Doctrinal Thoughts

“Doctrinal Thoughts,” as posts or articles at Preaching Christ Crucified, are teachings, commentaries, and expositions from the Bible; that is, taking the Bible’s text from a particular passage of scripture and expounding upon that passage.

The posts and articles included in this category are written from a perspective that some may consider Reformed or Calvinistic. The posts and articles are typically, but not necessarily, written from a Particular Baptist point of view.

For additional understanding as to my beliefs and perspectives with regard to doctrine, here is a brief summary of my statement of faith:

I am in general agreement with the early English Baptist confessions, such as the 1st London Baptist Confession of Faith (1644/1646) and 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith (1677/1689), as well as the early American Baptist confessions, such as the Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742) and the New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833).

Additionally, by God’s grace, in matters of faith I strive to be Reformed in theology but not exclusive; Calvinistic in bibliology but not fatalistic; evangelistic in soteriology but not pragmatic; amillennial in eschatology but not dogmatic; puritanical in praxeology but not legalistic.

My Redemption

Sovereign Grace Baptist Church
pastor, publisher, paperback writer
A wrethed sinner saved by God\'s free and sovereign grace in 1985. He lives in Anniston, Alabama with his wife, Lisa and his mother-in-law, Virginia. He is the pastor at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Anniston after having ministered as a missionary and as a missionary-pastor in the Philippines, California, and remote bush Alaska. He is the author of the bestseller, CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED, the CEO of Vayahiy Press, and the founder and overseer of Eclectic Cattle Productions. Jon has also held the office of vice-chairman of the national Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship (2009-11), as well as chairman (2011-2013). His Christianity has been shaped tremendously and influenced deeply by such redeemed sinners as John Bunyan (1628-1688), Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), John Newton (1725-1807), and Granville Gauldin (1929- ).
P.O. Box:
Anniston, Alabama
36201
United States
jjc@jonjcardwell.com
DOB: 08/25/1960

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”Romans 7:25

Preaching Christ CrucifiedBecause of my wrestlings, that struggle within me between flesh and spirit, and because of my wretchedness as one who desires to do good in order to please God, yet, fails miserably again and again, I cry out with the apostle, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

Who is my Deliverer? “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25). There is my answer! Immediate. Clear. True and full of life.

It is My Reality, My Wrestlings, and My Wretchedness that bring me back to where I need to be: at the cross, clinging to God’s grace alone.  Nothing else matters if I have not grace of God in the love of Christ Jesus. When we are at the cross, when we live by God’s grace and my redemption is the blessing from which all other blessings flow, I read the law of God (the scriptures) unto the renewing of my mind. And though my flesh continues to serve sin, and though I hate that sin, I rejoice because I begin to realize that it is God’s grace alone, and the flesh has nothing to glory in— nothing to boast about.

Christ’s precious blood is sufficient. There is a serious danger in not viewing Romans 7:14-25 as that of a mature Christian being sanctified by the Spirit of God:

Number 1First, if this is what I was as an unsaved sinner, then I will say that there is no reality, no wrestling, and no wretchedness now in my life; and therefore, I will either become self-righteous in my own conceits and deception, or else I will become frustrated and doubtful wondering whether I am saved at all. In the former I will not rely upon the truth of God’s Word because I trust in the strength of my flesh. In the latter I will not rely in the truth of God’s Word because I am confused about God’s Word since it seems to be in error about so many things.

Number 2Second, if this passage reflects the progress of a “carnal Christian” that does not know the resurrected life FOUND ONLY IN THE SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE OF CHRIST OFFERED BY HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD, then I will be prone to experiment with every fad, gimmick, and new thing that comes my way; I will wander from the truth of scripture chasing after an experience of euphoria that doesn’t exist.

