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Miles McKee Ministries


The Wednesday Words for the Year 2017

To view article, click on title
 

Date

Title

01/04

Secured for the New Year and Beyond!

01/11

What a Gospel! What a Saviour!

01/18

Tell Peter

01/25

Christ Alone

02/01

Satisfied with Jesus

02/08

Gossiping the Gospel Part 1

02/15

Gossiping the Gospel Part 2

03/01

The Perfect Pastor

03/08

Making too much of Jesus?

03/15

The Wonderful Number 7

03/22

Worry or Worship

03/29

The Unlikely Gospel!

04/05

Have You Met Brother Earnest Effort?

04/12

Abounding, Astounding Grace!

04/19

I Am He!

04/26

Jesus, the Real Bread for the Hungry Soul

05/03

Fake News!

05/10

God's Hidden Face

05/17

What Does That Mean? (Part 1) - Grace Alone

05/24

What Does That Mean? (Part 2) - Christ Alone

05/31

What Does That Mean? (Part 3) - Faith Alone

06/07

What Does That Mean? (Part 4) - Sola Scriptura

06/14

What Does That Mean? (Part 5) - Soli Deo Gloria

06/21

The Wonderful Priesthood of the Believer!

06/28

Is Jesus Enough as Your Pastor? (Part 1)

07/05

Is Jesus Enough as Our Pastor? (Part 2)

07/12

The Most Famous Speech in the Universe

07/19

Speaking Blood


GO TO:


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 2015

Wednesday Words for 2016





Wednesday Word, January 4, 2017: Secured for the New Year and Beyond!


Revelation 5:9: “And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood …”


The word ‘redeem’ means ‘to purchase for ownership’, or ‘to pay a ransom.' It stands to reason then that, if we are bought by the precious blood of Christ, neither the Devil nor anyone else can buy us back! We are bought with a price! We belong to Christ forever! We cannot be lost! If we can be lost, then there is a flaw in the work of Calvary.  If we perish, there is something flawed with His payment. Admittedly, there are all manner of flaws in us, but there are no flaws in our substitute and His ransom. Because of the power of the blood to redeem, we can never be lost! We  are safe and secure.


We are saved because of one man and His accomplishments.  There is no failing in this Second man, the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45; 47).   He, as a consequence of His work on Earth 2000 years ago, is now, at this moment, in Heaven as our representative. Because of Him, there is now no legal condemnation for us.  We are in Christ and, in Him, we have a perfect standing before the Father.


So here’s Good News for the New Year.  It comes in two short questions with answers.


“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifies.”

“Who is He that condemns?  It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God who also maketh intercession fo us” (Romans 8:33).


The only one who can condemn us won’t condemn us for He has died for us. He has powerfully bought and mercifully paid for us with His own precious blood.


 Augustus Toplady, the author of Rock of Ages, knew something of this Grace about which we speak. On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1767, he wrote in his diary;  “Upon a review of the past year, I desire to confess, that my unfruitfulness has been exceeding great; my sins still greater, and God's mercies greater than both.”


“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?.....  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39).


Notice how nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ.  Away then with this teaching that Christ can lose that which He dearly purchased with His own blood.

This New Year may we never forget that we are not saved because of our love for Him but because of His love for us.  We are not secured by our grip on Him but by His grip on us.


One old time preacher said, “Salvation was like Noah inviting a pagan in his day to place his trust in God's Word and come into the Ark. Some, however, view salvation as Noah offering to put a peg on the outside of the Ark and saying "If you just hang on through the storm, you'll be saved.”


Since repetition is the price of learning, let’s then say it again:  Salvation is not dependent on our holding on to God, but on our being securely held by and in Christ.”

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, January 11, 2017:  What a Gospel! What a Saviour!



What a Gospel!

 

What makes Christianity different from all the other religions of the world? Years ago that question was discussed at a conference. Some of the participants argued that Christianity is unique in teaching that God became a man. But someone objected, erroneously saying that other religions teach similar doctrines. What about the resurrection? No, it was argued, some other faiths believe that the dead rise again. The discussion grew heated.


A well-known theologian, a staunch defender of Christianity, came in late, sat down, and asked, "What's the rumpus about?" When he learned that it was a debate about the uniqueness of Christianity, he immediately commented, "Oh, that's easy. It's grace."

 

How right he was!

 

At the very heart of our message is the concept of Grace.  We are not only saved by Grace but also live in and by it. Our life is not one of trying to impress God as we tick off a list of dos and don’ts. We can do nothing to move the heart of God to love us. He loves us constantly and continually.  His love for us is assured. He loves us simply because He loves us…. He loves us, not because we merit it.  No indeed, the truth is that we deserve the very opposite of love. We are helplessly sinful, but God has been and continues to be amazingly gracious to us.  This is one of the main things that sets us apart from the world religions.


What a Gospel! It’s all of grace!

Think of this, it's only by His infinite grace that we are saved,

It’s not by our moral character,

It’s not by our works of righteousness,

It’s not by keeping the Law,

It’s not by Churchgoing,

It’s by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. What a Gospel!


Grace is free. Jesus was not obligated to die for anyone. If we are saved, it is because God resolved to save us and not because we resolved to be saved!  It’s all of grace!

What a Gospel!


He is the God of all grace.  Think for a moment how graciously He deals with us.  Robert Farrar Capon noted in Christ’s story of the return of the prodigal that the Father, “Wasn't afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation.”

That’s Grace!


What a Saviour!

 

Grace is hard to comprehend but so indeed is our Saviour.  The Saviour with whom we have to do is none other than God clothed with humanity. He is not a man made into God but God made man. When He spoke, God spoke.  When He laughed, God laughed.  When He sang, God sang. When He wept God wept.  The fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in Him (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).


“Wonder of wonders! The mighty God, without ceasing to be God, becomes a man to redeem us!  Let the greatest king become the lowest beggar; let the richest prince leave his palace for the vilest cell of a loathsome prison; it is as nothing compared to the act of Jesus, when He left heaven to put on the rags of our mortality! The Creator of all things becomes a creature! The Almighty is a weak baby! The Eternal is a child of time! The Infinite is contracted into the limits of poor flesh! Is not this the wonder of wonders? Is not this grace which has no bounds?”

Henry Law: Christ is All.

 

What a Gospel! What a Saviour!

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, January 18, 2017: Tell Peter


“But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you (Mark 16:7).”


As a believer, have you ever blown it?  I mean royally blown it? Have you ever failed God, failed the Gospel, failed your family, or failed yourself?


As a result, you suspect that there is no longer a place for you in the Lord’s affections. If so, this message is for you.


Do you remember Peter? He was quite a remarkable man.

The Lord gave him a new name and told him to become a “fisher of men.” He walked on water. He experienced the incredible event of Jesus’ transfiguration. And it was Peter who was the first to confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah.


What a stellar ministry… so full of promise. But, suddenly, Peter crashed with an unceremonious wallop.


It might be helpful at this point if we paint the scene of this major failure. Jesus has just been arrested and taken to the Palace of the High Priest.  Almost all of His disciples had run away in fear for their lives. Two of them, however, Peter and another (probably John), followed behind the mob as they escorted Jesus to the kangaroo court.


Having, with John’s help, gained admittance into the compound, Peter now warms himself at a fire in the Palace courtyard, (Luke 22: 55). Suddenly, he is approached by a woman (John 18:17) who identifies him as one of the Lord’s disciples. When he hears her words, Peter immediately denies any connection with the Saviour basically saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about! You’re crazy!” Then he walks away, (Matthew 26:71). Almost immediately, another girl sees him and calls out, “This is one of them!” (Verse 71).

 

Again, Peter denies all ties to his saviour. In Matthew 26:72, we see that Peter now resorts to denying the Lord with an “oath.” In other words, Peter swore before heaven that he did not know Jesus. He may have said something like: “I promise before God and swear to Him that I’m not lying, I do not know Jesus of Nazareth!"


 What a tragedy! This time Peter doubles his lie count. He lied when he denied knowing Jesus and lied when he swore that he wasn’t lying!


 An hour passes (Luke 22:58). Peter is approached for the third time by a delegation of sorts. He is again accused of being one of the Lord’s disciples.  Peter’s Galilean accent has betrayed him.  This group of accusers was led by a relative of Malchus whose ear Peter had cut off when Jesus had been arrested. When the apostle hears this allegation, he loses control and begins to “curse and to swear” (Matthew 26:74). His tongue becomes vile and vulgar.  He calls God to be his witness that he doesn’t know Jesus.


Oh, how are the mighty fallen!


Notice the progression (or regression).  First Peter lies. Then he tells a second lie to cover up the first lie. Then he tries to prove his lies by cursing and taking God’s name in vain.

 

Watch out Peter!  God’s going to get you!


Sleep with one eye open Peter!


You’re a failure Peter!


If you’d been a stronger man Peter!


You’re not fit to be an apostle Peter!


Such nonsense!


Listen to me!  Peter was a man of God.  He loved the Lord, but he failed. Get used to it! And when he failed it broke and humbled him (Luke 22:62).


It’s no wonder that we learn of his invitation to meet the Master in Galilee.  This is grace in operation. “Tell the disciples and Peter. Make sure you tell Peter.  Whatever else you do, let Peter know that he’s welcome.”


But Peter has failed you!


Yes, and be sure to tell Peter that He’s welcome.


But he’s let you down.


And?...be sure to tell Peter


Listen to me: if the bad news is that you’ve spiritually failed, the good news is that there are both grace and restoration waiting for you in Christ Jesus.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, January 25, 2017: Christ Alone


We have a real treat for you this week!


We greatly rejoice that some Christians in China, led by Brother Keith Hobkirk, are beginning to translate some of our Gospel writings.  As you can see, our ministry is steadily growing in its scope and influence. Thank you for your prayers and financial help which sustain us as we spread the Gospel.

 

Below is a sample of some of the work the brothers and sisters are doing.


The best thing that can happen to any of us is to become convinced that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.

发生在我们每个人身上最美好的事情就是深信我们不能做什么来拯救我们自己。


Apart from the mercy of Jesus Christ, we are utterly and helplessly lost.  There is no saving merit in anything that we can do or feel.  In ourselves, we have nothing to recommend us to God.

若不是耶稣基督的怜悯,我们都是迷失且无助的。我们所思所做的没有什么值得可夸赞的。向神我们一无所夸。


Let me ask you, have you become convinced that Christ alone is your Saviour? Have you been persuaded that you cannot save yourself? Have you seen that the Lord needs no assistance from anyone to give you eternal life?  Have you seen that from first to last, Christ alone is your hope?

