Friday, February 26, 2010

Turning to a different gospel


“Turning to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6)

Have you ever had to say these words to someone you love? Paul has just left the churches of Galatia about a year ago and writes this letter to challenge the churches to not forsake the gospel. Paul loved these people as their teacher, brother and friend. This is not an easy thing to tell them but Paul jumps right in to it asking them why they are “turning to a different gospel.”
Paul is not saying there is another gospel but rather warning them that they are forsaking the true gospel message. Following his statement about a different gospel he says, “Not that there is another one [gospel]” which clearly indicates Paul does not believe there are two different gospels but “there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:7). The Judiazers had barged into the hearts and minds of these believers at Galatia telling them Christ is not sufficient for salvation. They came preaching a gospel contrary to the real gospel. They were putting heavy burdens upon these believers by distorting the gospel of Christ. Paul is sadden and “astonished” to hear these believers were deserting of the gospel. Paul is asking, “Why? Why? Why? Are you turning to a different gospel?”

Paul knows the slavery involved with sin. He knows that sin holds us captive by weighing us down in chains and shackles. Sin is dangerous and damning. He knows only one message can free us from our sin. Paul is clear about the true gospel: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Gal. 1:3-5). Before he starts with his correction and admonishment about “turning to a different gospel” he gently greets them by reminding them of the great gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ will deliver us from our sins! Nothing else is needed because he accomplished our deliverance from sin at Calvary.

Christian, do you love like Paul? Examining my own heart I know I do not contend for the gospel in a loving manner like Paul. It’s not only Paul but listen to Jude speak about our role against false teachers: “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (3). Contend for the gospel. How are you doing? In both these scenarios the writers are talking to fellow believers warning them of false teachers. In our day they are all over the place so we must be able to discern God’s will by reading his Word so we may contend for the gospel. Knowing the Scripture is the only way to be prepared to contend. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Knowing the Bible is not about winning arguments or looking theologically intelligent to puff up your own ego but ought to humble us as we see our own inability to save ourselves. Winning an argument to puff up our ego is worthless and promotes the gospel of self but Scripture is for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness “that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). Correction is never easy but it is loving if it is done to promote the gospel.

Our aim always ought to bring glory to God. We want to promote his name as the name above all other names. We want to exalt the Savior for his grace and mercy to us in the gospel. This is why reminding ourselves of the gospel is so important to do every day. But we must also remind other believers of the gospel as well to keep them from “turning to a different gospel.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Woe to you (Part 2)

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in." (Matthew 23:13-14)

Jesus starts by warning the crowd and his disciples that the scribes and Pharisees "shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces." By teaching a gospel contrary to grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone they are shutting the kingdom of heaven up for people. The ESV Study Bible says, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees are false leaders who have drawn the people away from the kingdom of heaven instead of toward it." Remember Paul's warning to the churches of Galatia about false teachers? "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:9).

The gospel is the most essential thing in all of life. The true gospel promotes Christ and him crucified as the only source of eternal life. When teachers come teaching some other gospel Paul says to let them be damned. This is serious! We must not add to Christ's finished work on the cross. Anything we add to the true gospel makes us false teachers. When we add to the gospel we are being like the Pharisees and shutting the door of the kingdom in people's faces. But we must also examine our own hearts. We must dig deep into God's Word to see whether or not we are adding to the gospel in our own lives. Legalism is nothing more than finding your justification in works rather than Christ. May we be very careful and heed the warning of Jesus. May we not be hypocrites in practice like the Pharisees but rather rest in Christ's finished work on the cross.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Woe to you (Part 1)

As I'm reading through the book of Matthew many great things are refreshing my mind of the life of Jesus. His compassion, grace and humility have stood out to me as I have seen him interact with many people. But Jesus is tenacious with one group he interacts with many times during his life: the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. In Matthew 23, Jesus talks with the crowd and to his disciples about the scribes and Pharisees. At first glance it seems easy to write these "woes" off because surely his words are not for me. Boy, was I wrong.

As I was reading I noticed so many tendencies to be a religious person rather than a follower of Jesus Christ. This is where most of the confusion about Christianity develops. There is so much confusion between religion and true Biblical Christianity. In a brief overview I'd like to look at these seven woes Jesus speaks about the religious leaders to challenge me and you to make sure we are following Christ and not religion.

