RW Glenn – The Doctrine of Propitiation: Saturday Theovideo

A word that may be too obscure and technical for people to remember anymore. Propitiation. Whoa. Paul wrote the most central text in the entire Bible when he said

God set forth [Jesus] as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:25-26 NKJV).

RW GlennRW Glenn, pastor of Redeemer Bible Church in Minnetonka, Minnesota, gives us a brief blast of theology centered on propitiation, set to kinetic typing. Soak this in, believer, it is life and health for our souls.

Grace in Christ,

-Justin

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Martin Luther on the Chief Doctrine of Christianity

Martin Luther (b. November 10, 1483 – d. February 18, 1546) was enlightened to the doctrine of justification when as an Augustinian friar he read Romans 1:17 by the light of the Holy Spirit:

For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (NKJV).

This most precious truth gave him freedom from the condemnation of the Law of God, and also gave freedom to love God for the first time. Under a tormented conscience, Martin had been a frequent visitor to the confessional booth, but never seemed to be able to get true assurance that God had forgiven him (though he regarded private absolution highly). The day he found the gospel there in Romans 1:16-17, he was freed from the fear of condemnation and became the great hero of the Protestant Reformation – restoring light to the Bible for the peoples of Europe. (Yes, that was a simplified version)…

And so we thank God for this (very flawed) man, through whom the chief doctrine of the Christian life was restored to the Church. On this topic, Luther bluntly states

This is the true meaning of Christianity, that we are justified by faith in Christ, not by the works of the Law. This is the highest article of our faith, and if one should abandon it as the Jews do or pervert it like the papists, the church cannot stand nor can God maintain His glory, which consists in this, that He might be merciful and that He desires to pardon sins for His Son’s sake and to save. If this doctrine of justification is lost, the whole Christian doctrine is lost.

This doctrine can never be urged and taught enough. If this doctrine is overthrown or disappears, then all knowledge of the truth is lost at the same time. If this doctrine flourishes, then all good things flourish, religion, true worship, the glory of God, and the right knowledge of all conditions of life and of all things. [1]

So let us defend to our deaths the doctrine of God’s justification of sinners, based solely on the merits of Christ’s life, penal substitutionary death, and resurrection for our justification. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, revealed in Scripture alone. That is our Reformation heritage.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

[1] Martin Luther quoted by Robert D. Preus in Luther and the Doctrine of Justification, Concordia Theological Quarterly, vol. 48, num. 1 (Fort Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary, 1984), 1.

Moral Improvement is Not Why God Saved You

If you’ve been around American evangelicalism at all, you might have picked up the idea that God saved you in order to put you to work for Him. Justification is that glorious moment of favor that God gives to those who are for the first time believing in Christ, but it quickly fades into a life of hard work, moral improvement, and careful discipline in spiritual matters. Sound like the Christianity you know?

If so, I’m so happy to tell you this: you don’t know Christianity. Here’s the secret to seeking the joy that God intends for His kids… well, let me give the mic to a maestro of grace:

From Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith,

As John Murray helpfully explains, progressive sanctification depends not only on justification but on God’s once-and-for-all act of claiming us as saints. For many Christians, the change in subject from justification to sanctification roughly corresponds to God’s work for us and our work for God, respectively. The result of this assumption, however, is that for a brief moment at the beginning of the Christian life the focus was on Christ and his blessing of justification that was received through faith alone—itself, in fact, a gift of God. But then the rest of our life is a matter of striving for moral improvement. “Having begun by the Spirit,” Paul asked the Galatians, “are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Sanctification, like justification, has its source not in the “works of the law” but in “hearing with faith” (Gal 3:3 – 5). [1]

Were you saved by grace through faith? You are. Striving for moral improvement as a matter of willpower and personal commitment will either land you in the hospital, or you’ll quit Christianity (though you’ll have never actually internalized the real grace of God), or if you can pull it off and become a moral person, you’ll have something to boast in, and you’ve become a nasty little canker on the tongue of the church.

No. No, no, no. Our only strength and hope in the Christian life is to look to Jesus – learn Him, be filled with Him, seek Him in all things. And friends, for heaven’s sake, don’t run from God when you’ve sinned… run to Him.

This blog will re-visit this subject frequently. There is much need in the Christian community for these reminders of grace, for the constant removal of the chains of moralism. Be free[d] in Christ!

Thanks for reading,

Justin

[1] Michael Horton, The Christian Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 650-1.

Repentance From Sin Includes Restoration of Joy

For each and every person who believes in Jesus the Christ; for every one that believes He is who the Bible says He is, and believes what the Bible says He has done (and is doing, and will do in the future), 1 John 5:1 says this:

Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. (ESV)

We are born from above, born of God’s Spirit, regenerated in the inner-man, made a new creature, justified in God’s court of law, adopted into God’s family and inner-circle, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places, to name just a few of the identification markers of being a Christian.

But what about when we sin? The Lord’s Word speaks to His sinning, stumbling children:

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:8-14

He knows our sins, and He does not deal with us accordingly. He dealt with Jesus Christ according to our sins! Oh wondrous gospel of love and grace! God’s omnipotent forgiveness has reached the most wretched of us – and remember, weak  and fearful Christian, that He has removed your sin from you as far as the east is from the west. Indeed, before the world was formed Jesus had decided to die for your sins; past, present, and future (Romans 5:6-8; Rev. 13:8).

So then, my brothers and sisters, what happens when we sin? We do not lose the love of God – He loves us unconditionally. He favors us in all our frailty. He is ready to extend the word of forgiveness to us, the forgiveness already applied to us in Christ. What has happened to us in our sins? We lose our own sense of joy. We lose our sense of intimacy with Jesus our Lord. This is not His punishment, but rather, His discipline as a loving Father who ensures our perseverance in faith to the end.

My dear friends, wait no longer when you have sinned: confess it to your heavenly Father, and seek the Lord Jesus Christ. This is repentance. Turning to God, hoping in His grace – repentance from sin… away from sin.

As David prayed in his own hour of confession,

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Psalm 51:12 (NKJV)

Whose salvation is it? It is God’s salvation. Restore to me the joy of YOUR salvation, my beloved Lord, and rid me of the shame of my sins. Set me on a course to make sinners to know this love and mercy You have poured out on me and my family. I worship You, Lord Father God. Be magnified!

That right there, beloved Church universal, is our home base. We return to Him in our sins, and He restores the joy of His salvation. Hallelujah!

So, what are you waiting for? Seek the restoration of your joy… in Him!

Soli Deo Gloria

-Justin