The Kingdom of God, defined

The kingdom is a huge theme in the Bible, and yet it can be difficult to define. How would you explain the kingdom of God to a 15-year-old?

Sometimes even those who’ve followed Jesus for a long time find the kingdom message a difficult one to grasp. We sometimes assume “kingdom” is just a metaphor for “getting saved” or for another denominational program or political crusade. We hear chatter all around us about the Prince of Wales or the local high school homecoming queen or the advertising slogans of the “King of Beers” or the “Dairy Queen.”

Against this kind of potential confusion, the mission of Christ starts and ends not just in the announcement of forgiveness of sins or in the removal of condemnation—although both of those things are certainly true. The mission of Christ starts and ends with an announcement that God has made Jesus emperor of the cosmos—and he plans to bend the cosmos to fit Jesus’ agenda, not the other way around.

The kingdom of God, then, is the good news that the right rule of God, and the right rule of man—a rule our ancestors Adam and Eve lost—have come together in the right rule of one right God-man: Jesus of Nazareth. In his sin-resisting life, his wisdom-saturated teaching, his demon-exorcising power, his substitutionary, conquering death, and his justifying, victorious resurrection, Christ is king.

That king, through his Spirit, invites all men to believe by faith what they’ll someday see by sight—what everyone will someday see by sight: Jesus is Lord. Jesus forgives. Jesus is king. And his reign will extend to the corner of every galaxy, forever.

Russell D. Moore

Un/limited Atonement or Multiple Intentions View (Four Point Calvinist Position)

God’s intentions in the death of Christ are complex not simple, multiple not single:

1) Christ died for the purpose of securing the sure and certain salvation of his own, his elect.
2) Christ died for the purpose of paying the penalty for the sin of all people making it possible for all who believe to be saved.
3) Christ died for the purpose of securing the bone fide offer of salvation to all people everywhere.
4) Christ died for the purpose of providing an additional basis for condemnation for those who hear and reject the gospel that has been genuinely offered to them.
5) Christ died for the purpose of reconciling all things to the Father.

http://post.ly/WhbT

Repentance is a Gift: What God demands, God also grants

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant (δώῃ) them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

–2 Tim 2:24-25

διδωμι has a wide range of meaning, but it is always related to “giving.” Perhaps the closest to our passage in BDAG is “grant, allow.” So repentance is a gift, but how so?

My conclusion is that there is a road that leads from a gentle heart open to the convicting working of God’s Spirit, to patterns of sin, to the hard heart in which God gives people over to their sin (Rom 1:24,26, 28).

Earlier on in one’s journey, we are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit and repent easily. But as we continue to neglect the voice of the Spirit, as we insist on our sin, as we establish patterns of unrepentance, those patterns become more and more entrenched.  Eventually, because we are so familiar with our patterns of behavior, we don’t even see the patterns and feel totally justified in how we live.

Bill Mounce @ Koinonia blog.

Liberalism: No Such Thing as Sin

I recently heard somebody talking about “liberalism” as it relates to Christians and churches.   In so doing, I was reminded of how one reformer described liberalism–only a few decades ago in the early 1920s. J. Gresham Machen (founder of Westminster Theological Seminary) wrote of the stark contrast between true Christianity and modern liberalism:

Christianity differs from liberalism, then, in the first place, in its conception of God.  But it also differs in its conception of man.

Modern liberalism has lost all sense of the gulf that separates the creature from the Creator; its doctrine of man follows naturally from its doctrine of God.  But it is not only the creature limitations of mankind which are denied.  Even more important are is another difference.  According to the Bible, man is a sinner under the just condemnation of God; according to modern liberalism, there is really no such thing as sin.  At the very root of the modern liberal movement is the loss of the consciousness of sin.

The consciousness of sin was formerly the startingpoint of all preaching; but today it is gone. Characteristic of the modern age, above all else, is a supreme confidence in human goodness; the religious literature of the day is redolent of that confidence.  Get beneath the rough exterior of men, we are told, we shall discover enough self-sacrifice to found upon it the hope of society; the world’s evil, it is said, can be overcome with the world’s good; no help is needed from outside the world.

Some 86 years later, it still seems that there is nothing new under the sun: liberalism is still prevalent outside the church as it is inside so-called churches.  Some Christians today still refuse to call sin “sin”, but maybe just an “inadvertent mistake” or “unfortunate happening”.  Let the words above remind us all–Christians and unbelievers alike–to come to Jesus and run after him by faith and repentance.  Every person without the Spirit to convict us of sin and convince us of Grace is hopeless: without hope, without God, without Jesus Christ and His atoning blood to forgive us of our sin and to enable us to walk circumspectly according to His Word.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism
 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923), 63-64 (emphasis mine).

There is no love where nothing is loved

“When I, who contemplate this matter, love someone, there are three things involved—I myself, the one whom I love, and love itself.  For I do not love love; rather, I love a lover. For there is no love where nothing is loved. Therefore, there are three things—the one who loves, the one who is loved, and love itself.”

–Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity, 9.2.2.

Quotes

“Apply yourself wholly to the text; apply the text wholly to yourself.” -Johann Albrecht Bengel

“Theology at its best is faith seeking understanding. Theology is canonical faith seeking practical understanding. It is the humble, Christian attempt to understand the Word and the world aright. To what end theology? Theology is for the sake of wisdom, living faithfully before God and human beings.” -Hans Madueme

Circumcision: Skin or Heart, Both Useless and Futile

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16)

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14)

1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6)

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:21-31)