Jesus says, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others" (Matt. 23:2-5).

As we see the Pharisee's were simply those who did not practice what they preached. Rather they tie heavy burdens around people's necks which is the opposite of Jesus who said "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and earn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

Lord, convict me and challenge me as I see the sin of religion and works in my own heart. By your Spirit help me to trust in the accomplished work of Christ and rest in that reality alone. Amen.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Guide for Your Time in the Word

Tim Senn gave 9 great questions to ask when you close your Bible after reading:

1. Was there a sin I was convicted of and need to turn away from?
2. Is there a command that I need to obey?
3. Is there a promise to believe or some attitude of faith that I need to adopt?
4. Is there an example to follow?
5. Is there an attitude that I need to change or get rid of?
6. Is there a truth about God or Jesus that I need to meditate on?
7. Is there a false teaching or worldview that I need to reject?
8. Is there a prayer that I need to make my own?
9. Is there a person I need to forgive or to seek reconciliation?

I would encourage each of you to print these off and keep them near by as you open the Word.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, February 22, 2010

Worthy is the Lamb

"Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." (Rev. 5:9-10)

"Given the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain, the new song commemorates Christ’s victory over sin and death and the inauguration of the new creation. The words of the hymn clearly express this. Jesus has died for his chosen ones and in doing so purchased a people from every tribe, language, people and nation. The king is vested with an everlasting kingdom which extends to the ends of the earth and encompasses his elect from every nation. Because Jesus has
conquered death and the grave, all of his people participate in his kingdom rule by virtue of the new creation, specifically the new birth in Christ, which John will later call 'the first resurrection.' All those who are Christ’s are said to reign with him because death has no hold upon them." (Kim Riddlebarger)

Are you focused on heaven? Better yet, are focused on the cross? What an exciting reality to know one day, without sin, we will worship the Lamb who was slain for our redemption. But we must enjoy the tastes of this future reality while here on earth. If heaven is cross focused then our time here on earth ought to be cross focused. Join in the chorus: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, February 19, 2010

Making the Most of Every Opportunity


“Making the most of every opportunity.” (Ephesians 5:16)

Throughout our lives here on earth we have many opportunities to make choices that will affect us or others in different ways. Life gives us opportunities to love others including our enemies, serve our neighbor, grieve with our friends, give to the needy and so much more. The question we must ask is are we “making the most of every opportunity?”

Paul, in Ephesians 5, is not presenting this statement as a question but rather how Christians ought to make good use of their time. This is a matter of wisdom. The days in this life are short therefore we must not waste the time. We read early in Ephesians the beauty of the gospel where God raises dead hearts to life. As Christians we understand every soul was created to spend an eternity somewhere. Our focus has turned from the temporary to the eternal. We have a small grasp of what that life will look like but because of God’s grace we understand our inheritance is with Christ in his dwelling place. “Making the most of every opportunity” is spending our days here on earth looking toward the future while serving others with the gospel for the glory of God.

The warning from Paul in verse 15 is “Be very careful, then, how you live.” Once we are awakened by God’s mercy to us we realize every step we take in this life has a purpose. God sovereignly uses us as his instruments to spread to gospel so others may repent and believe in Christ’s atoning work on the cross. But we must not just say it; we must also live the life we proclaim. We must be careful how we live because others are watching to see if what we say matches up to how we live. Every opportunity presents itself as important in view of eternity. Paul then says, “Not as unwise but as wise.” We know from the Proverbs the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. To know the Lord and walk as wise people we must be in his Word knowing him and his will for our lives. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). The fool does not understand the will of the Lord because the Holy Spirit has not illumined his mind. We must be careful how we live walking in wisdom “making the most of every opportunity.”