Because of the reality of my frail humanity, as I wrestle with sin and am wretched because of the sin in my flesh, the only source of love, joy, peace, &etc. is found in God’s grace alone, from the complete, sufficient and finished work of Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascended glory. Unless it flows from the throne of grace, what I experience in my daily situations and circumstances is an imitation of genuine love, joy, and peace… because what I am feeling and experiencing apart form the cross of Christ are merely temporal emotions, and not eternal graces.

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” Galatians (6:14).

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.

Listen to the sermon preached on this text, Romans 7:24,I Thank God!,” on December 13, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.

Read the previous article in this series,O Wretched Man That I Am!” (Romans 7:24).

To Be a Pilgrim

O Wretched Man That I Am!

Sovereign Grace Baptist Church
pastor, publisher, paperback writer
A wrethed sinner saved by God\'s free and sovereign grace in 1985. He lives in Anniston, Alabama with his wife, Lisa and his mother-in-law, Virginia. He is the pastor at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Anniston after having ministered as a missionary and as a missionary-pastor in the Philippines, California, and remote bush Alaska. He is the author of the bestseller, CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED, the CEO of Vayahiy Press, and the founder and overseer of Eclectic Cattle Productions. Jon has also held the office of vice-chairman of the national Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship (2009-11), as well as chairman (2011-2013). His Christianity has been shaped tremendously and influenced deeply by such redeemed sinners as John Bunyan (1628-1688), Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), John Newton (1725-1807), and Granville Gauldin (1929- ).
P.O. Box:
Anniston, Alabama
36201
United States
jjc@jonjcardwell.com
DOB: 08/25/1960

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”Romans 7:24

Preaching Christ CrucifiedWhen Paul speaks of a desire to do that which is pleasing before God, but instead, doing that which is sin against God, e.g., “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19), he is expressing in the portions of Romans 7:15-24 that which is taking place in every true disciple of Christ: a struggle between the corruptions of humanity in our fallen nature, which I still have, and the renewed and continually renewing understanding of His Word that cleanses our minds because we have been regenerated as new creatures in Christ. This is certainly not speaking of willful sin. “Why not?” someone may object in horror, “Do you mean to say that someone who is saved by God’s grace does not sin willfully?” God forbid, I answer, using the language of Romans.

The teaching that is sometimes called the doctrine of the “carnal Christian,” being that doctrine which states that a person may continue in a habitual lifestyle that reflects no desire for change and conformity to Christ’s righteousness, yet, is still saved, is not a doctrine that is consistent with scripture; and it certainly does not apply to our passage in Romans 7. Does that mean that a Christian disciple, now being freed from sin, will never commit sin as a result of a determined act of choice? It most certainly does not; yet, the apostle didn’t have to explain that in Romans 7:14-24 because he had already given instruction pertaining to willful sin in Romans 6:18-19, et al,

“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.”

Having given commandment not to yield to sin implies personal volition with a propensity toward sin. Having walked through this truth, building precept upon precept in Romans 6, Paul didn’t have to repeat it in Romans 7. The apostle presents another dimension of reality within our Christian lives: the desire to please God, yet, failing miserably to do so.  That’s what Romans 7:14-24 is about.

I can relate to these portions of scripture much, much more than I could ever imagine before. I believe that all my readers know (yes, I’m talking about all three of you) that my family and I could no longer minister in remote bush Alaska because symptoms of ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) began to manifest a few years ago. Because the onset has progressed rather slowly and is not degenerating as quickly as typical ALS it had prompted us to look elsewhere for the cause (which we now believe to have been Lime’s disease). Although I have been enjoying much better health for the past thirteen months, there were times, after nearly seven years with the ALS-like symptoms, that I experienced loss of dexterity and coordination to such an extent that I had to use crutches to walk or a wheelchair to get around.

During those days, I had moments when my muscles just would not do what I wanted them to do. There had been times when I wanted to go one way and one of my legs wanted to do something else entirely. I wanted to walk a straight line, but sometimes I didn’t. I didn’t want to drop that jug of milk, but occasionally I did. I didn’t want to knock things off the shelf or knock them over on the table, but it happened time and again. Does that sound pretty close to what the apostle tells us?  “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19).

