Accepting Christ

April 18, 2018

I ran across this quote from Tozer. It somewhat relates to my previous posts.

The formula “Accept Christ” has become a panacea of universal application, and I believe it has been fatal to many ….

The trouble is that the whole “Accept Christ” attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ [appealing] to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us. It may even permit us to accept Christ by an impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no loss to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life.

For this ineffectual manner of dealing with a vital matter we might imagine some parallels; as if, for instance, Israel in Egypt had “accepted” the blood of the Passover but continued to live in bondage, or the prodigal son had “accepted” his father’s forgiveness and stayed on among the swine in a far country. Is it not plain that if accepting Christ is to mean anything there must be moral action that accords with it?

We’re saved as we know the truth, as we assent to the truth, and as we trust Jesus for salvation. This trust will radically change the trajectory of our lives.

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Altar Calls, Pt. 2

April 17, 2018

This isn’t about altar calls per se. As I’ve said, I believe altar calls can do more harm than good. I say this because one might be tempted to think that because one raised a hand or walked an aisle, one has salvation. Similarly, I don’t even like a model prayer at the end of an evangelistic tract. The issue is trust. Is one actually trusting God for salvation? We can know the truth concerning Jesus’ cross work and not have salvation. One can even believe that Jesus did die and rise from the dead and not be saved. Knowledge isn’t enough; believing that something is true isn’t enough. The issue, again, is trust. Am I relying on the work of Christ, and not my own works for salvation? Of course, saving trust changes a life. If we trust Jesus for salvation then we will turn from the sin that eternally damns our souls and take up our cross and follow Jesus.

I’ve flown with good friend, Scott, and son-in-law, Jake. Even though both of them have piloted many times, they both worked through a card of preflight checks. I assume that this is mandated protocol. Being a ride along, I appreciate this procedure. No one wants to discover a problem several thousand feet in the air. As important as physical safety is, spiritual safety is more important. The reason is obvious. Eternity is a long time. My point is clear: we need to be exceedingly careful in affirming the salvation of another.

Again, salvation is indicated by life changing trust. Several years ago Debbie and I bought a home. Given that we believed a move down the street would be advantageous, we packed up our stuff and moved into a different house. If we believe that Jesus brings life, then our lives will be radically different. We’ll take up our cross and follow Jesus for the rest of our lives. The sign that we savingly trust Jesus for salvation isn’t that we respond to an altar call or pray the “Sinners Prayer,” rather, it is that we move in a different direction and follow Jesus.

Now in Jesus’ wounds reposing,

I my tired eyes am closing.

For His love and pardoning grace

Are my only resting place.

Through the day His mercy holds me,

And by night His arm enfolds me.

Of Thy strong protection sure,

Jesus, I shall rest secure.

 

Tr. H. Brueckner, 1916

Altar Calls

April 13, 2018

The elders of Bowman have discussed altar calls in the past. We’ve had some interesting conversations. My view is that they do more harm than good. It is relatively easy to raise a hand, walk down an aisle or look up at the pastor than it is to repent and believe. The sign that we’re believers is that we’re baptized and we persevere. Here Mark Dever briefly weighs in on the issue.

 

The following is a thought first found in Ambrose and then later in Calvin. It is something I’ve never put together before.

You, no doubt, are familiar with the story of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing in Genesis 27. The blessing of the firstborn became Jacob’s because he duped his dad into believing that he was Esau. He was able to do this because he wore Esau’s garments. Genesis 27:27 says, “So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, ‘See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!‘” Similarly, we receive the blessings of the elder (he was a Son first) brother as we wear his righteous clothes. The Father smells the Son on us and gives us the blessing he deserves.

As Jacob in no way deserved Esau’s blessings, so we in no way deserve the blessings of Christ. But, those blessings are ours!