我想问你,你深信耶稣基督是你的救主吗?你相信凭自己你不能拯救你自己吗?你相信神不需要通过其他人赐给你永恒的生命吗?你相信自始至终唯有耶稣基督是你的盼望吗?

 

I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit. One aspect of the Spirit’s work is to destroy all the vestiges of self-righteousness we harbour in our hearts (John 16:8). Self–Righteousness, that great, stubborn rebel against God, must be rooted out. The Holy Spirit continually brings us to a place where we see and confess that we are nothing and Christ is everything.

非常感谢圣灵。圣灵的一项工作就是除尽我们心中的自义。(约16:8)必须根除心中强大顽固,不符合神心意的自义。圣灵不断带领我们,使我们看到自己的自义,我们就为此忏悔承认我们是一无所有的而耶稣才是我们的一切。


Someone says, ‘I’ve been reading about all those deep convictions that people used to get during the revivals of yesteryear. If I could experience those, then I’d be sure that I was saved.’ But, wait a minute, that is just another way of you bringing something to Christ in exchange for salvation. That is self-righteousness.  It is a lack of trust in Christ alone as your only qualification for eternity.

有一个人说,"我一直在思想关于福音复兴时期人们所怀的信念。如果我经历了那些事情,我就会确信我已经被救赎了。”但是,等等,那其实是你在通过另一种方式和耶稣基督交换救恩。是不相信唯有在耶稣基督你才能有永生。


“But I want to feel something,” says someone else. Christ Jesus doesn’t want you to bring your feelings to Him.  Feelings are no part of Salvation. We are to trust in Christ alone, not in feelings.

另一个人说,“我想感觉到。”耶稣基督不希望你对他怀着感觉。感觉不属乎救恩。我们相信基督不是凭借感觉。

 

"Feelings come and feelings go

And feelings are deceiving

My warrant is the Word of God

Naught else is worth believing."

 感觉时有时无,感觉是不可靠的,我的凭据在乎神的话,除此之外没有什么可以相信。


Though all my heart should feel condemned

For want of some sweet token,

There is One greater than my heart

Whose Word cannot be broken.


I'll trust in God's unchanging Word

Till soul and body sever,

For, though all things shall pass away,

HIS WORD SHALL STAND FOREVER!”

 直到死我仍深信神永不更改的话,因为一切都会废去,他却永远掌权。

Martin Luther

 马丁路德


“But I feel so spiritually unfit.”

 “可是我觉得如此不配。”

Do you not know that the only fitness you have before Him is the fitness of being unfit?

 你不知道在神面前你唯一配的地方就在于你是不配的吗

“Oh, but I am so entirely unworthy.”

 “噢,而我是完全不配的”


Do you think Jesus came to save the worthy? Do you ever expect to have any worthiness in yourself? Jesus saves “the ungodly” (Rom 5:6-8). Jesus came into the world to save sinners, not worthy people (1 Timothy 1:15). Spurgeon said it like this: “It is our badness, not our goodness, which drew Christ to us as a Saviour.”

 你觉得耶稣来是为了拯救那些配得的人吗?你曾希望自己有什么配得之处吗?耶稣拯救“罪人”(罗5,6,8)耶稣来到世上为要拯救罪人而不是配得的人(提前1:15)司布真说,"是我们的罪恶不是良善成就了耶稣成为我们的救主。”

‘With Pitying eye the Prince of Peace

Beheld our helpless grief;

He saw, and, O amazing love!

He ran to our relief.’

 “”和平之君以怜悯的目光看着我们的无助和悲伤;他看见了,噢,何等的慈爱,他来抚慰我们。”

Isaac Watts

 以撒 瓦特斯


Christ didn’t die because we were good.  He died for us because we were sinful wretches. We had nothing whatsoever in ourselves that could recommend us. …and still don’t. Yet the Young Prince of Glory came from Heaven to save us. What do you think you can add to that? Is there anything with which you would care to supplement His finished work?

基督不是为我们的良善而死。他乃是为我们的罪行而死。无论何时我们都没有什么可夸的。然而荣耀的君王却来到世间拯救我们。想想你能为此做些什么呢?你能做些什么协助他未完成的工作呢/

 

Be advised, don’t try to show Christ how worthy you are to be saved. He’s unimpressed. Our righteousness is sin but His righteousness is salvation. We are nothing; Christ alone is everything!

记住,不要企图向耶稣表明你是多么值得被救赎。他并不为所动。我们的自义是罪而他的义是救恩。我们一无所有;而耶稣基督是一切!


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

这是福音真谛!

The Wednesday Word, February 1, 2017: Satisfied with Jesus


If we were smart, we would line up with the Father’s thinking about the Son. In that way, we would be satisfied with Christ and would find ourselves enjoying the very life of the Gospel (John 20:31).


The Word declares that those who rest on Christ are doing the work of God (John 6:29). If we are doing God’s work, then, evidently, we are in God’s will. If we are in God’s will, then we will honour the Son as we honour the Father (John 5:23) In the heart of God’s will we come into agreement with the Father about His Son. The Father is entirely satisfied with the Son and so are we. Nothing more is required that agreement concerning the Son, but nothing less will do! The Father will not receive us on any other basis than that of the total sufficiency and acceptability of His Son.


“But,” says someone,” I must be a righteous person within myself before God accepts me!” Well actually---NO! Our acceptance is not grounded on our worthiness, but on Christ’s for the gospel concerns, "His Son" (Romans 1:1-3). The Gospel is, therefore, not about us and about how internally holy we can become. Indeed, satisfaction with our supposed inward holiness is like a wilderness path for a stray dog, it is dangerous and leads nowhere. Satisfaction with Christ Jesus, however, leads to glory, for Christ is ALL (Colossians 3:11).


The Father has said of the Lord Jesus, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:7). Notice the superlatives, Christ is not merely the Son, He is the beloved Son. The Father is not only pleased with Him, but He is also well pleased. When, therefore, we are well pleased with the beloved Son, we are in magnificent agreement with the Father.


 Are you contented with the work of Christ?  Are you satisfied that Christ has kept the Law perfectly on your behalf? We make problems for ourselves when we forget the necessity of a fulfilled law and view the Gospel as some sort of modified, legal arrangement with God. This kind of false thinking says, “Keeping the Law is irrelevant when it comes to salvation.” God, in this sort of thinking, was too strict in Old Testament times for He demanded perfection, but now in the New Covenant, we have the relaxed version of God. As one young girl naively put it, “God in the Old Testament was God before He got saved.”


In this new 'chilled out' notion of things, Christ lowered God’s demands because the commandments were too strict. Now we have milder terms more suited to our weakness.


But this is sheer nonsense!


Think about it, if the former law was too strict it was, as Bonar says, “neither holy nor good.” Is it too harsh to demand that we love God with everything we have? Has God so lowered His standards that His fundamental requirements are now obsolete? God forbid!


Faith, however, does not invalidate the law; it establishes it (Romans 3:31). God still demands perfect law keeping, and our confidence now rests in the One who has perfectly kept every aspect of the Law on our behalf. We are saved not only by Christ’s blood but also by Christ’s perfect law-keeping---He’s the one who both kept the Law’s precepts and paid the Law’s penalties. Christ’s perfect doing and dying are now imputed to us, reckoned as ours and received by us by faith alone. This is staggering!


God has nowhere relaxed His standard. It is by the perfect keeping of a perfect law that we are saved; otherwise, it would be an unholy and unrighteous salvation. Thus Christ alone is our only hope for He has kept the law for us; he has magnified it and made it honourable (Isaiah 42:21); and thus we have a holy and righteous salvation. Legally, Christ has both lived and died in our place, therefore, when God saves us he does so, not only as a matter of love and mercy but also as a matter of Justice.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, Feb. 8, 2017: Gossiping the Gospel Part 1


In Acts 8:4, we read how that the early church left Jerusalem and went everywhere spreading the Good News. It has been observed:


“This must often have been not formal preaching, but informal chattering to friends and chance acquaintances, in homes and wine shops, on walks, and around market stalls. They went everywhere gossiping the gospel; they did it naturally, enthusiastically, and with the conviction of those who are not paid to say that sort of thing. Consequently, they were taken seriously, and the movement spread, notably among the lower classes.”(Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church)


We have all been recruited to play our part in spreading the Gospel.  Here, therefore, are a few pointers to help us do just that.


When we spread the Gospel.....


We gossip about (1) Christ's person.


He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14); David's Son, David's Lord; King of kings (Revelation 17:14), yet a servant (Isaiah 42:19); Lord of lords, yet a worm and no man (Psalm 22:6).


In His person, there is perfection.


There is perfection in the astonishing union of the divine and human natures. He is the God/Man; He has two natures but is one person. As in His divinity, there is perfection in His humanity.


There is perfection in His holiness and perfection in His love.

There is perfection in His power and perfection in His goodness.

When the Father looks upon Him, He sees perfection.


There is perfection in every movement of that remarkable person, in every word and deed. We have much to talk about when we gossip about the person of Jesus.


Not only do we talk about Christ’s person, but we also gossip about (2) Christ's Name.


His name is Jesus, Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14)! He is the Christ, the Son of God. His name is a proclamation of the Gospel for that name contains the excellent news that He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6). He is the unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)


His name is the joyful sound (Psalm 89:15). It is the name of names; His name is as ointment poured forth (Song of Songs 1:3). As Horatius Bonas said, “With the voice of a trumpet, we proclaim His name, that the whole earth may hear it, and rejoice in it. “


His glorious name ‘Jesus’ is the name above every name. “Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and has given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; that every knee should bow and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).


Not only do we talk about Christ’s name, but....


We also gossip about (3) His life.


He dwelt among us, doing and speaking grace. His whole life was good news; each part of it was good news for His life was a revelation of God.  When Jesus spoke, God spoke.  When Jesus healed, God healed. He was God manifest in the flesh.  In His going out and coming in, we have the good news about God.  Again Bonar says, “Miracles, parables, sermons, all contain the revelation of the mind of God. His whole life is the revelation of God’s love for His people.”


With great delight, we can learn to Gossip about Christ’s life.

Not only do we talk about Christ’s life, but...


We also gossip about (4) Christ's righteousness.


