Saturday, January 16, 2010
Here's an inspiring true story from John at Thoughts On The Way:
Corrie Ten Boom and her family helped hide Jews during the Holocaust. She told the story of a series of interrogations after being arrested by the Nazi's. I may not get the whole thing right, but the gist was this.
This particular Nazi police officer had her caught. He called her into his office and almost unbelievably he pulled out a stack of papers containing the names of multitudes of Jews they had illegally helped hide and escape.
All the evidence was laid out on the table. He looked at her and said, "Ms. Ten Boom, can you explain this?"
Welling up with tears she gave up and said, "No." She knew this could very well mean the death sentence for her.
[Read the rest here...]
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Heavy Theology Warning...
One of the foundational doctrines of the Bible, and therefore the Christian faith, is that believers in Christ are "justified" or "declared righteous" by God through faith in Jesus Christ.
This is a true and important doctrine, and biblical theologians agree that this gift of the righteousness of God is given through what is called "imputation". That is, the Lord's righteousness is "imputed" to us through faith in Christ.
But there is a common teaching, especially among Reformed believers, that the obedience of Jesus on Earth "earned" or "attained" for Him the righteousness which He then gives to us.
This obedience they call "active obedience", and they teach that this "active obedience" on Earth is what is imputed to us. This is sometimes called "active obedience imputation".
Though commonly taught, this "active obedience imputation" is not biblical.
I've prepared a mini-catechism to clarify some of the issues in this subject:
Q. What is imputed to us?
A. Christ's righteousness.
Q. What is righteousness?
A. Right standing or right relationship with God, without guilt of sins.
Q. Is righteousness inherent in men?
A. No, they are born and live in wrong standing or wrong relationship with God, and stand guilty of sins, until they are justified, or declared righteous by God.
Q. Is righteousness inherent in Christ?
A. Yes, since He has always been in right standing and right relationship with God, and has always been sinless.
Q. When a man is regenerated and believes in Jesus Christ, is he justified or declared righteous, once forever?
Q. How is he declared righteous?
A. In the pattern of Abraham, his faith is credited to him as righteousness, Christ's righteousness is imputed to him, and he is thereby declared righteous (that is, in right standing and relationship with God, without guilt of sins, which are forgiven).
Q. By what act or series of acts is this justification obtained?
A. By ONE act, the shedding of the blood of Christ in His death on the Cross.
Q. Is there a CLEAR scripture to prove this?
A. Yes, here are two:
Romans 5:18, "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through ONE ACT of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."...and,
Hebrews 10:14, "For by ONE OFFERING He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."
Q. What then of His life of obedience to the Father?
A. He did indeed live a life of "Active Obedience", which should never be discounted, but it did not make Him righteous.
Q. Was His obedience instrumental in His righteousness?
A. By no means. His righteous is inherent in Himself. His obedience did, however, demonstrate and authenticate His righteousness, and identify Him as the Messiah and Son of God, along with many other prophetic and miraculous authentications.
Q. And it is this righteousness inherent in Him that He imputes to us?
A. Yes, through the instrument of the ONE ACT on the Cross.
Q. What's the big deal? You act like the honor of Christ is at stake.
A. His honor is at stake. It is dishonoring to imply that Jesus had to EARN or ATTAIN righteousness, when the truth is He was always righteous, both as God and as man.
Q. Are you intimidated by the fact that so many godly Reformed men disagree with you?
A. Not in the least, though I am humbly willing to change my mind in a moment, if there might be an abandoning of red herrings, smoke and mirrors, Confessions and theologians...in favor of just a verse or two which might show that Christ's "active obedience" is imputed to us....AND if the aforementioned Rom. 5:18 and Heb. 10:14 are honestly confronted, instead of evaded.
Friday, January 01, 2010
The question is asked, "How do we preach repentance without sounding like we're preaching law [or legalism]?"
A really good question.
1. The answer lies partly in the core meaning of "repentance".
Contrary to popular but incorrect teaching, "repent" does not mean "180-degree turnaround" or "putting away sin" or any other ACTION.
It simply means "change your mind". This comes from both the literal Greek word metanoia (meta..., "change", and ...noia, "mind"), as well as biblical context.
True, when we change our MIND it logically will result in changing our ACTIONS as well, but the repentance is in the mind and prior to the action.
2. Although "repentance" is usually used in regard to one's sins, it actually applies to any change from a false belief to a true one.
For example, one can "repent" from unitarianism to trinitarianism, or from legalism to grace. (So ironically, in regards to our original question, we can see that "legalism" itself is something to be "repented of", that is, to change one's mind about.)
3. As far as "repenting of one's sins", contrary to popular but incorrect teaching, "repentance" is not "turning from one's sins", as most gospel tracts admonish. It's actually "changing one's mind" about their sins.
In what way?
Well, the sinner is not really *against* his sins. He either defends them as "not that bad", or even goes so far as to glory in them, as in, "I'm evil, I know I'm evil, and I intend to stay evil, and I want to go to Hell because that's where my friends will all be."
When one "changes his mind" about his sins, he comes to see the truth that his sins are not only bad and wrong, but are sins against the Holy God Who created him. He now is *against* his sins, and coincidentally has "changed his mind" about Jesus Christ in Whom he now believes, as Lord and Savior and Forgiver of his sins.
This profound "change of mind" will certainly result in a profound "change of actions" (contrary to the Ryrie/Hodges folks who teach that one can "believe" with no change in their lives), but such change in actions may be drastic, somewhat gradual, or up and down like an EKG chart -- depending on how well the newer believer is taught to walk by the Spirit.
4. All repentance is ultimately a gift from God, "granted" by God initially through being born again, aka "regeneration" or "a new heart".
Although preaching, "Repent!" ("Change your mind!") is certainly legitimate, the idea that one can change their own mind as an act of their will apart from the Holy Spirit is unbiblical. Thus our preaching/witnessing should always be accompanied by prayer.
5. All repentance is in regards to TRUTH. Biblical repentance is nothing more than "changing our mind" about what is true.
Examples for born-again believers:
If we think God "condemns" believers on the basis of their newest sins, we need to repent and believe the Scripture which says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and that all our sins have already been forgiven.
If we think we are "just like the lost person except we're saved", we need to repent and recognize that we have been given a new heart, a new spirit that hates sin and loves righteousness because we love Jesus.
If we think that God loves and favors us on the basis of our performance (that we are "under law"), we need to repent and believe that God loves and favors us because He chose to, sovereignly, and on the basis of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (we are "under grace", Rom. 6:14).
If we believe that He might leave us and forsake us if we ACT bad enough, we need to repent and believe that He will never leave us nor forsake us, having bought us by the blood of Jesus.
6. Finally, believers are often temporarily deceived by the world, the flesh and the devil. When this happens, we sin, blinded for a moment (or hour or day, etc.) to the truth we have already learned about our sins.
When this happens, we are called upon to once again "repent", "change our mind", about such sins, and return to the truth and to walking by the Spirit.
We thus should be "quick repenters", not running FROM the Lord to hide our foolish sins, but running TO Him, confessing our sins and thanking Him for His already-done forgiveness.
Thankfully, if we remain in our deceived state, and continue in these sins, the Lord will lovingly chastise us, with the purpose of bringing us back into the truth and in communion with Him.
His chastisement is never punitive, that is, it is not designed as tit-for-tat punishment, but is loving correction, no matter how "rough", and is part of working all things together for our good.