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The Wednesday Word, Jan. 13, 2010: Impossible Things Believed!


I am so thankful for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to the gospel. He gives us faith (Eph 2:8) and then persuades us of impossible things, the most unfeasible of these being the gospel itself!


Have you ever considered the unlikeliness of the whole gospel story?  Here we are on a tiny, insignificant speck of a planet, un-noticeable in the vast array of galaxies and yet God, the creator of all things, has a special interest in us.


And the skeptic says, “What a far-fetched idea!”


Well it may be far fetched to some, but the truth is He came here and became one of us!


And the doubter says, “Wait a minute, I don’t believe in fairy stories!”


But this is no fairy story my friend; not only did He become one of us, He also died the cruelest of deaths for us as He took responsibility for our sins and failures. And not only did He die for us, He also became a curse for us and at the cross became the greatest reject in the world.


And the cynic says, “But that’s impossible”


Impossible to believe? Yes indeed, the whole thing is impossible to believe unless the Holy Spirit possesses us and, in grace, opens our spiritual eyes.  It’s all impossible to grasp unless He gives us faith to believe. He lets us see that the baby born in the stable was the Mighty God (Isa 9:6).  He births faith that we might see that our redemption and security are in the Lamb of God alone (John 1:29).  He convinces us that our righteousness is in Christ alone (Jeremiah 23:6).  He shows us that, because of the blood, our conscience can be at peace (Heb 9:14). He guarantees us that we are fully accepted in heaven, right now and forever, because of Jesus (Eph 1:6). He assures us that our adversary, Satan, has been judged and defeated at the cross (Col 2:15). He persuades us that there is a fierce judgment to come and yet witnesses to us that we can approach it with confidence because the Lord Jesus was slain as our substitute (Rom 3:25).


The Holy Spirit continually takes us to the Lord Jesus whom we have never seen and does the impossible by making Him exceedingly precious to our hearts.  He magnifies the Lord Jesus and causes our desires to go after Him.   We could see nothing in Christ Jesus to desire were it not for the ministry of the Spirit.  The great English preacher, William Romaine said it this way:


“This is the way in which the Holy Ghost glorifies Jesus: He gives the believer such views of the infinite fullness and everlasting sufficiency of Emmanuel, that he is quite satisfied with Him. His conscience is brought into sweet peace through the sprinkling of the blood of the Lamb of God: and when guilt would arise and unbelieving fears disturb, he is enabled through faith in Jesus to maintain his peace; because, whatever rendered him hateful to God, he sees it removed by his adorable Surety: ----Thus he enters into the promised rest; thus he maintains himself in it.”


William Romaine: Letter 11 (Dec. 29th, 1764).


Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit the whole gospel record and it’s ensuing mercies are impossible to grasp.  It is far fetched.  It is foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18).  Someone says, “I see what you mean, when I think about it I find it’s almost impossible to believe that one simple act of faith on my part can wipe out the entire record of sin and the accumulated filth of a lifetime of wickedness.”


Well no, that’s not what I mean. You talk about the impossibility of faith wiping out your sin----- well I agree with you.  No amount of believing on your part can erase the horror and depth of your sin---that is indeed impossible!  But, here’s the reality. Jesus Christ Himself has already purged our sin.  Jesus Christ Himself has already redeemed (paid for) us. Because of Him we are out of spiritual debt; we are free and clear.  Your believing does not purge your sins; your believing does not redeem you. Your believing doesn’t pay your debt to God.  And it doesn’t have to because Christ has already finished and accomplished our redemption at Calvary.  The Holy Spirit gives faith to believe this---He gives faith to rest on this. Believe on Christ Jesus, rest on Him and the impossible will become reality---you will be saved!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!




The Wednesday Word, Jan. 20, 2010: The Spirit and God’s Verdict


If God renders a guilty verdict against us, who can argue with him? (See Romans 3:10ff).  If God condemns us, who then can acquit us? (Rom 3:19). Let’s say we could employ world-class lawyers to defend us against God’s accusations, even the best of them could not shield us.  When God the judge of all the earth issues His verdict our lawyers, brilliant as they may be, cannot thwart the charges.  Nor can they point to our character and ask for clemency based on our goodness. Our goodness, when compared to God’s, is non-existent. At best, our defective goodness qualifies us for condemnation, not clemency.


If you disagree with this assessment and think it doesn’t apply to you then here’s the bad news---- you are self-righteous (Rom 3:20). You are still not in the place where you can call out to Christ Jesus for mercy. You can disagree all you like, but you’ll discover that it’s futile and foolish to dispute God's verdict. God the Judge knows all the facts and cannot be mistaken (Romans 2:2). Only the Holy Spirit can open your eyes to see the wretchedness of your condition. As Bonar says, “Conviction of sin is just the sinner seeing himself as he is, and as God has all along seen him.”


When the Holy Spirit shows up, every idea of self-goodness, either in whole or in part, disappears. He convicts the world of righteousness (John 16:8). The things that once seemed good to us now appear so bad, and the bad things so awful, that every prop falls from under us, and all hope of being saved because of our ‘good’ character is taken away. We see that we can neither save ourselves nor help God to save us. It is only as the Holy Spirit begins to deal with us that we see that, outside of Christ, we are lost and helpless.


Gospel faith however takes us away from any misplaced self-righteous confidence. Faith grasps that it is the blood that justifies (Romans 5:9). Faith sees that it is because the Lamb has shed His blood that we can now approach the throne of God (Heb 10:19). Faith sees that mercy is ours because Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ is seated at the right hand of God interceding for us (Rom 8:34). Faith sees that it is the blood which has brought us peace with God (Colossians 1:20). Faith grasps that our redemption has been secured by the blood (Ephesians 1:7).


Faith does not look at anything inside us for the ground of justification.  Faith will never confuse the finished work of God ‘for us’ with the work that He is doing ‘in us’ by His Spirit.  Christ ‘in us’ leads to consecration and growth in grace, but Christ ‘for us’ in His finished work is the only ground of our right standing before God.  Faith will, therefore, never cause us to look to any goodness in us, even an infused goodness, by the Holy Spirit, to declare us not guilty and acquit us before God.  Faith grasps that all our security rests outside of us in Christ alone.


And That’s the Gospel Truth.



The Wednesday Word, Feb. 3, 2101: Approaching God


No matter how many religious things we do or feel, whether praying, generous giving or abstaining from our ideas of worldliness, we cannot find, in any of them, a qualification by which we can approach God. Religious activity provides no resting place on which to discover the smile of God. If sin were a simple thing like a disease then perhaps religious observations might be helpful in mending the separating gulf between man and the Almighty. But sin is much worse than any disease; the unsaved sinner is not merely ‘sin-sick’, he is ‘sin-dead’ (Eph 2:1). Worse still, he is under the righteous condemnation of inflexible justice (Jn 3:18).  God, the unchangeable judge has an unalterable hatred of sin and has warned about His coming wrath against the unsaved sinner and his sin (Matt 23:33).


Unbelieving self-righteous religious people make the awful mistake of trying to present their character to God as the basis of approaching Him. Approaching God in an acceptable way, however, has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of our character. God says that our goodness, as a qualification, is non-existent: there is no goodness in us that entitles us to or recommends us for His acceptance (Job 15:14-16).


But unbelieving religious folk are not the only ones who have got the wrong idea about approaching God. There are many professing believers who think that if they pray for several hours or so, study the Bible and are really in earnest then they are now qualified to find a welcome from God. But, this makes zero sense since they are offering something they have done as the basis of their acceptance. Have you ever been like that?


This kind of thinking overlooks another question, "How am I to approach God in the first place?" When we pray we are trying to approach God, but how can we actually approach Him when His explicit testimony against all of us is, "You are unfit to approach me in your own merit”? (Ps 53:2-3).  To imagine that we can pray ourselves out of unfitness towards God and into acceptable fitness is ridiculous. Unbeliever and believer alike must learn that our religious efforts can never be the ground of our approach to God. No amount of praying, working or feeling, can satisfy the righteousness of God, or open the door to the presence of the Holy One.


The big question that must then be answered is, "How shall a sinful man approach God and find acceptance before Him?" (Job 25:4). No appeal can be made to God based on our personal character, goodness, or religious performances  (Romans 3:10 ff)------If God is not sufficiently impressed with our puny efforts or with us, what then are we to do? The good news is that we are not left to work this matter out for ourselves.  God has already done something about our problem.  He has settled the dilemma of approaching Him in the doing, dying and rising of Christ. It only remains for us to, by faith alone, receive what He has done. It is on the basis of Christ and His shed blood that we have an open and welcome approach to Heaven itself (Heb 10:22).


“Wherewith shall we approach the Lord

And bow before His throne?

By trusting in His faithful word,

And pleading Christ alone.


The blood, the righteousness and love

Of Jesus, will we plead;

He lives within the veil above,

For us to intercede.”


To approach God we need to remain poor, needy and broken, dependant entirely and exclusively on the person, work, name and grace of Christ Jesus our Savior, Shepherd and Substitute.


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Feb. 10, 2010 : Christ Will Do


The only reason it is safe for us to draw near to God is because of something that has happened entirely outside of ourselves in history (Gal 3:13).  There’s no point in looking within ourselves for something to qualify us for God’s favor as everything pertaining to us, that is everything outside of Christ, is already condemned.  Apart from Christ Jesus we have no hope (Romans 3:10 ff).


But here’s how ridiculous things are; condemned men whose best efforts are rejected by heaven try to use religious works to impress God. In doing so they reject that Jesus is the only qualified mediator to mend the God-declared separation between themselves and the Holy One. They will try anything and everything other than resting on Christ alone for their entire reconciliation. Are you in anyway like that?


