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Miles McKee Ministries


The Wednesday Words for the Year 2015

To view article, click on title
 

Date

Title

01/14

Christ Our Assurance

01/28

Who Killed Jesus?

02/11

Just As I Am

02/18

A Few Reasons Why I Believe the Bible

02/25

Seeing the Blood

03/04

Who Raised Jesus from the Dead?

03/11

How to Receive the Benefits of the Blood!

03/18

Every Blessing Is in Christ!

04/01

God Manifest in the Flesh

04/16

What If? Part 1 - Part 1

04/22

What If? Part 1 - Part 2

04/29

Holding On to Spikes

05/06

Counted Dead

05/13

Butter, Water and Sovereign Grace

05/20

A Good Question and a Great Answer

06/03

The Gospel Truth About Grace Robbers

06/10

Grace Robbers - Part 2

06/17

Grace Robbers - Part 3

06/24

Abounding Grace - Part 1

07/01

Abounding Grace - Part 2

07/08

Abounding Grace - Part 3

08/12

Jesus and The Great Commandment

08/19

Paul and The Great Commandment

08/26

12 Marks of the Grace Believer!

9/09

Faith and Our Verdict from God

09/23

The Pathetic 12-Months of Mercy

09/30

Coming Back in the Clouds

10/07

Now That's Grace

10/14

A Delightful Insanity

10/21

An Ancient King with a Modern Story

11/04

Gospel Acceptance

12/02

Gospel Forgiveness

12/9

Gospel Salvation

12/16

Gospel Trouble

12/23

Merry Christmas and Greetings to One and All

12/30

Gospel Giving

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Wednesday Words for 2008

Wednesday Words for 2009

Wednesday Words for 2010

Wednesday Words for 2011

Wednesday Words for 2012

Wednesday Words for 2013

Wednesday Words for 2014

Wednesday Words for 2016

Wednesday Words for 2017


The Wednesday Word, January 14, 2015: Christ Our Assurance

 

As John Knox, the great hero of the Scottish Reformation lay dying, He related to his friends how that Satan had tried to steal away his hope of salvation. First Satan attempted to shake his faith by pointing out the sins and failures of his life and ministry. Knox told how he sent the enemy packing with the mighty argument of the blood of Christ. Then Satan presented his final temptation, his masterpiece of deceit.  He whispered to the reformer, “Surely God will have mercy upon you.  You have nothing to fear, for the Holy Spirit has worked mightily in you to bring the gospel to this land.” But John Knox knew that his salvation and right standing with God neither rested on his work for God nor the Spirit’s work within him, but was grounded exclusively in the finished work of Christ. With this knowledge, he was able to route Satan and put him into retreat.


When we look to anything other than Christ and His blood for our assurance, we deny the sufficiency of Christ’s finished work on our behalf. Christ's finished work and that work alone is enough to guarantee full salvation! Too often we look to some change in our character or to some work which we have done to secure our salvation---but this is a fatal error!  While salvation brings change and produces good works, these new qualities in us and works done by us are never the ground and basis of our acceptance before God. Christ alone is made unto us righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30).


What are we resting upon? Is it something to do with us or is our confidence in Christ alone? The powerful 19th century preacher, Rowland Hill, said it like this; “People talk about looking back on a well-spent life; I look up to Him who spent His life gloriously to redeem the life of my precious soul, and there alone I dare to look.”


But says someone; “We must have infused righteousness in order to ensure our acceptance with God.  We must have sanctification otherwise we cannot know whether we are saved or lost.”


This is anti-gospel, religious nonsense!  Our acceptance with the Father is not grounded on any quality in us or on anything we can do or have done but on the worthiness and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.


The gospel is about the good works of the Eternal Word made flesh. The gospel of God is, "concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" and His divine virtues. It is neither about us nor our virtues (Romans 1:1-4).


Our acceptance is based on the gospel blessing that we have already been sanctified by the will of God through the doing and dying of Christ.


"By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10).


Again we read, "For by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14).


In addition, our sins have already been purged and put away (Hebrews 1:3; 9:26).

Furthermore, eternal redemption has already been obtained for us (Hebrews 9:12).

And all this is according to the good pleasure of God’s will (Ephesians 1:5-8).

Now we can approach the Lord in unashamed freedom, nothing doubting! He has already cleansed us.  All charges against us have already been answered!


Acquittal and acceptance are not given to us because we deserve them but because we need them. We are received because of our need, not our worth. That’s grace and that’s love. Hallelujah, what a Saviour!


Does God lie? No? Then listen to this, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus . . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith . . . " (Hebrews 10:19, 22). Here then is the certainty of our acceptance—Jesus and His shed blood plus nothing.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, January 28, 2015:  Who Killed Jesus



Many people say that the Jews killed Jesus but is that true? If the only evidence on the matter were Acts 2:23, one however, would indeed be led to believe in their total responsibility. In that verse, Peter tells his Jewish audience, in no uncertain terms, that they were guilty of slaying the Son of God. So then is it true, that the Jews killed the Lord Christ? Mmmm!! Maybe not! Consider this, no actual Jewish person nailed His hands and feet to the cross. No Jewish soldiers whipped Him and crowned His lovely head with thorns. So why then did Peter say it was the Jews who took Christ, and by wicked hands crucified and slew Him?  The answer is this, Peter, under divine influence, imputed the crime of Christ's death to them. The grizzled bearded leaders of Israel had planned and schemed for Christ's death, and now the nation itself was reckoned as being guilty of having committed the vulgar and violent crime. Guilt was imputed and reckoned to them because of the actions of others.


This matter of imputation is a serious business and not, as some suggest, a legal fiction. The Jews were guilty, by imputation, and treated as such by God.  We also know that although the Jews plotted and planned His death, they did not physically kill Jesus. They couldn't! Why not? Because Jesus, speaking of His life, plainly said, "No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18).  The Lord's death was His own doing! His life was not taken by any man or group of men!


In Hebrews 7:27 we read that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus, as it were, placed Himself on the sacrificial altar. He was not a helpless martyr reluctantly pulled along by crushing events. He was the Sovereign Lord in charge of all that happened. He was the master and commander of His destiny. Although Pilate sent Him to the cross, Pilate was not the one who killed Him. Guilty as Caiaphas may have been, he did not slaughter the Christ.  Christ Himself moved history towards Calvary and there as our High Priest offered Himself as a perfect, sinless sacrifice without blemish.  


Do you see His sovereignty here? Let me explain. Unless the Lord returns in our lifetime, we will all die. That's just the way it is. When the shrouded figure of death points his icy finger at us, we cannot resist. We are powerless against him. Yet Christ went to the cross and chose the very moment of death. Death was not His master. He chose not to die until He was good and ready. We, on the other hand, are powerless against death.  Ecclesiastes 8:8 points out, "There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war;" …. but this scripture is not true of Jesus. He was the only one who ever lived who had the authority and ability to lay down His life (John 10:18). At the precise second, at the fixed moment of His choosing. He humbled Himself unto death (Philippians 2:8) and voluntarily dismissed His spirit (John 19:30).


Jesus chose the exact moment of His death. The truth is; He need never have died -- even on the Cross. He had the power to sustain His life had He wished to (John 5:26). But His earthly life was one of voluntarily relinquishing His divine prerogatives. His 33 years here were ones of loving identification with His people. When the redemption of His sheep was complete, and not until then, did the Great Shepherd, as an act of His free-will, bow his head to death.


Hallelujah! What a Saviour


And that's the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, February 11, 2015: Just As I Am

 

It is true that the highest motive we can have is to seek the glory of God. However, such a motive is not required to come to Christ. If it were, we would all be in trouble. In the beginning, we came to the Lord with selfish fears and concerns for our future and final destiny. It was all about us! But Jesus is wonderful for, even in the midst of our selfishness, He welcomed us. We were concerned neither for Him nor His glory. Nevertheless, in spite of our selfish approach to Him He saved us. Why? There’s but one answer, GRACE!


Let’s just say that the standard God demanded before we came to Him was that we had a perfect and pure motivation for His glory!  Think about it, if we could have met that standard we would have been sinless, and sinless people have no need of a Saviour! The very thing that qualifies us for the Saviour is the fact that we are 'dyed in the wool' sinners.  Each one of us, individually, has fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 6:23, Romans 4:5).


So let’s say it again, having a heart that exclusively seeks God’s glory does not qualify us for Christ. In fact, we need to be careful not to replace the cross with a passion for His glory. A passion for His glory is an excellent thing, but it not the basis of our approach to God. As we grow in grace, we learn to seek God’s glory in all things (1 Chronicles 16:29; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Psalm 29:2). However, we dare not qualify ourselves to come to Him because we have learned to long for His glory.  Longing for His glory is neither a pre-requisite nor a qualification for coming to Him.


We must free ourselves from the enslaving idea that we come to him with unselfish motives.  Christ receives sinners, not people with good motives. If good motives saved us, who then could or would be saved? And while we are at it, let’s ask ourselves is anything we do, actually pure and free from tainted motives? There are people who will answer “yes” to that question, but they are deceiving themselves!


As we grow in grace, we continue as we began! In other words, we continue to go to Christ Jesus, just as we are, flawed motives and all, (Hebrews 4:16). At His throne, we receive mercy and grace to help in the time of need. We bring nothing to the throne of grace, not even good motives for being there. To qualify ourselves to be there, we don’t  have to tell our High Priest what we desire to be, or what we ought to be, but what we are. We tell Him the honest truth about our condition at this very moment. We confess the impurity of our bad motives; the sin that we feel; the hardness of our hearts and all things contrary to His glory. He wants us to come to Him exactly as we are; He wants us to come knowing that we cannot make ourselves fit to be there. He wants us to know that He alone is our fitness and qualification.


Jesus receives sinners and only sinners! A number of years ago, some children were visiting a church service. The preacher was speaking on Luke 15:2, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” Afterwards, one of the children, an eight year old girl, went up to the pastor and said, “Excuse me, sir, but I didn’t know that my name was in the Bible.” He asked, “What’s your name?”

“Edith, sir.”

 “No,” the kindly preacher smiled, “Edith is not in the Bible.”

“Yes, it is,” she replied. “I heard you say, ‘This man receiveth sinners and Edith with them.”

Bless her! This little girl had misheard the text, but she had applied its truth to her heart. May we also learn to apply the good news of our substitute to ourselves. We need to stop trying to improve in order to get Him to accept us. We need to learn to say “This man (Jesus) receives sinners, and receives me just as I am.”


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


Wednesday Word, February 18, 2015:  A Few Reasons Why I Believe the Bible

 

The Bible is not the book of the year, it is the book of the ages. It has outsold, outlasted and surpassed in reach more than all other books put together. However, not so long ago, personal reading of the Bible was frowned upon in my native Ireland.


In fact, in many countries, the Bible has been burned and banned. Indeed, rather than accept that the Bible is God’s word, many still deny, distort and disregard its gracious truths.   “Oh, we can’t believe the Bible,” some sneeringly say, “Science disproves it.” Well, I’ll be the first to admit that the Bible is not a science textbook.  It isn’t meant to be.  It’s a book that teaches us about God, His character and His redemption through Jesus Christ.  However, when someone says that science disproves the Bible, they are incorrect.  They would be more accurate if they said that some science disagrees with certain parts of the Bible. Disagreement, however, neither proves nor disproves anything.


Given enough time, science will catch up with the truths of the Scriptures. Science, you see, is always changing and developing. For example, it is reported that in 1861, the French Academy of Science printed a brochure giving 51 incontrovertible scientific facts as to why the Bible was in error.  Today, not one scientist believes in any of these so called proofs.


Again, for thousands of years, the science of the day maintained that the earth was flat.  In 1492, as his ears rang loud with warnings that he would fall off the edge of the world, poor old Columbus set sail to discover new lands. But the earth wasn’t flat. The Bible had said this all along. 2,700 years ago the Bible prophet Isaiah stated, “It is He that sits on the circle of the Earth” (Isaiah 40:22). The word “Circle” is literally the word for sphere or globe! So, how did Isaiah know that the earth was a sphere?  That’s simple. God told him (2 Peter 1:21)


God's word is never changing, but science is. For example, we take it for granted that the earth is suspended in space. But science didn’t always believe that. In ancient Egypt, they believed that the earth rested on 5 pillars. The Greeks, in turn, believed that it was supported by a giant named Atlas.  The ancient Hindus believed that the world rested on the backs of giant elephants who in turn rested on a giant turtle who rested on the back of a coiled serpent swimming in a cosmic sea. But we don’t find anything like that in the Bible. What we do find, however, is Job 26:7 which informs us, “He hangs the earth upon nothing!” Wow! How did Job know that? That’s simple. God told him.


Again, consider how in 150 BC, Hipparchus the astronomer charted the heavens and concluded there were 1,022 stars. A few hundred years later, Ptolemy, said that due to scientific advances he could now tell that Hipparchus was incorrect.  There were not 1,022 stars, there were, in fact, 1,026. Then, 1300 years later, along came Galileo with his telescope and reckoned that the stars numbered in their 1000s. Was he correct?  Far from it!  Astronomers now estimate that there are at least 12 octillion stars in the known galaxies.

However, no one needed to calculate the number of the celestial luminaries.  Jeremiah, the Bible prophet, had already let them know. He stated explicitly that the host of heaven (the stars) cannot be numbered (Jeremiah 33:22).  How did he know that?  It’s simple. God told him.


