THEOLOGICAL TERMS AND CONCEPTS This will be an ongoing, work-in-progress, adding terms and concepts as necessary. If you have questions or need clarification on anything, please ask.

Adoption, in the Christian sense, occurs at the time of our justification. Adoption results in a new relationship with God. Before a sinner is regenerated thay have a nature of hatred and hostility toward God and He was our enemy. God's disposition toward the sinner is one of wrath and alienation; sinners are seperated from God because judicially God cannot allow unregenerated sinners into His Holy presence.

Sinners who are regenerated now see God as their heavenly Father, and God sees them as His precious children. In Christ we inherit all Heavenly blessings and goodness, and we are now welcomed into His kingdom, never to be the focus of His wrath, never to be disowned, and never to be expelled from His kingdom because of our sin in our unglorified state.

Faith, in the Christian sense, is trusting in the Person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ on a sinner's behalf. The supreme object of Christian faith is Jesus Christ, and is therefore relational and personal. Faith itself does not save, but rather, it is the conduit by which Christians obtain the benefits of Christ's redemptive work 2000 years ago. It is imperative that one not only knows certain facts about Jesus Christ and the Gospel message; there must also be a joyful willingness to submit to Christ's supreme authority over your life in a relationship with Him.

"Gospel" is a theological term that I use frequently in my posts. I want to be clear on what the Gospel is so I'll just lay it all out for you. The Gospel, in the biblical sense, is everything that is true about God, everything that is true about man, everything that is true about man's fallen condition, and everything that is true about God's redemptive plan to save a remnant of fallen humanity by sending His only Son Jesus Christ to live the life we failed to live and to die the death that we deserve.....

.....The Gospel is everything that is true about the present and future fulfillment of God's promises to those who put their trust in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ; submitting to His supreme authority over their lives; and living in a restored relationship with Him, Everything that is true about our ADOPTION, our eternal security, our propensity and compulsion to stray from God loving grasp, and God's radical missions of rescue and restoration through Divine providence. Everything that is true about Heaven; God's glorious kingdom and resting place for His glorified saints, and everything that is true about Hell; the final destination for those who fail to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Everything that is true about angels and, demons, and Satan. And on and on and on it goes. You get the idea.....  

I think there is a common misconception among Christians that "the Gospel" is merely the Good News message that gets you into the kingdom, and that once you're in, it's time to move on to the real work of Christian ministry; bringing more and more people into God's kingdom. True, the Gospel is the Good News message of soul salvation, but it is goes well beyond that into much a deeper and practical spiritual reality for Christians. Everything that is true about God, man, sin, judgment, salvation, Heaven, Hell, etc. are not just theological tidbits to be stored away in a dusty closet once you become a Christian.

Christians need the redemptive power of the Gospel every single moment of our pathetically sinful  lives. We need to be constantly reminded of "What The Gospel Is" and believe that what God has revealed to us is Truth. We constantly need to be reminded of the incredible spiritual reality we find ourselves in, the way things really are, because we are great sinners who need a great Savior who loves us unconditionally, who bails us out of trouble all day, every day. The Gospel is not just an academic endeavor we eventually graduate from. Christians ought to preach the Gospel to themselves daily, and live out the implications of the Gospel in our everyday lives. even if our lives are simple, boring, or mundane. It never gets beyond that.

I want to point out that in the New Testament epistles, especially the epistles of the Apostle Paul, are arranged in a very particular way. For example, look over Paul's Epistle to the Romans and you will notice that he arranges his epistle with a huge theology lesson first (Chapters 1-11)  followed by instructions on how to live as a Christian; proper Christian conduct in relationship with God, yourself, and other people and institutions (Chapters 12-16). Remember that Paul was writing letters primarily to other churches in general and to Christians in particular, reminding them of the Gospel and to keep the Gospel central. He was not writing to non-Christians.

