Holiness By Grace

Holiness By Grace by Bryan Chapell has been one of the most influential books on sanctification and living the Christian life that I have read. Chapell reminds us that not only are we saved by grace through faith, but we are also sanctified by grace through faith. To often we flee from the Grace of the Gospel to a “Christianity” that is marked by our striving in our own strength to live a holy life. This life is marked by discouragement, frustration, disappointment, shame, and guilt. Chapell reminds us that the power and motivation to live out the Christian life come from the Gospel of Grace. We aren’t performing, we aren’t trying to get God to like us or be pleased with us, or delight in us.  The joy that comes from knowing that in Christ, God delights in us and is pleased with us gives us strength and motivation to respond to what God has already done for us in Christ, instead of trying to secure it ourselves. I would highly recommend reading this book.


The Trinity and Humility

I have been given the opportunity to lead a Sunday morning group on the basic doctrines of the Christian faith this semester. Last week I asked my good friend, Justin Kohns, who is in this group to be prepared to discuss how an understanding of the Trinity ought to produce humility in Christians. God blessed Justin with some great content and he has allowed me to share it with you. I hope you enjoy what Justin has to say on this subject as much as I do. 

The Trinity and Humility 

by Justin Kohns

Sometimes studying doctrine can seem disconnected from our personal holiness. The Bible even says that knowledge can “puff up” our minds if it is independent of us growing in love. To be on guard against this, we should always seek to connect what we know with how we live. Our doctrine should shape our thoughts, attitudes and actions. Our “head” must inform and transform our “hands.” This is a brief explanation of how the doctrine of the Trinity can and should produce humility in us.

How does a deeper understanding of the Trinity produce humility in us?

I can answer this question a couple ways.   First, there is a sense of mystery to the doctrine of the Trinity, and our inability to fully grasp it should produce humility in us.  The doctrine of the Trinity transcends reason and logic.   It is hard to fully comprehend or easily explain.   Yet it is true.   So when studying the Trinity we are confronted with a truth that our minds are too small to fully grasp or explain.   We are left with this realization:  ultimate truth is not found at the apex of human thought.  There is truth that is beyond us.   Knowing our limits produces humility.  While we are privileged that God has revealed himself to us, and given us capacities of intellect and reason, we should be reminded that those capabilities are a gift from God (so that no one should boast) and that they are limited.   A study of the Trinity can be a healthy reminder that we don’t fully comprehend all things, which hopefully produces humility.


A second truth that we see in the Trinity is this:  God has been eternally fulfilled and he has eternally lived in community.  God lacks nothing yet lives interdependently.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have been forever united.  We need to realize that truth about God so we realize this about us:  we don’t need each other because we’re sinful.  We need each other because we are human.  It’s in our nature.  Even before sin entered the world, God knew “it is not good for man to be alone.”   The idea of the “independent man” goes against our very nature.   We are designed to live interdependently.  That is the whole basis of marriage, family, church, and nation.   Humility is realizing that God created me to be interdependent rather than independent.  I am neither self-sufficient nor self-fulfilled.  I must humbly pursue to live interdependently.


The third, and I think primary, lesson for us is this:  God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are in all ways equal in their divinity, yet they display submissiveness and humility.  They are equally holy and equally powerful.   There is no distinction between them in value, goodness or love.  Yet this is true:

“though he (Jesus) was in the form of God, (he) did not county equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Php. 2: 6-8).

Jesus’ humility has nothing to do with his worth.  Jesus is God!   Yet he humbled himself, taking the form and role of a servant.    True humility is not something that others press into you, and it’s certainly not a feeling of worthlessness within you.  Humility is choosing to honor others ahead of yourself.  Humility is gladly serving and submitting to authority.  And here’s the thing worth wrestling with in your own heart.  Taking the role of a servant does not indicate a lack of significance.   Jesus was submissive to the Father’s will, but he was no less divine.   Role and authority are not the same thing as value and worth.  If the God of the universe exercises authority, and practices submission and humility, we as his family should do the same.

“Therfore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5: 1-2)    

Humble yourself, even as Christ humbled himself to the Father, and love others, even as Christ has loved you.