If time and space were to allow, we could discuss another reason why I believe the Bible and that is the reliability of Bible prophesy. It’s fascinating. Names like Josiah, Cyrus and Daniel would be prominent. The precise prophesy concerning the destruction of Babylon would be noted. We could also observe the Bible’s accuracy in foretelling the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus Christ. We could likewise note how the Lord Jesus endorsed the Bible as being God’s book. However, those things must wait for another time.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, February 25, 2015:  Seeing the Blood


The Bible does not teach that a man is saved by the keeping of rules and regulations, but by the shedding of Blood. At the cross, Jesus bought and paid for us with His blood. To the gospel believer, the blood of Christ is, therefore, amazing. May we never cease to be astonished by the knowledge that He who poured out His blood and died on the cross was God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).

 

The blood has been the centre of divine revelation since the beginning. We first see the blood when an innocent animal was killed to clothe our guilty ancestors. We see the blood in Abel’s sacrifice. We see blood on the doorpost on the night of the Passover.  We see blood in the Tabernacle and Temple sacrifices. We see blood in the prophets who foretold that the Messiah would pour out His life (Isaiah 53).

 

When we see the blood it, therefore, means that we believe what the Father tells us about the death of His Son.  Seeing the blood means that we see Christ’s death as our death. Seeing the blood, however, does not mean that we have visions of Christ with blood dripping from His wounded body.  How ghoulish! To the contrary, seeing the blood, means we are satisfied that Christ died for us, personally, as our substitute. When we see the blood, we know that He was wounded for our transgressions.  In fact, when we see the blood, faith makes redemption personal enabling us to say, “He was wounded for MY transgressions, He was bruised for MY iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).

 

This is what is meant by seeing the blood and by seeing it we have victory.

 

In all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the shedding of the blood was the infliction of death. In Genesis 9:4, the life and blood are equated. In Leviticus17:11, the blood made atonement for the soul. This blood shedding or life-taking was the payment for the penalty of sin. We read, "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 sins. He poured out His soul unto death (Isaiah 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 was punished in our stead, that means we cannot now be punished.  God, being just, will not punish Christ first, and then punish us afterwards for the same crimes. Our Saviour 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 yawning wide for us since Christ has paid and suffered for us. Do you believe this?

 

 Right standing before God is now altogether by the blood of Christ and has nothing whatsoever to do with how we behave.  Regardless of the rules for acceptance so often imposed upon us by religious people, we will never be any more righteous than the blood of Christ has made us.”

 

Amazing grace! 'tis heav'n below

To feel the blood applied,

And Jesus, only Jesus know,

My Jesus crucified.

The cleansing stream I see, I see!

I plunge, and oh, it cleanseth me!

Oh! praise the Lord, it cleanseth me,

It cleanseth me, yes, cleanseth me!

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, March 4, 2015: Who Raised Jesus from the Dead?


“Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” John 2:19-22


According to Jesus, He had the actual power needed to raise Himself from the dead. So, let me ask, is this the language of a rational man? Can any mere man raise himself from the dead? By the way, the ability to raise the dead is not in question here for we read of mere men like Paul performing such a miracle. But, have you ever heard of a man who had the power to raise himself from the dead? For a dead man to raise himself would require that he have the very power of God.


However, so certain was Jesus that he could raise Himself from the dead that he made an appointment to see his friends after His resurrection. He said, “But after I am risen again, I will go before you unto Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32). Was Jesus sane when He made these remarks? Indeed, He was and proved Himself so by keeping His word on this matter?  We read that, following the resurrection, the eleven disciples went away into Galilee ---------and when they saw Him they worshipped Him (Matthew 28:16-17).


Do you remember Harry Houdini and his famous seven words? Houdini was a master illusionist and escape artist who thrilled audiences across the world by performing dangerous and daring escapes from seemingly impossible situations.  However, he and his wife were understandably concerned that perhaps, at some time, something would go horribly wrong, and Harry would be killed during a performance. So they made a pact. If Harry was taken by death, he promised his wife that he would, if possible, contact her from beyond the grave. It was further agreed that to ensure it was really him, there would be seven secret words which he would use to identify himself. After his untimely death from peritonitis on Halloween of 1926, his widow, Bess, made endless trips to mediums and attended séances desperately trying to make contact with Harry.  It was all in vain.  Not one apparition or voice ever spoke the seven words and the poor woman went to her grave with this question on her lips, “I wonder if Harry made it?”


Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is the only one who ever made an appointment beyond the grave and kept it! He promised that He would raise himself from the dead and He did.


But wait a minute! Who raised him from the dead? Did Jesus raise Himself from the dead? Surely it was God who raised Him? Paul told us this when he wrote, “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;” (Galatians 1:1).


So who raised Him from the dead? Was it God the Father or did Jesus do it Himself?  But before we answer the question, don’t forget this scripture, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also give life to your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11).


So who raised Jesus from the dead? Did he do it Himself? Was it the Father? Or was it the Holy Spirit?  According to these scriptures, it was the one triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost who raised Jesus from the dead.  There were not three resurrections, rather there was one divine work attributed equally to the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit.  So how can people possibly say that Jesus is not God? In raising Himself from the dead Jesus provides the ultimate proof that He was God manifest in the flesh.  He’s not a fraud; He is God!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, March 11, 2015:  How to Receive the Benefits of the Blood!


I John 1:7 tells us, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." This is good news! The Father, in choosing the cleansing agent for our sins, chose the very best  He had … the blood of His own Son. By that same blood, we have been cleansed from the entire record our sins (Revelation 1:5).


By the blood of Christ, the sin stain has been erased, and its tortured memory destroyed. Thus Hebrews 9:13 promises us, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, …. purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


It is only by the blood of our Lord that the penalty of our sin is removed.  Jesus actually died on the cross, the Just for the unjust that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).  But how do we come into contact with the saving benefits of that cleansing blood? How do we obtain profit from His death? Romans 6:3 tells us how. There we read; "… do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"  When a person is baptized into our Lord's death, it is there that he comes into contact with the benefits and blessings purchased by the blood of Christ.


Now here’s where we need to be careful. Some groups erroneously teach that Water Baptism is the means by which  the benefits of Christ’s death are obtained. Accordingly, it is through baptism, by their church, that they receive forgiveness of sins. They cite the instruction given to Paul in Acts 22:16, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins," They totally ignore, however, that Paul had already, by this stage,

1} Given evidence of his conversion and regeneration by calling Jesus Lord (Acts 22:10). 2} Spent time in prayer (Acts 9:11).

3} Had been filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:17-18).


They claim that, although it is the blood of Christ that washes away sins, the only way to access the effects of the blood is by their baptism. If these scalawags are to be believed, we need to stop singing “There’s Power in the Blood” and start singing “There’s Power in the Tub.” Some of these people say, ‘If you don’t get baptized you’ll go to Hell.’  How interesting! What then about people who get saved in the Sahara or the Antarctic? Houston we have a problem!


So, how then are the benefits of Christ’s death to become ours?  How are we baptized into Christ? The answer is simple, it is by faith alone!  And where do we get this faith?  It is the free and generous gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).


Have you trusted Christ alone to remove your sins? If you have, you are baptized into Christ. If you haven't, then you  are carrying every sin that you have ever committed.  When you die, there’s nothing left for you but the Judgment and the Lake of Fire. You may have been baptized in a church, but if as a lost hell-deserving sinner you have not trusted Christ alone you are not baptized into Christ.


If you have not trusted in Christ alone, then you are still in your sins. The shed blood of Christ is of no benefit to you! Why don’t you, right now, call on the Lord and ask him to save you. Trust Him, right now, and receive Him and His Salvation for yourself.  Our God is wonderfully gracious. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. He will save you to the uttermost.


 And that is the Gospel Truth!



The Wednesday Word, March 18, 2015:  Every Blessing Is in Christ!

 


Every so often I come across excellent illustrations of certain aspects of gospel truth.  The following is one of them.  Some years ago, an extremely wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. Their collection was legendary. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. Tragically, he was mortally wounded in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.


About a month later, just before Christmas, there came a knock on the door. A young man stood there with a large package in his hands.. He said, 'Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.' The young man held out this package. 'I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.'


The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.. 'Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift.'


The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.


On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. 'We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?' There was silence.. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, 'We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.'


But the auctioneer persisted. 'Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?'  Another voice angrily called out, 'We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandts and the Picassos Get on with the real bids!'  But still the auctioneer continued. 'The son! The son! Who'll take the son?' Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the long-time gardener of the man and his son. 'I'll give you $10 for the painting...'  Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.  'We have $10, who will bid $20?' 'Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters.'  The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son.  They wanted the most worthy investments for their collections.  The auctioneer pounded the gavel. 'Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!'  A man sitting on the second row shouted, 'Now let's get on with the

collection!'


The auctioneer laid down his gavel. 'I'm sorry, the auction is over.' 'What about the paintings?'  'I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned.  Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.  The person who took the son gets everything!' This is exactly what has happened to the believer. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ.  Ephesians 1:3 makes this explicit.  It say that f we get the son we get everything.  Here’s what the verse says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

 

When we receive the son we get everything and best of all, we don’t even have to pay $10.  All is given freely, graciously and abundantly.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, April 1, 2015: God Manifest in the Flesh!


1 Timothy 3:16 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, ….”


That God became a man is foundational to the gospel!  It’s without controversy! If God has not manifested Himself in Christ Jesus, then there is no gospel.

This sublime truth was one of the great foundations of the ancient church. Not only did they believe it, they also sang it.  Indeed, the words Paul quotes in this verse are thought by many to be part of one of the ancient songs of the early church.  So convinced was the Early Church that Christ Jesus was God, that they often engraved this truth in stone.  The following is the translation of an ancient inscription about Jesus, found etched in marble in Asia Minor,


“I am what I was -- God

I was not what I am -- man

I am now both -- God and man.”


God was manifest in the flesh in the person of the Lord Jesus! It was not an exalted angel who was manifest, but rather the Almighty God, ruler of heaven and earth.  If we reject this central doctrine of the manifestation of God in Christ, then we exclude ourselves from being followers of Christ!  To be a follower of Christ is to follow the Christ of the Scriptures and the Christ of Scripture is both fully God and fully Man.  He has two natures in one person. If we reject this truth, we might have an exceptionally enjoyable religion and call ourselves Christians, but we don't have Biblical Christianity.  We have, on this subject, redefined the Biblical Christ in terms that suit us. Not a smart idea!


Listen to this scripture again, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." Since repetition is the price of learning, we must stress that this matter of Christ’s deity is, for the follower of Christ, without controversy! It is not a doctrine that disciples of Jesus debate! God was manifest in the flesh. As His followers, there are some fundamental things which we have to get straight … and Christ’s deity is one of them.


Matthew Henry says, ‘He who was manifest in flesh was God, really and truly God, God by nature, and not only so by office, for this makes it to be a mystery. God was manifest in flesh, real flesh. “Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, Hebrews 2:24.”


(Matthew Henry: Commentary on 1 Timothy)


In Christ Jesus, God became a member of the human family. The God who has always been, who has always existed, has now been manifested in Christ Jesus!

As Henry Mahan said, “The Ancient of Days became an infant of days. The Son of the Most-High God became a man of sorrows. He made the World, but as a man, ‘he had no place to lay His head.’ He who made the rivers asked a woman to give Him a drink of water. He who cast out devils was tempted of the devil, and the author of life died and lay in a tomb.”


What immense condescension!  He came to earth, was treated as a felon, and put to death. But there, at the cross, the man who was God, was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), that man Jesus the God/Man, stepped into our shoes and died in our place. On the third day, however, He rose again thus proving that His sacrifice for our sin was sufficient.

He was hated then and hated now. What say you? Do you love Him or hate Him?  If you hate Him, then hate Him with all your might, but if you love Him, pray that you will never be ashamed to declare Him as your God and Saviour.  God will certainly answer that prayer.

 

And that the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, April 16, 2015: What If? Part 1

My Aunt Eileen died just a few days ago.  She was my Father’s younger sister and she will be greatly missed by friends and family.


Death is a sorrowful time for those left behind. However, in spite of the sorrow, for the believer, death and the grave have lost their sting and victory. This is because of the certainty of the Resurrection. What if, however, Jesus has not risen from the grave?


I’ve recently read some Christian writers who explain that, even if they discovered Jesus did not rise from the dead, they would continue to follow Him.  After all, they reason, as they look around at the field of religious Gurus from human history, Jesus is by far the superior one.


Personally, I think that kind of thinking is daft! Indeed, in 1 Corinthians 15:12-21, Paul lets us know just how silly this mentality is. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul gives us several awful things that would be true if Christ had not risen from the grave.


The first of these is that, if Christ is not risen, preaching would be an exercise in futility (verse 14).  I know there are some who would readily endorse that sentiment at the best of times. However, notwithstanding their views on preaching, if there is no Resurrection, the minister is wasting his time being in the pulpit.  If Christ is still in the grave there is no good news. No Gospel. The preacher is just a wind-bag!


Also, according to verse 14, if there is no resurrection, our faith is vain. At the end of the day, why would we put faith in a dead Messiah?  Faith, as you remember, is only as good as its object. Faith itself saves no one. It is Jesus who saves and a dead Jesus is useless in this matter of salvation.  The ghastly truth is that, if Jesus is still in the grave, He can bring no one to heaven. A dead man can do nothing for us!


Now here’s another thing.  If Jesus has not risen from the grave, then the disciples were awful liars (v15-16).  These men went everywhere telling people they had seen the risen Christ.  They had touched and handled Him, they claimed (1John 1:1).  But, if Christ was not raised from the dead then they were perjurers.  Remember this, if Christ was not risen from the dead, the apostles weren’t just mistaken, they were malicious.  They were part of a gargantuan conspiracy to deceive mankind!

