whining about what happened when he was caught.

I have a final response I’d like to make to Mr. Haggard, but I can’t print that either. The words “shut up” and “go away” are in the phrase I would choose… along with some extra words to make understanding clear.

The truth is that unless you live in Colorado and go to his church, Ted Haggard is utterly irrelevant to you and me. The internet, with Facebook and Twitter and myriad other “social networks” has turned us all into voyeurs and gossips obsessed with other people’s business and mostly uninformed about anything important. In the meantime, real people who are really doing the work of the Lord are ignored.

We listen to the pathetic whimpering of Haggard when we should be sitting at the feet of Peterson, Fee, and Packer gleaning every last bit of wisdom we can before they are taken home.

Thousands of volunteers are teaching school kids about the love of Christ in secular schools and we don’t even know they exist. The faithful local pastor is scorned unless he has a “media ministry” with his name on it. We, I, …should be ashamed.

Today, as an act of rebellion against rising tide of self promotion and religious weasels lets find someone faithful and thank them for their anonymous work in building the real kingdom of God.”

He goes on to suggest supporting a ministry you believe in with a special offering. He writes, “Shoot an email to your pastor or the Sunday School teacher that is there every week for your kids or grand kids and thank them for being there. Stop by the school and thank a teacher for the work they are doing in a hostile environment. Care about somebody and something that matters today… make a difference where you are. You can, you know…”

As I said, I think he nails it!

The End of Racism

Question: How many “races” are there in the world?

What is the Answer?: One? Four? Six? More than six?

And where the rubber meets the road…

“What if a Chinese person were to marry a Polynesian, or an African with black skin were to marry a Japanese, or a person from India were to marry a person from America with white skin—would these marriages be in accord with biblical principles? A significant number of Christians would claim that such “interracial” marriages directly violate God’s principles in the Bible and should not be allowed. Does the Word of God really condemn the marriages mentioned above? Is there ultimately any such thing as interracial marriage?

In an article in the Journal of Counseling and Development, 12 researchers argued that the term “race” is basically so meaningless that it should be discarded. More recently, those working on mapping the human genome announced “that they had put together a draft of the entire sequence of the human genome, and the researchers had unanimously declared, there is only one race—the human race.”

Personally, because of the influences of Darwinian evolution and the resulting prejudices, I believe everyone (and especially Christians) should abandon the term “race(s).” We could refer instead to the different “people groups” around the world…

The Bible does not even use the word race in reference to people, but it does describe all human beings as being of “one blood” (Acts 17:26). This of course emphasizes that we are all related, as all humans are descendants of the first man, Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), who was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). The Last Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45) also became a descendant of Adam. Any descendant of Adam can be saved because our mutual relative by blood (Jesus Christ) died and rose again. This is why the gospel can (and should) be preached to all tribes and nations…

If one wants to use the term “interracial,” then the real interracial marriage that God says we should not enter into is when a child of the Last Adam (one who is a new creation in Christ—a Christian) marries one who is an unconverted child of the First Adam (one who is dead in trespasses and sin—a non-Christian).”

Properly understood (as Ken Ham explains in the video below), the Biblical account of our origins found in the book of Genesis provides the basis for the end of all racism. I encourage everyone to read this article here and to watch the following video. Both contain great insight.

Differences with Rome

Just this week I came across Hamilton, Ontario. I particularly enjoyed reading his “Letter to a friend.” Here he outlines the major differences between Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrine both with precision and brevity.

Letter to a Friend By Wes Bredenhof

Some time ago, a friend asked me for some help in figuring out the differences between Roman Catholicism and the biblical faith confessed by Reformed churches. This was my reply:

I think you hit it dead on when you mentioned the “solas” of the Reformation. The “solas” strike at the heart of the differences between Rome and Reformed churches.

Grace Alone

Rome states that salvation is by grace — as your correspondents above have argued. However, it is grace plus man’s effort. The traditional Roman Catholic formulation is, “God will not deny his grace to those who do what is in their power.” In more modern terms, “God helps those who help themselves.” The technical term for this is semi-Pelagianism. Man is not spiritually dead, but only sick and needs a little help from grace.

By contrast, the Reformed churches state that salvation is by grace alone — grace being defined as unmerited or even forfeited divine favour, receiving the opposite of what one deserves. Man is dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), his heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9) and he can do nothing to help himself. This is the traditional Augustinian position — it was emphatically not a Reformation innovation. It is only and entirely by God’s grace that man is saved.

Faith Alone

Rome states that people are justified by faith. However, Rome has explicitly denied that justification is by faith alone and in fact condemns Reformed believers who hold to this position:

If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning thereby that no other cooperation is required for him to obtain the grace of justification, and that in no sense is it necessary for him to make preparation and be disposed by a movement of his own will: let him be anathema [accursed] (Council of Trent, session 6, canon 9).

Moreover, according to Rome, justification is a life-long process by which we are made righteous, rather than a one-time event where we are declared righteous. We must, they say, increase and preserve our justification. Finally, faith is also redefined by Rome to include good works and these good works become part of the meritorious basis of justification.

By contrast, the Reformed churches state that justification is by faith alone (Romans 3-4). God declares us righteous (a one-time event) not on the basis of our faith, but through the instrument of our faith. We’ll come to the basis in a moment.
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O Sweet Exchange!

