He Came to Save -Notes From Galatians-

Monergism Books

I am now studying Galatians using The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary: Galatians by J.V. Fesko. And every time I come to this epistle, I am grateful to be reminded that salvation is by grace alone and not by our own efforts; that I did not gave Him the opportunity to save me, that it was not me choosing Him or opening the door of my heart to Him. He called me and I could not resist His amazing Grace.

Galatians 2: 21 says,

“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

Vesko comments,

“If the believer’s justification is based upon the work of Christ and the obedience of the believer, then  Christ came in vain. In other words, the work of Christ is insufficient to save and requires augmentation -the addition of the believer’s obedience. If the false teachers are correct, then Christ did not secure salvation for anyone, but only the possibility or opportunity for salvation to those willing to complete their salvation with their own good works. This, however, is the farthest from the truth. This is why Paul calls the Galatians heresy a false gospel. Christ did not come to give people their possibility or the chance at salvation; he came to save his people from the wrath of God: actually, finally, completely, eternally, and immutably.” (emphasis mine)

I can only say, Amen and Amen! All glory be to God who saves!

Becky

Christmas in May

Photography by Kalle Gustafsson -source-

I am reading a wonderful book, Heaven Misplaced by Douglas Wilson. It is a short book about Eschatology, and more specifically about postmillennialism -or “historical optimism”-. And no matter what your beliefs are on this matter, if you are uncertain on what exactly postmillennialism is and would like to study it, this is the book you need to read. Wilson does a fantastic work in explaining a difficult topic in such a way that you find yourself inside the narrative, immersed in it. And in a moment you find yourself saying, “Wouldn’t it be glorious if this really were true?” 


I would love to share with you some quotes from chapter seven, What the Angels Said; Goodwill Toward Men,  that have found its way deep into my heart:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14

 

“Think of this book as a small effort to get Christians to believe their Christmas carols year-round.
We have trouble with this because Christmas is about grace, and grace is one of the most difficult things in the world for sinners to grasp. And as soon as we realize that it is difficult, we turn the “grasping of it” into a contest, giving those with the “right answer” a “best in show” award. But grace doesn’t follow our rules. Grace means that some who have the wrong answers will be saved and others who have the right answers won’t be.”

 

“We have trouble with something as straightforward as “goodwill toward men.” We are afraid of grace getting carried away, and so we want to slap some conditions on it.”

 

“Grace has a backbone and knows how to define itself. Grace is not the word that we use as the “open, sesame” of the Church. Grace is not something we do. Grace is not something we can control. Grace is not something that we can manage. And this means that we in the Church need to recognize that the guardians of grace are frequently its most dangerous enemies. Grace is God’s declared intention of favor for the whole world, whether we like it or not.”

 

“We know our Bibles well enough to know that grace, properly understood, does not lead to a life of moral outrage. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (Rom.6:1). Of course not. We know the Scriptures in this, but I am afraid that we do not know our own hearts. God’s grace is a tsunami that will carry us away and deposit us in places we would not have anticipated -and all of it good. We analyze this carefully and say that  we want our grace to be true and pure water, just like the tsunami, but we want it to be a placid pond on a summer day that we can inch across gingerly, always keeping one pointed toe on what we think is the bottom of our own do-gooding morality. “

“Christ was born at night, and His birth was the arrival of the morning star.”

Waiting in Him,

 

Becky

Wrapping Up the Series: Doctrines in the Kitchen

 

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain,
my speech shall distil as the dew,
as the small rain upon the tender herb,
and as the showers upon the grass”
Deut 32: 2
WOW! We did have a wonderful feast, didn’t we?
I am grateful for each one of the ladies who contributed to this wonderful banquet.Thank you for all the effort, time and prayers that you invested in your articles. Thank you to my beautiful daughter Annie, to Katie Lloyd and Rachel for their generosity in granting me permission to use many of their beautiful photographs in this series. Thanks to J for making our beautiful button.  I am also grateful for each one of you, Readers, who followed along, for those who left comments, and for those who quietly read and pondered. I am grateful for each one of you, I truly am.
We learned so much while reading about so many beautiful doctrines in the Bible. What do we do now with all these?, you may ask, with all these words in my heart? What’s next?  Many words you read here were probably new for you, many others challenged you, others gave you hope, and some others, I am sure, made you cry.
Dear friend, the most important thing you can do now is go to the Father. Pray, pray earnestly, that He will draw you to His Word. That you will find your delight in His Word, in the beautiful truths hidden in the Scriptures, and that the Holy Spirit will speak to you clearly and open you eyes to see and your ears to hear.
We all are living in different seasons in our lives, some of us are still homeschooling our children, others are nursing babies and changing diapers, others are enjoying being grandmothers. We are exactly where God, in His divine providence, has us now; and we should be happy and content in that season. Some of us have more time to read more books, but others don’t, and that is OK. If you only find time, in this season of your life, to read only one book, let it be, by all means, the Word of God. Let is be your delight day and night, your comfort, your strength, let it change you, abide in it, memorize it, repeat it to your self, to your children. Drink from it, until you thirst no more.
If you are in a season of your life when you have more time to read “big books”, and to study, then you are in the perfect moment to invest time in younger women. Help them, teach them, give them godly advice and godly example. Be a blessing to them! Just as you may prepare a nice dish to take to a young mom who has just delivered her third baby; so you can prepare a feast of the Word and teach her while she nurses her baby. Give what you have. Be generous and share with younger mothers what you have been given.
I love doctrine, I love it so much because  for so many years I did not have any structure in my spiritual life and was very easily deceived. Now I face another danger. I can become a woman who knows her doctrine back and forth but doesn’t live it with passion. J.C. Ryle says it well,
“Doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life.
 
