Train Churches

A Primer on Justification: Part 7

October 17, 2016:

This article is the seventh in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that we are gradually making available. Find the other articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5,  and Part 6.   The Means of Justification Earlier we defined justification both legally and biblically. Now we are in a position to clarify justification theologically: “Justification means a permanent change in our judicial relation to God whereby we are absolved from the charge of guilt, and whereby God forgives all our sins on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, our judicial relation to God is one of condemnation—we stand condemned on account of our sins, both original and actual. When we are justified, our judicial relation to God is changed from one of condemnation to one of acquittal.”1 The Westminster Shorter Catechism offers a more concise definition: “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth…

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A Primer on Justification: Part 6

October 10, 2016:

This article is the sixth in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that we are gradually making available. Find the other articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.   The Righteousness of Justification When Jesus died on the cross he was treated like a condemned criminal. The Romans reserved crucifixion for the lowest of the low—for traitors, murderers, and other despicable malefactors. Jesus was neither a traitor nor a murderer; in fact, as we have seen, he never committed a single sin (cf. Heb. 4:15). Yet God permitted him to be crucified in order to take away our sin. To use the technical term for it, God imputed our sin to Christ. To impute is to credit something to someone’s account, which is precisely how we became sinners in the first place: Adam’s sin was charged to our account (see Rom. 5:12-19). By the imputation of Adam’s sin, we…

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A Primer on Justification: Part 5

October 03, 2016:

This article is the fifth in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that we will gradually make available in the coming weeks. Find the other articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.    The Basis for Justification On what legal basis does God grant the gift of his righteousness? The Bible teaches that God “justifies the wicked” (Rom. 4:5). But if we are in fact wicked, how can he declare us to be what we are not? And how can he justify the wicked without being considered wicked himself? It would be an outrage for a righteous God simply to overlook or to excuse sin. If he intends to justify sinners, therefore, he must have some legitimate judicial basis for doing so. “Justification is not a synonym for amnesty,” writes John Stott, "which strictly is pardon without principle, a forgiveness that overlooks—even forgets—wrongdoing and declines to bring it to justice. No, justification is an act of…

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Reaching the Campuses

September 29, 2016:

Reaching the Campuses of Our Great Cities by Planting Churches When we look back at the history of the evangelical church in recent decades, we sadly can see how the church often left and neglected the great cities of our country. It is an unfortunate part of our past that has greatly impacted these cities and the people who live in them. By neglecting these cities, not only did we pull back from them in general, but by those actions we were also neglecting the universities in those cities. Many of the key, culture-shaping universities in our nation are located in or very near more urban settings and for decades have had few healthy churches located within a reasonable proximity. So, hundreds of thousands of students in their most formative years as they wrestle with life and eternity-shaping questions have little access to a church where they can clearly hear…

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The Vitality of Time and Energy in Church Planting

September 28, 2016:

One of the biggest challenges for church planters is the gathering of an effective core group. The planter is in need of more than warm bodies to fill those cold folding chairs in his basement. He needs devoted people who are passionate about the gospel and want to see it spread to their friends and neighbors. This group needs to have a pulse on the cultural context so they can effectively communicate gospel truth in understandable ways. These people need to be willing to stay up nights, talk to people they don’t know, go through a gauntlet of try and fail... Where would one find such a crack team of church planting missionaries? Every good church planter knows the answer needs to be “anywhere.” Everyone from the retired grandmother to the middle school teen can potentially add value to a core team. I would submit to you that one group…

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A Primer on Justification: Part 4

September 26, 2016:

This article is the fourth in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that we will gradually make available in the coming weeks. Find the other articles: Part 1: The Need For Justification, Part 2: The Centrality of Justification, Part 3: The Meaning of Justification.   The Source of Justification If righteousness is necessary for justification, where does it come from? As we have seen, our problem is that we have no righteousness of our own. So what is the source of justifying righteousness? The source of our justification is God’s free grace. The apostle Paul says it very simply: We “are justified freely by his grace” (Rom. 3:24). The Gospel Coalition gives a more expansive answer: “Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in…

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The Immense Value of Missionary Biographies

September 22, 2016:

  Outside of the Bible, biographies can be some of the most encouraging, inspiring, challenging, and beneficial types of books for Christians to read. We learn valuable lessons from reading about the lives of other people—their trials and their triumphs, their struggles and their strengths, their greatest mistakes and their greatest achievements. But there is one particular kind of biography that I believe has immense value for Christians, arguably more value than any other kind, and that is the missionary biography. So in the brief space I have here, I want to commend to you the practice of reading missionary biographies by highlighting just a few reasons why they are so valuable.  One, missionary biographies fuel and inform our prayers for missionaries. Reading their stories reminds us that most days on the mission field are a grind, not glamorous. We’re reminded that missionaries frequently face loneliness and discouragement. Often times,…

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A Primer on Justification: Part 3

September 19, 2016:

This article is the third in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that will be made available over the coming weeks. Find the other articles: Part 1: The Need For Justification, Part 2: The Centrality of Justification.   The Meaning of Justification The vocabulary of justification comes from the law court, where “to justify” is a declarative verb. In its noun form “justification” is a legal word that refers to a person’s judicial standing. The biblical terms surrounding justification find their origin in legal relationships. The Greek verb dikaioo, which means “to justify,” is essentially a forensic term that “denotes basically a sentence of acquittal.”1 To justify is to render a favorable verdict, to declare a person to be in the right, to announce forgiveness in legal terms. Justification is vindication. It is a decision of the court stating that someone has a right relationship to God and his law. It is the pronouncement that—as…

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The Value of Suffering in the Life of the Church

September 16, 2016:

It is scary to think of, I know. Who wants to suffer? I know I do not. Yet Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1, beginning in verse 7, “...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.” Share in the suffering. And why? Because suffering for something of such great value and worth as the gospel is a pittance, a light and momentary affliction indeed, compared to the eternal weight of glory awaiting us. Even more, suffering is often the means by which God purifies his church. Suffering sifts through those who see Jesus as their Greatest Treasure from those who see Jesus as nothing more than fire insurance. Suffering causes the church to bear down in…

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Truth Matters

September 15, 2016:

By Andreas J. Köstenberger We live in an age when truth has become increasingly subjective and perspectival. What is truth for me may not be truth for you. As a result, the whole notion of absolute truth has died, and, in terms of the conventional definition, there is no more truth; all that is left is varying points of view. Not that this is entirely new. Over a generation ago, apologist Francis Schaeffer lamented the very same phenomenon he perceived already in his day and felt compelled to coin the term “true truth” (as if there were false truth!) to affirm emphatically that truth still existed. That truth, Schaeffer maintained, is grounded in the one God who “is there and is not silent,” having revealed himself in the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and came back to life again. The Christian gospel thus gives meaning…

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