October 11, 2017

Dear Friends,

 Up first this week is a brief dip into the world of metaphysics and philosophy.

 You still with me?

 Good.

 Philosophers muse about things that most of us don’t ever stop to explore.  For example, if you see a wooden plank with a nail driven in it, you don’t think much about it.  But when a philosopher sees a board with a nail driven into it, he asks the question “how did that nail get in that board?  What caused that?”

 If you had a friend who was pondering the existential dilemma of how the nail found it’s way into the board, you would probably suggest the most likely conclusion.  “Someone probably took a hammer and hammered the nail into the wood.”

 But that would not satisfy the philosopher.  He would dig deeper.

 Was it the hammer that caused the nail to go into the board? 

 Or was it the construction worker who did it? 

 Or for that matter, was it the architect who was ultimately responsible for that nail winding up in the board?

 For the philosopher, the question of what caused the board to wind up with a nail in it does not have a single, easy answer!

 The architect drew up the plans that dictated that a nail would need to be driven into a board.  He would provide what the philosopher might call the primary cause.  If he hadn’t had the idea in the first place, the nail never would have been driven.

 The builder would have provided the efficient cause.  He took the architect’s idea and put legs to it – or in this case, put his arm to it.  If his arm hadn’t done it’s work, the nail would still be lying by the side of the board.

 But then there’s the hammer.  For the philosopher, the hammer would have been the instrumental cause.  The architect could plan all he wanted, and the builder’s arm could pound and swing away, but without the instrument of the hammer, the nail would never have been driven in.

 So why this overly simplified lesson in the philosophy of causality?

 Because we’re exploring this month the slogans associated with the Protestant Reformation.  And one of those slogans is all about the instrumental cause of our justification.

 The only way men and women can be redeemed and reconciled to God is by the instrument of faith.  Salvation, the reformers said, comes Sola Fide – by faith alone.

 Last week, we explored the slogan Sola Gracia.  We saw that it is not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to God’s mercy that we are saved (Titus 3:5). 

 God’s grace is the primary cause of our salvation.  Ephesians 2:8 declares that it by God’s grace that we are saved.  In Romans 3:24, Paul says we “are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

 Jesus is the efficient cause of our salvation.  His death accomplished our redemption.  Apart from His willing sacrifice, no one could ever by saved. 

 Which brings us to faith.  Faith is the hammer that drives the nail.  It’s the instrumental cause of our salvation. 

 We are saved by grace through faith, Paul says.  Then the apostle quickly adds that even our response of faith to believe the gospel didn’t come from inside of us.  The faith to respond is a gift God has given to all He came to save. 

 So Sola Gracia and Sola Fide are two sides of the same coin. 

 We are saved, not on account of any works of righteousness we have done or will do.  We’re saved because God is gracious to give us a free gift that we could never earn for ourselves. 

 And we’re saved by responding to the message of the gospel with faith.  We believe that the gospel is true and right and real, and we live our lives accordingly. 

 There is no other instrument that can secure our salvation other than the instrument of faith.  It is God’s chosen means for accomplishing His saving work in us. 

 This is what the reformers were declaring when they announced that salvation is by faith alone.

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 Big plans ahead for our fall picnic.  Click here and scroll down for the info

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We’ve been busy, right? 

 Here’s a great update from Don Parish about our participation last week in the IFO Conversation Club at UALR:

 “Thank you Redeemer Community Church”. That was the chorus of response from international students and IFO leaders last Thursday after our church responded so faithfully with a bountiful meal during the 5th Conversation Club at UALR Metro Center. There was food aplenty thanks to the generosity of small groups and individual members. In addition to Redeemer providing a feast of food, ten Redeemer members served and then further engaged with the internationals through table discussions on a variety of topics.

 It was beautiful to see and a blessing to be a part of. So, thank you, thank you Redeemer. You are not only good and proven cooks … you are chosen and faithful ambassadors – by the grace of God.

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 And then there is this from Jen Gurney about the women’s retreat this past weekend:

 God did above and beyond, as He always does, all we had hoped or imagined for the first ever RCC women’s retreat last weekend. 27 women gathering for 40 hours to worship-through dining, resting, praying, studying, singing, laughing, crying, confessing, and much more! What a full weekend sitting at the foot of the cross being reminded of Who God is-the sure and steadfast anchor for our souls!! Hebrews 6 was the jumping off text for 4 sessions around hope.. We met in small groups, responded individually and together to the call on all of our lives to look to Jesus, our Sure Hope! The singing was beautiful, the meals were delicious, the conversations were sweet, but nothing compares to the wooing that God graciously did through confession, repentance, and prayer together! To God be the glory, GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE!!

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And here’s report from Matt Gurney about last Thursday’s Kids Small Group.

 

Kids small group last week had 22 kiddos with 7 adults helping. We looked at Matthew 16:21-28 about seeing clearly what it means to follow Jesus. We ate pizza first and had fun talking about our week. In our big group time we sang the hippopotamus song and other fun songs as well as God of Wow, I Have Decided to Follow, and We Fall Down. Then we talked about what it means to daily surrender to what God wants as we seek to follow Jesus.  We had the kids split into small groups and talked about ways they can follow Jesus every day. We ended with a game, and then gathered for kids to go home.

 

Each week each family gets a take home sheet with what we talked about, our memory verse, and ideas to do and things to talk about as a family.

 

The next Kids Small Group is next Thursday night, October 19.  Contact Matt if you have any questions.

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I’m always on the lookout for good stuff I can share with you.  Here’s a link  to a recent article from Pastor Kevin DeYoung that explores the characteristics of liberal protestant theology.  Do these characteristics also define what is described today as progressive evangelicalism?  I think DeYoung’s article gives us an irenic and well thought out analysis.  It’s worth taking a few minutes to read. 

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Have you ever had a time when you were so burdened by events in your life (or in our world), but you just didn’t know how to pray?

 

God understands.  And we’ll talk about what we do when that happens to us as we look at Romans 8:26-27 this Sunday.

 

See you in church!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Bob Lepine

 

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