My physical ailments were blessed illustrations of what takes place spiritually in a mature believer’s life. The cramps that occurred in my muscles from the Lime’s disease mimicking ALS, especially those in my hands and feet, reminded me that, although I didn’t mean to, I may tend toward obstinacy when I should be obedient to Christ; that I tend toward stubbornness when I should be submissive to Him. I say, “especially of my hands and feet,” because where do I find myself most resistant to the will of God? —in the gospel of grace, upon which I stand (feet); and in the work of the ministry and service to Christ and His people (hands).

The twitches and spasms that occurred in my muscles reminded me that there are still outbursts in my flesh from the corruptions that still remain. The fatigue and weakness in my muscles comes and goes, just like the fatigue and weakness of my flesh, though desiring to please God and serve Christ.

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

Who is my Deliverer?

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25).

Not only does my wrestling and wretchedness keep me embracing grace, clinging to His cross, and cleaving to Christ alone for mercy, rest, and comfort, but my struggle also stirs within me that longing for the day when Christ shall come, and “we shall be like Him; for we shall see him as He is” (1 John 3:2). O, to be with Christ and behold the fullness of His glory!

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.CLICK HERE if you do not see a comment box below.

Listen to the sermon preached on this text, Romans 7:24-25,O Wretched Man!,” on December 6, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.

Read the previous article in this series,My Wretchedness” (Romans 7:24).

To Be a Pilgrim

My Wretchedness

Preaching Christ Crucified“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”Romans 7:24

Because of the truth, that in this body I will never attain sinless perfection, I am wretched! I understand that because this body of flesh is not perfect, nor ever shall be— and that there is actually sin in everything I do, even the very best and holiest of works done in the power of Christ.  We read in 1 John 1:8,

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

That truth should ever bring me to cry out like Paul, “O wretched man that I am!”  Let’s look at what Mr. Spurgeon says about true Christians:

Young Charles Spurgeon“Refer again to the people of God, and they will tell you that since their conversion they have had much to weep over. Although they can rejoice that God has begun the good work in them, they often are abundant in faith yet there are times when they are superabundant in unbelief; that if sometimes they are full of works of holiness, yet there times when they weep many tears to think that those very acts of holiness were stained with sin. The Christian will tell you that he weeps over his very tears; he feels that there is filth even in the best of desires; that he has to pray to God to forgive his prayers, for there is sin in the midst of his supplications, and that he has to sprinkle even his best offerings with the atoning blood, for he never else can bring an offering without spot or blemish.”

– C.H. Spurgeon, “Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility,” preached August 1, 1858

Wretchedness comes from the revelation of Christ’s holiness. Do you remember the prophet, Isaiah, in the year that King Uzziah died? He “saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1). He saw the pre-incarnate King of kings, the Christ, sitting upon the throne of heaven in all His glorious majesty, with seraphim above the throne; and that throne being so holy that the seraphim must have six wings: having two wings to fly above so as not to even light upon the throne room floor where the Son Omnipotent rests His holy feet; and covering their faces with two wings in holy humility so as not to irreverently gaze upon His absolute majesty; and covering their feet with two wings so as not to suggest that they stand independent of the sovereignty of almighty power (Isaiah 6:2). And such holiness bursts forth from the Lord Christ that the train of His robe fills the temple (Isaiah 6:1), and therefore, the seraphim declare that blessed truth, which not only cannot be denied, but must be proclaimed as they see and know and perceive and understand that which is eternally displayed before them, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). At that cry the thresholds shook and the house filled with smoke (Isaiah 6:4), and all the prophet could do was cry out,

“Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”Isaiah 6:5

Isaiah, too, like Paul, was wretched in the blessed presence of Christ’s eternal majesty. If we be not wretched, be afraid; for it implies that we know not the real presence of Christ. Fear thou, o confessing Christian, for if thou be not wretched, it implies that thou hast exalted thyself and diminished in thought, even in heart, the eternal loftiness and absolute highness of Christ the King.

