Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Highlights from Psalm 1-41

In January I did a little project called 30 Days of Psalms 1-41. I read the first book of Psalms 30 days in a row. It was WONDERFUL. Some of these were already favorite-favorites. Others became precious to me throughout the month. I was just going to do a "top ten" list but that would be ridiculous. 

Do you have a favorite?

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain. 

lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lordsustains me. Psalm 3:3-5

Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:4b

In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You. Psalm 5:11

I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the LordMost High. Psalm 7:17

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.
I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2

The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. Psalm 11:4

The words of the Lord are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. Psalm 12:6

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5-6

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
have no good besides You.” Psalm 16:2

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake. Psalm 17:15

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-2

For You light my lamp;
The Lord my God illumines my darkness. Psalm 18:28

 As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the Lord is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19:7-10

The Lord is my shepherd,
shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:1-6

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old. Psalm 25:4-6

Lord, I love the habitation of Your house
And the place where Your glory dwells. Psalm 26:8

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple. Psalm 27:4

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LordI shall seek.” Psalm 27:8

Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalm 28:7

Lord my God,
cried to You for help, and You healed me. Psalm 30:2

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:4-5

Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit! Psalm 32:1-2

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together. 

sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:3-4

taste and see that the Lordis good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. Psalm 34:22

For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count. Psalm 40:5

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Book Review: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. J.I. Packer. 1961/1991. IVP. 126 pages. [Source: Bought]

From the introduction: Always and everywhere the servants of Christ are under orders to evangelize, and I hope that what I shall say now will act as an incentive to this task.

From chapter one: I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in His world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian, you believe this already. How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God's sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. 

Sadly I don't think an author could get away with saying what Packer says in the opening of chapter one. It may have been safe to say this at one point--that all Christians, or should that be "Christians" believed in the sovereignty of God. But can it still be said? God's sovereignty--not just his sovereignty over election, mind you--is a doctrine that is being attacked more and more. Packer illustrates several "obvious" reasons why/how every Christian believes in God's sovereignty: a) they pray b) they are thankful and grateful to God for their own conversion c) they pray for the conversion of others.
"You do not attribute your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, or prudence, or sound judgment, or good do not pat yourself on the back for having been at length mastered by the insistent Christ. You would never dream of dividing the credit for your salvation between God and yourself. You have never for one moment supposed that the decisive contribution to your salvation was yours and not God's. You have never told God that, while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize that you have to thank, not Him, but yourself for the fact that you responded to His call...and every other Christian in the world does the same." (12, 13)
But I have heard people talk thus and probably so have you. Bad theology makes me sad and mad at the same time. "Free Will Song."

But I am getting distracted. Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God is divided into four chapters. The first chapter is "Divine Sovereignty." The second chapter is "Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility." The third chapter is "Evangelism." The fourth and final chapter is "Divine Sovereignty and Evangelism."

I've already mentioned what the first chapter about--every believer believes that God is sovereign. 

The second chapter is important. In this chapter, he presents two views, both straight from Scripture. These beliefs are a) God is King and b) God is Judge.
"Scripture teaches that as King, He orders and controls all things, human actions among them, in accordance with His own eternal purpose." (22)
"Scripture also teaches that, as Judge, He holds every man responsible for the choices he makes and the courses of action he pursues." (22)
After establishing that the Bible clearly says that God is Sovereign and that humans are responsible to God, he focuses on two extreme reactions. One extreme, he notes, is to focus so exclusively on human responsibility that you essentially forget that God is sovereign even in election. When this happens, it is oh-so-easy to focus on methods and techniques and to put all the pressure on the evangelist, or the preacher.
If we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us far astray. (27)
It is not right when we regard ourselves as responsible for securing converts, and look to our own enterprise and techniques to accomplish what only God can accomplish. To do that is to intrude ourselves into the office of the Holy Ghost, and to exalt ourselves as the agents of the new birth. (29)
The second extreme is to focus so exclusively on God's sovereignty that you forget that God calls men and women to evangelize, that we are in fact the instruments God uses. The gospel must be proclaimed and shared. God uses us as his messengers. We give voice to the good news. We're part of God's plan. We have the privilege to be a part of his plan.

