Book Alert! “Luther on the Christian Life” – C.Trueman

Luther on Chr Life -TruemanCrossway Publishers has just released its seventh volume in its “Theologians on the Christian Life” series (edited by Stephen Nichols and Justin Taylor), and this one focuses on the great Reformer Martin Luther’s view of the Christian life. The title of this book is Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom, and is penned by Carl R. Trueman, professor of church history at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.

At the title link above you will find the best price (WTS – $11) and a video of Trueman explaining his purpose in writing this volume for the series.

I have ordered a copy for the library already (it’s in and processed!) and I requested a review copy from Crossway this week. Today I quote from Trueman’s instructive “Introduction”, which he sub-titles “What Has Geneva to Do with Wittenberg?” (slightly edited) Here he explains why Luther on the Christian life is important to the church, including those who are Reformed:

Given all the caveats necessary when the modern readers approaches Luther, what is unique about this man that makes him particularly useful as a dialgue partner on the Christian life? Obviously, as noted above, he defined many of the terms of Protestant debates about Christianity in general. Yet there is much more to him than this. As a theologian who was also a pastor, he was continually wrestling with how his theological insights connected to the lives and experiences of the people under his care. This gave much of his writing a distinctly pastoral dimension.

Further, he was (for a theologian) unusually forthcoming about his own life and experiences. There was a personal passion to Luther that finds no obvious counterpart in the writings of other significant Reformers. Calvin’s letters contain insights into his private life, but his lectures, commentaries, and treatises offer little or no light on the inner life of the man himself. John Owen outlived all eleven of his children, yet he never once mentioned the personal devastation that this muct have brought to his world.

Luther was different: he lived his inner life as a public drama. Unlike many today on chat shows and Twitter and personal blogs, he did not do so in a way that boosted his own prestige; he did it with irony, humor, and occasional pathos. But he did it nonetheless, and thi smakes him a fascinating study in self-reflection on the Christian life (25-26).

March 2015 “Tabletalk”: Scripture and Grace

Bible-Believing, Bible-Obeying by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT - March 2015The March issue of Tabletalk is on my desk and starting to be read (including the daily devotions, which continue on the wisdom literature of the Bible). This issue looks to be another enlightening and edifying one, as it focuses our attention on “Inerrancy and the Doctrine of Scripture”, a critical issue in our time (see the cover image here).

The above-linked article is editor Burk Parsons’ introduction of the theme. I think his closing paragraphs are good for all of us to read and ponder:

Scripture is the foundation for all we believe and the fountain from which we daily drink. It was the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation, and it holds the message of eternal life for ourselves, our children, and our neighbors. It is the sacred Word of God given to us by human authors through the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, and it is our only inerrant and infallible authority for all of faith and life. Nevertheless, many professing Christians give little attention to it. Though they constantly look for a special word from God, there it sits on their shelves, gathering dust. It is ignored by many people who sit in our churches, and it is under attack by many outside the church. It has been under attack ever since the fall, when the serpent asked, “Did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1).

Fundamentally, the devil questioned the authority of the Word of God, and the devil’s servants have been questioning it ever since. Questioning the authority of God’s Word is tantamount to questioning God Himself, and questioning whether God’s sacred Word contains errors is in fact questioning God’s ability to do all things perfectly. If we question God’s Word, we have set ourselves up as a higher tribunal than God and have declared ourselves judges of God and His Word. Nevertheless, as Bible-believing Christians, we must not simply refrain from questioning the truth of God’s Word, and we must not merely believe that God’s Word is true, but we must actually believe God’s Word and submit to it in all of life as we live coram Deo, before His face.

As an addition, R.C.Sproul, Sr. has a fine article on God’s grace, titled “What Is Grace?” Here’s a little piece from that too:

With respect to the Lord, we are debtors who cannot pay. That’s why the Bible speaks of redemption in economic language—we were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). Only someone else—Christ—can pay our debt. That’s grace. It’s not our good works that secure our rescue but only the works of Christ. It’s His merit, not ours. We don’t merit anything. He grants us His merit by grace, and we receive it only by faith. The essence of grace is its voluntary free bestowal. As soon as it’s a requirement, it’s no longer grace.

