June 15, 2009
“A message that merely advocates morality and compassion remains sub-Christian even if the preacher can prove that the Bible demands such behaviors. By ignoring the sinfulness of man that makes even our best works tainted before God and by neglecting the grace of God that make obedience possible and acceptable, such messages necessarily subvert the Christian message. Christian preachers often do not recognize this impact of their words because they are simply recounting a behavior clearly specified in the text in front of them. But a message that even inadvertently teaches others that their works win God’s acceptance inevitably leads people away from the gospel.
Moral maxims and advocacy of ethical conduct fall short of the requirements of biblical preaching…
A textually accurate discussion of biblical commands does not guarantee Christian orthodoxy. Exhortations for moral behavior apart from the work of the Savior degenerate into mere pharisaism even if preachers advocate the actions with biblical evidence and good intent.”
Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, pp. 268-269
June 7, 2009
“By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel. Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel.
The Bible can exhort those who trust the living God to be concerned with issues of social justice (Isa 2; Amos); it can tell new covenant believers to do good to all human beings, especially to those of the household of faith (Gal 6); it exhorts us to remember the poor and to ask, not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whom am I serving as neighbor?” We may even argue that some such list of moral commitments is a necessary consequence of the gospel. But it is not the gospel. We may preach through the list, reminding people that the Bible is concerned to tell us not only what to believe but how to live. But we may not preach through that list and claim it encapsulates the gospel.
The gospel is what God has done, supremely in Christ, and especially focused on his cross and resurrection.
Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning.”
D.A. Carson, Themelios, 34.1
May 31, 2009
“Accordingly, the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own…Christ is full of grace, life and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s…”
Martin Luther, Christian Liberty, p. 14
May 25, 2009
“…a Christian may be comforted, first of all, in respect of his former justification. His new sin does not cancel his former pardon, though it will interrupt and disturb his present peace and comfort from it. And secondly, he may be comforted in this, that there is mercy enough in God to cover all his sins, grace enough in Christ to cure this fresh sin. And further, in this he is to find comfort, that God does not suffer him to live in sin, but that He has revealed his sin to him, humbled him for it, and brought him back to Christ in whom he may renew his peace and regain his sense of comfort.”
Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, p. 154
May 17, 2009
“The gospel is saying that, what man cannot do in order to be accepted with God, this God himself has done for us in the person of Jesus Christ. To be acceptable to God we must present to God a life of perfect and unceasing obedience to his will. The gospel declares that Jesus has done this for us. For God to be righteous he must deal with our sin. This also he has done for us in Jesus. The holy law of God was lived out perfectly for us by Christ, and its penalty was paid perfectly for us by Christ. The living and dying of Christ for us, and this alone is the basis of our acceptance with God.”
Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom, p. 86
May 10, 2009
“Christ wants you to believe in him who justifies the ungodly; he does not require you to be godly before you believe (Romans 4:5). Jesus came as a Physician for the sick. He does not expect them to recover their health before they come to him (Matthew 9:12). The vilest sinners are properly qualified and prepared for the gospel’s design, which is to show forth the exceeding riches of grace when God pardons their sins and saves them freely (Ephesians 2:5-7)…
The real insult to Christ is when you condemn the fullness of his grace and merit by trying to make yourself righteous and holy before you receive him! You condemn the justice and holiness of God when you try to improve yourself before you receive the righteousness and holiness that can only come through faith in Christ.”
Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p. 103.
May 3, 2009
“We habitually and instinctively look to other things besides God and his grace as our justification, hope, significance, and security. We believe the gospel at one level, but at deeper levels we do not. Human approval, professional success, power and influence, family and clan identity- all of these things serve as our heart’s ‘functional trust’ rather than what Christ has done, and as a result we continue to be driven to a great degree by fear, anger, and a lack of self-control. You cannot change such things through mere willpower, through learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and into our hearts. We must feed on the gospel, as it were, digesting it and making it part of ourselves. That is how we grow.”
Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, p. 115