The third chapter is perhaps the MOST important chapter of all. It is dedicated to evangelism. It seeks to answer four questions:

  • What is evangelism?
How, then should evangelism be defined? The New Testament answer is very simple. According to the New Testament, evangelism is just preaching the gospel, the evangel. It is a work of communication in which Christians make themselves mouthpieces for God's message of mercy to sinners. Anyone who faithfully delivers that message, under whatever circumstances, in a large meeting, in a small meeting, from a pulpit, or in a private conversation, is evangelizing. (41)
Evangelizing, therefore, is not simply a matter of teaching, and instructing, and imparting information to the mind. There is more to it than that. Evangelizing includes the endeavor to elicit a response to the truth taught. It is communication with a view to conversion. (50)
As love to our neighbor suggests and demands that we evangelize, so the command to evangelize is a specific application of the command to love others for Christ's sake, and must be fulfilled as such. (52)
  • What is the evangelistic message?
The four essential ingredients
1) The gospel is a message about God. (58)
2) The gospel is a message about sin. (59)
3) The gospel is a message about Christ (63)
4) The gospel is a summons to faith and repentance (70)
  • What is the motive for evangelizing?
The two motives of evangelizing:
1) Love for God and desire to be obedient (73)
2) Love for others and desire to see them saved (75)
  • By what means and methods should evangelism be practiced?
Packer discusses the pros and cons of "evangelistic meetings." But I think he has been answering this last question all along. In particular when he discusses personal evangelism and the importance of preaching/teaching.

The fourth chapter focuses on God's sovereignty AND evangelism. How will a person's conviction that God is sovereign affect the way they evangelize?! Does it make a difference? Should it make a difference?

The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect
1) the necessity of evangelism (97)
2) the urgency of evangelism (98)
3) the genuineness of the gospel invitations (100)
4) the truth of the gospel promises (100)
5) the responsibility of the the sinner for his reaction to the gospel (105)

The belief that God is sovereign in grace DOES affect
1) our hope, "it gives us our only hope of success in evangelism" (106)
2) our boldness, "it should make us bold" (118)
3) our patience, "this confidence should make us patient" (119)
4) our prayerfulness, "this confidence should make us prayerful" (122)

The third and fourth chapters are the strongest and best, perhaps. But the whole book is well worth reading. One of the highlights, for me, was his making a distinction between personal evangelism and impersonal evangelism (81-82). He also writes of the three true signs of conviction (62-63).

The book is practical, relevant, and enthusiastic.

I think I've read this one three times now--once before I started blogging, once in 2014, and in January 2019.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 28, 2019

Book Review: Through Gates of Splendor

Through Gates of Splendor. Elisabeth Elliot. 1956/1996. Tyndale. 219 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Santa Juana is under way. White stars breaking through a high mist. Half moon. The deep burn of phosphorus running in the wake. Long, easy rolling and the push of a steady wind.

This biography has become a classic, and not without good reason! For within its pages, Elisabeth Elliot tells the story of five missionaries who became martyrs for Jesus Christ. Jim Elliot, the author's husband, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming. Five men, five very different men. Readers learn how each came to Christ. See how each one was called to serve, to give. Not only called to serve in general. But each called to serve specifically. God is in the details. God led each man to want to go to Ecuador to reach the native tribes who had not yet heard the gospel. Though each was initially called to serve different tribes, different regions within the country, each came to see that God was leading them to serve together, to reach out to one tribe, perhaps the tribe with the worst reputation, the people in the most need of hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. In the first edition of the book, these people are called Auca. A word that means "savage" in one of the neighboring languages. It's not until the second epilogue, that readers learn the tribe's name for themselves, Waorani.  God was writing their story. And he was preparing them day by day, week by week, month by month to accomplish HIS will. Preparing them to serve, to love, to give. Giving them strength and courage and desire. Giving them peace and joy and hope. (Not that they didn't have their down moments, not that they didn't have their discouraging moments. But they were living for Christ. They were ready TO LIVE OR DIE for Christ. No matter the outcome, they knew that they were right where God wanted them to be. And they trusted that whether they lived or died, Christ would get the glory, that HIS will would be done, HIS purposes accomplished.) 

This book focuses on their time in Ecuador--the years leading up to January 1956. I won't lie. I won't say that I found it compelling and powerful from the first page. But. By the end, I was swept into the story. It was powerful and compelling and emotional and beautiful and haunting and terrible and wonderful all at the same time.

I first read this one in 2011. This was my first time to reread it. It was even better the second time around I think. I have read a few of her other books now. I think that helped the story resonate even more. 

