Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grace Alone

"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." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God's grace and God's grace alone for ou salvation. It is difficult for our pride to rest on grace. Grace is for other people - for beggars. We don't want to live by a heavenly welfare system. We want to earn our own way and atone for our own sins. We like to think that we will go to heaven because we deserve to be there." (R.C. Sproul)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

O How the Grace of God Amazes Me!

My God has chosen me,
Though one of nought,
To sit beside my King
In heaven’s court.
Hear what my Lord has done
O, the love that made Him run
To meet His erring son!
This has God wrought.

Not for my righteousness,
For I have none,
But for His mercy’s sake,
Jesus, God’s Son,
Suffered on Calvary’s tree -
Crucified with thieves was He -
Great was His grace to me,
His wayward one.

And when I think of how,
At Calvary,
He bore sin’s penalty
Instead of me.
Amazed, I wonder why
He, the sinless One, should die
For one so vile as I;
My Saviour He!

Now all my heart’s desire
Is to abide
In Him, my Saviour dear,
In Him to hide.
My shield and buckler He,
Covering and protecting me:
From Satan’s darts I’ll be
Safe at His side.

Lord Jesus, hear my prayer,
Your grace impart;
When evil thoughts arise
Through Satan’s art,
O, drive them all away
And do You, from day to day,
Keep me beneath Your sway,
King of my heart.

Come now, the whole of me
Eyes, ears and voice,
Join me, creation all,
With joyful noise:
Praise Him who broke the chain
Holding me in sin’s domain,
And set me free again!
Sing and rejoice! (Emmanuel Sibomana)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grace, Grace, Grace

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went.

Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.' And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.

Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last." (Matthew 20:1-16)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, June 25, 2010

Come, Lord Jesus


“Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

We live in a fallen world wrecked by the curse of sin. Instinctively we know something is not right with the world but it seems the majority of people love its brokenness. Most people live to get all of this life that they can and seek their happiness in anything they desire. This was my life before my spiritual and eternal eyes were opened to life, true life. As I see the world through these eyes and read of the future glories awaiting for eternity my cry ultimately is: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Every person has inherited a sin nature through our first father Adam. We are all sinners and we are all born that way. “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Because of sin we drink from broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13) thinking they will satisfy our eternal longing. We drink and drink and drink but the thirst is still there. Nothing in this sin-cursed world was ever meant to satisfy this longing. Sin has made us satisfied with not being satisfied. This is a scary place to be. But God promises to work in the hearts of those who humbly come confessing that they are empty and long to be filled eternally. Jesus tells us, “’Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17). This is the good news of Christ taking what is broken and making it new. All of us have a longing for that to happen.

This world is not the end all. This world is falling apart and decaying and will ultimately come to an end. Every Christian ought to realize this truth and we ought to desperately long to see lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Often times we live like this world is it. We cling so tightly to what we love in this world rather than clinging to Christ. If you want a true test of how much you love Christ examine your heart to see what would be holding you back from crying out: “Come, Lord Jesus!” Why aren't we longing for his return? I know for me it is I love the world too much. We may say “Come, Lord Jesus!” but inside we are saying, “Not yet, Lord Jesus.” But Christian, be reminded and be reminded often, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Revelation 22:14). Is your robe soaked in the blood of the Lamb who was slain on your behalf? Are you now clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God? If you are a Christian than this is true of you and we should be longing for the coming of Christ.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found.
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.


Nothing to fear for we stand at the throne covered in Christ’s perfect righteousness. May we long for the day for the New Jerusalem where sin will be no more. What a great reality to long for: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Worship

Glorious God,
It is the flame of my life to worship thee,
the crown and glory of my soul to adore thee,
heavenly pleasure to approach thee.
Give me power by thy Spirit to help me worship now,
that I may forget the world,
be brought into fullness of life,
be refreshed, comforted, blessed.
Give me knowledge of thy goodness
that I might not be over-awed by thy greatness;
Give me Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God,
that I might not be terrified,
but be drawn near with filial love,
with holy boldness;
He is my mediator, brother, interpreter,
branch, daysman, Lamb;
him I glorify,
in him I am set on high.
Crowns to give I have none,
but what thou hast given I return,
content to feel that everything is mine when it is thine,
and the more fully mine when I have yielded it to thee.
Let me live wholly to my Saviour,
free from distractions,
from carking care,
from hindrances to the pursuit of the narrow way.
I am pardoned through the blood of Jesus -
give me a new sense of it,
continue to pardon me by it,
may I come every day to the fountain,
and every day be washed anew,
that I may worship thee always in spirit and truth.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is hell just giving people what they ultimately desire?

