“Awaiting the City of God” by R.C. Sproul

“Awaiting the City of God”

R.C. Sproul

Dr. R.C. Sproul

Evangelical Christians love America. Some see in her the last hope of creating a Christian nation. But it is not a Christian nation. It is pagan to the core. It is in danger of becoming, if it is not already, the new “Evil Empire.” The Mayflower Compact is a museum piece, a relic of a forgotten era. “In God We Trust” is now a lie.

Yes, we must always work for social reform. Yes, we must be “profane” in Martin Luther’s sense of going out of the temple and into the world. We do not despise the country of our birth. But in what do we invest our hope? The state is not God. The nation is not the Promised Land. The president is not our King. The Congress is not our Savior. Our welfare can never be found in the city of man. The federal government is not sovereign. We live—in every age and in every generation—by the rivers of Babylon. We need to understand that clearly. We must learn how to sing the Lord’s song in a strange and foreign land.

America will fall. The United States will inevitably disintegrate. The Stars and Stripes will bleed. The White House will turn to rubble. That is certain. We stand like Augustine before the sea. We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to, we ask for the grace to accept its demise. In either case, we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

Coram Deo: Are you looking to your King and to your eternal destiny, despite the circumstances around you? Keep your focus on the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

1 Corinthians 15:50: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”

John 3:5: “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’”

2 Peter 1:11: “An entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343 www.ligonier.org

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“Get Books Into Your Houses” — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)

More writings by the same author


Thomas Watson,

Get books into your houses, when you have not the spring near you, then get some water into your cisterns; so when you have not that wholesome preaching that you desire, good books are cisterns that hold the water of life in them to refresh you; so, when you find a chillness upon your souls, and that your former heat begins to abate, ply yourselves with warm clothes, get those good books that may acquaint you with such truths as may warm and affect your hearts. — Thomas Watson (c.1620—1686)

“Letters Of Love In Black Edged-Envelopes” — Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

“How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace. These clouds will empty themselves before long, and every tender herb will be gladder for the shower. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with mercy. Our Lord’s love letters often come to us in black-edged envelopes. His wagons rumble, but they are loaded with benefits. His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. Let us not worry about the clouds, but sing because May flowers are brought to us through the April clouds and showers.” — Charles Spurgeon (1834—1892)

“Comfort in all your trouble” — Charles Spurgeon

We seldom learn much except as it is beaten into us by
the rod, in Christ’s school-house, under Madam Trouble.

You, believer, have very special comfort in all your trouble.

You have this sweet reflection- that there is no curse in your cross.

The cross may be very heavy, especially while it is green, and
our shoulders unused to carrying it; but remember, though there
may be a ton-weight of sorrow in it, there is not a single ounce
of the curse in it.

God does never punish his children in the sense of avenging justice.
He chastens as a father does his child, but he does never punish his
redeemed ones as a judge does a criminal.
It would be unjust to exact punishment from redeemed souls since
Christ has been punished in their place and stead. How shall the
Lord punish twice for one offense? If Christ took my sins and
stood as my substitute, then there is no wrath of God for me; and
though my cup may be bitter, yet there cannot be a single drop
of the wormwood of Almighty wrath in it.

I may have to smart, but it will never be beneath the lictor’s
rods of justice, but under the Parent’s rod of wisdom.

O Christian, how sweet this ought to be to you!

A God of love inflicts our sorrows!

He is as good when he chastens as when he caresses!
There is no more wrath in his afflicting providences than
in his deeds of bounty. God may seem unkind to unbelief,
but faith can always see love in his heart.

Strike, Lord, if you will, now that you have heard the
Savior’s plea and justified our souls.

Consider everything that you have to suffer as the
appointment of wisdom, ruled by love, and you will
rejoice in all your tribulation, knowing that it shall
reveal to you the loving-kindness and wisdom of your God.

You have this comfort, that your trials work your lasting
good by bringing you nearer and nearer to your God.

Some Christians have their trials in the shape of sickness.
They drag about with them a diseased body all their lives;
or they are suddenly cast upon the bed of sickness, and
they toss to and fro by night and by day in pain and weariness.

