What I Read Online – 12/05/2012 (a.m.)

05 Dec
    • There are two opposite errors that evangelical Christians easily stumble into on the topic of baptism: we treat it with too little or too much importance.


    • Baptism is not essential because it does not save. The word of the gospel alone saves. Yet baptism is important because (i) it proclaims the gospel visibly; (ii) it helps to protect the gospel from generation to generation; (iii) and it serves to publicly identify the people of heaven on earth, both for their sake and for the sake of the nations.


    • In his reply, Tullian gave numerous citations from Reformed confessions regarding the on-going depravity of Christians.  I would not quarrel with any of them, but would only note that none of these define Christians with the term “total depravity,” nor with the definition of this specific doctrine.  So, in this respect, my critique of Tullian was saying, “Please don’t use the term ‘total depravity’ for regenerate Christians, even while seeking to qualify the term, because it is not accurate
    •  In fact, Christians and non-Christians are so radically different (because of the grace of regeneration) that the emphasis should starkly contrast them, not positively compare them.  Christians and non-Christians are so different when it comes to their disposition towards God and their potential for positive effort in sanctification that Paul describes believers as “new creations.”
    • Here is the sentence in his article to which I was reacting: “Many Christians think that becoming sanctified means that we become stronger and stronger, more and more competent.”  I am one of these Christians.  The next sentence asserts that Christians who talk this way may really believe they no longer need Christ’s grace.  My concern with this construction is as follows: to say that Christians are able (by God’s grace in Christ) to exert effort towards sanctification, and to experience increased strength and competency in doing so, is not a sub-biblical approach to sanctification that should be suspected of self-reliance.  Rather, it is the essential biblical doctrine of sanctification
    • Here, then, is a summary which I would be glad to have quoted as representing my position: “Because we are no longer totally depraved by virtue of the grace of regeneration, Christians can exert effort towards our sanctification and we are called to do so by the Bible (note how often the apostles call for this very effort towards holiness — Romans 12:1 and following; Galatians 5:16 and following; Ephesians 4:1 and following; 1 Thessalonians 4:1 and following, etc.).  Christians will fail in many ways and our efforts will be flawed and marred by sin, all of which is cleansed by Christ’s blood.  Nonetheless, Christians should grow spiritually, should become stronger and more competent, and should bear testimony to their discipleship by bearing good fruit, which is only possible by God’s grace in union with Christ through faith and is therefore to God’s glory alone (Jn. 15:5-8).  As Paul put it, ‘The grace of God has appeared… training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age’ (Tit. 2:13).”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 05/12/2012 in Current Issues


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