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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 24

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 24

62.
Q. But why cannot our good works be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of it?
A. Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment of God must be absolutely perfect and wholly in conformity with the divine Law. But even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

63.
Q. Will our good works merit nothing, even when it is God’s purpose to reward them in this life, and in the future life as well?
A. This reward is not given because of merit, but out of grace.

64.
Q. But does not this teaching make people careless and sinful?
A. No, for it is impossible for those who are ingrafted into Christ by true faith not to bring forth the fruit of gratitude.


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Every Christian’s Sermon Preparation (via Ryan McGraw)

There is usually a lot of preparation taking place on Saturday nights for sermons being preached on Sunday.
If you’re a Christian, even if you’re not going to preach, there’s sermon preparation that you can be doing as well.

From Ryan McGraw at Reformation21:

We should pray for preachers in light of the biblical definitions and goals of preaching. We should pray privately and corporately that the Spirit would accompany our pastors in their studies in order to achieve the aims of preaching. Do we pray that the Spirit would increase love for Christ in our ministers so that they would preach him devotionally? Do we pray that the Lord would grant them the skills needed to fulfill the duties of their office? Do we pray that Christ would give them the ability to apply their sermons wisely, warning every man and teaching every man in order to present every man perfect in Christ? (Col. 1:28). The role of church members in sermon preparation through prayer is equally vital (if not more so) as the pastor’s prayers throughout his studies. Through private and corporate prayer, we participate in the preparation of sermons.

read the whole post here


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Corporate Worship As Training Christians For Daily Life (via Ray Van Neste)

The Bible has led the Christian church to understand its corporate gatherings as directed by God, directed to God, with blessings for Christians, and a witness to unbelievers.
When the order is reversed that which God has directed for Christians to offer to him, along with the blessings they receive from obedience can be jettisoned when a reductionistic principle of communicating the Gospel to unbelievers.
When content deliver is king, elements like corporate confession lapse because unbelievers can’t relate.
But then unbelievers never witness the elements of that God directed his people to offer to him, they never witness the blessings and benefits that God conveys to his people.
In making the Gospel central, the fullness of the Gospel as Christians are meant to experience it is impoverished on the grounds of inconvenience.

From Ray Van Neste:

A guided time of corporate confession has been a staple for Christian worship through the ages though it has fallen out of use in many churches today. A basic idea behind the practice is that in order to draw near to God we must confess our sins (Psalm 66:18; Hebrews 10:22; 1 John 1:9). This reminds us again of the holiness of God, our sinfulness and the pardon available in the gospel. Without this, we too easily tend to drift into worship taking God lightly. In such confession together we experience the gospel afresh, facing our sins and receiving the cleansing forgiveness which Jesus provides. This gracious pardon is the central reason driving our worship. Even if we bring many other sorrows and burdens with us, being reminded that our greatest problem–the wrath of God because of our sins–has been dealt with will enable us to praise God.
In addition, our forebears thought of our corporate worship as training us for daily life. Thus, singing gospel truths was not a “Sunday thing” but gave us songs to sing throughout the week in order to shape our hearts and minds. The proclamation of the Word gave us truth to contemplate and apply throughout the week as well as training us to study the Bible ourselves. And the prayers modeled for us the way to pray. Thus, corporate confession of sin helped shape us into a people marked by regularly acknowledging our sins and seeking forgiveness. I am grateful that our church follows this practice for many reasons, including the fact that it is shaping me and my children. That comment from my son was an early indication that God was at work showing him his need for forgiveness. About a month after the dinner table conversation, I had the privilege of baptizing him as he had come to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins.

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Nobody Welcomes Grace. At The Same Time Everybody Pants For It (via Paul Zahl)

Grace has to be the total paradigm, mix it with anything else and it can’t exist.
From Paul Zahl.

How can grace end-run its way around standards and yardsticks? It sounds unfair.
It is unfair, but it is completely unfair. It is the other side of the law, which is total grappling, a totally unsuccessful and failed grappling, with judgment. Because the law is completely fair, grace has to be completely “unfair.” The atonement makes grace “fair,” as is apparent in the teaching concerning the cross, But from our point of view, from the standpoint of its recipient, grace is unfair.
The unfair character of grace makes it persona non grata in the cut-and-thrust of the battle of life. Nobody welcomes grace. At the same time everybody pants for it; everybody wants it every second of every hour. Grace is an either-or proposition; it is not both-and.

Grace In Practice, Paul F. M. Zahl, Eerdmans, 2007, pgs 70-71.


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Refreshing The Saints (via Gentle Reformation)

Kyle Borg poses a question based on reflection about Philemon verse 7: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (emphasis added).

What am I to my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus? Do I refresh or weary them? Do I give rest or restlessness? Am I a comfort or an anxiety? Do I encourage confidence or are people walking on egg shells around me? Am I blessing to those I am bound to in the gospel or a burden? Are the hearts of the saints being refreshed through me?

Read more at Gentle Reformation.


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The Better Question Believers Should Ask about God’s Will (via Jen Wilkin)

Most of the time questions about seeking God’s will for our lives revolve around questions about what we should do.
Jen Wilkin suggests the more pressing question the Bible deals with has to do with God’s will for what we should be.
It’s not that “what should we do?” is wrong, but “what should we be?” is more enduring and closer to the heart of the work of the Gospel in us.
Wilkin explains the priority in this way:

What good is it for me to choose the right job if I’m still consumed with selfishness? What good is it for me to choose the right home or spouse if I’m still eaten up with covetousness? What does it profit me to make the right choice if I’m still the wrong person? A lost person can make “good choices.” But only a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can make a good choice for the purpose of glorifying God.

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Why Neither Accumulation Nor Minimalism Can Make You Happy (via Wyatt Graham at Gospel Coalition Canada)

I’m an accumulator. But I know it won’t make me satisfied. Neither would getter rid of all my stuff.
From Wyatt Graham at Gospel Coalition Canada:

[Accumulation or Minimalism as] options to happiness are modern. But there is an older way of life that promises freedom like minimalism does and joy like accumulation does. Central to this way of life is the posture of hope in something beyond the material world, namely, God. And if you put your hope in God, then your well-being is not determined by whether you have stuff or don’t have stuff.
Jesus told his disciples not to worry about how much stuff they have or didn’t have because God provides…

Read the whole post here.