This is God’s medicine; and when God’s children have it,
let them not think it is sent to kill them, but to heal them. — Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) “THE BARLEY-FIELD ON FIRE” RT: Grace Gems

John MacArthur: On What Happens To A Christian Who Sins Just Before Dying

Link to audio at Grace To You —> If a Christian sins just before dying, will he or she still go to heaven?.

“Christian Loses His Burden” by R.C. Sproul

“Christian Loses His Burden”

by R.C. Sproul

John Bunyan

“As a seminary student, I remember my favorite professor often setting forth arguments for particular theological positions. On many occasions, as these debates proceeded, the professor stopped in mid-sentence, paused, looked at his students and said, “I sense that you do not feel the weight of this argument.” His regular reference to the “weight” of arguments was an interesting metaphor for me. Arguments that we do not take seriously are those that we take lightly. The whole idea of weight or weightiness is one that is found throughout the Bible. In the first instance, the glory of God is described in terms of His inherent and eternal weightiness. Those who take God lightly are those who have no regard for His glory.

One of the most important areas in which the whole idea of weight comes to bear in the New Testament has to do with the Law. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, in chapter 3, verse 9, after he has set forth the unrighteousness of both Jew and Gentile, he makes the comment, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin” (NKJV). Again in verse 19 of the same chapter, the apostle writes, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (NKJV).

In our day, the weightiness of the Gospel itself has been eclipsed. I doubt if there’s a period in the history of the church in which professing evangelicals have been as ignorant of the elements of the biblical Gospel as they are today.

There is a stark contrast between the second best-seller in the history of the English language, second only to the Bible, namely, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and the runaway best-seller of the last two years, The Purpose Driven Life. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, we see set forth in masterful literary style the depths and the riches of the biblical Gospel. When we compare it to The Purpose Driven Life, we see a book in which it is difficult to find a full explanation of the biblical Gospel. Justification, the relief from the burden of sin that weighs down the soul, is all but absent in the setting forth of a new and different gospel of achieving or discovering purpose in one’s life. One of the leaders of the recent emerging church movement boasts that he has not mentioned the word “sin” in the last ten years of his preaching. He wants to make sure that his people will not feel crushed by guilt or by a loss of their self-esteem. When the acute awareness of guilt is removed from the conscience, there is no sense of the burden of sin. There is no sense of being under the crushing weight of the law of God that bears down upon our souls relentlessly.

However, if we turn our attention to the insights of Bunyan set forth in the Christian classic Pilgrim’s Progress, we see a story that focuses on the groaning pressure of a man who is weighed down to the depths of his soul with a burden of which he is unable to rid himself. It is like the apostle Paul’s description in Romans 7 of the body of death that crushes the spirit. In the very first paragraph on the first page of Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan pens these lines:

“As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a den; and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and as I slept I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled: and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry; saying, ‘What shall I do?’”

When preachers announce from their pulpits that God loves people unconditionally, there is hardly any reason for the hearer to feel any burden or cry out with any lament, saying, “What shall I do?” If indeed God loves us unconditionally and requires nothing of us, then obviously there is no need for us to do anything. But if God has judged us according to the righteousness of His perfect Law and has called the whole world before His tribunal to announce that we are all guilty, that none of us is righteous, that none of us seeks after God, that there is no fear of God before our eyes, that we are in the meantime, before the appointed day of judgment, treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, then anybody in his right mind (and even those in their wrong mind) would have enough sense to cry out the same lamentation, “What shall I do?” The story of Christian is the story of a man who is burdened by the weight of sin. His conscience was smitten by the Law, but where the Law is eliminated in the church, no one needs to fear divine judgment. Without the Law there is no knowledge of sin, and without a knowledge of sin, there is no sense of burden. The pilgrim knew the Law, he knew his sin, and he realized he had a burden on his back that he could not, with all of his effort and his greatest strivings, ever remove. His redemption must come from outside of himself. He needed a righteousness not his own. He needed to exchange that weighty sack of sin on his back for an alien righteousness acceptable in the sight of God. For the pilgrim there was only one place to find that righteousness, at the foot of the cross. The crucial moment in Christian’s life is when he comes to the cross. We read the description: “He ran thus till he came to a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and little below in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back; and began to tumble, and so continued to do so until it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.”