He was the Righteous One, fulfilling the law for us and accomplishing the righteous demands of God for us. Christ Jesus alone is now our righteousness. He lived suffered and died, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18).


As Luther said in his commentary on Galatians, “In that righteousness and life [of Christ] I have no sin, no sting of conscience, no care of death . . . I have another righteousness and life above this life, which is Christ the Son of God, Who knows no sin nor death but is righteousness and life eternal.—pp.105-106.


The righteousness which is imputed to us is the very righteousness of Christ.  It is His and reckoned to us freely without cost to us or cause in us.  But remember, the righteousness that saves us is nothing found within us. Although we believe in performing good works, we must also be diligent not to trust in them. To rest on saving righteousness by works is to fall from grace.


What a lot we have to gossip about.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


In part two we will consider 5 additional ways to “Gossip the Gospel.”


Please sign up your Gospel loving friends to receive the Wednesday Word. Send me their email, and I’ll make sure that they receive this Gospel Email each week.


The Wednesday Word, February 15, 2017: Gossiping the Gospel Part 2


Last time we observed how in Acts 8:4, the early church left Jerusalem and went everywhere spreading the Good News. Indeed, it could be said that they went everywhere gossiping the Gospel.  Let’s continue where we left off.


Origen, the 3rd-century theologian, inadvertently told how the church in his day embraced the practice of gossiping the Gospel. According to him, a lack of education and diminished social standing did not make the believers feel unqualified to spread the Good News. He said: “We see in private homes workers in wool and leather, laundry workers and the most illiterate and bucolic yokels who would not dare to say anything at all in front of the elders and more intelligent masters. But they get hold of the children… and (others) who are as ignorant as themselves. Then they pour out wonderful statements…”


In Part 1 we discovered that to gossip the Gospel, we learn to talk about Christ’s Person, Name, Life and Righteousness. Here, then, are some other matters about which we gossip.


When we spread the Gospel,


We gossip about (5) Christ's blood.


By His Blood-Shedding and death, Jesus has accomplished redemption for His people (Ephesians 1:7).


Our death sentence has been reversed.

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of sanctification (Hebrews 13:12).

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews13:20).

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of cleansing (1 John 1:7).

Blood has been shed…it’s precious blood - the blood of the Lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19).

Blood has been shed…it’s the blood shed for many for the remission of sins (Mark 14:24).

Blood has been shed…it’s this blood which purges the conscience (Hebrews 9:14).


Reconciliation, Redemption, Atonement, Cleansing, Sacrifice. Remission,…what excellent matters to gossip about!


Not only do we talk about Christ’s blood, but we also gossip about (6) His resurrection.


He died, was buried, but rose again. He is now the risen One.  He is not the dying one. Nor is He the dead one. He is the ever-living one!


His grave is empty, for His work is done. The work is accomplished; the seal of the tomb is broken, the stone rolled away. He is risen! His resurrection is the pledge and guarantee of ours!


Not only do we talk about Christ’s person, but we also gossip about (7) His Ascension.


After having shown Himself alive for 40 days among His disciples (Acts1:3), He was taken up both physically and visibly into the heavens (Acts 1:9).  His last physical act was to bless His people (Acts 24:50-51), and in the midst of doing this, He returned to Glory. His work on earth was done. As our substitute and final word of God to man, He successfully discharged His mission. He has ascended and is now exalted, a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).


Not only do we talk about Christ’s Ascension but we also gossip about (8) His intercession.


He ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). He is the High Priest above all priests (Hebrews 4:14). He is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). He appears for us (Hebrews 9:24). The Father hears Him always  (John 11:42). His intercession cannot fail—it is a mighty intercession - an intercession in which the Father delights.  It’s an intercession which delivers further assurance of our present and eternal security.


Not only do we talk about Christ’s intercession, but we also gossip about (9) His second coming.


“Behold, He cometh with clouds” (Revelation 1:7). “Behold, I come quickly” (Revelation 22:12). “Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousand of His saints” (Jude 1:14). As it says in the hymn 'It is well with my Soul';


“But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,

The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!

Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!”


The early Christians were full of the message of the return of the Lord. Indeed, the Church of the first century delighted in it. And, if we are to gossip the Gospel and the results of the Gospel we must gossip about a coming Christ as well as a Christ who has come.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, March 1, 2017: The Perfect Pastor


Alexander Whyte, the powerful Scottish preacher of another generation, famously said: “Only once did God chose a completely sinless preacher. There hasn't been one since!”


Yes indeed…there has been only one perfect preacher, His name was and is Jesus.  He has been and will be the only Perfect One. He is the perfect preacher; He is the perfect pastor. All mortal men of God are flawed and frail. If you haven’t noticed that, just wait long enough and you’ll get to see the picture.


Through the years, I’ve listened to people ‘shred’ their pastors because of ministerial imperfections. ‘Roast Pastor’ can often become the staple for Sunday lunch. Oh, may God deliver us from too high an expectation of any other human being.


Surprise, surprise, pastors and preachers can fall into sin. Yes, and it is shocking when they do. And yes, we do hold leaders to a higher standard. But, some people drop out because their Pastor or leader failed morally.  Unfortunately, these people have had their eyes on the wrong pastor.  If their eyes had been on Jesus, they would have seen that He was tempted in every way, just as we are - yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  He is the Perfect Pastor.  He has never failed us.


Yes, we preachers can be a sorry lot. I’ve known preachers who at the drop of a hat could spin an inventive pack of lies without blinking an eye. One man I was witnessing to said that he had no time for preachers. He explained that, as a pastime, he watched Christian TV and counted the numbers of people that evangelists claimed to have saved in the Philippines. To date, the evangelists had saved 3 times the entire population of those Islands.


But, there was no deceit with Jesus. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22).  He is the Perfect Pastor!


Some people get mad at ministers because, at times, they just don’t seem to care enough. They are too busy to listen. But, in Jesus, we have a Pastor who can and is actually touched with the very feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).


Before we begin condemning everyone, we would do well to remember that we all are sinners.  No one but Christ is perfect. We all need Grace.


Just in case you don’t see how sinful we are, here’s a bit of Biblical commentary about our condition:


"What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he puts no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinks iniquity like water?" (Job 15:14-16).


That is talking about you and me.  We are in no position to set ourselves up as condemners.


In the New Testament, the apostle John cautioned, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10). The apostle Paul summed it all up when he said, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).


So why is it then that we expect everyone around us, especially our pastors to be perfect? There has only ever been one perfect man, one perfect Preacher, one perfect Pastor


Speaking of Christ, Nicholas Batzig says:


“In a life that spanned three decades, our Lord never entertained a thought, never uttered a word, and never carried out an action that was defiled by impure motives. He always honoured His Father in heaven, always honoured His earthly father and mother, never lusted, never uttered a word in sinful anger, never gossiped about or slandered His neighbour. He never stole, never lied, and never coveted. In short, He submitted to every commandment of the law of God without wavering. He loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, and He loved His neighbour as Himself. The Scriptures bear manifold witness to this truth, and it is one of the most profitable truths upon which we ought to meditate.”


What a Perfect Saviour!

What a Perfect Pastor!

What a Perfect Hope


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, March 8, 2017:  Making Too Much of Jesus?


I’ve sometimes been accused of making too much of Jesus. I love that charge but deny it entirely. The truth is, I don’t make nearly enough of the precious Saviour.


I like what an old time Anglican Bishop said: “We can never make too much of Christ…. We can never have too high thoughts about Christ, can never love Him too much, trust Him too implicitly, lay too much weight upon Him, and speak too highly in His praise. He is worthy of all the honour that we can give Him. He will be all in heaven. Let us see to it, that He is all in our hearts on earth.”


The Bible makes much of Jesus, but never too much. I’ve been told that He can be found on every page of Holy Writ. I didn’t say I can find Him on every page, but I’m pretty confident He’s there all the same.


So tell me, how can we make too much of the One who shed His blood for our blessing?

How can we make too much of the One who has brought us to God by His own blood?

How can we make too much of the One who has given us the blessings of forgiveness, acquittal, redemption and reconciliation?


How can we make too much of the one whose blood has so thoroughly purged our sins that the Father sees neither defect nor defilement of guilt remaining on us?


If there is no blood, there is no blessing. If there is no slaughter, there is no Salvation. Mark it down; no favour can come to us apart from the shed blood of the Lord Jesus.


How then can we make too much of such a Saviour?


Please indulge me. Let me for a moment make much of Him. Did you know that His very name means Salvation? And, did you know that His priceless name is discovered all over the Old Testament?  That’s right! The name of Jesus is found in the Old Testament. Let me explain: The name by which our Master was known during His time on earth was yĕshuw`ah.  The name Jesus comes from the transliteration of yĕshuw`ah into Greek and then English


His name yĕshuw`ah (Jesus) means salvation, deliverance, victory and welfare. On 78 occasions, the word yĕshuw`ah (Jesus) is found in the Old Testament.  It’s most common translation is the word “Salvation.” This is stunning! The Old Testament is pointing out that Salvation and Jesus are one and the same. How then can we make too much of Him?


May our hearts feed on this truth.  Consider how when the word says “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation (my yĕshuw`ah…my Jesus): he is my God, …”(Exodus 15:2).

 

In Psalms 9:14, David bursts out in song saying, “I will rejoice in thy salvation.” What he actually was saying was, “I will rejoice in thy yĕshuw`ah. (Jesus).”


In Isaiah 12:2, 3 “SALVATION” is mentioned three times. Here is how it reads:

“Behold, God is my Yĕshuw`ah; (my Jesus) I will trust, and not be afraid: for Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is Yĕshuw`ah (Jesus). Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of Yĕshuw`ah (Jesus).


Then there’s “But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation (yĕshuw`ah)” Psalm 13:5.


 And again, “Oh that the salvation (yĕshuw`ah), of Israel were come out of Zion! When God brings back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad” (Psalm 53:6).

These are but a few instances!


It’s no wonder then that Jesus declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). It’s without surprise that He unashamedly announced, "I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 22:13).


We have only begun to scratch the surface of the unsearchable treasures of Christ. We can never make too much of Him.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, March 15, 2017: The Wonderful Number 7


There is something magnificent about the number seven in Scripture.

It is the number of completeness, perfection and rest.

 

Consider these sevens:

 

There were 7 days of creation.

There are 7 days of the week.

 It was the 7th animal that was sacrificed at Noah’s sacrifice.

Joshua marched around Jericho 7 times.