The idea that hell is nothing more than a place most people want has recently been something on my mind. As I look around our world I see mostly a disdain for Jesus. I see a world, which for the most part, rejects his claims and mocks his name. We have flippantly made Jesus out to be our homeboy rather than the King of kings. Many want nothing to do with Jesus. As I thought about that reality and heard the idea that hell was nothing more than the desire of most people already, I wondered if hell was the place most people would desire. If they don’t want God now than it would just be a natural thing that they would want to be separated from him for all eternity, right? “Those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:8-9).

Where the idea that hell is nothing more than giving people what they already desire goes wrong is it leaves out God’s common grace. God is so gracious that “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). God shows grace to every single human being. The fact that people who reject him as Lord and Savior are breathing right now is evidence of his common grace to all. But when judgment occurs and men and women are casts away from his presence for all eternity those common graces will cease. The sun won’t rise for them and rains will come no longer. Hell is total separation from God. While here on earth they may have rejected God but God was still faithfully pouring out his grace to them. They may not have realized his work but none the less he still gave them grace. This is the kindness and compassion of our Lord that even as we mock him and spit in his face he still pursues us with his grace. He is loving and patient with us all but if we reject him for all of life he will reject us on the great Day of Judgment.

Hell is real and it’s eternal. God is the Judge and a compassionate Judge. He is patiently giving you grace right now so that you will trust in his Son for the forgiveness of your sins. He wants you to experience a life change where your desires will be satisfied in him forever. He desires that you trust in his Son and not only know his common grace but his sweet saving grace as well. Hell will be like nothing ever imaged. Separation from God is the worst possible thing that could happen to a person but God being a holy and just God must punish sin. If he does not punish sin than he ceases to be God. To save us he paid the cost of his Son on the cross to bear our sins.

We must repent and trust in his Son’s finished work in order to inherit eternal life with him. The bible says if you continue to reject Jesus than on the Day of Judgment he will “throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42). Hell is not a place any human being desires which is why Christians ought to proclaim the gospel so that men and women may call upon the Lord and be saved from their sin.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I See the Crowd in Pilate's Hall

I see the crowd in Pilate's hall,
their furious cries I hear;
their shouts of "Crucify!" appall,
their curses fill mine ear.
And of that shouting multitude
I feel that I am one,
and in that din of voices rude
I recognize my own.

I see the scourgers rend the flesh
of God's belov├Ęd Son;
and as they smite I feel afresh
that I of them am one.
Around the Cross the throng I see
that mock the Sufferer's groan,
yet still my voice it seems to be,
as if I mocked alone.

'Twas I that shed that sacred Blood,
I nailed him to the Tree,
I crucified the Christ of God,
I joined the mockery.
Yet not the less that Blood avails
to cleanse me from sin,
and not the less that Cross prevails
to give me peace within. (Horatius Bonar)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, June 21, 2010

Go to the Cross

"The secret of a believer's holy walk is his continual recurrence to the blood of the Surety, and his daily [communion] with a crucified and risen Lord. All divine life, and all precious fruits of it, pardon, peace, and holiness, spring from the cross. All fancied sanctification which does not arise wholly from the blood of the cross is nothing better than Pharisaism. If we would be holy, we must get to the cross, and dwell there; else, notwithstanding all our labour, diligence, fasting, praying and good works, we shall be yet void of real sanctification, destitute of those humble, gracious tempers which accompany a clear view of the cross.

False ideas of holiness are common, not only among those who profess false religions, but among those who profess the true. The love of God to us, and our love to Him, work together for producing holiness. Terror accomplishes no real obedience. Suspense brings forth no fruit unto holiness. No gloomy uncertainty as to God's favour can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will. But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches. Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this...

Free and warm reception into the divine favour is the strongest of all motives in leading a man to seek conformity to Him who has thus freely forgiven him all trespasses." (Horatius Bonar, God's Way of Holiness)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, June 18, 2010

So Abram Went


“So Abram went” (Genesis 12:4)

For my personal time in the Scriptures I have been reading through Genesis and I was in Genesis 12 this past weekend when the words, “So Abram went” really stuck in my mind. I have a tendency to glance over simple statements in Scripture instead of taking the time to meditate upon every word. I finished the chapter and went back to look at these three words and think about what they meant for me. “So Abram went” is exactly what I ought to do when God graciously reveals his will for my life.