Horatius Bonar tells the story of a man, troubled by his sense of separation from God, who thought that if he could just be religious enough he could fix things up between himself and the Almighty. He chose prayer as his religious practice and reasoned that the Lord would be impressed by a praying man and would, therefore, accept him. After many weeks of praying he felt that not much progress was being made so he doubled the amount of his devotions, saying to himself, "Surely if I try harder God will take notice and will give me peace." But no peace came. So he then decided to have family worship in his home, reasoning that, " Now the Lord is bound to take notice of me and my efforts." But there was still the great awareness of separation. Eventually he decided to hold a prayer meeting in his house and set aside a particular night. He invited his neighbors and prepared himself for conducting the meeting by writing a prayer and learning it off by heart. As he finished learning it, he threw it down on the table saying, "Surely that will do, God will now give me peace." In that moment, a still small voice seemed to speak in his ear, saying, "No, that will not do; but Christ will do." Immediately, the scales fell from his eyes, and he saw that Christ had done enough in His doing, dying and rising again. He saw that, in the light of the gospel, his efforts to impress God were redundant to the uttermost. Instantly, peace poured into his soul like a river. >From then on "Christ will do," became his lifetime motto!


He was so right!  Christ will do!  Christ will do for He is the only reconciler of man to God (Eph 2:13).  Christ will do for He alone is the appointed mediator between the sinner and the All-Holy majestic One (1 Tim 2:5). Christ will do for He is the only one who poured out His life’s blood for sinners (Heb 10:19-22).  Christ will do for He has risen in glorious triumph over the grave (John 10:17-18). Christ will do for He is heaven’s champion (Heb 2:10).  Christ will do for He is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the brightness of His glory and the express image of his person (Heb 1:3). Christ will do for the Father has one crowning purpose, which is to demonstrate His glory and grace in His well beloved Son (Eph 2:7).  Christ will do for all events are moving towards that day when every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Kurios, the Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).


What a great life motto for us as we learn to look away from ourselves and our supposed sufficiency ---“Christ will do.”


He has bought me with His blood;

Reconciled my soul to God;

Made me fit for glory too,

And will bring me safely through.


Christ will do!


What a great folly there is in performing religious works to try to get closer to God. If that’s what we are doing, then deep within our hearts we are saying, “Christ will not do!”  The truth is, we can’t be any nearer to God than we already are in Christ.  What a disaster, then, to think that our performance can improve on that of Christ’s finished work.  Yes, Yes, Yes, Christ will do!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!



The Wednesday Word, Feb, 17, 2010: The Believer’s Rest


Our peace with God cannot come from our own character because, “There is none righteous no not one’ (Romans 3:10). What an indictment --- not even one of us is righteous enough to stand before God in our own merit!  The truth is this, before we were saved, if God had chosen to ignore us, we would have been lost with a capital ‘L’ (Ps 9:15).  We desperately needed divine intervention in our situation. Yet we forget that Grace and Mercy rescued us (Isa 51:1;Ps 40:2) and we, sometimes unconsciously, go about trying to establish our own righteousness.  We so quickly overlook the fact that, in spite of all God’s past dealings with us, we continually need Him, His power and help.  We stand constantly in need His daily grace and mercy---------mercy to keep us from getting what we do deserve (judgment) and grace to give us what we don’t deserve (continued favor with God).


Concerning grace and mercy there are three things we need to know.


(1) We must know that we continually need them:


(2) We must know that we do not deserve them,


(3) We must know that we cannot get them by our own effort!


These are three simple, yet easily forgotten, truths!


So how do we continually enjoy our full acquittal before the all-holy God? Is it found in re-doubling our religious efforts and by thinking good things about the Almighty? Or is it by praying harder?  Or by a little bit of self-sacrifice here and there? Indeed no!  It is by faith alone in Christ alone! No amount of activity, even sincere activity, can persuade God to smile upon us with His favor. Our recommendation to God is still not found in what we have in ourselves, but in what we don’t have. It is our lack not our fullness that has moved God towards us (Exodus 3:7-8). Likewise, just as it is our sickness, not our health, that qualifies us for the doctor so it is only when we realize how our best efforts are fatally flawed that we can look to Christ alone to be our entire righteousness.


Do you really know that as a believer you continually need grace and mercy? Do you really know that you still don’t deserve either of them? And do you know that you still cannot get them by your own effort? Do you know that the crucified Christ is entirely sufficient to mediate between you and the all-holy God of Heaven?


My guilt is great, but greater

The mercy thou dost give

Thyself, a spotless Offering

Hast died that I should live


On Thee my heart is resting

Ah this is rest indeed

What else almighty Savior

Can a poor sinner need


In all false religion the worshipper rests his hope of divine favor upon something within his own character, life or performance. The Pharisee did this when he went into the temple and thanked God that he was not as other men (Luke 18:11). So today, there are those who think that they can maintain right standing with God by doing, feeling, and praying more than they used to. They call themselves Christians, but are strangers to the gospel.  They think that by their efforts they can oblige God to grant them favor and furthermore, they feel that God would be grossly unfair to reject people so earnest and devout as they.


These self-righteous religionists will not place confidence in Christ’s character or His finished work.  In their madness they rest in themselves and their efforts, thus rejecting the Christ of God as their only hope. They refuse the one who alone is mighty to save (Isa 63:1).


And that’s the Gospel Truth!



The Wednesday Word, March 3, 2010: The New Experience and the Gospel.


We’ve talked in previous weeks about how self-righteous, religious people prefer their own work and character to that of Christ’s.   They place confidence in themselves rather than in the doing and dying of Christ alone!  They perhaps are unaware that the Bible plainly states that, "The Lord hath rejected thy confidences, and you shall not prosper in them" (Jeremiah 2:37). They reject that a sinner's resting place is wholly outside of himself in the person of Christ (Eph 1:7).  They freely refuse Christ, choosing instead religious observances, good works, prayers, and devotions, thinking that by being upright and decent they have a claim to the mercy of God, if indeed they need mercy at all!


But there are also others who are gripped by an equally serious deception. They think that by receiving a second blessing, or a series of such, that they find fuller acceptance from God than the rest of us. Their experiences, they say, bring them to a new level of spirituality and thus make them more favored by the Divine Majesty. By their religious rigor and excitement they think they have made themselves more acceptable in heaven than other mere mortals who have not entered into the same type of blessing.  They now think they have advanced beyond the rest of us because, unlike us, they are so open to the things of the ‘Spirit’. By this kind of thinking they leave the gospel!


An inward experience is never a good substitute for the, outside of us, righteousness of Christ. Consider this; in their “new and enhanced” experiences of supposed “new-found spirituality” they are now resting on something within them as gaining them favor before God. No spiritual experience, however, can furnish the foundation for acceptance before God. Neither regeneration nor second blessings, nor baptisms, no matter how profound and supposedly life transforming, can be the ground of approval before God. Unless the Lamb had shed His blood we would be entirely and eternally lost and unaccepted in heaven.  However, because of the blood, all blessings such as redemption, peace, forgiveness, justification, and admission into heaven come to us (Eph 1:3). This rules out spiritual experiences as being the thing that God requires of us to gain His acceptance.  The good news means we are already accepted in Christ apart from good works and experiences.


How quickly we tend to forget the gospel and move on to other things! We also forget the depths from which we were rescued. In the Old Testament, the King’s displeasure could land you in jail. We read in 1 Kings 22:27 “Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.”  We, however, were worse off than this. Because of our sin and unbelief we were all inmates of death row!  We were under righteous wrath and damnation! But by grace alone, the blood of Christ has removed our condemnation and in the Father’s gracious, righteous and loving plan, the blood of Christ has paid for us.  The blood of Christ has met all claims against us and has brought us to God (Eph 2:13). Acceptance with God is now spelt with five letters----JESUS! We are accepted because of Him alone, not our experiences and feelings.


“Tis not for good deeds, good tempers or frames;

From grace it proceeds and all is the Lamb’s;

No goodness no fitness expects He from us;

This I can well witness for none could be worse.”


No spiritual experiences can match the experiences the Lord Christ had on our behalf.  No experience we can have can heal the breach between sinners and God.  The only experience that brings us our acceptance before God is the unique, never to be repeated, experience of the Lord Jesus on our behalf.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!



The Wednesday Word, March 10, 2010: Be Not Deceived!


It is impossible for flawed and failed sinners to use worship as a means to gaining The lord’s acceptance.  The unsaved cannot worship His way out of condemnation and into the welcome of God (Phil 3:4-8). Acceptable worship can only come from worshipers who have already been accepted, worshipers who have been declared not guilty------worshipers whose sins have been taken away by the Lamb of God (John 1:29).


Furthermore, for the unregenerate, condemned, religious sinner to occupy himself with sacramental observances and good works in an effort to secure God's favor is the height of arrogant silliness. Instead of his worship and work being the acts of an accepted man, they are, to the contrary, futile attempts to gain God’s favor.  Because of this, his religious acts are damnable for they make a mockery of the gospel. Indeed, since his prayers are designed to impress God they become a putrid stench emanating from his mouth (Proverbs 14:12). It’s not a pretty picture!


God is not impressed by feeble, faltering attempts to verbally flatter Him. Nor is the Lord sympathetic to religious actions, designed to make Him take favorable notice of the worshipper.  On man’s part, these are nothing less than manifestations of his abhorrent self-righteousness and, as such, are thoroughly rejected by the Lord. God cannot be bribed; He cannot be coaxed or cajoled by the prayers, works or worship of the unsaved (Ps 28:5).  The Father, however, is thrilled and satisfied with the work of the Son on behalf of sinners. He, thus, frowns in severe displeasure and distain upon those who dismiss His free gift of Christ in favor of their fatally flawed efforts.


