Can the Law Enable and Empower Believers to Follow Its Dictates?

Brad:

Good stuff.

Originally posted on Nate Paschall:

That was the essence of a discussion I had on Twitter recently. I posted:

The Law does not nor cannot enable or empower believers to follow it. Only the Spirit working grace into the soul brings this about.

The following question was posed to me in response:

…when Jesus said, Lazarus come forth, was it law or gospel?

I presume the question was asked because it seems to contain within it both a command to be obeyed (Law) and life-giving power (gospel) in the same act. Jesus approached Lazarus’ tomb and issued his command and Lazarus clearly obeyed Jesus’ command. The command brought life.

But is it correct to see in this an instance of the Law bringing life?

The instance here is one of the creative act of God. There is not the obligatory response that the (Moral) Law calls for. The corollary to what occurs in this passage is the…

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Why I Left Pentecostalism

Originally posted on Average Us:

A post for my Pentecostal friends and family…

It was 1906

People in Topeka and Los Angeles were looking for… something.

What they found at the Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles – tongue-speaking, ecstatic experiences, alleged prophesying and divine healing – gave birth to the modern Pentecostal movement.

Azusa Street, Los Angeles 1907

[The Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission, Azusa Street, Los Angeles, circa 1907.]

It was 1979

I was 16, and I was looking for… something.

For the previous two years I had been becoming more and more aware of what some call the “God-shaped hole” in my soul. I had also recently learned what God’s “peg” was: the gospel.

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Rewriting the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Not so fast

Originally posted on A Daughter of the Reformation:

Over at Reformation 21, Mark Jones has written a post on why we should rewrite the question and answer to question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Instead of this being the q and a for the first question:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Mark Jones wants us to rewrite the question and add a second part:

Q. What is the chief end of God?
A. To glorify Christ, through the Spirit, and enjoy him forever.

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. To glorify God and Christ and enjoy them, through the Spirit, forever.

His stated purpose for making the change is that he believes the original language does not focus us on Christ’s work, since Christ is not mentioned in the answer. I have a couple of thoughts about…

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Should Christians Be Offended By Obama’s Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast?

Originally posted on Christian in America:

At the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday President Obama spoke at length about the ways in which religion is so often hijacked in the name of violence and injustice. Most of the examples Obama cited were of actions committed by Muslims and in the name of Islam. But Obama paused, for just a few sentences, to remind his mostly Christian audience not to be too self-righteous.

And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ…. So this is not unique to one group or one religion.

Conservative critics pounced.

Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, claimed that the president’s comments were the most offensive he’d heard from a…

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The Peril of Modernizing Paul

Originally posted on The Reformed Reader:

Justification Reconsidered Stephen Westerholm is a helpful voice for those of us opposed to the New Perspective(s) on Paul – perspectives which have been around for forty years or so.  In his recent book Justification Reconsidered, Westerholm explains and critiques the New Perspective(s) on Paul and also gives a biblical defense of the historic or classical perspective.  Since it is only 100 pages, this is a great book for those who want an introduction to this discussion; it is also good for readers who want to review the errors of the New Perspective(s) and be refreshed with a fine defense of the traditional view.

I especially enjoyed the first chapter, where Westerholm argued (contra the New Perspectives) from several of Paul’s epistles that the Apostle’s main emphasis wasn’t first and foremost ecclesiological (how Gentiles might get into the “messianic community”); rather it was soteriological (“how can sinners find a gracious God?”). …

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“The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers

Originally posted on :

download (3)

Lifeway has been selling The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven for many years now. It is part of the trifecta of books on “heavenly tourism” that Lifeway has sold and has promoted, along with 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is for Real. The co-author of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven – the boy himself – has written an open letter to Lifeway and admonished them for not holding to the sufficiency of Scripture, and has recanted his tale. For those who may not be familiar with of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, the publisher’s description is as follows:

“In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex–and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. ‘I think Alex has gone to be with Jesus,’ a friend told the stricken dad. But…

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Beth Moore Confronts Young Pastor’s Wife for Criticizing Her Direct, Divine Revelation

Originally posted on :

Beth Moore recently wrote a post at her Living Proof Ministries, apparently fed up and perhaps feeling the heat of being criticized. The precipitating event, according to Moore, was the criticism received from a 22 year-old woman [who happens to be a pastor’s wife and member of #the15] who called her a false teacher. In the post, Moore laments the woman’s charge and equates witch-hunting to heretic-hunting. Of course, it’s been a few years since anyone has burned a heretic at the stake, and I’m not sure anyone is calling for that. Nonetheless, it seems that Moore views the situation as very serious. In the post, Moore seems genuinely befuddled as to why she would be called a false teacher, let alone by a young woman – obviously, Moore’s key demographic.

