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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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THE OLD HYMNS

J. M. Boice:

James Montgomery Boicegrace boice“The old hymns expressed the theology of the church in profound and perceptive ways and with winsome, memorable language. They lifted the worshipper’s thoughts to God and gave him striking words by which to remember God’s attributes. Today’s songs reflect our shallow or nonexistent theology and do almost nothing to elevate one’s thoughts about God.” (Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? p.180)

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THE REFORMED TRADITION

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

Reformed theology gets its name from the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, with its distinct theological emphases, but it is theology solidly based on the Bible itself. Believers in the reformed tradition regard highly the specific contributions of such people as Martin Luther, John Knox, and particularly John Calvin, but they also find their strong distinctives in the giants of the faith before them, such as Anselm and Augustine, and ultimately in the letters of Paul and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Reformed Christians hold to the doctrines characteristic of all Christians, including the Trinity, the true deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of Jesus’ atonement for sin, the church as a divinely ordained institution, the inspiration of the Bible, the requirement that Christians live moral lives, and the resurrection of the body. They hold other doctrines in common with evangelical Christians, such as justification by faith alone, the need for the new birth, the personal and visible return of Jesus Christ, and the Great Commission. (Reformed Theology)

REFORMED DOCTRINES

James M. BoiceJames M. Boice writing on Reformed Doctrines:

These doctrines were not invented by Calvin, nor were they characteristic of his thought alone during the Reformation period. These are biblical truths taught by Jesus and confirmed by Paul, Peter and all the other Old and New Testament writers. Augustine defended these doctrines against the denials of Pelagius. Luther believed them. So did Zwingli. That is, they believed what Calvin believed and later systematized in his influential Institutes of the Christian Religion. The Puritans were Calvinists; it was through them and their teaching that both England and Scotland experienced the greatest and most pervasive national revivals the the world has ever seen. In that number were the heirs of John Knox: Thomas Cartwright, Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, Matthew Henry, John Owen, and others. In America others were influenced by men such as Johnathan Edwards, Cotton Mather and, later, George Whitefield. (Foundations of the Christian Faith)

A CULTURAL MANDATE

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

Reformed theology also emphasizes the cultural mandate, or the obligation of Christians to live actively in society and work for the transformation of the world and its cultures. Reformed people have had various views in this area, depending on the extent to which they believe such a transformation possible But on the whole they agree on two things. First we are called to be in the world and not to withdraw from it. This sets reformed believers apart from monasticism. Second, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner. But the chief needs of people are still spiritual, and social work is no adequate substitute for evangelism. In fact, efforts to help people will only be truly effective as their hearts and minds are changed by the gospel. This sets reformed believers apart from, mere humanitarianism. It has been objected to reformed theology that anyone who believes along reformed lines will lose all motivation for evangelism. ‘If God is going to do the work, why should I bother?’ But it does not work that way. It is because God does the work that we can be bold to join Him in it, as He commands us to do. We do it joyfully, knowing that our efforts will never be in vain. (Reformed Theology)

GLORY TO GOD ALONE

grace boiceJames Montgomery Boice:

Glory to God alone. Each of the great Solas is summed up in the fifth Reformation motto: soli Deo Gloria, meaning ‘to God alone be the glory.’ It is what the apostle Paul expressed in Romans 11:36 when he wrote, ‘to Him be the glory forever! Amen.’ These words follow naturally from the preceding words, “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (v. 36), since it is because all things really are from God, and to God, that we say, ‘to God alone be the glory.’” (Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? pp. 65-149)

FAITH ALONE

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

The Reformers never tired of saying that ‘justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.’ When put into theological shorthand the doctrine was expressed as “justification by faith alone,” the article by which the church stands or falls, according to Martin Luther. The Reformers called justification by faith Christianity’s “material principle,” because it involves the very matter or substance of what a person must understand and believe to be saved. Justification is a declaration of God based on the work of Christ. It flows from God’s grace and it comes to the individual not by anything he or she might do but by ‘faith alone’ (sola fide). We may state the full doctrine as: Justification is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

CHRIST ALONE

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

The church of the Middle Ages spoke about Christ. A church that failed to do that could hardly claim to be Christian. But the medieval church had added many human achievements to Christ’s work, so that it was no longer possible to say that salvation was entirely by Christ and his atonement. This was the most basic of all heresies, as the Reformers rightly perceived. It was the work of God plus our own righteousness. The Reformation motto solus Christus was formed to repudiate this error. It affirmed that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any ‘gospel’ that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one. (“The Five Solas of the Reformation”)

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