Morning Mashup 09/07

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Start your Labor Day off right with a mashup of articles for your information, edification, entertainment, and enjoyment.


How Andy Mineo’s “You Can’t Stop Me” Became Baseball’s Top Walk-Up Song – Andy Mineo’s “You Can’t Stop Me” just proved it’s universal popularity by winning Baseball Tonight’s inaugural Whammy award.

(Almost) The Whole Continuous Story of the Old Testament in 11 Books – There are 11 books in the Old Testament, that almost tell the entire story of God’s redemption before Christ.

When Does Your Religion Legally Excuse You From Doing Part of Your Job? – Very helpful article from The Washington Post.

Need We Jail Each Other Over Marriage Licenses? – “The situation in Kentucky reminds all of us that America is extremely divided on issues that show no signs of weakening. This zero-sum culture war cannot continue if the social fabric of America is to have any chance of unifying around a robust pluralism.”

11 Easy Steps to Repenting on the Internet – Barnabas Piper on the brutal realities of repenting online.

The Promise of God in Threatening Pain – NFL center, Garrett Gilkey, offers helpful reflections on the sovereign promises of God in the midst of pain.

Defending the Bible, Protecting the Faith – Dr. Timothy Jones, my current family and discipleship professor discusses how believers should respond to skeptics in this interview about his new book, How We Got the Bible.

Church Discipline, Contemporary Grace Style – Rick Phillips with some weighty questions with those who identify with Tullian Tchjividjian and the Contemporary Grace Movement.

Can a Label Edify? – And here is Ray Ortlund’s response to Phillips. Admittedly, he doesn’t address any of Phillips’ questions or concerns, but does raise legitimate questions over the benefit of labels.

Pop Atheism and the Power of the Gospel – “As conservative Christian convictions continue to be marginalized, I fear the evangelical response might be something other than courageous love. We could be tempted to shrink back in fear if we aren’t properly propelled by the power of the gospel. Like Sayers, we may wish they all would just leave us alone.”

How I Learned to Live Joyfully – I try to read everything J.I. Packer writes. He is a superb teacher. This piece recounting Packer’s personal experiences only proves this to be true.

Faith’s true office is to see life in the midst of death. –John Calvin

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Salvation by Grace Through Faith in Daniel 9

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In his work, The Doctrine of Repentance, Puritan Thomas Watson opens with an epistle to the reader in which he writes, “The two great graces essential to a saint in this life are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven.”

Daniel shows the place of repentance and faith in relation to salvation in Daniel 9. Indeed, by God’s great grace and mercy, repentance and faith in Christ are the means to eternal soaring.

Daniel 9 is largely a prayer from Daniel on behalf of his people. Based on Daniel’s prayer, the people of Israel rebelled against God and disobeyed him because of a lack of repentance and faith. “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth” (Dan. 9:13).

Repentance and faith, along with a reliance on the truth of God’s word is what leads to obedience. In fact, faith in God’s forgiveness expresses itself in obedience to God. Steinmann writes, “The person who has received God’s forgiveness wants to live the way God’s Word teaches us humans to live. Saving faith in God manifests itself in good works prescribed in the Scriptures” (Daniel, 426).

Obedience to God flows naturally from a heart that repents and trusts Christ. A life that is void of obedience is one that also lacks true repentance and saving faith. So, Daniel cries out what Paul would later declare, that salvation comes by grace through faith, and not by works of the law. And at the same time, this salvation expresses itself in works of obedience. Obedience is the fruit of trust in God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness in Christ. It is never the basis.

In Daniel’s prayer, he admits that Israel had fallen under God’s judgment due to their rejection of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It was a rejection of grace that led to both sin and subsequent judgment.

Daniel then requests God to save his people once again; to forgive his rebellious people for their iniquities (Dan. 9:16). He does this on the basis of the redemptive act of delivering Israel from the hand of Egypt by parting the Red Sea (Dan. 9:15). The act of God in saving Israel from the mightiest army in the world is a perfect example of the way God saves. There is no participation on the part of the people. They do nothing. He does everything. Daniel’s prayer is a demonstration of full reliance on God’s grace and power to forgive. Forgiveness then comes not by the works of Daniel or Israel, but by the grace and will of God.

As Paul would later write to Rome,

What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works (Rom. 9:30-32).

Righteousness is credited to sinners by faith in the Christ who became sin for them (2 Cor. 5:21). It is not a product of a life of attempts at obeying God. Obedience doesn’t produce righteousness. Credited righteousness by grace through faith produces obedience.

Daniel teaches us that we fall into sin, rebellion, and disobedience when we fail to repent of our sin, trust God’s forgiveness in Christ, and listen to the word of God (Dan. 9:13). When we pray, we should ask God to save our lost family and friends not because they are worthy and not based on their good deeds or ours, but solely because God’s glory deserves to be praised by all people!

“For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (Dan. 9:18-19).