It is worse than useless; it does positive harm.
 
Something of ‘the image of Christ’ must be seen
and observed by others in our private life, and
habits, and character, and doings.”
I pray that if you are like me, passionate about sound doctrine, you and I  may be also passionate about living it in our private lives, in our prayer closets, in our our habits, and with our husband and children. May God help us!
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This series ends this weekend, (tomorrow, I invite you to come and read the closing post of this series in which you’ll see what is the best response we can have after receiving sound doctrine), and some of you have asked us what’s coming next.  Well, we will love to keep communicating with you, and the easiest way will be through our Facebook page. We will keep it updated with good links to different articles, (many of them written by our contributors in the Kitchen), good recipes, book offers, etc…   And God willing, we may cook something new for you in the future!
Once again, thank you, thank you for you kind response.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!
Becky

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And We Are Raised with Him by Rebecca Stark

Rebecca Stark is a woman who has challenged many of us to study God’s Word. She has invested a great effort into a project of several years, and her arduous study is clearly seen in her project: The Theological Term of the Week.I encourage you to subscribe to her blog, you will be blessed indeed.

Thank you, Rebecca for sharing in the kitchen with us today,  and thank you also for sharing the best recipe for Beer Batter Deep Fried Halibut on your blog.

Katie Lloyd Photography
If you are a believer in Christ, then the good news of Easter brings you wonderful personal benefits. Yes, Christ’s resurrection makes a bold statement to the whole world, declaring to everyone everywhere that Jesus is ruler and judge of all and that he ought to be worshiped. But for believers, the resurrection is more than that, because we are united with Christ in resurrection, and that changes things for us.
For one, the resurrection means that we can look forward to a glorious future. Christ’s present resurrected life is a promise to those who belong to Him that when He returns, they will be brought with Him into the same resurrected life.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 20-23 ESV)
Death, says Paul (quoting Isaiah), has “no sting” for the believer. Not that death, both our own and that of our loved ones, doesn’t hurt, because of course it does. But the hurt of death is temporary, like the pain of childbirth. Death ushers in a brand new eternal reality—the reality of resurrected life—and in the end, all our tears will be wiped away and forgotten in the glory of what will be.
I could go on and on about the resurrection life to come, but I won’t. I’ll just say that I am eagerly anticipating my resurrection body. Paul tells us that the kind of body that Christ had when he walked the earth after His resurrection and with which He ascended and now rules from heaven is the same kind of body that we will have when we are raised at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:42-49). Our resurrected bodies will be a reproductions of the one the man of heaven has. Just as our identification with Adam brought us perishable bodies, our identification with Christ in his resurrected life will bring us imperishable bodies.
There is a time in our lives, if we are healthy, when our bodies are getting stronger and better.But we all have a turning point when we begin to see from experience that our bodies are perishable. We can’t help but understand that we are dying, little by little, and that our bodies will just keep on withering away for the rest of our lives. I am still strong and healthy, but I’m not what I used to be. I look forward to what call Paul calls a spiritual body, which might sound like something wispy and unsubstantial, but is truly more real—stronger, healthier, and more substantial—than the body I had when I was in my prime. Best of all, my spiritual body will be incapable of any withering. “When I was in my prime” will be a nonsense phrase in the age to come.
We have a future: We will be raised with him. Hooray (or better yet, praise God!) for a future resurrection and imperishable resurrection bodies!
And there’s more. We look forward to being raised with Christ when we enter into the life to come, but there is also a sense in which we have already been raised with Christ.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”(Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV)
The resurrected life that comes into completeness at our glorification when we receive our resurrected bodies is already within us. We have been made alive together with Christ and a new sort of life—not resurrected physical life, but resurrected spiritual life—has begun. Our new life is grounded in our union with Christ’s resurrection.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:4-5 ESV)
If you are a believer, you have already begun to live in the realm of the resurrection. This new life you live in the power of the Spirit came to you because you have been united with the risen Christ.
I’ll admit that it doesn’t always feel like I live in the reality of resurrected life. I’m guessing that I’m not alone or Paul wouldn’t have had to write letters urging believers to live lives that are true to their new reality.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is,seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:1-5a ESV)