Notice Paul always begins his epistles with Gospel indicatives. A Gospel indicative is a theological explanation and reminder of what a Christians is. On the other hand, a Gospel imperative is instruction on how a Christian ought to conduct himself/herself.

The thrust of what I am getting at here is that Paul's epistles first explain all the theological nuances of the Gospel to Christians, reminding them of what they were before they were Christians, what God has done for them through Christ, and who they  they are "in Christ". Then, after his theology lesson he moves onto the imperatives of the Gospel, that is, how Christians ought to conduct themselves.

So to put it into a nutshell, Paul is teaching and reminding Christians, "This is what you are, therefore, this is how you ought to behave". Notice it's never the other way around, as if Paul is saying, "Behave this way and this is what you will become". It's like a caterpillar being transformed into a butterfly. He is saying, "You are  a butterfly now, you have the power and ability to fly, so fly, don't be stuck in your old caterpillar way of life!". It's never "Fly and you will have the power to become a butterfly". We all know it doesn't work that way! To put it in the sense Paul intended, he is saying, "You are now a Christian, this is who you are in Christ, you are no longer in bondage and enslaved to sin. By God's grace, your eyes have been opened. You are justified and your position before God is now and forever will be as an adopted son or daughter, never to be kicked out of His kingdom for not doing enough. You are now empowered to live a life pleasing to God that you could never do before you became a Christian, therefore live in accordance with your new nature as a Christian."

Grace is receiving what you don't deserve because of your crimes. Every breath of air you take, every beautiful sunset you marvel at, all food, drink, family, health, prosperity, travel, relationships, sex, all sensory pleasures and all the good pleasures you receive in this life are totally undeserved gifts from God. Even the person who, at this very moment, is the most miserable, pain stricken wretch on the planet is basking in the grace of God. I would like to remind you that in Hell the grace of God is completely absent.

In the biblical sense, imputation is the transaction of transferring of one person's account to another person. There are two senses in which imputation are critical to our justification and sanctification. The first sense of imputation deals with our justification; it's Jesus dying on the cross for sinners. When Jesus, the perfect, spotless, sacrificial Lamb of God was crucified, all of the sin of everyone in the history of the world who would ever have faith in God's promises-both Old Testament and New Testament eras-were "credited" to Jesus' account while on the cross. Then the Father poured out His wrath and judgment upon Jesus and punished Him as if He alone had committed all of those sins. Jesus paid the sin debt af everyone who would ever believe; He met the legal demand of lawbreakers so now they are free to go. That is imputation and it is critical to our justification.

The second sense of imputation deals with our sanctification. I would argue that the second sense of imputation is the most neglected aspect of imputation. And because of that, it keeps Christians locked into a legalistic, performance driven, self-righteous mindset that crushes grace and leaves the Christian despairing over their moral failures. Here's how it goes.

Christ came for two reasons, one was to die for the sins of everyone who would ever believe as previously explained. We get that. What we often fail to understand (and is not taught in many churches) is that Jesus Christ came as the second Adam for the purpose of keeping God's Laws perfectly that the first Adam failed to do. Now this is very important to understand. The reason why Jesus had to keep the Law is because all justification does is render sinners "NOT GUILTY" in God's court. And if we commit a single sin after our justification, we are once again guilty, deserving Hell. Yet as Christians we still sin countless times every day, in though, word, or deed.

Therefore, we need a to be covered by a foreign righteousness, a righteousness that does not come from us, but from outside of us. When we become a Christian, the righteousness of Christ that accrued during His life and ministry is "credited" to the sinner who puts their faith in Him. Therefore, when we do not perform to God's standard of absolute perfection, when we fail to do good over and over and over again, and we struggle with the same besetting sins, God is not angry with us. He lovingly disciplines us and gets us back onto safe ground, but He is never angry. He actually sees us as perfect as His Son Jesus Christ is perfect, because we are covered by the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us as a gift. That means we don't have to do more, try harder, and give more to gain God's approval. Christians are forever approved by God because of the imputed righteousness of Christ. The reason why we want to do what is right is because we now love the Lord who rescued us, and we are loyal to Him.

