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Letting Go of Trying to Be the 4th Member of the Trinity (via Scotty Smith)

Scotty Smith brings a prayer that seeks to apply a truth that brings peace and liberty.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev. 22:13 (NIV)
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Ps. 94:19 (ESV)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isa. 26:3 (NLT)

Heavenly Father, it’s time for us to shift our focus from the immediacy of our fears, hurts, and disappointments, to the permanency of who you are. It’s one thing to be lovingly concerned about a matter, and another to anxiously obsess about it. Praying without ceasing is awesome, vexing without sleeping isn’t.
So, with palms up, we release our burdens and worries to you, Lord. Not that we’ll care less, but we will trust more. You are God, and we are very much not so. In your time, and on your dime, you’ll finish the good work you started in your children, creation, and history. Though our unbelief says otherwise, you’re neither AWOL or disinterested, bored or negligent. About everything, you say, “I’ve got this one.”
You are the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, and everything in between. You are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—perfect Trinity, and you’re not looking to make a Trio into a Quartet. You don’t need us; you love us. Though the cares of our hearts are many, your consolations way outnumber them.
When we fix our thoughts on you—as opposed to fixating on messy situations and messy people, your peace centers, settles, and liberates us. So as this day begins, and continues, we choose liberation over consternation; we choose to count blessings over messes; we choose to believe the gospel over trying to be our own savior, or anybody else’s. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.

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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.
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…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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A Weekly Routine Wearing Daily Tracks Of Grace On The Soul (via Zac Hicks)

Zac Hicks writes about corporate worship training and equipping disciples of Jesus for their day to day life following Christ.

Part of [the church Hicks was attending at the time] weekly service structure was a rehearsal of repentance, a Confession of Sin and an Assurance of Pardon. Week in and week out, we would have a time in our service where we publicly spoke out a congregational confession, followed by a time of silent confession for each individual. These confessions were followed by the pastor declaring a scriptural assurance of our pardon, telling us our sins were forgiven because of the work of Jesus. Over time these weekly routines wore ruts into my soul, and I’d find them graciously haunting me the other six days of the week. I noticed that when I would stumble into sin, I had new instincts and a new inclination to confess my sin to God and preach to myself – really, to hear the Spirit preach to me – one of the verses the pastor would recite. I’d hear in my head and heart the words from our Sunday service: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 ESV) Our weekly worship gatherings were teaching me how to repent and apply the gospel to my daily life any and every time the waves of guilt would hit me.

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pp 57-58.