7 priests with 7 trumpets also marched around Jericho.

On the 7th day, they trooped around the walls 7 times.

Naaman washed 7 times in the Jordan.

Elijah prayed 7 times.

Every 7th day was a Sabbath.

Every 7th year was a Sabbath year.

Every 7 times 7 years was a year of Jubilee.

Three of the feasts of Israel lasted 7 days.

Between the first and second feasts, there were 7 days.

There were 7 days of the feast of Passover.

Jesus is the seven-fold “I AM.”

There are 7 petitions in the Lord’s Prayer.

7 loaves were multiplied into 7 basketfuls.

Jesus performed 7 miracles on the Sabbath.

The term “First and the Last” is used 7 times.

There are 7 seals in the Book of Revelation.

There were 7 churches,

7 candlesticks,

7 stars,

7 spirits before the throne of God.

Before His crucifixion, Christ passed through 7 trials.

There were 7 accusations against Him.

There were 7 questions from Pilate to Christ, and there were 7 sayings from the cross.

 

In the book of Hebrews, seven titles refer to Christ.

1) He is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2),

2) The Captain of our salvation (2:10),

3) The Apostle (3:1),

4) The ‘Author of salvation (5:9),

5) The Forerunner (6:20),

6) The High Priest (10:21)

7) The Author and finisher of our faith (12:2).


What a seven-fold declaration of His perfection.

 

Then in Revelation 5:6 “…, lo, in the midst of the throne …stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”

 

Again, note the number 7. Observe how the Lamb had seven horns. The horn was a symbol of authority and strength and being that there are seven horns, we are being pointed to the perfect power and omnipotence of the Lord Jesus. Christ is omnipotent and is, therefore, God! Only He who is omnipotent can exert supremacy.

 

The seven eyes present a picture of the Lamb’s perfect Omniscience. This language corresponds directly with Zechariah 3:9 and 4:10, where we encounter God’s omniscience displayed by the seven eyes.   God knows everything; He is Omniscient! Let’s face it: if He didn’t know everything, He wouldn’t be much of a God!  He would be a very limited sort of a fellow and certainly no one to whom we could bring our deepest concerns and questions.  If indeed God does not know all things I, for one, would be in a panic for who then could shepherd me?

 

Spurgeon tells the story of how a great Grecian artist was fashioning an image for a temple and was diligently carving the back part of the goddess. Someone said to him, "You need not finish that part of the statue because it is to be built into the wall."


He replied, "The gods can see in the wall."


The artist had the wrong God but the right idea of omniscience. The Lord Christ sees everything; He’s Omniscient.

 

The Seven Spirits sent forth are a declaration of Christ’s Omnipresence!

 

As you know, Omnipresence is one of the mighty attributes of God (Isaiah 66:1). Although God is not referred to directly in scripture as being Omnipresent, we know that His omnipresence is related to His omnipotence and omniscience. All three of these attributes work in concert. The fact that He is everywhere (omnipresent) means He knows everything (omniscience) and that He is everywhere (omnipresent) establishes that there is nowhere from which His power is excluded (omnipotence).

 

We are saved by He who is perfect.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word' March 22, 2017: Worry or Worship


“Be careful for nothing (don’t worry about anything), but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).


Does this mean that the act of saying our prayers brings peace? No!  There is a big difference between prayers and praying.


What we do learn from this scripture, however, is that believing, thankful, earnest praying is the antidote to worry. This kind of praying will slay worry while it releases the peace of God in the depth of our beings.

Listen to me, worry will circumvent the peace of God in our lives.  But, believing, earnest, thankful prayer will destroy all anxiety.


One old time preacher observed, "Worry, is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere."  That’s so true! We as Gospel believes, however, are to be “careful for nothing, prayerful for everything and thankful for anything.”


In our praying, we draw near to the God who is never subject to worry. He is the sovereign, omnipotent, creator and Lord of the universe. He has nothing to worry about. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He’s not wondering how things will turn out. He is at peace!  He has bought and paid for us so we also need not worry. We are now, as we grow in grace, learning to thank Him for all that He is and all that He has done for us. We are worshippers not worriers.


Lest we misunderstand, as believers, we already have peace.  Earnest praying does not create it. Jesus has already given the gift of peace to every believer. In John 14:27 He promised, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”


All Gospel believers have this peace…..our problem is that we often allow many things to disrupt it. Our Christian life begins with peace. By faith, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).  The war is over.  We have been brought near by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 2:13).


Then comes the peace of God. It is humanly inexplicable (Philippians 4:7). It passes understanding. It garrisons our hearts and minds.  We are kept! The word “keep” means “to stand guard over.”  It’s interesting to note that when Paul wrote these very words, he had a Roman guard on either side of him. They were “standing guard” over the great apostle.  It’s no wonder that Paul says that God’s peace is like a guard that protects the heart from anxiety and worry!


Because of the blood, we are already- in intimate, permanent union with Christ (Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 10:19.)


Oh, that we would learn not to worry.  Worry destroys our peace. Yet, as believers, we so often willingly and readily enter into the disobedience of worry. However, God’s promise is that His peace will “keep” our “hearts and our minds.” Oh that we would learn by heart and live in Isaiah 26:3 which says: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.”


We are faced with 2 choices today… Worry or Worship


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, March 29, 2017: The Unlikely Gospel!


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And the cynic says, “That’s impossible.”

 

Impossible to believe? Yes indeed, the whole thing is impossible to believe unless the Holy Spirit possesses us and, in grace, opens our spiritual eyes.  It’s all impossible to grasp unless He gives us faith to believe. He lets us see that the baby born in the stable was the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6).  He births faith that we might see that our redemption and security are in the Lamb of God alone (John 1:29).  He convinces us that our righteousness is in Christ alone (Jeremiah 23:6).  He shows us that, because of the blood, our conscience can be at peace (Hebrews 9:14). He guarantees us that we are fully accepted in heaven, right now and forever, because of Jesus (Ephesians 1:6). He assures us that our adversary, Satan, has been judged and defeated at the cross (Colossians 2:15). He persuades us that there is a fierce judgment to come and yet witnesses to us that as His blood washed people, we have nothing to fear (Romans 3:25).


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


"This is the way in which the Holy Ghost glorifies Jesus: He gives the believer such views of the infinite fullness and everlasting sufficiency of Emmanuel, that he is quite satisfied with Him." William Romaine: Letter 11 (Dec. 29th, 1764).

 

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

 

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

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, April 4, 2017: Have You Met Brother Earnest Effort?


Have you ever met Brother Earnest Effort? He’s a decent soul, but alas, he has not been established in the Gospel Truth. All he knows to do is ‘to do’! He makes his efforts and his heart condition the centre of his Christian life.


Without knowing it, he is brewing a lethal cocktail for himself! After continually taking stock of himself, he sees the ongoing rottenness of his very being. After all, he lives with himself. Everywhere he goes — there he is. He has tried rededicating himself to God so often that his re-dedicator has just about worn out.

He still sees his secret thoughts, and they are not good (Romans 7:18). He knows the cesspool of filth that bubbles up at the most inopportune moments (Romans 3:10). He gets deeply troubled by the continual plague of lusts and wicked thoughts that bombard him, but instead of looking to Christ for deliverance he looks for comfort and aid everywhere else.


He tries more discipline and gets up earlier to have his quiet time. He volunteers to help with the feeding program for the homeless. But still, everywhere he goes, there he is!


And Brother Earnest Effort is a member of a church. He sometimes hands out the bulletins and is on the greeting committee. His church is full of nice decent people who talk about the Christian life, but it’s a dangerous church..... in fact, it’s lethal…it does not have the Gospel on centre stage.


Brother E. Effort takes his seat each Sunday and week after week Pastor Practical Preacher gets up and teaches the folks how they can have a better life. He shares how they can be debt free; how to succeed in life; how to have a better marriage; why they should not gossip; five steps to victory, how to overcome a bad temper and the like.  But Brother Earnest Effort, while he appreciates all the new information he gets each week, remains deeply anguished, troubled and untouched.


Brother Effort agrees with Pastor Preacher. He looks again at his heart and is overcomewith guilt. He says to himself, “Pastor Preacher is quite right, I shouldn’t gossip and judge; I shouldn’t get annoyed and angry with people the way I do, but after all this time I still keep falling into these things. There’s only one thing that must be the matter, I must not be saved!”


After several years of this, Brother Earnest Effort feels so condemned that he eventually drops out of Church life, separates himself from the church assembly and joins the ranks of the casualties and spiritual cripples! One of the ironies of the whole thing is, after wounding him with legalistic subjectivism, the church then condemns him because he dropped out. Pastor Preacher then says with pious voice, “He went out from us, but he was not of us; if he had been of us he would surely have remained with us.” Thus Brother E. Effort is discarded and left to wonder why it is that the Church is the only army on earth that buries their wounded!


What Brother Effort was not taught, however, was that actual guilt free victorious living can only be realized through continual exposure to the Gospel. That’s one of the reasons why the Gospel is the essential message for believers. But Brother Earnest Effort never really got to hear the Gospel because Pastor Practical Preacher pandered to the subjective cravings of his congregation.

Brother Effort, therefore, never grasped the good news that the big issue wasn’t him, but rather the Lamb!

Is the Lamb, a suitable sacrifice, —that’s the issue!


Was Jesus qualified to die?


Was He sinlessly perfect?


In the Old Testament, the High Priest examined the lamb. If the sacrificial lamb was found to be without blemish or impediment, it was reckoned as a fitting sacrifice, and the guilty party went free. The priest examined the Lamb, not the one who brought the lamb. If the lamb was accepted, then the one who brought the lamb was accepted and reckoned as innocent in virtue of the fact that the lamb would die as his substitute.


So it is with us today. Our Lamb, The Lord Jesus, has been slain and because of His shed blood, all charges against us have been dropped. The Father has examined His Son and is satisfied. His sacrifice has been accepted, and as proof of this, Christ has been raised from the dead. This is the basis of the guilt-free life! God sees your lamb, the Lord Jesus, without flaw, spot or imperfection and that, therefore, is the way He sees you. Your sins have been utterly purged by the perfect blood of your perfect High Priest and by that same perfect offering you have been perfected and sanctified.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, April 12, 2017: Abounding, Astounding Grace!


“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24


When we are said to be justified, it doesn’t mean we have been made righteous, it means we have been declared righteous. Even though we are sinners, the all-holy and righteous God has given us righteous standing before Him. This is astonishing! The very righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is reckoned to us, and it is in this imputed righteousness alone that we are safe to approach the all-holy One.

