Sinclair Ferguson: The Gospel of Reconciliation

Sinclair Ferguson examines 2 Corinthians 5 at the Leadership Conference, Vespers Service.

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Sinclair Ferguson: How to Mortify Sin

The aftermath of a conversation can change the way we later think of its significance.

My friend — a younger minister — sat down with me at the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question as a pastor or simply for himself — or both.

How would you best answer his question? The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God” so that the principles we are learning to apply carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work.

Several passages come to mind for study: Romans 8:13; Romans 13:8–14 (Augustine’s text); 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; Ephesians 4:17–5:21; Colossians 3:1–17; 1 Peter 4:1–11; 1 John 2:28–3:11. Significantly, only two of these passages contain the verb “mortify” (“put to death”). Equally significantly, the context of each of these passages is broader than the single exhortation to put sin to death. As we shall see, this is an observation that turns out to be of considerable importance.

Of these passages, Colossians 3:1–17 is probably the best place for us to begin.

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R. C. Sproul: Question and Answer Session

Questions:

01:50 In Psalm 18, David said, “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.” Was David there making the case for salvation by works?

02:30 I heard you take exception to the bumper sticker saying, “God says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Can you explain what is wrong with this?

02:54 What does God want most from us?

03:09 Are faith and belief the same thing?

03:35 Since God is omnipresent, does He manifest His presence in Hell or does He keep His presence from there?

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