Here’s what I think this means: If we have been raised with Christ, then our minds and hearts should be where he is, and he’s in heaven. How can we live in our new raised-with-Christ reality if we still love the earthly passions that are in us? Being what we are means that we must put aside the things we once loved and the passions we once followed as the old kind of person we once were. We are called to have new loves, to seek heavenly things, and to live according to the fruit the Spirit produces within us.
Are you a woman who is raised with Christ? Then Paul calls you to “present yoursel[f] to God as[one] who ha[s] been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:13 ESV).” This, you see, is where the doctrine of our present resurrected life gets practical. Yes, it’s a command, but it’s a command with resurrection power behind it. It’s a command with a reason, and the reason is what fulfills the command. It’s a command, you might say, to go ahead and be what you already are in Christ. It’s a command to live out the truth.
Hooray (and praise God!) for this, too: Resurrection now and the power of the Spirit to live as new women with new lives!
Rebecca

©Rebecca Stark

 

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>On Total Depravity: The Place to Start

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We all have heard the altar call “Come to Jesus, come, just like you are. He loves you and accepts you. You are special to Him. Come, come to Him. He is waiting for you to come into His arms.”
This is what I heard every Sunday for 15 years. But is it real? Really, Jesus loves people just the way they are? If so, why then did He have to come and die on the cross and bear the guilt of many and bear the wrath of God on Himself?
This powerful doctrine of The Total Depravity of men,  is really the place to start in our relationship with God. This the place where we come before a Holy, Holy, Holy God and take off our shoes and fall to the ground. This is the doctrine that humbles me the most and draws me close to Jesus, my Mediator; because it was because of my total depravity, my total inability that I had no hope except that He called my name and gave me life.
What is Total Depravity?
It means that my whole being is corrupted by sin, and that “corruption extends to every part of man, his body and soul; sin has affected all (the totality) of man’s faculties -his mind, will, etc.” [1]
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18 ESV)
As a result of this corruption, all men and women are incapable of drawing close to God They simply don’t want to come, they are, instead, fugitives. They are desperately running away from Him. No man, no woman, no child seeks God. But you might say, I have seen people, lost people seeking after God. The reality is that people do not seek God, they seek only the benefits, the blessings that come from God: health, prosperity, peace, joy, a healthy marriage, a way out of debts, hope, etc.
“The unregenerate man is dead, and his will is enslaved to his evil nature” [2] How true! This is where we see that God cannot accept men as they are. They need to be dragged by God into the light, they need to be born again.
Don Fortner says,
You will never seek the mercy and grace of God in Christ
until you are convinced of your sin, convinced that you
are without excuse, and convinced that you are personally
guilty before the holy Lord God.
We are, everyone of us, and every one of our children,
sinners, corrupt at heart, corrupt by nature, corrupt by
choice, and corrupt by practice. So vile, so corrupt
are we, that the thoughts of the human heart are only evil
continually (Gen. 6:5; Matt. 15:19-20).
So evil are we that we cannot and will not do good. If you
die without Christ, this is what you shall be forever in hell.
There will be no changes on the other side of the grave.
Whatever else hell may be, it is a place of ever-increasing
torment, blackness, darkness, corruption, and burning lusts,
without satisfaction. This is called “Total Depravity.”
We are depraved, spiritually dead sinners by nature, incapable
of changing our condition, or even wishing to change it.
Man is so depraved that it is utterly impossible for him ever
to escape the wrath of God, if left to himself.
But, blessed be God, that which is impossible with men is
possible with God! By the work of his sovereign, free,
distinguishing, effectual grace, some men and women are
made new creatures in Christ. May God be pleased to do
for you and me what we cannot do for ourselves.
Oh, may God be pleased to save us from ourselves,
for Christ’s sake!
When I see this, when I see that before regeneration I was dead (yes, dead, 100% dead) and God came and gave me life, when the only thing I deserved was hell, His grace grows and I am left undone.
When our relationship with God starts here, then we are always in awe of His grace; every single minute we remember that we did not deserve His saving grace yet, He came and gave us life, eternal life.
John Newton reminds us “that no doctrines or means can change the heart, or produce a gracious conversation, without the efficacious power of Almighty grace.”  [3]
So, it is my prayer that through Grace, through the efficacious power of the Almighty grace,  you may be called to repentance and fall to your knees before the Cross where your sins can be washed away and your nakedness will be covered with a robe of Righteousness.
Soli Deo Gloria

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[1] The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented by Steele, Thomas and Quinn p. 19
[2] ibid. p. 19
[3] Via Grace Gems 

An excellent article which expands on this matter is one entitled A Jealous Love by Tim Challies. I highly recommend it to you.