Steinmann sums up the matter well:

God hears the repentant sinner’s prayer because of the merit and atonement of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God keeps his promises most vividly in the ministry of Christ, who fulfilled them all (2 Cor. 1:20). God has redeemed his people through the work of Christ. Through faith alone in Christ alone, believers are credited with his own divine righteousness (Ibid., 427).


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

What is Biblical Conversion?: One Coin, Two Sides

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Thinking about the way God saves serves Christians in three ways.

Firstly, when Christians think deeply about the elements of salvation, it deepens our appreciation and gratitude of God’s grace. This leads us into more passionate worship.

Secondly, when Christians think deeply about the elements of salvation, our motivation for evangelism is refreshed and enlivened. The more we are amazed at God’s grace in our lives, the more we will desire to see God’s grace in the lives of others.

Thirdly, when Christians think deeply about the elements of salvation, we will better understand what it means to be a Christian and what genuine believers look like. We will be more effective in recognizing things like true conversion when we know what biblical conversion actually is.

Biblical conversion is the step in the overall process of salvation that a guilty sinner simultaneously repents of his or her sin and believes in Jesus Christ alone. This is a glorious two-sided coin comprised of repentance on one side with faith on the other. The two are inseparable.It is impossible to have one without the other. Conversion is both a turning from a life of sin (repentance) and a turning to Christ (faith). The Bible is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that biblical conversion is the meeting of repentance with faith.

Repentance

Repentance in the Old Testament carried the notion of both sorrow, as well as a turning back from something and to something else (positively, turning to the Lord). One example of repentance caring the element of sorrow is found in Job 42:6: “[T]herefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” This carries a very remorseful tone. Therefore, repenting is something that is full of remorse and sorrow. At the same time, there are examples of repentance used in the sense of turning back.

When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them (1 Kings 8:35).

In this passage, repentance can be seen as turning from sin. In many prophetic passages, the condition of repentance is usually placed on a pronouncement of judgment. God proclaimed judgment on Ninevah, but promised not to destroy them if they would repent, which is the message he entrusted to Jonah. God first grants spiritual life in regeneration and then it is the revived heart that repents (Ezek. 11:19-20). Godly sorrow that leads to repentance from sin is totally God-given.

The New Testament is also clear on repentance. Repentance is recognized as a gift from God (Acts 11:18) that brings with it the notion of changing a sinner’s heart. A sinner’s heart is changed, which enables repentance in the New Testament. There are numerous commands to “repent” and repentance leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10). This imperative usage in the New Testament and emphasis placed on “change” demonstrates that without transformation in one’s life, there is indeed no evidence of true conversion.

Spiritual transformation precedes conversion. In fact, conversion is evidence of God’s relentless grace. A person is not truly converted if there is no repentance because God initiates the application of salvation through regeneration. This is also noticeable in the New Testament correlation between fruit bearing and repentance (Matt. 3:8). There are also many cases in the New Testament in which repentance directly refers to turning back (Luke 1:16; Acts 15:19; 1 Thess. 1:9; James 5:20; etc.).

Repentance is thus a change of mind, heart, and will. It is typically used as a change from sin or wickedness unto God or godliness.

Saving Faith

Biblical faith can be seen in both the Old and New Testament as being comprised of (1) knowledge, (2) assent, and (3) trust.

1. Knowledge

Faith is not blind as some might assert, but it is instead full of factual, historical knowledge. Before one can have biblical faith, one must know what or who they have faith in. An example can be seen in Genesis 15 as Abram is entering into covenant with God not out of blind “faith”, but instead out of a faith resulting from what he knew. Abram doubted God, but then God promised him an offspring that would outnumber the stars above his head. This encounter with God led him to believe.

Faith is full of content. Faith is also more than this.

2. Assent

Faith is an assent of the mind and heart. Biblical faith is not merely knowing some great facts about Jesus. Rather, it is assenting to the truth of those facts personally. Even the demons know about God and even believe some true facts about him (Jam. 2:19). However, biblical faith is much more than this. It is assenting to the truth of these facts personally. The fact that Jesus is Lord becomes a personal joy to the individual in genuine faith.

3. Trust

Finally, faith is trust. Faith is trusting Christ, submitting to Christ, and abiding in Christ on a daily basis. This type of faith is a faith that saves.

Repentance and faith are inseparable. This is why Jesus came preaching “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15 cf. Acts 19:4; 20:21; Heb. 6:1). They are two vital sides of the glorious coin of conversion. One who does not repent of sin is not converted. One who does not have faith in Christ is not converted. And if one has repentance without faith or faith without repentance, there is still no conversion; for biblical conversion includes them both. There is no easy-believeism taught in the Bible. Biblical conversion is filled with both repentance and faith.

When you call sinners to Christ, call them to repent and believe. Through this gospel call, the Spirit regenerates hearts to run from sin into the trustworthy arms of the Christ who worked on their behalf.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.