So then, were the Apostles liars?  If they were, why did they lie?  ‘Oh’ says someone, ‘just like any of these modern preachers, they lied for gain.’  But what gain did they have?  It certainly was not financial.  And, furthermore, consider how they died.  They all (except for John) died as martyrs.  They were tortured and brutally executed.  There’s no worldly gain in that.


By the way, liars and martyrs are not cut from the same cloth. Only deranged lunatics would embrace martyrdom to further a deliberate lie.


But, if Christ is still in the grave, then indeed, the Apostles were liars, hypocrites and deceivers.  That would follow then that we cannot read the New Testament since it was written by these same frauds.  If Christ is not risen, we, therefore, have no New Testament!


But it gets worse than that; if Christ is yet in the grave, then we have no hope of forgiveness (verse 17).  God cannot overlook sin, He must punish it! God is Holy and His holiness demands the death of the sinner. Either our sin has been punished on Christ at the cross or we will be punished for it in Hell. But, if Christ has not been raised from the grave it means that the Father has not accepted the sacrifice of Calvary. That means we are lost.  It matters not how sincere and earnest we are.  We are yet in our sins. We will perish!


But, here’s the good news. Christ was delivered for our offenses and raised again for (because of) our Justification (Romans 4:25).  He is alive.  His blood has secured us, His sacrifice has been accepted and He is alive forevermore.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


 

The Wednesday Word, April 22, 2015: What If? - Part 2                             

1 Corinthians 15:12-21



Last time we asked the question, “What if Christ had not risen from the dead.”  We discovered that, if Christ were not raised, preaching would be pointless, faith would be useless, the disciples were liars, and we cannot rely on the New Testament.


We also began to consider that if Christ were not raised, we are yet in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). We are not forgiven. We stated that God, in His holiness, cannot sweep sin under the carpet. He must punish sin! He must punish either the sinner or the sinner’s substitute.


However, if Christ is yet in the grave, this means that the Father did not accept the sacrifice of Calvary.  And that means we are yet in our sins! If Christ were not raised from the dead, then the blood saved no one.  If Jesus is still in the grave, we have no forgiveness.


But Christ was raised from the dead. The sacrifice of Calvary was accepted. If there had been anything lacking in Christ’s life or death, the Father would have left Him in the grave.  In other words, the Resurrection is the Father’s “Amen” to the doing and dying of Christ!


But, what if Christ remained in the grave? According to our passage, it’s serious trouble for believers. If Christ is not risen then those who have fallen asleep (died) in Christ have perished (1 Corinthians 15:18).  They are gone, it’s over. Finito!


Furthermore, if Christ is still in the grave, Christianity is a cruel hoax.  We have built our hope on the fact that we serve a living, risen Saviour who is coming back for us … but, He’s not coming back for anyone if He’s still in the grave.  Those who have died as Christians have perished. We have nothing to look forward to.  All we can see is the slow approach of the spindly, icy fingers of death as they prepare to claim us.  If Christ is not risen, we are without hope!


But now is Christ risen.  He’s off the cross, He’s out of the grave and He’s alive forevermore. That’s worth a strong Hallelujah!

Our God came here in Christ, tackled the strong and steely bars of death and won the victory over it. But, if Christ is not risen from the dead, the future is fearful.  We are in misery!   What is your future?  Where are you headed?


Albert Einstein was a very famous scientist.  However, brilliant as he was, the poor man suffered terribly from absent- mindedness. One day as he sat on the train, the conductor approached asking for tickets.  Einstein searched in all his pockets without any success.  He just couldn’t find his ticket.  The kindly conductor said; “It’s all right Professor, I know you well enough to know that you bought a ticket.  Don’t worry about it!”


As the conductor turned and walked away, he looked back and saw the good Professor down on his hands and knees searching under the seat. Once more he said; “It’s all right, Professor, I trust you.  I know you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”  Einstein looked up at the man and said, “I know you know I bought a ticket, but I need to find it because I need to know where I’m going.”

All of us need to know where we are going! We need the assurance that Christ has risen from the grave.  We need the confidence that He has conquered death on our behalf.


Do you have that assurance and confidence?

Someone said it like this; “If Jesus stayed in the grave, then nothing really matters.  But if Jesus rose from the grave then nothing else matters.”

He is alive. Death is dead. Christ has conquered!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


Wednesday Word, April 29, 2015: Holding On to Spikes


“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”

Hebrews 7:25

 

If we are saved by grace through faith, we are safe.  Since Christ alone is our Saviour, we do not look to our good works or fine intentions to supplement what Jesus has done for us in his doing, dying and rising again.  We are safe.  He bought us with blood, His own precious blood and He doesn’t intend losing anyone whom He purchased. Not only so, but at this very moment He is making intercession for us.  I have confidence in Christ and His prayers being heard.  Don’t you?  My question is, are you enjoying the saving power and ability of the Lord Jesus.


Noah is a very striking example of someone who enjoyed the very thing we are talking about. By faith, he prepared an ark to preserve his family.  He built and constructed his big boat even when there seemed to be no evidence of a coming flood. By faith, he obeyed God and entered the ark, with all his household, when commanded by God to do so. Now, get this, all inside the ark were secure until the deluge was over. They were kept by an omnipotent power. The ark bore all the brunt of the storm. This is a picture of how Christ bore the downpour of the wrath of God which should have come straight at us.


One preacher of a past generation said it like this, “The ark was a type of Christ. All who are in Christ are eternally secure. Suppose when the ark was completed God had said, 'Now, Noah, go and get eight large, strong spikes and drive them into the side of the ark.' Imagine Noah procuring these spikes and doing as commanded. Then when each spike was securely fastened, let us presume that God said, 'Come thou and all thy house and take hold of these spikes, and all who hang on the end of the flood will be saved.' How long do you think Noah and the rest would have been secure? I can imagine each one taking hold of a spike – then the waters rising as the rain poured down. In a few minutes, they would have been soaked to the skin. Then think of the terrific strain on joints and muscles as the ark was lifted from the earth and began its perilous voyage through the raging waters.   I think I hear Noah calling to his wife, 'How is it going; is all well?' And she calls back, 'I’m holding on. Do pray for me that I may be able to hold out to the end!' Soon, poor Mrs Noah would cry out, 'It’s no use, can’t hang on any longer.' And she would let go and be swept away by the flood. How long do you suppose it would be before each one of them would be obliged to let go and so go down to death?”


Hallelujah, God be praised, that is not a true picture of His salvation. He is not calling us to hang on the best we can to Christ. No indeed, just as Noah entered into the Ark and found perfect security, so every believer is in Christ and thus saved for eternity. It is not a question of our ability to hang on, but of Christ’s ability to take us safely through to glory.


“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”


And that’s the Gospel Truth


The Wednesday Word,  May 6, 2015:  Counted Dead


“For you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).


Here’s the good news: our salvation rests entirely upon the penal, substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, as our substitute, by Himself and on our behalf, exclusively satisfied the righteous demands of divine holiness and justice.


In the Old Testament, when the priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the worshipper (Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:19), that person was counted or reckoned as being dead! Being dead, it was further reckoned that he had, therefore, paid the penalty of the broken law. The worshipper was counted as having died in the person of his substitute. As long as the worshipper had not paid the death penalty, he was counted as unfit for God. However, as soon as he had paid the death penalty, through the death of his substitute, he was reckoned as now being unsoiled and fit for the Lord’s service.


For peace of conscience, we really need to grasp the great gospel truth of Christ our Substitute.


During the American Civil War, Union Army recruiters arrived at a certain home demanding that the man of the house join the army immediately.  The man replied that he could not do so because he had already been killed in action two years ago.  As it turned out, a neighbour had signed a ‘Substitute Volunteer’ paper and had had gone to war in this man’s place. It was all done legally and since the substitute had died, the man the army had wanted to recruit was now reckoned as having already been killed in action. He, therefore, did not have to go to war as he had already been there and had died in the person of his substitute.


Because of the work of the Lord Jesus, our substitute, we are now reckoned as having already been punished for our sins (Isaiah 53:5).  Yes, I know we weren’t physically punished at the cross, but legally we were (Romans 4:25).  When Christ hung upon the cross, we legally hung there with him.  His death was our death; His punishment was our punishment. We are now cleansed by His blood---- which is another way of saying that we have been made partakers of the death of Christ.  The blood of Christ cleanses us by totally identifying us with the death of our Substitute.


We were once covered with guilt and under sentence of death, but our substitute, the Lord Jesus shed His blood (Matthew 26:28). In God’s eyes, that blood represents both his death and ours. He died as our substitute. The blood is shed for us, and in that way death, which is the law's penalty, is reckoned legally to us. Legally we have died. We have been crucified with Christ and have undergone the death sentence; as a result, our guilt has passed away. We are cleansed!  The fires of Hell have been doused for us with the blood of Jesus. This is good news we can live in!


Furthermore, our sin is taken away and Christ’s own righteousness is reckoned to us in its place (Philippians 3:9). This is how the believer makes use of the blood of Christ. Faith simply embraces and enjoys what the blood has already accomplished.

At the cross, Jesus was treated as having our sin.  He was reckoned as the greatest sinner and rebel who had ever existed. All our sins were put on Him.


We know this, but have we ever paused to think about what it means? It means that our blasphemies and adulteries were reckoned as His. He took responsibility for all our lying, thieving, fornications and murders. This was awful for Him but wonderful for us.  Martin Luther grasped this truth and wrote to a friend saying, "Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, 'Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin.”


Spurgeon said it like this;  “The man, Christ Jesus, is exalted at the right hand of the majesty on high; and we, His elect, are in Him, crucified with Him, risen with Him." (Ephesians 2:6)


We were:

One, when He died;

One, when He rose;

One, when He triumphed over His foes;

One, when in heaven He took His seat

And angels sang of hell's defeat.


And that is the Gospel Truth!


Wednesday Word, May 8, 2015:  Butter, Water and Sovereign Grace

 

What does Sovereign Grace mean? Sovereign Grace is the combination of two of God’s attributes, Sovereignty and Graciousness.

 

When we say that God is sovereign, we mean that He has total and entire control of all things past, present and future.  When we say He has total and entire control, we mean that He is the absolute King. When we say He is the absolute King, we mean that He is in charge. Sovereignty means that no one elected Him to office; that means, no one voted Him in and no one can vote Him out. No one can stop His purposes or forbid Him from acting.  He is the absolute and omnipotent ruler of the universe.

 

Sovereignty means that all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, ‘What are you doing?’ (Daniel 4:35).

 

But God is not only Sovereign,  He is also gracious. When we say that God is gracious, we mean that He gives His favour to those who deserve the exact opposite. Mary found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Luke 1:28). This means that she was chosen to have the undeserved privilege of bearing the Lord. She may indeed have been a godly young woman, but by her own admission, she needed a saviour (Luke 1:47).  Only sinners need saviours! She was, therefore, the recipient of God’s grace. As believers, we too are the beneficiaries of God’s grace. The Scriptures boldly declare, “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).

 

He gives his grace to those whom he wishes to give His grace.  Grace is not given to any who deserve grace…if that were the case then salvation wouldn’t be by grace. But when God acts, he does so in His almighty sovereignty. As He saves sinners, he does so by sovereign grace. Here’s something we all must learn, all grace is sovereign.  If grace is not sovereign then it is not grace.

 

John 1:17 tells us that "Grace and truth came by Christ Jesus." No permission was sought by the Father to send grace in the person of Christ Jesus. Furthermore, no permission is sought by the Lord to save anyone for we read in Acts 15:11, "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.”

 

Sovereignty and grace go together; one is implied in the other.  It’s like butter. My good friend, Mark Webb, drew my attention to the fact that, in the States, there is a company that advertises Country Butter.  But, he pointed out, there’s no need to say ‘country’ butter since all butter is from the country.

 

Mark is right!  I’ve not yet eaten City Butter. Indeed, in the USA, I’ve not encountered dairy farms or herds of milk cows in the midst of an urban setting.  All butter is county butter and all grace is sovereign.

 

Likewise with water, water is wet. If we are in a restaurant and ask for a glass of water, we have no need to ask the server if the water is wet.  All water is wet.  I have never yet had a glass of dry water.  Likewise, all grace is sovereign.  If it’s not sovereign, it’s not grace. Butter is country, water is wet and grace is sovereign.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, May 21, 2015:  A Good Question and a Great Answer

 

“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, why do you call me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.  You know the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, all these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, yet you lack one thing: sell all that you have, and distribute unto the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (Luke 18:18-23)


Let’s summarise this story. A wealthy ruler approached Christ, calling Him ‘Good Master’ asking what He could do to gain eternal life. That’s a good query!


Not all enquiries are as sensible as that one. We are all guilty of asking stupid questions from time to time.  However, the man in our scripture passage asked a good question. It wasn’t a misspoken one. There was no lack of seeming sincerity in it.  But Jesus, strange to say, immediately asked Him, in a very pointed manner, why he called Him good, being that there is but one alone who is good and that is God!

The opponents of the grand truth of the Deity of Christ seize on this passage and say; “These verses demonstrate clearly, that Jesus is not God. In fact,” they say, “Here, He actually denied that He was God in human flesh appearing.”