Grace should never cease to amaze us. God has an absolute, pure, holy standard of justice. That’s why we cling with all our might to the merit of Jesus Christ. He alone has the merit to satisfy the demands of God’s justice, and He gives it freely to us. We haven’t merited it. There’s nothing in us that elicits the Lord’s favor that leads to our justification. It’s pure grace.

And the more we understand what God has done for us as sinners, the more willing we are to do whatever He requires. The great teachers of the church say the first point of genuine sanctification is an increasing awareness of our own sinfulness. With that comes, at the same time, an increasing awareness of God’s grace. And with that, again, increasing love and increasing willingness to obey Him.

New Titles in the PRC Seminary Library

SemLib12012It is time once more to highlight a few new titles that have come into the PRC Seminary library. I am always amazed at how many good resources are being published and republished – books of great value to the faculty and students here, as well as to our members and visitors. I hope by highlighting a few you will also be able to see the quality of books that enter our library.

Like everyone else, we are on a budget here, so I have to focus on quality, not quantity (although my Thrift store shopping makes that budget go further!). I might add at this point that I am truly grateful for the monies provided the library by the Theological School Committee in its budget (and Synod, which approves that budget each year), as well as for the many gifts we receive throughout the year.

But, on to the books! Here are a few of the significant new books recently purchased and processed:

  • The Works of John Knox, Banner of Truth, 2014 – Six Volumes, hardcover (David Laing Ed., first published in 1846). This is part of the publisher’s note on this important republication:

Unfortunately for many years hardback sets of Knox’s Works have been virtually unobtainable by, and inaccessible to, the general public. Now, to mark the 500th anniversary of his birth (probably in 1514) and the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first definitive edition of the Scottish reformer’s Works (1846-64), these rare volumes have been reprinted. The present republication of the reformer’s writings provides a unique and remarkably affordable opportunity for a new generation of students to rediscover and get to know the real John Knox.

  • Reformed Dogmatics - GVosReformed Dogmatics, Geerhardus Vos, Translated and edited by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., five volumes (Lexham Press, 2012-14). Logos Bible Software has been adding this work to their digital collection as it is being translated, and now it is also being published in a good hardcover binding, with the first two volumes (theology proper and anthropology) in print. This is a classic work in Reformed theology and it is good to see it made accessible to the public.
  • John Calvin as Sixteenth-Century Prophet, Jon Balserak (Oxford University Press, 2014). This is an important new study on Calvin, focusing especially on his “sense of vocation.” Here’s more on the nature of this book from the publisher:

Beginning with an analysis of the two trajectories of thought existing within Christian discourse on prophecy from the patristic to the Early Modern era, this monograph goes on to find Calvin within a non-mystical, non-apocalyptic prophetic tradition that focused on scriptural interpretation. This study, then, demonstrates how Calvin developed a plan to win France for the gospel; a plan which included the possibility of armed conflict. To pursue his designs, he trained “prophets” who were sent into France to labor intensely to undermine the king’s authority on the grounds that he supported idolatry, convince the French Reformed congregations that they were already in a war with him, and prepare them for a possible military uprising. An additional part of this plan saw Calvin search for a French noble willing to support the evangelical religion, even if it meant initiating a coup. Calvin began ruminating over these ideas in the 1550s or possibly earlier. The war which commenced in 1562 represents, this monograph argues, the culmination of years of preparation by Calvin.

John Wood examines how Abraham Kuyper adapted the Dutch church to its modern social context through a new account of the nature of the church and its social position. The central concern of Kuyper’s ecclesiology was to re-conceive the relationship between the inner aspects of the church—the faith and commitment of the members—and the external forms of the church, such as doctrinal confessions, sacraments, and the relationship of the church to the Dutch people and state. Kuyper’s solution was to make the church less dependent on public entities such as nation and state and more dependent on private support, especially the good will of its members. This ecclesiology de-legitimated the national church and helped Kuyper justify his break with the church, but it had wider effects as well. It precipitated a change in his theology of baptism from a view of the instrumental efficacy of the sacrament to his later doctrine of presumptive regeneration wherein the external sacrament followed, rather than preceded and prepared for, the intenral work grace. This new ecclesiology also gave rise to his well-known public theology; once he achieved the private church he wanted, as the Netherlands’ foremost public figure, he had to figure out how to make Christianity public again.