The fixedness of the human mind is the 'wall of Jericho' to Gospel preaching. God must shake, or there will be no shaking. ~ Ed McCully (8)

"My sister-in-law is dying!" This in Quichua, may mean anything from a headache to a snakebite. If one is in excellent health, he is "living." Otherwise, he is "dying." (33)

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." ~ Jim Elliot. (167)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Week in Review: January 20-26

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes. NASB 1995
Am I keeping up with my 30 Days of Psalms, reading Psalms 1-41? How many times have I read it so far? Which translations? Yes. This week I read in the NASB 1995, NKJV, NLT, HCSB, KJV, KJV and ESV.
Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. But I think I've switched Bibles. Still KJV, but perhaps not Names of God KJV. Job 1-24 this week.
Am I keeping up with the 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge (Knowable Word)? What have I read so far? Yes. Mostly. Maybe slightly ahead. I've now read Genesis through 2 Chronicles.
Have I done any other Bible reading not related to one of those projects? Which books and which translation, if any? 1599 Geneva Bible Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel 1-15;

Other Reading

Christian Fiction Read This Week:

Christian Nonfiction Read This Week:

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Devotional Journaling #4

I am reading two devotionals this year. One is Living Hope for the End of Days: 365 Days of Devotions from the Book of the Revelation by John Samuel Barnett. The other is Joni Eareckson Tada's Diamonds in the Dust.

Living Hope for the End of Days. The theme this week was Get Ready to Meet Jesus. A few things to think about:

  • Do you see an ever-increasing difference in your understanding of God and His Word from one year to the next?
  • All believers are to become teachers of others, whether it is in a church setting, in the home, spreading the gospel, or exhorting a friend or neighbor in the Word.

To the first question I'd say it's easier to notice differences across larger spans of time. The me of ten years ago versus the me now. Though the me of ten years was already committed to daily reading his word, the me of twenty years ago was an absolute MESS. I can look back and see growth--which is a good thing. But I don't ever think we reach a point where we're done learning.

Diamonds in the Dust.

January 21. The Law says, do these things and you shall live, but the Gospel says, live and these things you will do.
January 23. In this verse [Colossians 3:1-2] we are twice commanded. First, we are to set our hearts; then second, set our minds on things above. In other words, things above are to capture our imaginations, emotions, thoughts, feelings, ideas, and on and on. Most of us consider this command to be not as necessary as other mandates in Scripture. But it is! When you consider that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart and mind, it follows naturally that we should set our hearts on things above "where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."
January 26. The truth is, Satan and God may want the exact same event to take place--but for different reasons.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 25, 2019

Book Review: What Is Given From the Heart

What Is Given From the Heart. Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrated by April Harrison. 2019 [January]. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was a rough few months for Mama and me. We were already poor, but we got poorer last April, when Daddy went to sleep on the front porch and never woke up. Mama cried and cried, 'cause Daddy didn't have a suit to be buried in.

Premise/plot: The Temple family has lost everything in a fire. The church community is coming together and asking everyone to give something, to give from the heart. James Otis is stumped, especially at first. What can he give of value? He doesn't have anything of value. But he's determined. He must find something to give. His Mama is sacrificing her best tablecloth to make an apron. Maybe James Otis can find something to sacrifice too? One thing he knows...the best gifts come from the heart.

My thoughts: I loved this one. It was SO good. I loved, loved, loved James Otis and his Mama. I did. I thought the solution was wonderful and sweet. I loved Sarah Temple's reaction to his gift. This book was just satisfying through and through.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Book Review: Mere Calvinism

Mere Calvinism. Jim S. Orrick. 2019. P&R Publishing. 224 pages.

From the introduction: Early in the 1990s, I was reading a book of literary criticism by C. S. Lewis when I came across an entire page on which Lewis discusses the influence of Calvinism in the sixteenth century.

This book seeks to explain Calvinism to Calvinists. That's the book at its simplest. In the introduction he writes, "I fear that we pastors and teachers are making a serious mistake when we assume that our people and students understand Calvinism just because they call themselves Calvinists." In the first chapter he writes, "My goal in this book is to demonstrate to you, the reader, that the Bible teaches that God always does as he pleases, and that he initiates, sustains, and completes the salvation of everyone who goes to heaven."

But in the process of explaining Calvinism to Calvinists, there is an opportunity to explain it to others as well. Perhaps to those that have long misunderstood it. Perhaps to those that have feared it.

Anyone who carefully--prayerfully--reads Mere Calvinism would find it difficult to deny that Orrick's book is saturated with the Word of God. That his arguments for Calvinism are rooted deeply, oh-so-deeply, in the Word of God. Now mere human logic or reason will never get believers to switch teams from Arminianism to Calvinism. But perhaps with a little nudge, nudge from the Spirit, the book will do just that. Not because Orrick is super-persuasive and a charismatic teacher. But because his book rightly uses the Word of God.