I’ll ask again: Are you “making the most of every opportunity?” Are you wasting your life by focusing so much on this temporary world that you are not preparing yourself for the next? As Paul said be careful how you live. Be wise! Don’t be like the fool who has said in his heart there is no God (Ps. 14:1). Don’t be foolish by living this life for yourself thinking you are okay with God because of a commitment you made in the past or because you grew up in a Christian household. Those were great opportunities to hear the gospel but “making the most of every opportunity” is letting the gospel transform you for a lifetime. Don’t be duped into thinking all is well when you haven’t picked up a Bible for years. Don’t think all is well if you haven’t spent time communing with God and his people. Here is God’s will for every Christian: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). If you are not dying to self and suffering for the sake of Christ and following him daily you will always be a fool never “making the most of every opportunity.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thou Art Worthy

Thou art worthy, Thou art worthy
Thou art worthy, O Lord
To receive glory, glory and honour
Glory and honour and power
For Thou hast created, hast all things created
Thou hast created all things
And for Thy pleasure they are created
Thou art worthy, O Lord (Pauline Mills)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Cross Matters Most

Here is a great post by Chris Tomlinson from The Gospel Coalition Blog title Why the Cross Matters. Below are some of the highlights:

"Is it possible to talk too much about the cross?

I ask this question only because some preachers and writers and teachers seem to talk about the cross a lot. Some do so almost continually. We can understand why they might carry on in this way because we know the primacy and weight of Calvary. But there are still times this thought crosses many of our minds: 'Great, so I understand the cross is important. But can’t we move on to the next topic?'

Here’s why the cross matters: It is at the cross that we see God most clearly. If history were the vastness of space, the cross would be its brightest star. We see the fullness of God’s being most clearly at the cross. We see the fullness of His active purposes most clearly at the cross.

At the cross…

…We see God’s sovereignty—reigning with absolute control over humanity’s greatest sin.

…We see God’s purpose—making known the mystery of His will prepared before time.

…We see God’s plan—to unite all things, on heaven and on earth, in Him.

…We see God’s judgment—requiring recompense for guilt.

…We see God’s holiness—demanding the perfect sacrifice.

…We see God’s power—crushing the Son of God according to the purpose of His will.

…We see God’s wrath—punishing the wretchedness of sin.

…We see God’s sorrow—wailing as only a forsaken son can.

…We see God’s mystery—the Son, as God, separated from the Father, committing His Spirit to God.

…We see God’s compassion—pleading to the Father to forgive the ignorant.

…We see God’s gift—His one and only Son, bruised and broken on our behalf.

…We see God’s mercy—making unrighteous sinners righteous.

…We see God’s love—Christ dying for sinners.

…We see God’s rescue operation—delivering us from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His Son.

…We see God’s proposal—pledging Himself to His bride forever.

…We see God’s revelation—the Word of God speaking His last so He might speak on behalf of many.

…We see God’s victory—disarming His enemies, putting them to shame, and triumphing over them.

…We see God’s glory—the name of the Father being magnified for the sake of all peoples.

So if you preach and teach about the cross, remember that we, as your people, need the lens of your preaching to continually focus our hearts on the crucified Son of God. And if we hear or read about the cross and wonder what is next, that we’re ready to move beyond it, let us remember that the cross matters for our yesterday, and our today, and our tomorrow.

And let us always hold the best of our hearts, the fullness of our hearts, for the One whose scars will testify for eternity to the glory and horror of that day that made possible the one day we will enjoy with Him forever."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are you a Christian Hedonist?

Recently I listened to a few messages from the Desiring God Pastors Conference where the topic was Christian Hedonism. John Piper, the host of the conference, has built his entire ministry around the reality that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.” This is the whole idea behind Christian Hedonism. At the conference Sam Storms preached a message titled “Biblical and Theological Foundations for Christian Hedonism: Seven Theses.” Toward the end of that message he made this statement:

“Only by seeking his [God’s] glory preeminently can God seek your good passionately.”

Do you see the issue? God is saying he must seek his own glory above all else. This means God’s ultimate satisfaction is not in humans but in himself. Can this be true? I thought God created me because he needed someone to praise him? Of course it is true and no he did not create me because he needed me to praise him. Can this be the God who says he loves us?