But, if the Spirit has touched thee with the blessing of Christ’s magnificent splendor, as He did with Isaiah the prophet and Paul the apostle, know ye that ye are blessed, redeemed, and enlightened for where sin abounds, grace abounds that much more.

jbunyans_pilgrims_progressJohn Bunyan, the preacher of Bedford and author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, also knew the bittersweet truth of redeemed man’s wretchedness in the midst of God’s great glory in Jesus Christ. He expresses it as much in his autobiographical account, to which he even applies the glorious truth to his testimony’s title, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.

And because of our wretchedness, we must ask the same question Paul asks, “…who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  It is a question that Paul asks immediately because the answer must accompany my wrestling and my wretchedness; otherwise, we might despair.  The chapter concludes with the glorious answer in Romans 7:25.

Yet, before we look at Romans 7:25, let’s conclude it with a devotional thought that considers our wrestling and wretchedness as Christian disciples of Jesus Christ, which we will meditate upon when next we post.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.

Listen to the sermon preached on this text, Romans 7:24-25,O Wretched Man!,” on December 6, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.

Read the previous article in this series, from Romans 7:23,My Wrestlings: Laws at War.”

DogeCoinMy Doge Address is: D8gkz1d4VNj5VcbMu6DFZ9L3jwxxLW9R5i

 

My Wrestlings: Laws at War

“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”Romans 7:23

Let’ us first remind ourselves how we opened our last article, in “My Wrestlings: I Find a Law”… 

The word “law” in Romans 7:21-23 presents many facets and dimensions of God’s law as it pertains to the sinner saved by grace. Because we are “dead to the law” (Romans 7:4) as Christian disciples, some may want to refer to “law” as merely principles of truth. It would not be wrong to define “law” in this way, as principles of truth, for so they are; yet, they are also more than that.

Preaching Christ CrucifiedI perceive a different law in my members.  “Another law” is translated from the Greek words ετερον νομον (heteron nomon), meaning “different law.” Does this mean that God has given another or a different law than that which is understood in scripture? No, I suggest that what Paul sees as a disciple of Christ, and what you and I should perceive, is a different dimension of the law, because now, in Christ, the statutes of God have been put in our inward parts, written in the new hearts given us by God’s grace (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26-27). So, what is this different law in my members?

Knowledge of the law, apart from Christ and outside of His free grace, seemed merely a system of do’s and don’ts. After Christ fulfilled the law both actively and passively, I not only see the law as something I cannot keep in perfect righteousness as a sinner separated from Christ (Romans 7:9-10), but the depth of the truth of corruptions that still remain in me grows in my awareness. I see; that is, I perceive the law in a different way, as if it were a different law. That which is in my members has a willingness to freely choose to act according to God’s will and good pleasure or act independent of God’s will and good pleasure.  Just as Adam had that freedom through his created innocence in the Garden of Eden, we also have that freedom as those redeemed by Christ. Yet, there is a difference; for we were born naturally as descendents of fallen Adam, and as “we are carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7:14), I will have a greater willingness to willfully move in a direction to sin against God in my members, “warring against the law of my mind.”

“The law of my mind” is that truth of the law that I do have a new heart and new spirit. My mind, which is the seat of my decisions and the source of my will, is renewed by the washing and cleansing of the Word of God through the law of Redemption (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Titus 3:5).

This different law in my members is “the law of sin” that, if I am not submissive to the grace of God in Christ Jesus, cleaving to Him alone for mercy in time of need, which will bring “me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members;” that is, arrest me to commit sin because I still possess an earthly humanity in a body of flesh, and that I have not been made immediately sinless in perfection, nor will I ever attain sinless perfection in this body: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

This is why we are taught in scripture, that though the flesh has been crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:2; Galatians 5:24), we must still kill (mortify) our flesh (Colossians 3:5).