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Today is the  last day to enter Christina’s giveaway, read more here. (Believe me the book she is giving away is ab excellent one!)

Have you signed in for Trisha’s great giveaway (perfect for moms with little ones!)?

If you haven’t go over there., read her post and leave a comment to enter the drawing. (click here) 
Don’t forget to check the resources’ page and sign in for the giveaway at the end of the month. (Including a Systematic Theology)

Are you just tuning in? Read what this series is all about here.

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Talking About Doctrine by Norma

>The table is set and today, my sister, my best friend,  my teacher, Norma, will be sharing with us on this banquet, a great entrée, an introduction to Doctrine.

I love you, sis!

Image Katie Lloyd Photography*
We know we are to study Biblical doctrine, but at the same time we hear how doctrine divides, so, what are we supposed to do? God called us to keep the doctrine and live in unity: do they contradict each other? By all means, the answer is no.
I think we first need to understand what doctrine is not. It is not a point of view, an interpretation of Scripture, a movement based on feelings or personal experiences, is not something for theologians only, and is not something that doesn’t really matter “as long as you have accepted Christ as your Saviour.”
What is Doctrine?
It is the basics of Christianity. It is, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary,a set of beliefs, a principle or position, or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief.
Doctrine means to understand what the Bible teaches on different topics. It is the duty of every Christian to know what the Bible teaches,  and compare to see if what is being taught at church or the book we like to read agrees with the Bible’s teachings as a whole or not.
“False doctrine”, on the other hand, is what is taught that doesn’t agree with the whole counsel of God.
Doctrine is not only for those who want to be ministers, pastors or missionaries. The study of Doctrine is for new Christians and old, for children and adults, for men and women, for people in the East and the West, for rich and poor,  it is for all of us. And it is our responsibility to study it, and be careful to keep as it is taught in the Holy Scriptures.
How to study it?
First of all read the Bible. Read it all, read each verse in its context within each chapter, each book, and in the overall context of the whole Bible (O.T and N.T).
It is important, however, to point out that today there are so many books and teachers out there that have mixed truth with lies, that it has become hard to know which teachings are correct and which are not. To solve that problem, I recommend you to read commentaries of the founders of the faith. Read their biographies, their books, their teachings along with the Holy Word. Stay away from preachers that attract masses. Know who they are before you buy their materials or trust their teachings. Just because a book is sold at a Christian bookstore it does not mean it’s Christian. Or because many are reading it, doesn’t necessary mean that it is a good book that teaches sound doctrine.
Be jealous of the Biblical doctrine and defend it in your heart so that it may not bring shame to the Gospel of Christ. Self-help books are packing today’s Christian culture. Many churches are social gatherings and the basic doctrines of the Bible are seldom taught. Women, have respect for the Lord and fear Him. Fear Him enough to know why you believe what you say you believe! Practice having a quiet and gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. And instead of living for the day, live for heaven, for eternity.
Does it matter?
Yes. The more you study it, the stronger you foundation will be and the harder will be to fall, although you will fall. You’ll have a greater understanding of His love, mercy, grace, patience, goodness. The more you dig deeper into the Word, the more you will love Him and the more you will want to live for Him. Your view of Christ, His sacrifice, His atonement, His life, His resurrection, His priesthood, His sovereignty, His glory, His holiness, my wretched condition without Him,  prayer, mortification of sin, my dependence on Him, the role of the woman in her house, at church, with her children, with other women, all these will come into place. It will be easier to spot lies from truth (no matter how sweet they may appear) because you will know the truth. The truth will be your daily bread, and the lie will quickly taste as food not prepared at home. You will identify it with God’s grace.
Does doctrine divide?
Yes. It will separate. It will bring light where light is not wanted, because darkness is much more comfortable and more palatable for many. There are no stands where they need to stand, there are neither blacks nor whites, every situation is assessed according to the circumstances or the person involved, with no base to judge right from wrong. (1 Cor. 5:12) Doctrine will bring you to an understanding of the Scripture as a whole, but many will not like it. Many will disagree and will not like “your” God, the God of the Bible. But those appointed for Salvation will hear and receive it.
Please, listen to Paul’s plea today,
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
Norma