Our Confession

Lee Irons said:    “To exalt the Reformed confessions is to downplay the primary New Testament confession that “Jesus is Lord.” I’m not a Reformed person who happens to be a Christian. I’m a blood-bought Christian who happens to believe in the Reformed understanding of the gospel. And I do not view myself as a superior Christian for having this belief. It is only by the grace of God that I understand what I do of the grace of God, and even then I betray it all too often in my practice.

Faith precedes and preserves Change

Bill Mounce wrote:  “In the New Covenant our old heart is removed and a new softer, pliable heart of flesh is put in its place. But if our heart is changed, is it possible for our lives also not to change? Of course not. Changed people live in a changed way. This is why judgment (outside of John) is always done on the basis of our lives (i.e., works). Our changed lives of obedience show the reality of the heart changed through faith. …This is the obedience of faith. It is an obedience that first shows itself in a response of faith, and an obedience that necessarily moves into a life of ever-increasing faithful obedience.”

Intel. + Exist.

1) Intellectually, we are related to the Gospel:  by our understanding the Gospel in terms of what it *is*.

 

2) Existentially, we are related to the Gospel:  by our experiencing the Gospel in terms of what it *does*.

 

Our having the first doesn’t necessitate our having the second (at least not in good measure).  Obviously we can’t have the second without the first, but having the first doesn’t mean we’ll have the second in a vital way.

 

There’s lots of us who *grasp* the Gospel as the truth concerning Christ’s substitutionary work on behalf of sinners.  Yet, there is a fewer in number who are *gripped* by the Gospel to where it shapes the core of our being, hence etching an identity (a Christ-image) upon our souls that actually works out in manifold ways. 

 

Much is said today about being “GOSPEL-CENTERED” and yet if you listen long enough it becomes fairly evident that there isn’t much of a theological foundation with the Gospel as cornerstone.  And on the flipside, there can end up being little or no concern about being “GOSPEL-CENTERED,” but more of a concern with theology and morality that seems to misplace the Gospel as cornerstone. 

 

In this latter case, it’s not that there isn’t a great deal of truth in what’s said, but that’s about as far as it goes, it ends up being more of an *virtual* truth than *vital* truth (vital in that it is rooted in the Gospel, grows from the Gospel, exalts the Gospel, and appropriates the Gospel).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sifting and Weeding Through…

I understand that many folks won’t care for Keller, nor do I fully appreciate his thinking on some matters.  But, when it comes down to apprehending and appropriating the Gospel…of all the preaching that I’ve heard that claims to be redemptive-historical and Christo-centric, Keller is among the few who go a very long way toward making clear the differences between *preaching the Gospel* and *preaching Jesus as Example/Add-on/Gap-filler*.

 

Of course there are things Keller says that give us pause, but I tend to ignore that sort of thing like I would everyone else’s statements that don’t seem to square with Scripture.  What I most appreciate about Keller is his bringing the finished work of Christ to bear upon Scripture, faith, and life.  May the Lord aide in our sifting wheat from chaff!

 

This sermon (Born of the Gospel) is a decent example of how Tim captures something of the “how” and “why” the Scriptures are to be read from Genesis to Revelation.  Here too, he helps us understand something of why folks can dabble in so-called “redemptive-historical” thinking, but never escape the grip of a functional denial of what they know Christ fulfilled and abolished!  Reading Vos, Kline, et al, without a more fundamental grasp of the implications of the Gospel, will sometimes (often) lead to more confusion and in the end result in one becoming quite frustrated with trying to do “redemptive-historical” thinking, so that, they give up on the idea and turn around and attempt to pick it apart.  (What they are picking apart is often nothing more than a caricature of a sounder and more thorough understanding of redemption and revelation.) 

 

Perhaps I’m coming to the place where… if the Gospel doesn’t penetrate a believer’s thinking and actions, tangibly over the course of time, than it probably isn’t centrally the Gospel they are hearing and trusting.  Thankfully, Keller helps tighten the weave in areas that many others (who I appreciate for other reasons) can’t seem to readily touch on.

 

Hopefully I’m learning (at least a little) to get over some of my own aversions to things less fundamental in lieu of missing what’s foundational to faith, hope, and love.

Thoroughly Radical Antithesis

Chad Bresson:  “I don’t believe the scriptures would have us make a one-to-one correlation between what is written on the heart of flesh in the New Creation (2 Cor. 3) and what is written on the conscience of humanity.  2 Cor. 3 is making a stark, radical and antithetical contrast between “tablets” and “the Spirit of the living God”.  That kind of radical antithesis doesn’t just include form but also content.  The tablets have disappeared and with them what was written on them.  One cannot have one (form) without the other (content) because Paul makes no distinction here between them and in fact has both in mind (the content functions as a “letter of recommendation” — 2 Cor. 3:1,2).