  • Commentaries. One of the key areas of growth in our library is that of Biblical studies and exposition, including commentaries. These are important tools for the faculty and students, since the professors’ teaching and the seminarians’ learning centers on exegesis, the proper interpretation of God’s Word.
    • Two significant series of commentaries that we have included in our collection are the “Preaching the Word” series (Crossway, edited by R. Kent Hughes) and the “Reformed Expository Commentary” (P&R Publishing, edited by Richard D. Phillips and Philip G. Ryken).
    • 1 PeterWithin these sets we have recently added commentaries on the gospel according to John and on Acts, as well as Ecclesiastes and 1 Peter.

New & Noteworthy Books in 2015 – Reformation21

New & Noteworthy Books in 2015 – Reformation21.

Even though this was posted by Mark McDowell in December at “Reformation21″, it is certainly worth our notice because it pertains to books to be published in this year 2015.

I always appreciate lists of books to come such as this, as it helps me plan on what to order for the Seminary library  as well as perhaps add to my own personal library.

And though most of these books are geared toward the theologians among us (but then, as R.C.Sproul is fond of saying, “Everyone’s a theologian.”), there is a variety of titles here to benefit us all – including a new children’s title!

Here are two that McDowell has selected and that I highlight in this post:

Trueman_Luther.jpg

Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (Crossway, February)
Crossway’s series, Theologians on the Christian Life, has not disappointed. Matching some of the Church’s most beloved saints with some of today’s best evangelical writers, the series puts forth books that both edify and inform. 2015 promises John Bolt on Bavinck, Bray on Augustine, Haykin and Matthew Barrett on Owen, and Trueman on Luther. It’s difficult to pick just one of them, and while I’m giving Trueman on Luther the nod, all four books have to be added to the library. Here’s what Trueman says about his own volume and it’s hard not to get a little bit excited about what’s in store:
‘This is the book I have always wanted to write: a study of Martin Luther’s theology which is connected directly to his life as a Christian and his calling as a pastor. Personally, I owe as much to Luther as to any historical Christian figure. Further, I have become increasingly irritated in recent years with the way his name is bandied about by people who clearly do not know who or what they are talking about. So much of the pop-evangelical Luther is based on the selective reading of a few texts which actually presents a picture of the Reformed which I do not think Dr Martin himself would recognise. Thus, I wanted to correct some of the caricatures of him in evangelical circles and offer him as a model of pastoral ministry and of Christian discipleship to the current generation. Was he perfect and should we follow him in every detail? Absolutely not. His errors, when he made them, were often egregious. But his focus on Word and sacrament is a real antidote to the mega-conference, Top Men and brand-dominated culture which has unfortunately swept across conservative evangelicalism in the last decade’.

deyoung_story.jpg

Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden (Crossway, August)
Christian children’s books are legion but good children’s books that captivate as well as educate are rare. Getting a pastor-theologian to take up the challenge is encouraging and I’m eager to see what DeYoung and Clark have in store for us. This is a book that promises a biblical-theological approach, connecting the dots throughout Scripture and showing our young ones the wonderful tapestry of the Bible.
DeYoung tells Ref21: ‘I know authors are always excited for their books to come out, but I’m especially eager for this one to release. The Biggest Story tells the big gospel story of salvation from the Garden of Eden to the final garden in revelation. I tried to tell the familiar story in a way that was theologically rich, but still fun and interesting for kids. It’s longer than board book for small children, but much shorter than a kids Bible. I couldn’t be more pleased with the illustrations. Don Clark has done an amazing job with the pictures–colorful, unique, interesting, and thoughtful. I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can show and tell it to my kids’.

- See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/articles/new-noteworthy-in-2015.php#sthash.qT9WQjoH.dpuf

Preaching the Gospel to Yourself – Joe Thorn

Preaching the Gospel to Yourself by Joe Thorn | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Jan-2015As we have noted here on Mondays this month, the January issue of Tabletalk carries the theme “The Good News.” That is, in a series of seven articles, it asks and answers the question, “What is the gospel?”

I read two more of these articles yesterday, the one linked above and quoted from below, as well as “The New Heavens and New Earth” by Dr.Dennis Johnson.

