Thursday, February 26, 2009

...the joyful riches of grace found in Christ Jesus the Lord

declaring the good news of the gospel of graceThere is no greater duty facing the body of Christ today than defending, guarding, and proclaiming sola fide (justification by faith alone) and sola scriptura (the authority and veracity of God's Word). The glory of the Lord - the splendor, majesty, and holiness of God is manifested in the gospel or in the Lord incarnate (Hebrews 1:1-3)..

God is clearly and distinctly seen in the gospel. In the gospel there is no obscurity--no veil. We are permitted to look on the full splendor of the divine perfections - the justice, goodness, mercy and benevolence of God - to see Him as He is with undimmed and unveiled glory. Oh may we behold the beauty and the grandeur of the gospel of grace as evidenced in His sinless life, in His once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross by the Lamb of God, and in His bodily resurrection from the grave.

The Cambridge Declaration so powerfully states,

"Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.

In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word "evangelical." In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the "solas" of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word "evangelical" has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible." (April 20, 1996)
May it encourage your hearts in service to and worship of our risen Prophet, Priest and King.

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

by Ursinus, Zacharias (1534-1583)
The term gospel signifies:

1. A joyful message, or good news.
2. The sacrifice which is offered to God for this good news.
3. The reward which is given to him who announces these joyful tidings. Here it signifies the doctrine, or joyful news of Christ manifested in the flesh; as “behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 10, 11.)

The words επαγγελια (epangelia) and ευαγγελια (euangelia) are of a somewhat different signification. The former denotes the promise of a mediator that was to come; the latter is the announcement of a mediator already come. This distinction, however, is not always observed; and is rather in the words than in the thing itself; for both denote the same benefits of the Messiah, so that the distinction is only in the circumstance of time, and in the manner. of his appearance, as is evident from the following declarations of Scripture: “Abraham saw my day, and was glad.” “No man cometh to the Father but by me.” “I am the door, by me if any,” etc. “God hath appointed him head over all things to the church.” “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (John 8: 56; 14: 6; 10: 7. Eph. 1: 22. Heb. 13: 8.)

The gospel is, therefore, the doctrine which the Son of God, our Mediator, revealed from heaven in Paradise, immediately after the fall, and which he brought from the bosom of the Eternal Father; which promises, and announces, in view of the free grace and mercy of God, to all those that repent and believe, deliverance from sin, death, condemnation, and the wrath of God; which is the same thing as to say that it promises and proclaims the remission of sin, salvation, and eternal life, by and for the 102sake of the Son of God, the Mediator; and is that through which the Holy Spirit works effectually in the hearts of the faithful, kindling and exciting in them, faith, repentance, and the beginning of eternal life.

Or, we may, in accordance with the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth questions of the Catechism, define the gospel to be the doctrine which God revealed first in Paradise, and afterwards published by the Patriarchs and Prophets, which he was pleased to represent by the shadows of sacrifices, and the other ceremonies of the law, and which he has accomplished by his only begotten Son; teaching that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; which is to say that he is a perfect Mediator, satisfying for the sins of the human race, restoring righteousness and eternal life to all those who by a true faith are ingrafted into him, and embrace his benefits.

The following passages of Scripture confirm this definition which we have given of the gospel: "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” “And that repentance and remission of sin should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 6: 41. Luke 24: 47. John 1: 17.)

this has been an encore presentation


donsands said...

Another nice post on the gospel. Thanks.

I glory in my Redeemer
Whose priceless blood has ransomed me
Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails
And hung Him on that judgement tree
I will glory in my Redeemer
Who crushed the power of sin and death
My only Savior before the holy Judge
The Lamb Who is my righteousness
The Lamb Who is my righteousness
(from, Sovereign Grace Ministries)

Mike Ratliff said...

The truth from the Cambridge Declaration quote is, sadly, ignored or even unknown in our churches today. What a tragedy that the Gospel is no longer central in our churches. The seeker-senstive model claims to be churching the unchurched so is being evangelical. However, they preach only a subset of the Gospel, that is, the fact that God loves them and wants to save them. However, no emphasis on Man's depravity and utter unworthiness of salavation is ever mentioned.

Also, the seeker-sensitive people actually are creating seeker-central churches. The sheep don't get fed while their churches become complelty focused on drawing people in by appealing to the flesh.

Sorry, but this is very wrong.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Bhedr said...

Yes, Good post Steve,

This is a wonderful and hopeful message for all of us. Thank you for your forgiveness in the matter of misjudging you in the past and attacking your character. Thank you for your message. I hope all of you will pray for me as God has burrowed a deep hole in my soul and convicted me in how I am to respect all of his people as they are one in Him. If in the future we disagree once again, I pray I can do so in a more respectable way. Thanks again for your gracious forgiveness. Continue to pray for me in this reactionary weakness I have, that I bring it under submission of the Lord Jesus Christ.

donsands said...

