A Much Needed Contrast

Everything looks clearer when there is a proper contrast. I often think back to the point at which I first believed in Christ and the joy that came in the knowing that the God of the Bible had chosen to save me from my sins. The joy that overwhelmed me was so extravagant, so deep that its hard to describe.  It was so elevated because it came to me directly after the moment the darkness of my sin was exposed to me.  The contrast that gave way to the clarity was the bright holiness of my Savior and the filthy corruption of my rebellious heart.  He is pure, I am not – yet He led me to repent and showed me great grace and love which turned my sorrow into laughter!

Where there is darkness God still creates out of nothing. What great joy there is in the free gift of Salvation given to sinner’s through Christ Jesus. One cannot earn it. One cannot deserve it. How magnificent it is to realize the Bible is true revelation from God and can be trusted. It is good news that God grants new hearts, new ears and new eyes to sinful mankind.

The joy of the salvation that the one true God grants to men cannot be known if the call to repentance is not preached or received. The good news of the gospel of God’s grace shines most brightly against the dark reality of humankind’s depravity and inability to keep God’s perfect law.

A Glimpse at Biblical Election 

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” – Hebrews‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What has to be in place in order for someone to receive an inheritance? Well, at the most basic human level, one has to have a possession he or she wants to give to another, and then from there make the necessary preparations for it to be passed on. There is planning that takes place. There is also a process of election where those who are chosen to receive the inheritance are incorporated into that plan by the one who intends to do the giving. 
Scripture often speaks in similar language when it refers to God’s plan of redemption. A group often referred to as the Elect in scripture are described as those who receive salvation only by their Savior’s merits and not of their own, they are called adopted sons and daughters, they are those who have received a great inheritance.

Hebrews 1:14 comes at the tail end of an awesome section of scripture where the Father is talking about the eternal glory of the Son and how much more magnificent he is above all things including the created angels. The Father here asks a rhetorical question to make a point as to the purpose for which His angels perform their appointed duties. He says they are “sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.” Here is then a glimpse into God’s redemptive means – the elect are served by God’s angels for the express purpose that they will inherit salvation. Also worth noting is that the passage doesn’t say those who “may” inherit but rather “who are to.” I see preordained election in this passage; a glimpse into the plan where God has made known His intentions – to make alive those who are dead in sin through those servants of the gospel. How beautiful are those messengers who bring good news! May we servants of Christ be about this awesome business. 

A Savior for Sinners

You may have heard someone say, “God helps those who help themselves,” and then thought to yourself how many times you’ve been a helpless failure. Is there any hope for those of us who seem to have a persistent proneness to failure and of weakness? 
Good news, God saves the helpless, the lost, the rebel, the sinner to the uttermost! Christ came to save sinners not the self righteous. Jesus hung out with sinners teaching them His ways while rebuking and condemning the self-righteous Pharisees. 
Beware of the form of legalistic teaching that clothes itself in light while telling you that you must help yourself before God will help you. Who can truly do this who is not blindly self righteous? Only God is truly good and not a single man to ever walk this earth other than Christ is without a sin deserving of death (this is why we all are headed to our graves by the way…”the wages of sin is death.”)
No, it starts with an honest confession of sin and a request for mercy; this is God in His grace lifting the sinner’s soul to see the cross and what the only Son of the Father accomplished at it: complete salvation for all who believe. He came to heal the sick, not the healthy. 
Recognizing ones own sickness is to truly see ones own sin for what it is: cosmic treason against ones own Maker. Yet He is kind to sinners leading them to humble repentance. He grants them new hearts, hearts that actually long for Him and desire to please Him. He faithfully teaches them His ways. He promises them He will never leave or forsake them and that He will finish the work He began in them. He promises resurrection of the body in a world to come that is without sin! Oh the peace in Christ; in Him alone there is rest for the weary and a living hope for all eternity.

True Religion

The worshiping of Christ and the treasuring Him above all created things will lead to discernment that sees what it truly is to be under the law and freed from its curse. 

Who is it that tires of hearing of the Christ and His gospel which commands repentance and offers forgiveness of sins? It is those who would rather worship creature over Creator. Who would exchange the truth for a lie. There is danger here, especially among the self-righteous, (of which I used to be but now see Christ as my righteousness), that can go unnoticed. These error in that they worship the moral law over the Law Maker, who in loving kindness and in His goodness keeps the law universally active each day. There is much beauty in the moral law and it is extremely practical in use globally but beware the self righteous appeal of the moralist who never articulates a moral with Christ at the forefront of his mind. The moralist hesitates to lay claim to moralistic origins as if there is neutral ground here. As if one can discern any true meaning to any moral apart from the absolute worship of the Son of God, and Him alone, who created and maintains the moral laws in nature. 

The Christian religion is the only religion that consistently claims the origins of moral law. The many religions of the world are perversions of the Christ who was preached even in the garden by our Maker himself when He foretold of the promised seed of the women who would crush the serpents head. The power of the serpent is sin’s power which binds and blinds the sinner to the Creator. But when Christ is formed in a dead sinner, the power of Satan is broken and his head is crushed! Freed from the curse the believer sees Christ in His glory and worships Him and delights in all created things He has made. Behold, all things are new to the believer for they have been born again. You must be born again.  