Since repetition is the price of learning, let’s say it again, God has already paid the price to bring sinners to Himself and that price is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:20; 1Cor 7:23). There is, therefore, nothing more that we can do than has been done to win God’s favor and acceptance.  Christ’s payment for our sins is enough!  It is satisfactory (Rom 3:22-26)! To base our acceptance before God on our good works, good feelings, good plans or good praying, is to delude ourselves into thinking that we have right standing with God when there is none. To attempt to find spiritual rest by looking to our own character and religious actions is like a thirsty man trying to quench his thirst with sand and salt water. Our religious life is a treacherous foundation on which to rest. However the gospel believer can declare,


“Lamb of God we bow before Thee,

Humbly trusting in Thy cross;

That alone be all our glory;

All things else are dung and dross;

Thee we own a perfect Savior,

Only source of all that’s good;

Every grace and every favor

Comes to us through Jesus’ blood”


Even if there are many good things about us that can recommend us to others, our good deeds cannot wipe out our record of sin. Also, we should never forget God’s verdict that declares what we are like by nature (see Jeremiah 17:9).  This one verse alone is enough to make us flee to Christ for shelter and salvation. Do not be deceived; the only righteousness that God accepts is that of Christ Jesus and the only way to make that righteousness ours is by faith alone.


As believers we are now accepted, not because of our efforts, but because of Christ’s. He is our Saviour, our redemption, protector and security. His arms are underneath us and round about us.  We are kept safe in Him.  He has died, was buried, has risen again and ever-lives to make intercession for us.


Be careful, therefore, to avoid any self-made peace that comes from thinking good things about yourself and your efforts.  Yes by all means, live for His glory, but be careful not to deceive yourself into thinking that your diligent efforts present the Lord with the secure basis for His acceptance.  That is found in Christ alone.


And that’s the Gospel Truth




The Wednesday Word, April 7, 2010: Adding to the Sufficiency of the Gospel


When, as believers, we forget the gospel, we usually resort to futile and useless attempts to supplement the grace of God. We, almost unconsciously, do little extra things to try to secure the Lord’s favor. But, this kind of behavior places us in direct opposition to the cross of Christ. It’s just another way of snubbing the Lord. We, in actuality, by our efforts to show Him how worthy we are, are saying that the grace found in Christ’s doing and dying is not sufficient for us.


In the Bible, God has declared himself to be gracious (Nehemiah 9:31) and has embodied this grace in the person and work of the Son (Titus 2:11). He has told us that gospel grace is for the ungodly, the unholy and the unfit, (Romans 5:6, 8,10). The more, then, that we know (A) the grace of Christ Jesus, and (B) our inability to produce any righteousness that will recommend us to God, the more we will thrive on the gospel and cease trying to impress God and others.


Here’s some good news, we are already complete in Christ (Col 2:10). We may at times disappoint and devastate ourselves with personal failures and hardness of heart, but the greatness of our sin, although it may humble us, cannot remove us from the completeness that we have in the Lord Jesus. In fact, failure can actually help us by breaking us and making us wary and dissatisfied with anything within us as the supposed ground of our acceptance before the Lord. God is still the God of Romans 8:28!


May we never forget that our acceptance before God cannot come from our own efforts or from thinking inflated things about ourselves. We are too flawed; we must face this; even our best works are riffled with impure motives. Looking to our accomplishments or to ourselves, therefore, can never bring true peace with God. True peace of conscience comes from Christ alone and it is in knowing and trusting the character and work of God, as revealed in the gospel, that we are set free from the endless process of trying to secure God’s favor by puny little useless efforts.


In Christ alone we encounter God and discover that God has done something about our sin and predicament. In the gospel we see that God is for us---this is astonishing! If God didn’t care about our condition, we would have good reason to panic and despair. It would be a shattering and devastating truth to discover that God was against us! It would be a frightful thing to encounter God as an enemy and not as a friend! But, we no longer have to live in dread of the Almighty, thinking that at any time He is going to reach out of heaven and strike us down. As believers, we no longer have to try to impress Him or try to move His heart towards us by our furious religious activity. The gospel delivers us from such redundant thinking.


The Bible says that God is love, not hate! The good news of His love, grace and justice was fully revealed in the cross where the Lord Jesus took upon Himself the sins of His people (Matt 1:27). As believers, to think that we can now impress the Lord with our best efforts and thus somehow move Him to favor us is to fail to grasp the gospel. It is the very opposite of what the Bible teaches. We need to continually turn our eyes back to Calvary and from there to the Throne of Grace. As we do we will notice that there are no threats being issued against us from the Lamb of God.


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, April 14, 2010: Christ the Revelation of God


In the gospel, God has revealed Himself in the person and work of Christ Jesus. (Col 1:15). He has done this so that there might be no mistake about who He is and what He is like. God is not some vague ‘spirit being’ out there Who chooses to conceal Himself. He is not a God Who refuses to or is unable to communicate with us.


One of the astonishing truths discovered in the gospel is that Christ Jesus is the revelation of God.  He is fully God yet fully man. He is in the Father, and the Father in Him (John 10:38). It is in Christ alone that we see the exegesis and full declaration of God (John 1:18). In Jesus Christ we have the express image of the Father’s person (Heb 1:3). Christ is the crossroads between heaven and earth. Don’t think for a moment that it was an angel or a created dignitary who went to the cross for sinners. A created angel could never save depraved and fallen rebels---our sin was too great.


Christ Jesus is as one man said "God spelling Himself out in language we can understand. " So what is God like?  Is He humble?  Yes He is, one look at the feeding trough in which Jesus was born shows us that.  Is God Holy? Yes He is; one look at Christ cleansing the Temple confirms that.  Is God gracious?  Yes He is; Christ’s conversation with the adulterous woman who was hijacked and dragged before Him demonstrates that.  Is God compassionate?  Yes He is:; the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Olives weeping for Jerusalem displays that.  Is God loving and yet just?  Yes He is; the Lord Jesus, at the cross, hanging between heaven and earth like a disinherited son makes that clear. Is God powerful?  Yes He is; the empty tomb fully illustrates that.


Christ is the revelation of God. If we, like Philip, say, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" He answers, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:8-9).  When we look at Christ, it’s as if the Father says, “I have nothing further to reveal about myself than that which I have revealed in my Son. Look unto Him and you will find me.”


Jesus is the way to the Father: no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).  Too often we use this verse merely as an evangelism text.  And yes, it is indeed a good truth to use when talking to the lost, but it is also a verse that helps us grow in our knowledge of God.  Listen to what it tells us. It declares that only in Christ Jesus can we comprehend, see and come to an understanding of the Father.  It was our God who purchased us!  This is good news indeed.


Dearest of all names above,

My Jesus and my God!

Who can resist thy heavenly love,

Or trifle with thy blood?

While some on their own works rely,

And some of wisdom boast,

I love the incarnate Mystery,

And there I fix my trust.

And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, April 28, 2010: The Stupidity of Unbelief! Part 1


Let’s look for a moment at the real meaning of unbelief.


In relation to the gospel unbelief has two main ingredients, (1) a high opinion of self, and (2) a low opinion of God. It’s that simple! So long as these two things exist, it is impossible for us to rest in the good news. Our high opinion of ourselves makes us think that it is within the realm of possibility to win God's favor by our religious performances. On the other hand, our low opinion of God makes us unwilling and even afraid to put ourselves entirely into His hands. Until our unbelief is removed we cannot grasp the free and generous character of the unearned grace of God.


By nature, all of us are spiritually foolish. In our natural man we think stupid things about God and ourselves (Rom 1:21, 1 Cor 1:18, 27; 1 Cor 2:14, 1 Cor 3:19). We are so indebted to the work of the Holy Spirit. He convinces us of sin and in doing so helps to destroy our foolish and overblown opinion of ourselves (Jn 16: 8-11). Even as believers we, all too often, find ourselves seated on self-righteous high horses and need to be knocked off. The Holy Spirit does just this as He helps us to see what we are really like.  In His powerful grace He reduces our high estimate of our own character and helps us to see ourselves as God does. In this way He delivers us from the plague of self-righteousness.


Having altered our inflated opinion of ourselves, the Spirit goes to work to change our stupid opinion of God, and makes us see that the God we were against is in fact the God of all grace.  He is the one who loved us and came here Himself in the person of His Son.  He alone lived, died and rose again for us. Speaking of the Spirit’s work in this regard, Joseph Hart the hymn writer says,


“He never moves a man to say.


‘Thank God I’m made so good’


But turns his eye another way,


To Jesus and his blood”


But do you want to hear what is really stupid? There are some people who, while they admit that they are sinners in the general sense of the word, feel that they are not sinners in the way that God says they are sinners.  They consider themselves to be not so entirely bad as to be ruined by sin (Luke 18:11). Now here’s the difficulty, as long as they remain in this mindset they have no part in the free and gracious salvation given to sinners.  They need not complain about this arrangement for Christ died for sinners and only for sinners (Luke 5:32). Since the self-righteous continue, to the end of their days, reckoning themselves to be unqualified for the title of ‘poor lost sinner’, then evidently Christ did not die for them.


There are no partial sinners in God’s eyes (Isa 1:5-6).  We, all of us, are entire sinners, thoroughbred, dyed in the wool sinners (Rom 7:23-24) who need an entire, thoroughbred, dyed in the wool Savior to rescue us. We, all of us, are such sinners that we need the cross, blood, and righteousness of the God/Man. Christ Jesus is our only hope.


And That’s the Gospel Truth!



The Wednesday Word, May 5, 2010: The Stupidity of Unbelief! Part 2


There is nothing quite so stupid as someone attempting to do good works in order to earn God’s favor and acceptance (Matt 7:27, Job 9:20).  Such behavior is unbelief in its worst form and also a severe form of ‘spiritual lunacy’ (Luke 24:25).  Religious un-believers think God‘s standards are so low that He will accept any old decayed and fractured efforts as being equal to His own righteousness. If the poor man who is living like this knew himself as God does, he would no more try such nonsense than he would think of attempting to scale a sheer precipice using a piece of string.


