"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « The Apparent "Good" in Natural Man | Main | Logic and John 6:44 »

    God Is Not a Buffet Line of Options by Pastor John Samson

    What is the Church's biggest need? I believe that what the Church needs more than anything else is GOD as He really is, and the GOSPEL as it really is. If one of these is distorted, then so is the other.

    God has not changed in any way at all. Not recently. Not ever! God Himself says, "I am the Lord, I do not change." - Malachi 3:6. Yet in today's church, many of God’s characteristics or attributes have been deliberately obscured from view. The more popular attributes of God are still being displayed, such as His Love, His Grace and His Mercy. Yet there has been the obscuring of certain other attributes of God - His Holiness, Righteousness, Justice, Wrath and Sovereignty.

    At a Buffet, we find no Buffet Police watching to see if we put every item on our plate, and holding us accountable for doing so. We are free to choose which type of food we will eat, and which we will leave to one side. We do so with impunity, for we face no legal action for passing by a certain meat or failing to put the apple pie on our plate.

    But lets be clear, God’s attributes are not a buffet line of options. We are not invited to choose the attributes of God that we like best and leave the others. We have no right to say, “I’ll give Sovereignty a pass, but I’ll take the love." God doesn't allow us to put some of His attributes to one side. God is everything He says He is. To only believe in or to only emphasize certain of His characteristics is to invent our own god. There's a biblical name for that - idolatry! An idol can be fashioned and formed by the heart and mind just as much as by the hand. There is only one God and any god that is not the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture is a false one.

    Romans 5:8-9 declares, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” God in His love sent His Son into the world to save us from His own fierce wrath which is against all that have sinned against Him, defying His holiness.

    Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The ultimate calamity is to fall into the hands of the living God while not being in right standing with Him, facing the full judgment and wrath of God for eternity. If this is the greatest peril, then being rescued from this is the greatest deliverance and salvation. All who place their trust in Christ as Savior and Lord are saved by God, from God, for God.

    J. I. Packer summed it up by saying, “The gospel tells us that our Creator has become our Redeemer. It announces that the Son of God has become man and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment. The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight. God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place. By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be ‘just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.’ Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel.”

    Posted by John Samson on January 25, 2006 01:23 PM


    Pastor John

    Thank you for that reminder. Boice called such meeting halls, "Salad Bar Sanctuaries". The other morning in a men's group where we get together to interact with the Scripture and Reformation Theology we were talking about the need to keep the proper tension of showing the doctrines of grace to be Christ-centered ... to always have each doctrine point back to the excellencies of Christ and what He has accomplished for us.

    Christ's love and His wrath, Imminence and Transcendence, Soverignty and Love, must all be presented boldly, without lessening the Scriptures presentation of either end of the spectrum. This does not mean that we need to swing back from the extreme of discussing the sovereignty of God and find some "middle ground" between love and sovereignty ... no, rather it means that we hold all truths about Jesus as being fully true like a multi-faceted diamond. Each face of the diamond is no less a part of the diamond. All His perfections shine out the excellencies of Christ equally and one perfection should not be overemphasized to the determiment of others. Only as we believe in the full sovereignty of God and the full love of God for His people do we have the proper biblical tension.

    John H.

    I agree entirely with your very insightful comments. Well said.

    Thanks for that excellent article, Pastor Samson. I think R.C. Sproul's article in the recent Tabletalk on "Pilgrim's Progress" was excellent. He noted that, with today's gospel, none of the lost are ever crying out and saying "What shall I do to be saved?"

    The church today is preaching a gospel that is not the gospel. I fear for the church when I think of Paul's words, "But if even we, or an angel from heaven, preaches any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8)

    I am a seventeen-year-old homeschooler, and I hope that I one day will help advance the true gospel (when I get out of seminary).

    Thanks for advancing the true gospel here.

    Aspiring Theologian

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