It’s Suppertime

March 31, 2018

Tomorrow at Bowman we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This is from Chapter 30 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing to all the world the sacrifice of himself in his death,1 confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.2
1 1 Cor. 11:23-26
2 1 Cor. 10:16,17,21

Among other things the supper is “for … confirmation of the benefits of faith … spiritual nourishment … growth in him … further engagement in, and to all duties which we owe him; and to a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and to each other.” As is always the case with the gospel, the Supper is too good to be true. Through eating the simple bread and wine we are confirmed in the faith, nourished, we grow, it enables us to serve and obey, and it is a bond and pledge of our communion with Jesus. This is one meal I don’t ever want to miss.

Resurrection Reality

March 28, 2018

Bomanites, what follows with slight modification will arrive in your mailbox in the next few days. If you want to get a jump on my newsletter piece, here it is …

Spring brings with it not only the delights of warmer days and a profusion of colorful growth, but also the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, for believers the resurrection of Jesus means everything. Believers have doubled down on the resurrection. As the Apostle Paul wrote, if there is no resurrection, then we are of all people most pitied. Either the Christian hope is a hoax of disastrous proportions and every other belief system has merit, or Christianity is true and every other belief system is a hoax of disastrous proportions. It’s like the earth is either flat or round. Only one can be true.

This is why Christians put so much emphasis on the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection. We might sing a song like “He Lives” that says, “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.” It is true that, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” As precious as this experience is, ultimately our hope doesn’t rest on our subjective experience, rather it is firmly fixed in objective history. We sink or swim based on the historical truth of the resurrection. The establishment of ancient historical truth is not like the evidence in a court case today. Obviously there is no video, audio or DNA evidence. Yet, we acknowledge that we have an understanding of what happened in antiquity. We know what happened in the past because of literature, art, artifacts and architecture, among other things. For example, thankfully, none of us were around for the Black Death in the middle of the 14th century in Europe. Some estimates indicate that 60% of the population of Europe was killed. In major metropolitan areas maybe 75% of the population died. It took 200 years for the world’s population to recover. How do we know this given that there are no videos, audio recordings or other modern techniques of verification? There is irrefutable evidence from things like literature, art and cemeteries. No one doubts what was then called the Great Mortality. The Black Death changed the world.

Christ’s resurrection is the same type of truth. It isn’t substantiated through video, audio or DNA. The historical record from that era tells us the story. We know the resurrection happened because of the literature and corroborating history from that time period. The Apostle Paul writes of those who witnessed the resurrected Christ: “He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” Written decades after the Jesus’ ascension, Paul says the witnesses are still alive. There are hundreds of them. Go have a chat. The disciples who were powerless, pusillanimous polliwogs before the resurrection were transformed into giant-slayers after the resurrection. The church exploded in the years following the resurrection. It took off in the least likely place of all, Jerusalem. Unless, of course, Jesus really did rise from the dead in Jerusalem. Then it would be the most likely place. A few decades after the resurrection Christians were accused of “turning the world upside down.” Less that 300 years later Christianity had conquered the Roman Empire. Not with swords like other religions but simply with the truth of the resurrection. The resurrection changed the world.

What does the resurrection mean to us? Let me highlight two truths. First, Paul writing about Jesus said, “Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” We understand that Jesus died for our sins. Paul also adds that he was raised for our justification. Christ’s resurrection verified that our sin was forgiven. Think of it as a receipt. Recently Debbie and I visited Muir Woods. To get there and back to our car, we took a shuttle bus. We paid for our bus ride at the park bookstore. We were given a receipt that we had to show the bus driver to secure our place on the bus. Similarly, the resurrection means the price has been paid and is our receipt that secures our place in heaven.

Second, Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of the final resurrection. Again, Paul says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The harvest, the resurrection has started. We’re next. Christ’s resurrection guarantees that it will happen to you and me.xThe resurrection bus has already picked up and delivered Jesus. It is on the way back to pick up those with receipts. The resurrection is destiny-changing truth. Rest in it!