A Sermon on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade…

I don’t often do this, but I’d like to draw attention to a sermon I preached two Sundays ago. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, your very young neighbors are being led to the slaughter…

Abortion—What is the Church to do?

Another day of witness and an invitation…

I have very little doubt that my brothers in the Presbyterian Church in America would state privately that abortion is a modern genocide. Yet when it comes to prophetic ministry to state that truth publicly, there is more silence than talk. Will our Lord judge us well for such inconsistency?

Along with a number of people from Trinity, I drive for over thirty minutes to stand at the gates of hell, telling the residents of Greenville that children are being murdered within her gates, that she has a death-camp in her midst. I do so one day of the six days a week the abortuary is open. I invite my brothers and pastors from the PCA to put some flesh on those theological bones by practicing true religion outside the Greenville Women’s Clinic.

A map showing PCA churches near the place in Greenville where babies are murdered.

A map showing PCA churches near the place in Greenville where babies are murdered.

Would you consider being there one of those six days? Will you join us?

Let the contemplations of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (as told by Eric Metaxas) inspire you…

The Scriptures said that faith without works is dead, that faith “is the evidence of things not seen.” Bonhoeffer knew that one could see some things only with the eyes of faith, but they were no less real and true than the things one saw with one’s physical eyes. But the eyes of faith had a moral component. To see that it was against God’s will to persecute Jews, one must choose to open one’s eyes. And then one would face another uncomfortable choice: whether to act as God required.

Bonhoeffer strove to see what God wanted to show and then to do what God asked in response. That was the obedient Christian life, the call of the disciple. And it came with a cost, which explained why so many were afraid to open their eyes in the first place. It was the antithesis of the “cheap grace” that required nothing more than an easy mental assent, which he wrote about in Discipleship (Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, 278-279).

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"If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?"

Convicting words…

To rule is to be in the midst of our enemies. There they find their mission, their work. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?

-Luther, quoted by Bonhoeffer in Life Together

Grace as a thing, a talisman, a fluffy pillow…

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:12b).

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus… (Rom. 1:1).

I don’t normally go for celebrity conferences and seminars, but I had good reason to attend a recent panel discussion hosted by Ligonier at the PCA’s 41st General Assembly—dinner was served and I had a good friend with me. One comment by Sinclair Ferguson was very helpful. He said something along these lines: Contemporary Christians have a tendency to think of grace as a thing rather than as the person of Jesus Christ. It didn’t strike me at the moment, but it came back to me as I reflected on the incessant incantations in PCA preaching and teaching and lecturing of grace, grace, grace, brokenness, grace, grace, grace, grace, the grace of God, grace, grace, brokenness, gracious, grace. Grace. We get much grace and very little Jesus Christ, the lover of our souls. The point Ferguson was making is a part of his book By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me. In an interview about the book on Ligonier’s website, he writes about what he means by grace as a thing:

In the preface of the book, you write that grace is not a “thing.” What do you mean by this statement?

It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing this language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as John Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself. Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes a similar point in his book Authority. Evangelicals are guilty of, as he puts it, “missing the wood because of the trees,” by focusing on secondary matters rather than the AUTHORITY of Jesus Christ:

We assert Him, we proclaim Him, we start with Him, because He is the ultimate and the final Authority. We start with the fact of Jesus Christ, because He is really at the centre of the whole of our position and the whole of our case rests upon Him.

It is to me interesting and rather extraordinary that we ourselves as Evangelicals should ever seem to forget this. I suppose that one reason may be our familiarity with the Scriptures. We are guilty of ‘missing the wood because of the trees’. I am convinced that most of our troubles today are due to the fact that we have become so immersed in secondary details that we have lost the main picture. We are missing the whole, because of our interest in the parts. If we could but stand back and just look at the New Testament and the whole Bible with fresh eyes, I believe we would be rather amazed at the fact that the really big claim which is made in the whole of the New Testament, is for the supreme authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. If what they say about Jesus Christ is not true then they have nothing much at all to offer us.

We’ve replaced the authority of the Son of God for a thing called grace. That thing called grace is much cuddlier than the person Jesus Christ. That thing called grace loves brokenness while the Son of God demands holiness. That thing called grace says your trying is the problem while the Almighty Lord Jesus Christ says take up your cross and die daily. That thing called grace is cheap grace…which leads me to my final quote, a favorite of mine from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Cost of DiscipleshipCheap grace is…

“…the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

And that brings it all together. May we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Must-Read Books

I can’t remember why I put together this list, but I stumbled across it in my files this morning. Outside of the Scriptures, these are the books that have fed my soul for many years. Certainly there are others I would add, but I still recommend all of the below as must-reads for Christians.

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D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939 & The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 by Iain Murray

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The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter (free here)

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What is an Evangelical? by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson (free here)

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Revival & Revivalism by Iain Murray

Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

What’s Wrong with the World by G.K. Chesterton (free here)

Confessions by Augustine (free here)


The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

The Works of Jonathan Edwards (free here)

"…what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us."

Cheap grace has infected the American church. We chirp and chirp about the grace of God but forget that Jesus, our Savior, called His people to a life of dying.

Here’s German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s definition of cheap grace from his book The Cost of Discipleship:

“…the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

In other words, Bonhoeffer is stating that if we have a conception of grace that is “cheap,” Jesus saves us and it doesn’t matter what we do or how we live. It does not matter whether we produce fruit. Cheap grace says, “Let us sin that grace may abound.”

So, what is costly grace as opposed to cheap grace? Bonhoeffer wrote, costly grace is…

“…the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price which to buy, the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

“Such grace is costly because it call us to follow, and it is grace because it call us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it cost a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us.”

The grace of God obligates us to live not as we want, but to live for God. We are not to live with Jesus on the fringes of our lives, but to live with Jesus as the center. We are not to live with Jesus as an afterthought, but with Jesus as every thought. So, we put to death the deeds of the body by the power of the Holy Spirit to the praise of Jesus’ grace (Rom. 8:13).

In a nutshell, we are to love Jesus. How are we to love Him? By praising His grace? That can’t hurt if you aren’t thinking of cheap grace. But here’s what Jesus said:

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).