Shortly thereafter, Christian sang his song of deliverance: “Thus far did I come laden with my sin, nor could aught ease the grief that I was in, till I came hither. What a place is this! Must here be the beginning of my bliss? Must here the burden fall from off my back? Must here the strings that bound it to me, crack? Blessed cross! Blessed sepulchre! Blessed rather be the Man that there was put to shame for me.”

This is the description of how salvation comes. It comes as a result of the atoning work of Christ and the exchange of our sin from our backs to His, as well as the cloak of His righteousness being transferred from His account to ours. Anything that eliminates this double exchange, this double imputation of sin and righteousness, falls short of the biblical Gospel. It’s time once more for the Christian community to follow the Pilgrim’s Progress.”

We Recommend
Faith and Works Devotional
In the Dungeon of Giant Despair Article by Andrew McGowan
The Means of Salvation Devotional

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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343. www.ligonier.org
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“What Is Repentance And How Does It Relate To Salvation?” — John MacArthur

“What Is Repentance And How Does It Relate To Salvation?”

John MacArthur

The meaning of the word repentance has been twisted in recent years to the point that its biblical meaning is now obscured in the minds of many. The idea that genuine repentance could result in anything but a change of life is completely foreign to Scripture.

What does the Bible teach about the relationship between salvation and repentance? First, it teaches that repentance is essential to salvation. One cannot truly believe unless he repents, and one cannot truly repent unless he believes. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin (but they are not synonymous terms). Acts 11:18 and 2 Peter 3:9 are two of the many verses that teach that repentance is necessary for salvation. Perhaps 2 Timothy 2:25 best sums up the relationship between repentance and saving faith when it speaks of “repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (see also Acts 20:21).

Second, the Greek word for repentance (metanoia) means “to have another mind,” but it cannot properly be defined to exclude a sense of hatred of and penitence for sin. The biblical concept of repentance involves far more than merely a casual change of thinking. Biblically, a person who repents does not continue willfully in sin. Repentance is a turning from sin, and it always results in changed behavior (Luke 3:8). While sorrow from sin is not equivalent to repentance, it is certainly an element of scriptural repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Finally, despite what is being widely taught today, affirming that repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus’ lordship are necessary to salvation does not “add” anything to the requirement of faith for salvation. It is not “faith plus repentance” that saves, but rather a repentant faith. The notion that salvation is possible apart from a genuine, heartfelt repentance, which includes a deep hatred of sin, is a relatively new one, neither believed nor taught by the people of God until the twentieth century.
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This article here originally appeared at Grace To You. © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org
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“Not What My Hands Have Done” — Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

I praise the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
My Lord has saved my life and freely pardon gives;
I love because He first loved me, I live because He lives. — Horatius Bonar (1861)

“Should We Fight for the Truth?” by John MacArthur

“Should We Fight for the Truth?”

by John MacArthur

Dr. John MacArthur

Many self-styled evangelicals today are openly questioning whether such a thing as truth even exists. Others suppose that even if truth does exist, we can’t be sure what it is, so it can’t really matter much. This type of thinking is epidemic, even among some of the evangelical movement’s most popular authors and spokespersons. Some flatly refuse to stand for anything because they have decided that even Scripture isn’t really clear enough to argue about.

Except for the massive scale on which such thinking has attained popularity today, and the way it is seeping into the church, such ideas themselves are really nothing new or particularly shocking. It is exactly the same attitude with which Pilate summarily dismissed Christ: “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

Certain avant-garde evangelicals sometimes act as if the demise of certainty is a dramatic new intellectual development, rather than seeing it for what it actually is: an echo of the old unbelief. It is unbelief cloaked in a religious disguise and seeking legitimacy as if it were merely a humbler kind of faith. But it’s not faith at all. In reality, the contemporary refusal to regard any truth as sure and certain is the worst kind of infidelity.