Thorn’s article is more practical in nature, treating how we as Christians must fight against spiritual wandering in our lives. The chief way he believes is “preaching the gospel to yourself.” This is a good follow-up to our having heard the preaching of the gospel yesterday.

This is how Thorn explains this idea:

Fundamentally, the gospel is forgotten when it no longer functions as our ongoing hope and confidence before God, or when it becomes unessential for the practical, daily living of the Christian life. The gospel we often forget must be reclaimed and retained for the safety of our souls, and this is done through preaching the gospel to ourselves.

Preaching the gospel to ourselves is calling ourselves to return to Jesus for forgiveness, cleansing, empowerment, and purpose. It is answering doubts and fears with the promises of God. Do my sins condemn me? Jesus has covered them all in His blood. Do my works fall short? Jesus’ righteousness is counted as mine. Are the world, the devil, and my own flesh conspiring against me? Not even a hair can fall from my head apart from the will of my Father in heaven, and He has promised to care for me and keep me forever. Can I really deny myself, carry my cross, and follow Jesus? Yes, for God is at work in me, willing and working in me for His own pleasure. This is what it looks like to preach to ourselves.

This private and personal preaching can only happen when the Word of God is known and believed; when God’s law reveals our sin and helplessness, and His grace covers that sin and overcomes our weaknesses. Preaching the gospel to ourselves is not simply the act of studying the Bible (though we can preach to ourselves in that act), but it is actively calling ourselves to believe the promises of God in Jesus His Son.

To read the full article, visit the Ligonier link above.

What is the Gospel? God’s Good News – January 2015 “Tabletalk”

What is the Gospel? by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Jan-2015The January 2015 issue of Tabletalk is now out and in use! And you may also obtain this entire issue FREE at the Ligonier site!

This issue carries the theme “The Good News”, featuring nine articles answering the question “What is the Gospel?”

Editor Burk Parsons introduces this issue with the article linked above. These are some of his points about the gospel:

In our day, there are countless counterfeit gospels, both inside and outside the church. Much of what is on Christian television and on the shelves of Christian bookstores completely obscures the gospel, thereby making it another gospel, which is no gospel whatsoever. English pastor J.C. Ryle wrote, “Since Satan cannot destroy the gospel, he has too often neutralized its usefulness by addition, subtraction, or substitution.” It is vital we understand that just because a preacher talks about Jesus, the cross, and heaven, does not mean he is preaching the gospel. And just because there is a church on every corner does not mean the gospel is preached on every corner.

Fundamentally, the gospel is news. It’s good news—the good news about what our triune God has accomplished for His people: the Father’s sending His Son, the incarnate Jesus Christ, to live perfectly, fulfill the law, and die sacrificially, satisfying God’s wrath against us that we might not face hell, thereby atoning for our sins; and raising Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the victorious announcement that God saves sinners. And even though the call of Jesus to “take up your cross and follow me,” “repent and believe,” “deny yourself,” and “keep my commandments” are necessary commands that directly follow the proclamation of the gospel, they are not in themselves the good news of what Jesus has accomplished. The gospel is not a summons to work harder to reach God; it’s the grand message of how God worked all things together for good to reach us. The gospel is good news, not good advice or good instructions, just as J. Gresham Machen wrote: “What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you.”

R.C.Sproul, Sr. also has a fine article on the importance of “preaching and teaching” in the church. Here is a portion of what he has to say:

God’s people need both preaching and teaching, and they need more than twenty minutes of instruction and exhortation a week. A good shepherd would never feed the sheep only once a week, and that’s why Luther was teaching the people of Wittenberg almost on a daily basis, and Calvin was doing the same thing in Geneva. I’m not necessarily calling for the exact practices in our day, but I’m convinced that the church needs to recapture something of the regular teaching ministry evident in the work of our forefathers in the faith. As they are able, churches should be creating many opportunities to hear God’s Word preached and taught. Things such as Sunday evening worship, midweek services and Bible classes, Sunday school, home Bible studies, and so on give laypeople the chance to feed on the Word of God several times each week. As they are able, laypeople should take advantage of what is available to them by way of instruction in the deep truths of Scripture.