“The LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3). The LORD tells Abram to basically leave everything familiar and comfortable so that he may make a great nation of him. Most of us probably think, “If God spoke to me and told me those words I would go too.” Really? God speaks to us today through his Spirit in his word and yet we disagree with him often. God has given us the way of true life in this world and everlasting life with him yet we kick and scream because we want to do things our way. God commands us to forsake all to live for him. Do you remember the words, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross daily and follow me”? Following him means denying self and dying daily so that we may be blessed by our Creator.

I think the reason the Spirit prompted me to go back to those words is the fact that I don’t respond with faith like Abram. Abram could have responded the way I often do by asking, “Are you sure Lord?” or “Why, I’m comfortable right where I am?” or “Lord, I know that sounds good but I’m pretty sure life is good this way?” It sounds foolish to think my way could possibly be better than the path my Creator designed for me yet I often think my way is better. But Abram is such an example and encouragement to me as I see no hesitation but rather the very next words: “So Abram went.” Remember Genesis 22 when God tested Abraham (Abram) saying, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (2). Easy enough right? YEAH RIGHT! Once again my heart goes straight to questioning God and his purposes which is really an attack on his perfect, holy character. Who am I to answer back to God? Abram did not answer back but rather trusted in God’s holy character. The very next words after God tested Abraham: “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac” (3).

My prayer is that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, would trust him. I pray that we would not view circumstances through our eyes which can produce an angry, complaining and doubting attitude; but I trust we will read God’s word and know his perfect character putting our trust in him. He is trustworthy. The best part of Abraham is the fact that he knew the One he trusted in was also giving him the strength to trust him. Abraham was just a faithful servant to his Creator. He had a right view of self and God. When we open God’s word may we be ready to see his promises and by the power of the Holy Spirit cling to them with our lives knowing they will produce in us a blessing beyond all comparison. Then when God tests us we may respond: “So ________ went.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Embrace Suffering

Tim Senn gave us a mandate and six motivations from 1 Peter 4:1-6 last night at church. The mandate: A call to embrace suffering for righteous living. Our example is Christ as he obediently embraced suffering so that we may have his perfect righteousness imputed to us by faith in him. The six motivations to embrace suffering for righteous living:

1. Remember that life is short.
2. Resolve to live for the will and glory of God.
3. Realize that self-rule is futile and destructive.
4. Readiness to suffer is rewarded by Christ.
5. Reckon on the reality of judgment.
6. Resurrection is guaranteed.

Tim was challenging us not to waste our lives here on earth but to embrace suffering for righteous living for the reward in Christ. One thing Tim said that hit home was: Sin leads you to a wasted life here and a Christless eternity. We need to do an examination in our hearts to see whether we are still clinging to the fleeting pleasures of sin or we are surrendering all to Christ.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Christ's Love to Sinners

"The love of Christ to sinners is the very essence and marrow of the Gospel. That He should love us at all, and care for our souls, — that He should love us before we love Him, or even know anything about Him, — that He should love us so much as to come into the world to save us, to take our nature on Him, bear our sins, and die for us on the cross, — all this is wonderful indeed! It is a kind of love to which there is nothing like among men. The narrow selfishness of human nature cannot fully comprehend it. It is one of those things which even the angels of God ‘desire to look into’ (1 Peter 1:12)." (J.C. Ryle)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love, the most excellent way.

Juan Shanchez posted last week on the Gospel Coalition Blog an article titled Love Never Ceases. Here is what Juan said:

"Paul argues for the priority of love over gifts by stating that while prophesies will pass away and tongues will cease and knowledge will pass away, love never will. Love is enduring; it is permanent. Why such an emphasis on love? To be sure, Paul does not discard gifts; he urges the pursuit of the higher gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1). Nevertheless, we are to pursue love as THE more excellent way.

The Origin and Source of Love
If we are to understand love we must begin with God for God is love (1 John 4:8). If we begin with the world’s understanding of love, we will only dwell in the erotic. However, when we begin with God, we see that to say God is love is not merely to say that God is loving; it is to say that love is the essence of God’s being (Leon Morris, Testaments of Love, 36).

Most clearly, it is through the lens of the cross that we may understand God’s love (Romans 5:8). When we see God’s love through the lens of the cross, then we can see that . . .
God’s love never ceases; it is eternal.

The Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). In other words, God has always loved; this is evident in the relations within the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There has always been love shared within the God-head.

This is the love that God shares with us. We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; see also Romans 8:28-30).

God’s love is undeserved; it is unconditional.
This love that God shares with us is undeserved because we are sinners by nature who deserve God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). God does not love us because of something attractive in us (see Ezekiel 16; Hosea). God loves sinners because it is His nature to love (Morris, 142).

