Monthly Archives: March 2010

Some Thoughts on Sanctification

Sanctification is “more than a counteraction, in which sin is merely restrained or repressed without being progressively destroyed. Sanctification is a real transformation, not just the appearance of one.” (Reformation Study Bible, “Sanctification: The Spirit and the Flesh”, p. 1650)

I have discovered that in at least one important way, I tend to look at the Christian’s Sanctification wrongly. Sanctification changes the inner man. It is not merely an outward work that makes a person look a little more Godly. Sanctification is transformation.

Sanctification can be a painful process because it involves the chipping away of recalcitrant sin. Sin that has hardened and become a part of who we are. Sin that we sometimes don’t even realize is there. Mercifully, our Heavenly Father often uses a light hand, the delicate touch of a craftsman’s tool. And just as mercifully, sometimes He uses a sledge hammer.

But whether God’s Hand is light or heavy, there is always some pain involved in the process. After all, Sanctification is the putting to death of the flesh, one agonizing inch at a time. It is the means by which the Gospel gets worked into a Christian’s heart, becoming the woof and warp of the inner man. God often uses trying circumstances to draw our sin to the surface. It is a hot fire that brings forth impurity and the Christian may see his reflection in the very dross itself. This truth drives him to his knees for forgiveness and help. The believer’s Sanctification results in something beautiful. A vessel of honor used of God.

Because of the Gospel, we are given the great opportunity to “present” ourselves “as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (see Romans 6:19-23). Without the Gospel, this transformation would be impossible, and we would remain “slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness” and finally to death. But, thanks to the Gospel we are released from this vicious circle of sin begetting more sin. We are set free (an interesting irony here) to become slaves to God, and the fruit of this transaction leads to Sanctification and its final outcome – eternal life.

Our Sanctification is a by-product of regeneration, not the cause of it. It is made available to us at a great price, the sacrifice of God’s own Son. Sanctification is built upon the foundation of God’s Grace and centered unalterably in the Gospel. Sanctification is a call to holiness. It is the sine qua non of the victorious Christian life.

What are your thoughts on Sanctification?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

(Also see: Proverbs 25:4; Isaiah 1:22; I Thessalonians 4:3-8; Romans 8:13; 12:1-2; Hebrews 10:10; 2 Timothy 2:21; John 17:17)


Freedom, Not Bondage

“The Christian life is the life of sons and daughters; it is not the life of slaves. It is freedom, not bondage. Of course, we are slaves of God, of Christ, and of one another. We belong to God, to Christ, to one another, and we love to serve those to whom we belong. But this kind of service is freedom. What the Christian life is not, is a bondage to the law, as if our salvation hung in the balance and depended on our meticulous and slavish obedience to the letter of the law. As it is, our salvation rests upon the finished work of Christ, on His sin-bearing, curse-bearing death, embraced by faith.”

– John Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1968), 108-109.


Preventing Scandal in Leadership

Sermon notes – Pastor Milton Vincent – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church
March 14, 2010

For more information or to download sermons, please visit Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church website at www.cornerstonebible.org.

A note from Terrie: These are my notes taken during our church service on Sunday mornings. I will do my best to represent each sermon faithfully and post by Wednesday evening. Please keep in mind that these notes are just that, notes, and are a condensed version of the sermon. My prayer is that not only will these posts help me to think about God’s Word and how to apply it to my life, but that each post will encourage others to do the same.

In I Timothy 5:19-25 Paul gives six instructions to show Timothy how to prevent scandal in the church.

1.  Formally entertain only substantiated accusations against another elder (verse 19). 
It is inevitable that false accusations will come. Even Jesus was falsely accused. Conversely, if the accusation is substantiated, then the accusation must be investigated. (Also see Matthew 18:15-17.)

2. Publically rebuke an accused elder who is found to be in sin (verse 20).
In this way others will fear and understand the seriousness of sin. Sometimes, it is best to “blow the lid” off in order to get everything out in the open thereby diffusing the situation.

Depending on the severity of the sin, there are several kinds of rebuke:
– Private rebuke of an elder
– Public rebuke but the elder remains in office
– Public rebuke but the elder is removed from office temporarily
– Public rebuke and the elder is removed from office permanently

3. Realize who is watching you (verse 21).
Paul publically exhorts Timothy to follow his instructions regarding elders. “In the presence of God and of Jesus Christ and of the elect angels I charge you…” God sees. Jesus sees. The angels see. (And in Timothy’s case, Paul is a witness.)

How a person responds to these exhortations will also be viewed by these awesome witnesses. This is true not only for elders, but for all of us. Everything we do is a public act before God, Christ and the angels. There is no such thing as complete privacy. We might be able to keep scandalous behavior a secret here on earth, but in heaven it is a public scandal. We have a cosmic audience!

4. Show fairness and impartiality towards both elders and their accusers (verse 21).
Avoid jumping to conclusions or leaning towards either the elder or the accuser. (Also see James 2.)

5. Be careful whom you commission as elders in the first place (verse 22).
Much trouble can be avoided by doing this. If an unqualified elder is put in office and sins, those who put him in that position share some of the responsibility.

Verses 24 and 25 refer to the examination process for elders:
v. 24 – Judgment here refers to judging whether someone is fit for the office of elder. For some, their sins are obvious and come before. For others, their sins (hidden and concealed) follow and are discovered after the judging process.

Therefore, it is better to err on the side of taking the time to be careful and thorough in the examination process for elders.

v. 25- On the flip side, some candidates for the office of elder may have good deeds that are very visible, but some may have good deeds that are more concealed. So, search not only for sins that might disqualify a man for the office of elder, but also, look for those who are quietly accomplishing good deeds. Don’t overlook qualified men if their good deeds may not be as visible.

6. Continuously keep yourself free from sin (verse 22).
(Also see I Timothy 4:12; 5:2; I Peter 3:2.)

If we are not continuously keeping ourselves from sin, we will sin! Be aware of this in life and ministry.

Regarding verse 23: At first this verse seems very random. However, Paul tells Timothy to “use a little wine for his stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” directly after his admonishment to “keep yourself from sin.” Timothy was probably avoiding any hint of sin by abstaining. Paul sees that Timothy is struggling with his health and he wants him to know that drinking a little wine will not be cause for a scandal in the church. From this verse we can conclude:

– Timothy was an abstainer.
– Timothy was experiencing some ailments, some of which were stomach related.
– Timothy’s abstaining cheated him out of a medicinal product he needed.
– Paul instructs Timothy to drink wine for the sake of his physical health.
–  Paul counsels Timothy to drink only a little wine.
– Drinking “a little wine” for health reasons is not a scandal. 

Thank God Cornerstone has never experienced a scandal. Pray for our elders!

 


But for Christ’s Blood

How oft do we condemn when Christ would not?
Is it more than repentance we require
as if the perfect work that He has wrought
suffices not to save us from the fire?

How is it that we refuse to forgive?
Dare we ask for more than His sacrifice?
Are we more righteous than He who would cleanse?
Yet, we cast the first stone, quick to chastise.

Why do we turn from the beauty of Him,
preferring darkness to One Right and Fair
and fixing our eyes on weakness and sin,
shamelessly feast on transgression laid bare?

Are we not sinners redeemed at great cost,
and but for Christ’s blood yet hopeless and lost?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Something Real

“There must be something real of the work of Christ in the moment-by-moment life, something real of the forgiveness of specific sin brought under the blood of Christ, something real in Christ’s bearing His fruit through me through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These things must be there. There is nothing more ugly in all the world, nothing that more turns people aside, than a dead orthodoxy.”

-Francis A. Schaeffer, Two Contents, Two Realities

The Gospel changes everything. Once a man’s eyes are opened and he realizes what a predicament he is in because of  his sin, there is nothing else to do but turn to Christ. The work of the Spirit of God in regenerating a soul is a real event. It works itself out in how a man lives his life, his attitude towards sin, who he turns to in time of need, and how he views other people, his station in life, and the whole world around him. There is no compartmentalizing the Gospel. If the truth about  the holiness of God, the magnitude of sin, and the amazing gift of salvation has not changed the whole man, his is a dead and ugly orthodoxy, indeed.

We can make lists of rules to follow, promise to do better, and even be quite adept at  presenting ourselves as “good” in front of other people, but these things are not the real workings of redemption. The man who practices Christianity this way will at best fail in his attempts to muster up a life of obedience to God, and at worst could be fooling himself as to whether he is really saved at all.

Man has a real problem. Sin. He is lost apart from the Grace and Mercy of a real salvation. Try putting an imaginary bandage on a bleeding man. What folly! “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15). I need a real Savior, and so do you. And that’s why the Gospel is such good news. Real, good news.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

(See: 2 Corinthians 5:17, 13:5; Romans 1:16; Galatians 1:8)


The Mercy of God’s Word

“For by His Word, God rendered faith unambiguous forever… “  (John Calvin-Institutes Book One 6.2)

God’s Word is a Mercy. It makes clear man’s dilemma and solves his most basic problem. A man need not grope in the darkness in hopes of discovering clarity in the shadows. He will not find what he is looking for there. Obscurity begets ambiguity and hopelessness, blurring the outline of what life lived in subjection to the Trinity can be.

God’s Word is a Mercy. It is a reflection of the Sovereign One, Ruler of the universe. If creation whispers the Name of the Creator, and by so doing leaves man without excuse; God’s Word is the executioner’s sword, putting to death all pretext of self-justification.

God’s Word is a Mercy. It is the antidote to the desperation man feels when the realization of his true predicament takes hold. God’s Word is a lifeline. A blueprint for salvation. It is the foundation upon which changed lives are built. The blind see. The deaf hear. God’s Word relieves man of his awful burden and gives birth to faith.

God’s Word is a Mercy. It is shelter against the storm. God’s Word defends. God’s Word protects. It forms the underpinnings of strength and the groundwork for wisdom. God’s Word is a refuge for the sinner and a safety net for the weak. God’s Word never fails.

God’s Word is a Mercy. It is nourishment and real sustenance. It offers the bread of life in famine and living water in drought. It is the marriage feast’s miracle wine, undiluted and pure. God’s Word is a banquet fit for a king, yet bids the needy come eat.

God’s Word is a songbird singing in the deepest of nights. Hear it.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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