But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!”

The quote is from The Epistle to Diognetus 9, translated by Roberts-Donaldson. This text dates from early to mid 2nd century AD. It is an early indication that the doctrines of substitutionary atonement and double imputation were not first the product of the Protestant Reformation, but were held dear by the earliest generations of Christians. The author is unknown – he refers to himself simply as a mathetes “disciple”.

TULIP (5)

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” – Romans 11:5, 6

In this the fifth session in our biblical study of the Doctrines of Grace, Dr. John Piper deals with the subject of Unconditional Election. Here are a few quotes, as we get started:

“Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it. To me, it is one of the sweetest and most blessed truths in the whole of revelation, and those who are afraid of it are so because they do not understand it. If they could but know that the Lord had chosen them it would make their hearts dance with joy.” – C. H. Spurgeon

“The verb “elect” means to select, or choose out. The biblical doctrine of election is that before the Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify and glorify in and through Jesus Christ. This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter of endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so, when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect.” – Dr. J. I. Packer

“I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.” – C. H. Spurgeon

“God intentionally designed salvation so that no man can boast of it. He didn’t merely arrange it so that boasting would be discouraged or kept to a minimum – He planned it so that boasting would be absolutely excluded. Election does precisely that.” – Mark Webb

“Some people today say that they are perplexed by the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and election. I am amazed that anyone who believes in God should stumble at God’s sovereignty and election. For if there is a God, a King, eternal, imortal, invisible, and almighty, He has to be sovereign, and He must do all things according to His will, and He must choose according to His purpose! Whom shall He consult? With whom shall He seek counsel and advice? One may DISLIKE THESE DOCTRINES; but you cannot get rid of them without denying altogether the existence of the infinite, wise, glorious God of heaven and earth. God would not be God were He not absolutely sovereign in His eternal pre-arrangments and His present doings. – Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

“The doctrines of our election, and free justification in Christ Jesus are daily more and more pressed upon my heart. They fill my soul with a holy fire and afford me great confidence in God my Saviour.” – George Whitefield, Works, p. 79

“Oh, the excellency of the doctrine of election and of the saint’s final perseverance! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come to himself, but when convinced of these, and assured of their application to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed! . . . Love, not fear, constrains him to obedience.” – George Whitefield, Works, p. 101

“To know that from eternity my Maker, foreseeing my sin, foreloved me and resolved to save me, though it would be at the cost of Calvary; to know that the divine Son was appointed from eternity to be my Savior, and that in love he became man for me and died for me and now lives to intercede for me and will one day come in person to take me home; to know that the Lord ‘who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20) and who ‘came and preached peace’ to me through his messengers (Eph. 2:17) has by his Spirit raised me from spiritual death to life-giving union and communion with himself, and has promised to hold me fast and never let me go – this is knowledge that brings overwhelming gratitude and joy.” – Dr. J. I. Packer

Here then is the fifth video in the series, lasting just under 51 minutes:

The sixth video is now posted here.

Saved By God, From God, For God

Christians are notorious for using a vocabulary that is not always understood by those around them. There’s no doubt that we have our own lingo and jargon.

One such word is the word “saved.” Often, Christians ask unsuspecting neighbors, colleagues and friends the question, “are you saved?” and usually receive only puzzled expressions in response. These folk are desperately trying to understand the question, but have no reference point whatsoever from which to make an assessment of how to answer. The Christian, on the other hand, seeing this as a wonderful opportunity to evangelize, usually pounces on this hesitation, though just how much is communicated in such times is open to debate. Though the Christian is usually sincere in desiring to share his faith, he needs to provide some foundation for the person to understand what he is seeking to communicate.

Yet in saying this, the word “saved” is very much a biblical word. The scripture says, “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

But what exactly is this referring to? What is it that those who call on the name of the Lord are saved from?

Well let’s take a look at the word “saved.” It is a word we use quite often, especially in the world of sports. We talk of a goalkeeper making a great “save,” or a boxer being “saved” by the bell. When used in this context, the word “saved” does not have any eternal significance to it whatsoever, but refers instead to a present day deliverance or rescue from calamity. The goalkeeper doesn’t provide eternal life for his team mates when he makes a save, but merely prevents a calamity – conceding a goal to the opposing team. The boxer doesn’t gain heavenly bliss because the bell rings, but the sounding of the bell signaled the end of a round when it looked certain that the fighter was about to lose the fight. Again, the word saved refers to being rescued from a calamity.

So what exactly does the Bible mean then when it talks of our need to be saved? What is the calamity from which we need to be rescued?

The Bible’s answer is a very clear one. God is holy and He is just. That’s not good news if we happen to be sinners, which the Bible declares that we are. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But thank God, that’s not the end of the story. But it gets a lot worse before it gets better!

God is good. God is also just. God is therefore a good judge and must punish sin. God’s justice will be meted out precisely as justice demands it – which when you think about it, is the worst of all possible news for us. We won’t be able to get away with anything – all the secrets of our hearts will be exposed, and we will be called to give an account of our lives. What is worse is that the sins we have committed are so grievous to Him that the punishment for sin is eternal in duration. In fact, rather than the judgment we will face being merely being left or abandoned by God, God is actually active in pouring out His wrath against our sin.
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