But God’s love is holy; God does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:6, that love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. This is because love is holy and righteous just as God is holy and righteous — after all, God is light (1 John 1:5). We have a sin problem that makes us unlovable (1 Corinthians 6:9-10); the solution is Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). Here we see the selfless love of God — looking outward to others.

Therefore, God’s love is most clearly seen at the cross of Christ.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

The love of God is most clearly displayed at the cross because it is here that we see the eternal, selfless, holy love of God as the Father pours forth His wrath on the sinless Son in order that sinners may have everlasting life (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Love is THE way of the Christian because it is THE way of the Triune God.
If we say we are God’s, that we belong to God, then we will walk in the same way in which He walked (1 John 2:3-6). This is the message that has always been, even from the very beginning: love one another (1 John 3:11-15). The basis for this love for others is Christ.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16).

It is this love that is permanent, never-ceasing, for it is God’s love poured into our hearts.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

Let us, therefore, pursue love — let us love one another!"

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, June 14, 2010

If we Confess our Sins...

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But 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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:5-10)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, June 11, 2010

He will Save His People from their Sins


“He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)

An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to declare to Joseph the truth about the child conceived by the Holy Spirit to Mary. This was not some idea about Mary’s child but definite truth about the child. We find out about this child from the prophet Isaiah when he says, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us)” (7:14). Mary was giving birth to God in the flesh the One who was said of the angel: “He will save his people from their sins.”

In Matthew 1 we read the true Christmas story. All of us ought to be aware that Christmas is about the birth of Christ not a fat man in a red suit handing out gifts. The real gift came to us in the birth of the Savior. Christmas is the birth of Jesus in human flesh. The God-man has come down to earth. In Philippians we read, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, 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” (2:5-7). Christ humbled himself and took on humanity. He became a servant. Remember the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). This is not an ideal entrance of a king into the world. A suffering servant is not my idea of royalty. But this is exactly how God’s perfect plan played out. Immanuel humbly came as a servant to obey his Father’s will and die on our behalf.

The angel makes it clear that Jesus would save his people in a definite way. He might save his people from their sins? He could save his people from their sins? No! “He will save his people from their sins.” Jesus has a people that he was sent to rescue and the mission will be completed. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished”, which means the sins of those he came to save, were sufficiently satisfied on the cross. The wrath we deserved he bore. The sins we ought to be punished for he took upon himself. This was the purpose of his birth: “He will save his people from their sins.” Christ’s atoning work on the cross was exactly what this angel had in mind when he made this declaration.

I hope you understand the eternal significance of this gift. Next time you receive a gift or give a gift remind yourself of the greatest gift ever given in Christ. We too often get excited about temporary gifts that fade off into the sunset. Use those temporary gifts as the shadows they are to see the great gift that Christ took upon himself on your behalf. The wrath we deserve is eternally gone in Christ. The sins we deserve to be punished for are eternally forgiven in Christ. Our filthy rags of righteousness are covered in the perfect righteousness of Christ. The hell we eternally deserve is no longer to be feared in Christ. The gift of eternally satisfaction is found alone in Christ. Jesus’ finished what he came to accomplish which is why the angel said definitively at his birth: “He will save his people from their sins.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Faith is a Gift of God

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

"Awareness that faith is the gift of God should also arouse a sense of profound gratitude and worship in our hearts. Not only did we not deserve God's gracious gift of salvation, we could not even take advantage of it apart from His prior working in our hearts. We were helpless to propitiate the wrath of God against our sin, and we were just helpless to receive the fruit of that propitiation when it was offered to us. But God did not stop His work of salvation partway. Instead He gave us life when we were dead, gave us sight when we were blind, and gave us the faith to trust in Christ for our salvation. If we were to spend the rest of our lives doing nothing but saying 'thank you' to God, we could still never sufficiently express to Him our gratitude for the gift of salvation, including the gift of faith by which we receive it." (Jerry Bridges)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Resting in Christ's Righteousness

"There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ's sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His 'blood and righteousness' alone that we can rest." (B.B. Warfield)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Faith has Found a Resting Place

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He'll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior's name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave. (Eliza Hewitt)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, June 4, 2010

Love your Enemies


“Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44)

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, challenges those listening to love their enemies. This is a totally different way of life then most of us are use to living. Everything is fine and easy when it comes to loving other people until we are told to love someone who has wronged us in the past. Jesus is crystal clear with this command to “love your enemies.”