But the religious, self-righteous unbeliever thinks that his good works can bring God into his debt.  Take for example the case of the late lamented Edward Malloy of County Cork, Ireland  The inscription on his tombstone reads as follows,


"I. H. S.


Sacred to the memory of the benevolent Edward Molloy; a friend of humanity, the father of the poor; he employed the wealth of this world only to procure the riches of the next; and leaving a balance of merit in the book of life,he made heaven debtor to mercy. He died October 17th, 1818, aged 90."


Amusing, but tragic!


I’ve always found that the most difficult people to reach with the gospel are the self-righteous—the ones who reject their need of a righteousness entirely outside of themselves (Romans 10:3). They deny their guiltiness and hold the foolish hope that they shall enter into heaven by some work of their own. Nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit can undo their foolishness!


Others, however, who know they are bad, humanly speaking, are potentially closer to heaven than the self-righteous for at least they know their sin has separated them from God. Knowing this, they can sue for mercy at the foot of the cross (1 Peter 2:24). The self-righteous, on the other hand, are in imminent danger because they equate their righteousness as being equal to that of God’s.  In other words, they have an awfully low opinion of the Lord and understand neither His holiness nor the necessity of the cross. They may be good church people, but they are unbelievers. They are lost (Phil 3:18)!


Did you know that Hell is full of ‘good’ people?  They were so ‘good’ that they saw no need of the Redeemer. Martin Luther said that although he scarcely ever preached a sermon without giving vent against self-righteousness he found “that still I cannot preach it down. Still men will boast in what they can do, and mistake the path to heaven to be a road paved by their own merits, and not a way besprinkled by the blood of the atonement of Jesus Christ."


Self –righteousness, however, must eventually wither and die in the light of the cross. The cross teaches loudly and clearly that everything required for our safe passage to Heaven has already been accomplished. The cross shows us that our substitute’s finished work has entirely satisfied the Father. Our righteousness is now found in Christ alone (Phil 3:9).


Rejecting the righteousness of Christ, received by faith alone, the unbelieving self-righteous man projects a wretched misrepresentation of God's character and thus slanders His gracious name. The self-righteous believe a lie and reject the truth. Their unbelief is an attempt to obliterate the cross and to destroy the gracious name of Christ.  Unbelief worships another god, an unknown god, no indeed a non-existent god from whom comes no peace for the sinner and no rest for the weary.


May we be given grace to accept and trust entirely in the character of God as demonstrated in Christ crucified. May we yet learn to rest entirely on the One who saves to the uttermost (Heb 7:25)!


“Lay your deadly doing down

Down at Jesus' feet

Stand in Him and Him alone,

Gloriously complete.”


And That’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, May 12, 2010: True and Unimagined Peace


True and unimagined peace comes only as we understand God’s character.  If we erroneously envision that God is always angry and frowning then we will never know perfect peace. If we falsely picture that we have to perform to gain His approval, then we will be in a continual uproar. If we mistakenly imagine that God, having purchased us by blood, will someday wither in His faithfulness and desert us then we will be tossed to and fro by every circumstance. However, to enjoy true peace reigning in our hearts we need to be fastened firmly to the rock of the gospel and the revelation it gives us of God.


Our understanding of gospel truth is vital for many reasons not least of which is that, being holy, the Holy Spirit will neither bless the worship of a false God nor the false worship of the true God. The living and true God is the, "the God of all grace"(1 Peter 5:10), He is the God of the gospel (Rom 1:1) and it is the love of this true God that the Spirit sheds abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5).


Nor does the Holy Spirit produce false feelings in us so that we can go around thinking wonderful things about ourselves, things which might establish a false confidence before the Lord. He continues to destroy every vestige of self-righteousness as He causes us see that we are saved from beginning to end by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The grace of God destroys all our supposed works and self-worthiness yet comes to us without cost to us or a cause in us. Grace is either absolutely free or it is not at all (Rom 4:4, 16; Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 1:9).


The object of the Spirit's work is to bring us to such a gospel understanding of Yahweh that we can fully rest in Him.  As He does this, He continues to show us our innate lostness and at the same time God’s immense goodness, power and grace towards us. He does not allow us false comfort by our feelings or even our faith. He does not cause us to place false hope in our supposed progress in the Christian faith, but rather works in us turning our eyes away from His own work and fixes our gaze on the love of God in Christ Jesus for us.


May the power of grace by the Spirit continually turn our eyes to see the cross and the Crucified One. -----------Who is this crucified One? He is God Himself; incarnate love hanging upon a cross. He is the God who created us, suffering and dying for the ungodly. Can you question His commitment to you? Can you ask anything further to bring you to the place of wholehearted trust and confidence? It is no wonder that we read, "Herein is LOVE, not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation of our sins." (1 John 4:10).  As the Puritan, Tomas Watson observed,


“The emperor Trajan tore off a piece of his robe to bind up one of his soldier's wounds. But Christ tore off His own flesh for us! "He gave Himself for us to redeem us" (Titus 2:14). Christ gave Himself for us—what more could He give?


“Lamb of God, we fall before Thee,

Humbly trusting in Thy cross.

That alone be all our glory;

All things else are only dross.


Thee we own a perfect Savior,

Only source of all that’s good.

Every grace and every favor

Comes to us through Jesus’ blood.


All our prayers and all our praises,

Rightly offered in His Name—

He that dictates them is Jesus;

He that answers is the same.”


And That’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, May 19, 2010: Righteous Grace, Part 1


God is the God of all Grace (1 Peter 5:10). He is also the God of righteousness (Ezr 9:15). It is as we see that God saves us, not only because of grace, but also through righteousness  (Isa. 45:21, Rom 4:5) that we enjoy His full and perfect peace (Isa 26:3).


At the heart of the gospel we discover that grace is, as Horatius Bonar terms it, “Righteous Grace.” Unless we understand this, we will be deficient in our knowledge of the Gospel. God justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5) and does so as a matter of righteousness.  Our great God and Savior recognized the awfulness of sin and righteously punished Christ as if He had been the worst of sinners (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Now He can acquit the sinner righteously since the sinner has already been punished in the person of His substitute. Christ has been righteously condemned as if He were us and justice has been satisfied.


Now the God of Justice righteously and graciously declares us not guilty. When we, therefore, approach Him we approach His throne as people who have been, not merely forgiven, but acquitted both as a matter of righteousness and grace.


In the Gospel we are not confronted with a vague forgiveness, arising out of some sort of paternal love on the part of a bemused God. That would be far from righteous grace. We’ve got to get to grips with this!  We need to know both the righteous and gracious basis of our acceptance before God. Indeed, if we are not clear on this we have no gospel! If we take away either righteousness or grace from the gospel we have removed its very life-blood, and there is, as Spurgeon says, “Nothing left worth preaching, worth believing, or worth contending for.”


Righteous grace is at the heart and soul of the gospel: without it, the gospel is dead. Without righteous grace, there is no comfort for the troubled conscience. From first to last, everything in salvation is of grace and that grace comes to us righteously.


To further understand this we need to ask,


1) Did God recognize our absolute guilt, but chose instead to ignore it since He is our Father?  


2) Or does God acquit us because He loves us and at the back of it all, He is very good-natured?


3) Or is God indifferent to sin?


4) Or did God’s absolute holiness demand that He took action against our sin punishing it at the cross of Calvary, 2000 years ago?


So, how say you?  On what basis does God acquit us? Are we declared not-guilty because God is kind and tender? Or does God forgive us in a righteous, just and gracious manner? We must be clear on this. We must be clear that, at the cross, our sins were paid for by our substitute. Christ was legally cursed on our behalf (Gal 3:13). Our gracious acquittal is, therefore, based on the work of righteousness. It was righteousness that condemned us in the first place.  It was righteousness that barred us from heaven and if ever we were to be saved it had to be done righteously.


Now that Christ has been righteously punished in our place, our condemnation has been righteously and graciously removed (Rom 8:1).  Christ has died in place of the ungodly and has been righteously condemned. We have been declared righteous, not because the Lord is a nice guy, but because of righteous grace. Christ died and intercepted our well earned wrath as He purged and took our sin away (Rom 3:25, Heb 1:3, John 1:29).


Since the perfect righteousness of Christ has now been graciously imputed (reckoned) to us it would be, therefore, an unrighteous thing for God to condemn anyone for whom Christ died (Rom 4:22-25, Rom 8:34). This is righteous grace!


Enjoy these truths and you will be at peace.


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, May 26, 2010:  Righteous Grace, Part 2


It’s one thing to feel good about the Gospel, but it is quite another to really grasp its ramifications. I’ve met many professed Christians, for example, who are ‘martyrs’ to a bad conscience. They know the words “saved by grace,” but suspect that grace means God’s lackadaisical kindness. Not having understood that the grace which saves is righteous grace, they have no foundation and no peace. The gospel they know does not minister calm to their minds or conscience (Jeremiah 6:14).


For true peace we, as gospel driven believers, always find ourselves going back to the cross for answers. The conscience says, “I know I’m a rat and that God is merciful, but what if He grows weary of me and forgets to be gracious?” The cross answers, ‘Christ Jesus was set forth as a wrath offering for sin, ------ you are saved as a matter of not only grace but also righteousness (Rom 3:24-26) for it is as the God of Justice that the Lord saves’ (Isaiah 14:21).


Righteous grace is no new concept. In the Old Testament, the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled on the mercy seat.  Justice and mercy were blended. The sinner was, therefore, saved, not only by grace, but saved righteously. Likewise, in the New Covenant, the God of the gospel graciously justifies the ungodly by ruthlessly punishing our sins in the person of the God/Man, Jesus Christ.


