The renewed mind is marked by a reliance on the Bible, the only infallible rule for faith and practice. Through the light of Scripture, we begin to understand God’s holy character and realize our sinfulness. We begin to understand all that was lost in Eden, and discover why we long to return from exile to the Father’s fellowship. That leads us to look with joy to the redemption found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. Peace with God is now possible. Being found in Christ, living by His revealed Word, brings true human dignity and liberty. A renewed mind leads to a transformed life.
from Ligonier Ministries
There are many reasons why we must evangelize. John Calvin offers the following:
1. God commands us to do so. “We should remember that the gospel is preached not only by the command of Christ but at his urging and leading.”
2. We want to glorify God. True Christians yearn to extend God’s truth everywhere so that “God may be glorified.”
3. We want to please God. Calvin writes, “It is a sacrifice well-pleasing to God to advance the spread of the gospel.”
4. We have a duty to God. “It is very just that we should labor… to further the progress of the gospel,” Calvin says. He adds, “It is our duty to proclaim the goodness of God to every nation.”
5. We have a duty to our fellow sinners. Our compassion should be intensified by knowing that “God cannot be sincerely called upon by others than those to whom, through the preaching of the gospel, his kindness and gentle dealings have become known.”
6. We are grateful to God. We owe it to God to strive for the salvation of others; if we do not, we are behaving in a contradictory manner. Calvin says, “Nothing could be more inconsistent concerning the nature of faith than that deadness which would lead a man to disregard his brethren, and to keep the light of knowledge… in his own breast.”
This excerpt is taken from Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel Beeke.
from Ligonier Ministries
Charles Spurgeon tenaciously held to the doctrine of unconditional election. By necessity, this biblical truth flows from belief in human depravity. Because the will of man is utterly dead and cannot choose God, God must exercise His sovereign will to save. Out of the mass of fallen humanity, God made an eternal, distinguishing choice. Before the foundation of the world, He determined whom He would save. Spurgeon contended that were it not for God’s choice of His elect, none would be saved.
Like all the doctrines that Spurgeon held, he believed this truth because he was convinced it is rooted and grounded in the Bible: “Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it.” In his sermon titled “Election,” preached on September 2, 1855, Spurgeon read many passages that unmistakably teach this doctrinal truth. Among the texts he cited and explained were Luke 18:7; John 15:16; 17:8–9; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29, 33; 9:11–13; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:26–29; Ephesians 1:14; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13–14; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1–2; and 2 John 1. In this exposition, Spurgeon stated:
In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long ere the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being—when the ether was not fanned by an angel’s wing, when space itself had not an existence, when there was nothing save God alone—even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His bowels moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul.
“And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified” (v. 30).
– Romans 8:29-30
In theology, we speak of the ordo salutis and the historia salutis. The historia salutis is the history of salvation, and most of the Bible is concerned with it. When we do theology from the perspective of the historia salutis, we consider what Christ our Head has done and what He has been given, and then we consider what we as members of Him participate in. He suffered and was glorified, and in union with Him so have we. He was raised, ascended to heaven, and sits enthroned; in union with Him we have these privileges in essence now, and look forward to their fulness in the world to come. He judges all men, and we in union with Him will also judge the world. This is the way theology is done in terms of the historia salutis.
The ordo salutis is the order of salvation. This focuses on the acts of God and the response of the individual in salvation. God calls us, produces regeneration in us, so that we respond with repentance, faith, and obedience. Behind the divine call is God’s electing decree. The ordo salutis is not concerned with a temporal sequence of events, but with a logical order. [Read more…]
Even before Paul gets into the details of the Spirit-led life in his epistle to the Galatians (5:16–6:10), there are clues that Paul had no doubt the Holy Spirit would preserve those in his audience who, though they were straying from the gospel, had truly believed in Jesus. His assertion that at least some of the Galatians received the Spirit by faith (3:2–6) points us in this direction, but 5:10 also demonstrates Paul’s confidence. The apostle’s readers may have been toying with the idea of adding the works of the Law to their faith and were at risk of forfeiting their redemption; however, Paul was assured in the Lord that this would not continue forever. As Paul tells us elsewhere, God always completes the good work that He begins in His people (Phil. 1:6), and He will do whatever it takes to ensure that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling (2:12–13).
Circumcision could never be one of the ways by which the Gentile believers in Galatia grew into holiness, but not because it is inherently dangerous to the soul. Actually, circumcision is an indifferent matter (Gal. 5:6), indicating that Paul forbade the practice in Galatia (v. 2) due to the Galatians’ belief that the rite would justify them. Yet there was apparently some doubt regarding his position on the subject, for the apostle must make it clear that he never preached its necessity (v. 11). His Judaizing opponents probably told the Galatians that Paul did proclaim circumcision, at least when it suited him.
The suffering Paul endured was proof that circumcision was never a requirement he added to the gospel. If he had been preaching the need for Gentiles to receive the old covenant sign he would not have run into any trouble. His refusal to impose the Mosaic law upon non-Jews was one of the things that made the news of the crucified and risen Messiah a stumbling block to the Jewish authorities and incited them to take action against him. Some even tried to say that his refusal to toe the orthodox line extended even to his barring of the Mosaic law for Jewish Christians, although this was a demonstrable lie (Acts 21:17–26).
Paul refused to compromise the gospel to make it acceptable to the sensibilities of his fellow countrymen. May we always follow his example.
Martin Luther says that “when the cross is abolished, and the rage of tyrants and heretics ceases on the one side, and all things are in peace, this is a sure token that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is taken away.” The world’s hatred is sometimes a sign that we are being faithful to Scripture, provided the world detests us due to the message we preach, not because we are obnoxious. If we meet no worldly opposition, it may mean we are not being true to the offense of the cross.
Passages for Further Study
From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: http://www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
I once asked a number of people which verses came to mind when they thought about preaching. I had already gone to one of the concordances and looked up verses where the English words preaching, preacher, or preach occur, and I found that, even in these cases, which do not reflect all occurrences of the Greek and Hebrew root words (these are also translated “proclaim,” “make known,” “speak,” and so on), there are 150 verses. But when I began to ask my question, people referred again and again to one verse, 1 Corinthians 1:21, which says, “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
I think that says something about the way many people regard what they hear coming from the pulpit. They think of it as foolishness. In the minds of many, the content of preaching, and perhaps even the delivery of the sermon itself, is a very foolish thing.
Is preaching really foolishness? It obviously is in some sense because Paul uses that word. Indeed, preachers will often say that there are times when they feel foolish as they try to bring a word from God to those living in the midst of a secular culture. Yet when we look at the passage from which that word comes, it is perfectly evident, even on a very superficial reading, that the apostle is using this word foolishness in a specialized sense. He is talking about that which is foolish in the world’s eyes, but which in actuality is the wisdom of God unto salvation.
Every Christian must be a theologian. In a variety of ways, this is something I tell my church often. And the looks I get from some surprised souls are the evidence that I have not yet adequately communicated that the purposeful theological study of God by lay people is important.
Many times the confused responses come from a misunderstanding of what is meant in this context by theology. So I tell my church what I don’t mean. When I say every Christian must be a theologian, I don’t mean that every Christian must be an academic or that every Christian must be a scholar or that every Christian must work hard at giving the impression of being a know-it-all. We all basically understand what is meant in the biblical warning that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). Nobody likes an egghead.
But the answer to formal scholasticism or dry intellectualism is not a neglect of theological study. Laypeople have no biblical warrant to leave the duty of doctrine up to pastors and professors alone. Therefore, I remind my church that theology—coming from the Greek words theos (God) and logos (word)—simply means “the knowledge (or study) of God.” If you’re a Christian, you must by definition know God. Christians are disciples of Jesus; they are student-followers of Jesus. The longer we follow Him, the more we learn about Him and, consequently, the more deeply we come to know Him.
There are at least three primary reasons why every Christian ought to be a theologian.