Soteriology

They Profess to Know God: Do They Know Him? (Part 1)

Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

The Disciple-Maker’s Challenge

Everyone who seeks to make disciples in obedience to Jesus Christ faces the same difficulty:

We all try to discern whether or not those we lead to profess Jesus Christ have genuinely believed.

None of us wants to give an unbeliever false hope of salvation if they have not yet repented and placed their faith in Jesus. And so, we all face frustration.

Christians try to deal with this problem different ways. Some decide to take every profession of faith at face value. This is especially true if the new believer knows how to answer basic Gospel content questions. Those who deal with the problem this way usually baptize those that profess Jesus as Savior right away. If you question them, they will point to the book of Acts and respond, “We just trust the Lord with the true results.”

Others, genuinely concerned about false professions, seek to be more careful and discerning. They do not give new believers in Christ assurance of salvation until after they have studied the Bible for a while, come to church, have completed a certain number of lessons, or a certain length of time has passed.

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“Salvation is indeed simple and free, but it’s not just a single event at one point in time.”

"I’ve been a believer for 60 years now, and I’m still amazed every day at how much spiritual growth still lies ahead of me—at often I tell myself, 'Dan, after all this time, you really ought to be better at this.'" - Olinger

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The Perseverance of the Saints

No. 872. Delivered by C. H. Spurgeon on Sunday Morning, May 23rd, 1869 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”—Philippians 1:6

The dangers which attend the spiritual life are of the most appalling character. The life of a Christian is a series of miracles. See a spark living in mid ocean, see a stone hanging in the air, see health blooming in a leper colony, and the snow-white swan among rivers of filth, and you behold an image of the Christian life. The new nature is kept alive between the jaws of death, preserved by the power of God from instant destruction; by no power less than divine could its existence be continued. When the instructed Christian sees his surroundings, he finds himself to be like a defenseless dove flying to her nest, while against her tens of thousands of arrows are leveled. The Christian life is like that dove’s anxious flight, as it threads its way between the death-bearing shafts of the enemy, and by constant miracle escapes unhurt. The enlightened Christian sees himself to be like a traveler, standing on the narrow summit of a lofty ridge; on the right hand and on the left are gulfs unfathomable, yawning for his destruction; if it were not that by divine grace his feet are made like hinds’ feet, so that he is able to stand upon his high places, he would long before this have fallen to his eternal destruction.

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Law and Gospel: Seeing the Narrow Contrast

We’ve looked at the law and gospel in terms of “the big picture” and determined that they are interrelated and inseparable concepts (see Part 1). But is it ever appropriate to distinguish law from gospel? In other words, do the biblical writers ever contrast law with gospel? The answer is “Yes.” In fact, such a contrast is vital. In this second part of our study, we’ll consider the important distinction between law and gospel when these terms and concepts are used and defined in a more restrictive sense.

Law and Gospel: The Narrow Contrast

Let’s return to Dr. Horton’s definition I cited in the first part of our study: “Everything in the Bible that reveals God’s moral expectations is law and everything in the Bible that reveals God’s saving purposes and acts is gospel.”1 Horton’s distinction is not novel. Martin Luther made this distinction during the Protestant Reformation:

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“The idea of faith in Free Grace theology emphasizes facts and information (the intellect) and de-emphasizes the decision and trust aspects of faith (assent, will and trust).”

"...free grace theology eliminates the call to repentance over sin. It wrongly teaches that salvation by faith alone means that repentance is not part of the saving response to the gospel. Yet the Scriptures are clear that true saving faith is repentant faith." - Matt Postiff

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Jesus Didn’t Die on the Cross for Our Sins?

According to one writer at Beliefnet, Jesus didn’t die on the Cross for our Sins. She further added under the title of her articles that, “The idea Jesus ‘paid the price’ isn’t found in the Bible.”

The Beliefnet piece came across my path on a twitter feed. But it isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sentiment expressed in this way. The idea has been espoused by a number of Christians who often are self-proclaimed progressives. The author takes issue with the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. She claims that,

This theology was not part of Christian doctrine for the first 1,600 years after Jesus was crucified. The idea was originated and developed by human beings who were having trouble understanding what the Bible teaches about how Jesus Christ saved humanity. They worked with what they could to better understand Jesus’ teachings, but missed the mark. This lead [sic] to a creation of a belief that wasn’t really based on the Bible.

She says that Christians typically – when asked – will say that Christ died on the cross to “pay for our sins.” The quotation marks reflect her disagreement with this. Her assertion is that the teaching has become widely taught and deep-rooted; stated as fact, but not found in the Bible.

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