Recently I came across a discussion forum online where people in my city were asked how they would like to be engaged by churches for the first time. The proposals ranged from such things as gift bags and receptions to personal time with the pastor after the service and follow-up visits. Incidentally, I had been meditating on a passage I had known theoretically from childhood but never really grasped. (There are verses in the Bible we know to be at the heart of the Christian faith, and we do well to memorize them and quote them on occasion. But I fear that we are heretofore inoculated from the sharp edge these verses have that give shape to the contours of the Christian faith and distinction from all other religions of the world). The passage to which my mind returned with was Matthew 16:24-26
Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus prayed to the Father on behalf of His disciples what has been called His High Priestly Prayer (John 17). When we consider the content of His High Priestly prayer, we soon discover indicatives regarding the state of His followers in the world as well as imperatives on how they should walk in the world. In the midst of these two aspects of our Lord's teaching about the relationship between His people and the world, we learn that there is one over-arching purpose for Christians and our relationship with the world.
Jesus is still on His throne. Jesus still hears the earnest prayers of His church. Whether in death or deliverance, Jesus will be glorified as sovereign King of a people who gladly put His worth on display through suffering for the sake of His name. Indeed, we have a King like no other!
we learn why it is absolutely necessary that sinners must be born again of the Spirit. We can no more produce spiritual life in ourselves as we could produce earthly life when we were born into this world. We need the ability to make right choices (to repent and believe), but for that to happen, we need hearts that are changed to love what is right and true, thus having a foundational change to the motivational structure of our heart. Nothing short of a resurrection of spiritual life is needed for sinners to be saved. You must be born again because your heart must be changed so that you love differently.
The Good News of the Gospel reminds us that we have we have a king who did not tear his garments in embarrassment and frustrated humiliation. The Gospel tells us that King Jesus had his flesh torn apart in judgment so that, in his death, he might become the curse and take the condemnation our sins required. The Gospel tells us that in His death, death itself was defeated, so that as the first born from among the dead, all who come to King Jesus will know that He and He alone is the one who can raise sinners--who are dead in their transgressions--and bring them back to life.
The Alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars, and churchmen who hold the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today's Church.