Category Archives: Musings

5 Solas–a brief summary

Salvation is based on…

  • the Scripture alone
  • by grace alone
  • through faith alone
  • in Christ alone
  • to the glory of God alone

Or, put another way, the core theology of the Reformation advocated for the…

  • sufficiency of Scripture to lead us to understand the
  • sufficiency of grace for salvation through the
  • sufficiency of faith in the all
  • sufficient Christ
  • resulting in glory to God alone.

Grace alone by faith alone does not mean that good works are not important or necessary—only that they are not meritorious. Good works (Titus 2:7; 14; 3:1, 6, 13) are the response of a grateful heart that understands the freedom from performing for acceptance by God.

Therefore, grace alone by faith alone is the entrance into a life lived to the glory of God alone, a…

    • Grace-enabled
      • Spirit-empowered
        • Christ-imitating
          • Scripture-obeying
            • Love-manifesting life!1

What would Christianity be without the 5 Solas?

  • Without Sola Fide (faith alone)—we have a religion of self-effort or of works
  • Without Solas Gracia (grace alone)—we not only have to earn salvation, we bear the burden of guilt and the uncertainty of acceptance
  • Without Solus Christus (Christ alone)—we have no salvation, we have no object of salvation
  • Without Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)—we are left to the opinions of men or the whims of society
  • Without Sola Dio Gloria (To the glory of God alone)—we are prone to create our own version of God, in our own image and take credit for saving ourselves

Praise the Lord that we have, through God’s gracious gift, in the perfect substitute Jesus Christ, revealed in Scripture for us to understand that God receives glory when we respond in faith alone to His offer of a restored relationship with Him.

Martin Luther: Guilt versus Grace

As I watch a documentary on the reformer, Martin Luther, I am struck by the contrast between guilt and grace.

As a Monk, Martin Luther was driven by guilt. The feeling that he may never be able to live up to the standard of God. A guilt fulled by the teaching of the church.

The Catholic Church, under which Martin Luther lived his early years, believed that Christ was the means of salvation. But in order to guard against individual living too aware of grace—which they thought would result in sinful life. They emphasized what individuals had to do to secure full-saving grace. The list of physical rituals (sacraments) including penance were the means of grace controlled by the church.

This belief system drove Luther to harsh treatment of his body motivated by fear.  He was tormented by fear and guilt.

But as he wrestled with Scripture he discovered the absolute wonder of grace. That God was a gracious giving God, not a tyrannical oppressive overlord. That salvation was a gift provided by grace and received not by sacraments and penance, but through faith in Christ Jesus.

The realization of the wonder of grace did not lead to a licentious life, “taking advantage of grace.” But rather, out of devotion to the one who had freed him from sin and guilt, Luther was motivated to live in a way that would honor God.

That lesson—the wonder of grace and the impact on life—is key to every Christian life. The continual amazement of grace should remove guilt. Amen! And in gratitude for grace, we should live for God.

Praise the Lord.

The election in light of Hebrews 11

I was reflecting on Hebrews 11 this week and with our national election one week away, I was reminded of the need for perspective—faith over the long haul in the same direction.

Reflections on Hebrews 10:32-39; 11:1-40; 12:1-3

In light of the Election
Pray—seek God, not to manipulate but to discover His will, prioritizing what He values—His glory and our mission

Remember prayer is first to commune with God not just to request from God. Pray for Him to be glorified and His Church to be a testimony of grace which shines brightly in darkness.

Think—be informed

A biblical worldview prioritizes a wide array of God-honoring goals. Seek to learn what you can about issues and candidates not just what party they are affiliated with.
Our upbringing, gender, race and experiences form a worldview of things that “go unsaid” and form biases that we do not know we have. Therefore, as we pray and think and seek to evaluate positions and politicians we must seek to do so through a biblical lens—which as best we can, prioritizes God’s heart.

Vote—be involved, trust in God does not remove our need for action, it should motivate our engagement

When we vote we are choosing flawed individuals to lead flawed people through a system that only works when people collaborate and cooperate by concessions. Therefore, character, maturity, perspective and values matter.

Trust—perspective

When the election is over and new local, state and national leaders are selected our responsibility…

—to pursue life in Christ will still be our primary goal—demonstrating our love for God
—to live God’s Word must still be our focus
—to keep growing with God’s people must still be a priority
—to go into God’s world and invest in God’s work will still be our calling

Knowing that as citizens of heaven,

—we long for a future blessing not just current prosperity
—we seek a heavenly city, a heavenly homeland
—we long to receive our promised inheritance

but in the meantime, we must persevere with the eyes of faith captivated by Christ to inspire an active intentional endurance.

