Archive for March, 2012

Good quote on the gospel…

This quote if from the March 13 posting from the Of First Importance blog (see blog roll on right side of page):

The Gospel in Three Words – God saves sinners.

God – the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of the Father and Son by renewing. Saves – does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners — men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot.

— J. I. PackerTeaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful(Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009), 103

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What’s all this blood talk?

Exodus 11:7  “…that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.”
Exodus 12:13  “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”

Fundamentally, there was no distinction between Egypt and Israel.  But the Lord made one.  And it wasn’t because they were “Israel”, nor because they were the sons of Abraham.  It was because of the blood.

Blood can be an offensive thing.  Especially when the blood is from thousands of sacrificed animals and it is painted on door frames, or thrown against an altar, or thrown on people (Exodus 24).  Sounds pagan, doesn’t it!  Haven’t we evolved beyond all this “blood talk”?  Aren’t we just a bit more cultured, a bit more civilized in the way we express our religion?

Jesus didn’t think so.  “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20)

Paul didn’t think so.  “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  (Corinthians 11:25-26)

The basis of our salvation is the blood of Christ.  The basis for our life with God is the blood of Christ.  If there is no blood, there is no distinction.  If there is no distinction, there is only destruction.

Take a moment and thank God for the blood of Christ shed for you.  Trust in Him alone.

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Why is Christ our only hope?

Without Christ…

when we have done all we ever shall do, the very best state we ever shall arrive at, will be so far from meriting a reward, that it will need a pardon…If I was to live to the world’s end, and do all the good that man can do, I must still cry ‘mercy!’

Thomas Adam (1701-1784)

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Ben Hur Remix

Ben Hur.  Great movie.  Except…

Ben Hur is chained in the bottom of a Roman galley, a slave, unjustly accused, with tremendous grit.  They are about to go into a great battle and his chain is unfastened.  Their ship is rammed, about to sink, he escapes and saves the life of Arius the general.  As a reward, he is adopted as the general’s son.  He has earned the right to be called Young Arius.

Rewind.  Remix.

Ben Hur is chained in the bottom of a Roman galley, a slave justly imprisoned, with no will and no hope.  The general descends into the bottom of the ship, unfastens the chain and releases Ben Hur.  In his place the general chains his only son.  They engage in a great battle, the ship is sunk, the son dies, the general saves the life of Ben Hur.  The general adopts Ben Hur as his son, not as a reward, but because of grace.  Ben Hur has earned nothing; but he is Young Arius.

Grace trumps grit.

Galatians 4:3-7

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Why then the Law?

Galatians 3:19a “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions,….”

Let’s say you have a toddler who has just learned to walk.  You know the look:  big belly in the front offset by big diaper in the back; their earliest introduction to the properties of physics.  You have been working with your toddler so that when you stretch out your arms and say, “Come to daddy,” he comes to you.  Your child is in the middle of the room and you are on one side and you stretch out your arms and say, “Come to daddy.”  Your child smiles, perhaps giggles, and takes off in the opposite direction.

Cute?  Yes.  But what has just happened?  “Come to daddy” is the law.  Wilfulness that is in your child’s heart has now been brought to the surface by your command, “Come to daddy.”  This is the work of the Law, to show the sin in our hearts.

Now let’s say that you move across the room, gently pick up your toddler so that you are face to face, and lovingly but firmly say, “Come to daddy.”  Your child now begins to cry, even wail.

Cute?  No.  What has just happened?  Now the wilfulness in your child’s heart, which was revealed before, is shown to be truly sinful.  By his wailing, your child is saying, “Not thy will but my will be done.”  This is the work of the Law, to show sin to be truly sinful.

And this is the meaning of “it was added because of transgressions” in Galatians 3:19.  The Law was added to increase our sin by revealing it in our hearts, and to show that it is truly sinful…so that we will throw ourselves on the mercy of God and repent of our sin and believe in Jesus who died to redeem us from the Law.

And this is the ongoing work of the Spirit through God’s word, to continue to show the sin in our hearts so that we can confess it and forsake it and be changed into the likeness of Christ more and more each day.  May this  be the pattern of our daily life with God.

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