The church’s duty has always been to confront such skepticism and answer it by clearly proclaiming the truth God has revealed in His Word. We have been given a clear message for the purpose of confronting the world’s unbelief. That is what we are called, commanded, and commissioned to do (1 Corinthians 1:17-31). Faithfulness to Christ demands it. The honor of God requires it. We cannot sit by and do nothing while worldly, revisionist, and skeptical attitudes about truth are infiltrating the church. We must not embrace such confusion in the name of charity, collegiality, or unity. We have to stand and fight for the truth–and be prepared to die for it–as faithful Christians always have.
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This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org
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The above photo added by this blog, and was not in original article at Grace To You.
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John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, and Michael Horton Weigh In On Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration was released a year ago today. Today, it is once again being promoted. It was put forth as “A Call of Christian Conscience.” Below are the links to four balanced and excellent statements, on why these men, indeed all Christians, should still refuse to sign it.

*These statements were written a year ago when the document was first released.

• R.C. Sproul

• John MacArthur

• Alistair Begg

• Michael Horton

“What Is the Gospel?” By R.C. Sproul

“What Is the Gospel?”

by R.C. Sproul

Dr. R.C. Sproul

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the Gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the Gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the Gospel.

The Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the Gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

We Recommend

God’s Hyper-Plentiful Grace Devotional
The Gospel-Driven Life Article by Harry Reeder
The Gospel of the Gospels Article by Daniel Hyde
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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

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“How Good Do I Have To Be To Go To Heaven?” – John MacArthur

“How good do I have to be to go to heaven?”

Matthew 19:25; Matthew 5:20

Most people understand that doing evil can keep us out of heaven. But few realize the Bible also teaches that doing good cannot get us in. None of us could ever gain enough merit to deserve heaven. We are sinful, and God’s standard is utter perfection. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). He added, “you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Then who can be saved?
The disciples asked Jesus this same question (Matthew 19:25). His answer? “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (v. 26). In other words, our salvation is not something we can accomplish. It is something God must do for us.

What if I stopped sinning now and never sinned again?
We are hopelessly in bondage to sin and could not cease sinning no matter how hard we tried. Scripture says even our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). In other words, we are sinful to the core. Furthermore, a single sin would be enough to destroy us forever: “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). But even if we never sinned from now on, we still bear the guilt of our past sins. And “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Is there any way to be free from the guilt of sin?
The Bible says, “The blood of Jesus … cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

How can Jesus’ blood cleanse our sins?
When God forgives, He doesn’t merely overlook sin. Atonement must be made. Christ’s death made full atonement for those who trust Him. His dying counts in our stead if we believe. However, that only erases the guilt of our sin. Remember, we still need perfect righteousness in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

Where do we get that perfect righteousness?
The full merit of Jesus’ righteousness is imputed, or credited, to those who trust Him alone for salvation. Scripture teaches that God “justifies the ungodly” by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to them (Romans 4:5). They are clothed in His righteousness, and God accepts believers solely and exclusively on that basis. That’s why Paul was willing to discard all his own efforts to earn God’s favor, preferring instead to stand before God robed in a righteousness that was not his own (Philippians 3:8-9).

If you are not a Christian, you need to lay hold of this truth by faith: the sin that will keep you out of heaven has no cure but the blood of Christ. If you are weary of your sin and exhausted from the load of your guilt, He tenderly holds forth the offer of life and forgiveness and eternal rest to you: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

How can I be sure Christ will save me?
No one will be turned away: “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). All are invited: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

For further help on how you can have the assurance of an eternal home in heaven, click here.
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For a more thorough treatment of the subject, see John’s book or audio series called The Gospel According to Jesus.
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This article here originally appeared at Grace To You. – © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org

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“Some Things Are True And Some Things Are False” – Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