 

Today, I also heard this wonderful reminder.

Hey everybody, So here we are a few days away from "IT"…and of course by "IT" I mean what has proven to be one of the craziest elections in the history of all electiondom! (Okay, I'm pretty sure I just made up a word, but then again there seems to be quite a bit of "making stuff up" going on lately…ha!…sorry, I couldn't resist.) As I have watched and pondered and prayed and discussed, there has been one thought I have continued to need to remember…in order to help me resist the urge to completely freak out! Basically it's what the eternal, unchanging word of God reminds us of in Daniel 2:20-21 and in Psalm 103:19: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,to whom belong wisdom and might.He changes times and seasons;he removes kings and sets up kings;he gives wisdom to the wiseand knowledge to those who have understanding…""The Lord has established his throne in the heavens and his kingdom rules over all."God is on the throne and God is in control. Now, I realize that can easily sound like a nice cliché or a Sunday school answer to a massive issue…but the truth as I believe it to be is that there is no more "massive" or more relevant truth that we can and must anchor our hearts to in this moment…or any moment for that matter; God is on the throne. It's been mine and my family's experience that trusting in the sovereignty of God is really the only thing that can keep us sane in the craziness of this life.Yes, we need to vote and do our part as responsible citizens of this GREAT albeit broken and imperfect nation. And we need to pray…ALOT! (And resist the urge to argue and fight with each other about our opinions, etc etc…I know, it is messy.) But ultimately, I really believe that if we can remember that God is the one who removes kings and sets up kings and that he is not biting his nails over the outcome of all of this, we will actually be a whole lot more effective and relevant in this world and in this nation, and a lot less "freaked out". Anyway, just some thoughts from your ole pal scc. And as I was pondering all of this I was inspired to write a song and wanted to share it with you. Here are the lyrics:I hear everybody talking on the right and on the left,They're holding out their promises while we all hold our breath,and if I did not know better I would be scared to death,But God is on the throne.I know that it all matters and there's so much at stakeAnd I know we all need wisdom for decisions we must makeBut there's only one who's making promises that He won't breakAnd He is on the throne. He is faithful and true, everything He says He'll do,And everything we go through, He will go with us.All the kingdoms of man are in the palm of His handSo I will not fear, I'll say it loud and clear, so my own heart can hear itGod is on the throne.Well I've got my fears and worrieslike everybody elseI love this country and it's broken and in desperate need of helpSo I'm praying to the one who has the power to make us well'Cause He is on the throneKingdoms rise and kingdoms fall, only one stands through it allIt's the kingdom of the God of grace and loveAnd I'm not worried because I knowGod is on the throne.Blessings,scc

Posted by Steven Curtis Chapman on Friday, November 4, 2016

Steven Curtis Chapman

I hear everybody talking
on the right and on the left,
They’re holding out their promises
while we all hold our breath,
and if I did not know better
I would be scared to death,
But God is on the throne.
I know that it all matters
and there’s so much at stake
And I know we all need wisdom
for decisions we must make
But there’s only one who’s making promises that He won’t break
And He is on the throne.

He is faithful and true,
everything He says He’ll do,
And everything we go through,
He will go with us.
All the kingdoms of man
are in the palm of His hand
So I will not fear, I’ll say it loud and clear, so my own heart can hear it
God is on the throne.

Well I’ve got my fears and worries
like everybody else
I love this country and it’s broken
and in desperate need of help
So I’m praying to the one
who has the power to make us well
‘Cause He is on the throne

Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall,
only one stands through it all
It’s the kingdom of
the God of grace and love
And I’m not worried because I know
God is on the throne.

Reflections on the Cross

The Impact of Christ’s Substitutionary Atonement on the Cross

God could not accept us as we are, sinful, rebellious, selfish, unrighteous, unholy, unloving. He could not just ignore our condition without the cross.

God does not accept us as we are, but in spite of the way we are, He…

  • declares us righteous in Christ’s cross work of redemption
  • adopts us as son with Christ
  • transforms us into the image of Christ
  • and welcomes us into an eternal relationship with the Father

Spheres of Salvation

From the prison of sin
To the courtroom justification
To the living room of adoption
To the banquet room of glorification

Sin locks us in the prison of guilt before God
—unable to do anything to free ourselves
Justification replaces our guilt in the courtroom with righteous
—undeserved, unearned and unreimbursable
Adoption welcomes us into the living room
—unconditionally accepted in the family of God
Glorification seats us at the table with the Father
—unbroken fellowship for eternity

