God’s Grace in the Deepest Pain

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

Suffering is an undeniable part of being human. Our natural response is at best to survive it and at worst to complain and develop angry and bitter hearts. However as Christians who have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ we not only rejoice in the hope of the glory of God when with glorified bodies we will dwell in the unveiled majesty and splendor of God but we can also rejoice in our sufferings. This is not natural but supernatural grace in which all Christians live and move and have their being. If you have 12 minutes please watch this video below. It is the story of Matthew and Sarah Harms experience of learning to trust God’s goodness and faithfulness through a DEEPLY painful loss. I warn you in advance, you will need a box of tissues, at first to grieve with them but by the end to wipe away tears of hope and joy in God who truly is faithful. Please watch and be encouraged at the hope, grace and strength which God supernaturally provides to all who are trusting his son, the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Whom Every Part of Salvation is Complete

I came across this quote today while I was reading “The Scriptures Testify About Me” and just love how it speaks of the sufficiency of Jesus Christ:

Then we know that the only haven of safety is in the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of salvation is complete. As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since, by His obedience, He has wiped off our transgressions; by His sacrifice, appeased the divine anger; by His blood, washed away our sins; by His cross, borne our curse; and by His death, made satisfaction for us. We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy.

– John Calvin, Reply to Cardinal Sadoleto

In light of such a wondrous salvation, my heart cannot but burst out in song:

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer!
For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died.
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him! Hail Him! Jesus the Crucified.
Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong.

Substitute Savior (2 Kings 17:1-23)

If all of theology could be described in one sentence it would be, “There is no god but the LORD.”

This theme begins with the Bible’s opening declaration that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

This truth is reemphasized in the Ten commandments in Exodus 20:3-5 and again in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

In Judges, idolatry is blamed for Israel’s periodic descents into defeat and oppression (Judges 2:10-23).

Virtually all the prophets condemn idol worship, with some ridiculing the practice (Isaiah 46:6-23, for example).

The book of Kings drives home this theme of “There is no god but the LORD” emphatically.

  • Idolatry is blamed for the nation’s division after Solomon’s death (1 Kings 11:9-13).
  • Without exception the kings of Israel and Judah are judged not by whether they have a large army or treasury but by whether they promoted, curtailed, or eradicated idolatry in the land, especially the “high places.”
  • Jeroboam starts a new religion, one that serves his own interests rather than those of God. Instead of rejecting idols, he has two golden calves made, then teaches the nation that these gods delivered Israel from Egypt (1 Kings 12:28-30). Additionally, knowing it is not politically expedient to allow his people to travel to Jerusalem to worship, he builds two local shrines where the new bovine gods can be honored (1 Kings. 12:29-31).
  • Ahab and Jezebel promoted and supported Baalism in Israel.
    • Ahab built Baal a temple (1 Kings 16:32-33)
    • Jezebel employed 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:22) and threatened the lives of God’s prophets (1 Kings 18:1-6; 19:1-2).
  • Idolatry is blamed for Israel’s exile. 2 Kings 17:7 reads, “And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods.”
    • No sociological or political reasons for their demise…simply theological…Yahweh alone is God, deal with it…or else!

Faithfulness to God is always the crucial, and in some sense, the sole demand for Israel.

Unfortunately, faithfulness to God is a rare commodity in Israel and unfaithfulness is as common as dust.

Anything but rely and trust on God.

Israel is always looking for substitutes.

Interestingly enough, “Hoshea” means “Savior” and is related to the names of Joshua and Jesus.

But Hoshea is no Joshua or Jesus!

Though 2 Kings 17:2 hints at something of a “reform”, he is a poor substitute for a savior.

His reign begins with conspiracy and ends in exile(see 2 Kings 15:30 and 2 Kings 17:1-6).

Hoshea, Israel’s substitute savior, despite his best efforts, could not redeem them from Assyria.

He was powerless to save and so were all the other “substitute saviors’’ listed in 2 Kings 17:1-23.

May this passage be a strong reminder to us that there is only one God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that far from trying to substitute him, we  need to treasure his substitution in our place for our sinfulness on the cross!

1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed”

1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit”

Just as God delivered Israel out of bondage to slavery in Egypt with a mighty arm, so Jesus has delivered all who believe in him from bondage to sin.

Do you believe, or are you still looking for other saviors?

There is no god but the LORD and there is no other way to him but through Jesus Christ!

Stop looking for other saviors and bow down to THE Savior Jesus Christ of whom we read that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Latest Sermon Now Online: The Death of Death Pt. 2

This Sunday morning I continued our series in 1 Corinthians and spoke from 15:20-28. The sermon title is “The Death of Death” Pt. 2. In it I urged myself and all present to stop being 2-dimensional in our thinking about the resurrection.

Click the links below to read or listen:

Sermon Manuscript

 

Sermon Audio

 

Click here for previous messages also available online.

Seven Habits of Highly Evangelistic Christians

Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway, argues that the secret to being an evangelistic church “is really no secret at all. Ultimately evangelistic churches see more persons become Christians through the passionate efforts of highly evangelistic Christians.”

And what characterizes these highly evangelistic Christians? Read on (bold type added for clarity).

1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.

2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.

3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, they more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.

4. They are compassionate people. Their heart breaks for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.

5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.

7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week either formally or informally for their evangelistic efforts.

I really appreciate how he ends the article:

Sometimes we ask the question “What is my church doing to become more evangelistic?” But the better question is “What am I doing to become more evangelistic?”

Charles H. Spurgeon was right. We need more soul winners.

We need more highly evangelistic Christians.

Be sure to read the whole article.

A Summary of the Gospel

Yesterday I posted a small article from Ligonier Ministries called “What is the Gospel.” Today, in keeping with that same theme, I am posting a new article from Ligonier titled, “A Summary of the Gospel.” Please read these articles slowly and allow your heart, mind, and soul to be deeply touched by God’s rich provision of salvation to us through Jesus Christ.

The gospel of Christ is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again.

The second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Himself, and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction for keeping the law perfectly. This satisfaction and righteousness He tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him.

And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and that they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

That these souls and bodies shall be raised to that height of glory that such creatures are capable of, that they shall live forever enjoying the presence of God and Christ, in the fullness of all good, is the gospel of Christ. This is the sum of the gospel that is preached unto sinners.

From Gospel Conversation (1657) and reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria.

What is the Gospel?

Great words by R.C Sproul on “What is the Gospel?” May all who read it give praise to God for such a wonderful salvation through Jesus Christ! May all of us treasure Jesus as Lord and Savior!

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the Gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the Gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the Gospel.

The Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the Gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

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