Wrong! Jesus denied nothing of the sort!  He merely asked, why the man had called Him good for there was none good but God.  What Jesus was saying was, “You don’t believe that I’m God so why are you calling me good?”  This young man had made a confession of faith that he did not actually believe. He had addressed Jesus as God and had asked him a question about eternal life, a question which God alone was uniquely qualified to answer.


When Jesus asked the young ruler why he had called him good, He was speaking to the man’s conscience and probing, as it were, to get him to face his lack of sincerity.  This gentleman had inadvertently confessed that Jesus was God.  Jesus, as the master soul-winner, then challenged him as to what he really believed.


If he were to follow through on what Jesus was about to tell him to do, he really would need to have confidence that Christ was God. And what was he asked to do?  He was told to sell all and distribute everything to the poor and come and follow Jesus.  To do such a thing, this man would need to have a deep conviction that Jesus was indeed God.

 

Of course, this exposed the man as being covetous and not the Law keeper he had boasted of being.  He was also looking for something to do to gain a place in Heaven. But that’s another story.

In conclusion, here, we once more observe the radical nature of Christ’s teachings. A good man does not tell someone that they have to sell all and come follow him!  It is entirely fitting and legitimate, however, for God to ask or even demand such a thing, but for a mere man, to ask such a thing would be evil. So again Jesus defies this silly nonsense of being classified as a good moral teacher, but not God!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


This has been taken from Chapter 6 of my upcoming book,

‘Jesus is God: (He always was and always will be.) Part 2’


The Wednesday Word, June 3, 2015: The Gospel Truth about Grace Robbers! Part 1

 

Many years ago, I lived in a large, old country house in County Wexford, Ireland.  There was a legend attached to the house that told of how one of the previous owners had died and had been buried with some of her jewelry.  Later that night, grave robbers broke into the crypt in search of her very prized ring. However, owing to the ring being so tightly attached to her person, the robbers had to resort to cutting off her finger (ring and all).  According to the story, such was the violence of the act that the lady resuscitated. She screamed, the robbers screamed and scattered and the woman was able to slowly walk home to where her grieving family had gathered.


I don’t know whether or not the story is factual, but people in the locality were convinced that it was true.

 

One thing I do know, however, is that when I’m gone, no one will have to rob my grave.  There’ll be nothing of value in there. So, I’m not concerned about grave robbers. However, what concerns me is not future grave robbers but present day Grace Robbers.


Grace is more valuable than anything else. Ever since the gospel was first preached, however, there have been a wretched class of people whom we call grace robbers. Among other things, they teach that to find and keep acceptance before God, we must do certain things.


In the early church, these grace robbers preached that, to be accepted by God, non-Jewish Christians had to live under the rules of the Old Covenant. They were referred to as Judaizers. They are still among us. Of course, they don’t say the same words that the old time Judaizers said, but, nonetheless, they are grace robbers all the same. They tell us that there is something that we must do to be saved.


By way of illustration, let me introduce you to two Doctors who both claim to have the ability to bring us spiritual health.  One is Called Dr. Law and the other, Dr. Grace. Each has a different theory as to how to get us well. Take Dr. Law for example. Some patients asked him about salvation. Dr. Law glared and said, “God does His part and you do yours!” That sounded sensible, but those who followed his prescription were always left in doubt as to whether or not they had done enough on their part.  So the patients then went to Dr. Grace and Dr. Grace said, “You can’t do and don’t do anything to gain salvation.”


Back they then go to Dr. Law. When he hears about Dr. Grace’s diagnosis, Dr. Law stiffened and glares at them. Quick as a flash he says, “In Acts 16:31 the Philippian Jailer asked, ‘What must I DO to be saved?’  Paul’s answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!’ So there you are sirs,” says Dr. Law, “it’s as plain as the noses on your collective faces. The scripture tells you to do something…it tells you to believe. Believing is doing.”


So they go back to Dr. Grace and he smiles and calmly says, “Believing is not doing: Believing is simply trusting and resting. There is no effort on your part and there can be none because God has already accomplished salvation! When you believe, you are merely receiving that which has already been done for you. There’s no work required on your part.”


They then go back to Dr. Law and he declares, “What nonsense is this? It stands to reason that man must do something to close the gap between himself and God. Don’t listen to that Grace fellow.  He’ll tell you that Salvation is spelled with five letters J-E-S-U-S.”


The distraught listeners go back to Dr. Grace and report on what Dr. Law has said.  Dr. Grace smiles and says, “Yes indeed, Jesus is the summation of salvation. Furthermore, there are basically two ways to spell salvation: The first one, is D-O. That’s the way Dr. Law spells it. His followers believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins, but they still think there is something for them to DO to be saved. They feel they must add, some form of sincere good works to the equation. This is the very opposite of Salvation by Grace!”

 

Then Dr. Grace continues, “The other way to spell salvation is:

D-O-N-E.   Jesus has completed the work of salvation. It is Finished. Rest in Him and His accomplishments.”

 

This satisfies the patients.  Thereafter they rest in the accomplishments of their saviour.  Dr. Law still tries to influence them, but because of Dr Grace, he does not succeed.

 

For the sake of discussion, if you think that God has already done 99.9% of what’s necessary for you to be saved and now it’s up to you to do the remaining 0.1%, you still don’t understand grace. You are a legalist!  If you tell your scheme to others and they believe you, you are a grace-robber.


As S. L. Johnson said, “Bible Christianity is unique. It is the only system of truth in which it is plainly stated that the work of redemption is already accomplished!” (S. L. Johnson: Union with Christ)

He was right. Every other system of religion is a scheme by which we try to get right with God through the things we do. But Bible Christianity is distinctive. The Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished the saving work, outside of and apart from us. It is finished!


And that’s the Gospel Truth


The Wednesday Word, June 10, 2015: Grace Robbers Part 2


Grace Robbers are very subtle.  They don’t go around chanting, “Down with the cross, down with the cross.”  However, when it comes to preaching, they emphasise, not Christ crucified, but feelings and experience.  Grace robbers will major on anything and everything but the grace of God in the gospel.


By the way, it’s not that it’s wrong to feel the presence of the Lord and to enjoy Him. God forbid that we should have a cold, dry, bare faith that does not affect the entire being.  However, vast numbers of professing Christians are continually lusting after the excitement of a new experience. The gospel is not enough. They want ‘The Release of the River of Life’, or the ‘Soaking of the Spirit’. They wish for something other than the gospel.


They fail to see the glory of Christ in the good news.  They desire a richer experience than they feel is afforded to them by the gospel. They seem unimpressed that Christ has, by His doing, dying and rising again, gained a glorious inheritance for us.  They do not stand in awe and wonder of His present day sovereign intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). It seems a matter of nothing to them to know that we have already received the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15). They appear to be unaware that we are already in Christ and are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him (Ephesians 1:3). The Father Himself, as He beholds us in Christ, speaks well of us, but this does not seem to move them. In the search for a deeper spirituality, many have turned their eyes inward. To their detriment, the object of their attention becomes themselves and not the risen, exalted Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Colossians 3:2).


Here’s the kind of thing that happens when the believer’s focus is taken off Christ. Let’s say someone feels they have had a great, new, spiritual experience. They then insist that everyone must have the same experience they have had. It must be duplicated among all and sundry!


But, this is just another form of anti-gospel, grace robbing legalism! This new supposed blessing now put itself in competition against the blessings we already have in Christ alone.  Furthermore, this is not the New Testament, apostolic pattern. We read, for example, in 2 Corinthians 12:2 of how Paul visited the third heaven.  Yet nowhere does the apostle promote that all of us need to have ‘The Third Heaven Experience’ to complete our Christianity. In fact, it’s quite the opposite for he tells us that we are already complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). In addition, Peter was praying and had a vision of a sheet descending from heaven and God spoke to him (Acts 11:5ff).  This was doubtless a time of intense spiritual intimacy for him, but at no point did he ever call for people to come and be blessed with the Joppa Experience.


I remember, some years ago, being pressured by well-meaning people to go to Toronto, Canada, for there was a supposed blessing to be had at a church there. If you were without the ‘Toronto Blessing’, my friends inferred, you lacked spiritual insight and sensitivity.  I don’t know how the leaders of this blessing felt, but many of the followers (of the blessing) implied that they were the ‘haves’ and we others, who had not received this blessing, were the ‘have nots’. We were the second-class citizens of the Kingdom, they the first-class. They were the grade A Christians…the rest of us were merely grade B.


But, this kind of thinking is grace robbing legalism. Why so? Because, in their eyes, they had not already been made Grade A Christians by Christ alone.  They were made grade A Christians by having had the Toronto Blessing. They held that we needed the blood plus a second blessing to get a first class ticket to heaven.  This is Legalism…impure, anti-gospel, grace robbing legalism!


Here’s the Gospel Truth, because of the Finished Work, each child of God is already a ‘Grade A’ Christian. The cross has made every believer first class and entirely accepted.  In Christ, we are already enjoying, the non-improvable, full smile of Heaven.


So beware of Grace Robbers.  They will teach that if you are truly in tune with God, your experience will mirror theirs. They have had an experience and are, in their opinion, better off and more spiritual than are you. However, if you buy into this nonsense, you have fallen for the teaching of another grace robber.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, June 17, 2015: Grace Robbers Part 3

 

Grace Robbers are very subtle.  They don’t go around chanting, “Down with the cross, down with the cross.”  However, when it comes to preaching, they emphasise, not Christ crucified, but feelings and experience.  Grace robbers will major on anything and everything but the grace of God in the gospel.


By the way, it’s not that it’s wrong to feel the presence of the Lord and to enjoy Him. God forbid that we should have a cold, dry, bare faith that does not affect the entire being.  However, vast numbers of professing Christians are continually lusting after the excitement of a new experience. The gospel is not enough. They want ‘The Release of the River of Life’, or the ‘Soaking of the Spirit’. They wish for something other than the gospel.


They fail to see the glory of Christ in the good news.  They desire a richer experience than they feel is afforded to them by the gospel. They seem unimpressed that Christ has, by His doing, dying and rising again, gained a glorious inheritance for us.  They do not stand in awe and wonder of His present day sovereign intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). It seems a matter of nothing to them to know that we have already received the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15). They appear to be unaware that we are already in Christ and are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him (Ephesians 1:3). The Father Himself, as He beholds us in Christ, speaks well of us, but this does not seem to move them. In the search for a deeper spirituality, many have turned their eyes inward. To their detriment, the object of their attention becomes themselves and not the risen, exalted Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Colossians 3:2).


Here’s the kind of thing that happens when the believer’s focus is taken off Christ. Let’s say someone feels they have had a great, new, spiritual experience. They then insist that everyone must have the same experience they have had. It must be duplicated among all and sundry!


But, this is just another form of anti-gospel, grace robbing legalism! This new supposed blessing now put itself in competition against the blessings we already have in Christ alone.  Furthermore, this is not the New Testament, apostolic pattern. We read, for example, in 2 Corinthians 12:2 of how Paul visited the third heaven.  Yet nowhere does the apostle promote that all of us need to have ‘The Third Heaven Experience’ to complete our Christianity. In fact, it’s quite the opposite for he tells us that we are already complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). In addition, Peter was praying and had a vision of a sheet descending from heaven and God spoke to him (Acts 11:5ff).  This was doubtless a time of intense spiritual intimacy for him, but at no point did he ever call for people to come and be blessed with the Joppa Experience.


I remember, some years ago, being pressured by well-meaning people to go to Toronto, Canada, for there was a supposed blessing to be had at a church there. If you were without the ‘Toronto Blessing’, my friends inferred, you lacked spiritual insight and sensitivity.  I don’t know how the leaders of this blessing felt, but many of the followers (of the blessing) implied that they were the ‘haves’ and we others, who had not received this blessing, were the ‘have nots’. We were the second-class citizens of the Kingdom, they the first-class. They were the grade A Christians…the rest of us were merely grade B.


But, this kind of thinking is grace robbing legalism. Why so? Because, in their eyes, they had not already been made Grade A Christians by Christ alone.  They were made grade A Christians by having had the Toronto Blessing. They held that we needed the blood plus a second blessing to get a first class ticket to heaven.  This is Legalism…impure, anti-gospel, grace robbing legalism!


Here’s the Gospel Truth, because of the Finished Work, each child of God is already a ‘Grade A’ Christian. The cross has made every believer first class and entirely accepted.  In Christ, we are already enjoying, the non-improvable, full smile of Heaven.


So beware of Grace Robbers.  They will teach that if you are truly in tune with God, your experience will mirror theirs. They have had an experience and are, in their opinion, better off and more spiritual than are you. However, if you buy into this nonsense, you have fallen for the teaching of another grace robber.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, June 24, 2015: Abounding Grace - Part 1


Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.


Here are some descriptions of grace:


It’s Amazing!  Matchless and Marvellous!


One of our old hymns says it like this,


Marvellous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.


According to Romans 5:20, Grace is also abounding!

Listen to our verse again.


Romans 5:20: ‘Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:’


There are two words for ‘abound’ found in this verse. They each have a different meaning. ‘Sin abounded’, (Gk ‘pleonazo’), ’But grace did much more abound,’ (Gk, ‘huperperisseuo’)! The sentence means something like this, ‘Where sin abounded, grace super-abounded’ or ‘Where sin overflowed, Grace flooded in!!!’


We might have expected to read that where sin abounded God's anger and judgment abounded more.  But sin can construct no dam which can keep us from the heaven-sent, abounding flood of grace that is ours in Christ Jesus.


