Greeting in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Welcome to The Cornerstone Baptist Church
A Reformed Church in a generation badly in need of a new reformation.
Solidly committed to the "Solas" of the Protestant Reformation
The Cornerstone Baptist Church
160 North Jackson Street
Grove Hill, Al 36451
David K. Curtis, Pastor-Elder
William M. Hearn, Elder
R. Wayne Rascoe Sr., Elder
John S. Richburg Jr., Elder
Southern Baptist Convention:http://sbc.net
Alabama Baptist Convention:http://alsbom.org
Heart Cry Ministries:http://heartcrymissionary.com
Ed Lacy Ministries:http://edlacyministries.org
Groc Inc., Jerry Gibson
Sunday Morning Worship 10:30 am
Sunday Evening Worship 6:00 pm
Wednesday Evening Worship and Prayer 6:00 pm
Book of the Month
Adults:Pilgrims Progress, Solid Gound Christian Books edition
Advanced:The Doctrine of Justification: James Buchanan
Children:Dangerous Journey and DVD
The Law of God in the Hearts of Men
by Ken Jones
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is typical of his correspondence to other churches in that the first half of the letter is devoted to outlining the various doctrines that are constituent parts of the gospel message. Throughout his letters, the apostle has a great deal to say about Christian conduct, but it is always done in light of the mercies received and the grace given.
For example, the first three chapters of Ephesians focus almost entirely on the riches of God’s grace as it is found in the person and work of Christ. In the second half of the letter, Paul, using those present realities as his backdrop, exhorts the Ephesians with a number of imperatives. He begins the exhortations in chapter 4: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” In verses 17—24, Paul is even more explicit in applying the grace received to the manner in which Christians are to live their lives: “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds” (v. 17). His rationale in verse 18 is that the other (unregenerate) Gentiles are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God.” He goes on to say that this is “due to their hardness of heart.”
In verses 20–22, Paul contrasts the Ephesians with other Gentiles by reminding them of what they have been taught in and by Christ. The conduct that he admonishes in verses 25–32 (and throughout the remainder of the letter) is not only in light of the grace they have received in the gospel but also in light of their condition before conversion and what they are presently being taught. To be more accurate, one of the things they had received in the gospel is a new heart awakened to the righteousness of God’s law and enabled by His Spirit to pursue it. The gift of a renewed heart is part of what is promised in the new covenant (see Jer. 31:33). Ezekiel 36:26–27 is explicit: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
One might argue that even the apostle Paul acknowledges that Gentiles have the law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:15). Yes, all men and women have some sense of a moral standard, but the unregenerate do not have God as the basis of their moral standard. Paul’s point in Romans 1:19– 23 is that even if the morality of the unregenerate is religiously motivated, their darkened hearts cause their conception of God and their sense of connection to Him to be distorted.
The metaphor of a “heart of stone” used in Ezekiel 36 and the “hardness of heart” alluded to in Ephesians 4:18 are apt descriptions of the unregenerate condition because they punctuate the inability of the human heart to respond to God and to the things of God — particularly His law. This is what Paul refers to as “dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” in Ephesians 2:1–2. But as promised in Ezekiel, God has “removed the heart of stone” and replaced it with a “heart of flesh.”
This removal and replacement is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, which animates the soul with new and holy affections, appetites, and abilities. In Philippians 2:13, Paul says, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The exhortations that are set forth in Ephesians 4:25–32 are to those who are recipients of the grace outlined in the first three chapters.
The gospel announces what God graciously gives in the person and work of His Son, which includes the imputation of His righteousness for our justification. God’s promises also include the gifts of a new heart and new affections toward His law, from which our sanctification flows. The conclusion Paul makes is that the beauty and majesty of the law of God that was obscured and distorted by sin has now (by the regenerating light of His Spirit) been renewed in the hearts of His chosen people. Therefore, as the sanctifying work of the Spirit conforms each of God’s children to the image of His Son, our behavior (words, thoughts, and deeds) will be motivated by proper love for God our Father and proper love for our neighbors.
