Even for Paul there was mystery in the Christian faith, especially when it came to the work of Christ on behalf of his church. Speaking in the context of marriage he would say, this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32). The preface to his summary of the rudimentary facts of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension reads like this: Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). Christianity is not in opposition to a healthy and vigorous life of the mind; nor is it in opposition to mystery. It is opposed to stupidity and ignorance on the one hand and to rationalism on the other. When we come to the topic of the Eucharist we come to a topic of great mystery. Perhaps this is … Read More »
You’ve heard it said before — especially those of you who cut your theological teeth on the Scofield Reference Bible — that in the New Testament God saves sinners by grace but in the Old Testament salvation is by works. Ironically, there is some truth to that. Just keep reading for a line or two more. Before the fall in the garden God related to Adam by way of a covenant of works.
To him was given the promise of eternal life as the reward for perfect obedience to the laws and commands of God. In this way God’s law was given for the justification of the righteous. God’s law can either justify or condemn. This, of course, is the problem after the fall. None are righteous, not even one and therefore God’s Law only condemns. When it speaks, we do … Read More »
With the Reformation fresh in our minds I thought it would be good for us to consider a crucial element of the Reformation, namely the doctrine of justification. We will use Buchanan’s The Doctrine of Justification as our guide if you would like to follow/read along.
In the Word, sacraments, and prayer, we are brought back to the source of our life…
Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone (WSC 33). Speaking of this, Buchanan noted that this is “surprising, startling, and affecting us strangely, as if it were almost too good to be true (p. 2).
So important was this that Martin Luther described it as articulus stantis vel cadentis — the article of faith … Read More »
This week we raise and hopefully answer the question: Why do we pause to remember the Protestant Reformation each year? Let me suggest three reasons why. First, we do so to emphasize our catholicity. To answer the question like that is somewhat ironic because historically the Reformation was the watershed event that severed the Protestants from the Roman Catholics. By catholicity I don’t mean “Roman Catholic.” Rather, I mean, in the most rudimentary definition of the word, unity. That is what “catholic” means. When I became the pastor of New Life in October 2005, the Reformation service was one of the first things that I organized. Each year we host an evening worship service in which like-minded churches join together to celebrate their unity centered around the truths of the Reformation as codified in the reformed confessions and around the … Read More »