Learning Evangelism From Jesus

I just finished reading, Learning Evangelism From Jesus by Jerram Barrs. This is an excellent and challenging book on evangelism. This isn’t a book about technique or methods or programs. In it, Barrs examines passages of Scripture  looking at Jesus’ interaction with people to challenge our assumptions, heart, and approach to non-believers. Will you agree with all of his conclusions? Maybe, maybe not, but you will have to wrestle deeply with what it means to be a sinner, redeemed by God who has been blessed to be a blessing in this lost and hurting world. When looking at Jesus’ practice of spending time with the outsiders, tax collectors, etc… and the criticism Jesus received from the Pharisees for spending time with “sinners”, Barrs challenges us with this…

“What God desires from every true Christian believer is mercy for sinners. This, after all, is who God is, someone who delights in showing mercy to sinners. If it were not so, there would be not a single Christian in the world. Even if the friends we have appear to be so sinful that they scandalize some of our fellow believers, we need to be ready to endure criticism and persevere in loving those whom others may consider unlovable. “

I’m I ready to do this? Am I doing it? It got me thinking about the friendships I have or don’t have and why I have and don’t have them. Who would I have trouble being friends with and why? Who, by appearance or lifestyle, do I immediately dismiss the idea of being friends? Why?  What am I affirming or denying about the Gospel by my friendships or lack thereof?

A twenty-something generosity story

In this inspiring, creative video story from Flood Church, Tom O’Hara recounts his journey of generosity. The young videographer talks about his step of faith and God’s amazing provision.

via A twenty-something generosity story.

Discipleship fighting for our friends!

Do we fight for our friends sanctification?  I don’t mean the stereotypical accountability groups.  These are defined well in Fight Clubs by the statement, “All too often Christians are either wimps or bullies.  Wimps wuss out of the fight of faith, pathetically following the vain promises of the world.  Bullies beat one another up over petty issues instead of fighting together.  When Christians fight, very few fight in faith for one another.” pg 19

Does this define your view and/or experience with accountability?   Lets not make discipleship and accountability a legalistic checklist of yes’s and no’s and stop there!  Should we act and ask the questions of our Christian duty?  Of course!  But lets not stop there with a pitty party when we fail, lets stick together, address the root issue, and attack it with the forgiveness and power that has been given by accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Only then will we find something truly worth fighting for…. What will motivate us, and how can we keep the gospel central in our obedience?” pg 22

My charge for you and me is to find others to fight for and with and keep the gospel central in the fight.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
(Hebrews 3:13 ESV)

Completely and Unreservedly

Great post by Derick Thomas over at Reformation 21.

Completely and Unreservedly

From the post:

Within weeks of my conversion I came across Stott’s latest publication (published in 1972), Your Mind Matters. I vividly recall reading these words, “one of the most neglected aspects of the quest for holiness is the place of the mind.” In Basic Christianity, Stott had urged that in addition to a disciplined study of Scripture, Christians ought to “read good Christian books.”

What is the Trinity?

Here are some notes I typed up from Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears’ Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe on the Trinity. Obviously much more could be said, but I found these three essential truths very helpful.

What is the Trinity? 

“While the word Trinity does not appear in Scripture, this One-who-is Three concept very clearly does. The word Trinity is used as a shorthand way of explaining a great deal of biblical truth” (p.12).

The Trinity does not mean:

  1. There are three Gods
  2. OR one God manifests himself as either Father, Son, or Holy Spirit on various occasions (Variation of text on p.12).

What are the three biblical truths that are brought together with the doctrine of the Trinity?

  1. There is only one true God.
  2. The Father, Son, and Spirit are equally declared throughout Scripture to be God.
  3. There is only one true God, but the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct persons.

Three equally essential biblical truths:

1. There is only one true God. 

A. Old Testament

Deuteronomy 4:35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.

Psalm 86:8-10 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

nor are there any works like yours.

All the nations you have made shall come

and worship before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name.

For you are great and do wondrous things;

you alone are God.

B. New Testament

Romans 16:27 …to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

James 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

There is only one true God.

2. The Father, Son, and Spirit are equally declared throughout Scripture to be God. 

A. The Father is God

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

1 Corinthians 8:6 …yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

B. The Son is God

John 5:17-18 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Romans 9:5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Hebrews 1:8-9 But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,

the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;

therefore God, your God, has anointed you

with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

C. The Holy Spirit is God

Isaiah 40:13-13;18 Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,

or what man shows him his counsel?

Whom did he consult,

and who made him understand?

Who taught him the path of justice,

and taught him knowledge,

and showed him the way of understanding? . . .

To whom then will you liken God,

or what likeness compare with him?

Acts 5:3-4 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

The Father, Son, and Spirit are equally declared throughout Scripture to be God.

3. There is only one true God, but the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct persons. 

A. The Father and Son are two persons.

Galatians 1:3-5 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

B. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are two persons. 

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

C. The Father and the Holy Spirit are two persons.

Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

There is only one true God, but the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct persons.

Remember, we have been searching for the answer to the question, What is the Trinity?

Trinity Defined:

“The Trinity is one God who eternally exists as three distinct persons – Father, Son, and Spirit – who are each fully and equally God in relation with each other” (p.13).

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