The first chapter introduces Calvinism briefly. The last chapter plays a "what if" and "but in fact" game with Calvinism. In between, Orrick spends a chapter on each of the five points of Calvinism. T for Total Depravity. U for Unconditional Election. L for Limited Atonement. I for Irresistible Grace. P for Perseverance of the Saints. Usually he includes several illustrations per chapter to help readers understand abstract ideas.

I did not grow up a Calvinist. I was born into an Arminian church-going family. But as I began--as an adult--studying the Word, listening to biblically sound teachers on the radio, reading theology I had an epiphany of sorts. I became an enthusiastic Calvinist who LOVED talking the five points to anyone and everyone--whether they wanted to listen or not. I have read many books on the subject. This book is in some ways a basic beginner course in understanding the five points. I didn't precisely learn anything new, but it was a good opportunity to rejoice in these doctrines once again.

Favorite quotes from chapter one:
  • If the Bible asserts something about God to be true, and it could not possibly be true of your God, then you have the wrong god.
  • Persistent reluctance to submit to the plain teaching of the Scripture is a sure indication that you have not repented of your sinful resolve to determine for yourself what is good and evil. You still have the forbidden fruit in your mouth.
  • [Calvinism] is a way of looking at everything in the world. It is a way of thinking about everything. The Calvinistic way of thinking is rooted in the confidence that God is in control of everything and everyone and that he is controlling everything according to his good and perfect purpose.
Favorite quotes from chapter two:
  • Our Lord summarizes the doctrine of total depravity in one sentence: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” ( John 6:44).
  • Sin has so corrupted and disordered the human race that unless God intervenes in a person’s life, he or she will never repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Human nature became corrupted and disordered. Human understanding was darkened, our affections were polluted, and our will became captivated by sin. Humans’ primary question was no longer “What does God say is true?” but became “What do I want?” Instead of following God-loving reason, the will began to follow sinloving affection.
  • Since we remain spiritual beings and long for what God alone can supply, in our sinful state we sometimes fabricate a god who has a character that suits us in our sin. We may even call our god “Jesus.” We want to remain in control of our lives and keep enjoying our sin, but we also want the benefits of having a god. Therefore we construct a god who approves of our sinful choices, and we delude ourselves into thinking that we are worshiping the true God. This allows us to dispense with whatever the Bible says about God.
Favorite quotes from chapter three:
  • We need to revise our understanding of what constitutes fairness. Fairness does not consist in treating everyone equally; fairness consists in giving everyone what he deserves.
  • One of the fundamental principles of Scripture is that God is not obligated to show mercy to anyone. And if he is not obligated to show mercy to anyone, then he cannot be unfair if he shows mercy to no one.
  • I suspect that many of those who assert that God has chosen everyone to be saved are trying to protect God from accusations of being unfair.
  • Unconditional election presents us with a God who plans; conditional election presents us with a God who reacts.
  • Election says that our salvation is not in our hands. This is something we do not hear from the preachers who tell us that Jesus is patiently waiting to see whether we will allow him into our hearts. The doctrine of unconditional election reveals a God who is strong and in control—a God who does as he pleases. Election teaches us that we are completely at the mercy of a God whom we have offended.
  • God does not send anyone to hell because that person is non-elect; he sends them to hell because they are sinners who willingly rebel against him. Every human deserves God’s wrath, and God would be just to send all humans to hell. Is it wrong for God to send rebellious sinners to hell? Then why would it be wrong for him to plan to do so?
  • When we first see these doctrines in the Bible and embrace them, they are transformative. It is almost like being born again—again! Naturally, we are excited to share with others the truth that has been such a blessing to us. Be wise. Not everything that needs to be said needs to be said right now.
Favorite quotes from chapter four: 
  • “At what point in Pilgrim’s Progress does Christian get saved?” When I ask this question to my students who have just finished reading the book, they nearly always respond with a variety of answers.
  • Most students conclude that Christian got saved at the cross, but this is, in fact, the wrong answer.
  • Christian got saved when he entered through the Wicket Gate. Students get the answer wrong because they misunderstand three critical elements of Bunyan’s allegory: they misunderstand the Wicket Gate, they misunderstand Christian’s burden, and they misunderstand the proper object of saving faith.
  • A wicket gate is a small or narrow gate, and in the Bible Jesus identifies himself as the narrow gate; so in Pilgrim’s Progress the Wicket Gate represents Christ. When Christian asks Evangelist, “Whither must I fly?” Evangelist directs Christian to the Wicket Gate, or to Christ, and not to the cross. The Wicket Gate represents Christ.