So Imputation is a double transaction: The morally flawless, and intrinsically good savior Jesus Christ recieved our sins on the cross and is punished accordingly, and we the guilty party, recieve the gift of His righteousness by faith. 

When people hear the word  "idolatry", they usually conjure up an image in their mind of a person involved in a religious exercise of bowing down to a statue (an "idol") and worshipping it. (see "WORSHIP" below) Idolatry is that, but it is much, much more. And every single person, me, even you the reader, is an idolater. Worship is simply revolving our lives around that which we value most. You may not be worshipping a statue, but you are worshipping something.

To properly understand idolatry, we must first know some things about the one true God. God is a self-existent Being of highest intrinsic value. He is a Being whose very nature is Holy, righteous, and just. He is a Being that is absolutely perfect in every way. He is without moral blemish and He lacks nothing. All of His attributes are fully actualized. He cannot improve because He is already the best. There is nothing more valuable than God because there is nothing above God. 

Human beings are creatures created by God whose very nature has a built in worship orientation. God wants only what is best for us, and since God is the sole Being of greatest intrinsic value, He is the only object worthy of our worship. To worship anything less than God is idolatry.

Idolatry is manifested in countless ways. In Romans chapter one, the Apostle Paul explains that every human being, even atheists, personally know the Christian God.Let me be clear on this point. Every human being, including atheists, don't just know certain facts about the Christian God, we are all in a relationship with Him. Some are in a good relationship with their Creator (Christians), and the rest are in a bad relationship with their Creator.

Those who are in a bad relationship with their Creator supress the truth of His existence. It's like flipping God the finger and saying, "You don't even exist!", and then turning their back on Him. Since we are all created with a built in worship orientation, and since we are fallen creatures engaged in cosmic treason and rebellion against God, we exchange our worship from that which is infinitely perfect and infinitely good-God, to things of lesser value.

There are countless idols we bow down to every day, and most of us are clueless as to the idolatry that captivates our heart. Here are some examples....  

When we do bad things that are not created for our benefit or enjoyment, we are engaging in idolatry. Using illicit drugs, drunkenness, pornography, cursing, lying, stealing, road rage, excessive gambling, prostitution, adultery, rape, murder. We know these types of things are bad, and underneath the bad behavior is the greater sin of idolatry.

And then there are much more subtle forms of idolatry.When we value things like ourselves, money, our reputation, our work, our careers, our human relationships, traveling, sports, politics, sex, hobbies, our humanitarian efforts, various toys and gadgets, and the great outdoors more than we value God (Who gives us these good things for our benefit and to enjoy), we are engaging in idolatry. And what about those of us  who want to have control over other people and circumstances and who insist on getting their way? Idolatry.

And of course, every false religion and every philosophy of man the world has ever known is a paper fortress propped up in order to hide from the one true God revealed in the Bible, and ultimately in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Idolatry is insane! It is like exchanging a five star dinner with steak and lobster for a bowl of raw sewage. Or it's like preferring to live in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass in a cold climate over living in a beautiful mansion filled with every creature comfort you could imagine. Or its like choosing to have your teeth pulled out one by one with a pair of dirty pliars without anesthesia over a soothing, relaxing, comforting massage. That's what we do when we engage in idolatry, and it is insanity!

Injustice is being punished for a crime you did not commit. The ultimate injustice was the murder of Jesus, who never, ever committed a single crime in thought, word, or deed.

Justice is what you deserve for your crimes. In the Bible, God's justice culminates in eternal imprisonment in His jail we all know as "Hell". Most people think Hell is overdoing it on God's behalf. Wrong-o! Let me explain.

