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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (6): Justification by Faith Alone

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (6): Justification by Faith Alone
How, then, do we become partakers of Christ’s perfect righteousness so that it becomes ours? God imputes it to us or he reckons it to our account by faith. The instrument or means of justification is faith, not works. Faith is the only appropriating instrument: we are not justified by working, or by repenting, but by believing. Read More

The Biblical Concept of Grace

The Biblical Concept of Grace
To arrive at an accurate conception of the operation of the will of God, we cannot proceed from the meaning of the word grace in our everyday usage of the term, nor even from its usage in Holy Scripture. We must study specific terms and the use of words, but it must be done with great care. We always run into the danger of arguing from something in man to what is in God. That is the re- verse order. We must work theologically. God Himself determines the character of His will, grace, love, hate, wrath, and so forth. But it is also true that we know nothing definite about God apart from God’s revelation in Scripture. And so we must have a clearly defined idea of God and the operation of His will, which we get from God’s self-revelation, before we say anything at all. Such submission to the same Word of God’s revelation must also be present when we consider election by His grace, and the accompanying reprobation of His wrath, because both are the operation of His eternal will. Read More

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (5): Forgiveness and Justification Distinguished

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (5): Forgiveness and Justification Distinguished
One of the problems with an emphasis upon eternal justification is that justification by faith becomes simply a realization that we were always justified, not an actual point in time when our legal status changed and we were declared righteous. This leads to the extreme view that we were always saved, never lost, which would be news to a man like Zacchaeus: “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham: for the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10). Read More

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (4): Forgiveness of Sins

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (4): Forgiveness of Sins

In the minds of some, forgiveness of sins is the same thing as justification by faith alone and, since we are justified by faith alone without works (and the same people often define repentance as a work), to connect the forgiveness of sins in any way with repentance jeopardizes the truth of justification by faith alone. Therefore, with due deference to the fundamental truth of justification by faith alone we proceed carefully.

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (3): Classifying Repentance (b)

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (3): Classifying Repentance (b)

Repentance is not faith and faith is not repentance. Faith is knowledge, confidence, trust, and assurance. Repentance is a change of mind. Nevertheless, faith and repentance are inseparably connected. Since we believe in Christ for salvation from sin, we necessarily repent of our sins at the same time. We cannot look to Christ in faith for salvation from sin while we hold to our sins. If we have true faith, we change our mind concerning our sins. Thus repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin: by faith we look to Christ and by repentance we look away from sin. Thus Paul summarizes his preaching in Ephesus in Acts 20:21: “Testifying both to the Jews and the Greeks repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (2): Classifying Repentance (a)

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (2): Classifying Repentance (a)

Repentance is a change of mind, which leads to the turning from evil works. In addition, Heidelberg Catechism A 91 defines good works, and does not include repentance in that definition: “Only those which proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to his glory.” When we repent, we do not perform a work in obedience to the law of God. The law says, “Do” and “Do not.” If we say, as penitent sinners, “I now know that what I did was wrong (I have changed my mind about it—metanoia) and I am sorry (I regret it),” we do not by that do what the law requires. We simply express regret that we have not done what the law requires. The law is not satisfied with regret; it requires and demands obedience.

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (1): Repentance

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (1): Repentance
We remember that God forbids such words and actions, and the Spirit begins to work in our hearts. We feel guilty. Our conscience smites us. We change our mind. We see the evil of our words and actions. We have an afterthought; we regret what we did, we feel sorry about it. That is metanoia or repentance. Read More

God Producing Both the Will to Believe and the Act of Believing Also

God Producing Both the Will to Believe and the Act of Believing Also
Scripture teaches that when God regenerates a man, he does not leave it to the good pleasure of the man’s will to believe or not: “not such a mode of operation that after God has performed his part it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not” (Canons 3-4.12). Rather this: when God works faith in a man, that man believes: When God confers repentance on a man, that man repents.
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"Incorporating us into the fellowship of his death and resurrection"

"Incorporating us into the fellowship of his death and resurrection"

Fellowship into Christ’s death is for the Lord’s child the death of death, that is, the death of his spiritual and eternal death. It is the destruction of destruction; the corruption of corruption. And the resurrection? It calls out to this child, live the life!

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Peter's Chastisement and Canons V: A Reminder

Peter's Chastisement and Canons V: A Reminder

This series of blog posts was published from September 15, 2021 to October 11, 2021. It explains key sections of Canons Head V and applies them to the life and experience of Peter. We believe that our readers would profit from re-reading them. We include the links (hover and click on the blog titles) and a short excerpt from each blog post below.   1) Peter: Sinfully Deviating from the Guidance of Divine Grace When we sin, we must not say, “Oh,...

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Avoiding All Lies and Deceit (3): Avoiding this Evil in the Church

Avoiding All Lies and Deceit (3): Avoiding this Evil in the Church

Backbiting, slandering, rash judging, and falsifying a man’s words are the atmosphere in which bitterness against the office-bearers—the pastor because his sermons are not “up to snuff,” and the elders because they do not do anything about it—grows. And children who are present soak in that bitterness so that they, too, despise the pastor and the elders, which has a devastating effect upon their ability to receive the catechism instruction from their pastor. 

God is not glorified in that no matter how zealous for the truth the group appears to be. If the pastor has weaknesses and infirmities, the members must bear patiently with him. If they are serious weaknesses, the elders must address them in a proper way. Raising sects and mutiny in the church under the guise of defending the truth is never justified in a faithful Christian, but is the sinful way of schism.

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Avoiding All Lies and Deceit (2): Receive No Evil

Avoiding All Lies and Deceit (2): Receive No Evil
We transgress this commandment when we speak lies, especially lies against others, by backbiting, slandering, twisting men’s words, and bearing false witness against them. We transgress this commandment when we receive lies about others, believing evil about others when we find it convenient to do so. We also transgress this commandment when we do nothing. We hear an evil report, and perhaps we do not give much credence to it, but we do not rebuke the bringer of the evil report. We do not put a stop to the gossip, backbiter, or slanderer, but we allow him to continue to spread his lies. We do nothing to protect the good name of our brother or sister, but allow his name to be trampled into the mud. Read More

Avoiding All Lies and Deceit (1): Speak No Evil

Avoiding All Lies and Deceit (1): Speak No Evil

Jesus' enemies deliberately changed the meaning of the Lord’s words to suit their own wicked purposes, which was to secure condemnation against Jesus or to curry favor with the religious leaders of Israel. It is also possible to falsify a man’s words, even if you quote him verbatim. You omit from your quote a qualifying statement that further explains the intention of the neighbor. The result is that you deliberately make him seem to say something that he did not actually mean. To falsify a man’s words is wicked, because a man himself must determine his own meaning. We may not impose a foreign meaning on our neighbor’s words. If a man is unclear, then in charity we must seek to determine the meaning of his words either by asking him or, if that is not possible, by reading his words carefully in their context.

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The Reformed Confessions on the regenerated, but imperfect, Christian

The Reformed Confessions on the regenerated, but imperfect, Christian

Collected by Martyn McGeown. Emphases are added. _________ Let us take a step back and drink in the wisdom of our Reformed forefathers, who set forth beautifully the truth of our salvation, including our spiritual renewal by the grace of God, in the Reformed Confessions. We may comment on some of these passages from our creeds in future blog posts. Zacharias Ursinus: “Deliverance from sin includes the pardon of sin, that it may not be imputed unto us, and an abolishing of...

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