Monday, November 30, 2009

Joyfully Horrific

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Col. 2:13-14).

The reality of the cross should be so joyfully horrific that our only response ought to be passionate praise and affections for Christ. Joyful in the sense Christ fulfilled his perfect obedience through death on a cross and horrific because it was our sin that put him on the cross. “In my place condemned he stood.” “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5). He was crushed so we might have peace. What kind of peace? “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Peace came at a serious price.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, November 27, 2009

Confess your Sins to One Another


"Confess your sins to one another" (James 5:16)

When I read this verse I often wonder why it is so difficult for me to confess my sins to others. The Bible is clear that confessing to one another, as believers, is for our good and benefit. James goes on to encourage us as believer to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another. Why? So we might be healed. Confession brings about healing in the body of Christ. The reason I am so resistant in confessing my sin to other believers is the pride that exist in my wicked heart. What can kill my pride? The gospel. Milton Vincent helps us in his chapter Exposed by the Cross, Part II from A Gospel Primer:

"The Cross also exposes me before the eyes of other people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved. But when I stand at the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of that Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha's hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.

Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?) And the more open I am in confessing my sins to fellow-Christians, the more I enjoy the healing of the Lord in response to their grace-filled counsel and prayers. Experiencing richer levels of Christ's love in companionship with such saints, I give thanks for the gospel's role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and freedom that follows."

May we constantly crush the pride of thinking we are better then we actually are. The cross speaks volumes about our wicked hearts. While we ought to grieve our sin and be ashamed of our sin we can gaze upon the cross and not be surprised by our wickedness while rejoicing in the our forgiveness. Once we gaze upon the cross our pride will be turn to humility. Once we humbly acknowledge our sin may we heed the words of Scripture to "confess your sins to one another" so we may be healed.
Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Heart is Filled

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness
And clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness
With power upon my heart

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside
Who floods my weaknesses and strengths
And causes fear to fly
Whose every promise is enough
For every step I take
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who reigns above;
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace;
Whose every thought is love.
For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King.
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow Him. (Getty & Townend)

Happy Thanksgiving

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sin is Serious (Part 3)

On Monday we looked at Jesus speaking about how we ought to take sin seriously. He commands us to cut sin off no matter the cost. Then on Tuesday John Owen gave us 9 practical ways to put to death the deeds of the body (flesh) by the Spirit. Today I want to look at why sin keeps us from seeking Christ most abundantly.

Sadly there are times as Christians we pursue sin going against our God-given conscience and more importantly God's authoritative word. When this occurs our focus has shifted off of Christ to pursue our sinful desires. Our hearts have been deceived to "enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin" instead of trusting God's promise that in his presence there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). As Christians, God promises that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

As Christians we must find our satisfaction in Christ and in Christ alone. It is true that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" so we are unable to understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). We must never pridefully think our hearts have arrived at a place where sin no longer takes place. Can you imagine? This is why we long for the day when we pass from this place to eternal glory with our Savior. No more pain, sorrow, crying or sin when we get to Paradise. But while here on earth we must wage war against our sinful flesh that tries to steal our desires and affections. We can identify with the psalmist when he says, "My flesh and my heart may fail." Praise God he does not leave us there but goes on to say, "But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Ps. 73:26). God is the strength of our heart and he is our portion forever but when we do not confess our sin this truth is hindered. Suddenly we are not seeking Christ but trying to satisfy our flesh with objects that do not ultimately satisfy. J.C. Ryle says it this way:

"What is the reason that men are so half-hearted in seeking Christ? Why are they so soon deterred, and checked, and discouraged in drawing near to God? The answer is short and simple. They do not feel sufficiently their own sins. They are not thoroughly convinced of the plague of their own hearts, and the disease of their own souls. Once let a man see his own guilt, as it really is, and he will never rest till he has found pardon and peace in Christ"

May we pursue Christ with clean hands and a pure heart desiring nothing else on this earth beside him. How? Gaze upon the cross. Praise God for the sacrifice of his Son on your behalf. He paid the price for sin. Your sin. My sin. On Thanksgiving praise God for the blessings he has bestowed on you through the cross.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sin is Serious (Part 2)

John Owen gives us nine ways to mortify sin our lives by the Spirit. These are taken from his book Of The Mortification of Sin in Believers:


1. Consider whether the sin you are contending with has any dangerous symptoms attending it.
2. Get a clear and abiding sense upon your mind and conscience of the guilt, danger, and evil of that sin.
3. Load your conscience with the guilt of it.
4. Get a constant longing for deliverance from the power of it.
5. Consider whether the sin is rooted in your nature and exacerbated by your temperament.
6. Consider what occasions and advantages your sin has taken to exert and put forth itself, and watch against them all.
7. Rise mightily against the first actings and conceptions of your sin.
8. Meditate in such a way that you are filled at all times with self-abasement and throughts of your own vileness.
9. Listen to what God says to your soul and do not speak peace to yourself before God speaks it, but hearken what he says to your soul.
(John Owen as quoted by Justin Taylor in Overcoming Sin & Temptation)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sin is Serious (Part 1)

How seriously should we take sin in our lives? Jesus is clear, "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell" (Matthew 5:29-30). Jesus is clearly not speaking about the actual act of gouging an eye out or cutting an arm off but rather wants to give us a graphic picture of how we ought to deal with sin. Paul helps us in Romans 8 when he says, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (13).

Living according to the flesh (sinful nature) equals death but by the Spirit Christians are able to kill sin and live!! Tomorrow I will share nine practical ways from John Owen on how to mortify sin in your life.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Gift of God


“The gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)

Today it is my honor to make my 400th post on this blog. I consider it a great honor to use the internet as a tool to spread the fame of Jesus Christ. I hope everyone has been encouraged, convicted and challenged by God’s word as I have. Today I wanted to speak about salvation which is “the gift of God.”

How does a person earn salvation?

This is the question I posed to each reader to which many of you responded with this verse out of Ephesians 2: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (8-9). What a great summary of Christ’s work in a life that bring about salvation. His grace. His faith. His gift. His work. We can only boast in the cross of Christ.

Here are some of things mentioned by you, the readers:

“I’ve been mulling your question around in my head for a few days now. My conclusion is that there is no way you can EARN salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:8-9
In order to RECEIVE salvation you have to ACCEPT this gift, acknowledging that you are a sinner and that Jesus died to save you.”

“Salvation is a free gift given through faith in Christ. If it can be said that anyone has earned salvation it would be Christ. He lived a perfect life according to the law and was sacrificed in order to earn salvation for the world.”

“Earning isn't really an option for salvation. God wants us to work out our salvation, let our good works shine before men, be doers of the word, etc.; but these things are merely explaining the response that should be natural when we realize what has been done on our behalf.
The means God uses to impart the grace of salvation is faith in the work of Jesus Christ. I can't speak for all Christians but I know that I don't have in myself the kind of perfect faith that never doubts. I know that even the faith that I have is a gift from God.
So, earning-no. Falling down on your knees, coming to the end of yourself, and asking Christ to save you from your sin and grant you faith to believe- yes.”

“We are not worthy and it is only through God's grace and mercy that we are saved through Christ's death and resurrection. Titus 3:5-6 "he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." Christ paid the price - paid in full! To God be the Glory!”

“No one can earn salvation, Jesus earned it for us. We must accept the gift of salvation.”

“That's a trick question. No one earns salvation.”

I think most of you understand salvation is “the gift of God.” He justifies and regenerates us by his grace. God saves us (Titus 3:5) then by the work of the Holy Spirit our wants, desires, affections and whole life change from seeking to please self to bringing glory to our great Savior. Milton Vincent says, “God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness. The wise believer learns this truth early and becomes proficient in extracting available benefits from the gospel each day. We extract these benefits by being absorbed in the gospel, speaking it to ourselves when necessary, and by daring to reckon it true in all we do" (A Gospel Primer).

Christian, I hope you rehearse the gospel daily. I hope you write it down, read it, sing it and pray it so that it may impact all of your life. “The gift of God” truly is the gift the keeps on giving. If you haven’t received this gift of salvation ask God to give you the faith to receive the gift. Humbly confess that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus Christ is the Savior of those who repent and believe. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). God’s promise to those who repent and believe is “the gift of God.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Justification & Regeneration

To get us ready for tomorrow's Text Treasure on the "The gift of God" we will look at the words of J.C. Ryle on Conversion. Tomorrow will also be the day we look at some of the responses from you, the reader, on how we can earn salvation. Thanks to all who faithfully read this blog and responded to the question to help out with tomorrow's post.

"“It ought always to be remembered that there are two distinct things which the Lord Jesus Christ does for every sinner whom He undertakes to save. He washes him from his sins in His own blood, and gives him a free pardon: this his justification. He puts the Holy Spirit into his heart, and makes him an entirely new man: this is his regeneration.

The two things are both absolutely necessary to salvation. The change of heart is as necessary as the pardon; and the pardon is as necessary as the change. Without the pardon we have no right or title to heaven. Without the change we should not be ready to enjoy heaven, even if we got there.” (J.C. Ryle)

Come back tomorrow as we look at "The gift of God" from Ephesians 2:8.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Calvary's Anthem

Heavenly Father,
Thou hast led me singing to the cross
where I fling down all my burdens and see them vanish,
where my mountains of guilt are levelled to a plain,
where my sins disappear, though they are the greatest that exist,
and are more in number than the grains of fine sand;

For there is power in the blood of Calvary
to destroy sins more than can be counted
even by one from the choir of heaven.
Thou hast given me a hill-side spring
that washes clear and white,
and I go as a sinner to its waters,
bathing without hindrance in its crystal streams.
At the cross there is free forgiveness for poor and meek ones,
and ample blessings that last for ever;
The blood of the Lamb is like a great river of infinite grace
with never any diminishing of its fullness
as thirsty ones without number drink of it.

O Lord, for ever will thy free forgiveness live
that was gained on the mount of blood;
In the midst of a world of pain
it is a subject for praise in every place
a song on earth, an anthem in heaven,
its love and virtue knowing no end.
I have a longing for the world above
where multitudes sing the great song,
for my soul was never created to love the dust of earth.
Though here my spiritual state is frail and poor,
I shall go on singing Calvary's anthem.
May I always know
that a clean heart full of goodness
is more beautiful than the lily,
that only a clean heart can sing by night and by day,
that such a heart is mine when I abide at Calvary. (The Valley of Vision, Calvary's Anthem)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Go to the Ant

Lance Quinn gives great practical councel from the Proverbs on how to refrain from being a sluggard. Here is his article posted on Grace to You titled "Work Hard and Don't be Lazy":

Here are twenty practical principles from Proverbs to motivate you to work hard and avoid laziness. As you read through these principles, see if you can find the origin of each principle in the book of Proverbs. If you’re having trouble finding them, click here to read the article with the references listed.

1. Remember, working hard is first a mindset (and so is laziness).

2. Working hard and staying on task is a matter of self-control.

3. Get up early. Try to stand up right when the alarm clock goes off.

4. Do hard jobs first and easier jobs second; then you can have fun.

5. Love what you do as a vocation, regardless of what it is. Ask God to grant His blessing and favor in your work (cf. the account of Joseph in Genesis 39).

6. Don’t try to make money by deceit or fraud. If you do, God will punish you, sooner or later.

7. Be honest with your employer about how much you work. If you’re lazily collecting a paycheck, that’s stealing.

8. Don’t work so much, however, that you need to re-introduce yourself to your family. Strive for a healthy balance between your work and your family life.

9. If you travel too much (according to your wife’s/family’s honest, loving assessment), seek to curb your travel, if possible. Perhaps another position would provide greater harmony in your home.

10. If your wife is regularly wondering how the bills are going to be paid, and you’re not taking initiative to lead, confess your failure in leadership and take control of your family finances.

11. Treat your work (house cleaning, school work, or whatever it is) as though you will reap a harvest from your labors.

12. Don’t work only in order to receive. Rather, find satisfaction in simply doing good work for God and men.

13. Lazy people often assume that others owe them a handout (whether they’ve worked hard or not). Don’t fall into an entitlement mentality.

14. When you are asked to serve in some way, don’t attempt to take the path of least resistance (because of laziness).

15. Consider how much more would be accomplished for the kingdom of Christ if you worked as hard in ministry as you do for a paycheck.

16. Consider how your employer would evaluate you if his assessment were based on your work ethic in ministry. (Would you be fired?)

17. If you are a lazy person, or if you tend toward laziness in certain areas of your life, confess your sin to God. Whether at home, at work, or in ministry, admit to God that you haven’t been working as hard as you should (He knows already)HeH, and ask Him to cleanse you from sin.

18. Abandoning laziness and growing in diligence means you must be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Here are some practical steps you can take:

a. Ask the Spirit to make you a hard worker for God.
b. Read, re-read, and even memorize the proverbs that pertain to both laziness and work.
c. Trust God to overcome any bad habits you’ve developed regarding work and diligence.
d. When you are tempted to be lazy, seek the Spirit’s help in prayer and remind yourself what the Word of God teaches.

19. Show how the Proverbs on diligence and laziness are important by reading them to your family and then applying the biblical principles. Discuss with your family how you can hold one another accountable to be diligent workers for God and men.

20. Ask God to give you opportunities to become a hard worker, and then look for Him to answer in every realm of your life (home, work, school, ministry, etc.).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, November 16, 2009

If we always remember Christ

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"Do this in remembrance of Me." 1 Corinthians 11:25

"The secret of all the noble heroisms of the Church, has been passionate love for Jesus!

The Lord's Supper was intended to keep Christ always vividly in remembrance. We are to think of Him, when we have the sacred memorials of His love in our hands, reminding us of what He did to redeem us. But we are to think of Him just as devoutly, when we are away from the sacred table--in the midst of worldly tasks and circumstances.

If we always remember Christ, it will keep us faithful in our loyalty--as true to Him out on the streets, and when we are tempted and tried--as when we are at His feet in prayer.

Remembering Christ, will transform us into His likeness. Our thoughts are the builders, which rear the temple of our character. If we think of unclean things-our lives will become unclean. If we think of earthly things-we will grow earthly. If we think of Christ, if thoughts of Him are in our mind and heart continually, we will be changed, moment by moment, into His beauty!

The highest attainment in Christian life-is to always remember Christ, never to forget Him, to keep His blessed face ever before us. Then we shall never lose His peace out of our hearts. Then we shall never fail Him in any duty or struggle. Then we shall never be lonely, for remembering Christ will keep us ever conscious of His gracious presence." (J.R. Miller, "The Life of Jesus")

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, November 13, 2009

Without the Shedding of Blood there is no Forgiveness of Sins


“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22)

The cross is at the center of human history. The cross was never intended to be a beautiful piece of jewelry or a common tattoo or a decoration in a house but rather a gruesome way to die. There is no other form of execution as gruesome as crucifixion. Sadly our culture has tamed down the death our Savior died in our place. The cross was horrific but Jesus willingly went in love knowing “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

Have you pondered the cross? Have you pondered the blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness? Have you considered the price that was paid for sin? Sin is serious. This isn’t some small problem we have but sin consumes us. We do not just sin but we are sinners. By nature we are inclined to sin. The significance of Jesus’ life and death ought to make us see our sinful souls that rebel against his holy law. There is only one solution to our problem: the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross is our hope to have access to Father. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). We do not have an issue with doing wrong every now and then but we are sinners and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

Too many people are not hearing the gospel. They want to work to pay the wages of sin instead of submitting to Christ. They try to cover sin up by works instead of the trusting in the cleansing blood of Christ. It’s like a leaky faucet. At work we have a leaky faucet in our upstairs bathroom that continually drips. Now the solution is not to tie a paper towel around the spigot because the dripping will just continue. Rather the solution is to find the problem then fix the faucet to stop the dripping for good. Like all analogies this one is not perfect but the point is we cannot cover up our sin with external works of our own righteousness because sin is not removed for good. Only trusting in the finished work of Christ can remove sin for good. Christ is the permanent solution to sin. He is the only solution for our problem. Don’t try to cover the problem with filthy rags but trust in the blood that makes a heart as white as snow. Christ's blood was shed so we could be forgiven because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

Before I end let me clarify a statement I made above speaking of sin being removed for good. Please do not hear me say we are perfect once we are redeemed. To some degree that is true but to the degree that we will never sin while here on earth it is not true. What I mean by sin being removed is once we are clothed in Christ’s perfect righteousness then the Father looks down on us and does not see us but sees us covered in his perfect Son’s righteousness. We will still sin but the Father looks upon us as if he is seeing his Son, Jesus Christ. Praise God for the shedding of his blood that cleanses us from all sin and covers us in the perfect righteousness of Christ.
"Oh, precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus"

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All our heart, soul, mind and strength

Five friends of mine started a new blog called Grace and Peace. If you enjoy reading blogs with good material about Christ I would highly recommend you follow Grace and Peace. Yesterday was a post on loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Here are Jon Danforth's words:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
-Mark 12:30

So much could be said concerning this verse and others like it; but a simple question is this: do I love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Is my desire that everything I do be done in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:12)? This ties in closely with 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.

As children of God, we are a people who have been redeemed. We are not our own, for we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our hearts are now God’s. Our souls now belong to the Lord. Our minds are now His possession. Our strength is now for His purposes. All of who we are is now to be used by our Maker for His glory.

We are to present all of our desires, affections, imagination, and might in love to the One who has loved us from eternity past. Our worship is to submit all of who we are to the service of the King to be used for His glory. This is only done through the power and love that He bestows upon us.

If only we could fully understand the beauty of this!
If only we could fully understand the joy and freedom of this!

Praise be to God that He offers forgiveness for when we foolishly lose sight of how worthy and wonderful He is. I am so quick to set my affections and my joy too heavily upon lesser things! I am so quick to lose focus on the highest of joys: our Savior! It is, sadly, too easy to let my mind wander into worthless pursuits. I am so quick to pour my strength and passion into that which is not of the Lord.

God has demonstrated a love beyond measure to us; how could we not strive to give Him all that we are? The Father sent his only Son to die and rise again so that we could be forgiven. How could we not willingly and freely give ourselves to Him in love?"

Amen!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Health & Wealth or the Gospel of Christ

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)

Here is a beautiful passage speaking the truth of the gospel. I bring this passage up because one day I was listening to a preacher (someone asked me to listen to him) who used this verse to speak of health and wealth. He was saying that God doesn’t want us to be poor but rather to have plenty monetarily. Then to my horror he quoted 2 Corinthians 8:9 as his proof text. I was so appalled that this wonderful passage about the gospel was used so badly out of context.

A few verses earlier Paul writes, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia” (1). But then Paul writes, “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2). Paul makes it clear that the church of Macedonia gave out of their extreme poverty. This was not a church with great wealth but rather great generosity and joy. They gave out of what they needed rather than their abundance. “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord” (3).

I am by no means a bible scholar but this passage is clearly speaking here of the monetary poverty of the church. In verse eight Paul begins talking not about money but love: “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine” (8). The churches of Macedonia did not have an abundance of wealth but they had love and joy that came from knowing Christ. Love translated into monetary giving to the saints. Earlier in the text the churches of Macedonia are begging Paul to let them give more (4). How could that be if they were poor? They were trusting in the promises of God. They “gave themselves first to the Lord” (5). It wasn’t a matter of wealth but a matter of knowing the love of Christ in the gospel. The churches were just showing genuine love to others in the body of Christ.

As for verse nine it is clear Paul is not promoting monetary wealth for those who love Christ. This passage speaks of Christ (fully God) humbly leaving the glories of heaven to take the lowly form of a servant (fully man). He was rich but for our sake he became poor so we might become rich. Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8). Clearly this is where Jesus became poor. But then Paul writes, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11). If we will humble ourselves, by God’s grace, confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord and repent of our sins trusting in his finished work on the cross then we gain the riches of Christ.

We can only gain those riches because Christ became poor. We are not promised riches with money but a treasure greater than money, Christ. Money will burn but Christ lives eternally. This is why Paul earlier in 2 Corinthians talks about Christians saying, “We are treated as impostors, and yet are true, as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (6:8-10). We are making many rich because we proclaim the gospel of Christ and God gives people new hearts to worship and adore the name of Jesus. It’s not about money, it’s about Christ!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Gospel is True

Last week John Piper posted on his blog 9 Ways to Know the Gospel of Christ is True. He made is points then backed them up with Scripture. I will give you the 9 Ways on this post and I would encourage you to click the link and read the supports.

9 Ways to Know the Gospel of Christ is True

1. Jesus Christ, as he is presented to us in the New Testament, and as he stands forth from all its writings, is too single and too great to have been invented so uniformly by all these writers.

2. Nobody has ever explained the empty tomb of Jesus in the hostile environment of Jerusalem where the enemies of Jesus would have given anything to produce the corpse, but could not.

3. Cynical opponents of Christianity abounded where claims were made that many eyewitnesses were available to consult concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

4. The early church was an indomitable force of faith and love and sacrifice on the basis of the reality of Jesus Christ.

5. The prophesies of the Old Testament find stunning fulfillment in the history of Jesus Christ.

6. The witnesses to Jesus Christ who wrote the New Testament gospels and letters are not gullible or deceitful or demented.

7. The worldview that emerges from the writings of the New Testament makes more sense out of more reality than any other worldview.

8. When one sees Christ as he is portrayed truly in the gospel, there shines forth a spiritual light that is a self-authenticating.

9. When we see and believe the glory of God in the gospel, the Holy Spirit is given to us so that the love of God might be "poured out in our hearts" (Romans 5:5).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, November 9, 2009

O Great God


Here are the words to a great song by Bob Kauflin from the Valley of Vision CD put out by Sovereign Grace Ministries:




O Great God

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Radiance of the Glory of God


“The radiance of the glory of God” (Hebrews 1:3)

The begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the exact imprint of the Father’s nature. Jesus is the One through whom the world was created (3). He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus is worthy of all our praise, honor and glory because he is “the radiance of the glory of God.”

The incarnate Son was given to us as a sacrifice to pay the debt we owed to God the Father for sinning against his perfect law. Jesus came humbly through the virgin Mary, conceived of the Holy Spirit, to bring life to those who were dead in their sins. He graciously left us his Spirit so we may live in a manner that is worthy of our calling in Christ. Jesus sanctifies us in the truth of his word (John 17:17) through his blood he shed at Calvary (Hebrews 13:12). Jesus is the Christians everything. He is “the radiance of the glory of God.”

What does it mean that Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God.” In today’s world, God is some vague idea of a “man upstairs” or “a cosmic genie who will grant wishes in a time of need.” But the bible is clear that no one knows the Father without knowing the Son (John 14:7). If you haven’t seen “the radiance of the glory of God” then you haven’t seen the one true living God. God is God or as he says, “I Am who I Am.” There is no other God besides Yahweh. Psalm 97 is clear: “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods” (7)! The psalmist is making it clear that all other self-proclaimed gods are to bow down and worship the true God.

“No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). Jesus is how we know the Father. Through Jesus we have access to the Father. We cannot know God without knowing Christ through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. When people say they are spiritual or love god but reject Christ then they do not love or know the One true God in heaven. The Scriptures are crystal on this truth. We must put our trust in the saving work of Christ in order to know the Father because Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God.”

Jesus: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). He is worthy of all praise, honor and glory.

“You are worthy of affection,
Your the radiance of all of his glory" (Shane Barnard)
Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Transition Word Passage? Yes!

So I wasn't planning on doing another one but these passages with these transition words are so encouraging and gospel saturated that I just want to share another one. We can never tire of hearing the gospel and preaching it to ourselves every hour better yet every minute.

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:3-7)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another Transition Word Text

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved a through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Praise God for this good news. He makes alive dead hearts. What grace!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Transition Words

Do you love transition words in the bible? Maybe to clear things up a bit I can remind us of a couple we read in Scripture: "But now" & "But God". When we read these two phrases (these are not the only two) we ought to rejoice in the good news ahead. We were this "but God" did this. What a joy to see transition words leading to the cross. Here is one from Romans 3:

"What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are m under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood,to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:9-26)

Another coming tomorrow.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, November 2, 2009

How Willingly Do People Go to Hell?

Here is a very interesting post from John Piper on C.S. Lewis take on hell:

"C.S. Lewis is one of the top 5 dead people who have shaped the way I see and respond to the world. But he is not a reliable guide on a number of important theological matters. Hell is one of them. His stress is relentlessly that people are not 'sent' to hell but become their own hell. His emphasis is that we should think of 'a bad man’s perdition not as a sentence imposed on him but as the mere fact of being what he is.' (For all the relevant quotes, see Martindale and Root, The Quotable Lewis, 288-295.)

This inclines him to say, 'All that are in hell choose it.' And this leads some who follow Lewis in this emphasis to say things like, “All God does in the end with people is give them what they most want.”

I come from the words of Jesus to this way of talking and find myself in a different world of discourse and sentiment. I think it is misleading to say that hell is giving people what they most want. I’m not saying you can’t find a meaning for that statement that’s true, perhaps in Romans 1:24-28. I’m saying that it’s not a meaning that most people would give to it in light of what hell really is. I’m saying that the way Lewis deals with hell and the way Jesus deals with it are very different. And we would do well to follow Jesus..."

To read the rest of the article click here.

Grace upon grace,
JRL