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"...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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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « But I thought Calvinists Never Evangelize... | Main | Matthew 18:15-20 »

    All You Have to Do is Recognize Your Need. Really?

    With regard to saving faith, have you ever heard a preacher say "all you have to do is recognize your need" as if this were the easiest thing in the world? You might as well tell a sinner "all you have to do is perfectly obey the ten commandments." The nature of proud fallen man is such that he can no more submit to the humbling terms of the gospel any more than he can obey the law, without the Lord removing the old heart of stone and granting him a new heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26)

    Who is sufficient for these things? Grace is at the root of saving faith. This spirit-wrought faith is the hand by which the soul lays hold of Jesus Christ, is united to Him, and is redeemed. They who have true faith take hold of Christ's strength, courage and his victory over the world. The more faith you have the more useful will you be. Faith is like a seed planted by God and germinated by the Holy Spirit and grows up organically, by degrees, from faith to faith. That our faith would grow should be the daily prayer of all who love the Lord. Do you have faith? Always remember that it is not something that comes natural to men, but is a supernatural gift from on high...As John the Baptist said, "...a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven." And when Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, Jesus answered him that "flesh and blood had not revealed this to him but my Father who is in heaven."

    The command to repent and believe the gospel is given indiscriminately to all. But, contrary to what many modern preachers would say, this is no easy command to obey. Men are tethered to the yoke of sin and are by nature hostile to God (Rom 8:7; 1 Cor 2:14) making them unable to rise above their own native resources to believe. Jesus does not come to fix our old house but says that the old house must be torn completely down to the ground. There is no coming to him in faith unless the Father grants it (John 6:65) The synergist, who still gives people hope they they are sufficient in themselves to meet God's condition, comes along as says, "All you need to do is humble yourself, recognize your need, believe the gospel..." which then puffs up the sinner, as if we only need to fix a few things in our old rotting house. But the true gospel gives a death blow to the root of our self-righteousness. The fallen man is proud and self-righteous by nature. He would do anything, even outwardly obey the commandments, rather than let go of his self-righteousness. But to give up self-righteousness is absolutely needful to salvation, and this humility, this letting go, is not a fruit that springs from nature. We cling to tightly and fiercely to ourselves. To confess that there is no good thing in us,that we have no merit or goodness of our own and must trust in the righteousness of another is the product of a new heart and so Jesus declares that it is a gift from on high that we owe to God's sovereign, particular grace in Jesus Christ ALONE with no mixture of glory to man.

    How is it that so many preachers forget this obvious and pervasive truth in the Bible? It all arises out of ignorance and our desire to credit some portion, however small, of our salvation to ourselves. But once the light of the gospel shines in our hearts, and the Spirit disarms our hostility, the bondage of sin and self-righteousness is broken. Let us never "glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 1:15; Gal. 6:14.) not only for justification when we come to faith, but also for the quickening of the Spirit that brings us to faith. Both derive their power from the Person and Word of Jesus Christ. He provides everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe.

    Posted by John on February 7, 2012 03:52 PM

    Comments

    "...He provides everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe."

    The Preacher said something Sunday last, quoting from someone that makes that more salient and poignant:

    "The Good News is God saves the ungodly.

    The bad news is we do not tend to think of ourselves as ungodly"!

    Without the assistance of the Holy Spirit quickening the gift of Faith given to us, how would we ever know just how utterly ungodly we are?

    We wouldn't.

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