By way of quick clarification, and to be fair and precise, while the “false teacher” claim gets thrown around…

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Santa the Arminian

Brad:

Coming back from Sombertown, and traveling over the Mountain of the Whispering Winds, Kris Kringle is captured by the Winter Warlock, but escapes from his clutches by giving him a present. The gift is only a toy train, and I think it would be quite a stretch to draw any analogy with the gift of faith here, but judge for yourself: here is the result of the gift on the evil Winter Warlock:
“My icy heart, it’s melting! Suddenly my whole outlook has changed from bad to good. Ah, but will it last? I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart, you know. It’s so difficult to really change!”
Wow. Is that a perfect setup fora sermon on monergism or what? Mr. Warlock, if your change of outlook is due to your own efforts, then it will not last. Yes, you are a mean and despicable creature at heart, as are we all in our natural fallen state. Indeed, it is more than difficult, it is impossible to change yourself — only God can change you! (I am reminded also of a trailer for current movie School for Scoundrel, in which Billy Bob Thornton disparages self-help books: “You can’t help yourself, because your self sucks!”)
But Kris Kringle suppresses the Warlock’s truth with laughter:
“Difficult? Why look here, changing from bad to good’s as easy as taking your first step!”
Which leads in to the song “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking cross the floor…” — an anthem to man’s ability to improve himself. Which makes plenty of sense when you put it together with Santa’s attempt to sort out the naughty vs. nice children: “Awww, I guess they’re really all pretty nice.”

Originally posted on Blogorrhea:

A few weeks ago, I unmasked First Mormon Joey Smith as an Arminian. During this Christmas season, watching Santa Claus is Coming to Town (this is the lesser of two classics; the one with Meisterburger Burgermeister, not the better one with Heat Miser and Cold Miser), and was surprised to learn that Santa Claus is also an Arminian.

Coming back from Sombertown, and traveling over the Mountain of the Whispering Winds, Kris Kringle is captured by the Winter Warlock, but escapes from his clutches by giving him a present. The gift is only a toy train, and I think it would be quite a stretch to draw any analogy with the gift of faith here, but judge for yourself: here is the result of the gift on the evil Winter Warlock:

“My icy heart, it’s melting! Suddenly my whole outlook has changed from bad to good. Ah, but will it…

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A Reckoning

Originally posted on THE JAGGED WORD:

By Paul Koch -

doc

I love the movie Tombstone with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. I’ve watched that movie countless times. I can recite most of the scenes and I am still moved by the powerful friendship displayed between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday which runs through the heart of the movie. Now in the movie after the famous shootout at the OK Corral, Wyatt and his brothers are ambushed by a notorious gang of outlaws. The confrontation leaves his younger brother dead and his older brother without the use of one arm. This sparks Wyatt’s drive to bring justice to the land. In one particularly awesome scene, after Wyatt shoots his way through a trap saving his crew, one of them says to Doc Holiday, “If they were my brothers I’d want revenge too.” Doc Holiday responds, “Make no mistake; it’s not revenge he’s after, it’s a reckoning.”

A…

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Why Work is Law-Centered, Not Gospel-Centered, and Why the Distinction is Important

Brad:

Ding, Ding, Ding. Good stuff here.

Originally posted on Literate Comments:

http://oldlife.org/2014/12/how-did-the-reformation-ever-happen/

When we present work, which is a law-centered activity, as a gospel-centered activity, we do people a serious disservice and invite cynicism and disillusionment on both the part of the worker and the consumer of goods and services.

Why? Because the only way that you can be truly “gospel-centered” in your work is if someone else is seriously subsidizing you:

(1) You work a low-paying job but still live well and have plenty of time, energy and money to give because you have:

(A) Inherited money
(B) A spouse supporting you
(C) Parents supporting you

(2) You work for a church, a charity, a government … or a “ministry” like The Gospel Coalition, in which case you are being supported by either

(A) the people in (1) above, or
(B) People making their living in the capitalistic marketplace

(3) You have a special skill (say as an artist or…

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