Although we are saved by grace alone the grace that saves is never alone for it is inseparably joined to righteousness. Our salvation and right standing with God now rest on the righteous and gracious work which God has already accomplished for us, outside of us, in the Person of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24).


Two thousand years ago there was an objective, actual, historical event. God Himself broke into human history in the Person of His Son. He became our representative and was so identified with us that all which He did was not only done for us, but was exactly the same as if we had done it ourselves. When He graciously bore the punishment for our sin we were righteously punished in Him. When He arose, we arose. When He was exalted to the right hand of the majesty on high so were we (Eph 2:6)! It is finished!  We can be at peace.


Have you ever had a troubled conscience? Here are some scriptures, tailor made for you. You may find it very helpful to personalize them.


"Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3).


"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities" (Isa 53:5).


"Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:28).


Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us (Titus 2:14).


He was “delivered for our offences and was raised for our justification" (Rom 4:25).


He “gave himself for our sins" (Gal 1:4)


"Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom 5:6).


"He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb 9:26).


See also 1 Peter 4:1, 1Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 2:24.


Notice how the words, ‘Himself’ and ‘He’ appear frequently. This is because the gracious and righteous Lord Himself is our salvation.


Someone once asked Irenaeus, the defender of the faith in the 2nd Century, "Irenaeus, what has Christ brought that other religious leaders have not brought?"  He answered, "He brought Himself."  That's what makes our gospel different. God came here Himself to righteously and gracious deal with sin and sinners. This is good news for the troubled conscience.


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, June 9, 2010: Righteous Grace, Part 3



It is written, "The soul that sins it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4).


The righteous demands of God made the death of Christ necessary.  Because of this, the Eternal One, in grace and love, stooped to become human, to live and die in our place. This is excellent news!


Consider this, let’s say a man were to die for someone for whom there was no need to die, we should hardly call his death a proof of affection.  On the contrary, we would probably consider it a pretty retarded way of showing devotion.  However, to die for someone when there was really a need for dying is the test of true and genuine love. When someone dies to prevent our death we are confronted with a demonstration of love. As William Rees wrote,


Here is love, vast as the ocean,

Lovingkindness as the flood,

When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,

Shed for us His precious blood.

Who His love will not remember?

Who can cease to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten,

Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.


If ever we were to be saved from eternal death, Christ Jesus had to die. Because of this, grace and righteousness combined and led the Everlasting One to the cradle and then to the cross. There at Calvary He died as the sinner's substitute and thus made it a righteous thing for God to cancel our guilt and annul our death sentence.


Thomas Watson, the Puritan, said,


‘When we were rebelling—He was dying! When we had weapons in our hands—then He had the spear in His side! This is the very quintessence of love! "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!" (Romans 5:8). When we were engulfed in misery and had lost our beauty—then Christ died for us. O amazing love, which should swallow up all our thoughts!”


Had it not been for Christ’s death, grace and guilt could not have successfully met; God and the sinner could not have come near; righteousness would have forbidden reconciliation. However, in Christ, love working in concert with righteousness secured our salvation. Unless God had dealt with our sins righteously, by punishing our substitute at the cross, it would not have been right for Him to receive us or indeed, safe for us to approach Him.


But now, in Christ, mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed (Ps 85:10). Now through Christ, grace is righteous and righteousness is wrapped in grace. It is only when faith grasps both the righteous and gracious nature of the work of Calvary that the conscience finds true peace (Heb 9:14). Our reconciliation is anchored to the righteousness of God (Eph 2:13-16). This is exceedingly good news because a righteous reconciliation will stand every test and last throughout eternity.


The troubled conscience can only find true peace in the righteous grace of the gospel, as it understands that Christ died not for the good guys, but for the ungodly (Rom 5:6).  Faith grasps that God justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5). The righteous grace which comes to us through the cross tells us that there can be no condemnation for anyone who is saved by the righteous grace of God (Rom 8:1). The God of the gospel is just, yet the justifier of the ungodly (Rom 3:26)! This is good news! This is grace! God’s salvation, His divine gift, is freely lavished on us, in spite of our lack of character, for Christ’s sake alone.


And that’s the Gospel Truth




The Wednesday Word, June 23, 2010: Sin on Him or in Him?


In this day and age when the gospel is under attack from all sides we must be aware of certain gospel foundations.  For example, we must be clear about what Christ being ‘made sin’ means. Was He made sin by imputation or by impartation? In other words, was Christ counted a sinner at the cross or was He physically made into one? The only answer which does justice to the Biblical evidence is that Christ was made sin by imputation and not by impartation.  Here’s the problem, if Christ became wretchedly sinful in Himself then it follows that, because of the cross, we become perfectly righteousness in ourselves. Notice the following parallel, “he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21).” He was made sin we are made righteous. In other words, at the cross, Christ was legally treated as if He was actually sinful in Himself although, in Himself, He remained righteous, pure and untainted. Conversely, because of His finished work we are now legally treated as though we are perfectly righteous in ourselves---though, in actuality, we are not.


Christ was reckoned as sin that we might be reckoned as righteous. If, however, it was our sin ‘in Him’ that caused His damnation then it follows logically that His righteousness ‘in us’ is the cause of our acceptance -- a favored doctrine of the Roman Church. But sin was not in Him; it was reckoned (imputed) to Him, laid upon Him, not infused into Him.  His righteousness was in Him (Jeremiah 33:16) and we are treated as if we are righteous because the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to us (Isa 54:17).  


This truth that sin was on Christ, but not in Him is pictured in Abel’s offering, the burnt offerings, the scapegoat and the transfer of sins to the innocent animals etc.  Just as sins were imputed or reckoned to these animals, but not infused into them, so our sins were laid on Jesus, but not infused into Him (Isa 53:6). This is not to say that Christ did not suffer and feel the effects of our sin.  He took our curse and damnation to the fullest extent, yet in no way did He become a sinner.  Only a sinless perfect sacrifice could save us.


In Sunday School classes of the 1800s they taught the children that, at Calvary, there were three crosses and three dying men.  One man was dying in sin (the unrepentant thief), another man was dying to sin (the repentant thief), but the man in the middle (Christ Jesus) was dying for sin. The children would then quote the following mantra, “One man had sin both on him and in him. Another man had no sin on him but sin in him; Christ Jesus had sin on Him, but none in Him.” Those children were taught more than some of our dear adults are today.


Our sins were not in Christ they were on him and as such He received our awful penalty.  His righteousness is, likewise, not created in us, but placed on us and as such we receive His marvelous reward. Our sin brought Jesus to the cross (Isa 53) but His righteousness will bring us to heaven (Phil 3:8-9). Furthermore, when He suffered for sin the shame was entirely ours, but when we shall be glorified the glory shall be entirely His. When Christ died, there was nothing in Him worthy of death, yet death was his lot; similarly, there is nothing in us worthy of heaven, yet heaven is ours.


God executed His Son because our sin was on Him; likewise, God will glorify us because Christ’s righteousness is on us. Death deserving sin was imputed to Christ and heaven deserving righteousness is imputed to us (Isa 53:11).


And that’s the Gospel Truth





The Wednesday Word, July 14, 2010: Imperfect Faith and the Perfect Sacrifice.


In the Old Testament the sinner transferred his guilt to his substitute by laying his hands on the animal he was to sacrifice (see Lev 4).  This pointed towards how we are called to, as it were, lay our hand of faith upon on the Lord Jesus. When a man came and laid his hand on the head of the sin offering he was acknowledging that he was a sinner. Since, the sin offering was exclusively for sinners it, therefore, goes without saying that a man who felt he was sinless had no business being there.------ So with us, if we say we have no sin we are un-qualified for Christ’s saving power and grace (1 John 1:8). Christ died for sinners and no others.


In the Old Testament, the man who brought a sin offering before the Lord was saying, in effect, “I am a sinner and I must have my sin taken away for I am guilty in the sight of God. So I put my hand upon this animal, which is about to die, thereby confessing and transferring my sin to it as my substitute” (Lev 4:29). Think about it, many a feeble and diseased hand was laid on the head of the animal which was to be offered, but this neither altered the character of the sacrifice, nor made it less powerful. In addition, the priest would not turn the sinner away because he was weak and without strength nor would the sacrificial animal be refused because of some deficiency in the worshipper.  The burnt offering was still the burnt offering and even the weakest touch established the connection between the worshipper and his substitute (Rom 5:6).


As for us, since God is righteous and just (Jeremiah 23:6) and we by nature are not and should, therefore, be condemned (Ps 109:7). But we have a substitute, the Lord Jesus, on whom we can lay our hand. Often, however, our faith lacks strength but, in His justice, the Father has forgiven us not because of the perfection of our faith but because of the perfection of our sin offering, the Christ of God.


When, therefore, we come to the Father, we don’t come pretending to be something that we are not; we don’t come to Him with our goodness or our supposed sanctification and obedience to recommend us. We don’t come to Him promising future self-improvement as a condition for mercy; nor do we present our repentance to induce Him to receive us. Instead, we come by faith alone in Christ alone. By faith we look away from our guilt to Christ’s shed blood, we look away from our disobedience to Christ’s perfect obedience, we look away from our unrighteousness to Christ’s righteousness, and trust Him and Him alone!


As unrighteous, imperfect people with imperfect faith we come in Jesus name to the righteous yet gracious God. Our faith may be imperfect, but because of the perfection of Christ, our sin offering, we find that Christ is not only our Savior, but is Himself our salvation.


When Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer lay dying he said:


"I am just waiting to see what God will do with me; -----If God should raise me up again, and use me to save a soul, that will be worth living for. If He has no more service for me, I can say, through grace, I am ready; I could without alarm, if God please, lay back my head on my pillow and die this afternoon or night. My sins are all cleansed through the Blood of Christ." He then closed his eyes and died.


 Here are a few lines of one of his hymns:


“My faith would lay her hand

On that dear head of thine,

While like a penitent I stand,

And there confess my sin


My soul looks back to see

The burdens Thou didst bear,

When hanging on the cursed tree,

And knows her guilt was there.


Believing we rejoice

To see the curse removed;

We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,                                                                                              

And sing His bleeding love."


And that’s the Gospel Truth!



The Wednesday Word, July 21, 2010: "Perfect"


The blood shedding of Israel's sacrifices could not take away sins (Heb 10:4). Although the Old Testament sacrifices pointed towards the truth of the sinner’s substitute, these sacrifices were, in fact, more a "remembrance of sins," than an act that took them away.  The Old Testament sacrifices showed how, before sin can be forgiven, an innocent life must be taken. But then, the continual repetition of the sacrifices also showed the need for a more powerful sacrifice to fully and finally put away sin.


In the New Covenant, we discover that one man and one man only, the God/Man, has accomplished and finished the final blood sacrifice. In Christ, a perfect life has been presented as the sinner’s substitute. By His perfect death He has accomplished that which all the Old Testament sacrifices could never do (Heb 9:25-26). He has put away sins by the offering of Himself. He is enough!


And now for some more good news; God does not ask for two lives, or two deaths, or two payments. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many (Heb 9:28). In that he died, he died unto sin once"(Rom 6:10).  "He offered one sacrifice for sins forever"(Heb 10:12).  It is finished!  It is complete. Redemption has been accomplished!


There is no need, consequently, to repeat this sacrifice for the Father looks at the work of the Son and is satisfied.  To suppose, as some do, that Christ can be offered each week or each day as a bloodless sacrifice is, therefore, plainly silly. There is neither need nor reason that He should be called off His throne and sacrificed once again for the sins of men.


When Jesus said: "It is finished," (John 19:30) Righteousness and Peace kissed (Ps 85:10); redemption was accomplished and as one old preacher said, “Hell went into a panic.”


In the Greek language, Christ’s words “It is Finished” is actually one word ‘tetelestai’ (perfect passive indicative of teleo). This word can equally be translated, “Perfect.”  Think about it.  Christ, on the cross, when He considered all that He had accomplished in His doing and dying, weighed it against the purpose for which He had been sent and declared, “Perfect!”  In the midst of the writhing pain, and the mocking, having accomplished our redemption, he leans back His head and says, “Perfect.”


Redemption is perfect, His work is perfect, His salvation is perfect, our acquittal is perfect, His grace is perfect and His mercy is perfect.  “It is finished; it’s all perfect!”


The momentous events of Calvary can be remembered but they can never be repeated. His work of redemption is finished—it is perfect. "But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26). Christ Jesus doesn’t have to repeat something that is finished and perfect. A continual offering of Jesus as a sacrifice cannot put sin away because that work has already been accomplished (John 19:30). The sacrifice was made and accepted 2000 years ago. If sin was not put away then, it certainly has not been put away since, nor can ever be for there remains no more sacrifice for sin (Heb 10:26). Hear the good news; Christ has perfectly put away sin by the perfect sacrifice of Himself!


It is perfect!


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, July 28, 2010: The Foundation of Peace



Someone once said that the Bible is a blood stained book and that Christianity is a blood stained religion.  Like it or not, ‘blood ‘plays a central role in our salvation. Thankfully, God has told us why He emphasizes the blood and it is as we understand what He says about this matter, that we get an insight into the very foundation of our peace with God.


In the Old Testament sacrifices, from the days of Abel onward, we are given the key to the meaning of the blood, and the explanation of the remission of sins. The great truth taught by God was, "Not without blood" (Heb. 9:7). >From the beginning and for more than two thousand years, during the age of the patriarchs, there was but one great sacrifice, the burnt offering. In the time of Moses, this one offering was split into various parts; the peace offering, the trespass offering, the sin offering, etc (See the book of Leviticus). In all of these, however, the presence of blood and the fire preserved the fundamental nature of the original burnt offering. Why the blood? It was the sign of substitution.  Why the fire? It was the representation of God's wrath upon the substitute. By the time of the Temple we see each day, morning and evening a lamb sacrificed in the tradition of the ancient Burnt Offering (1 Chronicles 16:40).


Of course all these sacrifices pointed to the one final sacrifice who was yet to come. This is what John referred to when he pointed at Jesus saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  Josephus, the Jewish historian when writing about John the Baptist, said – “When John the Baptist entered his ministry, that particular year 260,000 lambs were slain at the Passover!” Imagine that! – 260,000 lambs and yet their combined power could not take away one sin! But, listen to the contrast on that day when John lifted up his eyes and made his grand declaration,. He was saying, “Behold Yahweh’s lamb, the Lamb whom Yahweh Himself has provided (Gen 22:8).  This is the true sacrificial lamb; this is the one who will be led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isa 53:7). This is the one with the power to remove the sins of the world. This is THE Lamb”


In all the sacrifices of the Old Testament the shedding of the blood was the infliction of death. The "blood was the life" (Gen 9:4); the blood made atonement for the soul (Lev 17:11).This blood shedding or life-taking was the payment for the penalty for sin; for "The soul that sins, it shall die"(Ezekiel 18:20), and "The wages of sin is death"(Romans 6:23). So when Christ hung upon the cross, He did so as the great offering for our sins. He poured out His soul unto death (Isa 53:12). This is God’s perfect ultimate and only sacrifice with which He is satisfied forever!


 Since the Father is satisfied with the doing and dying of the Son, so should we be! Since Christ died for us, we have the certainty of eternal life. Since He has been punished in our stead that means that we cannot now be punished.  God, being just, will not punish Christ first, and then punish us afterwards for the same crimes. Our Savior died, the Lamb was slain and we are now free from the possibility of God's wrath. We can walk through this life secure.  God is not out to get us.  There are no thunderbolts from heaven being hurled at us.  There are no flames of hell waiting for us since Christ has paid and suffered for us. Do you believe this?


What mighty sum paid all my debt,

When I a bondsman stood,

And has my soul at freedom set?

‘Tis Jesus’ precious blood

 

What stream is that that which sweeps away

My sins just like a flood,

Nor lets one guilty blemish stay?

‘Tis Jesus’ precious blood

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Aug. 4, 2010: What the Father Sees in Jesus


When we look at Jesus we see the perfections of God, but when the Father looks at Him He sees, among other things, the perfections of man. Thus it is that Christ is the only qualified mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5).


When God created man, he created Him in His own image, but through unbelieving disobedience man fell from his position of intimacy with the Lord. Adam failed and every man since then, save one, has been born into the ranks of Adam’s rebellion.


From the time of Adam to Christ, untold multitudes of men came and went, but all of them were flawed, they were all imperfect, they had lost the image of God.  They did not and could not love God with all of their being.  They lacked perfection.


But then, 2000 years ago a baby was born to a virgin and in this child we witnessed the arrival of the last Adam, the second man (1 Cor 15:45, 47). He was and is the representative man, man as God had intended. This new man, though truly human, was holy, righteous and perfect in all that He did, thought and said. In man’s spiritual blindness, however, few saw anything in Him that should be desired (Isa 53:2), but no matter, in Christ, the Father saw His own thoughts and intentions for us realized. In Christ, the Father saw a sinless, righteous life lived out before Him in perfection.


No human eye saw what the Father saw in His Son. In Christ, man saw a carpenter, a travelling preacher and a miracle worker, but in Christ, the Father saw the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person (Heb 1:3).  In Christ’s teachings men heard wisdom, but in these same teachings the Father heard His very own words. In the Son’s worship, men saw only that Christ withdrew to a quiet place, but in that quiet place the Father saw and received perfect worship. Men heard Him pray but the Father heard in the Son’s prayers, perfect pleading and perfect petitioning according to His own will.  Praying and worship like this has not been heard ever since nor does it have to be, for it is already credited to our account.  What a perfect substitute, therefore, we have in the Lord Jesus. This is why He is the only one suited and qualified to save us to the uttermost (Heb 7:25). By the way, is He your only confidence or is there something else you would like to add to Him?


When it comes to Jesus, is it any wonder that when the Father speaks of Him, He speaks in superlatives?  He could have simply said, “This is my Son in whom I am pleased,” but He didn’t; He said much more. He declared, “This is my ‘BELOVED’ Son in whom I am ‘WELL’ pleased.”  The Lord Jesus was a sheer delight to the Father for he loved the Father with His entire strength, soul and mind.


In Christ we see the unfolding of the Father’s glory. We sometimes forget that we have been saved for the glory of God and the honor of His Son.  We center too much on ourselves as being the hub of attention in salvation. We, for example, consider Christ Jesus to be our Shepherd, and so He is, but He is also Yahweh’s shepherd (Zech 13:7); the chosen shepherd who would be smitten. We say that Jesus is our Lamb and yes He is, but He is also God’s Lamb (John 1:29). He is the Lamb the Father has provided, not only to save us, but also to ensure that His justice would be satisfied. How the Father delights in the Son! Do we?


In Christ, both God and man are loved perfectly. In Christ, all who believe are perfectly justified, acquitted, sanctified and glorified. In Christ, sin and Satan have been destroyed.  We are called to believe on Him, rest on Him and trust in Him, the One who is perfect, who has lived and died perfectly on our behalf for the Father’s glory.


Upon a life I did not live

Upon a death I did not die

Upon His life, His death

I stake my whole eternity


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Aug. 11, 2010: God’s Blood


Believing God’s testimony concerning the shed blood of Jesus identifies us with Jesus in His death. Because the blood has been applied to us we are legally counted as those who have paid the penalty of the broken law in full.  This is what is meant by being "washed in his blood."