One of the wonderful things about God’s grace is that it abounds to us for the past, present and future! Often when we think about grace we limit it to the past. We think about how we were saved (past tense) by grace. Ephesians 2:4-5, for example, highlights past grace; “God who is rich in mercy,made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”


How beautifully undeserved is this grace. We don’t earn it or work for it, grace is God’s gift. He has saved us and called us—not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9). No wonder then that grace is Past, Present and Future!


Grace didn’t just begin on the cross. Notice when this grace was first given? It was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9).


That’s abounding grace!


Praise God for His past grace! But, grace is not only for the past it is also for the present. God’s grace doesn’t end when we begin our Christian walk.


There is present grace. His grace impacts our lives right this moment. If we are saved, it’s because God’s grace is continuing to save us at this very moment.


The Bible says that; “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:1-2).


We are standing in grace! Our feet are firmly fixed in grace! Abounding Grace has placed us as acquitted before the throne of God and risen in Christ forever beyond the reach of judgment.


God’s abounding, present grace is operating right now, it is surrounding us at this very second. In fact, the only person who doesn’t need God’s continuing grace is the person who never sins.  And we all sin! So why doesn’t God just strike us down?….the answer is GRACE, abounding grace.


Look at what happened here in Ireland. The Irish nation, in its folly, became the first nation in the world to vote in, by referendum, the legality of same-sex marriage. In the wake of the vote, members of the LBGT coalition were quick to trumpet that a double rainbow appeared over Dublin immediately after the success of the Yes vote was announced. They said it was a sign of God’s approval of the subject of their campaign (see HERE).


But here’s a reality check! Rainbows have nothing to do with same-sex marriage! The rainbow is God’s covenant promise that he will not destroy the earth again through literal floods of judgment (Genesis 9:11-17). The rainbow is a symbol of GRACE, not a demonstration of divine approval of same-sex marriage.


We are praying that the nation of Ireland will receive grace and not judgment for their defiance of God. And remember this, God gave a double rainbow on the day of the catastrophic result. Could that be prophetic? Prophetic of abounding grace? Perhaps it means that God will indeed visit us in Ireland with the converting power of His gospel? For, where sin abounds, grace super-abounds. Where sin overflows, grace floods in!


Grant it Lord, grant it!  Abound in your grace!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, July 1, 2015: Abounding Grace - Part 2


Believers have received past grace. We live in present grace and will receive future grace. Grace truly is abounding. However, there’s a bad teaching going around that says; “Because of grace, I must do everything I can to pay God back.” Girrrh! That’s so wrong!  When we receive a gift, we do not expect to be charged for it.  It is a gift.  Do we now believe that God gives us His grace, but now He must be repaid? This kind of thinking militates against the gospel. Grace does not plunge us into debt.  It liberates us!


The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Just as there’s nothing we can do to earn the gift, there’s nothing we can do to repay it. A gift is a gift is a gift!


There’s a designated word for trying to pay back God for His gift; it’s called legalism.

 Where did we get this faulty idea that we must repay God? Perhaps, it sometimes comes from faulty choruses and hymns. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love the old hymns. But when we talk about the “great old hymns” some of them were not so great. Consider, for example, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I love that Hymn, but we don’t sing it in our meetings for two reasons. First of all it talks about ‘raising our Ebenezer’….I got tired of having to explain what that meant.  The second and more serious reason is that one of the verses says “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.”

But wait a minute! A debtor is someone who owes someone and is obligated to pay them back. Do you ever feel constrained to pay God back for His grace? If you do, you have been plundered by anothergrace robber! We are not debtors to grace.


Why does God give us grace? The simple answer is, He gives it because He wants to give it (Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9).


Dr David Dykes of Tyler, Texas, in his series on Colossians, tells a famous story which comes from the book, ‘To End all Wars,’ by Ernest Gordon. He tells about a group of Allied POWs in World War II who were being forced by the Japanese to build the Burma Railway. The day’s work had ended; the tools were being counted, as usual. As the party was about to be dismissed, the Japanese guard shouted that a shovel was missing. He insisted that someone had stolen it to sell to the Thais. Striding up and down before the men, he ranted and denounced them for their wickedness, and most unforgivable of all their ingratitude to the Emperor. As he raved, he worked himself up into a paranoid fury. Screaming in broken English, he demanded that the guilty one step forward to take his punishment. No one moved; the guard’srage reached new heights of violence. “All die! All die!” he shrieked. To show that he meant what he said, he cocked his rifle, put it to his shoulder and looked down the sights, ready to fire a the first man in the line. At that moment the Argyll (Highlander) stepped forward, stood stiffly to attention, and said calmly, “I did it.” The guard unleashed all this whipped-up hate; he kicked the helpless prisoner and beat him with his fists. Still the Argyll stood rigidly at attention, with the blood streaming down his face. His silence goaded the guard to an excessive rage. Seizing his rifle by the barrel, he lifted it high over his head and with a final howl, brought it down on the skull of the Argyll, who sank limply to the ground and did not move. Although it was perfectly clear he was dead, the guard continued to beat him and stopped only when exhausted. The men of the detail picked up their comrade’s body, shouldered their tools and marched back to camp. When the tools were counted again at the guard house, no shovel was missing. This brave soldier had obviously given his life for his friends. He took a punishment he didn’t deserve so that his fellow soldiers could live.


Let’s never forget that Jesus went to the cross and was punished so that we wouldn’t be. That’s grace! However, He doesn’t ask us to do anything to repay His grace…that’s grace abounding.


So I’ll say it again, God doesn’t say to us, I’ll give you my grace, but in return you have to do something for me.” God gives us His grace because He freely wants to.  It is unearned on our part. Otherwise, it would not be grace. Do we now do something back for God?  Yes indeed, we will be His thankful followers, friends and fellow workers….not because we are in debt to Him but because he has removed our debt by His Abounding Grace.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, July 8, 2015: Abounding Grace - Part 3


Grace is threefold: It is for the past, present and future. We see this threefold grace demonstrating itself in the Incarnation ... one of the supremely important truths of the gospel. At the Incarnation, God became a man and was thus able, as a man, to die. The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way,

 

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; (Hebrews 2:14).

 

In other words, the death of the cross could not have happened if Jesus Christ had not assumed human nature. That’s grace for the past!


But in the Incarnation, we are also instructed about grace for the present. At this very moment, we have a great, merciful and faithful high priest in Heaven. He is one of us. He is appearing even now for us before the presence of God.  As He appears, He continually supplies His perfection to our constant imperfection. That’s grace for the present!


Listen to these grace-filled words:


“We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (our weaknesses) but (one who) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).


 The man who isGod, is the God who became man.  His incarnation not only gives us grace for the past and present but also pledges us grace for the future. He is coming back for us as the reigning rightful King of the Earth and the cosmos.


In 1 Timothy 1:1, we discover that Christ Himself is our future hope. We read, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.” Grace is abounding towards us.  Consider this scripture; “Of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace” John 1:16.


In Christ, grace is replaced by even more grace. That’s the heritage of every believer.  But, what do we do when the grace runs out?  The answer is nothing.  Why?  Because grace never runs out!  In this New Covenant, we have grace following grace, following grace, following grace.  It’s like standing on the seashore and watching wave after wave coming in one after the other.  When one wave crashes, another is on the way.  We don’t make this happen, we are not called upon to contribute anything to the scene.  So it is with grace.  It is never ending in its supply to us.


Colossians 2:9 says, “In him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Fullness is the Greek word ‘Pleroma’ which means, among other things, ‘complete totality.’ It is stunning to grasp that the complete totality of the Godhead dwells bodily in the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare this with what is taught in John 1:16; “For of his fullness (Pleroma) have all we received.” This means that we, therefore, have limitless resources in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Christ, grace is abounding to us.


Celsus, a Greek philosopher of the 2nd century, used to jeer at Christ.  He didn’t deny Christ’s historical existence but, rather, said that Jesus was both illegitimate and a sorcerer. According to Celsus, every reputable teacher typically attracted the noble and wise people of his day, but Jesus attracted the down and outs and the scum of society.


Yes, that part is correct. Thank God it’s true. Christ Jesus demonstrates His grace by the kind of people he chooses. But, although we are morally down and out, He does not leave us like that. He clothes us with His righteousness. He saves us by grace and makes us Heavenly royalty. When He returns, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. That’s grace!  Salvation is all of grace! Abounding Grace.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


TheWednesday Word, August 12,2015: Jesus and the Great Commandment



One of the primary reasons Christ came was to magnify and honour the Law of God.  He loved God’s Law with a passion and upheld it at every turnaround. When asked about the greatest commandment, He affirmed that it was to love God with all the heart and mind (Matthew 22:36-39; Luke 10:26-28). According to Jesus, God was to have first place in our affections and loyalty. Accordingly, there could be no competition, no challengers and no rivals when it came to following and loving God.But then, Jesus loses the plot … or does He? He begins to teach that we should follow Him with the same kind of loyalty we ought to give to God. Listen to Him and consider if these are the words of a person who was merely a good teacher.


He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).


 “Whosoever of you that forsakes not all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).


According to Jesus, if we love our families more than we love Him we are not worthy of Him. Furthermore, if anything claims our affection and keeps us from following Him, we are not qualified to become His disciples.

This is strange, for remember it was prophesied in Isaiah 42:21 that Christ would magnify God’s Law and make it honourable.  It sounds like Jesus is doing the opposite. It seems that He’s setting himself up as a rival to God for He’s demanding the first place in the lives of his listeners. A morally upright man wouldn’t do this. He would encourage people to love and follow God first and foremost! Jesus, however, by demanding His brand of loyalty, is blocking the way for people to obey the great commandment.  He’s challenging, for Himself, to have the same kind of loyalty and love that only God should have.


Then He has the audacity to say,


“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).


But what about God’s commandment to love Him with all? Christ is now commanding that we keep His law as a sign of love. This surely is strange! After all, Christ said,


“Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets; I have come not to destroy (them) but to fulfil (them) (Matthew 5:17).


How can Christ claim that He is there to fulfil God’s Law, and yet, at the same time, show such apparent disregard for it? If He loved the Law, then he would desire to establish it and not take people away from it!

 Furthermore, He says,


“He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father (John 14:22).


What? Can this be right?  We know that Jesus believed that the great commandment was to ‘love God with all’, but now He says that we should love Him above all else. But we can’t do both.  Jesus, by this teaching, has placed us in an impossible position. Is Jesus teaching us to have a divided loyalty?

 

Not at all!  God, according to Jesus, approves of this double- mindedness, for, He says, if we love Him, the Father will love us (John 14:21)!  Has the Father changed? Is the great commandment, ‘Love God with all’ still in force? It certainly looks as if Jesus has overthrown it and usurped the position that God should hold.  Can these be the actions of a godly, religious teacher?  Could a good moral man set himself up to rival God for the love He receives from mankind? Of course not! Any mere man who taught like that should be rejected and denounced as an evil worker.


So, was Jesus a wicked worker? The only conclusion is that ---yes indeed He was … that is, if he wasn’t and isn’t God. But rather than show He was evil, these passages actually demonstrate that He was God in human flesh. We should love God with all and that’s why it’s perfectly okay to love Jesus with everything.  Our entire loyalty belongs to God so it’s perfectly fine to be entirely loyal to Jesus.  We are to have no other Gods before Yahweh, so when we put Christ Jesus first, we are on safe ground for He is Yahweh in human flesh appearing!

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, August 19, 2015:  Paul and the Great Commandment


 

“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha"  

(1 Corinthians 16:22).

 

Paul is stating that those who do not love the Lord Jesus are devoted to their own destruction. What an extraordinary thing for the great apostle to say if, that is, Jesus is not God. For Paul, Christ was everything. He was his Saviour, Master, Lord, Life and Hope. Jesus was the very centre of his thoughts! But, we must face it, this command to love Jesus, is a violation of the First Commandment if Christ is not God!

 

Remember Paul’s history! No man had ever despised the name of Jesus more intensely; no one had ever devoted himself so passionately to the extermination of that lovely name. But from the moment of Paul’s salvation, the Lord Jesus had become his all-in-all.

 

Consider how Paul is very sweeping in this warning, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.'' …  “If any man!"  That means not one of us is exempt! As you remember, "Anathema" means “accursed."  The Bible is, therefore, very plain on this matter: it curses anyone who does not love the Lord Jesus! This is strong language and we should pause a little to consider it’s teaching.

 

In Paul’s divinely enlightened understanding, to not love the Lord Jesus was to not love God.  Indeed, this scripture makes it impossible for us to say we love God, but Jesus, we’re not so sure about! If we say this sort of thing, we have invented a God of our own making and are, therefore, guilty of idolatry.

 

God’s self-revelation is in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He refuses to be accessed any other way because there is no other way (John 14:6)! In the heart of the Almighty, from all eternity, was the crucified Lamb who would mediate God to men.

 

Meanwhile, let’s consider the other side of the coin. If Jesus is not God and we love Him above all, we again make ourselves violators of the First Commandment. It’s that simple. As we take a hard look at it, we realize that the only way this scripture is prevented from contradicting the rest of the Bible is to embrace the truth that Jesus is actually God. If He is not God, then it is entirely incorrect to love Him in the way the Scriptures instruct us to do! Moreover, if Jesus is not God, then the Bible, by telling us to love Jesus, actually puts us, and Christ, into direct conflict with the One true and living God!

 

In conclusion, one more thing needs to be noted.  If Christ Jesus is not God in human flesh then his death and sufferings were the best thing that could have ever happened to Him. He got what He deserved!