Some things are true and some things are false…Believing, therefore, that there is such a thing as truth, and such a thing as falsehood, that there are truths in the Bible, and that the gospel consists in something definite which is to be believed by men, it becomes us to be decided as to what we teach, and to teach it in a decided manner. We have to deal with men who will be either lost or saved, and they certainly will not be saved by erroneous doctrine. We have to deal with God, whose servants we are, and he will not be honored by our delivering falsehoods; neither will he give us a reward, and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast mangled the gospel as judiciously as any man that ever lived before thee.” -C.H. Spurgeon

(Cited in, Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World, 3rd Edition, John MacArthur [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010], pgs, 269,270)

“The Greatest of All Protestant Heresies”? by Sinclair Ferguson

by Sinclair Ferguson

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

Let us begin with a church history exam question. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was a figure not to be taken lightly. He was Pope Clement VIII’s personal theologian and one of the most able figures in the Counter-Reformation movement within sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism. On one occasion, he wrote: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is _______ .” Complete, explain, and discuss Bellarmine’s statement.

How would you answer? What is the greatest of all Protestant heresies? Perhaps justification by faith? Perhaps Scripture alone, or one of the other Reformation watchwords?

Those answers make logical sense. But none of them completes Bellarmine’s sentence. What he wrote was: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is assurance.”

A moment’s reflection explains why. If justification is not by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone — if faith needs to be completed by works; if Christ’s work is somehow repeated; if grace is not free and sovereign, then something always needs to be done, to be “added” for final justification to be ours. That is exactly the problem. If final justification is dependent on something we have to complete it is not possible to enjoy assurance of salvation. For then, theologically, final justification is contingent and uncertain, and it is impossible for anyone (apart from special revelation, Rome conceded) to be sure of salvation. But if Christ has done everything, if justification is by grace, without contributory works; it is received by faith’s empty hands — then assurance, even “full assurance” is possible for every believer.

No wonder Bellarmine thought full, free, unfettered grace was dangerous! No wonder the Reformers loved the letter to the Hebrews!

This is why, as the author of Hebrews pauses for breath at the climax of his exposition of Christ’s work (Heb. 10:18), he continues his argument with a Paul-like “therefore” (Heb. 10:19). He then urges us to “draw near … in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). We do not need to re-read the whole letter to see the logical power of his “therefore.” Christ is our High Priest; our hearts have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience just as our bodies have been washed with pure water (v.22).

Christ has once-for-all become the sacrifice for our sins, and has been raised and vindicated in the power of an indestructible life as our representative priest. By faith in Him, we are as righteous before the throne of God as He is righteous. For we are justified in His righteousness, His justification alone is ours! And we can no more lose this justification than He can fall from heaven. Thus our justification does not need to be completed any more than does Christ’s!

With this in view, the author says, “by one offering He has perfected for all time those who come to God by him” (Heb. 10:14). The reason we can stand before God in full assurance is because we now experience our “hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and … bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22).

“Ah,” retorted Cardinal Bellarmine’s Rome, “teach this and those who believe it will live in license and antinomianism.” But listen instead to the logic of Hebrews. Enjoying this assurance leads to four things: First, an unwavering faithfulness to our confession of faith in Jesus Christ alone as our hope (v.23); second, a careful consideration of how we can encourage each other to “love and good works” (v.24); third, an ongoing communion with other Christians in worship and every aspect of our fellowship (v.25a); fourth, a life in which we exhort one another to keep looking to Christ and to be faithful to him, as the time of his return draws ever nearer (25b).

It is the good tree that produces good fruit, not the other way round. We are not saved by works; we are saved for works. In fact we are God’s workmanship at work (Eph. 2:9–10)! Thus, rather than lead to a life of moral and spiritual indifference, the once-for-all work of Jesus Christ and the full-assurance faith it produces, provides believers with the most powerful impetus to live for God’s glory and pleasure. Furthermore, this full assurance is rooted in the fact that God Himself has done all this for us. He has revealed His heart to us in Christ. The Father does not require the death of Christ to persuade Him to love us. Christ died because the Father loves us (John 3:16). He does not lurk behind His Son with sinister intent wishing He could do us ill — were it not for the sacrifice his Son had made! No, a thousand times no! — the Father Himself loves us in the love of the Son and the love of the Spirit.