I say this not to encourage the creation of programs for the sake of programs, and I don’t want to put an unmanageable burden on church members or church staff‹s. But history shows us that the greatest periods of revival and reformation the church has ever seen occur in conjunction with the frequent, consistent, and clear preaching of God’s Word. If we would see the Holy Spirit bring renewal to our churches and our lands, it will require preachers who are committed to the exposition of Scripture, and laypeople who will look for shepherds to feed them the Word of God and take full advantage of the opportunities for biblical instruction that are available.

Our Privileges as NT Believers: Members of an Assembly, a Family, and a Kingdom!

In Christ Alone - SFergusonIn his book In Christ Alone and chapter 33, “Privileges Bring Responsibilities”, Sinclair B. Ferguson has some wonderful thoughts about both our privileges and our responsibilities as NT Christians based on the passage in Hebrews 12:18-29. This week I plan to share some of these thoughts with you, beginning with these which relate to our worship today.

What are our privileges? They are truly amazing. ‘For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest…. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering’ (Heb.12:18,22, ESV).

In the days of promises and shadows, believers came to an assembly convened at a mountain engulfed with a sense of awful judgment. By contrast, in the full blaze of light that has appeared in Christ, we have come to the abiding city of God, angels in festal gathering, the assembly of Christ, and the spirits of departed believers. Indeed, we have come to God Himself, not with Moses, but to Jesus. We have received the new covenant in His shed blood.

This is the assembly in which we gather for worship to hear the voice of Christ in His Word, to lift up our voices under His choral direction in praise, to share His trust in His Father, and to gather around Him as His brothers and sisters (cf. Heb.2:10-13). Consequently, this is also our family – composed of the redeemed from among all mankind and the elect among the angelic host. This is the kingdom in which our names are enrolled as citizens (12:23). It is a kingdom, unlike all the kingdoms and empires of this world, that cannot be shaken (12:27-28).

What riches are ours in these three dimensions of the life of grace! An assembly, a family, a kingdom! And they are already ours in Christ! Here and now our lives are punctuated by special visiting rights to heaven’s glory as we assemble with our fellow believers. We are brothers and sisters together – for Christ’s blood creates a deeper lineage than our genes. Thus, we have the full rights of family members and citizens in the city of God.

No wonder we should be grateful (12:28)!

C.Hansen’s Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 – The Gospel Coalition

My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 | TGC | The Gospel Coalition.

Year in review-1I have learned to appreciate Collin Hansen’s (editorial director for the Gospel Coalition) annual list of a different nature – the top 10 theology stories of the year. Past years have shown a church world in turmoil for various reasons – doctrinal controversy, persecution, and sin within and without. 2014 revealed more of the same (Posted Dec.22, 2014).

Yet we believe that the church remains our Lord’s and that He is at work in the church, in the world, and in us to accomplish His master plan of ultimate redemption and renewal when He returns in glory, executes His righteous judgment, and makes all things new. May our remembrance of this year’s theological stories remind us of the goal of all things.

Here is Hansen’s introduction and one of the picks that was of particular interest to me. To see the rest of the stories that make his list, visit the “Gospel Coalition” link above.

I’m not satisfied with how we ascribe value to certain news stories over others. While social media direct us to stories that might have been overlooked in older newsrooms, these outlets and cable news lead us to obsess with certain stories and ignore others for no apparent reason. While news editors formerly acted as judge and jury for public knowledge, our mob mentality hardly produces better results. The trending hashtag does not necessarily reflect what’s most valuable in the kingdom of God. In fact, this fallen world threatens to distract us from from thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Phil. 4:8).

As you’ll see in my list of top theology stories, I haven’t solved this problem. You may recognize these stories from your news feed, but you might arrange them in a different order or replace some altogether. I don’t claim unbiased perspective, and even if I did, past failings would betray me (see my lists from 20082009201020112012, and 2013).

…So consider my list an admittedly foolhardy attempt—written from the vantage point of an American who subscribes to The Gospel Coalition’s confessional statement—to discern the most important theology stories of 2014. Consider it an opportunity to reflect on whether your priorities align with God’s and a challenge to spread good news in a world that seeks peace but finds none apart from Jesus Christ.