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.

Listen to the sermon preached on this text, Romans 7:14-25,O Wretched Man!,” on December 6, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.

Read the previous article in this series, from Romans 7:21-22,My Wrestlings: I Find a Law.”

DogeCoinMy Doge Address is: D8gkz1d4VNj5VcbMu6DFZ9L3jwxxLW9R5i

 

My Wrestlings: I Find a Law

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:Romans 7:21, 22

Preaching-Christ-CrucifiedThe word “law” in Romans 7:21-23 presents many facets and dimensions of God’s law as it pertains to the sinner saved by grace. Because we are “dead to the law” (Romans 7:4) as Christian disciples, some may want to refer to the “law” as simply principles of truth. It would not be wrong to define “law” in this way, as principles of truth, for so they are; yet, they are also more than that.

As the apostle describes it of himself, I can also look at this struggle within my own Christian life through this warfare within me, as God continues a sanctifying work within me because of this experience. As I am declared holy, immediately sanctified when I am justified by God’s grace at the moment of salvation, I am also growing in that grace by experience as the revelation of this truth is manifested in my daily life.

“I find then a law” that is far greater than the 613 commandments that were codified in the Hebrew Torah given by God to Israel through His servant Moses. I find a law that expresses the blessed holiness of God in His entire revelation of Himself from Genesis to Revelation, because it “was ordained to life” (Romans 7:10). I find a law that is “holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12) because it came from God. I find a law that manifests the righteousness of God in His holy justice, which condemns every descendent of Adam (Romans 3:19); yet, I also find a law that expresses the beauty and excellence of God’s righteousness set forth in its utter and complete fulfillment in and through and by Jesus Christ (Romans 3:25-26). Therefore, though I am “dead to the law” through Christ’s atoning death (Romans 7:4), and because I have been “raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Romans 6:4), I find a law that, being fulfilled in Christ, reaches into the depths of my being; a law that is found in every line and every precept of holy writ; a law that “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). It is a law that I find that is so lofty, so holy, and so indescribably pure because it has its entire fulfillment in Jesus Christ, I cannot possibly attain to the least of its commandments; that is, “when I would do good,” when I desire to do what is right and well-pleasing before Jehovah God, I find “evil is present with me.

I find the Word of God, a law, and see it for what it is: the revelation of Jesus Christ, in all His divine glory as God, all His righteous humanity as the pure and perfect Man, and in all the excellence and supremacy of His holy sacrifice, which reconciles me to God by grace alone. Because of Christ I find God’s law to be even holier than ever I thought it before; therefore, I recognize that even in my desire to please my holy heavenly Father, there are areas in my life that still contain corruption; areas that are still stained with sin, that are still infected with iniquity.

Therefore, though I cannot keep the law in the perfection and holiness that is required by the law, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). Why? The reason why, as mentioned above, is that I find a law that is now written on the fleshly tables of my heart (Jeremiah 33:31; Ezekiel 36:26-27), that expresses to me more fully the glory, the beauty, the majesty, the splendor, and the excellence of Christ, who fulfilled the law. I delight in God’s law according to my inner being because the law, in its fulfillment by Christ, allows me to see more of the majesty and eternal excellence of Christ Jesus, my Lord.

Again, this truth should drive me, even more earnestly, to desire to embrace God’s grace, to surrender daily to His mercy, to trust continually in Him, to cling to that old rugged cross, and to cleave to Christ alone as my Savior, my Lord, my King, my All and my Everything.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.

Listen to the sermon preached on this text, Romans 7:14-25,O Wretched Man!,” on December 6, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.

Read the previous article in this series, from Romans 7:19-20,My Wrestlings: Accountable, Not Condemned.”

DogeCoinMy Doge Address is: D8gkz1d4VNj5VcbMu6DFZ9L3jwxxLW9R5i

 
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