Two things should be noted here. First, Christian morality is never a matter of keeping God’s law as a means of gaining a right standing with Him. Second, Christian morality is not mere conformity to abstract rules of conduct. As Walther Eichrodt has observed in his Theology of the Old Testament: “Inasmuch as the will of God emerges as the supreme norm behind all particular requirements, the desired unity of the moral sphere shifts in essence to the personal activity of the covenant God.” God’s commandments are an eternal reality for His covenant people because He has written His law on our hearts and has awakened us to His holy will. Our sanctification consists in a growing disaffection for the will of the flesh (our fallen nature) and a growing affection for the will of God.
God is Light
by Ken Jones
Few things in the created order have been as instructive for the human race as the concept of light or the contrast between light and darkness. As helpful and healthy as actual light sources are, our dependence on the concept of light as a suitable metaphor for much of the human experience almost rivals our dependence on the real thing. The light/darkness contrast is used with great facility in both verbal and visual communication to convey the importance and benefits of knowledge, ideas, and technology (light), and the disadvantage of being without these things, that is, to be in darkness. The light/darkness contrast has been used effectively in moral terms as well, when virtue is associated with light and immorality is the embodiment of darkness.
It should come as no surprise that the biblical use of this light/darkness motif also incorporates both the intellectual and moral dimensions. The apostle Paul’s description of unbelieving Gentiles in Ephesians 4:17–19 is a good example of this when he writes about their “darkened” understanding. What Paul says here about unregenerate Gentiles is true of all of fallen humanity. Our understanding is indeed darkened, and our walk follows suit. But in this passage the apostle alludes to one of the distinctly Christian nuances of the light/darkness construct — the darkness that is native to fallen humanity alienates us from “the life of God.”
Inherent in this assessment is another Christian nuance of the light/ darkness motif, which is the fact that God is the fullness of what is conveyed in the metaphor of light. This leads us to 1 John 1:5, where we read “that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” In describing God as light, John is referring to His absolute moral purity and omniscience. In other words, there is no moral defect, nor is there a lack of knowledge in God. John’s point seems to be that the person and work of Christ, which is what is announced in the gospel message, is the light that brings us into fellowship with God, who is the light. This is consistent with what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:3–6: “… For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” God’s Word in general is described as light (Ps. 119:105), but it is the gospel in particular that is the light that reveals God in fullness and brings us into fellowship with Him. John’s description of God as light in whom there is no darkness at all undergirds the fact of His utter otherness and therefore His inaccessibility to fallen creatures who exist in darkness. The critical link for fellowship between creatures of darkness and a Creator who exists in absolute light is the incarnate Son of God. Without Christ, we remain in a state of darkness and alienation from the life of God.
It is evident from 1 John 1:6–7 that John’s emphasis on the fact that God is light in whom there is no darkness at all is more than a theological abstraction. On the contrary, his concern is practical and pastoral — he admonishes his readers to “walk in the light as he is in the light.” For John, embracing the gospel message brings us into fellowship with God the Father through and with Jesus Christ and with each other (1 John 1:3). The genuine nature of this fellowship is seen in a walk (or manner of living) that reflects and responds to the truth that is revealed in Christ. Once again, we can see a correlation to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Having charged them to not walk as the unregenerate Gentiles do (according to their darkened understanding), Paul goes on to remind them of what has been revealed in and by Christ (Eph. 4:17–32). And then in chapter 5, Paul says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God… . Therefore do not become partakers with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (vv. 1–2, 7–11). These calls to walk in the light of the knowledge of Christ are not offered as a means of gaining fellowship with God; rather, it is because of the fellowship that we possess by faith in Christ that Paul exhorts his readers — and us — to walk in the light. Psalm 36:9 says, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Both John and Paul make the point of full purity and knowledge in God revealed in Christ, received by believers and reflected in their thoughts and walk.