 

He was brought before the court of the Sanhedrin, charged with blasphemy, and it was upon that charge they condemned him to die.  No lawyer could have successfully defended Him. The evidence against Him was damning and daunting. He had made himself equal with God, not once, not twice but continually throughout His ministry. If Christ Jesus was not God, His condemnation for blasphemy was, therefore, well deserved and just. In fact, not only was His crucifixion justly deserved, it was an act of righteousness on the part of Chiapas and the rest of Christ’s enemies.

 

However, as Spurgeon says;

 

“It is his being truly God that frees him from the charge of blasphemy; it is the fact that he is God, and that his Godhead is not to be denied, that makes his death an unrighteous decision at the hand of apostate man, and renders it, an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of all the people whom he redeemed with his precious blood. But if he was not God, I do repeat, that there is no reason whatever, why we should have had a New Testament written; for there would be then nothing in the sublime central-fact of that New Testament but the righteous execution of one, who certainly deserved to die.”

CHS: Sermon # 258: His Name the Mighty God

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, Aug. 26, 2015: 12 Marks of the Grace Believer!


1. Grace Believers trust that they are saved entirely and utterly by someone else, the Lord Jesus Christ. They believe that their sole qualification for salvation is found, not in their worthiness, but in their unworthiness. The Grace Believer sees Christ as his complete acceptance before God (Philippians 3:4-9). The Grace Believer holds that Christ alone is his saviour. He believes, like the faithful of other generations that,“There is no Priest but Christ, no Sacrifice but Calvary, no Confessional but the Throne of Grace and no Authority but the Word of God.”


2. Grace Believers understand, along with the greats of the past, that to know Christ and Him crucified is not the minimum of spiritual knowledge but the maximum. The Grace believer knows that all doctrines find their hub in Christ Crucified. All doctrines indeed lead to and from the Christ of the cross. All teaching, responsibilities, and Christian activities find their centre in Christ Crucified. In Christ alone, the Grace Believer discovers the treasures of wisdom, knowledge and spiritual understanding (Isaiah 45:3; Colossians 2:3).

3. Grace Believers, as they grow in grace, rather than become self-satisfied and hard spirited, continue to develop in their understanding of their lack of worth. As the gospel-hammer  breaks them, they increase in the comprehension that they receive favour, not because of themselves, but because of being in Christ!  They understand that Christ’s worthiness is the source of all their blessings (1 Corinthians 4:7).

 

4. Grace Believers know that they have the full favour of God, not because of any works they have done or are doing. They have the full favour of God because of Christ alone. By faith, they grasp that the Father is well pleased with them and indeed rejoices over them.  (Zephaniah 3:17) Indeed, the Father cannot be more delighted with His people than he already is.  Grace Believers know they are not accepted by having their own righteousness which comes by fulfilling rules and regulations. They are in Christ and have Christ’s entire righteousness credited and reckoned to them (see Philippians 3:9).

 

5. As they grow in grace, Grace Believers refuse to make resolutions, vows and pledges to enable them to serve God in a fuller way.  Grace Believers put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3).

 

6. Grace Believers are not so foolish as to try self-improvement techniques. Instead, they focus on Christ and his glory. They know that change comes from looking outside themselves to the glorious person of Christ.  They rejoice in 2 Corinthians 3:18; “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.

 

7. Grace Believers are confident of God's past, present and future grace, yet they refuse to make a practice of abusing that grace. Grace, not Law teaches them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Grace, not law, teaches them to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:11-12).

 

8. Grace Believers are learning to not get permanently discouraged with their performance. Instead, they are learning to focus on Christ and His performance on their behalf. One of the Grace Believer’s theme songs could be;

“It is finished!” yes, indeed,


Finished, every jot;

Believer, this is all you need,

Tell me, is it not?

Till to Jesus’ work we cling


By a simple faith,

“Doing” is a deadly thing—

“Doing” ends in death.

I’ll cast my deadly “doing” down—


Down at Jesus’ feet;

I stand in Him, in Him alone,

Gloriously complete.


9. The Grace Believer is so reduced by the sight of himself as a wretch … a sight graciously granted by the Holy Spirit in a non-condemning manner … that he soon discovers he has no room to practice arrogance and pride.


10. The Grace Believer holds that devotion to God arises, not from an obligation to repay God.  On the contrary, the Grace Believer knows that we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Devotion to God comes through the gospel.

 

11. The Grace Believer does not believe that blessings come as the result of our acts of consecration to God. That is to reverse God’s order.  That is to teach law and not gospel. The Legalist makes man's blessing depend on his personal dedication and devotion. Also, the legalist insists that the more we consecrate ourselves to God the greater will flow the blessing.  According to his scheme, we move the hand of God by our works. To think like this, however, is to remove ourselves from the enjoyments of gospel blessings.  This is to cease to look to Christ alone as our only acceptance before God.

 

12. The Grace Believer knows that grace has not made us a debtor to God.  The Grace Believer does not try to repay the debt of grace he feels he owes. The Grace Believer holds that God, in giving His grace, did not put us into any contract with accompanying clauses and conditions.  It is grace that saves and grace alone.  It is faith alone which receives that which Grace alone in the person of Christ alone has accomplished. The Grace Believer does not serve God because he feels he owes God something.  Rather, he serves God because He loves God and he loves God because God first loved Him.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, Sept. 9, 0015:  Faith and Our Verdict from God



When Justification becomes ours, we enjoy acquittal in the courtroom of Heaven.  We are declared not guilty.  This is much greater than receiving a pardon. When a person is pardoned, the Judge is saying, “You did the crime but I forgive you.” That, however, falls far short of Justification for in Justification, the Judge says, “You are not guilty, you did not commit the crime.” Unfortunately, this distinction is not always pressed home, especially in many of our old hymns. We sing, “I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me; And purchased my pardon when nailed to the tree. “ But, beautiful as the Hymn is, Jesus did much more than purchase our pardon, He purchased our acquittal!

 

It is interesting to note that, in the KJV version of the Bible there is no New Testament mention of the word pardon. It is an entirely Old Testament concept. Yet there are those who will fight tooth and nail to maintain the position that we are pardoned by the work of the cross.Justification we say again is much greater than pardon, it is full and entire acquittal! In fact, to be justified is the direct opposite of being condemned. A condemned man can be pardoned, but his pardon does not clear him of the guilt of having committed his crimes. However, for the believer, there is no condemnation, that is, there is no declaration by the court of Heaven that we are guilty.

 

Faith takes a hold of this new verdict and makes it our own.  Faith believes Heaven’s legal opinion. Understanding the declaration of Heaven’s court, the believer will not look to any quality within himself to rest upon. We, as believers, can now stand before God, in Jesus Christ, by faith plus nothing.  Faith grasps that it is Christ for us, not Christ “in us” which saves us.  We are saved by us being “in Christ” not by Christ being in us. Our justification is through the finished work of one man and one man alone...The Lord Jesus Christ.  We, therefore, must renounce all claims of merit on our behalf and rest all our confidence in Christ and His good works for us. Horatius Bonar, in his masterpiece on Justification, The Everlasting Righteousness tells us,

 

"Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27), is a well-known and blessed truth; but Christ IN US, our justification, is a ruinous error, leading man away from a crucified Christ-a Christ crucified FOR US. Christ for us is one truth; Christ in us is quite another. The mingling of these two together, or the transposition of them, is the nullifying of Substitute. Let it be granted that Christ in us is the source of holiness and fruitfulness the one finished work of the (John 15:4); but let it never be overlooked that first of all there be Christ FOR US, as our propitiation, our justification, our righteousness. The risen Christ in us, our justification, is a modern theory which subverts the cross. Washing, pardoning, reconciling, justifying, all come from the one work of the cross, not from resurrection. The dying Christ completed the work for us from which all the above benefits flow. The risen Christ but sealed and applied what, three days before, He had done once for all.


 (The Everlasting Righteousness: Cpt 7, Not Faith But Christ)

 

Indeed, Bonar is correct, looking to Christ in us for Justification is a disastrous and damaging error yet Colossians 1:27 does speak of “Christ in you the hope of glory”.  However, the ‘you’ in this verse in the Greek is plural thus this verse refers to Christ in the midst of His Church. And of course, He is in each member of His church, but the fact that He is ‘in us’ is not our justification and right standing before God.  This passage, in Colossians 1:27, is not dealing with justification, but rather with the future state of the believer, his resurrection and the return of the Lord.  Paul has already spoken to them of their hope (future) which is laid up in heaven (verse 5) and of the hope of the Gospel (future) (verse 23). The Spirit of God will always lift the eyes of the believer away from himself and his experience and fix his gaze upon Christ, His accomplishments and our future destiny in Him.


Attributing a righteousness “in us” as being the ground of Salvation was one of the great errors of the Roman Communion and one which the Reformers fought with all the resources at their disposal. Yet today there are many sincere believers, in Bible believing churches, caught up in and promoting this same ruinous error.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


(I would suggest that for further reading on this, see the use of the word ‘hope’ in the New Testament see Acts 2:26-27, Acts 23:6, Acts 24:15. Alsosee, Romans 8:20,23-24, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 1 Thess. 4:13-14, 1 Tim. 1:1, Titus 2:13, 1 Peter 1:3-4, 1 John 3:2-3).  “Hope” in these verses points to the eschaton and the final consummation of God’s redemptive acts at the end of the age).



The Wednesday Word, Oct. 9, 2015: The Pathetic 12-Months of Mercy!



Recently, I was stunned when reading the present Pope’s declaration concerning his upcoming ‘Year of Mercy’. Accordingly during that period Pope Francis will give priests a special dispensation of power to forgive those who have committed the sin of abortion.


A line from W.C. Fields sprang to my mind, “Hour of mischief, what kind of skulduggery is this?”


In his statement, the Pope expressed compassion for those who have aborted their babies. Furthermore, during the Holy Year of Mercy, he will permit priests to absolve penitent women of the sin of having had their pregnancies terminated.


How sweet of him, but who in the name of thunder does he think he is to give permission to anyone to forgive sins?  Only God can forgive sins…and He doesn’t limit His forgiveness to a 12-month window of opportunity.


This entire Papal proposal reeks of arrogance from start to finish.  It is another example of how Francis, mild-mannered as he is, assumes the position of God Almighty! How does he take it on himself to allow his priests to forgive a particular sin for a particular period of time?


All sin is sin against God (Psalm 51:4), it’s not against Pope Francis. Thus only God, not Francis, can forgive (Mark 2:7). Yet the Pope presumes to give power to his priests to do just that.  But then again, there should be no surprise here for Francis claims to be the "Vicar of Christ." That implies that he has the same power and authority that Christ has over the church.  Why, in the light of this, do evangelicals in their droves now embrace the Pope as a Christian leader instead of declaring him to be Antichrist? Nary a whimper is to be heard from the pens and sermons of many Bible Believers as Francis perpetrates, perpetuates and promulgates his falsehoods and deceptions upon the gullible and the credulous.


There is only one priest who can deal with sin and his name is not Francis, His name is the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the God-Man. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him (Hebrews 7:25).


In contrast to Rome’s 12-month period of mercy, the Bible speaks of  unlimited mercy found in God. We read in Ephesians 2:4-5, for example, that God is rich in Mercy… literally He’s ‘plush’ with mercy. And what is more, mercy for those who have aborted their babies is not limited to the time frame of one year.  The throne of Grace is open to everyone who approaches by faith, at any time, for any sin regardless of the Pope’s sell by date.  In fact, Hebrews 4:16 urges us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” There is mercy for those who come to Christ.  He is the faithful High Priest, no other priest is required.


As I read the Pope’s statement, I was also reminded of how some years ago an old lady was lying on her death bed.  A local priest came to see her and announced that he was there to absolve her of her sins. ”Let me see your hands, “she demanded.

“My hands?”

“Yes, your hands.”

Reluctantly, the priest proffered his hands for examination. After a minute or so the old lady said; ”Sir, I perceive that you are an imposter.  The only one who can absolve me has got nail scars in his hands….Scars that were received at the cross of Calvary.”


Perhaps someone who has had an abortion is reading this.  It has deeply troubled your conscience.  The guilt pierces you. You believe you are beyond forgiveness. I implore you, therefore, to look to Christ Jesus, plead guilty and throw yourself on His mercy. Your sins and iniquities He will remember no more.


May the Lord grant that you see the mercy and grace that is available to you in Christ Jesus. He is the only priest who can and will forgive sin for He alone is the God/Man!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, Sept. 30, 2015: Coming Back in the Clouds


In Revelation 1:7 we read; “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”


Did you know that when the Bible talks about Christ coming back in the clouds, it is a reference to His Deity?


Yes indeed, Jesus Christ is coming back! We don’t know when that future event will take place, but one day Christ is going to physically, visibly and personally return to Earth. However, interesting as it may be, the subject we want to consider today is neither the timing nor even the fact of this monumental event. What we want to briefly discuss is the mention of the word ‘clouds.'

  

In the Bible, clouds are often a signal of divine activity. They frequently announce the presence of God:

Consider this, Exodus 13:21; “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way;”

Exodus 16:10, “And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. “

Exodus 34:5 declares, “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

Numbers 10:34 “And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.”

In Psalm 104:3 we read, “The Lord makes the clouds his chariot.”

Speaking of coming judgment, Jeremiah warned, Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: Jeremiah 4:13 (see also Zephaniah 1:15).


Let’s fast forward to the New Testament to Matthew 26:64. Here Jesus is on trial for His life. Before Him stands Old Joe Caiaphas bedecked in the regalia of the High Priest. Old Joe is a jealous man, jealous of the adulation being given to the Young Prince of Glory.  Old Joe is a threatened man.  Threatened because the Lord Jesus has exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders with His ‘woe unto you’ speeches (see Matthew 23: 29-33).  Old Joe Caiaphas, has been made to squirm.  He is, after all, the Chief among the professional ecclesiastics who were, as Jesus had pointed out, merely white-washed tombs.  As he seethes with hatred, Old Joe is determined to execute the Lord Jesus. He has brought in false witnesses to testify against the Master. Jesus, of course, could have backed down and diffused the situation.  He could have changed His story…but he didn’t.  He boldly looked his satanic rival in the eyes saying, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.”  COMING IN THE CLOUDS! It’s no wonder Caiaphas tore his clothes.  It’s no wonder he cried out, “He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.”


In this dreadful scene, the High Priest of Israel rejected the Christ of Israel and consigned Him to death. Caiaphas knew that Christ, by claiming He was coming back in the clouds had put Himself on the same footing as God.  No wonder they executed Him.

And, by the way, when Jesus departed Terra Firma at the ascension, how did he leave? He left in a cloud (Acts1:9).  And how will He return? He’ll return with the clouds (Acts 1:11). He is our God and we are steadfastly looking for Him.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, Oct. 7, 2015: Now That’s Grace


“For 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 Corinthians 5:21)


Why do believing sinners, who have done nothing sufficient to save themselves receive the reward of righteousness — eternal life? It is because Jesus, who did no sin, received the death penalty on their behalf!

Now that’s grace!                          


In the same way that our sin was reckoned to Christ, His righteousness was reckoned to us.

Now that’s grace!


My rags for His righteousness!

Now that’s grace!


Christ was treated as being something that He was not ….. a sinner, so that we would be treated as that which we are not…righteous.

Now that’s grace!


For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;

Now that’s grace!


So let us ask, at the cross did Christ become sinful in Himself? The answer is simple……No! 1000 time no! If he did become sinful in Himself, then it must also follow that we become savingly righteous within ourselves. It would also mean that the salvation which saves us is not reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4), it is within us. This then leads to a confounding of Law and Gospel where the believer’s holiness of life becomes the foundation and ground of His justification. But that is anti-gospel nonsense.


Our acceptance is not grounded on any quality within us, but on the worthiness and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Now that’s grace!


The gospel concerns the doing, dying and rising again of the Lord Christ. It is not about our doing and dying nor indeed about anything in us or about anything we have done. We have been credited with His righteousness, not because we deserve it but because we need it.

Now that’s grace!


Christ, however, was treated as though He were actually sinful in Himself and because of that, we are now treated as though we are actually righteous.  His righteousness, not ours, remains our only qualification for heaven.

Now that’s grace!


But, back to the cross. Someone asks, “Were the sins placed on Jesus real sins, or was this whole drama merely an act?" If it were an act, then the righteousness that is placed on us is also a fiction.  However, the good news is that the sins placed on Christ on were real and the righteousness reckoned to us is genuine. It is "even the righteousness of God," (Romans 3:22-23) and causes us to pass from death to life.

Now that’s grace!


When sin was imputed to Jesus, His relationship with the Father was radically affected for it caused God to withdraw His presence from Him.  God cannot dwell with sin. Conversely, when Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us it radically affected our standing with God. It caused the Father to draw us into His presence and welcome us.  It brought us into a beautiful place of fellowship with the Father for He loves to have fellowship with the righteous in Christ.

Now that’s grace!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, Oct. 14, 2015: A Delightful Insanity


Galatians 5:16; “This I say then walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

 

Have you ever used the expression; ‘I couldn’t see the wood for the trees’? It means that, even though a truth is clearly evident, it goes unnoticed because of  more attention being given to minor details. Galatians 5:16 is like that.


Let me explain.  Countless numbers of believers are desperately trying to not walk in the flesh.  They are trying not to do the things that are wrong in God’s sight.  They are striving and struggling.  As a result, they are continually beating up on themselves in the unending search for self-improvement.


This, however, is not wisdom.


Why so?


Simply stated… it doesn’t work!


Doesn’t work?


No, it doesn’t work.


Why not?


It doesn’t work for the simple reason that we are all like the man who hadn’t even thought about walking on the grass until he saw a sign which said, ‘DON’T WALK ON THE GRASS.’


The truth is this if we keep telling ourselves that we are not going to do something you can bet your money that sooner or later we will probably do it.  That’s the nature of the beast.

 

To understand Galatians 5:16, (This I say then walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh) just picture two roads going in opposite directions away from you. One of them is the Road of the Spirit, the other the Road of the Flesh.  We are not instructed to stand at the entrance to the “Flesh Road" and say ‘I’m not going down there, I won’t go down there.’ No! Not at all! If you look down that road for too long, you’ll go down it.


We are, however, to walk down the road of the Spirit. But how do we do that?  Here’s one suggested way. Paul encourages us to “Speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in our heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

 

We, because of what Christ has accomplished and finished for us in His doing, dying and rising again are learning to sing and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord. We are learning to give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are learning continually to look outside ourselves unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) the author and finisher of our faith.


As we walk in the Spirit, we are learning to worry about nothing, to be prayerful for everything and be thankful for anything (Philippians 4:6). By the way, living like this doesn’t mean that we shall not be assailed by the lust of the flesh, rather, it guarantees that we shall not fulfil it.


But let me warn you, if you live that way, singing and making melody in your hearts being worried about nothing, prayerful for everything and thankful for anything, people might say you are mad.  But so what? It will be a madness filled with the wisdom of Heaven. It will be a delightful insanity, for in so walking you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, Oct. 21, 2015: An Ancient King with a Modern Story

 

In 2 Chronicles 25, we encounter a tragic and fascinating character who declares truth to us today.  His name is Amaziah, King of Judah. He is interesting, not only because he had a divided heart, but also because he was enormously challenged when it came to doing the will of God from his heart.

 

Amaziah wanted to go to war with God’s enemies, the Edomites, but rather than trust in God’s ability to give him the victory he went off and hired 100,000 extra troops from his neighbours in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

 

100,000 additional troops to fight the war! Sounds like a plan.  The only problem with it was that, at that time, God’s disfavour was resting on the godless Northern Kingdom.  The Lord was not about to bless such a carnal endeavour. He did not need the assistance of 100,000 backslidden apostates.

 

Then again, 100,000 extra men would surely come in handy.  But good ideas are bad ideas when they are not God’s ideas.

 

By the way, the only one who continually walked in glad obedience to the Father was the Lord Jesus. This He graciously did this on our behalf. We, unlike Him, are prone to plan the future without consulting God. How foolish! Having created, redeemed us and bought us with His blood, Christ Jesus owns us. We are not our own, we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

 

But back to our story…….  Here he is, this fearless King, inspecting his troops, ready to march the road to glory when a “Servant of God” arrives on the scene warning him that unless he dismisses the 100 000 apostates the expedition will end in disaster.

 

In the Bible, these servants of God show up at the most awkward of moments.  Think of Samuel with his; “What meaneth the bleating of these sheep” line.  And then there’s Nathan with his “Thou art the man” declaration.  Watch out Jezebel and Ahab, just when you thought you got away with the theft of Nabob’s vineyard, here comes Elijah with his piercing word, straight from the Lord. Would to Heaven there were more servants of God these days who would speak to our conscience and warn us of the consequences of walking away from the will of God!

 

Amaziah’s response to the warning was astonishing.  He asks; “But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given for the army of Israel?”  He’s saying; “Look here, I’ve invested a lot of finance into this and I can’t afford to lose it.” In this, Amaziah is right up to date. He’s a 21st-century man. He is more interested in principal than principle.  He seems more concerned about financial loss than obedience to the will of God.

 

Well, Amaziah is in a pickle, and it’s all of it his own making.  He’s the author of his own dilemma.  He had no business working with the godless Northern KIngdom in the first place.  He began with a wrong direction, but now he’s considering staying the course. He says, “Look here, you are asking me to lose money on this deal…..that can’t be God’s will…. can it?” You see once a wrong course is begun it’s not always so easy to get back to the right direction.

 

I love the response the man of God gives to Amaziah.  He says, “The Lord is able to give thee more than this.” This sounds like the Apostle Paul “Godliness is profitable unto all things having a promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

 

So in conclusion, as gospel believers, we need to get into the habit of doing the right thing, no matter what the cost.  We should never cut corners to get a financial gain. We should always be more concerned with pleasing our Saviour than in gaining some social or monetary advantage. Let’s not be like Amaziah, who when confronted with the will of God was more concerned that he was putting himself at a financial disadvantage. Remember, “God is able to give us much more than this.”

 

And how did it all turn out for Amaziah in the end?  Exclamation! Do you want me to spoon-feed you as well (said he with a smile)?  Read it for yourself in the best book ever written.  You’ll enjoy drawing more insight from this Ancient King with a modern story.

 

Blessings in the name of Jesus whose righteousness alone qualifies us to stand before the Father.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, November 4, 2015:  Gospel Acceptance

 

There is no other basis for acceptance with God other than that which God has decreed. We are "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6)….Full Stop! Period! That means our Heavenly Father is fully satisfied with the person and work of the Lord Jesus for us. He has accepted His well-beloved Son and, therefore, accepts all who are in Christ.  The Believer has nothing more and nothing less to present to the Father but the Lord Jesus, the Christ of God.

 

Have you ever felt rejected? You say, “That’s the story of my life.” Well, the pain of that can come to end right now.  If you are suffering from the ache of rejection, look to Jesus. The Father sees every believer as being in Christ.  We are in the same Christ who was nailed to the cross. Faith looks and says, ‘I was crucified with Him.’  Faith also sees that Christ is risen.  Faith grasps that we are no longer in our sins.  Faith believes that there is now therefore no damnation to those of us in Christ Jesus. Faith sees that there is no rejection from heaven in Christ.

 

Indeed, as we grow in grace, we learn that weare not rejects. We gain confidence and identity with the Father’s verdict concerning the Son. By faith, we see that the Father’s ruling concerning Christ’s acceptable work is reckoned also to us.   If, however, we are continually looking for some quality or righteousness within us to recommend us to God, we will continue to fail and remain in the miserable turbulence of rejection.


When all is going well, and God seems to be blessing, those not rooted in the gospel feel that God must really love and accept them. But when they are stumbling, and everything seems dry and hard, then they feel that He has withdrawn His love and acceptance. But, how can this be? There was nothing about us to commend us to God in the first place. Our acceptance with the Father will always be in Christ plus nothing. We are fully accepted in the God-Man.


Christ has purged our sin with His power.  He has bought us with His blood.  Not only is God for us, but we also have peace with Him (Romans 5:1).  Believers are not trying to obtain peace with God.  We can’t obtain that which we already have. The Father has been pleased to pour His wrath on His son instead of us.  Talk about being saved by grace!  Not only is there no condemnation for us but we are now, in the Father’s mind, in the exalted and glorified Christ.


Everything was completed at Calvary! We don’t have to feel that, we simply believe that!  Because of the doing, dying and rising again of the Lord Jesus, it is not presumptuous to claim for ourselves the titles, Heirs of God and Joint Heirs with Jesus Christ. Because of the doing, dying and rising of Christ, rejection is dead and we are accepted.


It is in the Gospel we learn that we are accepted by God, not because of our obedience but because of the obedience another (Romans 5:19).  We are accepted in spite of our performance.  The great mystery is how the all holy God can possibly accept us.  We are, after all, corrupted and vile sinners (Psalm 148:2; Mark 7:21-23).  The gospel, however, gives us the answer----Our acceptance is in Christ alone.


“Since I can hardly therefore bear

What in myself I see;

How vile and black must I appear,

Most holy God to Thee.

 

But since my Savior stands between,

In garments dyed in blood’

‘Tis He, instead of me, is seen,

When I approach to God.

 

Thus though a sinner I am safe;

He pleads before the throne,

His life and death in my behalf,

And calls my sins His own

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


Wednesday Word, Dec. 2, 2015: Gospel Forgiveness


Since the believer’s sins have been punished on Christ, we can say with assurance that we are saved. Believers are simply this ….forgiven sinners!


But what kinds of sins was Jesus punished for?


Was it for our big sins?


Yes!


What about our little sins?


Yes!


And, what about the sins of omission?


Yes, for those too!


We are forgiven because Christ Jesus was punished in our place and in our stead.


The gospel truth is this, believers are covered with the righteousness of Christ. We are in Christ! We are reckoned not to have done the sins we actually have done. This is beautiful, matchless grace! I hope we never get tired of hearing this good news.


The Bible teaches that there are two kinds of righteousness. The first is the righteousness by which the uninstructed and ignorant attempt to get to heaven. The Bible, however, is ruthlessly scathing in describing this kind of righteousness.  It calls it “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). The second kind of righteousness is the imputed righteousness God gives us as a free gift … the very righteousness of Christ.


Unfortunately, if we are not bathed in the gospel, we continually revert to believing that there is something we can do to get right with God. We are like the Jews of whom Paul wrote, “They are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. (Romans 10:2-4).


So consider this, by grace, the Lord chose and accepted us. We are not saved by anything we do! Salvation is by grace alone. Don’t let anyone rob you of that precious truth.


As Dr. David Dykes says, “If you could burn one single calorie of effort to bring about your salvation, then you could take a tiny part of the credit and boast about your part.” Excellent statement! … But he understates the matter…in actuality, we would take all the credit! The gospel truth is this, salvation is all of God and none of us. Charles Spurgeon expressed it this way: “If there is one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost.”