This is good news from the good news. This good news tells us, not what we have to do, in order to be saved, but tells us what Christ Jesus has already done to save us. Let’s be clear on this, only that which God has accomplished in Christ on our behalf can save us eternally (Eph 1:7, Eph 2:13).


We need to learn that the gospel is much more than the revelation of the heart of God in Christ Jesus; it is this, but it is much more.  It is also the revelation of the righteousness of God (Rom 1:17) and it is this revelation of righteousness that, if it were possible, makes the gospel even more powerful.


That Christ Jesus poured out his blood as the sinner’s substitute is God's declaration that His love will not compromise His justice. In the gospel, the broken law and love are brought together; our sin is condemned and judged righteously in the person of our substitute and we are acquitted (Rom 8:33). Our sin has been taken away (Jn 1:29). Our past present and future are forever under the blood! Sin cannot be in two places at one time; if it is laid upon Jesus, it is taken off us. Our sin is gone forever because Christ has taken our iniquities, and carried them away where they shall never be mentioned against us again. This is an amazing truth from the gospel. Spurgeon said,


“Oh, what a blessed truth is this! If a man, who has been blind for fifty years, could have his eyes opened, and could be taken out to see the stars, or to look up to the sun, how he would clap his hands, and cry, “What a wondrous sight it is!” And I know that, when I first perceived that Christ stood in my place, and that I stood in his place, — that I was accepted because he was rejected, that I was beloved because he endured his Father’s wrath on my account, — my soul felt as if it had never lived before, and had never known anything that was worth knowing till it perceived that wondrous truth.”


 Do you know anything of this? Be sure of this, God will not deal favorably with people who slight or scorn the blood. God is unchangeable on this point for the honor of the Son is involved. The blood of the gospel is God’s blood (Acts 20:28), so it is not difficult to see that God is inflexible on this matter. The shed blood of the Lord Jesus is the blood of He who is the brightness of Yahweh’s glory and the express image of His person (Heb 1:3). How then is it possible that He can overlook any affront or indifference to the blood (Heb 10:29)? He cannot!


Do not quarrel with God about the blood. It is not wise to call God absurd in this matter of salvation in Christ alone.  His infinite wisdom has arranged that Christ would pour out His blood for the sinner’s salvation! If you reject the blood of the Lord Jesus, you reject Christ. Reject Christ and you reject God Himself (John 13:20).


Behold, I fall before Thy face;

My only refuge is thy grace:

No outward forms can make me clean

The leprosy lies deep within.


No bleeding bird, nor bleeding beast,

Nor hyssop branch, nor sprinkling priest,

Nor running brook, nor flood, nor sea,

Can wash the dismal stain away.


Jesus, my God, thy blood alone

Hath power sufficient to atone;

Thy blood can make me white as snow;

No Jewish types could cleanse me so.


 

And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Oct. 27, 2010: The Person and Work of the Substitute


Because Christ died, we have life and grace abounding towards us (2 Cor 9:8). But are we satisfied with God’s abounding grace which He so clearly demonstrated in the gospel? It would seem not! Many who claim to be believers spend their lives jumping from one new Christian fad to the next, ever looking for some new and better experience. They pay lip service to our great substitute, but when it comes to centering their lives on Him and His objective gospel they say they must have something more.  Apparently, Christ and His cross are not ‘deep’ enough for them. The gospel is for beginners, they say, and now they must go on to maturity.  Thus they reject that Christ Himself is the very wisdom and power of God (1 Cor 1:24) and patronizingly sneer at the fulfillment and unfolding of the eternal purposes of God (Eph 3:11).


If, on the other hand, we for one moment caught a glimpse of the immensity of the person of Christ and His glory we would be awestruck.  Indeed, as gospel driven believers, our growth in grace comes through beholding His glory (2 Cor 3:18). In addition, the more that we know of the glory of His person, work and offices, the more we will be totally satisfied with the gospel provision which God has made in Him.


It always strikes me as odd, therefore, that so many professing believers make so little of Christ. After all, He is the revelation of the eternal God and it is only as we know Him that we can know God. Job 22:21 tells us, "Acquaint thyself now with him and be at peace." But how do we acquaint ourselves with God apart from the gospel and its Christ? In the gospel, the Father has revealed Himself in the person of the Son (Jn 1:18). What an opportunity we have to, therefore, meditate much on God in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures!


If we look closely enough we will discover that all the attributes of God can be seen in the Lord Jesus. Indeed, the knowledge of God comes to us in Christ alone for He is the one mediator between us both (1 Tim 2:5). Christ is the Door (Jn 10:9).  Doors either let people in or let people out.  When Christ claims to be the door He is plainly stating that the knowledge of God comes to us exclusively through Him. It is only through Him and by Him that God conveys all His blessings to us.


Furthermore, our sin-bearer is the eternal Word made flesh (John 1:14). The Bible tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn 1:1). He is "the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of his person" (Heb 1:3). He is in the Father, and the Father in him (John 14:10); he that hath seen him hath seen the Father (John 14:9). He is "God manifest in flesh" (1 Tim 3:16); " His name is "Emmanuel," God with us; (Matt 1:23), the "Saviour" (2 Tim 1:10); "Christ "(Matt 1:16) the anointed One, filled with the Spirit without measure (Jn 3:34); "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14).


He is the one who lovingly took our damnation (Rom 8:1) and it is this same one is with us (Matt 1:23); above us (Ps 57:11);  beneath us (Deut 33:27); before us (Isa 52:12), behind us (Isa 52:12) and who is all around us (Ps 125:2).


As we learn to focus on Him and His glory we will discover how to not focus on ourselves. It is then that we will be fully satisfied with the gospel blessings of abounding grace and life that come through Him alone.


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Nov. 10, 2010: Salvation, No Distant Thing


In Christ alone God has brought his righteousness near (Isa 46:13), therefore, when telling others of His salvation we need to stress that salvation is not some distant and secluded thing. People need to know that they don’t have to coax God to come near to them. They don’t have to, for example, wait to have the ‘’’warm fuzzies’ about God ---this will not bring salvation any nearer than it already is. Insisting that we wait till we feel good about salvation before we receive it is just another form of law and works. We as gospel driven believers, however, see that there is no effort needed to produce salvation on our part: salvation has already been accomplished (2 Corinthians 5:21).


When we go ‘gospeling’ (evangelizing), therefore, it’s so important to talk about God's free love to us in the gift of His Son.  It is God Himself who tells us to call upon His name (Ps 105:1) for to call upon Him is to believe on Him (Rom 10:13; Rom 4:24; Acts 16:31). In the gospel we don’t offer people a long list of duties to do, or feelings to be formed in order to make God think well of us.  The gospel is not our work; rather it is the good news of the work and person of the cross, apart from and outside of us in history. Our work is to believe on Him –the One who has accomplished salvation on our behalf (Jn 6:29).


God has brought His salvation near to the unbeliever. God is not in hiding—He has declared Himself in the person and work of His Son (Jn 1:18). When faith goes to work it actually causes the unbeliever to cease working to earn God’s favor and to do nothing other than to rest on the fact that all has been already accomplished on His behalf. Faith, however, does not complete our salvation; rather it embraces the salvation that has already been completed. Faith embraces the fact that Christ alone has paid for us and has rescued us at the cross.  Faith sees that this work has been successfully finished (Matt 1:21, John 19:30).


Again we must stress that salvation is not a matter of Christ plus faith (Acts 4:12).  We must continually stress this truth because it is on this very point that so many are departing from the gospel. Such people are sincere, they call themselves Christians, but they are not in the gospel. They believe that their faith makes them accepted to God. It’s a common error.  Nevertheless, to believe in Christ plus faith is to nullify the finished work of God’s chosen substitute and mediator.


So let’s say it again, although we are saved through faith, faith is not our Savior. Our Savior is Jesus Christ plus nothing (John 14:6)! He is the object of our faith (Heb 12:2).  He alone is our rescuer.  What faith does is to take a hold of Jesus and His accomplishments and make them our own.  Faith grasps that our righteousness is not in ourselves, but rather is outside of us in Christ Jesus. Faith does not bring salvation into existence nor does it produce the righteousness by which God justifies us.  What faith does, however, is to take something that is already in existence and enables us to reckon it as being our own!


Some years ago an aging Christian lady lay dying in hospital. The new minister of a certain church came on visitation to the ward and mistakenly thought this dying lady was a member of his flock.  Approaching her he said, “My dear lady, I’m here to absolve you of your sins,” to which the woman sternly replied, “Let me see your hands” “My hands?” questioned the astonished priest.  Reluctantly the priest proffered his hands and the old lady examined them.  At length she released them, looked at the man and said, “Sir, I perceive you to be an imposter: the only man who can absolve me of my sins has nail scars in his hands.”


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Dec. 1, 2010: The Rent Veil


As we grow in grace we will learn to see the gospel in every page of scripture. For example, the pages of the Old Testament are teeming with pictures and types which help us to understand precious gospel truth (1 Corinthians 10:11). Take, for instance, the Jerusalem Temple. If we could have viewed the interior of that Temple, we would have discovered a remarkable piece of material known as the Veil. It was, in effect, a large curtain made of "fine twined linen” that separated the holy of holies from the holy place. As long as that curtain remained, there was no entrance into the direct presence of God. While that curtain was hanging, the worshipper was separated from the presence of Yahweh. The veil said to the sinner, "The living God is beyond here, but you are forbidden to enter.”


