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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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The Puritans were zealous not only to learn the Bible but to live the Bible. Some people think that such zealous attention to the Bible is a bit extreme. A common criticism that has been hurled at the Puritans is the charge of legalism. But their desire to honor the Scriptures in all of life was not driven by any attempt to earn the favor of God or to merit righteousness. They abhorred such a thought and denounced it powerfully in their polemics against all strands of Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. Their motivation was not fear of condemnation but gratitude for salvation. They based their experiential application of the imperatives of Scripture on the indicatives of gospel grace. A good example of this is Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) exemplifies the Puritan understanding of this text when he says that the exhortation is addressed to those who are “the subjects of God’s redeeming mercies.”24 As Edwards points out, the indicative was a reality in them by grace; grounding his exhortation on that, the inspired apostle implores believers to a sanctified life. This is not legalism; it is biblical, gospel-grounded piety. Scripture calls for total consecration as it shapes the whole of life (see 1 Thess. 5:23). In an experiential sermon on Romans 12:1, Edwards asks, “What is offering or giving ourselves up to God?” Listen to what he says (my amplifying comments are interspersed in brackets to show the relevance to the subject before us): A willing embracing [of] all God’s commands [every precept of His Word], and a devoting ourselves up to God as servants, and receiving him as sovereign, God and King over our souls and bodies, over all our powers and all our actions. ’Tis a giving our understandings to him to be enlightened [by His Word and Spirit], and to be exercised in thinking upon him [especially in meditating on the Word]. ’Tis a giving our wills to him, to be guided and exercised in choosing of him above all things [as our wills are informed by His Word]. ’Tis a giving our affections to him to be governed and exercised in loving him, and what he loves, and hating what he hates [as specified in His Word]. ’Tis a giving all our executive powers to him to be employed wholly in his service [as His will is revealed in His Word].25 Though my bracketed comments are not in the original, Edwards would have agreed that they are implied. In his Reformed understanding of the Christian life, such a Word-driven consecration was a given. God reigns in grace, and He extends that reign to us through Scripture as the Scripture authoritatively shapes every aspect of our lives. Edwards teaches that it should shape our souls and bodies, our powers and actions, our understandings and wills, our affections and all that we are as God’s image-bearers. The Word of God must be brought to bear on how we think, how we feel, how we act, how we plan, how we live, and how we love. This is not extremism; it is our “reasonable service” to our matchless Savior and King! In the words of John Flavel (1628–1691), “If Jesus Christ did wholly set himself apart for believers, how reasonable is it that believers should consecrate and set themselves apart wholly for Christ?”26 Such consecration is driven by the Word. After all, the Lord did pray, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17)."

~ Joel Beeke [Thriving in Grace]

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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
Joined: Sep 2003
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Much of Peter’s growth is no doubt due to the extraordinary teaching of Jesus during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. But even more of this growth can be attributed to the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit, which has just filled Peter. Christ had promised the disciples that the Comforter would bring all things to their remembrance and teach them all things and guide them into all truth. These promises are obviously being fulfilled in Peter’s sermon. Twelve of twenty-two verses are quotations from the Psalms and the Prophets. Peter experienced what all believers experience in times of the Spirit’s enlightenment: the Spirit bears witness to the Word. Scripture testifies, “He sent his word, and healed them” (Ps. 107:20). The conclusion is obvious: We do not need man-centered gimmicks to produce revival; we need the Word of truth and the Spirit of truth working together. Peter began his sermon with the Word and ended with the Word. Everything he said was biblical. In true preaching, law and gospel are the substance; the Word of God, the instrument; the Spirit of God, the power; the salvation of God, the result; and the glory of God, the end. Did you notice how Christ-centered Peter’s preaching is? Revival preaching is preaching of the Lord Jesus. In revival preaching, fallow ground must be broken up, the law must be proclaimed, and the tragedy of our fall in Adam must be exposed. The necessity of regeneration must be clearly taught, and people must be commanded to repent and believe the gospel, but the heart of all revival preaching is the preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessed message of redemption. No other name but Christ has the power to set men free. Let us pray, “Oh, Holy Spirit, we beseech Thee, open our eyes that we may see the face of Christ reflected in every Scripture! Help us to see Him as in a mirror, now darkly, but one day face-to-face! Note, too, that Peter preaches the whole counsel of God. He preaches Christ’s death and resurrection for lost sinners through forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. He calls for faith and repentance, based on the testimony of the prophets and the apostles. We must never shortchange the biblical gospel by preaching the New Testament without the Old, by proclaiming the cross without the resurrection, by offering forgiveness without the Spirit, or by calling for faith without repentance. Authentic revival is inseparable from a faithful proclamation of the whole counsel of God revealed in both the Old and New Testaments. The church of God depends on the Word that the Holy Spirit has put into its hand and heart. Truth leads the way to the church’s restoration and revival. In revival, people are made willing to live and die for the truth. Do you search the Word and love the truth? Do you strive, in dependency on the Spirit, to live that truth?

~ Joel Beeke [Puritan Reformed Theology]

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