Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Happy St Andrews Day!

 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 
And he brought him to Jesus.

(John 1:40-42)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Rev David Robertson update

Was very moved by a recent update from David Robertson's son on his dad's health:

'An update on Dad: There hasn't been much said in the past few days because things haven't been going well. His sedation was increased on Sunday and they've had him asleep since then. The damage to his lungs is still severe and today mum was told by the doctors that it's 50/50 weather he'll live or die. I write this with great anguish and a heavy heart but not without hope. There is still a hope that he'll make it through this, but there is a better hope he has and we have. A hope that does not waver and is 100% certain. That is the hope of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus has already removed Dad's biggest problem, it's not the deterioration of his lungs but something more deadly... his sin. Christ has saved him from that. Tomorrow I go down with Becky to Dundee, knowing that this may be the last time I see my Dad... till Christ returns and "everything sad is made untrue."' 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.

David is the minister of St Peter's Free Church Dundee and Chairman of Solas Centre for Public Christianity. Please pray for him and his family at this time.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Reform Begins- Part 2

Following on from Sola Scriptura, the assertion that Scripture holds the place of ultimate authority, came four more solas; sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus and soli Deo gloria.

Sola Gratia: (grace alone)

Here is the teaching that separates Christianity from all other religions and philosophies. Every other religion gives advice on how to live if you want to reach heaven\nirvana\fulfilment\happiness\enlightenment… ‘Do A B and C and you might just be able to earn it.’

I suspect most people think Christianity is another voice in that great assembly, preaching moral living that it’s particular God might be satisfied.  

But Christianity does not declare: ‘God is good, you be good and he’ll accept you.’

God is too good! And you have already failed. You’ll never earn it. You need grace. Not a combination of God’s grace and your goodness, grace alone welcomes us into God’s favour and presence.

When we have been accepted by God, as his much loved children we do good things. But it’s a grateful response from acceptance, not a pitiful plea for acceptance.

It’s all grace, all gift.

(It’s worth noting that there is another error common within the church today, to speak of grace as being nice and not judging other people. Well it may be nice to be nice, but grace is about forgiveness for sin.)

Sola fide (faith alone)

What is the means by which we lay hold of this great gift of grace? Is it automatic? Do I need to belong to a certain race, be born in a certain country, partake in certain religious rituals?

No, the gift of God’s grace is received by faith.

Not just believing that God exists, or just that he loves you. I would even go so far as to say not just believing in the sense of mental assent to the truth that Christ died for you.

But trusting, trusting in Jesus life and death and resurrection.

Solus Christus (Christ alone)

Which leads us to Solus Christus. Faith in Christ alone.

Faith in his life- without sin in our place.
Faith in his death- for sin in our place.
Faith in his resurrection- conquering sin in our place.

Someone has said that Jesus lived the life we could not live, died the death we deserved to die, to secure for us the gift we could never afford!

Soli Deo Gloria

Justification (being made right with God) is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. Who then gets the credit, the glory? God alone!

Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-10:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-  not by works, so that no one can boast.

Salvation is gift- from start to finish. All gift, all grace. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, not by good works or rites and rituals performed by the church on our behalf. That’s what Luther and the Reformers were willing to take their stand for, and I -for one- am glad they did.