It was only on the Day of Atonement that the people of Israel, in the person of their High Priest, could enter into God's presence. He went alone, behind the veil and offered the blood of the substitute. When Christ died, however, God tore that veil from top to bottom (Matt 27:50-51). This was a declaration that, because of the finished work, the veil of separation that kept us from the presence of God had been forever taken away. There is now no separation for us (Rom 8:34).


The veil of separation has been completely torn and no one can mend it. By Christ’s blood we have "boldness to enter" into the real sanctuary (of which the earthly sanctuary was only a picture) "by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil …” (Heb. 10:19-20). I like that word “living”- it tells me that Christ is no longer on the cross; it tells me that Christ is no longer in the grave; it tells me that Christ is not the prisoner of history.  He is off the cross, risen from the grave and has ascended into heaven where He ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25).


For access to God, we no longer, therefore, have to wait upon some man performing certain rituals on our behalf. We no longer need an earthly priest to give us right of entry to God’s presence.  The great sacrifice has already been made by our Great High Priest. Because of Him there is now no barrier between us and Heaven.  In Christ Jesus, there is now perfect and bold liberty to approach God (Heb 10:19). The veil of separation has been taken away by the Lord Jesus. The sins that separated us from God’s presence have been taken away from God’s presence by the precious blood. The Father no longer sees our sins.  They have been cast behind His back (Isa 38:17); they are remembered no more (Isa 43:25).


This is astonishing! Does it astonish you? Perhaps you have never drawn near to God through Christ.  You have trusted Him for your salvation, but you are standing far from Him like an unwelcome servant. Why are you doing that? The veil is rent: There are no obstacles in your way. No law forbids you to come to Him. Infinite grace has brought God to you and you to God. The way into the holiest is fully open and the mercy seat is freely available to all His blood washed saints. Go there boldly and worship through our Great High Priest the Lord Christ.


Someone says, “I worship with the Presbyterians” Another says, “I worship with the Baptists” yet another says, “I worship with the Methodists.” The gospel driven believer, however, isn’t under such restrictions. He indeed will meet with his local church, but because of the gospel He now can say, “I worship in the Holy of Holies!”


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Dec. 8, 2010: Needed! The Apostolic Gospel


We do not need to re-invent the gospel in each generation.  The old one still works fine! It worked powerfully in the days of the apostles and age has neither decayed nor weakened it.


As we read the apostolic sermons in the New Testament we see how the simple facts of the gospel are at their center. In Acts 2, Peter's sermon at Jerusalem focused on Jesus of Nazareth, the One who had been crucified, raised from the dead and was now exalted to the throne of God, being made both Lord and Christ. Perhaps this kind of preaching is too simple for the pulpiteers of today, but, by the Spirit, the apostles saw both the power and wisdom of God in these simple facts.


In Paul's sermon to the unbelievers at Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13) we see the same pattern. The apostle gives a statement of the facts regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus. He then, like any good preacher, applies the sermon with these words, "Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified" Acts 13:38).


Notice how the apostolic gospel for the lost is not, “Ye must be born again”---to preach the necessity of the new birth, while it is true, is to preach law and not grace.  When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, he was showing him the impossibility of his situation.  He was shutting the door in his face in order that he would look outside himself to the one who would be lifted up on the cross to die (Jn 3:14).


But back to Paul!  When Paul brought the gospel to the Church at Corinth his message was very simple. Even though he was now teaching believers He says, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel, -------- how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Cor 15:1-8) Then he adds: "So we preach, and so ye believed"(1 Cor 15:11).


In these simple facts of the doing, dying and rising of Christ the depths of God’s righteous grace is announced to both sinner and saint alike. In the gospel, His great salvation is revealed. Why then change the content to sub-standard subjective sentiments that neither save nor heal? It is the good news of Christ which is, "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith"(Rom 1:16-17).


 When it comes to bringing the gospel to either the Church or the lost, the apostolic message is not, "Do this, do that; make your best effort; pray in earnest and God will bless you”------ these things, although found in much popular preaching, are law, not gospel. But law doesn’t produce saints, it only produces sinners. In the gospel, Christ has done it all. He was "delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification"(Rom 4:25). He "made peace by the blood of his cross"(Col 1:20). It is finished! His doing and dying is so complete that, when it comes to the matters of right standing (and continued right standing) before God, there is nothing left for us to do but to enjoy what has been done.


Nothing to do no not a whit

Nothing to pay, no not a bit

All that’s to do and all that’s to pay

Jesus has done in his own blessed way


The gospel of Christ is as powerful as ever (Rom 1:16). It has lost none of its authority. Do you believe this? Do you believe that age has neither changed nor weakened its effectiveness or are you now resorting to new fads to widen your appeal?


How old is the gospel anyway?  Some say it is 2000 years old for it dates back to the cross.  Oh no!  It’s much older than that.  Others say it’s as old as the Fall of Man. Again, it’s much older than that.  How old then is the gospel? It’s as old as God, and age has neither weakened God nor His gospel. The gospel of Christ still comes to us with full divine potency. The gospel is still sufficient and suitable for the lost sinner and the saved sinner alike. The gospel is still sufficient and suitable for all our growth in grace. The gospel will still motivate and energize us to follow the exalted Lamb who was slain. It is His finished accomplishments that are the basis of our life and the cause of our strength and peace.


And that’s the Gospel Truth



The Wednesday Word, Dec. 15, 2010: Jesus, Our Hiding Place

 


How do we, with confidence, come before the all-holy God, and stand in His presence? This is the great question for both the unsaved and saved alike. The unsaved person, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, knows that his sin has separated him from God (Isa 59:2).  Likewise, the believer, through the ministry of the Word and the Spirit, is conscious that his best efforts are flawed and that his very righteousness is like a filthy rag (Isa 64:6).  How then can either of them come before God and receive a welcome?


No doubt, when he sinned, this was Adam's question. Notice how he answers his own inquiry by attempting to put fig leaves together for a hasty and futile covering. Somehow he knew that, because of sin, what he really needed was a hiding place, a covering that left him unexposed to judgment.  But his fig leaves were inadequate---and he knew it.  Sensing their inadequacy, he rushed into the bushes to hide when God came near. But even then, concealed in the bushes, he knew there was no hiding place. (It’s interesting to note that man’s impulse, because of sin, is to hide from God---even as believers we often make this ancient mistake).


But sin is no barrier to grace. Although man is the hider, God is the seeker and in grace He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  In grace, the Lord called Adam and began to tell of the coming deliverer, the Seed of the Woman. In Him, men would find a better covering than fig leaves and a much better hiding place than bushes. In grace the Lord took an innocent animal and killed it in order to cover His erring children and to point them to He who was to come. In that day, God revealed Himself as the God who hates and justly punishes sin, yet who, by grace, takes the sinner's side against Satan, the sinner's enemy (Gen 3:15). Because of the promise of the seed of the woman, the true "hiding place", Adam could now discard his make shift concealment and know, by faith, that with God’s new covering he could stand before the Almighty without fear or shame.


We too should hear the good news as Adam did----- from the lips of God Himself. When God say it that settles it!  We believe, not because the truth feels right, but because God has spoken (Ps 32:4; Ps 138:2)! This is the foundation of our faith.


Adam's fall gave God the opportunity to demonstrate His character of abounding grace towards us. We deserve nothing; yet there is nothing God will not do for us. Calvary proves that.  Through Christ alone He gives us the highest place in heaven and the nearest position to the throne (Eph 2:6). In Christ alone we are found before God. By one sacrifice He has perfected us and brought us back to God forever (Heb 10:14).  It is high time, therefore, to abandon all other hiding places and be clothed in Christ alone.


Here is an amazing Hymn that beautifully illustrates this point.


 “Hail, sovereign love that first began

 The scheme to rescue fallen man!

 Hail, matchless, free, eternal grace,

 That gave my soul a hiding-place!


Against the God who rules the sky

 I fought, with hand uplifted high;

 Despised the mention of His grace,

 Too proud to seek a hiding-place!


Enwrapped in thick Egyptian night,

And fond of darkness more than light,

 Madly I ran the sinful race,

 Secure, without a hiding-place!


But thus th’Eternal counsel ran:


“Almighty Love, arrest that man!”

 I felt the arrows of distress,

 And found I had no hiding place!



 Indignant Justice stood in view,

 To Sinai’s fiery mount I flew;

 But Justice cried, with frowning face,

 “This mountain is no hiding-place!”


 Ere long, a heav’nly voice I heard,

 And Mercy’s angel form appeared,

 Who led me on, with gentle pace

 To Jesus as my hiding-place.


On Him almighty vengeance fell,

 That must have sunk a world to hell;

 He bore it for the chosen race,

 And thus became their Hiding-place.


Should storms of sev’n-fold vengeance roll,

And shake this earth from pole to pole,

No flaming bolt could daunt my face,

For Jesus is my hiding place.


 A few more rolling suns, at most,

 Will land me safe on Canaan’s coast.

 Where I shall sing the song of grace,

 To Jesus Christ, my hiding-place!


And that’s the Gospel Truth


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The Wednesday Words for the Year 2010


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Impossible Things Believed!

The Spirit and God’s Verdict

Approaching God

Christ Will Do!

The Believer’s Rest

 The New Experience and the Gospel

Be Not Deceived!

Adding to the Sufficiency of the Gospel

Christ, the Revelation of God

The Stupidity of Unbelief, Part 1

The Stupidity of Unbelief, Part 2

True and Unimagined Peace

Righteous Grace, Part 1

Righteous Grace, Part 2

Righteous Grace, Part 3

Sin On Him or In Him

Imperfect Faith and the Perfect Sacrifice

 'Perfect'

The Foundation of Peace

 What the Father Sees in Jesus

God’s Blood

The Person and Work of the Substitute

Salvation, No Distant Thing

The Rent Veil

Needed! The Apostolic Gospel

Jesus, Our Hiding Place

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