Any sentence passed by a judge is always in accordance with the seriousness of the crime. If you squish a pesky mosquito sucking blood out of your arm, there is no crime committed because mosquito's are bugs that have very little intrinsic value. But if you viciously slit the throat of your neighbor's dog, you would be committing a crime and would be in punished according to the intrinsic value of the offended entity, in this case, a person's pet. Now if you took a gun out and shot someone dead out of malice, then you have committed a very, very serious crime, and the punishment for such a crime could be the death sentence. People have greater intrinsic value that dogs, right?

Do you see the progression? Mosquito=little intrinsic value, dog>greater intrinsic value than a mosquito, human beings are made to bear God's image>greater intrinsic value than dogs and horses. But what about crimes committed against God? God is a Being of the highest intrinsic value. He is the most perfect Being ever. He is intrinsically good and just. When you commit crimes against a Deity of such infinite, intrinsic value, you have committed an infinite crime deserving infinite punishment. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:21-23 that unjustified anger and hostility against another person is considered murder in God's eyes. And our natural disposition as unregenerate sinners is an attitude of unjustified anger and hostility against the one Person of greatest intrinsic value. In other words, in your unregenerate state, you would murder God if it were possible! And if you don't believe me, remember what happened to God the Son when He became the God/Man Jesus. People were clamoring for His blood. "Crucify Him" Deserving of Hell? Yes!!!

Justification is the judicial act of God by which He declares a sinner "NOT GUILTY" in His court, received only through faith in Jesus Christ on behalf of the guilty party. God doesn't require a sinner to clean up their act before coming to Him for rescue. They come to God just as they are, depraved, wretched, vile, twisted rebels who know they have zero moral currency to rescue themselves, and must turn to Christ in faith as the One who paid the penalty for their sins on the cross. Justification is a one time act of God. Once you are justified in God's court, you cannot ever, ever, lose your salvation. The wall of sin that caused your separation from God is forever demolished, pulverized to dust.

Christians are called to be obedient and to practice good works in their everyday lives; being kind and charitable to others, helping others in need, and loving others with humility. The proper motive for obedience and good works is to glorify the Christian God out of gratitude for the salvation that He has accomplished for them in Christ and His finished work. Nowhere in the New Testament does it teach that God is pleased with obedience and good works apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Obedience and good works are the effect of our justification, never the cause of our justification.

Legalism is a distortion of the divine mandate to be obedient and practice good works by practicing obedience and good works with the impure motive of self-justification; gaining God's approval, acceptance, and forgiveness of sins apart from faith in Christ and His finished work of redemption. Legalism is also a method of turning God into a cosmic debtor by which the legalist tries to gain leverage over God and earn His favor and blessing by being obedient and practicing good works.

Either way, legalism is an arrogant way of manipulating God into getting what you want. The underlying narrative goes like this. "O.K. God, I have kept the rules and been nice and charitable to others. I have gone to church regularly, prayed to you, read my Bible, and have stayed involved in church ministry. I have done all these things, therefore, you owe me a better life, and if I don't get what I want, I will be furious with you!"

You can always tell when legalism rears it's ugly head when things don't go your way after trying so hard to be obedient and good, and you become angry at God. Your anger might not be explicitly directed at God, but all unrighteous anger and bitterness is a subtle indictment against God, who bountifully provides you with things you don't even deserve in the first place.

In the context of Christian churches, legalism involves making up rules and regulations not taught in the Bible, binding the conscience of those who receive such man-made rules and regulations, thus manipulating congregants into compliance. Such man-made rules and regulations are heavy burdens and will always lead to unwarranted guilt and shame for disobedience.

I'm not done with legalism yet. I would like to explain two concepts of legalism that you want to be aware of. The first concept is FRONT DOOR LEGALISM. Front door legalism always involves religious people. They are trying to justify themselves and earn God's favor and blessing by following established religious rules and rituals, and doing good works. They expect something from whatever god they believe in, in return for being pious and dutiful.