 

We are justified and according to our text, FREELY so.  To be freely justified means not only are we acquitted, but also this verdict of acquittal is not because of any reason in us. It is free. Lenski, the Lutheran commentator, calls this aspect of salvation pure, abounding, astounding grace.

The legally binding verdict of the all-knowing Judge is that we are not guilty.  It is worth pausing and thinking about that.  What a profound truth… May it liberate our hearts and free us from condemnation!

 

Zinzendorf said it well:


“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.


Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through these I am

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

 

When from the dust of death I rise

To claim my mansion in the skies,

Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,

Jesus has lived, and died, for me.”

 

We are justified freely by grace.  It has often been said that justification can be summed up with the phrase, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” It does indeed mean that, but it means much more.   It means, "Just as if I had lived the same life as Jesus lived!"  When we are justified, we have the very life of Christ imputed to us.  When justified, we are much more than pardoned.  When a person is pardoned, their punishment is remitted, but the grounds for their condemnation are not removed. This is far from Justification.

 

Sometimes, I am accused of making too much of the distinction of the basis of Justification being righteousness imputed to us and not infused into us. “It’s all semantics,” my critics say, “You are too technical.”  This kind of comment, however, puts me in memory of the story of the man who sought some advice from a governmental agency about using a particular chemical in his business.  The agency wrote back, but the letter was couched in such technical language that he couldn’t understand it. So he assumed it was alright to use the chemical and he wrote back thanking the agency for informing him and that he would go ahead and use it.  When the department saw his letter, they, realizing what had happened, wrote back immediately and said just these simple words, “Don’t use that chemical, it will rust the heck out of your pipes.”


The man got the message!

 

Likewise, we need to be clear on the message that Gospel Justification has nothing to do with righteousness being infused into us. Great spiritual harm has come when people are not clear that we have been acquitted, not because of any reason in us but because salvation has been accomplished outside of us, in history, by Grace Alone.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, April 19, 2017: I Am He!


“I said therefore unto you that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I AM (he), you shall die in your sins.” John 8:24


Jesus is the great ‘I Am,' the mighty God of Scripture….. (Exodus 3:14; John 1:1-7; John 6:33-35;  John 8:12; John 8:58; John 10:7-9; John 10:14-15; John 10:30).


Nevertheless, many misguided people say He was merely a good teacher. Consider, however, what the Master taught in John 8:24. There, He makes a most outrageous claim…one that is hardly the mild assertion of a modest and temperate instructor of righteousness. He declares,


I said therefore unto you that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I AM (he), you shall die in your sins.”


This is scarcely the contention of a good teacher who although a good man, was not God.  Christ was claiming, in this verse, that unless we believe that He is the eternal, self-existent one, we will perish.


It should be noted that the word ‘he’ in verse 24 is in italics thereby showing that it does not appear in the original.  Rather, the translators supply it.  In this verse, therefore, Jesus makes a direct claim to deity!  So, was this man Jesus mad or was He actually telling the truth?


By saying "Unless you believe that ‘I am’" Jesus asserts that we must believe that He is the mighty God; We must believe that He is the eternal deity. We must believe that He is the promised Messiah. We must believe that He is the faithful covenant God.


I am”---what a claim! It is a shocking declaration if it is honest and equally outrageous if it is not!  If it is not true, it is a scurrilous affair for any mere man to make such an alarming and blasphemous assertion. Off with His Head!


If it is true, however, Jesus is claiming that there is no salvation outside of believing that He is Yahweh, the eternally self-existent One (Isaiah 43:10).  Christ is teaching that belief in His true identity is not an option.  “If you reject my identity, you shall die in your sins” is His solemn, twice-repeated warning.


So you say you are a Christian, yet you reject Christ as God?  You then must assume Christ to be confused for, He whom you call your Saviour says He does not save those who reject Him as God.


He says you will die in your sins if you reject His deity.


You will die as a wretch without a mediator.


You will bear responsibility for your sins before the judgment seat.


Neither a super-angel nor a God-inspired man can deliver you.  Indeed, no one can deliver you from the coming wrath except He who is fully God and man! Reject Christ’s deity, and you will perish.


William Romaine is judicious on this point of Christ’s Deity.  He writes:


“Let no person think that this is a speculative point. It is not an indifferent thing whether you receive it or not, but your eternal state depends upon it, you must receive it, or perish forever; for whosoever disbelieves it shall be damned. This may sound very harsh to the ears of free and candid inquirers, but I really cannot soften it.  … The Almighty has threatened to inflict it (damnation) upon the deniers of Christ’s divinity and let men make ever so light of it, He will infallibly inflict it; and, therefore, I must again admonish you, that whoever does not believe Jesus Christ to be self-existent, … shall be damned.”

William Romaine: The Self-Existence of Jesus Christ:


And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, April 26, 2017: Jesus, the Real Bread for the Hungry Soul


In John’s Gospel, we find the seven ‘I Am’ scriptures, spoken by Jesus to declare His Deity.  Among them, we find John 6:35,


“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”


Listening to this, we must conclude that, if Jesus is not God, He can hardly be viewed as a repository of deep humility.  Here, He declares Himself as the Bread of Life; the one who gives life to the world. What a cheek …that is if He is not God!


Indeed, when we read this discourse, in John 6, we discover that Jesus makes a sevenfold reference to Himself as the Bread of Life (see verses 32-33, 35, 48, 50 -51, 58). According to Jesus, this is the very bread that must be eaten, by faith, to receive everlasting life (see verses 50, 51- 53, 54, 56, 57, 58).


We should note that the Roman Communion makes much of these statements to establish her wretched doctrine of the Mass.  They painstakingly fail, however, to point out that this discourse has nothing whatsoever do with the Last Supper… They also fail to note that Christ’s language in this passage is figurative, not literal, the Lord’s Supper not being in existence until about a year later.


The bread to which Christ refers is Christ Himself. He, as our High Priest, offered Himself on the altar of Calvary, redeemed His people and answered the sin question as He satisfied the justice of God.  When we receive Him by faith alone, we are figuratively eating His flesh and drinking His blood.


In verse 33 He says, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.”


Notice how Jesus referred to Himself as, “He which cometh down from heaven.”  By this term, Jesus is again asserting His deity! In the Old Testament, to “come down from heaven” meant a divine descent from the throne of God to accomplish a task of either grace or judgment.


In Genesis 11: 4 and 7, for example, God “came down” in Judgment against the Tower of Babel.


In Genesis 18:21, God, regarding Sodom, says “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me.”


Regarding the people of Israel in Exodus 3:8, the Lord says, “I am come down to deliver them.”


In Exodus 19:20, God “comes down” upon the mount of Sinai to give His law.


In Psalm 18:9 He “… bowed the heavens and came down” in answer to cries of distress.

Since to come down from heaven is God’s work and prerogative, we once more see the Master making the grand declaration that He is God manifest in the flesh.


In summary:


Jesus as the Bread of life is the sustainer of life that means He is God.

Jesus declares He has come down from heaven … again that means He is God.

Jesus claims that union with Him is essential to eternal life … again that means He is God.

Now here’s the question. Have we eaten of the Bread of Life? Have we tasted and seen that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8)?  Are we still looking anywhere but the Gospel for satisfaction?


In Greek mythology, Tantalus was made to stand in a pool of water, right under the branches of a fruit tree. However, when he tried to reach for fruit, the branches would go higher and out of reach.  When he tried to drink a sip of water, the waters of the pool would recede.  A symbol of utter frustration, his name is immortalized in the English word "tantalize." So, too, the world may at times tantalize the Child of God. It promises much but delivers nothing. Only Christ can give us a cleansed conscience.  Only Christ can remove our guilt and give genuine peace. He is the Bread of Life.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, May 2, 2017: Fake News!


I recently spoke to a gentleman who told me he didn’t know which news reports to believe because there is so much Fake News being put out there. Yes indeed, it seems that we are inundated with the stuff.  But even in Christian circles,  we are being attacked by Fake News.  Here are some items for your consideration.


Fake News 1: We can be good enough to earn Eternal Life.


This piece of Fake News was dealt the death blow when the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”(Matthew 19:26) Jesus responded, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”


How then can any of us be good enough to save ourselves? We can’t!  It’s fake news.

God does not accept us because we are good. Our salvation was settled by the blood of the Lord Jesus at Calvary. Although we are helplessly sinful, God in grace has forgiven His children completely. He bought us and paid for us. It's by His infinite grace that we are saved, not by our moral character. Salvation is not accomplished by our works of righteousness, commandment-keeping, or churchgoing. It is because of the doing dying and rising again of the Lord Jesus Christ that we receive the guarantee of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

 

Fake News 2: Asking Jesus into our heart saves us.


The expression, "Ask Jesus into your heart," is not found in the Bible.  It is Fake News! No apostle ever preached it.  No one in the Bible is recorded as ever using the phrase. The New Testament preachers would find it a foreign slogan if they were here today.


We are not saved by Jesus coming into our hearts, but rather we are saved by the coming of Christ into the world in His once-for-all doing, dying and rising again.


Here’s a much better sinners prayer than that of asking Jesus into the heart,


“God of my salvation, hear, and help me to believe:

Simply would I now draw near, thy blessings to receive.

Full of guilt, alas I am, but to thy wounds for refuge flee;

Friend of sinners, spotless Lamb, thy blood was shed for me.”

George Whitefield


Fake News 3:  We Are Saved by the New Birth!


Although the New Birth is scriptural and vital, it is not the Gospel. The New Birth does not save us. It does not give us right standing before God.


Although the new birth is a necessity and a reality, the new birth justifies no one. In spite of what we so commonly hear, a person is not saved by being born again! That’s Fake News! The New Birth was not the Gospel proclamation of the New Testament.


To teach that we are saved by the New Birth is to hold to the Roman Catholic notion that regeneration justifies us. To teach such is to confound the work of the Son for us with the work of the Spirit in us.

 

Fake News 4: Once we have eternal life, we can lose it!


To believe a man can lose salvation is to launch a bitter attack on the saving abilities of the Lord Jesus. If you think Jesus might lose you, please don’t refer to Him as the Good Shepherd…a good shepherd doesn’t lose sheep.  Instead, call Him the Lousy Shepherd. He’s not to be trusted.


Think of this!

How can He possibly lose you since.....