Those who enjoy such assurance do not go to the saints or to Mary. Those who look only to Jesus need look nowhere else. In Him we enjoy full assurance of salvation. The greatest of all heresies? If heresy, let me enjoy this most blessed of “heresies”! For it is God’s own truth and grace!

We Recommend
Assurance Enhances Sanctification Message
The Most Frightening Words Article by Tom Ascol
Blessed Assurance Devotional

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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.
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“Asking the Most Important Question” — R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul

Dr. R.C. Sproul

Many believe that assurance of eternal salvation is neither possible nor even to be sought. To claim such assurance is considered a mask of supreme arrogance, the nadir of self-conceit.

Yet if God declares that it is possible to have full assurance of salvation and even commands that we seek after it, it would be supremely arrogant for one to deny or neglect it.

In fact, God does command us to seek certainty about our salvation: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10, NIV).

This command admits of no justifiable neglect. It addresses a crucial matter. The question “Am I saved?” is one of the most important questions I can ever ask myself. I need to know the answer. I must know the answer. This is not a trifle.

Without the assurance of salvation, the Christian life is unstable. It is vulnerable to the debilitating rigors of mood changes and allows the wolf of heresy to camp on the doorstep.

Progress in sanctification requires a firm foundation in faith. Without it, the foundation crumbles.

Coram Deo: Ask God to cement the foundation of your faith with divine assurance of your salvation.

2 Peter 1:10: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.”

Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

1 Peter 1:5: “[We] are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“Radical Corruption” by R.C. Sproul

“Radical Corruption”

by R.C. Sproul

In God’s work of creation, the crowning act, the pinnacle of that divine work, was the creation of human beings. It was to humans that God assigned and stamped His divine image. That we are created in the image of God gives to us the highest place among earthly beings. That image provides human beings with a unique ability to mirror and reflect the very character of God.

However, since the tragic fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, that image has been subject to serious change and corruption. As a result, we speak of the “shattering of the image.” The term shatter may go too far, however, because it could suggest the idea that the image is now destroyed and that no vestige of it is left in our humanity. Such is not the case. Though the image has been radically blurred and corrupted, there remains some aspect of that image left in our humanity, which remaining vestige is the basis for human dignity. Human dignity is not inherent, it is derived. It is not intrinsic, it is extrinsic. Human beings have dignity because God, who has dignity inherently and intrinsically, has assigned such dignity to us.

When we speak of the fall and of original sin, we are not speaking of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve, we are speaking of the radical consequences of that sin, which followed to all future generations of mankind. In Reformed circles, the doctrine of original sin has often been described by the phrase “total depravity.” That it’s called “total depravity” is explained in one sense because the letter “T” fits so neatly into the historic acrostic TULIP, which defines the so-called “five points of Calvinism.”

Nevertheless, the word total with respect to our depravity may seriously mislead. It could suggest that our fallen natures are as corrupt and depraved as possible. But that would be a state of utter depravity. I prefer to use the phrase “radical corruption,” perhaps because the first initial of each word suits my own name and nature, R.C., but more so because it avoids the misunderstanding that results from the phrase “total depravity.” Radical corruption means that the fall from our original state has affected us not simply at the periphery of our existence. It is not something that merely taints an otherwise good personality; rather, it is that the corruption goes to the radix, to the root or core of our humanity, and it affects every part of our character and being. The effect of this corruption reaches our minds, our hearts, our souls, our bodies — indeed, the whole person. This is what lies behind the word total in “total depravity.”

What is most significant about the consequences of the fall is what it has done to our ability to obey God. The issue of our moral capability after the fall is one of the most persistently debated issues within the Christian community. Virtually every branch of Christendom has articulated some doctrine of original sin because the Bible is absolutely clear that we are fallen from our created condition.

