No One Is Born a Christian

No one is born a Christian.  By nature we are flesh.  The Christian life begins with the work of the Holy Spirit in rebirth.  The term “born-again Christian” is almost a misnomer.  It is a redundancy.  It is a kind of theological stuttering.  If one is born again, then he is a Christian.  If his is a Christian, he is born again.  There are no nonborn-again Christians and not born-again non-Christians.  To be reborn is to be born into Christ by the Holy Spirit.  This is a prerequisite for the Christian life.  It is also the genesis the beginning of the Christian life.  It is also the genesis, the beginning of the Christian life.

– R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God, copyright 1988, page 21

Is Perfectionism a Doctrine?

Sanctification is a process.  It is a gradual process.  Run for your life from those who promise you instant sanctification.  There is a poisonous doctrine – one that dies hard in Christian circles – called the doctrine of perfectionism.  It teaches that some people have already attained spiritual perfection in this world.  They promise a “second work of grace,” a “second blessing” of instant sanctification.  From such teachers run away.

– R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God, copyright 1988, page 23

How Do I Know I Have the Saving Righteousness of Christ?

How do I know I have the saving righteousness of Christ?  Can I not deceive myself into thinking I have the real thing when in fact my faith is fraudulent?  Just because a person claims to believe in Christ is no guarantee that he has saving faith.  It is by our fruits that we demonstrate the reality of our faith.  We know that God is pleased with those who truly honor Christ.  We feel just as certain that He is not pleased when men blithely use the name but avoid any real life-affecting commitment to Him.  This is the scary part of Jesus’ warning.

– R.C. Sproul, Knowing God, copyright 1988, page 45

We Must Work Out Our Salvation

If we live to please God, we must constantly remind ourselves that our effort is extremely important.  Our salvation doesn’t end when we are reborn.  True, the Spirit does the work of regeneration by Himself.  Regeneration is monergestic, not synergistic.  I am quiet, passive, when the Spirit does His work of quickening my soul.  But then the work begins.  I must work out my salvation.  I must press toward the mark.  Though the Spirit always helps us, we must work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12-13)

 – R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God, copyright 1988, page 229

Illustrative of Moral Conformity and Self-Discovery

Jesus uses the younger and elder brothers to portray the two basic ways people try to find happiness and fullfillment: the way of moral conformity and the way of self-discovery.  Each acts as a lens coloring how you see all of life, or as a paradigm shaping your understanding of everything.  Each is a way of finding personal significance and worth, of addressing the ills of the world, and of determining right from wrong.

– Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, copyright 2008, page 29

Achieving Spiritual Perfection is Deadly

For people to convince themselves that thay have already achieved spiritual perfection, they must do one or both of two things:  They must so reduce the demands of God’s law to such a low level that they can obey them, or they must radically inflate their own assessment of their spiritual performance.

Either of these steps is deadly.  To reduce the demands of God’s law is to do violence against the holiness of God.  To inflate one’s own self-assessment to the point of self delusion is an extreme form of pride.

– R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God, copyright 1988, page 24-25

Above All Else

We are to seek the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness.  We notice that Jesus says that we are to seek these things first.  The New Testament word that is used here for first is the Greek word protos, which does not mean simply first in a series of many things.  Rather the word carries the force of priority.  A more accurate translation of the concept would be “Seek ye first, above all else, the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Seek the kingdom.  Seek righteousness.  These are the priorities of the Christian life.

 – R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God, copyright 1988, page 30

God Approves of Jesus

Before Jesus’ temptation, He had heard the voice of the Father, who declared His approval of the Son: “I am well pleased.”  We can feel certain that God was also well pleased at Jesus’ victory in the temptation.  Jesus choose well between the word of Satan the liar and the Word of God.  He cast His lot with trust and belief instead of selfish doubt and skepticism.  Both then and now, God takes pleasure in His children when they trust.

– R.C. Sproul, Knowing God, copyright 1988, page 100

Only If Romans Yielded Its Full Riches

Only if you have come to know yourself as a lost and helpless sinner (Romans 1-3), and with Abraham to trust the divine promise that seems too good to be true in your case, the promise once acceptance because of Jesus, your covenant head, died and rose (Romans 4-5); only if as a new creature in Christ, you have committed yourself to total holiness and then found in yourself that the flesh is at war with the spirit, so that you live in contradiction, never fully achieving the good you proposed not avoiding all the evil you renounced (Romans 6-7); only if, on top of this, “losses and crosses” are upon you (illness, strain, accident, shock, disappointment, unfair treatment – see Romans 8:18-23; 25-29); only then will Romans yield up its full riches and make its great power known to you.

– J.I. Packer, Knowing God, copyright 1973, page 256

The Great Overarching Goal of the Christian Life

We are called to seek the kingdom by bearing witness to the kingdom.  We are to seek to show the world what the kingdom of God looks like.  For the kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven means that loyal children of the King do the King’s will here and now.  We bear witnesses to God’s kingdom by serving God’s King.  There is a reason why Jesus links the coming of the kingdom with the doing of the will of God.  “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” belong together.  They are two sides of the same coin.  The kingdom comes on earth where God’s will is done on earth.

The conclusion we reach is this: The great overarching goal of the Christian life is obedience to the King.  And he is pleased when we obey.

– R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God, copyright 1988, page 31-32