He chose you unto salvation from the beginning … Did he make the wrong choice?

He purchased you with His saving blood. Was the purchase invalid?

If He can lose you, then you are saying He is just not powerful enough to protect and keep you.

He gave Himself as our ransom.  Was the payment insufficient?

By Himself, He purged our sins. Was the purging of our sins not thorough enough?

Shun Fake News!

 

The believer’s standing with God can never be improved upon. This is because of the unique, holy history of Jesus of Nazareth in His doing, dying and rising again.  His life and death are accepted by the Father as ours.  When He was punished, we were punished. When He died, we died, When He arose, we arose. Now, because of the never to be repeated Christ event, our sins no longer come between God and us (Hebrews 10:14).

 

We should always shun Fake News.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, May 10, 2017: God's Hidden Face

By Pastor Joseph Terrell

Grace Community Church of Rock Valley, IA


I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding His face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. ~Isaiah 8.17


Child of God, do you not find that your most difficult times are those in which the Lord "hides His face"? When God leads a child of His into some deep sorrow of life - some sickness, reversal of fortune or some great loss - such sorrow is bearable if his child can say with confidence, "Even if He leads me through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for my God is with me!" If we sense that God is present with us, we fear no harm even if thousands upon thousands are opposed to us.


But God purposefully hides His face from His people. He withdraws the tokens of His presence. He lets our minds become clouded with doubts. He allows a fog of emotional distress to hide His presence with us. We cannot see Him for He has hidden Himself. The thought that God would hide himself from us only serves to strengthen our distress for we conclude that He would not do so if He loved us.


We surmise that any gracious thought of God toward us would certainly lead to His bestowing rich temporal blessings upon us - "smiling down from heaven" so to speak. But our experience teaches us differently. Sometimes at the very point at which it would seem most helpful to us for God somehow to affirm His presence with us He becomes invisible. He hides. We call out, yet it seems no one is listening. We read His Word yet it seems no one is speaking. We feel horribly closed off and alone


We are all familiar with lighthouses. They serve to warn ships of the location of the shoreline so as to prevent them from crashing on the rocks. But, what of foggy nights when the light cannot be seen? A lighthouse is useless in a dense fog until the ship is too close to avoid danger. At such times, a fog horn is sounded. It may not be as cheering as the light on a clear night. But it tells the captain of the ship all that the light could tell him. It assures him that those concerned for the safety of the ship are still there. And it provides him with the information necessary to avoid the shallow waters of destruction.


The Lord Jesus did not say, "My sheep see my face and they follow me." He said, "My sheep HEAR MY VOICE, and they follow me." His voice is the gospel. It is the gospel to which we must ever be attentive. Who knows, our seeking to "see Him" may be the very reason He has hidden His face. We have sought subjective experience rather than objective truth. So He hides His face so that we will be forced to listen to His voice. When we cannot see, let us listen carefully.


When the light is obscured by the fog of our natural selves or even by providential circumstances, let us listen. And as we listen, let us wait, knowing that the face of the Lord will once again appear to our hearts. His voice assures us that He is near and this gives us hope that, in time, He shall appear. And as we wait, let us trust. Sometimes, we do not "see His face" for very long stretches of time. In this our faith is tested. We walk by faith, not by sight. We must simply trust His word - His voice - or we will despair of His goodness and seek our safety elsewhere. God grant that in seasons of no sight, we will content ourselves with the sound of His voice.

The Wednesday Word, May 17, 2017: What Does That Mean? (Part 1) - Grace Alone


When we say we are justified by Grace alone, it means that, even though in and of ourselves we are unacceptable, we have divine acceptance through the doing dying and rising again of our Lord, Jesus Christ.


Grace alone means favour and welcome shown to the rebellious and undeserving. Such is God’s grace that sinners are said to be justified freely (Romans 3:24). To be justified "freely" means not only to be declared ‘Not Guilty’ but also signifies that we are declared not guilty without any cause in us.


It is only through the Gospel that we see God’s gracious and righteous acceptance of unacceptable people. No amount of trying to obey God’s Law on our part could have obtained our acquittal. No amount of personal character or self-denial by us ever causes God to regard us as acceptable in His sight. We have His favour only by pure and undeserved grace. That’s part of what we mean by Grace Alone.


Grace pursued this sinner when I was pursuing sin. Grace found me, saved me and has kept me continually. Grace, you see, is not a one-time event. In this life, we stand in need of God’s unfailing and unceasing grace. If we are attempting to find acceptance and welcome before the Father because of our moral character, we have fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).


Pastor Larry Criss says,

“I know this, I am a great sinner, and nothing less than great grace will do anything for me.

I need reigning grace, grace that is greater than all my sin.

I need grace to keep me from falling, and grace to present me faultless before the throne of God.

I need grace to live by and grace to die by."


Just as it was grace that called me, it is grace that will not let me go. If God’s great salvation is not grace from beginning to end, if anything about salvation is dependent on me, I have no hope at all. But thank God, that is not the case. God’s grace has kept me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”


From beginning to end, we are saved by grace. That’s another part of what we mean when we say we are saved by Grace alone.


Everything to do with our salvation is because of Grace. If we have been regenerated, it was by the power of God. That’s grace! If we have repented, our repentance was the sovereign gift of God. That’s grace. If we are believers, our faith was the sovereign work of God. That’s Grace!


To recap, if we are to be saved, God must save us by Grace alone. No combination of Grace and works will do. Salvation comes from the hand of the all gracious God.


“Not what my hands have done

Can save my guilty soul;

Not what my toiling flesh has borne

Can make my spirit whole.


Not what I feel or do

Can give me peace with God;

Not all my prayers and sighs and tears

Can bear my awful load.


No other work save thine,

No other blood will do;

No strength save that which is divine

Can bear me safely through.”

Bonar


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, May 24, 2017: What Does That Mean? (Part 2) - Christ Alone

 

When we say we believe in ‘Christ Alone,’ we mean that Christ’s doing, dying and rising again constitute our only basis of acceptance before God. He alone is our Substitute and Surety. He alone has fully satisfied the just demands of the eternal majesty. Christ alone, therefore, is all our hope.


Furthermore, when we hold to ‘Christ Alone, we believe that Christ’s finished work was altogether sufficient to secure the acquittal of His people. This is good news indeed. There is nothing that needs to be added to Christ’s work, and nothing must be subtracted (Ecclesiastes 3:14). Because of the finished work of Christ, Divine justice regards the elect as having already been punished in the person of their substitute. Our salvation has been secured by one man, the God/Man.  The very mention of His name is music and health

to the believer.


It’s no wonder that John Newton wrote,

“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

In the believer’s ear

It soothes his sorrows

Heals his wounds

And drives away his fears.”

 

Christ alone brings us to God (1 Peter 3:18) and brings God to us.  He is the only one who is able to do this since He suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust. When we believe in ‘Christ Alone’ we have confidence that outside of Him there is no salvation. For the believer, Christ alone is the source and content of salvation. In salvation, Christ alone gets the credit, and we get the gift!

 

He saved us.

No church saved us.

No religious act on our part saved us.

We were, are and will be entirely saved by Christ alone.


We are saved by free, unconditional, invincible grace. For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man, someone would even dare to die.  But God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (see Romans 5:6-10).


Christ's sinless life and atoning death have been accepted by the Father as ours. His doing and dying of two thousand years ago is the only ground of our acceptance with God today. This is what we mean when we say we believe in Christ Alone.


“Here we have a firm foundation;

Here the refuge of the lost;

Christ's the Rock of our salvation,

His the name of which we boast.

Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,

Sacrifice to cancel guilt!

None shall ever be confounded

Who on Him their hope have built.”

Thomas Kelly


Christ alone has been found pleasing in the Father’s sight. So, since repetition is the price of learning, let’s say it again….There is but one reason only for our acceptance with God—Christ Alone!

There are no other ways to God but in Christ alone. Let us not forget this, Jesus unashamedly claimed to be God in human flesh appearing. Now, if the one true and living God has come for our salvation, what other way to God can there be? Since Christ alone is God, we can ruthlessly and immediately dispense with all other supposed ways of salvation. They are all fabrications of men’s imaginations and devising.  There is only one salvation, and it comes to us in Christ alone.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, May 31, 2017: What Does That Mean? (Part 3) - Faith Alone


Romans 3:21-22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 10:3


Faith Alone (Sola Fide) was the battle cry of the Reformation.  It’s a radical truth that will deliver us from self-absorption and legalism.

It is a vital truth, therefore, we must get it straight.  We receive our salvation by faith + nothing. Neither ceremonies nor rituals need apply for the job. Faith alone grasps that all which is necessary for our acceptance with God has already been done by God Himself in His great redemptive act in Jesus Christ.

 

To paraphrase the Australian Forum, “Faith receives that the God/Man, Jesus Christ, in our name and our behalf, met all our obligations before the bar of eternal justice.”

 Faith understands that our salvation was secured by a complete and perfect work. Faith alone apprehends that we cannot add or contribute anything to Christ’s accomplishments.


This, however, does not mean that faith is our Saviour. Faith was not led as a lamb to the slaughter.  Nevertheless, faith causes us to look to our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus, as our only hope. Faith never looks at itself.  It provides no foundation of safety for the believer.

Gospel faith is the opposite of having a vague faith in some God out there. Having a general sort of faith is not saving faith.


Some people may actually believe that for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows! But, that’s not saving faith.


Someone says, “I believe that everything will turn out for good in the end.” Good for you, but that is not saving faith.


Others say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe sincerely.” That’s not saving faith, and besides, it is nonsense. It’s like saying, “It doesn’t matter what medicine I take, as long as I’m sincere.” Welcome to the funeral parlour.

 

Faith, Gospel Faith, on the other hand, grasps that God's saving work has been done completely outside of our own experience. Indeed, gospel faith comprehends that the Finished Work was in no way accomplished inside the believer. As John Bunyan pertinently says, "……., this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world; namely, that a righteousness that resides in heaven should justify me, a sinner on earth!"  (Bunyan: Justified by and Imputed Righteousness)


Faith embraces that God is righteous, holy, just, and loving. Faith recognizes that we have sinned against this same God. Faith perceives that, outside of grace, we stand guilty and condemned. But, faith also embraces that Jesus is God clothed in a human body. Faith sees Him and His perfection as the substitute for sinners.

Gospel Faith sees that all our sins have been paid for. Not one of them has been left to damn us.