The second concept is BACK DOOR LEGALISM. Backdoor legalism may involve religious people, but also involves unreligious people. People who are not particularly religious, even atheists and agnostics are legalists because they make up their own set of rules to live by and then they try to maintain their own moral standard. It's usually not the "little" sins that bother the atheist; swearing, adultery, drunkenness, pornography, abortion, homosexuality; each to his own, right? But tell an atheist you want to smash their legs with a baseball bat and then throw grandma in the gutter and you will see that they do have a moral standard. There is a line that should never be crossed for the back door legalist, it's just that they make up the location of where that line ought to be. 

Both forms of legalism are merely vehicles that sinners use to cover up the Truth of how far they fall short of keeping God's laws, which are binding upon every human being.

Mercy is nor receiving what we rightfully deserve for our crimes. If ten sinners deserve Hell, and God chooses to save three of them, God is not doing anything wrong. He is having mercy on three sinners and the other seven receive justice. People are offended by this, implying that God is somehow bad or unjust for saving some and bypassing others. They have it all wrong. We are the one's who are bad. God is always good,He never, ever does anything unjust. He is only being nice to some who deserve punishment for their crimes while the rest receive the punishment they deserve.

I want to devote an entire page to this great sin because it is explained by British author and scholar C.S. Lewis in his timeless classic, "Mere Christianity". It is thoroughly enjoyable, transcendent reading!

 The Great Sin.
From Mere Christianity by C S Lewis
I now come to that part of Christian morals where they differ most sharply from all other morals. There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive - is competitive by its very nature - while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.

Take it with money. Greed will certainly make a man want money, for the sake of a better house, better holidays, better things to eat and drink. But only up to a point. What is it that makes a man with œ10,000 a year anxious to get œ20,000 a year? It is not the greed for more pleasure. œ10,000 will give all the luxuries that any man can really enjoy. It is Pride - the wish to be richer than some other rich man, and (still more) the wish for power. For, of course, power is what Pride really enjoys: there is nothing makes a man feel so superior to others as being able to move them about like toy soldiers. What makes a pretty girl spread misery wherever she goes by collecting admirers? Certainly not her sexual instinct: that kind of girl is quite often sexually frigid. It is Pride. What is it that makes a political leader or a whole nation go on and on, demanding more and more? Pride again. Pride is competitive by its very nature: that is why it goes on and on. If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy.

The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity - it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that - and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison - you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.

That raises a terrible question. How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshipping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound's worth of Pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good - above all, that we are better than someone else - I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.

It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy's Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper, by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity - that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride - just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.

Before leaving this subject I must guard against some possible misunderstandings:

(1) Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says 'Well done,' are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, 'I have pleased him; all is well,' to thinking, 'What a fine person I must be to have done it.' The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming. When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom. That is why vanity, though it is the sort of Pride which shows most on the surface, is really the least bad and most pardonable sort. The vain person wants praise, applause, admiration, too much and is always angling for it. It is a fault, but a child-like and even (in an odd way) a humble fault. It shows that you are not yet completely contented with your own admiration. You value other people enough to want them to look at you. You are, in fact, still human. The real black, diabolical Pride, comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you. Of course, it is very right, and often our duty, not to care what people think of us, if we do so for the right reason; namely, because we care so incomparably more what God thinks. But the Proud man has a different reason for not caring. He says 'Why should I care for the applause of that rabble as if their opinion were worth anything? And even if their opinions were of value, am I the sort of man to blush with pleasure at a compliment like some chit of a girl at her first dance? No, I am an integrated, adult personality. All I have done has been done to satisfy my own ideals - or my artistic conscience - or the traditions of my family - or, in a word, because I'm That Kind of Chap. If the mob like it, let them. They're nothing to me.' In this way real thorough-going pride may act as a check on vanity; for, as I said a moment ago, the devil loves 'curing' a small fault by giving you a great one. We must try not to be vain, but we must never call in our Pride to cure our vanity.

