In essentials unity,
in non-essentials liberty,
in all things charity.
One exam to go. New Testament Greek.
They said Rome wasn't built in a day.
Thankfully they didn't say that Greek couldn't be learnt in a day.
Elpis is Greek for hope.
In essentials unity,
in non-essentials liberty,
in all things charity.
This inner assurance of the grace of God is accompanied by outward indications such as gladly to hear, preach, praise, and to confess Christ, to do one's duty in the station in which God has placed us, to aid the needy, and to comfort the sorrowing. These are affidavits of the Holy Spirit testifying to our favourable standing with God.Martin Luther, from Commentary on Galatians
If we could be fully persuaded that we are in the good grace of God, that our sins are forgiven, that we have the Spirit of Christ, that we are the beloved children of God, we would be ever so happy and grateful to God. But because we often fear and doubt we cannot come to that happy certainty.
Train your conscience to believe that God approves of you. Fight it without doubt. Gain assurance through the Word of God.
Eph 2.8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; 9it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Whatever the authorship of these three letters, there is no doubt that they choose to reformulate the justification texts found in Paul's undisputed letters, particularly Romans. They show a God who justifies (Tit 3.7; Rom 3.26,30; 4.5), by his grace (Eph 2.8; 2 Tim 1.9; Titus 3.7; Rom 3.24) through faith (Eph 2.8; Rom 3.22, 28; 4.5), not through works (Eph 2.9; 2 Tim 1.9; Tit 3.5; Rom 3.20, 28; 4.2,6), thus eliminating any grounds for boasting (Eph 2.9; Rom 3.27; 4.2). In Ephesians and the Pastorals, the 'works' repeatedly rejected as playing a role in salvation are good 'works' in general; deeds done 'in righteousness' as Titus 3 puts it. Those saved/justified are sinners: slaves of sin and otherwise destined for divine judgement, that is not Gentiles enquiring about entrance requirements.
Titus3.3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
2 Tim 1.9who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
James 2.24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.One, James' formulation, that one is 'justified by works and not by faith alone', must ultimately be based on the justification texts of Paul, for it was Paul who introduced this language. Two, whomever James is refuting, the position that he dismisses is that God approves sinners because of their faith, regardless whether or not it leads to righteous behaviour. Three, we can assume Paul would not have held for the position that James is refuting (Gal 6.7; 5.6,19-21).
The New Testament's thinking on 'church' is something I really want to dig deep into in the future - I've heard Graham Beynon has a great little book out on exactly that. In the meantime here are a collection of bits and bobs about 'church' that my friend TB asked me to dig out...
Firstly here are some words we wrote to encourage Freshers at our home church to get stuck into a church where they were at University (with much credit to UCCF's 'fresh' pack)...
It’s very important to be part of a church
; this is for your own discipleship, but also to encourage other Christians.
It may seem like for the amount of weeks you’re at Uni it’s almost not worth getting stuck into church – however don’t underestimate the way God works in power through His church (Eph 3:10). It’s also valuable to part of a Christian body that isn’t exclusively students.
Have a think about what you feel is important for a church, and also what ways you could contribute. Don’t be afraid to ask a church leader what his church is about, and how he’d be willing for you to get involved.
Most students do ‘church-hopping’ for the first few weeks at a new Uni before settling down at the one they found most suitable. Certainly pray about it!
- Is the church faithful to the good news of Jesus Christ, and proclaiming it, and does it teach the Bible, and do the church leaders submit themselves to God’s word (Titus 1:7-9)?
- Is there a genuine concern to spur one another on in faith (Hebrews 10:24-25)?
- Is the church obviously a Christian community where people love one another (1 John 3:11-18)?
- Can I imagine feeling at home here and getting involved in the life of the church (1 Cor 12:24-27)?
You are moving to a new area and are told by a friend "St Mary's is good for teaching but St Martha's is good for worship". What is the primary way you should decide which church to attend? Why?The whole topic of the role of Christian Unions and local churches is frequently visited. My friend James Barbour has some wise words to say on the matter, with church leadership being something CU's obviously lack.
How practically can we work at spurring one another on when we meet together? What steps can we take to listen well to God's word when it is preached?
"If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."That's very hard. I shudder to think of the reaction of my friends. I wince when someone mentions judgement/sin/hell. I shy away from its relevance outside of my Christian bubble. I would rather speak of today's news than of the glorious riches of Christ to the gasman.
"The gospel begins and ends with what God is, not what we want or think we need." Tom Houston
"A gospel that elevates man and dethrones God is not the gospel."
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."
21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
There is a promise telling of an end to suffering, by a God who keeps his promises, with the cross and the Spirit as guarantee.
And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS work together for GOOD [God's good, which is the best kind of good incidentally], for those who are called according to HIS purpose [again, the best kind of purpose].
Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 27.
'Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life. but the wrath of God remains on him.'
Jesus, The Gospel according to John, Chapter 3, Verse 36.
"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? ... So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Jesus Christ, Luke 14.28-33.i) it will cost him his self-righteousness ... He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible-reading, church-going, and sacrament-recieving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.
"Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." (7-9)
"Forgiveness without the restoration of a relationship is not the gospel."
"Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should have your eye steadily fixed upon the cross. It is the incessant round of world, world, world; the constant din of earth, earth, earth, that takes away the soul from Christ. Oh! my friends, is it not too sadly true that we can recollect anything but Christ, and forget nothing so easy as him whom we ought to remember? While memory will preserve a poisoned weed, it suffereth the Rose of Sharon to wither."C.H. Spurgeon
A general faith in the truth of God's written Word is the primary foundation of the Christian soldier's character. He is what he is, does what he does, thinks as he thinks, acts as he acts, hopes as he hopes, behaves as he behaves, for one simple reason - he believes certain propositions revealed and laid down in Holy Scripturee. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." (Heb 11.5)
Let us settle it in our minds that the Christian fight is a good fight - really good, truly good, emphatically good. We see only part of it yet. We see the struggles, but not the end; we see the campaign, but not the reward; we see the cross, but not the crown. We see a few humble, broken-spirited, penitent, praying people, enduring hardships and despised by the world; but we see not the hand of God over them, the face of God smiling on them, the kingdom of glory prepared for them. These things are yet to be revealed. Let us not judge by appearances. There are more good things about the Christian warfare than we see.
Let us remember that if we would fight successfully we must put on the whole armour of God, and never lay it aside till we die. Not a single piece of the armour can be dispensed with. The girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, the helmet of hope - each and all are needful. Not a single day can we dispense with any part of this armour. "In heaven we shall appear, not in armour, but in robes of glory. But here our arms are to be worn night and day. We must walk, work, sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ." (Gurnall's Christian Armour.)
13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 14I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15"Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Rev 7. 9-17