Faith receives this and makes it our own.

Faith sees that our sins are not put away by confession.

Faith sees that our sins are not put away by fasting.

Faith sees that our sins are not put away by prayer.

Faith sees that our sins are not put away by popes, prelates or priests.

 

Faith, however, sees that, at the cross,

Sin was condemned,

Justice was satisfied,

The Law was magnified,

God was glorified,

The sinner was saved and our adversary, Satan, was utterly confounded!

 

And that's the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, June 7, 2017: What Does That Mean? (Part 4)

Sola Scriptura

 

“We’re not just dogmatic about this, we’re bulldog-matic. Sola Scripture (Scripture alone) is a non-negotiable” (Dr. Steven Lawson).


The teaching of Scripture alone refers to the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice. Sola Scriptura was another great rallying cry of the Reformation. For centuries the Papal Communion had declared its traditions to be superior in authority to the Bible. This resulted in many practices that were horribly contradictory to the Scripture. For example


Prayer to the saints,

Prayer to Mary,

The Immaculate Conception,

Transubstantiation,

Baptismal regeneration,

The supremacy and authority of the Pope.

 

The Bible alone is our ultimate authority—not the Pope, not traditions, not church councils, not subjective feelings, but Scripture alone. Therefore, if any teachings differ from Scripture, they are to be judged by the Bible and rejected, rather than vice versa.


The Bible is the final authority, that’s what we mean by Sola Scriptura.


The Reformers believed the Bible to be their final authority. Likewise, we believe that it is the final court of appeal on all doctrinal and moral matters. All Popes and Councils are fallible. The Bible alone is infallible.

At the Diet of Worms (AD 1521), when called on to renounce his supposed errors. Martin Luther replied,

"Unless I am convinced by testimonies of Scripture or by evident reason ..for I believe neither the Pope nor Councils alone since it is established that they have often erred and contradicted themselves-I am the prisoner of the Scriptures cited by me, and my conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."


This is Sola Scriptura.


Our opponents, however, insist that the Bible nowhere teaches Sola Scriptura.  This is nonsense! Although no one verse declares Sola Scriptura, the Bible clearly states “All scripture is given by inspiration of God … 2 Timothy 3:16-17.


The Greek word for "inspired" describes ships sails filled, being carried along over the seas. Our scriptures are quite literally God breathed!


Since God is the author of the Scriptures, we can be confident that any teaching which is at variance with the truth of His Word is wrong.


This is Sola Scriptura.


Every Scripture is the product of the Spirit’s work. He inspired the Bible writers and gave them His words. And even though God's Word and the scribe’s personality were in some way intertwined, every Word came from God Himself.


This is Sola Scriptura.


We must, therefore, either recognize the divine origin of the Bible or deny it.  However, if we deny the Bible as being the very Word of God, we deny the fact that what the Bible says, God says. We will then eventually deny the reliability of the glorious promises of the Word and will soon deny salvation by grace alone and other precious truths.  We will then be like a rudderless ship on its way to disaster.


Jesus held to the authority of Scripture.


Finally, let us look to the Master. He was a man of the Scriptures.  Three times, in the wilderness, He was tempted by the Devil, and each time He boldly replied "IT IS WRITTEN" (Matthew 4:1-11).


Also, consider these sayings of His;“And Jesus answering said unto them, “Do ye not therefore err because you know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark 12:24).


"The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him" (Matthew 26:24)


“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Matthew (21:42)


"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify of Me” (John 5:39)


“But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:54)


“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).


Jesus believed in the authority of Scripture.

So do I!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

 

For more on this excellent subject of Sola Scriptura see:

https://www.monergism.com/topics/sola-scriptura

The Wednesday Word, June 14, 2017 - What Does That Mean? (Part 5) - Soli Deo Gloria


Glory to God alone Romans 11:36


Soli Deo Gloria was one of the five mighty battle cries of the Reformation. It means that we, in all matters, are called to Glorify God alone.


But what does ‘To Glorify’ mean?


It means simply to honour and praise the Lord alone. To Him alone belongs magnificence, excellence, pre-eminence, and dignity. We are called to worship Him. And why not?  He is God after all.

No man can take credit for what Yahweh has done, and no man can compare Himself to who He is.


He is perfect in all His ways (Deuteronomy 32:4).  Soli Deo Gloria.


He is Light (1 John 1:5). Soli Deo Gloria


He is Love (1 John 4:16). Soli Deo Gloria.


He is Fire (Hebrews 12:29). Soli Deo Gloria.


He is Sovereign (Deuteronomy 3:24). Soli Deo Gloria.


He is Holy (Leviticus 19:2). Soli Deo Gloria.


He is Merciful and Gracious (Psalm 103:8).  Soli Deo Gloria.

 

He did all the work in salvation. He is, therefore, worthy of all the praise and all the honour.  Soli Deo Gloria.


He gave us the faith to believe the Gospel. Soli Deo Gloria.


He baptized us into the salvation provided by Christ’s doing, dying and rising again. Soli Deo Gloria.


He ransomed, redeemed and reconciled us. Soli Deo Gloria.


Here’s a striking fact…..all things are for His glory, not ours! Yahweh, speaking through Isaiah (48:11) tells us; “For my own sake, even for my own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”


God’s salvation is for Himself and for His Glory! Soli Deo Gloria.


Many folks sincerely believe that they give glory to God for their salvation.  But it’s all in their imagination for they cannot say that they give glory to Him alone.  They are clinging to grace + their contribution of good works.  But, this is not Bible salvation. Salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end.

Soli Deo Gloria.


As a result of the Gospel, we can lead lives which glorify God.  We have been ransomed, redeemed and reconciled to God Himself in the person of His Son, the God/Man Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria.


It is no wonder then that Paul says in 1Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Soli Deo Gloria.


In practical terms, Soli Deo Gloria means that everything we do is to be done for God's glory.  Man’s pride and glory are excluded. We are to be motivated and inspired by God's glory and not our own. He is the goal of our salvation.  We, of course, are the beneficiaries of His matchless grace, but we are not the center of God’s plan.  Ephesians 1:10 informs us of God’s ultimate intention saying, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”


That’s how the future looks!


Soli Deo Gloria


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, June 21, 2017:  The Wonderful Priesthood of the Believer!


1 Peter 2:5, “You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”


1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.”

 


Who better to tell us that all believers are priests than Peter?  He, after all, was, according to Rome, the first Pope.  So, speak up Peter and tell us what you know about Priests. …. And Peter, pointing to the Scriptures, declares boldly that all believers are now Priests.


The Old priesthood has gone.Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, has made us a kingdom, priests before the Father. Because we are made priests, we, therefore, do not need human priests or so-called holy men to represent us before God. Every believer, without exception, is now a member of the royal priesthood. As priests, we go directly to God through Christ alone.


We, as believers, enjoy direct access into the very presence of God through Christ Jesus!


All believers are now in Christ, and it is in Him that we are a holy priesthood.  Since repetition is the price of learning, let’s repeat it… we go straight to the Father because of Christ alone. We do not have to attend seminary, don fancy robes or take the title of Reverend to do this. No indeed! Even if we have recently been converted and know little about the Bible, we are a part of the Holy Priesthood because of the Lord Jesus Christ.


He is our High Priest and,

He is Perfect,

His birth was perfect,

His life was perfect,

His death was perfect,

His suffering was perfect,

His sacrifice was perfect,

His Blood was and is perfect.


And because of Him, we are qualified to bring our petitions and praises to the Father.


In the Old Testament, a Priest was a minister of God who offered sacrifice for sin. However, this kind of priesthood was abolished by the Gospel. Jesus Christ "offered one sacrifice for sins for ever" (Hebrews 10:12), and now, "there remains no more sacrifice for sins." (Hebrews 10:26)


The office of Priest has disappeared. Consider this, when Christ gave gifts to the Church (Ephesians 4:11), he gave some Apostles, some Prophets some Evangelists some Pastors and Teachers.  Notice how in this 5 fold ministry, there is no gift of priest.  That’s because every believer is already a priest.

 

You may feel like a failing believer, but you are a Priest. Worship God in freedom. Let the blood deal with your sins and your conscience.

You may have no education, but you are a priest.

You may never preach from a pulpit or open your mouth at a meeting, but you are a priest unto God!

 

So away with this sham of professional priests who supposedly bring us to God. We don’t need them! The Gospel is finished. It is complete.  The mammoth work of redemption and reconciliation has been accomplished by our High Priest, Christ Jesus, who efficiently and successfully offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin! In Him, the door to heaven is wide open.


Every believer is a priest, regardless of his or her full-time occupation.

You may be a gardener, but you are a priest.

You may be a Barrister at Law, but you are a priest.

You may be a businessman, sailor, engineer, council worker…whatever!  If you are a believer, you are a priest!


As priests, we continue to offer sacrifices. However, these are no longer animal sacrifices but sacrifices such as prayer, praise and thanksgiving. 1 Peter 2:5 spells out this function. Indeed, as priests, we are to offer our lives as “living sacrifices,” (Romans 12:1) and as priests, our lives are to be characterized by praise (Hebrews 13:15).


If we allow our identities to be shaped by this great truth of our priesthood, we will eventually act accordingly.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, June 28,  2017: Is Jesus Enough as Your Pastor? (Part 1)

 


One of the best-loved Psalms in the Bible, Psalms 23, begins by pointing us to the sufficiency of Jesus, our Pastor. What it actually says is, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.”(In Scripture, the Shepherds and Pastors are one and the same). Of course, when we say Jesus is our Pastor we do not preclude the ministry of earthly pastors or under-shepherds. On the contrary, God ordained pastors play a vital role in God’s purposes here on earth. We should, therefore, value them highly for their labour in the Lord. However, ultimately, we are the sheep of the Lord’s pasture and, as such, we belong exclusively to Him.

 

This is why we need to keep our eyes on Jesus.  We are His, and ultimately He is our Pastor. If we would focus on Him, then there would be less fussing and fighting in our churches. We often have too high an expectation of the Church pastor. This can set us up for needless hurts. We easily forget that he is just another sinner saved by grace. He needs our prayers, love and support.  Too many followers of Jesus, however, have ‘Roast Pastor’ for Sunday lunch and then wonder why their children grow up and separate themselves from the things of God.