Basic Terms of Salvation

The atonement is the cross-work of Christ in which Christ by the grace of God has taken our place and has done what we could not do for ourselves:

Aspect

Theological Term

Anchor Passages

    1. He died once for all
Sacrifice Rom 3:25; 5:9-10;
    1. in our place

Substitution

Rom 5:6-8; 1 Pet 3:18

2 Cor 5:21

    1. paying the price for our sin
Redemption

 

Rom 3:24
    1. that satisfied God’s holiness
Propitiation/ Satisfaction Rom 3:25-26; 5:9
    1. by being declared us righteous in Christ

Justification

Rom 3:21-26; Romans 5:1-11
    1. thereby providing an eternal relationship with God

Reconciliation

2 Cor 5:19; Rom 5:1, 10-11; Jn 5:24

2 Cor 5:18-21

Books I Enjoyed this Year

The Best Books I Read This Year

Some of these were read, others a combination of listening and reading. I’ve become a big fan of audiobooks (I am an auditory / visual learner.)

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, by E. Randolph Richards, Brandon J. O’Brian

Excellent book to remind us that not only must we read Scripture conscious of the culture into which it was first written (original audience). But we must understand are own cultural preunderstandings and the things we take for granted or assume to be universally true because we understand them to be–the things “that go without being said”.

While there was some application of the principles, particularly in a few passages, where I believe there are other explanations and applications than the ones provided, the questions they caused me to ask and concepts I had to review were helpful for my ongoing study of Scripture.

Pilgrim Theology:The Core Doctrines of Christian Discipleship, by Michael Horton

While I’m not Reformed (though I share many affinities with my Reformed brothers and sister), I thoroughly enjoyed this well written basic but not simplistic systematic theology by Michael Horton. He has a more comprehensive volume entitled, “The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way” (also now part of my digital library).

Prayer by Timothy Keller

Theologically and pastorally enjoyable.  Key reminder and challenge that the better we know God, the more purposeful and passionate our prayer life.

I also enjoyed chapter 7 on learning from three giants of the faith, Augustine, Luther and Calvin.

And the simply overview of 3 kinds of prayer:

  • Upward–God focused praise and thanksgiving
  • Inward–Encounter with God and confession
  • Outward–Supplication and intercession

You can read a short interview about Tim Keller’s book.

How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis Schaeffer

Great review of the development of cultural and the forming of the dominant philosophical world views. While the end of the book is fairly tied to the time period it was written in, most of the book is helpful in providing perspective on the world we live in today.

Honorable Mention

Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller

Particularly chapters 11 and 12 related to “reaching the people.”

Theology: The Basics by Alister E. McGrath

What creates unity and maintains fellowship?

For the last 5 months I have been studying and teaching 1 Corinthians, Paul’s letter to a dysfunctional, divided, immature, selfish and immoral group of churches.

One general recurring question that continues to resurface as I study is, “what creates unity?” or “how do we maintain fellowship?” If a church started by Paul in a city that he spent more time than any other, except for Ephesus, could end up with so much dysfunction and disunity, how do we avoid their problems?

In 1 Corinthians Paul addresses their specific problems and questions, which address many issues that we face in our contemporary culture. So, though a difficult book to study, it covers a broad range of important issues—central is the need to for unity in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).

There are many contemporary books that address the “what?” and “how?” of developing fellowship with many good recommendations and programs. But I think this quote from A. W. Tozer has the most important challenge.

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity- conscious” and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: Updated Edition (Kindle Edition, 2015 Kindle Locations 1002-1005, Aneko Press). (First Edition 1948, Christian Publications).

Whatever our personality (introvert or extrovert) or whatever our background, age, gender and preferences, unity—which the Lord designed the church to possess and demonstrate His Glory—is created and maintained by each individual tuning their own affections towards God. Which allows us to be other-centered not seeking our own advantage and it allows us to see people the way God, leading to loving them the way God does.

Helping others who are grieving


This morning at Calvary, as a conclusion to our Honest to God series, Pastor Beau Eckert engaged the conversation about how to walk through grief with others.Honest to God

My Dad was one of the individuals in the panel, and they recorded the panel on the fifth month anniversary of my Mother’s death.

While my sister and I and our families have grieved the loss of my Mother, it is nothing like the loss of a spouse. So, I very much appreciate the authenticity my Dad has demonstrated as he goes through the journey of loss.

At different points I recorded my own thoughts on grief, whether seeking to remind myself of the hope we as believers have even when facing loss (Grieving with Hope), the knowledge that I may not have anything “meaningful” to say (When words are shallow), or what I learned as one going through loss (What to say and what not to say to those grieving).