Sermon Prep on Assurance of Salvation, Faith, Works, and I John 3

Tomorrow night, I’m preaching at my church and my central text is I John, chapter 3. It’s an interesting passage and the core idea that I’ve taken away from it is that while salvation is of grace through faith, our assurance of salvation is through our works and that we abide in Christ and not in sin.

I’ll post more later, but if anyone has any thoughts I’ll be checking back in before I preach tomorrow night, so you have a prime opportunity to influence what is preached from a pulpit.

Any takers?

Questions about Prevenient Grace

I don’t know a whole lot about Wesleyan Theology. I do know a little bit about the concept of Prevenient Grace, but I have some questions. If anyone out there is a Methodist (or a follower of any of the other churches in the Holiness tradition) who wouldn’t mind answering them, I’d be delighted.

My understanding of Prevenient Grace is that it is what gives all men the ability to exercise their free will to choose or reject God. Here is my primary question: If God has given all men the power to choose him, then what is it that makes one man choose God and another reject Him? Is it their upbringing? Their environment that shaped them? And what role does Wesleyan Theology ascribe to God in making those choices? What I am getting at is this: if God makes the man and determines all the little things about him, and if God chooses the man’s parents and so on and so forth, then how is Wesley’s concept of free will any different than Calvin’s? What am I missing?

Thanks in advance.

My brother in law, prayer, love, and grace

We spent some time this weekend in Tennessee with my wife’s family. As you may remember, last Monday my brother-in-law fell eighteen feet from a rooftop and landed on his back, breaking three vertebra, two ribs, and his sternum. As of today, the doctors have no hope that he will ever walk again. In spite of all this, everyone was in pretty good spirits. My brother-in-law and his wife both seem to realize that the reality of what has transpired hasn’t had time to sink in yet. For the past week they have been kept fairly busy with a helicopter flight, surgeries, and with doctor’s consultations, with friends and family, with phone calls to and from their insurance company, and with all the interruptions associated with a stay in a hospital. Through it all, they’ve hardly had a chance to sit and think about what has happened or to discuss what their life will be like when it returns to “normal”.

All of that will change very soon though. Today, they are taking him from the Johnson City hospital he was life-flighted to, and they are moving him to Winston-Salem for physical therapy. He’ll have two fairly intense weeks there, with visitation limited to three hours in the evening (that includes his wife) and then it will be time to go home. And I imagine that is when he will need our prayers the most.

So if you have time in the next few weeks, say a quick word of prayer for Mike and Ginger Martin. Pray that Mike will continue to grow in the Lord and that he will lead his family spiritually. Pray that Ginger will love and submit to her husbands leadership and that she will cast all her cares upon God. Pray for them as you would pray for any other couple that you know, because the truth is, the challenges that they will face haven’t changed in their nature, just in their appearances.

Analogous Grace: Why God chooses to bless certain things

In my last article on grace, I wrote about Prescriptive Grace and the way that grace is always applied specifically according to God’s desires. In this post, I want to talk about grace in a slightly different way, but first I want to clarify some things. Because this post is about why God chooses to bless certain things I don’t want to give the impression that I believe that we can control or even manipulate God, however, because God has told us that He is a God of order and because He has revealed a great deal about Himself through His Word and through the world, there are things that we can know about His behavior and that we can, through faith, respond to. Of course, God can do anything He chooses at any time and is not bound by anything other than His own nature. As C. S. Lewis writes of Aslan in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: He’s not a tame lion.
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Prescriptive Grace: The How’s and Why’s of Grace

If you’ve grown up in Christian circles or read many books on Christian topics, you probably run across a lot of different definitions for grace. Things like, “Grace is the unmerited favor of God” or “Grace is the power and desire to do God’s will” or my personal favorite, G.R.A.C.E. is

God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense

(This one is the best because it both defines and spells Grace at the same time!!!)

And while I don’t really want to knock those definitions (except maybe the acrostic), I wonder if you’ve ever felt like me that such simplistic definitions do not do grace justice?

I should point out that I’m not saying that we can completely understand grace. In fact, as we discuss grace a little bit, I’d like to try to show that to understand grace completely, we would have to understand God completely.

The seed thought that I have for thinking about grace is this:

Grace is associated with the specific work that God is performing in any situation. What we identify as grace is the interaction of God with us as His creation to accomplish His purposes. Grace is tied up in the specific actions of God and in our perception of those actions (think revelation).

In this post, I want to focus on the specificity of grace in any given situation.
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