Summary: The church needs a new reformation
“But now we are seeing the righteousness of God declared quite apart from the Law (though amply testified to by both Law and Prophets) - it is a righteousness imparted to, and operating in, all who have faith in Jesus Christ. (For there is no distinction to be made anywhere: everyone has sinned, everyone falls short of the beauty of God’s plan.) Under this divine system a man who has faith is now freely acquitted in the eyes of God by his generous dealing in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ. God has appointed him as the means of propitiation, a propitiation accomplished by the shedding of his blood, to be received and made effective in ourselves by faith. God has done this to demonstrate his righteousness both by the wiping out of the sins of the past (the time when he withheld his hand), and by showing in the present time that he is a just God and that he justifies every man who has faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:21-26, JB Phillips translation
“Without these five confessional statements – Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and glory to God alone – we do not have a true church, and certainly not one that will survive for very long. For how can any church be a true and faithful church if it does not stand for Scripture alone, is not committed to a biblical gospel, and does not exist for God’s glory? A church without these convictions has ceased to be a true church, whatever else it may be.”
Thus reads a quote from James Montgomery Boice, taken from the first chapter of his book, “Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace”, published by Crossway Books in 2001, just short of a year after the author passed away.
I have chosen to begin this year, A.D. 2008, with a sermon teaching these five doctrines Boice listed for us for the very reason that he cited.
I don’t know how exciting it will be for the hearer.
It will not contain fanciful illustrations or humorous stories from the internet. I will lean heavily on this man’s book and also on the Godly wisdom and Biblical instruction left for us by such legends of the faith as Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Charles Wesley and others.
I will say at the outset that if the truths of these doctrines themselves do not excite the hearer in the spirit and in the heart then there is something the hearer has not grasped, and I will have failed in my task or the hearer will have not been paying attention or not been open to the Holy Spirit’s illuminating grace.
I strongly encourage you (the hearer or the reader) to determine at this moment to give your full attention and concentration to every part of this sermon and receive it first mentally.
R.C. Sproul, in his book “The Soul’s Quest for God” (Tyndale, 1992) said this:
“The Word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart; but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind. This point is crucial to answer the question, ‘What can I do to get the divine and supernatural light into my heart?’ …The first thing we must do is get the Word of God into our minds. That responsibility is ours, not God’s. We are required to be diligent in our study of Scripture. We cannot reasonably expect the Spirit to give us the excellent sense of the Scripture in our hearts if we are unwilling to get it in our minds. A cavalier approach to Scripture will not do. The only ‘devotional’ reading of God’s Word that pleases Him is a devout study of His Word.”
We’ll hear more statements along these lines when we talk about faith. For now I simply ask you to make a mental note of the gravity I put on this sermon. It is the most important information you will ever receive, and it is information that is widely lacking in today’s evangelical church. There needs to be a revival of it in teaching, in preaching, in the understanding of every educated Christ-follower if the church is ever to regain its Godly influence in the world as we draw near the end of the age.
Our church’s constitution under ‘Statement of Beliefs’, reads as follows:
1) We believe and declare that the Holy Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God and is the all sufficient rule in matters of faith and practice. That the Holy Bible consists in its entirety of 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books. (II Tim 3:16-17, Isa 55:11)
2) We believe and declare the historical accuracy of all Biblical accounts including: special creation in six literal days, the existence of Adam and Eve as the progenitors of all people, the fall and resultant divine curse on creation, and the world-wide flood.