The Need of the Incarnation

There are so many people today who say that they do not see the need of the incarnation; that they do not understand all this talk about the Son of God having come down to earth; that they do not understand this talk about the miracles and the supernatural; that they cannot follow this idea of the atonement and terms such as justification and sanctification and the rebirth. They say that they do not understand why all this seems to be necessary. They would argue like this: ‘Isn’t it the church that has evolved all these theoretical, purely abstract ideas? Aren’t they things which have been conjured up in the minds of theologians? What have they to do with us, and where is their practical relevance?’ I would like to point out that people who talk like this do so because they have not realized the truth about sin. They have not realized the full meaning of the biblical teaching about sin. They have not realized that they themselves are sinful.

—Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Out of the Depths

Via: Aaron Armstrong

What is the Gospel?

In a few short weeks the next Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference will begin here in Louisville. The theme of T4G 2010 was “The (Unadjusted) Gospel” and while reflecting on the messages from that conference it occured to me that there is so much manipulation and distortion of the true Gospel message that perhaps a clear biblical explanation of “The Gospel” is in order.

This three minute audio clip from Dr. R.C. Sproul contains one of the best explanations of the Gospel that I have found.

Here is a transcript of that recording:

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.

— Dr. R.C. Sproul
Ligonier Ministries

I can’t think of a better way to end this post than with the closing line from Dr. Sproul’s message at T4G 2008:

If you believe that, you will stop adding to the Gospel and start preaching it with clarity and boldness, because, dear friends, it is the only hope we have, and it is hope enough.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Offense of Christ and His Cross

“He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief.” There is much in this chapter of Jesus’ history worthy of our consideration, and not a little that may be found to reflect in no inconsiderable degree the experience of many Christians. My soul, turn to it. It is a mournful yet a holy picture of Him you love. There is a bitterness in the contemplation, and yet a sweetness indescribably sweet. It is pleasant and cheering to know that your Lord Jesus has gone before you, has trodden the path you tread, and that the sorrow which now rests upon your soul so darkly is but the shadow of the yet darker sorrow that rested upon His.

Jesus was the object of popular hate, because of the DIVINITY OF HIS PERSON. Are real Christians less so? Were we not partakers of the Divine nature, we would not drink, in some small degree, of this cup that He drank of. The world despises the image of Christ. If it hated the fair and perfect Original, it will also hate the copy, however dim and imperfect it may be. Be of good cheer, then, if a portion of the world’s hatred of Jesus comes upon you. It is a sure evidence that you are in some measure assimilated to your beloved Lord, reflecting His divine and holy image, though marred with many a blot, and shaded with many a cloud.

Jesus was despised because of the UNWORLDLINESS OF HIS LIFE. “The world hates me because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” His whole life was one ceaseless testimony against the ungodliness of this ungodly world. It rejected Him because He was holy. In proportion as the life we live is a solemn and consistent protest against the vanities and sinfulness of the world, so will it hate and cast us out. ”You are not of the world; therefore the world hates you.” In His memorable intercessory prayer, Jesus reminds His Father, ”The world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Accept, then, the world’s despisings as your glory. The farther you recede from it, the more powerful your testimony, and the more decided and consistent your unworldly walk, the more virulent will be its malignity, bitter its hate, and wide its separation.

Jesus was equally the object of offence to the world, because of HIS TESTIMONY TO THE TRUTH. On one occasion His enemies took Him to the brow of a hill to hurl Him down to His death, for the testimony which He bore to the Sovereignty of Divine Grace. And it is recorded that, on a similar occasion, many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. The offence of the cross is not ceased. If, through the Holy Spirit’s teaching, and the Savior’s grace, you are enabled to bear a humble, loving, yet firm and uncompromising testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus, think it not strange if you are called to suffer.

The more spiritual and unadulterated, the more scriptural and unworldly your views of the gospel–its doctrines, its precepts, and its institutions–the more the world, even much of the so-called religious world, will separate from your company, hate, and despise you. But rejoice with exceeding joy if thus counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ sake. Keep your eye intently upon Him, and ever remember His animating words,”Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.”

Lord, let the world despise, and even the saints reject me – enough that I am loved and approved of You!

—Octavius Winslow
Consider Jesus

Via: Octavius Winslow

Don’t Leave Your Mind in the Parking Lot

We are living in a period of church history that may be classified as mindless. It is an anti-intellectual period of Christian history – not anti-scientific, or anti-technological, or even anti-educational, but anti-mind. While teaching in a seminary classroom I would sometimes ask a student what he thought about a particular proposition. The student would sometimes respond, “I feel that the statement is incorrect.” I would stop him and say, “I didn’t ask you how you felt. I wasn’t inquiring into your emotional response. I was asking you what you think about it.”

Thinking is done by the mind, and Christians are called repeatedly in sacred Scripture not to leave their minds in the parking lot when they enter into church but to awaken their minds so that they may think clearly and deeply about the things of God. Some people say that God does not care about the mind but only the heart and that an emphasis on the mind leads to rationalism, and from there to modernism, postmodernism, and all else that stands in antithesis to biblical Christianity. It is true that what you think in your mind will never get you into the kingdom of God until it reaches your heart, but we have been created by God in such a way that the pathway to the heart is through the mind. We cannot love with passion that which we know nothing about. The book that contains the sacred revelation of Almighty God, His Word, is addressed in the first instance to our minds. Therefore, the more we understand the truth of God, the more we will be gripped by it in our hearts and changed by it.

—Dr. R.C. Sproul
1 & 2 Peter: St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary

Via: Aaron Armstrong

Sit Down at the Fountain

So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.

—John Owen
Communion with the Triune God

Via: Tim Challies