This is part of radical Christian living. Only the heart truly transformed by the gospel of Christ can love an enemy. As sinners we can tend to find the smallest faults in people and hold grudges that can turn into the hating of another. The natural tendency is to retaliate by wronging the person who has wrong us. But followers of Christ ought to desire to be like Christ and obedient to his commands. His commands are not a checklist but are for our greatest good. Our Creator knows what will ultimately satisfy us in this world. When Jesus tells us to “love our enemies” he says it because he knows it will bring us the greatest joy. As far as retaliation Jesus tells us, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:39-42). This is an unnatural way to live. This kind of living requires supernatural power that can only come from the love of Christ. It takes a clear picture of the gospel to show us what it means to “love your enemies.”

The mind and heart that has been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ recognizes the reality of someone loving an enemy. The Bible is clear that loving our enemies is a clear picture of the love Christ had for us when he went to the cross. Jesus can command us to “love our enemies” because he demonstrated that same love for us. And his love was to the greatest degree because we were rebels against his holiness. Romans 5 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (6-8). Lives transformed by the gospel see the great truth that Christ died in the place of his enemies out of love. Our lack of application of the gospel is shown when we speak unkindly of people we do not like or we retaliate because we have been wronged. Christ made it clear in his words and his actions when he says, “Love your enemies.”

Maybe you’re thinking, “I love the gospel but loving my enemies is not an easy thing to do.” You would be correct. This is not easy work but the work is worth it because it is for our greatest good and God’s great glory. Jesus also told his disciples to pick up their cross and follow him. We must die to ourselves daily in order to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This takes much time in prayer and in God’s word. In order to know his will for our lives we must ask for his guidance and strength and we must be faithful to seek his will in his word. His will is that we would “love our enemies” so we must be faithful to ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the truth of the gospel. The gospel is the great motivation to be able “love your enemies.”
Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mercy and Justice Kissed

"The death of Jesus was a complete and full satisfaction of divine justice for all who trust in him. At the cross there is no tension between justice and mercy; instead, they meet in full harmony. Justice suffers no violence and mercy has full expression. In fact, not only has justice suffered no violence, it has been honored and magnified. It has exacted its penalty and been completely satisfied. Therefore, as believers we can rejoice in the abundant mercy of God through Christ, while at the same time fully honoring the inviolate nature of his holy justice.

At the conclusion of his most extended discourse on the mercy of God, the apostle Paul cries out, 'Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out' (Romans 11:33). Only God's infinite wisdom and superabundant love could devise such a plan that both satisfies his justice and meets our desperate need for mercy. Let us then join Paul in exalting the mercy and wisdom of God as by faith we lay hold of this aspect of the unsearchable riches of Christ." (Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life, 46)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eternal Praise

What joyful thoughts doth heaven bring;
where righteous ones will worship Thee?
No sadness, fear, or suffering;
but joyful cries to the King of Kings!

What sacrifice the Father made: t
o crush the Son who bore our shame,
Yet raised him up that glorious day
to give us hope and a holy name!

O praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
who wrote, with blood, our eternal praise!
Let the nations of the earth proclaim:
Hallelujah!

"O praise the name of Jesus" our song forever shall be.
Let the anthem of salvation be the song that we shall sing.

What deepened wounds have saved our souls;
what blood that washed our sins of old!
What precious hands have ransomed men
and brought us to Himself again!

What hope is in our heavenly home,
where we will bow at our Father's throne,
And walk with Him on streets of gold
and kiss the Christ we long to hold!

Behold the city of the King: hallelujah!
His glory is the air we breath: hallelujah! (Ryan Foglesong and David Zimmer)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hurting the Ones we Love

Why does it seem we do the most sinful things to the ones we love the most?

I admit it probably just seems we commit the most sinful acts with the ones we love because we are sinning against people we love. We love the other person so much that many times it can be harder to forgive yourself than receive forgiveness from the offended person. I confess my tendency after I sin is to go and read my Bible more or pray or try harder to do good but that is nothing more than a response based on a works righteousness. Sure those things are not bad but they are not the truth of the gospel. I have to stop and remind myself that Christ's blood is sufficient for forgiveness. Once I have sought the forgiveness of God, my Father, I always want to be faithful to seek the forgiveness of the one I have offended. A great promise from Scripture is: "If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

"Let us take comfort in the thought that the Lord Jesus does not cast off his believing people because of failures and imperfections. He knows what they are. He takes them, as the husband takes the wife, with all their blemishes and defects, and once joined to Him by faith, will never leave them. He is a merciful and compassionate High Priest." (J.C. Ryle)

We have a Bridegroom who knows everything about our hearts, minds, motives and actions who, despite our sin, loves us. How can this be? Because there is no condemnation and no seperation for those who place their trust in the finished work of his Son upon Calvary. That is the simple good news of the gospel that most people reject and many do not want to cling to for salvation.

Grace upon grace,
JRL