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If You Want To Kill The Gospel, Add A Bit Of Religious Gloom (via Steve Brown)

If Jesus had atoned for it, stop living in misery over it.
Live like someone who’s been forgiven of something they never thought they’d be forgiven for.

From Steve Brown (who makes me smile).

If You Want To Kill The Gospel, Add A Bit Of Religious Gloom.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
The fact is that those who remain in a perpetual state of woe and depression over their sin are often the same ones who teach the doctrines of grace.
If you knew that Jesus was coming back next Thursday, what would you do? You would probably repent, go through remorse, and spend the time remaining in prayer and fasting. Not me. If I knew that Jesus was coming back next Thursday, I would buy a Mercedes because I’m tired of my old Honda and run up the credit cards.
The reason you’re so shocked is that Jesus likes me more than he likes you!
It feels like arrogance, but it’s not. It’s the simple realization that I have nothing to prove, nothing to lose and nothing to hide. I’m screwed up and Jesus, because I’ve put my faith in him, likes me a lot.
You too.

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A Reformation Of Confidence (via Kevin DeYoung)

If you prayed as a Christian in the name of Jesus, completely confident that God hears and accepts your prayer, that’s a fruit of the Reformation.
Kevin DeYoung interacts with the writings of Martin Luther:

[In addition to other spiritual truths, the Reformation] was also about confidence. Not self-confidence, but confidence that God is for us not against us, confidence that we can go to heaven without a sentence in purgatory first, confidence that though we cannot rest in our works, we can rest in Christ’s.
Consider, for example, this powerful reflection from Luther on the confidence we should have in prayer.
+++
…one of the things we must never forget to say is that the Reformation mercifully allowed fearful sinners to have a new kind of relationship with God. The Reformation reminded God’s people that they can have direct access to God through Christ. It re-centered the church on the lavish, scandalous good news of the cross. And it reassured them (and us) that God is on the side of the justified saint, even though they were still struggling sinners.

Read Luther’s words at DeYoung’s blog.


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What Is The Greatest Of All Protestant “Heresies”? (via Sinclair Ferguson)

If you worshipped as a Christian yesterday assured of your salvation, that’s a fruit of the Reformation.
Sinclair Ferguson writes about a lesser acknowledged fruit of the Church’s great awakening, by interacting with one of its contemporary critics:

Let us begin with a church history exam question. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was a figure not to be taken lightly. He was Pope Clement VIII’s personal theologian and one of the most able figures in the Counter-Reformation movement within sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism. On one occasion, he wrote: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is _______ .” Complete, explain, and discuss Bellarmine’s statement.
How would you answer? What is the greatest of all Protestant heresies? Perhaps justification by faith? Perhaps Scripture alone, or one of the other Reformation watchwords?
Those answers make logical sense. But none of them completes Bellarmine’s sentence. What he wrote was: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is assurance.”
A moment’s reflection explains why…

Read the rest of the post at Ligonier.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 29

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 29

Chapter 18 – Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation (Cont.) (Paragraphs 3-4)

III. This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith but that a true believer may wait long and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure; that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance: so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
IV. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which wounds the conscience, and grieves the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation; by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 28

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 28

Chapter 18 – Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation (Paragraphs 1-2)
I. Although hypocrites, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions: of being in the favour of God and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish: yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God: which hope shall never make them ashamed.
II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probably persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.


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Once And For All (via Scotty Smith)

From Scotty Smith’s prayer/blog Heavenward:

The Once-and-For-All-ness of Jesus’ Single Sacrifice for Our Sins

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, once and for all. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. Heb. 10:11-14 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, O, the wonder of this Good News … We cannot hear it too much, believe it too deeply, or rejoice in it too fully. By your death on the cross, you have taken away our sins, once and for all. Nothing is left undone; nothing more needs to happen; nothing else could’ve met our need. It’s not, you did your part, now we must do our part. It’s, you did your part; now let us trust in your part.
And now, having justified us by your finished work, you’re perfecting us by your Holy Spirit. We who’ve been declared perfectly righteous will be made perfectly holy—not by our grit, but by your grace. One Day we’ll be as lovely and as loving as you, Lord Jesus. Justification now flows sweetly into sanctification; sanctification will eventuate into glorification, and glorification will be the beginning of our eternal vacation—a life of never-ending rest and worship, adventure and creativity, perfect relationships and perfect everything!
Even as we rest in your finished work, so we rejoice in your present reign, Lord Jesus. Atoned-for-sin will be abolished sin; already-defeated evil will be eradicated evil; vanquished enemies will be eliminated enemies. May the joy of this good news buckle our knees in humble adoration, and empower our hands for neighbor love.
As we are loved, so let us love; as we have been served, so let us serve; as we are encouraged, so let us encourage one another. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.

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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 22

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 22

Q & A 79
Q May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?
A True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God,1 and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance,2 their inseparable union with Christ,3 his continual intercession for them,4 and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them,5 can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace,6 but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.*7

Q & A 80
Q Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?
A Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavour to walk in all good conscience before him,8 may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made,9 and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God,10 be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.11

Q & A 81
Q Are all true believers at all times assured of their present being in the estate of grace, and that they shall be saved?
A Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith,12 true believers may wait long before they obtain it;13 and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted, through manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and desertions;14 yet they are never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.15

*1 Jeremiah 31:3.
*2 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 13:20-21; 2 Samuel 23:5.
*3 1 Corinthians 1:8-9.
*4 Hebrews 7:25; Luke 22:32.
*5 1 John 3:9; 1 John 2:27.
*6 Jeremiah 32:40; John 10:28.
*7 1 Peter 1:5.
*8 1 John 2:3.
*9 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 John 3:14, 18-19, 21, 24; 1 John 4:13, 16; Hebrews 6:11-12.
*10 Romans 8:16.
*11 1 John 5:13.
*12 Ephesians 1:13.
*13 Isaiah 50:10; Psalm 88:1-3, 6-7, 9-10, 13-15.
*14 Psalm 77:1-12; Song of Solomon 5:2-3, 6; Psalm 51:8, 12; Psalm 31:22; Psalm 22:1.
*15 1 John 3:9; Psalm 73:15, 23; Isaiah 54:7-10.