For most this is an issue because a man-centered mind set leads us to believe we were created because God needed us. We’ve been duped by preachers who serve our own appetites by feeding us lies about our own worth instead of God’s worth. But any casual reading of the Bible will clear up any confusion. God did not create us because he needed us. “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25). God is the Giver of life and breath so why would he need anything from us? Our praise back to God is not because he needs to be praised (If we were silent the rocks would cry out) but rather this is the greatest gift God could give to us. God knows that ultimate and complete joy is found in him and in him alone. “In his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

Since God is the greatest object of worth it would be unloving of him to have us praise some other object. Even worse would be if God gloried in some other object other than himself. If this were to happen God could no longer love us plus he would cease to be God. God is holy and perfect and if he praised anything or anyone other than himself he would be an idolater thus breaking his own perfect and righteous law. God did not create us because he needed us but he created us so that he might show his love through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. He created us so that we might praise him and therefore find the greatest joy that will last for all of eternity. As Christians we need to cling to this reality so our view of God will be high and exalted where he belongs. Even as Christians we enjoy the fleeting pleasure of self-worth instead of exalting God’s value and worth where we will find our greatest joy. “Delight yourself in the LORD” (Ps. 37:4).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, February 15, 2010

God's Mercies

"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11)

"God's mercies are new every morning because each day has enough mercy in it only for that day. This is why we tend to despair when we think that we may have to bear tomorrow's load on today's resources." (John Piper)

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lam. 3:22-23)

Praise God for his mercies that are new for the day. Each new day brings new mercies from God which are promised to never come to an end because of his faithfulness.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, February 12, 2010

There shall be a Fountain


“There shall be a fountain” (Zechariah 13:1)


The prophet Zechariah declared “there shall be a fountain” to cleanse the people from sin and uncleanness. What kind of fountain is he talking about? Is this a magic fountain? How can a fountain cleanse a man from sin? Zechariah is speaking of that great fountain which is filled with blood.

Zechariah said, “On that day there shall be a fountain”, but what day was he referring to? There was obviously the anticipation of a day when sin would be washed away through a fountain. What great news this must have been to those who heard. What great news this is to our own ears today. Back in chapter 12 we read about that day: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him who they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). “That day” Zechariah is speaking of is the day of Christ’s crucifixion. On that day “there shall be a fountain.”

Christ came to suffer. Christ knew Calvary had to take place. This was no surprise to Jesus that the fountain of cleansing would be his blood. Christ emptied himself taking the form of a man in order to be our substitute on the cross. He was perfectly obedient to his Father’s will even to the point of death. His death on the cross is the piercing that took place to wash away the sins of those he came to save. Christ was the One who was pierced for our transgressions. He was the One who was crushed for our iniquities (Is. 53). Once he was dead, still hanging on the cross the Scriptures say, “When they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:33-34). They pierced his wrists and the blood ran down the cross. They pierced his feet and blood ran down the cross. He was dead but the soldiers pierced his side and blood came out of his body. This was the great fountain spoken of by Zechariah.

Christian, rejoice in the reality of the bloody fountain of Christ’s love for you. Listen to his word to you: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). “In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). It’s the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ that purifies us and washes us of all our sin. This is crazy! But it is oh so true. God sent his Son, Jesus, to pay for sin and not just any sin but my sin and your sin. May your hearts sing with joy:

“There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lost all their guilty stains” (William Cowper)

May we see that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” through new lenses.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Far Away

Brand new video for Lecrae's track "Far Away"! Written specifically to raise awareness and money for relief work in the earthquake shattered region, the video features footage from the ground in Haiti and of the recent concert in Minneapolis where $20,000 was raised. Help us give more!



Produced by Desiring God in partnership with ReachLife, Lampmode, and Reach Records.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fellowship with Christ

In John Piper's book Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ he writes, "Jesus himself - and all that God is for us in him - is our great reward, nothing less. 'I am the bread of life...If any one thirsts, let him come to me' (John 6:35; 7:37). Salvation is not mainly the forgiveness of sins, but mainly the fellowship of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9). Forgiveness gets everything out of the way so this can happen. If this fellowship is not all-satisfying, there is not great salvation."

I love Piper's point that forgiveness is nothing more than being free to fellowship with Jesus Christ because of his work on the cross. Christ is the greatest treasure. Our finite minds have a hard time getting around this reality. Piper goes on: "My capacities for joy are very confined. So Christ not only offers himself as the divine object of my joy, but pour his capacity for joy into me, so that I can enjoy him with the very joy of God. This is glory, and this is grace."

