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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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How Can I Live by Faith? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 71 pages. 2020
*** ½

This is one of the newest books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, all of which are free in the digital edition. Here is a list of all of the books in the Crucial Questions series. These books/booklets offer clear answers to the most common and difficult questions about the Christian faith.
Dr. Sproul tells us that trust in God, faith in Christ alone for salvation, is at the center of the Christian religion, and it is a key part of the Christian life to learn how to live out that trust in a life of faith. He writes that our God is utterly trustworthy, and to not believe Him is irrational.
Sproul writes that the cardinal doctrine of the Protestant Reformation was the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Through justification, God can be both just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are justified by a righteousness that is not our own. It is an alien righteousness. It is the righteousness of Jesus, and Jesus’ righteousness becomes the basis for our justification. Sproul writes that if we are to be justified, we must both get rid of our unjustness and acquire justice. These two things must happen, and the gospel says that both are provided by Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for our sins, to pay the punishment for our wickedness. At the moment we place our trust in Jesus, His righteousness is transferred to our account before God. Jesus takes our unrighteousness and gives us His righteousness in the sight of God. This double transfer can take place only through trusting in Christ. We are justified by Christ and by Christ alone. Sproul tells us that is a summary of the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper

Among the subjects covered in this book along with justification by faith alone is the debate over justification by faith alone in the writings of Paul and James, Abraham as an example of living by faith, and righteousness.
As with all of Sproul’s teaching, he communicates what can be hard to understand subjects in an easy-to-understand manner.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • Justification by faith alone means that justification is by Christ alone.
  • The biggest difference between Christianity and every other religion is the atonement of Jesus Christ and the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.
  • The marvelous truth of the gospel is that He transfers to us the righteousness of Christ and transfers to Christ our unrighteousness.
  • Jesus was sacrificed by the Father for us. God kept His promise and offered the sacrifice Himself so that we can live by faith. That is a God worthy of our trust.
  • The goal of the Christian life is righteousness.
  • We are justified by faith, which means that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ. But the moment we are justified is only the beginning of the Christian life, and justified people are called to bring forth the fruit of our justification. We are called to conform to the image of Christ, to grow up into the likeness of Christ.
  • Sin is ultimately a lack of trust in the character of God.
  • What does God require of us? To do what is right, to love with loyalty, and to walk humbly with our God. That is the essence of the Christian life. That is the essence of what it means to live by faith.

  • Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy recently published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you’ve read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.”
  • Sandra McCracken Teaches Us How to Live in the Light. Caroline Cobb reviews Sandra McCracken’s new book Send Out Your Light: The Illuminating Power of Scripture and Song. She writes “Her sacramental life, artistic vision, and quiet attentiveness to God and others is refreshing, especially in this loud, distracted, digital age. We all want to live this way: antenna up, awake to the wonder and ways of God.”
  • The Heart of the Savior. Watch Chris Larson’s interview with Sinclair Ferguson about his book Lessons from the Upper Room, which my wife Tammy and I are reading and discussing.
  • If You Could Go Back to Any Moment in Time…. Tim Challies reviews Lessons from the Upper Room by Sinclair Ferguson. He writes “In Lessons from the Upper Room, he serves as a kind of tour guide who describes what has happened in this room, what it meant at the time, and what it continues to mean today. He offers a guided tour of one of the most significant evenings in human history and tells how and why it matters to you and to me and to the course of events in this world. It’s my strong recommendation that you take the tour.”
  • New Advent Devotional from John Piper. John Piper has released a new Advent devotional titled Good News of Great Joy. “Each of the 25 daily readings highlights a Bible passage and a short reflection. Perfect for personal reading and family devotions, these daily readings are a great way to contemplate the magnificence of the promise of salvation through the birth of Jesus Christ throughout the Advent season.”

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Providence by John Piper

The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 16 The Loss and Recovery of a Theater of Wonders. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:

  • The main reason it is tragic to lose sight of the pervasive and intimate providence of God in the natural world is that it means we also lose sight of the purposes for this providence that God intends for us to see.
  • One of God’s purposes in creating the natural world was the enjoyment he would take in it.
  • God’s joy in creation is the fullness of his joy in the glory of his own power and wisdom and goodness coming to expression in creation.
  • God created the natural world as a theater for his glory and a joyful habitation for his beholding people, who, to all eternity, will live in glorified bodies in a profoundly pleasing glorified world of nature.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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