Tag Archives: Christ

Why We Need Grace

Are we able to pray these puritanical words today,

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.  Convince me that I cannot be my own God, or make myself happy, nor my own Christ to restore my joy, nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.  Help me to see that grace does this by providential affliction, for when my credit is good thou dost cast me lower, when riches are my idol thou dost wing them away, when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into bitterness.  Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart; show me that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience, or support a tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit.  Then take me to the cross and leave me there.

We need grace!  Grace to see our condition apart from Christ that we might even have a desire to pray this way!  Grace to pray this way!  Grace to pray this way every day!

 

Girardeau on Justification

This is probably a tad bit heavier than I generally will post for obvious reasons.  None more obvious than the fact that probably only 1% of people who visit my blog will actually read this, and that 1% will most definitely wonder why they read it, after they have done so.  It takes a great amount of concentration to follow Girardeau on this subject, but if you follow him, you won’t regret it.  I post this mainly because I have been engaged in a conversation with a gentleman on the subject of justification by faith, and I pray that he reads this.

Girardeau says:

It is indispensable to a just apprehension of this vitally important subject [Federal Theology], to notice that what was a covenant of redeeming grace to [Christ’s] seed was a covenant of works to Christ (Hence, we are saved by works, but they are Christ’s and not ours).  It was they, not he, who needed to be redeemed; they, not he, who were to be debtors to grace. He stood under the covenant, as the second Adam, a probationer, required and undertaking to render perfect personal obedience to every demand of law, in order to the justification of his seed in him.  This exhaustive obedience he performed. (Christ did not mystically bring a righteousness down from heaven by which we are justified.  Rather, the imputed righteousness of Christ came from this exhaustive obedience that Girardeau speaks of.) Bold emphases mine

But the question is in regard to his obedience considered as that of the head and representative of his elect seed.  What, in that capacity, did his obedience secure?  In the general, the answer must be: all the benefits of redemption.  But foremost among these blessings – the special answer is – he secured justification for himself and for his seed in him.

The elect seed of Christ having been thus, in the court of heaven, virtually justified in him their representative, were invested with a right and title to eternal life.  Then, when their earthly history emerges, their righteous Advocate and priestly Intercessor, at God’s appointed time, sues out for them the gift of the Holy Spirit, who, imparted to them by their mediatorial King, enters into the, convinces them of their sin and misery, illuminates them in the knowledge of Christ as a Savior, regenerates them, and enables them to exercise that faith which conditions their conscious and actual union with Jesus.  Not now are they, for the first time, federally and representatively, but subjectively and consciously justified.  This is their actual, in contradistinction from their virtual, justification.  In the order of production it succeeds regeneration, as, in that order, virtual precedes it.

Reference:

Girardeau, John L. The Federal Theology: Its Import and Its Regulative Influence. Greenville, SC:      Reformed Academic Press, 1994.

 

Chosen out of the Heavenly University

John Bunyan never had a formal education.  He didn’t know Greek or Hebrew, and he had no theological degrees to brag about.  What he did have, however, was the power of the Spirit of Christ resting upon him.

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This is not to say that those who have theological degrees and know Greek and Hebrew do not have the power of the Spirit of Christ resting upon them.  It does, however, underscore the importance of a life of piety and suffering for the sake of Christ.  Seminary can train young men how to have all the theological answers, but it can’t train them to be holy in ministering and suffering.  Those are things that they will learn soon enough when they receive a call.

Bunyan never had the advantage of being trained to have all his theological ducks in a row.  He had to learn on his own, while experiencing the pain and loss of suffering and ministering for the cause of Christ.  The result was a legacy that is still touching lives for Christ today.

Consider what these men of God said about Bunyan.  His pastor, John Burton…

This man is not chosen out of an earthly but out of the heavenly university, the Church of Christ….He hath, through grace, taken these three heavenly degrees, to wit, union with Christ, the anointing of the Spirit, and experiences and temptations of Satan, which do more fit a man for that mighty work of preaching the Gospel than all university learning and degrees that can be had.

George Whitefield on Bunyan’s masterpiece The Pilgrim’s Progress

It smells of the prison.  It was written when the author was confined in Bedford jail.  And ministers never write or preach so well as when under the cross: the Spirit of Christ and of Glory then rests upon them.

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The master theologian John Owen was once asked by King Charles why he would waste his time to go and hear an uneducated tinker.  Owen replied…

I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker’s power of touching men’s hearts.

This post is meant to spur us on to think about the importance of a life of piety and suffering for the cause of Christ.  It is not meant to diminish the importance of seminary training.  I have seminary training, but I pastored a church for almost 9 years before I started my seminary training.  I didn’t suffer anywhere near the same level as John Bunyan, but I often go back and read some of my thoughts from my days as a pastor and I can remember how the Lord was training me during those days.  They were days of learning, ministering, joy, pain, sorrow, peace, and through it all I was experiencing how to draw nigh to Christ.  Those were days that I would never trade for all the years that a seminary education has to offer.

Reference:

Piper, John. The Hidden Smile of God. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001).