  • My students usually misunderstand what the burden on Christian’s back represents. When we meet him, Christian has an enormous burden on his back, and Christian’s burden represents not sin per se but the shame and doubt that he feels because of his sin. Christian’s sins are forgiven, and he is justified, when he receives Christ—which is represented by his entering the Wicket Gate. But Christian does not yet understand the basis of his forgiveness, so his conscience continues to bother or burden him. Put in more technical terms (which is always a welcome means of clarification), the burden represents psychological guilt, not forensic guilt.
  • A person is saved not when he believes in right doctrine (substitutionary, penal atonement, in this case) but when he believes in the right person—namely, Christ. So the object of saving faith is not a doctrine but a Savior.
  • If you love God and point sinners to seek salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, then you and I will be friends.
  • I maintain that the Bible teaches that Christ’s death on the cross was a substitutionary, penal atonement, and everything that follows in this chapter is based on this understanding of Christ’s death.
  • It was substitutionary—that is, Jesus was taking someone’s or some group’s place. It was penal—that is, Christ was suffering a penalty, and that penalty was the punishment due to the sins committed by those for whom he was standing as substitute. It provided atonement. Christ did what the Father required of him, and God was satisfied with him and the sacrifice that he offered. God was reconciled to sinners because of Christ’s sacrifice.
  • Present the gospel the way that it is presented in the Bible. Not once in the Bible do we read of someone saying, “Christ died for you, therefore you ought to receive him.” And we saw earlier that Christ himself, and not some part of his work, is the object of saving faith. The Bible does not say that if a person believes that Jesus died for him, he will be saved. If the Bible does not say it, then neither should we.
Favorite quotes from chapter five:
  • By God’s grace, heaven is in our future—but by nature, hell is in our hearts. If the Lord were to leave us in this sinful condition, even if we were to go to heaven we would not be happy there.
  • So the Lord changes us, and this is the work of the Holy Spirit. On the cross of his suffering, Jesus purchased salvation for us; now, from the throne of his glory, he applies salvation to us by his Holy Spirit.
  • God must do something to make a difference in the mind of anyone who comes to Jesus. Somehow, God so manages things that the elect always hear and obey his call. The sinner hears his call, welcomes his call, and obeys his call.
Favorite quotes from chapter six:
  • The Bible teaches the eternal security of the believer, not the eternal security of the hypocrite.
  • The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is rooted in the astounding teaching of the Bible that the kind of secure eternal life that everyone has in heaven commences on earth in every person who receives Christ as Lord and Savior. The saints in heaven may be happier than are the saints on earth, but they are not more secure.
  • Regrettably, some of the one-pointers—not all, but some—who say that they believe in Once Saved, Always Saved have woefully deficient ideas of what it means for a person to be saved. For them, a person may “get saved” when he or she merely repeats “The Sinner’s Prayer” (a prayer, by the way, that is not in the Bible). Or a person may “get saved” when he “walks down the aisle” (not in the Bible) or “asks Jesus into his heart” (also not in the Bible) or when she gets baptized. In brief, the person who “gets saved” has not necessarily repented. Perhaps the person has been told that all she need do is admit that she is a sinner—but merely admitting one’s sin is not repentance.
  • Christ executes the office of a prophet in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation. Are you willing to receive Jesus as your prophet? Will you take his Word to be absolute truth and reject any ideas and philosophies that contradict his Word?
  • Christ executed the office of a priest in his offering up himself as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and to reconcile us to God, and he continues to execute it in making continual intercession for us. Are you willing to receive Jesus as your priest? It means that you must abandon any idea of saving yourself by your own good works. If you take Jesus to be your priest, then you will rely on him to represent you before God the Father and will trust him to do all that is necessary to make you right with God.
  • Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all of his and our enemies. Will you receive Jesus as your king? Will you lay down your arms of rebellion, submit to his absolute rule, and look to him as your champion to deliver you from all your spiritual foes?
  • True believers have stopped walking in the darkness of sin, and they are walking in the light of God.
  • True believers keep Christ’s commandments and practice righteousness.
  • True believers love other believers.
  • True believers do not love the world—the system that finds its joy outside of God.
  • True believers do not keep practicing a lifestyle of sin.
  • True believers believe that Jesus is the Christ.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible