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Is it Any Wonder They Call it… Amazing Grace – a Ragamuffin Blog

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Law and Grace Part 2

Galatians 3:2-3: "Let me ask you only this: 'Did you receive the Spirit by Works of the Law or by Hearing with Faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun By the Spirit are you now being perfected By the Flesh?'

“Dane Ortland: “But growth in godliness is not generated by conformity to any external code – whether the Ten Commandments or the commands of Jesus or self-imposed rules of your own conscience. This does not mean the commands of Scripture are worthless. On the contrary, they are “holy and righteous and good” (Rom 7:12). But the commands of the Bible are the steering wheel, not the engine, to your growth. They are vitally instructive, but they do not themselves give you the power you need to obey the instruction…. We grow by going deeper into the justification that forgave us in the first place.”

Edward Fisher: “The truth is, many preachers stand upon the praise of some moral virtue, and do inveigh against some vice of the times, more than upon pressing men to believe… as if a man should water all the tree, and not the root.”

Thomas Adam: “Justification by sanctification is man’s way to heaven… Sanctification by justification is God’s”

Thomas Chamlers: “The freer the Gospel, the more sanctifying the Gospel; and the more it is received as a doctrine of grace, the more will it be felt as a doctrine according to godliness.”

James Stewart: “It is God’s justifying verdict itself which sanctifies….It is precisely because God waits for not guarantees but pardons out and out… that forgiveness regenerates, and justification sanctifies.

Herman Bavinck: Faith is “a practical knowledge of the grace that God has revealed in Christ, a heartfelt trust that he has forgiven all our sins and accepted us as his children. For that reason this faith is not only needed at the beginning of justification, but it must also accompany the Christian throughout one’s entire life, and also play a permanent and irreplaceable role in sanctification.”

GC Berkouwer: “the heart of sanctification is the life which feeds on… justification.”

Belgic Confession: “far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.”

Edward Fisher “The Marrow of Modern Divinity:” Wherefore, when any person or person, do feel themselves oppressed or terrified with the burden of their sins, and feel themselves with the majesty of the law and judgment of God terrified and oppressed, outweighed and thrown down into utters discomfort, almost to the pit of hell…when such souls, I say, do read or hear any such place of Scripture which appertains to the law, let them, then, think and assure themselves that such places do not appertain or belong to them; nay, let not such only who are thus deeply humbled and terrified do this, but also let every one that does but make any doubt or question of their own salvation, through the sigh and send of their sin, do the like.

And to this end and purpose, let them consider and mark well the end why the law was given, which was not to bring us to salvation, nor to make us good, and so to procure God’s love and favour towards us: but rather to declare and convict our wickedness, and make us feel the danger thereof; to this end and purpose, that we seeing our condemnation, and being in ourselves confounded, may be driven thereby to have our refuge in the Son of God, in whom alone is to be found our remedy. And when this is wrought in us then the law has accomplished its end in us; and therefore it is now to give place unto Jesus Christ, who, as the apostle says, ‘is the end of the law’ (Rom 10:3).

Douglas Moo: “God gave the law to exacerbate and reveal sin (Gal 3:19b, 22a). It was never intended to- or even able to – awaken spiritual life.”

Westminster: “Sanctification is the work of God’s Free Grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. (WSC 35)

Martin Luther: “The Law never brings the Holy Spirit; therefore it does not justify, because it only teaches what we ought to do. But the Gospel does bring the Holy Spirit, because it teaches what we ought to receive. Therefore the Law and the Gospel are two altogether contrary doctrines. Accordingly, to put righteousness into the Law is simply to conflict with the Gospel. For the Law is a taskmaster; it demands that we work and that we give. In short, it wants to have something from us. The Gospel, on the contrary, does not demand; it grants freely; it commands us to hold out our hands and to receive what is being offered.”

William Perkins: “Here, I say, we see the difference between the law and the gospel. The law does not minister the Spirit to us: for it only shows our disease, and gives us no remedy. The Gospel ministers the Spirit. For it shows what we are to do: and withal the Spirit is given, to make us do that which we are enjoined in the gospel.”

JV Fesko: “Our redemption is not some sort of 50/50 proposition – God provides his grace and then we give our best effort. Remember again what the prophet Ezekiel wrote: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. We must yield, rest, and look by faith to Christ, and he conforms us to his image through the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Joel Beeke: “The key to happy holiness is the Gospel of Jesus Christ….Doing the will of God is our duty, but, as always, duty must flow from doctrine. The more we understand the doctrines of the Gospel, the more we can do our duty.”

Sanctification IS the application of the gospel to our daily lives.”

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Grace is Practical

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You don’t have to have your eyes open very wide to realize there is something horribly wrong in the world. I recently picked up a book given to my oldest son Steven by his teacher – Mrs. Copley. It is titled simply “Night” and the book describes the horrors of a young Jewish boy by the name of Elie Wiesel trapped in Nazi concentration camps. The book describesJewish captives being forced to dig their own graves while Nazi soldiers shot their children and then the parents themselves. Elie had a mentor by the name of Francois Mauriac whom he asked to write the forward of his book describing his experience. Mauriac in attempting to understand what young Elie had to endure wrote,

“Let us try to imagine what goes on in his mind as his eyes watch rings of black smoke unfurl in the sky, smoke that emanates from the furnaces into which his little sister and his mother had been thrown after thousands of other victims.”

The thought is unfathomably awful. That was less than 70 years ago. Elie was with us until just a few months ago.

Continue reading “Grace is Practical”

How to Love God – Part 2

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How to Love God Part 2

John Bunyan: “When God brings sinners into the covenant of grace, he doth first kill them with the covenant of works, which is the moral law, or ten commandments.”

To sum up yesterday’s post I argued that the main work of the law is to reveal God’s holiness and righteous standard and to then apply that standard of holiness to us in order to show our sinfulness. I proposed that even the command we think of us a softer New Testament command, namely to love, actually comes from the Old Testament and Jesus’ interpretation is even more difficult. I also said that the law of God is not able to change us by itself, but that its main job is to reveal to our hearts our sinfulness and push us to Christ for righteousness that comes through faith.  Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 2”

How to Love God – Part 1

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How to Love God

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-27

We often think of the above text as a New Testament command – a softer summation of the Old Testament laws. But actually the lawyer was quoting the Old Testament. Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 1”

Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?

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To the extent the Law of God is made attainable with statements like

– do your best and God will do the rest – we not only cheapen what the law says we lose grace in the process.

The law clearly says “your best efforts” are not going to be sufficient – more than that they are only going to serve to condemn you. God is not saying for us to do what we can and whatever we can’t do he will make up the difference. Instead he is saying our best efforts are tainted with sin and instead of calling us to work our way up to him by doing better he calls us to Faith in the Perfect One. Continue reading “Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?”

Every Good Story…

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Here is what I have noticed about every story– there must be a plight. There must be a peril to be rescued from – Kirk must have Klingons endangering the Enterprise or there is no story – there is no glory – there is no rescue. Can you imagine Superman flying at the speed of light – shadow boxing – “don’t be afraid – I’m here to save the day” if there were no bad guys – if there was nothing to be rescued from? You would think that guy is crazy. What is he doing? Saved me from what? Continue reading “Every Good Story…”

When Being a Good Sailor is Not Enough

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The law is like a man in a sailboat with a sailing instruction manual. He knows what proper sailing is – He may even possess a lot of technology to aid him in sailing. But his knowledge and tech cannot move him across the water. Only wind can do that. So we must stop preaching the law for change. We must stop running to the law to make us good sailors. Only the gospel can fill our sails with wind. The grace of the Father in rescuing sinners by the blood of Jesus is the good news – is the gospel. Oh Spirit, breathe your wind in our sails!

The Cross Speaks

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Dean Koontz: “Everyone talks about justice, but there can be no justice where there is no truth, and these are times when truth is seldom recognized and often despised.”

If you grew up in a conservative Christian culture like I did you probably feel as if the world is coming undone. Continue reading “The Cross Speaks”

The Gospel – Destination to Inception

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1) Jesus is our destination – Knowing Him is our highest good and joy. He is what our souls were designed for and crave. Rom 5:11 Continue reading “The Gospel – Destination to Inception”

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