However, the degree of that fall and corruption remains hotly disputed among Christians. Historically, that dispute was given fuel by the debate between the British monk Pelagius and the greatest theologian of the first millennium, Saint Augustine of Hippo. In defining the state of corruption into which mankind has fallen, Augustine set up some parallels and contrasts between man’s estate before the fall and his condition after the fall. Before the fall, Augustine said that man was posse peccare and posse non peccare, that is, man had the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. Not sinning was a possibility that Adam had in the Garden.

In addition to this, Augustine distinguished between our original estate, which involved both the posse mori and the posse non mori. This distinction refers to our mortality. Adam was made in such a way that it was possible for him to die. At the same time, he had the possibility before him of living forever had he not fallen into sin. So both the possibility of sinning and not sinning and the possibility of dying or not dying existed as options for Adam before the fall, according to Augustine.

He further argued that the consequence of the fall upon the human race can be defined this way: since the fall, man no longer has the posse non peccare or the posse non mori. All human beings now have lost the natural ability to keep from sinning and thus to keep from dying. We are all born in the state of sin and as mortal creatures, destined to death. After the fall, Augustine defines our condition as having the posse peccare. We retain the ability to sin, but now we have the dreadful condition of the non posse non peccare. This double negative means that we no longer have the ability to not sin. Likewise, we have now the non posse non mori. It is not possible for us not to die. It is appointed to all of us once to die and then the judgment. The only exceptions to this would be those who remain alive at the coming of Christ.

When we get to heaven, things will change again. There we will no longer have the posse peccare and the non posse non peccare. There we will only have non posse peccare. We will no longer be able to sin or to die. It all comes down to this, to the issue of moral ability. Augustine was saying that apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that God performs in the souls of the elect, no person in His own power is able to choose godliness, to choose Christ, or to choose the things of God. That ability to come to Christ, as our Lord Himself declared in John chapter 6, is an ability that can only be the result of the regenerating power of God the Holy Spirit. That position spelled out by Augustine remains the orthodox position of historic Reformed theology.

We Recommend
Dust to Dust Article by Burk Parsons
A Shattered Image Teaching Series by R.C. Sproul
Regarding Depravity Article by Burk Parsons

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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343. www.ligonier.org
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“Controlling Yourself” by John MacArthur

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth”(Matt. 5:5).

The Greek word translated “gentle” in Matthew 5:5 speaks of humility, meekness, and non-retaliation–traits that in our proud society are often equated with weakness or cowardice. But in reality they are virtues that identify kingdom citizens.

The same word was used by the Greeks to describe a gentle breeze, a soothing medicine, or a domesticated colt. Those are examples of power under control: a gentle breeze brings pleasure, but a hurricane brings destruction; a soothing medicine brings healing, but an overdose can kill; a domesticated colt is useful, but a wild horse is dangerous.

Christ Himself is the epitome of gentleness. Even when officially announcing His messiahship to Jerusalem, He humbly entered the city astride a donkey (Matt. 21:5). His behavior amid persecution was exemplary: “Christ . . . suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats” (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

Despite His humility and restraint, Jesus wasn’t weak or cowardly. He never defended Himself, but when His Father’s house was being desecrated, He made a whip and beat those who were defiling it (John 2:13-16; Matt. 21:12-13). He never shirked from pronouncing judgment on unrepentant sinners, and never compromised His integrity or disobeyed His Father’s will.

The hypocritical Jewish religious leaders expected that when Israel’s Messiah came He would commended them for their wonderful spirituality. Instead, Jesus condemned them and called them children of the devil (John 8:44). In retaliation they had Him murdered. His power was always under control; theirs wasn’t.

Our society has little use for gentleness. The macho, do-your-own-thing mentality characterizes most of our heroes. But you are called to a higher standard. When you pattern your life after Jesus, you will have a significant impact on society and will know true happiness.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the virtue of gentleness, which He is producing in you by the power of His Spirit. Follow Christ’s example today so that gentleness will mark your character.

For Further Study:

Read the following passages, noting the responsibilities and blessings that accompany self-restraint: Proverbs 16:32, Ephesians 4:1-2, Colossians 3:12, and Titus 3:1-2.
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This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org
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