The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 5, Sin (Tom Buck)

[Editorial Note: This is the fifth post in a series of posts in which we have invited the authors of “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” to expound upon the statement’s affirmations and denials. We encourage our readers to take the time to read through our prefatory editorial note at the beginning of the first post prior to reading through subsequent posts in the series.]
Article 5: Sin
WE AFFIRM that all people are connected to Adam both naturally and federally. Therefore, because of original sin everyone is born under the curse of God’s law and all break his commandments through sin. There is no difference in the condition of sinners due to age, ethnicity, or sex. All are depraved in all their faculties and all stand condemned before God’s law. All human relationships, systems, and institutions have been affected by sin.

WE DENY that, other than the previously stated connection to Adam, any person is morally culpable for another person’s sin. Although families, groups, and nations can sin collectively, and cultures can be predisposed to particular sins, subsequent generations share the collective guilt of their ancestors only if they approve and embrace (or attempt to justify) those sins. Before God each person must repent and confess his or her own sins in order to receive forgiveness. We further deny that one’s ethnicity establishes any necessary connection to any particular sin.

Recognition and repentance of sin are both central to the proclamation of the gospel. When Peter preached to the Jews at Pentecost, he confronted their sin by declaring, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).

When the crowd recognized their guilt, their hearts were pierced, and they cried out to ask what they must do. Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, an…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

What Does It Mean to Enter God’s Rest? (Robert Brady)

This month the Alliance is pleased to offer its latest book, Entering God’s Rest: The Sabbath from Genesis to Revelation (And What It Means for You) by Ken Golden.God provides rest for His people, yet the way we rest on Sunday remains a divisive issue in the Church. How can we honor the biblical commandment while upholding liberty of conscience? To answer that question, Pastor Ken Golden turns to the Bible itself.Ken writes, “The world offers many definitions of rest, but Christians should consider God’s definition of rest…God gives us physical rest (Prov. 3:24) and refreshment (Mk. 6:31). Yet the Bible goes much deeper than our shallow definitions…Is Sabbath observance a ‘one size fits all’ practice, or is it informed by specific circumstances?”We encourage you to order Entering God’s Rest this month for a special introductory price. Available at ReformedResources.org.”Pastor Golden is one of those who takes the Lord’s Day seriously, who has thought about it deeply, and who desires to observe it, in honor of Christ and for the welfare of the church… His study is exegetically careful, theologically balanced, and spiritually edifying.”David VanDrunenWestminster Seminary CaliforniaTitle: Entering God’s Rest: The Sabbath from Genesis to Revelation (And What It Means for You)Author: Ken GoldenPages: 112Publication Date: September 2018Topic: Christian Living, Redemptive History, WorshipContents:Foreword Introduction Chapter 1: The Goal of MankindChapter 2: The Mosaic SabbathChapter 3: Levitical SabbathsChapter 4: Sabbath AttitudesChapter 5: Fencing the SabbathChapter 6: Sabbath TransferChapter 7: Sabbath LibertyChapter 8: Present and Future RestChapter 9: Sabbath WisdomAfterwordAppendix I: SummaryAppendix II: The Sabbath in Isaiah…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 4, God’s Law (Tom Ascol)

[Editorial Note: This is the fourth post in a series of posts in which we have invited the authors of “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” to expound upon the statement’s affirmations and denials. We encourage our readers to take the time to read through our prefatory editorial note at the beginning of the first post prior to reading through subsequent posts in the series.]Article 4: God’s Law

WE AFFIRM that God’s law, as summarized in the ten commandments, more succinctly summarized in the two great commandments, and manifested in Jesus Christ, is the only standard of unchanging righteousness. Violation of that law is what constitutes sin.

WE DENY that any obligation that does not arise from God’s commandments can be legitimately imposed on Christians as a prescription for righteous living. We further deny the legitimacy of any charge of sin or call to repentance that does not arise from a violation of God’s commandments.

The same God who gave us the gospel has also given us his law. This point can be easily overlooked by Christians who are concerned to be centered on the gospel. That concern is appropriate and those believers who have lived through seasons where the gospel was neglected or at best assumed are understandably sensitive to anything that would compete with its pride of place in the life of the church. However, we can never honor God’s gospel by despising his law.

In fact, lack of clarity about the nature and significance of the law inevitably results in a lack of clarity or even confusion about the gospel. A clear understanding of God’s law provides the foundation for the proclamation of the gospel. I agree with John Bunyan, who wrote, “The man who does not know the nature of the law cannot know the nature of sin. And he who does not know the nature of sin cannot know the nature of the Savior.”

Article 4 of the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel is vital because it gets at the foundation of much that is being e…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

A Silence on Separation (Paul Washer)

Today there is a void of serious teaching about holiness in life. There is, of course, a general teaching on holiness that everyone agrees on. “Let us be holy,” they say, “we need to be more holy. Why not have a holiness conference?” But when you get specific about what that means, everything boils over.

