Apologies to my two faithful readers. I just started a new job, am working a new schedule, and have not had the time I’d like to dedicate to my blog lately. However, given the choice, I will always neglect my blog before I ever neglect my family, my time alone with God, or the wonderful body of believers whom Christ has privileged me to serve alongside. This is just a luxury, albeit one I enjoy and that aids in my own development.
In my absence here, I have been studying through the book of Galatians. In addition to reading this wonderful little book several times now, I have also been reading the commentaries by John Stott (The Message of Galatians) and Philip Ryken’s “Reformed Expository Commentary”. One of these days, I’m going to have to read the Luther commentary, as everyone seems to refer to it in their own writings. I know that the letter of Galatians (and Luther’s correct understanding of its importance) is the primary reason we even have a Protestant church (or, rather lots of them) today. I also listened through all of J. Vernon McGee’s “Thru the Bible” series on this epistle. So far, it has been a very profitable endeavor to my soul.
I have also been listening to a very, very well done lecture series by Jerram Barrs on Apologetics and Outreach. It is available for free from the Worldwide Classroom. I think I am on the ninth lecture right now, and I must say that Mr. Barrs has really challenged my thinking about how we evangelize in our postmodern culture. I think the first fourteen lectures are actually specifically aimed at different aspects of our postmodern culture and how we should be prepared to interact with it as Christians. Very, very thought-provoking. I highly recommend it. I will probably go back and listen to them again when I finish the first pass.
Well, in keeping with my own best practice here, I will post a portion of someone else’s writing here so that you may be blessed by the words of instruction of a seasoned saint. Today’s snippet comes from L.R. Shelton’s “The True Gospel”. I read this today, and thought it was very convicting:
A Holy Life Follows Salvation
My friend, I would not have you deceived! A holy life, a sowing to the Spirit, must follow the salvation that God gives in Christ, or it is not God’s salvation; for Christ came to save His people from their sins, and not in their sins (Matt 1:21). A holy life, a sowing to the Spirit, must follow the salvation that God gives us in Christ or God’s purpose in saving us would be defeated, and this cannot be. Did we not read that God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1:4). We cannot thwart the purpose of God toward His people. Listen again to this definite and positive statement-”For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess 4:7). Yes, a holy life must follow the salvation that God gives in Christ, or God’s will would be turned aside, and this cannot be-”For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (4:3). Sanctification is your being set apart from sin by the progressive work of God’s Spirit in your heart and life.
Again, a holy life, a sowing to the Spirit, must follow the salvation that God gives in Christ, or the grace of God would not reign in the believer’s life; and this cannot be, for we read in Titus 2:11,12: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” I want you to pay particular attention to these verses and pray that the Holy Spirit will write them upon your heart. When the grace of God that brings salvation appears to all, it teaches them the same thing. And what does God’s grace teach us?-that we will be self-denying ones. In what way?-saying no to the world and denying ourselves ungodliness and worldly lusts, because we hate sin, self, Satan and the world of ungodliness. “All” learn this lesson, not just some of God’s children. “All” of them are taught by the Holy Spirit to hate sin and deny self. If this self denial and hatred of sin is absent from the life, then God’s salvation is absent (John 16:13,15; Isa 54:13).
But this Scripture does not end only in giving us the negative; the Holy Spirit shows the grace of God that brings salvation will teach us something positive as well-how to live soberly, righteously and godly. Where? in heaven? No, in this present evil world, right at home, on the job, or wherever we walk! For by His grace and blood He has delivered us from “this present evil world” (Gal 1:4).
Remember this: the same Holy Spirit teaches all of God’s children the same lessons. What are they? He trains us to reject and renounce all ungodliness, and worldly, passionate desires; and He also trains us to live sober, temperate, self-controlled lives in an upright, devout manner (Titus 2:12). In other words, He teaches us to live spiritually-whole lives controlled by Him, here in this present evil world.
The False Gospel – no power over sin
What a far cry this is from the present-day gospel that is preached-a gospel that gives no new heart or new nature, a gospel that does not break the power of sin, but allows one to live on in it, a gospel that gives only an insurance policy against hell and knows nothing about holiness of thought and action, a gospel that will let you indulge the flesh, and puts no restraint upon your passion, pride and evil heart! Oh, this is not a gospel, but a false thing! I say false because it says that all one has to do is say “yes” to the four spiritual laws and believe in a historical Jesus; and after he “believes” he is saved and saved for ever, no matter what he does.
Did you know that the average individual tells you that he made a profession when he was 6, 8, 12, or 15 years of age; but he drifted off into sin, and after 10 years or so he came back and rededicated his life and now gives himself to religious service? It is from this group that the majority of our missionaries, teachers and preachers come, and they know nothing of heart-felt repentance or standing before God as a guilty, lost sinner! If you are in this group, I tell you in love, you have mistaken the call to salvation -to come to Christ as a guilty, needy, lost sinner-as the call to service; and therefore you have become two-fold more the child of hell than you were before, unless the Holy Spirit by His Word and grace gives you a heart to see your desperate need of Christ. You see, you have mistaken the call to a broken heart and a contrite spirit, to repentance and faith-the call to break with sin and to walk in holiness of life in conversion-as a call to the ministry! I know this does happen, for I have heard so many testimonies given along this line. It even happened to me! I mistook the call to salvation as the call to the ministry, and only by the grace of God was I awakened to see that I had missed true repentance and faith, and was still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.
Therefore, let me proclaim today that I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for that Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth (Rom 1:16). This salvation is the deliverance from the power of sin, which I have experienced by the grace of God in Christ; and beloved, I praise the Lord that Romans 6:18 is true: “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness,” servants of Him Who has delivered us from the law of sin and death! (Rom 8:2).
C. H. Spurgeon has said it so well:
Each creature brings forth after its own kind: the old nature being radically evil continues to produce and to send forth swarms of sins; it is not reconciled to God, neither indeed can be, and therefore its thoughts and acts are those of rebellion and hatred toward God. On the other hand, the new nature “cannot sin because it is born of God”; it must have its fruit unto holiness, for it is holiness itself. Out of a dove’s nest we expect only doves to fly. The heavenly life breeds birds of paradise, such as holy thoughts, desires, and acts; and it cannot bring forth such unclean birds as lust, and envy, and malice. The life of God infused in regeneration is as pure as the Lord by whom it was begotten, and can never be otherwise. Blessed is the man who has this heavenly principle within, for it must appear in his life and cause him to abound in holiness, to the glory of God. Reader, have you this divine seed within you, or do you remain under the dominion of a corrupt nature? This question deserves a present and thoughtful reply.
Peace & Blessings,