God is indeed light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. By virtue of our fallen condition we are in a state of darkness and are thereby alienated from the life of God. But in Christ we are reconciled to God and are in fellowship with the light. The admonition is that we would reflect that light to the glory of the triune God.
Jesus Christ, Anointed One
by R.C. Sproul
Throughout the New Testament, we encounter many titles for Jesus of Nazareth—“Son of God,” “Son of Man,” “Lord,” and others. However, the title that is given to Jesus most often in the New Testament is one that is familiar to us, but one that we do not understand well. It is the title “Christ.”
Why do I say that we do not understand this title well? I say it because “Christ” is used so often in conjunction with “Jesus” that we tend to think of it as His last name. However, “Christ” is not a secondary name for Jesus; He would have been known as “Jesus Bar-Joseph,” meaning “Jesus, son of Joseph.” Rather, “Christ” is Jesus’ supreme title. But what does it mean?
The meaning of Christ is drawn from the Old Testament. God promised the ancient Israelites that a Messiah would come to deliver them from sin. The idea of the Messiah is carried over into the New Testament with the title Christ. The Greek word Christos, from which we get the English word Christ, is the translation of the Hebrew term Mashiach, which is the source for the English word Messiah. Mashiach, in turn, is related to the Hebrew verb masach, which means “to anoint.” Therefore, when the New Testament speaks of Jesus Christ, it is saying “Jesus the Messiah,” which literally means, “Jesus the Anointed One.”
In Old Testament times, people were subject to anointing when they were called to the offices of prophet, priest, and king. For example, when Saul became the first king of Israel, Samuel the prophet anointed his head with oil in a ceremonial fashion (1 Sam. 10:1). This religious rite was performed to show that the king of Israel was chosen and endowed by God for the kingship. Likewise, the priests (Ex. 28:41) and prophets (1 Kings 19:16) were anointed at God’s command. In a sense, anyone in the Old Testament who was set apart and consecrated for a servant task was a messiah, for he was one who received an anointing.
But the people of Israel looked forward to that promised individual who was to be not merely a messiah but the Messiah, the One who would be supremely set apart and consecrated by God to be their Prophet, Priest, and King. So, at the time Jesus was born, there was a strong sense of anticipation among the Jews, who had been waiting for their Messiah for centuries.
Amazingly, when Jesus began His public ministry, few recognized Him for who He was, despite overwhelming evidence that He possessed an anointing from God that far surpassed that which had rested on any other man. We know that there was great confusion about Him even after He had been ministering for some time. At one point, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matt. 16:13b). He was taking the pulse of His culture, getting feedback regarding the rumors about Himself. In response to Jesus’ question, the disciples ticked off various views that were being put forward: “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (v. 14). Jesus was being identified with all kinds of people, but none of these speculations was correct.
Then Jesus asked the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 15b). Peter answered with what is known as the great confession, a statement of his belief as to the identity of Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (v. 16). With these words, Peter declared that Jesus was the Christos, the Mashiach, the Anointed One.
Then Jesus said an interesting thing. He told Peter that he was blessed to have this understanding of Jesus’ identity. Why did He say this? Jesus explained: “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (v. 17). Peter had received a divine insight that Jesus was the Messiah; it was not something that he had discerned by his own ability. Again, this amazes me because one would think that nearly everyone who encountered Jesus would have recognized Him immediately as the Messiah. After all, there is no shortage of information in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah—where He would be born, how He would behave, and what power He would manifest—and everyone could see what Jesus had done—raising people from the dead, healing all sorts of maladies, and teaching with great authority. But, of course, they did not. Jesus’ anointing was not immediately apparent.
Many people today have positive things to say about Jesus as a model of virtue, a great teacher, and so on, but they stop short of saying He is Messiah. This is the great divide between Christians and unbelievers. Only one who has been born again can confess that Jesus is the Christ. Can you?