To believe in the Son of God is true religion. 

Death Undone in Christ Alone

“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (‭Acts‬ ‭2‬:‭24‬ NASB)

Many struggle with believing that Christ was raised from the dead because such a notion is absurd to men. We all die, we don’t see people now rising from the dead so why should we believe that Christ did?

The bible teaches that the wages of sin is death. We die because we sin. Christ though, was no sinner, he was a man, but without sin. This death could not hold him and had to obey Him, to free Him. His crucifixion was a death he choose, not to pay for His own sins, but for the others whom He saves.

Christ is the only sinless man because He is God’s only Son in man’s flesh. His sacrifice is eternally priceless and with more than enough merrit to forgive us our sins completely and eternally, to save sinners to the uttermost, to those who call upon His name in repentant faith. He is also our hope for He has given magnificent promises of future glory awaiting His redeemed.

There is no other way but by Christ alone. Repent and believe upon Him. Come alive and leave the bonds of sin. Walk in the power of His righteousness and be bold in His uprightness.

The Offense of God’s Commands

What was God’s intention in giving the law? What is Christ’s intention in calling all to repentance? Both are intended to display the Godhead’s eternal characteristics and qualities in nature. We ought to see primarily God’s holiness displayed in these two realities, given by God’s graciousness to all creation.

The problem with us sinners is that in our fallen condition we are offended by these displays. Until our hearts are changed, we cannot please God, nor would we truly want to because by nature we hate him…hence our sending Him to the cross. To those who hate their sin, there is One who is able to save, who is worthy to take your place for your cosmic treason, and has done so already at the cross! Jesus Christ alone is able to save sinners, He is risen for our justification. Repent and believe in Him and your salvation will be secure!

Written for Certainty’s Sake

Our minds are to be renewed by what is written, not by the whims of our hearts.

I saw a preacher recently, addressing an entire congregation as believers by default, actually lift up the bible and say,”this is not enough” in reference to the daily Christian’s walk. The context was that the believer needs to be led by the Spirit who can give additional words/promises/purpose. Granted, there was a disclaimer that these words will never contradict what is written…so I ask myself, why distract away from what is written (while holding it in the air!) then?!

The Word of God is set in stone, unchanging, and not subject to the convictions of men’s hearts but laid in a firm foundation for the sake of the believers’ assurance and certainty. Those men who say that the written Word is not enough for the believer (please note that I’m talking of professed believers here, the written Word for the unbeliever is like a light we must shine, it is the seed we need to sow, only God can make the new life appear), that the believer needs also a mystical, existential word or promise, these men fail to see or believe that what is written is actually existentially active and eternally relevant. Can it be so? Does not the Holy Spirit cover the entire earth and indwell every true believer? We know He brings the written Word to remembrance, discerning the innermost depths of our existence. The believer is taught by God. To be full of the Spirit is to be bold in the proclamation of the very Words of God…these Words are not vague and uncertain, but are written for our knowing and certainty, for our education and edification, and for rebuking and correcting.

To know salvation is to rest in its assurance. He loves us that much that He had it written so we can know it. Do you know it? We can know for certain what He has done for those who believe in Him, and even what He will do! We even know how people come to believe in Him, God is gracious…it is His gift to give. Proclaim His unadulterated Word to the brethren. Encourage them. Challenge them to reform their thinking to what is written. Our minds are to be renewed by what is written, not by the whims of our hearts.

God’s Gift to Give

Justification is a gift of God’s grace to sinners. This gift isn’t like a Christmas time gift that one opens in order to receive; it is the forgiveness of sins and new life which only God can unwrap inside the stony hearts of men. The gift is His granting apart from any and all works. Do not confuse salvation with sanctification here, God’s will to SAVE sinners trumps man’s refusal; all of mens’ will in the 1st Adam are by nature in bondage to sin and cannot please God, these enslaved wills are transformed by the new birth which is completely wrought by Gods own doing. Even repentance is only granted by God’s kindness to the sinner.

In Romans 3 is seen an inditement on all mankind, that no one seeks God, and that He alone is righteous. So if all are judged and all will be, none have an excuse. But God being rich in mercy, under no obligation to do so, determined to grant pardons and makes them known to both Jew and Gentile as He chooses. If the objection is raised “why doesn’t he save all” the scriptural response is, “why does He save any?”

If you haven’t tasted and seen the The Lord is good, pray for mercy, the He might enable you to taste, to see His glory, and there bend your knee to His Lordship and great love.

To the person who has faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, give credit where credit is due. It isn’t because you said yes, it is because He drew you, He called you, He took out your heart of stone and caused you to hear and believe. He began this good work in you and He will finish it. Some might object and say, “doesn’t this make us mere robots”…a regenerated man is an object of the grace of God who still eats, drinks, sleeps, loves, hates (sin), plays, etc; only now he worships rightly…this is anything but robotic, it is organic and it is glorious. Salvation belongs to The Lord.

“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NASB)