“Follow peace with all men,” the writer of Hebrews tells us, “and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Does anybody believe this? A pastor says, “But I have been blamed so often for teaching ‘works’ religion.” This goes back again to the principle of regeneration and the providence of God. If God truly converts a man, He will continue working in that man, through teaching, blessing, admonition, and discipline. He will see to it that the work He has begun will be finished. And that is why the writer says that without holiness, “no man shall see the Lord.” Why? Because if there is no growth in holiness, then God is not working in your life. And if He is not working in your life, it is because you are not His child!

Look at the difference between Jacob and Esau. “Jacob have I loved…Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13). Yet God fulfilled all His promises to both of them. Jacob was blessed; Esau was blessed. How did God demonstrate His judgments and wrath against Esau and His love toward Jacob? First, He let them both run wild. But in Esau there was no work of discipline, no work of godly correction–nothing. This was the wrath of God on him! But God severely disciplined Jacob almost every day of his life. This was the love of God for him! It was the loving discipline, the correction of God, to bring him to holiness. And it is the same for all true believers today.

Furthermore, the Lord says through Paul,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye trans- formed by the renewin…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper? (Nick Batzig)

One exegetical consideration upon which I have never truly been settled is that which concerns the meaning of the word παράκλητος (Paraklete)–as it appears in such places in Scripture as 1 John 2:1 and John 14:16. The list of translation options from which we may choose includes such glosses as Comforter, Counsellor, Advocate, Helper, Keeper and Encourager. I have long been undecided to how to come to a settle opinion about the proper gloss. On the surface, all of these translations have their merit. However, we will only ever determine the meaning of the word based on the context in which it appears in Scripture.

Needless to say, I was delighted to find a treatment of the meaning of this word in Geehardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics. Vos gave the word two individual meanings, based on its respective exegetical contexts. The first is that which is tied to the teaching of 1 John 2:1. Vos wrote:”[Jesus] is called our Substitute or Advocate. He is α παράκλητος, Paraclete (1 John 2:1). One should note that the word paraclete is used in a double sense in the New Testament. It is originally a passive form and means ‘someone who is called to help’–that is, an advocate. Since, however, an advocate can also take the place of someone whom he helps, the word at the same time also takes on the meaning of “substitute.” It is so used of Christ in the passage just cited (1 John 2:1): ‘And if anyone sins, we have an advocate (a substituting intercessor) with the Father.’ This is the first meaning.”1The second meaning Vos gave the word is associated with Jesus teaching about himself and the Spirit–the other παράκλητος–in John 14. He explained:”The word is taken in a somewhat different sense when Christ calls Himself ‘Paraclete’ for believers and promises them the Spirit as another Paraclete (John 14:16): ‘And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete, that He may be with you forever.’ Here the Paraclete is ‘counsel-giving advocate.’ The H…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 3, Justice (Phil Johnson)

[Editorial Note: This is the third post in a series of posts in which we have invited the authors of “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” to expound upon the statement’s affirmations and denials. We encourage our readers to take the time to read through our prefatory editorial note at the beginning of the first post prior to reading through subsequent posts in the series.]

Article 3: JusticeWE AFFIRM that since he is holy, righteous, and just, God requires those who bear his image to live justly in the world. This includes showing appropriate respect to every person and giving to each one what he or she is due. We affirm that societies must establish laws to correct injustices that have been imposed through cultural prejudice.

WE DENY that true justice can be culturally defined or that standards of justice that are merely socially constructed can be imposed with the same authority as those that are derived from Scripture. We further deny that Christians can live justly in the world under any principles other than the biblical standard of righteousness. Relativism, socially-constructed standards of truth or morality, and notions of virtue and vice that are constantly in flux cannot result in authentic justice.

Justice is, of course, a major theme in Scripture. In fact, it’s a much larger concept–and more central to the Gospel–than most people realize. In both Hebrew and Greek, the words translated “justice” and “just” are the same words normally translated “righteousness” and “righteous.” No distinction is made in the original text of Scripture. The biblical idea of justice encompasses everything the Bible says about righteousness.

In English, when we use the word justice, we normally have in mind evenhanded impartiality (especially in the realm of law and civic affairs). The dictionary defines justice as “maintenance of legal, social, or moral principles by the exercise of authority or power–including the assignment of deserved rew…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

Praying Through the Scriptures: Galatians 6 (Chad Van Dixhoorn)

Over the years it has been my practice, learned from others, to offer up praises and petitions framed by a passage of Scripture. Some of these passages were read in preparation for preaching, others offered material for meditation in daily devotion; still others were plundered specifically for the purpose of finding fresh material for prayer. As I continue to learn how to pray I have shared a few prayers with my family and friends for their use or adaptation. The Alliance has asked me to share some with you too. Here are the prayers we have considered so far followed by the next prayer in this meditative series:

Genesis 1

Genesis 2

Deuteronomy 3

Joshua 23

Joshua 24; Acts 4

Judges 2; Acts 6

Galatians 5:16-26

Acts 7

Acts 8

 