 

Our eyes and expectancy need to be on Jesus. He is enough! Get the balance here; while we should support and care for our earthly pastors and obey them in the Lord, at the end of the day, they can never take the place of Jesus. Jesus is our Pastor, and He will never fail us. Someone in spiritual authority may fall short and hurt us, but never Jesus.

 

Think of it, the follower of Jesus is following a shepherd who is good. He is a pastor who knows each one of us and calls us by name. Are you satisfied with Him? Can you trust Him to lead you in life? Can you get your eyes off men and delight in Jesus, your Pastor? Listen to John MacDuff describe this excellent shepherd of ours; He says,

 

“Every individual believer—the weakest, the weariest, the faintest—has His attention. His loving eye follows us day by day out to the wilderness—marks out our pasture, studies our needs, and trials, and sorrows, and perplexities—every steep ascent, every brook, every winding path, every thorny thicket.”

 

No wonder, then, that the scriptures tell us that because Jesus is our Shepherd, we shall not want! Is He enough for us? Look at Him, there He is out in front of His flock leading us to eternal life. He knows the way for, not only has he been over every inch of its trail, He also is the Way.

 

What a shepherd! He knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:1-60).  He knows our trials and temptations and can help us with every one of them for He has been through them. He has been reviled and rejected for no good reason.  He has been slandered and falsely accused. He has been deeply hurt so He knows exactly how you feel. And here’s some good news, He became one of us so that He could faithfully shepherd us to glory (Hebrews 4:15).

 

Learn to trust Him even in the valley of the shadow of death. That place holds no mystery for Him. He makes the present shadows clear and the ancient darkness light. Follow the shepherd, not men.  Respect men in spiritual leadership but always remember the best of men are men at best.  Pray for them, hold them before the Lord. Remember, although they are spiritual shepherds, they are themselves sheep. Being that they are human, they have all the inbuilt abilities to fail and make mistakes. Why, then, get bent out of shape if they mess up? The only one who cannot fail is Jesus.

He is enough.


And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, July 5, 2017:  Is Jesus Enough as Our Pastor? Part 2


Psalm 23:1

 

According to Jesus, He knows His sheep, and His sheep know Him (John 10:14).  I wonder, however, how well we actually know our Shepherd? Do we know anything of the excellence of His character? Have we glimpsed anything of His glory? May we stay close to Him, follow hard after Him and come to know Him.


He’s wonderful!  He is the shepherd who has never lost a sheep. When Jesus is our Shepherd, the wolf cannot devour us nor can any robber steal us. G. Campbell Morgan tells of a story told by a friend who had been traveling in Israel and had come upon a shepherd one evening as the shepherd was putting his flock into the sheepfold for the night. The fold was an enclosing wall with a single opening for the sheep. However, one thing was missing, and that was a door.


He asked the shepherd if there were any wild beasts in the area. The shepherd told him he had always had to guard against them.

"But surely the sheep aren’t safe in there?"

"Yes they are, they are perfectly safe."

"But there is no door to shut out the Wolves."


The shepherd smiled at him and quietly said, "I am the door: When my sheep are in for the night, I lie down in the open space. Not one sheep goes out except over my body. And no wolf can enter without first passing over me. I am the door.”


Jesus taught us that, as our Shepherd, He is the door (John 10:7-9). That means we are safe. No wolf can get us. Before the enemy can get close, he will have to deal with our shepherd. What a pastor we have! Are we satisfied with Him? Is He enough?

 

Finally, if you have ever observed sheep, you will notice that, even when they are eating the grass, many of them will look up to make sure they are near the shepherd.  They know they are safe when he is there. Is this true of us? Do we know what it is to look unto Jesus? Do we know what it is to, “in all your ways acknowledge Him?” (Proverbs 3:6).


Sheep are emblematic of believers.  We are prone to wander: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6; Luke 15:4-7). But, isn’t Jesus wonderful? We are ‘prone to wander, ’ but He is more prone to bring us back.


With full authority, He has declared that His sheep shall never perish (John 10:28). That is why He calls His own sheep by name.  It is a personal love that He has for you and for me.  It is in Him, our Shepherd, that we have perfect security and sustenance (John 10:9).


Don’t worry about the future! He will provide. He is the good shepherd who has already given His life for the sheep. It is a rare thing for a shepherd to actually lay down his life so that the sheep would be safe. In normal circumstances, it would be better that the shepherd lived and didn’t die. Why? Because the death of the shepherd would usually spell disaster for the sheep. But such is the uniqueness of Jesus that He planned to die for His flock. In fact, He planned it so that His death would bring life to the sheep and would actually avert disaster for them. What a shepherd, what a pastor!


He is enough!

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

The Wednesday Word, July 12, 2017: The Most Famous Speech in the Universe


Hebrews 12:24

 

The atoning blood is speaking blood.  It announces the message of mercy, grace and everlasting life.  Because of the blood, believers are no longer subject to the just and furious wrath of God.  Furthermore, because of the blood, it is now impossible for Satan to lay anything to our charge (Romans 8:33).

 

In Hebrews 12:24 we read of, “the blood of sprinkling.”  In the Old Testament, Moses, as he sprinkled the blood on the people, was prophetically foretelling the work of Christ (Exodus 24:8).  It is no wonder then that we read in the New Testament that we are, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).

 

Christ’s blood speaks to us that the vilest offender who believes and rests on Jesus will be saved and delivered from the wrath to come. The blood also speaks of the Almighty God accepting, on our behalf, the sacrifice which He supplied. The blood again speaks of the Justice of God whereby He clears the guilty through the finished work of our accepted Substitute who took away our sins on the cross.

 

The blood has made the most powerful and famous speech in the Universe.

 

Many years ago in Ireland, there was a woman who was a very devout Roman Catholic. She attended Mass almost every day but had no peace in her heart. Through time she became distraught about her sins. She went to the priest and confessed them all, but her conviction of sin only grew worse.

 

At last, she went personally to the priest and told him of her great distress. He told her that she needed something to cheer her up, and as there was a comedian in town, she should go and hear him. The lady decided to go and hear the comedian, but she went to the wrong place. She found a group of people in a hall, but instead of a comedian, a preacher stood up and began to preach. His subject was, "The Forgiveness of Sin through the Blood of Christ." The lady wanted to leave the meeting, but she was shy and didn’t want to make a noise in moving. So she decided to stay until it was finished.

 

The sermon on the blood of Christ, as it turns out, was the very message she had needed to hear. Afterwards, she asked the preacher what book he had been reading from. He told her that it was a Bible and gave her a copy. She went home and read and read the Bible.  She read of the redeeming blood of the Saviour, she read of the forgiveness of sins, and she trusted Christ for His mercy. By grace alone, both the guilt and weight of her sin were taken away.

 

Some weeks later the priest visited her and asked her why she had not been attending Mass. She told him that she had found forgiveness and peace with God through the shed blood of her Saviour. When the priest saw the Bible, he was irate and grabbed the book, confiscating it. As he left, he shouted at her, saying that she would go to Hell if she read about the things in this book.

 

The lady bought another Bible and continued to read it diligently. A month later she decided that she should go and talk to the priest about his soul. When she arrived at his place, a nun opened the door and said in an angry voice, "Come in and see the priest." When the woman went in, she saw a coffin with the dead body of the priest in it. The nun said, "He died very upset, and he cursed you for having that book, the Bible."

 

Though the woman left the house very sad and dismayed, she continued to read her Bible. Some weeks later, late at night, there was a knock at her door. When she opened the door, a lady stood there with her head covered. She asked her inside. When the woman took off her head covering it was the nun. She said, "I have come to tell you that I am very sorry for telling you a dreadful lie about the priest." She then told her how the priest had begun to read the Bible, and when he died, he was praising God for His mercy and forgiveness through the blood of Christ.

 

The nun told the lady how she herself had begun to read the Bible after the priest was buried, and how the Lord in His mercy had found her. She now saw the message of the blood, and now she was running away from the Convent and fleeing to England. She too had had her eyes opened to Christ and His promised salvation through the blood of the cross.

 

The blood of Christ does not call out for revenge, but for mercy upon all who believe. What a powerful speech there is in the Blood of Christ.

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!


The Wednesday Word, July 19, 2017: Speaking Blood


But you are come ….. to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:24).

 

In our text, we have both the blood of Abel and the blood of Jesus. Both men were murdered! Both men presented a sacrifice before the Father. Both sacrifices were accepted but, strictly speaking, Abel’s sacrifice was accepted only because of Christ’s future work at the cross.  It was impossible that the blood of Abel’s lamb could, in and of itself, take away his sin. But it did, because the Father accepted it, as it were, by credit, based on the final payment for sins that was yet to be made at Calvary.

 

Abel’s sacrifice had no merit in it, but Christ’s sacrifice was so overflowing with value that it encompassed Abel’s sacrifice of his lamb.  When Abel’s lamb died, the blood was the blood of an everyday lamb. Although it was a far inferior sacrifice to Christ’s sacrifice, it was accepted because it was offered by faith and pointed to Christ.

 

Christ’s blood, however, was atoning blood, poured out once for the sins of His people from every generation. It was a well pleasing and satisfactory sacrifice which guaranteed that no charge made against us would prosper.

 

There is, however, a deeper meaning to this verse in that Abel’s own blood, is to be contrasted with that of Christ’s.  Abel’s blood was speaking blood.  God said to Cain, “What have you done, the voice of your brother’s blood cries unto Me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). So here we have two men, two sets of blood, two voices. What’s the difference? The difference is this, Abel’s blood called for vengeance and vindication, but Christ’s blood calls for mercy!

 

Both Abel and Christ were murdered. Abel was killed by his brother and Christ was murdered by his “own” for, “He came to His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:12). And there at the cross, Jesus bled and died.  But listen and listen intensely. Do you hear it? Listen to what? The silence! There is only silence from Christ’s blood on the subject of vengeance. We hear no call for vengeance upon His people.  But listen again to what Christ’s blood is saying.  It is speaking mercy and salvation to those who believe. Abel’s blood cries out for justice and judgment, but Jesus’ blood declares redemption and acquittal.  Christ’s blood makes a much better speech than that of Abel’s.

 

Spurgeon said it like this,

 

“You came to the blood with no merits of your own. Guilty, lost, and helpless, you came to take that blood, and that blood alone, as your everlasting hope. You came to the cross of Christ, with a trembling and an aching heart; and oh! what a precious sound it was to you to hear the voice of the blood of Jesus! ….it cries “It is finished; I have made an end of sin; I have brought in everlasting righteousness.”

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

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