To further grasp this matter of being saved by someone else, we read in Colossians 2:14 that Christ has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.


Some have reasoned that the handwriting of ordinances alludes to the custom of affixing to the cross the charges which earned the criminal the death sentence.  Remember how, at our Lord's crucifixion, the charge read, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." That had been His claim. He was the King, the heavenly King, who would rule the earth.  To the Jews, this was blasphemy.  To the Romans, it stood for insurrection.


Others reason that by the ‘handwriting of ordinances’ is meant that God took the obligations of Mosaic Law and nailed them to the cross of Christ. By His saving work, the Lord Jesus exposed all systems of works salvation as being fraudulent.

Christ died as a substitute for the people of God. So beware of these grace robbers who tell you that you have something to do to earn heaven.


We are saved by grace alone…we make no contribution.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


Wednesday Word, December 9, 2015: Gospel Salvation



What a comforting truth to know that the Lord is the God of Salvation.  He brings salvation. With Him is salvation. But above all else, He Himself is our salvation. The gospel truth is that salvation is not a something but a someone (Exodus 15:2; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 38:22).


Simeon confirmed this.  Do you remember him?  Just after the birth of Christ, we find Simeon dwelling in Jerusalem.  The Holy Spirit was upon him.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit had revealed unto him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. One day, as he came, by the Spirit, into the Temple, Mary and Joseph were bringing the child Jesus in to fulfil the custom of the law. They met! Simeon instantly took the baby up in his arms, and blessed God, saying, ‘Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to Thy word for my eyes have seen Thy salvation.’  Salvation was declared by Simeon to be a person … …and the person was Jesus (see Luke 2:25-29).


We don’t know where Simeon was born. We don’t know who his parents were. We don’t know what Simeon did for a living. We don’t know what he looked like. We don’t know if Simeon was rich or poor. We don’t know what other people thought of him. But this we do know, Simeon had lived in the expectancy of seeing the Lord’s Messiah. And he saw Him when he held the baby Jesus.


Simeon held Jesus in his arms and recognised what millions have come to know and that is, Jesus is God’s salvation.  Jesus is salvation because He is fully God and fully man.  He is, therefore, the one who is uniquely equipped to save.  Jesus is the revelation of the One True and Living God. All that we may know about God has been spoken and demonstrated in Christ. Christ is the truth. He is the truth about God.  He is the truth about man.  He is the truth about the past.  All God’s plans and purposes were bound up in Him. He is the truth about the future. His death andresurrectionwere end time events.  They point to the Last Judgment and our resurrection. It is no wonder then that we are to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).


Furthermore, Jesus was uniquely equipped to save because He was sinless. He, Himself, is our Salvation.

Imagine the best person that you’ve ever met or known.  Imagine if they offered to pay for your sins.  We’d admire them for their unusual offer. But there’s just one problem …. God would not accept their proposal. Why not? Because that truly amazing person, with the excellent offer, is a sinner themselves.


We are all sinners.  None of us are in a position to act as a substitute for someone else’s sin.


Jesus, on the other hand, was sinless. He was, therefore, able to become the substitute for His people. And, because He is the infinite God, He is able to pay the penalty for the sin for us. That’s why, He is our Salvation!  When Simeon held Jesus in his arms and said, “… my eyes have seen your salvation,” he was saying, “Here is the one, the only one.  Here is the One who saves to the uttermost.  Here is the one who saves when no one else can.”


We talk about God’s plan of salvation, but in truth, Jesus is God’s man of salvation. Redemption is in Him (Romans 3:24). Only through His doing, dying and rising again is there to be discovered the free and gracious gift of eternal life.


He is our Salvation.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, December 16, 2015: Gospel Trouble!


Someone once said that the Christian life is easy. I disagree! As far as I can see, only the easy parts are easy. The hard parts are hard, very hard.

 

Along with the joy and peace in believing comes trouble.


Have you ever noticed just how much trouble Jesus caused?  Consider Paul. He was doing very well thank you until he was enlisted by the Nazarene. I think I can hear some of his former friends, saying, “That guy Saul really blew it!  He was one of the most privileged men in Israel till he went astray following that Jesus fellow.  What good did it do him?  Kicked out of Synagogues, whipped and beaten, stoned and left for dead!  All he got was trouble.”

 

Jesus, Himself, was always surrounded by trouble.  Even at His birth, there was trouble.  Remember how the Wise Men came looking for the newborn King and all Jerusalem was ‘troubled’ (Matt 2:3).  Now, why in the name of thunder would the birth of a baby trouble an entire city? The new King had arrived but rather than being excited or filled with rejoicing--- the citizens of Jerusalem were troubled. What a strange brew---- an entire city troubled by a baby!

 

But, why were they troubled? Maybe they were troubled because they knew that Herod wouldn’t take this news well …and ‘if the King ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’  On the other hand, maybe they really understood that this baby was their rightful King…a King who demanded allegiance and loyalty.  A King who expected all!  Maybe they felt they would be better off with Herod and the Romans.  Whoever he was, this baby was trouble!

 

Jesus always causes trouble!  He leads us to life by means of death….that’s troubling, especially when we are so committed to our own plans, goals and ambitions.

 

Christ speaks to us in grace, looks at us in grace, thinks of us in grace and promises us gracious rest, but this grace comes wrapped in a cross that brings us to an end of our noble efforts to impress God …..that’s troubling.

 

What a strange Saviour He really is!  He comes promising peace but at the same time brings a sword (Matthew 10:34). Swords speak of trouble!  

 

But those ancient Wise Men saw nothing in Him to trouble them.  They wanted to worship Him.  They were prepared to take Him for who He was…the King and Sovereign of their existence.

 

 We will either be troubled by Him or we will worship Him. But, even when we worship Him, we will not be free from trouble.  Yet, somehow, in trouble, we learn that even in the midst of that which seems wrong and not according to the script of a good writer, He who was born in Bethlehem is really in charge.  In the darkness of pain, we can come to a place where we can thank God for the grace of trouble!  The truth is, our only hope is to be troubled by Jesus.  We need Christ to trouble us. We need to be troubled about our self-righteousness self- sufficiency in order that we can trust in Christ’s righteousness and sufficiency alone.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!



Wednesday Word, December 23, 2015: Merry Christmas and Greetings to One and All


I often get criticized for not teaching people that everything to do with Christmas is pagan.  Even though I neither hold a Christmas day service (unless it falls on the Lord’s Day) nor have images of the baby Jesus in my home, I still am considered too liberal by those who wish me to preach against the pagan festival of Christmas.


Since there is no need to re-invent the wheel, today’s Wednesday Word, concerning Christmas and paganism is from a guest writer, Pastor Daniel Parks. He says;


I sometimes hear some men say they have nothing to do with Christmas because idolatry is associated with it. I applaud any man who has nothing to do with anything associated with idolatry.Well, I would if I could find such a man! Trust me, such a man does not exist!


Every day of the week is named after a pagan god: Tuesday after Mars (through a Germanic translation into Teiwaz); Wednesday after Odin; Thursday after Thor; Friday after Frigg; Saturday after Saturn; Sunday and Monday after celestial bodies worshiped by idolaters across the earth.  Certainly he who has nothing to do with any day associated with idolatry has no day!


“Every month of the year is intimately associated with idolatry. January is named after the god Janus.  February is named after Februa, the ancient Roman ritual of ritual purification later personified by the god Februus.  March is named after the god Mars.  April was sacred to the goddess Venus.  May is named after the goddess Maia.  June is generally said to have been named after the goddess Juno (hence the popularity of this month for weddings).  July is named after Julius Caesar, who had a statue dedicated to him in the temple of Quirinus in 45 BC on which was written “To the Invincible God.” August is named after Caesar Augustus, who was declared to be a god by the Roman Senate upon his death in 14 AD.  The fact that September, October, November, and December are not named after gods, having instead names identifying them respectively as the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months, does not make them one whit holier.  Remember that every day in those months is named after a pagan god.  Also, those months have “holy days” (called holidays) designated by idolaters.


Every time you look into the heavens you see planets named after pagan gods such as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, also Ceres, Eris, Haumea, Makemake, and Pluto.

We who are gospel ministers will obey our Lord’s commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) even though in so doing we will visit cities named after idolatrous gods.*  Such places are no less idolatrous than Corpus Christi (meaning Body of Christ) or Saint Croix (meaning Holy Cross).


I will not castigate Paul the apostle for ministering in Athens (Acts 17:15ff), named after the goddess Athena; nor for not deserting that place when “he saw that the city was given over to idols” (v.16); nor for accompanying idolaters to the Areopagus (vv.19-32), named after the Greek god Ares.  (The KJV identifies this place as “Mars’ Hill” in v.22, named after the Roman god equivalent to the Greek Ares.)

I assure you that Christians are at liberty to eat meat that was sacrificed to an idol (1 Corinthians ch.8).  But I exhort Christians to not use their liberty in Christ in such a way as to offend the “weak” brother (as Paul calls him in vv.7, 9, 10, 11, 12) who has scruples against such contact with idolatry.  You may remind him that “we know that an idol is nothing in the world (v.4).


I assure you that you will not become unsanctified if you travel on a highway used by automobiles with idolatrous names such as Aurora, Mercury, Saturn, or Taurus.  Nor if you have contact with an ocean, which in Greek mythology was personified as a Titan and ruled by the god Neptune/Poseidon.  Nor if you use the King James Version of the Holy Bible, in which the Greek word for Passover in Acts 12:4 is mistranslated “Easter”, named for the Chaldean goddess Astarte, Queen of Heaven.

I assure you that the Lord Jesus Christ was not tainted by idolatry when He said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17) even though Caesars were idolized by Romans as gods.

The fact of the matter at hand is that we live in an idolatrous world, for “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).  We must ever obey the command to “keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).  But he who would have nothing whatsoever to do with anything associated with idolatry must “go out of the world” – as Paul expressed it (1 Corinthians 5:10).  That would be contrary to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, who prayed that His people at this present time not be taken “out of the world” (John 17:15).  Be confident that you may be “in the world” but not “of the world”, and that many things idolatrous in name do not require the worship of the gods associated with them.


Therefore, if you are offered “Christmas” as a holiday, enjoy it.  If you are offered a “Christmas” bonus, spend it.  If a merchant offers a “Christmas” sale, shop.  If you are offered a “Christmas” gift, accept it – and return the favor.  If you receive a “Christmas” card, read it.  If you are invited to a “Christmas” meal, eat.  If you are offered a glass of “Christmas” eggnog, drink.  If you are invited to worship an idol, refuse.  And “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) – whether the day be Christmas Day or the Lord’s Day!


If others wish to abominate everything associated with Christmas (including all things cited in the preceding paragraph), let them. If others judge you harshly for associating with Christmas, let them.  If others do not feel comfortable with exercising Christian liberty regarding Christmas things, try not to offend them.


May the Lord richly bless Christmas to one and all!  May He not withhold blessing us during this season simply because it is associated with idolatry!"


Daniel Parks

Minister of the Gospel

Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands


Wednesday Word, December 31, 2015:  Gospel Giving


Have you ever heard of Selina Hastings? No? She was the affluent and influential Countess of Huntingdon, England. Selina referred to herself as the Lady who was saved by the letter ‘M.’  


Of 1 Corinthians 1:26 “  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:”


She would say;


”Blessed be God, it does not say ‘any mighty,’ ‘any noble’; it says ‘M-any mighty,’ ‘M-any noble.’ I owe my salvation to the letter ‘M.’ If it had been “not any noble,” where would I have been?”


She was wealthy and powerful indeed. However, instead of living a decadent lifestyle, when the Lord saved her, she began funding the ministries of gospel preachers like George Whitfield and John Beeridge. Humanly speaking, if she had not made the financial investment, men like Whitefield would have been unable to perform their fruitful ministries.  God has always used people to invest financially in ministries for the furtherance of the gospel.


But enough of Selina Hastings. What about the women who financially supported Christ’s ministry? Yes, you read me correctly!  There were people who funded Christ’s ministry. Indeed, our Lord’s ministry was financed by the free will gifts and contributions of people to whom he had ministered.


At the beginning of chapter 8 of Luke’s gospel we read:


“Soon afterward Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”


It was faithful women who supplied for the financial needs of Jesus and his disciples. As givers, they were a crucial part of His ministry.


Ministry costs money. This principle is so obvious it seems almost silly to state, but many people don’t appear to realise that.  We, however, thank God for each of you who have made our ministry possible through your giving and prayers.


2015 has been a year of tests and opportunities. Here in Europe opposition to God's Word is at boiling point. Perhaps, however, the invasion of radical Muslims will bring us back to the cross.


In 2016, we will be re-launching the Gospel Truth Radio Broadcast.  This is a tremendous tool for reaching the lost and establishing the saints.


We will also be developing an Internet channel for short and direct gospel messages.


We will continue evangelising in Ireland and establishing the saints here.


With God’s provision, in 2016, we will also journey to Nepal to work with the Nepalese Indigenous Church Movement. A Gospel Conference for 300 pastors is being arranged for me to speak to later in the year.


Of course, we remain committed to our pastors in India and to our orphanage in Karnataka.


By God’s grace, we will also continue to produce The Wednesday Word and carry on writing Christ centred books.


All of this cost money.  The only way we can do any of these things is through support from partners. If you would like to be a part of this please see the links below.


Again, we thank all of you who have given and prayed for us.


Happy New Year!


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