Galatians 6
Gracious Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, and humbled be our own. We come to set your name above all others, for you alone are God; yours is the power and the glory and the honour. You are worthy of all praise and adoration for the glory of your character, for the goodness of your actions, for the grace of your salvation.
And so we ask, O Lord, that you would keep us from bragging. Keep us from thinking that we are really something, when we are nothing. Let us each test our own work, bear our own load, and correct fellow transgressors with a spirit of gentleness, keeping a watch on our own selves. Support us in doing good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Prevent us from growing weary; prompt us to remember that in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
And even as we ask that you would make us better servants, we beg that you would keep us from boasting. Stop us from boasting in anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to us, and us to the world. Make his suffering the talk of our day, his sorrows the source of our joys, his work, and not our own, the comfort of our hearts. Help us to walk by this rule. And may your peac…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

To Know Ourselves… (Sinclair Ferguson)

Calvin’s Institutes opens with a strikingly important sentence–crafted first by a young man in his mid-twenties and only fine tuned between its first appearance in 1536 and its final expression a few years before his death. Wisdom–the knowledge coupled with practical understanding and piety that is the underlying concern of the entire project–involves knowing God and knowing ourselves. Truly to know ourselves we need to know God; come to know God and at last we see ourselves in our true context.
The thought–as commentators on the Institutes point out–is not entirely original.  But its roots (as they do not always note) go way beyond the Augustinian tradition of theology, to the opening chapter of the Bible.  God made man as his image (Gen. 1:26). Our creation, our very being, is defined by that relationship to him. Living makes sense and gives joy only when we live out that relationship before him.  So the question “What is man?” must be answered by a sentence that has a reference to God in it.
When, in the pursuit of the project of the self, we a priori exclude the person of God we not only cut ourselves off from knowing him, but from knowing ourselves. The project ends in frustration.  Fulfilled life requires that we know God in Jesus Christ (Jn 17:3).  By implication, exclude him and we lose all sense of proportion. For when we measure ourselves by ourselves we turn out to be the ideal height! But when we are persuaded that God is the fountain of every good, and we seek and find him (or are found by him), then, says Calvin, we begin to taste “complete happiness.” Only then will we gladly give ourselves to the Lord. Who Is He?
If my first question about God is “What is he?” then I am already mistaken. The really important question is “Who is he?” “What is God like?” The biblical answer is that he is the fountain of all good and that he reveals himself as such in creation.  Yes he is a Judge. The naïve reader would expect Ca…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

Let the Alliance promote you to our members this Reformation Sunday! (Robert Brady)

Reformation Sunday is an opportunity to affirm our doctrinal convictions and to praise God for His ongoing reformation in the Church. The Alliance wants to promote your event to our members. We will share this information multiple times in hopes that the protestant church turns out to celebrate the courage it took to be protestant. Visit ReformationSunday.org to sign-up and while you are there download free resources for you and your church. The Alliance works to encourage, embolden, and equip ministers and other church leaders for the work of biblical reformation in the churches. To this end, we:Support the formation of Reformation Societies around the worldHost pastors’ conferences and events for church leaders like the Faithful Shepherd RetreatEncourage biblical thinking, worship, ministry, and constructive cultural critique though reformation21.org and MortificationofSpin.orgProduce resources that support the work being done in the churchWe hope you will join us, as we not only commemorate the Reformation but also as we proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church. Soli Deo gloria.Join today at ReformationSunday.org….

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 2, The Imago Dei (James White)

[Editorial Note: This is the second post in a series of posts in which we have invited the authors of “The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” to expound upon the statement’s affirmations and denials. We encourage our readers to take the time to read through our prefatory editorial note at the beginning of the first post prior to reading through subsequent posts in the series.]
Article 2: The Imago Dei
WE AFFIRM that God created every person equally in his own image. As divine image-bearers, all people have inestimable value and dignity before God and deserve honor, respect and protection. Everyone has been created by God and for God.
WE DENY that God-given roles, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, sex or physical condition or any other property of a person either negates or contributes to that individual’s worth as an image-bearer of God.
The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, after proclaiming the highest view of Scripture, affirms, briefly but forcefully, the reality of the creation of mankind, all ethnicities, all tribes, all peoples, in the imago Dei, the image of God. While this affirmation would have been supercilious only a few centuries ago, today, especially in Western culture, it is not only necessary, it is almost startling.
Christianity’s doctrine of man has always been grounded in the reality of God as Creator. The entirety of the narrative of salvation in the Christian Scriptures, the Bible, is based upon God’s power and might seen most importantly in His being called “Creator.” Since God is the origin and source of all things, He defines them, gives them meaning, and this is the ground we have of confidence in being able to obtain true knowledge of the universe around us and even of our own selves. Without a Creator, we are left awash in a vast expanse that is random and chaotic.
As the West has worked very hard to distance its thought from the idea of a Creator (most often so as to allow for sexual license and exp…

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog