Thursday, February 28, 2008

CD Review: You and You Alone

Pastor Pat Sczebel, with son Joel, wrote all the music on this latest album from Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Pat Sczebel is associate pastor at CrossWay Community Church in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. This album (OK, it’s actually a CD, I’m dating myself here) contains lead sheets and guitar sheets in PDF format.

Here are some of the songs on You and You Alone:

Trust In You and Over All
Speak of Christ’s reign over all creation (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22); sovereignty over all kingdoms and all rulers (Daniel 2:21); and that nothing can thwart His plans (Isaiah 46:9-10; Job 42:2b; Lamentations 3:37-38).

The Greatest of All
Celebrates The Great Exchange - my sin for His righteousness. The greatest of all transactions, the costliest purchase price, was Christ’s atoning death given in payment for mine. As a result, I’ll never know God’s judgment because Jesus Christ was judged for me, cancelling my debt and satisfying the law’s demands.

In You
Reminds us that in Jesus Christ is grace; perfect rest; deliverance from shame; awesome mercy; sweet forgiveness; and joy forevermore.

You Are Good
Proclaims God’ goodness toward us through Christ who gave His life to save us - His righteous for our unrighteous - so that we could know His grace. Forever, lasting mercy; immeasurable grace. You may download a free MP3 of this song here.

You Alone
As with The Greatest of All, this is a song of God’s atoning work on Calvary. "Once a slave to sin, condemned to die and know Your wrath; but in wondrous love You gave Your Son to bear it all."

And Track 8, Lord, You Are Gracious, is my favorite. I will let the words of this song speak for themselves.

You do not treat us as our sins deserve
Though we are guilty as charged
Your Son was treated as if responsible
For all my sin

(Chorus) Lord, You are gracious
Lord, You are compassionate
Slow to anger, rich in love
Lord, You are

Your Son was perfect, blamelessness itself
Father, You turned Your face away
You bruised and crushed Him that I might know Your grace
For all my days (Chorus)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end

Slow to anger, rich in love
Lord, You are

Also on this album are Yesterday, Today and Forever; I Surrender All; and Jesus, You Are Beautiful.

Purchase this CD through Sovereign Grace Music, and allow its biblically rich truths to minister to you as they have to me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Gospel: Compare & Contrast

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (ESV)
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

John 14:6 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (ESV)
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Romans 1:16a (ESV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

So, is this the proclamation of the gospel?

Or is this the proclamation of the gospel?

For more on the true, biblical gospel of Jesus Christ:

The gospel is the good news of God’s saving activity in the person and work of Christ. This includes his incarnation in which he took to himself full (yet sinless) human nature; his sinless life which fulfilled the perfect law of God; his substitutionary death which paid the penalty for man’s sin and satisfied the righteous wrath of God; his resurrection demonstrating God’s satisfaction with his sacrifice; and his glorification and ascension to the right hand of the Father where he now reigns and intercedes for the church. Such news is specific: there is a defined "thatness" to the gospel which sets forth the content of both our saving faith and our proclamation. It is objective, and not to be confused with our response. It is sufficient: we can add nothing to what Christ has accomplished for us--it falls to us simply to believe this news, turning from our sins and receiving by faith all that God has done for us in Christ.
(Jeff Purswell, Covenant Life Church; Dean, Academic and Student Affairs, Pastors College of Sovereign Grace Ministries)

John Piper's God is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself (Crossway Books, 2005)

The Gospel, by Tim Keller (MP3)
with Study Guide

What is the Gospel?, by D.A. Carson (MP3)

Desiring God Ministries

The Gospel for Real Life, by Jerry Bridges
Description: The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most explosive news of freedom the world has ever heard. Yet, why do so many of His followers experience so little of the gospel’s liberating power? The poverty of actual Christian experience is the result of an impoverished understanding of the depths of the gospel itself. The key is not to try a little harder, but to know more fully the incredible work of Christ on the cross - and to live in a more vital awareness of that grace day by day. Without a knowledge of the depth of our sin, we cannot experience "the unsearchable riches of Christ" that are available to us in the gospel. And when we know those riches, we are empowered to live every day "glorying in a sense of acceptance and the experience of grace."

The gospel is Christ. It is the good news that "directly addresses the ultimate bad news ... that we were by nature objects of God's wrath (Romans 1:18; 3:10-12; Ephesians 2:3)." It tells me that if I have been redeemed by the shed blood of Christ, that I am "accepted by God, not on the basis of my personal perfection, but on the basis of the infinitely perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ." It was Christ who paid my debt, exchanging my sin for his righteousness, making me no longer an enemy and object of His wrath, but rather, an adopted son, heir, with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:16-17). (Quotes taken from Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life, NavPress 2002)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Mystery of Election: Sovereign, Electing Grace

Here, C.J. Mahaney talks about mystery, and the limitations of human knowledge about God, especially regarding whom He chooses to save. This is a 6-minute excerpt from a session of Sovereign Grace Ministry's 2002 Small Group Leaders Conference. The full message is available on DVD.

For a plethora of resources on the Doctrines of Grace, or Sovereign Election/Grace.

Categorized scripture list on the Doctrines of Grace.

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination, by Loraine Boettner
Free, on-line copy. For purchase.

Charles H. Spurgeon's series on the Doctrines of Grace.

"Get comfortable with mystery."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Earning God's Favor? Or Filthy Rags?!

What say you to this statement by a pastor of a local mega-church here in the Dallas area?

The following is an excerpt from an interview he did (promoting his most recent book), speaking of grace and obedience, and regarding the assurance of one's salvation:

"There are probably more unsaved people in my pews than I want to acknowledge. . . . In the past, I've made the mistake as a pastor of trying to assure people of their salvation when they never possessed it to begin with. Here are people who profess to be Christians, but they have no interest in God's Word, they never pray, they don't want to be in church, there is absolutely no fruit in their life. Why should we give false security to people like that? The Bible certainly gives no assurance of salvation for such people. . . . It comes down to the question: What place does obedience have in the life of a Christian? What does grace say is my responsibility in marriage, in friendships, in the church? I don't believe that obedience earns God's salvation of our souls. But it certainly earns God's favor in our lives."

"I don't believe that obedience earns God's salvation of our souls. But it certainly earns God's favor in our lives."

Our acts of obedience earn God's favor?

How is this any different from offering God our "filthy rags" as mentioned in Isaiah 64:6? Does this not also run the risk of creating (for some) a form of expectation that because I've done X, Y and Z, God now accepts me, or owes me some form of favor?

What does this say about the great exchange that took place on the cross - my sin for His righteousness? That Christ earned God's favor for me already by living an absolutely perfect life; shedding His blameless blood on the cross; thereby taking my sin in exchange for His righteousness. (Romans 4)

What say you?

For more on this great exchange, get a hold of Jerry Bridges' and Bob Bevington's book, The Great Exchange. Book: If Jesus Christ died for your sins, and he did, that makes him the most important person in your life, and his death he most important thing he did. So walk through this study of Christ's Great Atonement and learn the depth and riches of the cross. The Great Exchange exalts Christ's finished work of atonement as the central event of all history, where, in union with Christ as our wrath-bearer, curse-bearer and sin-bearer, our sin is forever exchanged for His righteousness.