God is so good to not leave us on our own but he pours out his capacity so we may enjoy him with the "very joy of God."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is it Just Knowledge?

"If you know these things-happy are you if you do them." (John 13:17)

"A great many people know plenty of Scripture truth-but do not live it out. Yet the real test of knowing Scripture-is obedience. We really know only so much truth-as we get into our experience and conduct. The only part of the Bible we have really learned-is what we have learned to live. It is a beautiful thing when a person has been well-taught; it is still more beautiful when he abides in the things which he has been taught, living out the lessons in daily life." (J.R. Miller, 1904 courtesy of Grace Gems)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not a see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (John 3:36)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, February 8, 2010

It Will Cost You Your Sins

Erick Kowalker, the man behind J.C. Ryle Quotes, did a four part series last week from Ryle titled, "Four Cost of Becoming a Christian." I found these four cost very helpful and also a reminder of what Christ meant when he said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). Below is one of the four costs:

What does it cost to be a true Christian?

“It will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it, and labor to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. Let us set down that item second in our account. To be a Christian it will cost a man his sins.” (J.C. Ryle)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, February 5, 2010

White as Snow


“White as snow” (Isaiah 1:18)

Last weekend we had the joy of seeing snow fall. This is a rare occasion for our neck of the woods so when it happens it is always something to enjoy. But once the snow stopped falling and it covered the ground a few thoughts came to my mind as I looked at it for the next few days. The big thought was the reality of the cross and how my sins like scarlet were made “white as snow.”

Blood does not seem to be something that would make someone “white as snow” but that is exactly what the blood of Christ has done. For those who have repented and trusted in Christ for salvation Christ’s blood was shed for our sins. Our filthiest stains have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. When I looked at the snow all I could see was pure, white beauty. Our hearts have been made pure and beautiful through the blood of Christ. Ponder just for a moment your life before Christ invaded your heart with his grace. Ugly, dark, lost would be a few of the words to describe my heart before Christ. But now we are made pure through the blood of the Lamb. It is not that we are instantly made perfect, in this life, but that our direction is toward a life of pleasing God. We now strive to follow Christ’s command that “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). His commands no longer look like a list of do’s and don’ts but rather joy and blessings. We have been given a new heart that beats as Christ’s. Pure and holy we are called to be with our new hearts that are “white as snow.”

Another thing I observed from the snow was the reflection of light in the darkness. At night I would often look out the kitchen window and tell my wife how shocked I was at the brightness outside. The snow just reflected so much light that I would often look up to see if there were lights shining on our yard. Nothing. It was simply a normal night with snow on the ground. The snow was reflecting the moon. I guess the thought struck me, “Why doesn’t my ‘white as snow’ heart reflect Christ like this snow reflects the moon?’ I was so in awe at the brightness between snow on the ground and not on the ground that I had to just stare. I couldn’t help but gaze at the awesome display of light. I wonder if my life reflected the light of Jesus Christ if people would stop to gaze because they saw something different.

The snow was just a reflection of the moon. The moon is out every single night but I’m never in awe of it unless I’m out driving and see it in the sky. Yes it is an awesome display but I never really think of the light reflecting from the moon. Creation speaks but only to a certain degree. But God has given his people the task of reflecting his glory. He has placed his Spirit within us. He has given us a heart “white as snow” so others might see him through us. We are to be like the snow. The snow was doing nothing more than reflecting the glory of the moon. As God’s children we are called to reflect the glory of the Son. We are called to reflect God’s holiness by our words and deeds. “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thes. 4:7). As we live holy lives, by the Spirit, we will magnify the worth and beauty of Jesus Christ. He is the pure, spotless Lamb of God that was sent to die to bear the Father’s wrath for us. To use a creation analogy from Scripture: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Praise God that he has given you a heart “white as snow” so you may reflect his glory.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Bowl Controversy?

With the Super Bowl approaching on us this weekend I thought I would link a couple of articles written about the Tim Tebow ad that will air during the Super Bowl. One of the articles is by a pro-choice columnist, Sally Jenkins, who writes for the Washington Post who makes many great points but also uses some crude language that may not be suitable for everyone. Please use discretion and wisdom in reading both of these articles.