(2) We say in English that a man is 'proud' of his son, or his father, or his school, or regiment, and it may be asked whether 'pride' in this sense is a sin. I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by 'proud of'. Very often, in such sentences, the phrase 'is proud of' means 'has a warm-hearted admiration for'. Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin. But it might, perhaps, mean that the person in question gives himself airs on the ground of his distinguished father, or because he belongs to a famous regiment. This would, clearly, be a fault; but even then, it would be better than being proud simply of himself. To love and admire anything outside yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.

(3) We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity - as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble - delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy-dress off - getting rid of the false self, with all its 'Look at me' and 'Aren't I a good boy?' and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

(4) Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.

For a brief explanation of providence, I'll refer you to the excerpts from the theological notes in the "Reformation Study Bible", a Bible I highly recommend.

"If creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of the same energy. By the Creator, according to His own will, keeps all creatures in being, involves Himself in all events, and directs all things to their appointed end. God is completely in charge of His world. His hand may be hidden, but His perfect rule extends to all things.

It is sometimes supposed that God knows the future but does not control it; that He upholds the world, but does not intervene in it; or that He gives general direction, but is not concerned with details. The Bible rules out all such limitations emphatically.

God's "concurrent" or "confluent" involvement in all that occurs does not violate the natural order, ongoing causal processes, or the free, responsible agency of human beings. God's sovereign control does not take away the responsibility and power of second causes; on the contrary, they are created and have their roles by His appointment.

Of the evils that infect the world (spiritual, moral, and physical) the Bible says: God permits evil; He uses evil as punishment; He brings good out of evil; He uses evil ; He brings good out of evil; He uses evil to test and discipline those He loves; but one day He will redeem His people from from the power and presence of of evil altogether.

The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind fortune, chance, luck, or fate. All that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one's spiritual and eternal well being."

Regeneration is the sovereign, monergistic act of God the Holy Spirit upon the spiritually dead sinner that resurrects that sinner to spiritual life. The spiritually dead person has free will in that he/she chooses that which is desirable and pleasing to them, but is spiritually dead in that they have no desire to be in a right relationship with the Christian God. Instead they have contempt, hostility, and hatred for the Christian God, and desires instead to live an autonomous life apart from the Christian God.

Therefore, preaching the Gospel to a spiritually dead person is like preaching the gospel to a corpse. A corpse cannot respond to outside stimuli. Similarly, a spiritually dead person cannot (is unable) to respond to the Gospel message of salvation unless God does something first. By God's grace, undeserving as the spiritually dead sinner is, the Holy Spirit changes the heart and disposition of the dead sinner and gives that person a new heart and new affections that love the Christian God, finds supreme rescue, peace, and joy in the Christian God, and wants to live according to His will. The regenerated sinner is a new creation. This cannot happen apart from understanding the Gospel, which is why The Crossing Church is probably filled with people who think they are Christians, but they are not.

Sanctification is the lifelong process by which the now justified party-the Christian-is made more "Christ-like". Christians are "indwelt" by God the Holy Spirit who guides and teaches the regenerate, "born-again" sinner to become more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit accomplishes this through the illumination of God's written Word-the Bible, and through divine providence; ordinary situations in life ordained by God, whether good or bad, that helps the Christian die to sin and grow in holiness, for the sake of the immeasurable worth of knowing Christ.

Anytime we don't trust in God's Truth and His promises as revealed in the Bible, we are committing the great sin of unbelief. We all have unbelief residing in our fallen nature. Unbelief is like calling God a liar; His words and His promises cannot be trusted. Many people don't believe the Bible is God's inspired Word. The big bummer is, you can sincerely "not believe the Bible", and still end up in Hell. Sadly, this will be the eternal destination of many.   

Worship is defined as revolving our lives around that which we value most. Human beings are born with a worship orientation built into our very nature. So its not a matter of whether you worship or not. It is a matter of what you worship. When we worship anything other than biblical God, we are committing the great sin of idolatry (see "IDOLATRY" above)