Soli Deo gloria is the motto that grew out of the Protestant Reformation and was used on every composition by Johann Sebastian Bach. He affixed the initials SDG at the bottom of each manuscript to communicate the idea that it is God and God alone who is to receive the glory for the wonders of His work of creation and of redemption. At the heart of the sixteenth-century controversy over salvation was the issue of grace.
It was not a question of man’s need for grace. It was a question as to the extent of that need. The church had already condemned Pelagius, who had taught that grace facilitates salvation but is not absolutely necessary for it. Semi-Pelagianism since that time has always taught that without grace there is no salvation. But the grace that is considered in all semi-Pelagian and Arminian theories of salvation is not an efficacious grace. It is a grace that makes salvation possible, but not a grace that makes salvation certain.
Obeying authority is hard. We bristle anytime we hear someone say: “You must do this. You ought to do that.” We want to be able to say: “Don’t tell me what to do. I want to do what I want to do.” We want people to empower and entitle us. We hate receiving mandates. That’s our nature. In light of this, I like to talk about a Christian worldview and how it differs from a pagan worldview. One way to differentiate the two would be to consider each worldview’s understanding of responsibility toward authority. If I were not a Christian, I certainly wouldn’t embrace submission to authority. But being a Christian makes me hesitate before I live in active disobedience to those whom God has put in authority over me. To understand why, we must look at the New Testament’s explanation of the origin and function of government under God. This issue is clearly dealt with by the Apostle Paul in the thirteenth chapter of his epistle to the Romans.
How is sin to be understood? Is it accidental or essential to our humanity? The term accidental refers to those properties of an object that are not part of its essence; they may exist or not exist without changing what that object truly is. For instance, a moustache is an accidental property. If a man shaves off his moustache, he does not cease to be a man.
On the other hand, essential properties are those that are part of the essence of a thing. Remove that property, and it ceases to be that thing. Sin is not essential to humanity, unless someone believes that God made humanity sinful at the beginning. If sin is essential to humanity, then that would mean Jesus was either sinful or not human. So, sin is not essential. Adam had no sin when he was created, yet he was still human. Jesus has no sin, but He is still human. Believers will have no sin when they get to heaven, and they will still be human.
Sin is not essential, but neither is it merely tangential or on the surface of our humanity. Rather, the portrait that we get in the Scriptures of man in his fallen condition is that he is utterly and thoroughly infected by sin in his whole person. In other words, sin is not an external blemish, but something that goes to the very core of our being.
This excerpt is taken from R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions booklet How Can I Be Blessed? Download more free ebooks in the Crucial Questions series here.
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from Ligonier Ministries:
What does the Bible say about God’s leading? It says that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5–6). We are encouraged by Scripture to learn the will of God for our lives, and we do so by focusing our attention not on the decretive will of God but on the preceptive will of God. If you want to know God’s will for your life, the Bible tells you: “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). So when people wonder whether to take a job in Cleveland or in San Francisco, or whether to marry Jane or Martha, they should study closely the preceptive will of God. They should study the law of God to learn the principles by which they are to live their lives from day to day.
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We will be hosting a home bible study on the topic, “What is Reformed Theology?” based on and featuring the video teaching series of Dr. R.C. Sproul. Join us on Facebook or subscribe to our Email Updates to receive more details on the date and time.
You’ve heard of Reformed theology, but you’re not certain what it is. Some references to it have been positive, some negative. It appears to be important, and you’d like to know more about it. And you want a full explanation, not a simplistic one.
Few evangelical Christians today understand Reformed theology. They know it has something to do with predestination, and they may have heard of “the five points.” But they can’t name these points, and they think no one believes most of them anymore. Dr. R.C.Sproul says there’s more to Reformed theology than these five points. Reformed theology reveals just how awesome the grace of God is.
The roots of evangelical Christianity are found in the soil of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, which brought a return of true biblical theology to the world. In this series, Dr. Sproul offers an introduction to Reformed theology, the heart of historical evangelicalism. C.H. Spurgeon once said that Reformed theology is nothing other than biblical Christianity.
So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:24–25).
This statement, “Give God the glory!” seems positive until we read the remainder of the sentence, in which the Pharisees revealed that they had concluded that Jesus was a sinner and therefore could not have performed the miracle. They were saying that the man should give glory to God, not to Jesus. The man was straightforward with them, saying: “I don’t know whether He’s a sinner. I don’t even know Him. All I know is this: once I was blind and now I see.”
With these simple words, the man bore witness to Christ. He testified about the redemptive work of Christ. However, he did not preach the gospel. What am I getting at? In the evangelical Christian community, we sometimes employ language that is not always sound or biblical. You’ve heard the lingo. It goes something like this: “I plan to become an evangelist so I can bear witness to Christ.” Or sometimes we say, “I had a chance to witness the other day,” meaning, “I shared the gospel with someone.” We tend to use the terms evangelism and witnessing interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. Any time I call attention to the person and work of Christ, I am bearing witness to Christ. But that is not the same thing as preaching the gospel. Continue reading Your Testimony Is Not the Gospel | R.C. Sproul
About thirty years ago, my close friend and colleague, Archie Parrish, who at that time led the Evangelism Explosion (EE) program in Fort Lauderdale, came to me with a request. He indicated that on the thousands of evangelistic visits the EE teams made, they kept a record of responses people made to discussions of the gospel. They collated the most frequent questions and objections people raised about the Christian faith and grouped these inquiries or objections into the ten most frequently encountered. Dr. Parrish asked if I would write a book answering those objections for evangelists to use in their outreach. That effort resulted in my book Objections Answered, now called Reason to Believe. Among the top ten objections raised was the objection that the church is filled with hypocrites. At that point in time, Dr. D. James Kennedy responded to this objection by replying, “Well, there’s always room for one more.” He cautioned people that if they found a perfect church, they ought not to join it, since that would ruin it.
The term hypocrite came from the world of Greek drama. It was used to describe the masks that the players used to dramatize certain roles. Even today, the theatre is symbolized by the twin masks of comedy and tragedy. In antiquity, certain players played more than one role, and they indicated their role by holding a mask in front of their face. That’s the origin of the concept of hypocrisy. Continue reading Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? | R.C. Sproul