Eschatological differences aside, this is an excellent sermon on how we are to worship while we are still waiting for the culmination of our salvation – perfect communion with our triune God.

“How to Wait When You Don’t Feel Like It, Part 6: Wait in Worship”: http://www.gbcob.org/downloads/2017_02_12_Swartz_PM.mp3
– Steve Schwartz (Grace Bible Church – Bakersfield, CA)

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The deception of sin and the illumination of the gospel

Into our culture of restless change and obsessive narcissism, into this world that is not simply twenty-first-century America, but the way we’ve been since Adam, an announcement comes from another world, proclaiming something that has happened outside of us, something done for us by someone else in history that anchors our identity outside of ourselves. This event does not give us a “new me”, does not improve the self, does not ask, “What would you like to be today? Are you an autumn or a summer?” Rather, it says, “Forget you – I am going to tell you what I did for you. Pull your head out of yourself.” Augustine defined the essence of sin as being curved in on ourselves. We are so bent over that all we can see is the ground beneath us. So we make the ground pretty; we make everything delightful, and we think we have improved the real world. But the gospel comes to us and says, “Oh, you poor, small soul! Look outside of yourself. I will bend you back, so you can see the whole vista that you’ve never seen before.”

– Michael Horton, from his sermon “Sanctifying Grace”, as published in The God We Worship

Together for the Gospel launches a Central California regional chapter

TGC is putting down some roots in the central valley of California. In so doing they sum up the spiritual malaise here well quite well:

For many central Californians, the gospel is limited to a prayer they prayed by their bedside at age four. For some, the gospel is little more than a tract they hand out from time to time. For others, the gospel is trying to be a good person, going to church, being anti-liberal, or voting for the right candidate.

Central California suffers from a low view of God, a high view of self, and a minimal view of Jesus. Our only hope is found in the sovereign goodness of a great God, the matchless power of his Spirit, the timeless truth of his Scripture, and the life-giving gospel of his crucified Son.

May the Lord bless these efforts to spread the truth of His gospel and make Him known as He truly is.

Regeneration and the problem with dispensationalism

As a system of theology, there are many errors in the way dispensationalism endeavors to understand scripture, but perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this theology (historically) is its faulty view of regeneration. In a relatively recent “round table” discussion with Sinclair Ferguson, R. C. Sproul Jr., and a few others, R. C. Sproul shared an anecdote of a conversation he had with some of the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary (historic bastion of dispensationalism) regarding this problem. In recounting the conversation, Sproul said the following:

They asked me, “R.C., what’s your problem with dispensationalism?” And I said, “You know, my biggest problem with dispensationalism is your historic doctrine of regeneration.”And that was met with bewilderment. These professors said, “What are you talking about? What’s the problem with our view of regeneration?”

I said, “Well, classic dispensationalism teaches that when the Holy Spirit regenerates a person, that person does not experience a change in their nature. So that you can have the Spirit in you, and you be in a state of salvation, without any change in your life whatsoever. And that was popularized in the picture books that were spread out by Campus Crusade, where you had the circle with the chair, and you had the cross outside the circle, and ‘S’ – the self – was on the chair; and that’s the picture of the unregenerate person, the pagan. But then you have the next stage of those who are regenerated, where now Christ is inside the circle, but not on the throne. Self is still on the throne. You’re saved, you’re in a state of grace, you’re regenerated, you’re justified, but you have absolutely no fruit whatsoever because your life hasn’t changed. And that gave rise to the development of this concept of the “Carnal Christian”, where a person could be saved without any manifestation of any change, and . . . I said for us, regeneration involves a foundational change in the disposition of the human heart, where that fallen person prior to his regeneration had no inclination to the things of God, no love for Jesus, and once that heart has been changed, through the immediate, transcendent power of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration, now that person has Christ in his life, and Christ is now his Lord. He’s not perfected, not fully sanctified, but the process of sanctification has certainly begun. And if it hasn’t, you have a profession of faith with no faith.”

And so what’s so serious about this is that it invites a false sense of security for people believing that they are saved, because they signed a card or raised their hand or walked an aisle, and prayed a prayer or whatever, but have no evidence of the fruit of sanctification in their lives.

Now there are many dispensationalists who do not share this view of regeneration, perhaps most notably, John MacArthur. Like other systems of theology, Dispensationalism may conjure up a specific image in our minds or mean certain things to us, but not everyone who claims the mantle may hold those views that would historically be considered dispensational.

Hymn of the week: “How Vast The Benefits Divine”

This wonderful hymn was written by Augustus Toplady (who also wrote “Rock of Ages”) in the 18th century and recently given a modern treatment by Grace & Peace Music on their Great High Priest EP. Their rendition includes most of the original lyrics, which in places may require repeating in order to catch the meaning of the poetry, but the verses are so very rich. I came across the lyrics first, and was quite happy to then discover that a version of this song existed which featured modern instrumentation. I hope that more and more churches incorporate this hymn into their worship services.

How vast the benefits divine
Which we in Christ possess.
We are redeemed from guilt and shame
And called to holiness.
But not for works which we have done
Or shall hereafter do,
Hath God decreed on sinful men
Salvation to bestow.

The glory, Lord, from first to last
Is due to thee alone;
Aught to ourselves we dare not take
Or rob thee of thy crown. 
Our glorious Surety undertook
To satisfy for man,
And grace was given us in him
Before the world began. 

This is thy will, that in thy love
We ever should abide.
That earth and hell should not prevail
To turn thy Word aside. 
Not one of all the chosen race
But shall to heav’n attain; 
Partake on earth the purposed grace
And then with Jesus reign.