8. Debate over justification and sanctification reaches breaking point.

Can someone be too focused on the gospel? Of course not. Unless “gospel” becomes shorthand for privileging certain biblical teachings and isolating them from others. Then again, Paul told the Corinthians that the matters of “first importance” are Jesus’s death for sins and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3–4). Shouldn’t those priorities dictate how we read the rest of the Bible? This hermeneutical tension didn’t suddenly leap from the biblical text in 2014, but as co-founders Don Carson and Tim Keller noted with regard to recent changes at TGC, the debate over the relationship between justification and sanctification became “increasingly strident” this year with charges of legalism and antinomianism. They said, “Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity.” How do Christians find that unity? Perhaps futher debate will resolve the outstanding issues. But we must all first humble ourselves before the God of the Bible and each other to live out the grace we so fervently preach.

The Prayers of J.Calvin – Jeremiah Lectures (5)

JCalvinPic1The next prayer of John Calvin that we post follows his fourth lecture on the prophecy of Jeremiah, covering chap.1:18-19 and chap.2:1-5. But before posting the prayer, once again we quote from a portion of his lecture. In connection with vss.1-2 of chap.2 of Jeremiah, Calvin has these wonderful things to say about the steadfastness of God’s covenant love for His wayward people:

Now this is a remarkable passage; for God shews that his covenant, though perfidiously violated by the Jews, was yet firm and immutable: for though not all who derive their descent according to the flesh from Abraham, are true and legitimate Israelites, yet God ever remains true, and his calling, as Paul says, is without repentance (Rom.x1. 29) We may therefore learn this from the Prophet’s words, – that God was not content with one Prophet, but continued his favour, inasmuch as he would not render void his covenant. The Jews indeed had impiously departed from the covenant, and a vast number had deservedly perished, having been wholly repudiated; yet God designed really to shew that his grace depends not on the inconstancy of men, as Paul says in another place, for it would then presently fail (Rom.iii. 4;) and that were all men false and perfidious, God would yet remain true and fixed in his purpose. This we learn from the Prophet’s words, when it is said, that God remembered the people on account of the kindness of their youth (71).

And then this beautiful prayer follows:

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou continuest at this day, both morning and evening, to invite us to thyself, and assiduously exhortest us to repent, and testifiest that thou art ready to be reconciled to us, provided we flee to thy mercy, – O grant, that we may not close our ears and reject this thy great kindness, but that remembering thy gratuitous election, the chief of all favours thou hast been pleased to shew us, we may strive so to devote ourselves to thee, that thy name may be glorified through our whole life: and should it be that we at any time turn aside from thee, may we quickly return to the right way, and become submissive to thy holy admonitions, that it may thus appear that we have been so chosen by thee and called as to desire to continue in the hope of that salvation, to which thou invitest us, and which is prepared for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. – Amen (76).

The Wonder of Grace: Jesus in the Manger

StandardBearerFrom “The Christmas Message to Joseph”, the meditation based on Matt.1:18-24 and written by Rev.Ron Van Overloop (Grace PRC), published in the December 15, 2014 Standard Bearer:

The wonder of grace is that He is ‘Jesus,’ that is, ‘Jehovah salvation’ (21). ‘Jehovah salvation’ means that He will accomplish the work to ‘save His people from their sins.’ To save means that He delivers them from the greatest evil – there is nothing worse than my sin and my sinfulness. And provides us with the greatest good – a sweet relationship with God Himself.

This marvelous and gracious work of salvation He will accomplish for ‘His people.’ He saves, but He does not save all – only His people, that is, those given Him of His Father before the foundation of the world (John 17:2). He will do all that is necessary to earn salvation – earning both forgiveness and righteousness. He will work that salvation in them, and He will keep them in that salvation.

That Jesus saves His people from their sins explains the manger and the cross, for He stood in their place, bearing the penalty of their sin. Their violations of the most high majesty of God made it necessary that He bear the penalty for all of their sin.

The great joy of Christmas is the fact that He came precisely to deal with the reality of our sin. Christmas is realizing that God humbled Himself to become complete man because the sins of His people required that. Payment had to be made and He became man just to do so.

…May we see the baby in the manger and worship Him with renewed faith. Let us receive the good tidings of great joy and give glory to God in the highest! (123-24).

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