That being said praise God for Tim Tebow and his backbone to stand up for what he believes. Here is a snippet of what Sally Jenkins wrote in the Washington Post about Tebow:

"Here's what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence."

Here are the links for articles from the Washington Post and ESPN.

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Pray for Tebow that he would continue to represent Christ well. Also pray for boldness for yourself to stand up and proclaim the gospel in a way that the world will see Christ.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Forgave him the debt

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished a to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’

And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:23-35)

The ESV Study Bible really helps with picture of this story from Jesus. It says of the phrase "forgave him the debt": "The forgiveness of such a massive debt (equivalent to $6 billion) is a dramatic illustration of (1) the massive debt that people owe, because of their sins, to the holy, righteous God; (2) their complete inability ever to pay such a debt (“For the wages of sin is death . . . ,” Rom. 6:23a); (3) God's great mercy and patience (Matt. 18:26, 29) in withholding his immediate righteous judgment that all people deserve for their sins; and (4) God's gracious provision of Christ's death and resurrection to pay the debt for sins and to break the power of sin (“but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Rom. 6:23b).

The two central points of the parable are: first, that the gift of salvation is immeasurably great (“how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Heb. 2:3); and, second, that unless a person is comparably merciful to others, (a) God's mercy has not had a saving effect upon him (Matt. 18:32–33), and (b) he will be liable to pay the consequences himself (vv. 34–35)"

Thank you Christ for paying the debt I could not pay by going to the cross on my behalf.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Gospel Reminder

Here is a document I put together so we could each daily remind ourselves of the great truth that Christ died in our place so we would not have to experience the Father's wrath:

Gospel Reminder

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

Since the gospel is “of first importance” we must meditate upon it daily, better yet we ought to ponder it every minute of our lives. The gospel is what transforms us from rebels of God into children of God. But the gospel does not end there because as Christians it continues to transform us more and more into the image of Christ. As we see daily the work of Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross we are humbled that he bore the Father’s wrath that we deserved. The sinless died in place of the sinful. We must all recognize with John Newton “that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.”

“The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity…The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ, is to send light into his heart and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with ‘light’, and so does the spiritual creation.” (J.C. Ryle, Holiness)

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

“A divine rescure is necessary. We need a Savior! And in order to be our savior, in order to pay our debt, this individual must be like us – not just God in a form that merely appears to be human, but someone fully and truly human. Yet he must be unlike us as well, because he must be sinless, since only a perfect sacrifice is acceptable…No one else could do it. Only Jesus Christ, truly God and fully man, could be our substitute and make this sacrifice.” (C.J. Mahaney, Christ our Mediator)

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6a)

“In saving, God also did justify me
Accounting me righteous by His own decree,
Declaring me guiltless of all of my sin,
And bringing His wrath against me to an end.
This wrath Christ appeased in full brunt on the Tree,
When, bearing my sin, He endured it for me.”

(Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer)

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“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.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34)

Because of the cross we “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 3:24-26).

“Amazing it is, when I stop to regard,
That God would consent to an anguish so hard,
Surrend’ring His Son unto mayhem and death,
To torturous writhing ‘til His final breath.
‘Why does God forsake Me?’ alone Jesus cried;
Yet God left Him hanging until He had died.”

(Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer)

The cup of God’s wrath is no longer ours to bear because of Christ’s accomplished work on the cross. Instead of the cup of wrath we rightfully deserve we are given the cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13). We have now “received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15b).

As his children we find our joy in bringing him the glory alone, “so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

From sinner to saint. From enemy to child. It is true that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
(Charles Wesley, And Can it be?)

Questions:
“Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever?
Does your happiness hang on seeing the cross of Christ as a witness to your worth, or as a way to enjoy God’s worth forever?
Is God’s glory in Christ the foundation of your gladness?”
(John Piper, God is the Gospel)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, February 1, 2010

Irrevent, Silly Myths

Matt Chandler teaching at the 2009 Desiring God conference on A Shepherd and His Unregenerate Sheep. Here is a clip from his message on irreverent, silly myths.

To read the manuscript of the entire message click the link to Desiring God Ministries.

For more on Matt Chandler please read the AP article from yesterday about his recent battle with cancer.

Grace upon grace,
JRL