The First Thing A Christian Must Know

You do not have to hang around Reformed teachers and pastors very long before hearing about “guilt, grace, and gratitude.” We like it because it is a handy summary for the structure of the Christian religion. And it is a way to focus upon the gospel of Christ and to make careful distinctions in relation to it. Like any summary phrase, though, it has to be explained and expanded upon. And it must be biblical. The Reformed are adamant on this. Our theology and practice must be biblical.
We are all guilty before God.
In essence, the first of the 3Gs—guilt, grace, and gratitude—is the core issue facing humans after the fall: we are guilty. We may feel that our real problem is that we are under duress from the stresses of life or that we are depressed at our circumstances or at any number of other emotionally devastating things. And these are real and heartbreaking; I am not making light of them. But they are symptoms, not the cause. Such feelings are alarms triggered by a bad conscience alerting us—if we are separated from Christ Jesus and the redemption found only in him—that we are guilty before an absolutely just and impartial Judge who is coming to judge the world in equity: “[B]ehold, the Judge is standing at the door” (Jas. 5:9). And when he comes there will be no more holding back of his wrath and fury against our sins and lawless deeds which include our words: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36); and even our thoughts: “[E]veryone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matt. 5:22).
Peter’s sermon at Pentecost cut people to the heart over their treacherous guilt in demanding the crucifixion of Jesus.
If this sounds too severe for the posing that marks our age, the most devastating sermon ever preached was not by some fiery presbyterian but by Peter at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41). His audiences then were people who had personally cried out for the heinous crucifixion of their sinless Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36) in exchange for the release of a man who was undoubtedly a ruthless, heartless thug.

Read more»

S.M. Baugh | “Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 1 — Guilt” | July 12, 2023


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  1. Not sure if it’s just a problem at my end but the quote is from yesterday’s “Textual Criticism Does Not Challenge The Authenticity of Scripture” post. The link is different though.

  2. Dr Clark,
    I want to read more of S. Baugh’s article titled ‘The First Thing a Christian Must Know” regarding authenticity of manuscripts. The link connects to his three part essay on Guild, Grace and Gratitude. Was this an error?

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