I'll pray for you. Here's a good verse for us when we pray. John 15:7
Our Lord is truly gracious, and He is faithful.

Scruples said...

The result of this event, it seems to me, after reading bloggers who attended and those commenting, is not togetherness but more angst over theological debates that were the rage 30 years ago.

Case in point: the role of women in pulpit ministry. In commenting on article XVI of the T4G statement, one side believes pulpit ministry is for men only. The other side are aghast at such a thought.

Both sides are living in the past. The church needs to move on from such silly debates. I remember our youth group being devastated in the early 1980’s by heavy handed elders at our Plymouth Brethren church who would not allow young women to share a song during our communion service because that would violate the dictum that women were to remain silent in the church. I did not leave the church but others did. It was obvious to me that debate did nothing but bring shame on the gospel!

From my perspective, if Jesus sanctioned this distinction between men and women he would never have allowed Mary to assume the role of a rabbinical student by sitting at his feet and listening to his teaching, (Luke 10:39) for to do so, there was an implicit understanding that she would arise and teach others what was being taught her. Neither would the gospel writers have allowed Mary Magdelene to be the first apostle, a fitting description for the one Jesus commanded to “Go and tell” my brothers… (John 20:17)

Paul’s great chapter on what it means to “get it together for the gospel” is Ephesians 2. In that chapter he describes the “mystery of the gospel” which is the visible unity of the church despite its ethnic, societal and gender differences. He says the same thing in Galatians 3:28, the famous passage that states there is neither male nor female in Christ.

How is this debate about pulpit ministry contributing to the visible unity of the church? I think it contributes more to dividing the church than it does to uniting it. When the church is divided the powers in society win and the church is marginalized. When it is united, the powers are defeated. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Perhaps, it is time for us to REALLY BE TOGETHER FOR THE GOSPEL. Perhaps it is time to stop rehashing all the old tired worn out theological debates that divide us. Rather, let us come together around some things we can agree on rather than be divided by the things we disagree on.

For starters, lets agree that Jesus is Lord. Whether or not we believe in the 19 articles of the T4G statement or not, we need to agree that Jesus is Lord. Since Jesus is Lord, let’s agree to disagree on our differences, Okay? For what its worth, I think if we did that, we’d be more true to the gospel than if we signed onto any number of creedal confessions.

Bhedr said...


Thanks brother.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Great post, Campi.
If we're not united around truth, our unity is useless.

Tony said...


Discussing and decaling a position on scripture is not living in the past. The issue of women in “pulpit ministry” is important because God has spoken to the issue in scripture. Something, particularly the scriptures, does not become unimportant because time passes or it brings division. To decide something is not applicable because it is seen as antiquated is incorrect.

As far as your understanding of the role of women, and by the way according to 1Tim 3:1-7 not all men are to be in pulpit ministry either, I would like to make a few comments. First the fact that a group of professing believers may have misused scripture with regards to women singing in church does not negate the whole issue. It may form your understanding of the issue but that is all the more reason to reason from scripture. As far as Mary sitting at the feet and thus assuming she was to teach does not say she was to teach men in a pastoral role. She could have been being taught so as to lead women and for her own edification and to help in leading a future family. Just because she was told to “go and tell” does not necessitate this as being a teaching role but that she was simply to spread the good news that we are all to do.

As far as unity this is not at the price of denying scripture. John 14:15 says we love Christ by following his commandments which includes all of what God desires of us in scripture. So if scripture declares some form of order, as it does, in roles we are to show love by obeying them. By the way Gal 3:28 is famous and it refers to salvation and not roles. This verse is all too often used in the gender debate but in doing so it is simply misused.

Lastly, there is a reason that we can not simply all just agree that Jesus is Lord because what does that mean. I would suppose a Mormon could claim that but in the end they would not mean the same thing and I would hope you would not include them as true believers. I have heard others say we just need to Love Jesus or some other such statement and that begs the question, what does Love mean and what do they mean by Jesus. If church history tells anything it is that confessions are necessary to help define what we mean so that things are clear. Unity is around doctrine and beliefs and when defined my bring division. As you read scripture it is clear that we are to be unified around the Gospel but that in doing so division will happen.

I pray that what I have said is taken in love as I have had to go through the process of seeking answers to these issues and in the struggle have found that all too often my initial stance was taken so as to avoid tension. Please understand that I see the words of God to be eternal and we need to avoid the tendency to let culture dictate our understanding of scripture. Also while unity is important we need to also be sure that unity is not at the expense of truth. Where would we be today if at the council of Nicea the goal was to just get along instead of searching out truth?

Bhedr said...

When I think of a modern day Mary, I think of someone like Joni Earickson. God has worked into her something amazing and her ministry fits I think for what the Lord intended of being what a deconess is(servant). I agree with Tony though, that the scriptures are clear on offices in the Church and I don't think Joni would assume that she should hold this order that God has imposed as a reflection of the Trinity and it is good to honor Who He Is in our worship. The woman is to be exalted as our redemption came from her seed, but she is not to ursurp the man. The nice thing about Joni as a woman in listening to her devotions I find, is that God has worked into her a tremendous amount of holiness, and in her patience she bears with the Churches negligence of the handicapped, yet does not come off at us with a condemning tone pulling out the Law, but rather instead exhorts us through grace to love and honor God in obediance in servanthood instead of selfishness. I think she is a good model for what God intended woman to be like in the church as well as in public.

gigantor1231 said...


Is truth to be sacrificed for the sake of unity? This is what many emergent teachers and false teachers teach today. Do you stand in the emergent camp? I would hope not. Mt. 7: 21-23 addresses this crowd of individuals.
I am making this question short in hopes that perhaps you can answer it and let us see who you really are!

greuber said...

are we to sacrifice unity for the sake of a well argued point? Isnt our goal,as proclaimed in the gospel,to spread that gospel into the world to bring all men(woman) united as one body, ONE church for Jesus to present to our Heavenly Father?

greuber said...

1 Corinthians 1

Divisions in the Church

10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas[a]"; still another, "I follow Christ."
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into[b] the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

4theluv said...

With all due respect, the Gospel of Christ is unchanging. That salvation is in Him, and no other. It belongs to the Sovereign God to grant in His Divine Counsel, and by the power of His Spirit we are drawn irresistably to Him as He calls. These things do not change.

But, my brothers, I urge you to proceed with caution. The Gospel is relevant in all generations, and the mode of that special revelation from Him may change with each generation.

Often we forget how big is the God that we serve. He does not need our defense, nor does He need us to bring about His salvific purposes. But He does use us, and our feeble attempts to be His people. He uses us to specifically and externally reveal Himself to His people, even as His Spirit specifically and internally reveals Himself to them. And without His Spirit's call, there is no salvation. "No man comes to the Father,except my Father who sent me draws him." John 6:44

The future of the Church, and the eternal destination of sinners is not in our hands. His church will sustain, and His people will continue to be called to Him. We are but vessels for His use to reveal Himself to the His people.

In that light, we should be careful to distinguish the message from the mode, and when our brothers err in their message, to reign them in in love. But in the matter of how they apply the truths of the Gospel in a contemporary setting we should be hesitant to intercede.

We sit in front of computer screens and speak of the great love of God revealed in Christ, an event unheard of a mere 20 years ago. Yet the message is the same.

While certainly anecdotal, for a simple 15 year old boy like me, God used Bob Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" to draw me to Him. Certainly such music would be labled "emergent" now, and I fully understand it does not tell the whole story (nor alot of it correctly), the core truths of the gospel message were there. But few songs exist that blend the truths of the Gospel with the ability to speak to world that is not listening.

Larry Norman, to me, is one man who sought to express Christian truths in modern terms without compromising the core truths of the Gospel.

No doubt, there are lines to be drawn. A consistent complaint concerning the "emergent" church (and, yes, I am aware of theological issues with some as well) is that "they" are soft on sin. Such criticism is spoken with an aire as if God cannot save a person who has not first been completely worked over by sin police. Doctrine should be sound, and communicated through appropriate modes. Modes should not become doctrine.

However, a proper criticism of emergent church's are that they may permit mode to dictate doctrine. The tendency of some in the "emergent" church is to slide toward deism, which is definitely heresy.

In short, I agree that we must never partake in allowing the Gospel to be shaped by the culture, but we must never stand in the way of those who seek to impart the exclusive truths of the Gospel in a way the culture understands.


Don P said...

I once had a pastor who came from Maine. He had a story he liked to tell, of how coastal communities would form "rescue societies" whose purpose was to go out and rescue sailors in the event of a shipwreck. As time would go on, perhaps there would be no emergency for many years. The society would gradually devolve to a social club, wholly unsuited for the task when an emergency did occur.So then a group of sailors families would go, and establish a new "rescue society". He used this as an analogy for what happens to Christian denominations over time. Remember that the Congregational Church was originally formed by the Puritans, and the Methodist Church was formed by followers of John Wesley.Jesus, in his parables pointed out that there would always be unbelievers within the Church, and that the fight for doctrinal accuracy (perversion of another word; I can't bring myself to say 'correctness' here) is something that will always be ongoing.