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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Grace is not Given to Make You Feel Better!

Jerry BridgesJerryBridges:

God’s grace is not given to make us feel better, but to glorify Him… Good feelings may come, or they may not, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not we honor God by the way we respond to our circumstances. (Transforming Grace, p. 144-145)

The Heresy of Monarchianism

TrinityMonarchianism is the belief that the godhead is singular, consisting of one monarchia. It emerged in the second century as a reaction to the Gnostic belief that in the beginning there was more than one all-powerful being, a good god and an evil counterpart. There were two varieties of Monarchianism: “modal” Monarchianism and “Adoptionist” Monarchianism. Each tried to explain the relationship between God, the Father, and Jesus, his Son, in different ways. “Adoptionist” Monarchianism suggested that Jesus was a human being in every way until He was adopted by the Father to be his Son. The more pervasive variety of Monarchianism was Modalism, the belief that the Father, Son and Spirit are numerically one and the same appearing at different times in history under different forms.

The Westminster Confession of Faith gives us the correct orthodox view of the Trinity in Chapter II – “Of God, and of the Holy Trinity”: “In the unity of the Godhead there are three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.”

In the Scriptures, Godhead denotes that infinite, eternal, and unchangeable nature, or essence, which is not peculiar to the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Ghost, but common to all the three. The distinction in the Godhead is characterized by the word person. Each of the Sacred Three is truly God.

Righteousness and the Law

Augustus M. TopladyUnsound doctrine impoverishes our view of God; it withers our faith; destroys hope; suppresses spiritual joy; and lays waste to Christian obedience. According to AugustusMontagueToplady:

That grand error of the heart (for it is a heart-error, as well as a head – error; deeply rooted in our corrupt nature, as well as perniciously pleasing to unassisted reason), which misrepresents justification as at all suspended on causes or conditions of human performance; will, and must, if finally persisted in, transmit the unbeliever, who has opportunities of better information, to that place of torment where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

The apostle goes on: knowing that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the disobedient, &c. The phrase, a righteous man, means, in its strictly evangelical sense, one that is in Christ; or, who is righteous before God in the righteousness of his Son, apprehended by faith. Now, the law, i.e. the damnatory sentence of it, was not designed for such a person.

Weak believers have sometimes a good deal to do with the law, and are apt to hover about Mount Sinai; but the law has nothing to do with them; any more than a creditor who has received ample payment from the hand of a surety can have any remaining claim on the original debtor. The law took, as it were, our heavenly bondsman by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And Jesus acknowledged the demand. He paid the double debt of obedience and suffering to the utmost farthing. So that, as some render the words under consideration, the law lieth not against a righteous man; its claims are satisfied; its sentence is superseded; its condemning power is abolished. And whoever have been enabled to fly for refuge to the righteousness of Christ, and to lay hold on the hope set before them, may depend on this, as a most certain truth, that Christ hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, having been himself made a curse for them. (Gal. iii. 13.)

Such are not under the law, whether as a covenant of works to be saved by, or as a denunciation of wrath to be condemned by, but they are under grace: (Rom. vi. 14.) under that sweet dispensation of everlasting love which, when made known to the believing soul, at once ensures the practice of universal godliness, and refers the entire praise of salvation to the unmerited grace of the Father, Son, and Spirit. I said that the dispensation of grace ensures the practice of universal godliness: for considered as a rule of moral conduct, the law most certainly is designed for believers. And, indeed, only believers can yield real, acceptable, obedience to the law: for without faith it is impossible to please God, (Heb. xi. 6.) and whatever proceedeth not from faith is sin. (Rom. xiv. 23.) Therefore, if God hath not wrought living faith in your heart, you have never performed one truly good work in your whole life. (“A Caveat against Unsound Doctrines”)

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